September 4: An Old Threat That Never Really Goes Away

If this is too long to read just now, print it off or save it to read this evening. But as you read it, think to see if this isn’t remarkably in line with what Dr. Peter Jones has been pointing out in recent years concerning the ongoing cultural battle between what he terms “one-ism” and “two-ism.” While there clearly are differences between Jones’ thesis and the concerns voiced here in Greenway’s article, still I think there is also a relation connecting their separate concerns. Unitarianism is at root just another part of that broad spectrum of “one-ism” that fails to maintain the Creator-creature distinction.


The Camel’s Nose in the Church’s Tent

By Rev. Walter B. Greenway, D.D.

[THE PRESBYTERIAN (23 September 1926): 6-9.]


THE old Arabian story, variously told, is familiar to all. The camel plead with the Arabian nomad for permission to put his nose through the flap of the tent. Thinking this to ‘be harmless, the Arab consented. While the Arab slept, the camel pushed through his head, then his shoulders, finally his body, and when the Arab awakened from his sleep he found no room in the tent for himself, it being all but wholly occupied by the camel.

There was an evil camel’s nose that diligently sought admission into the Church’s tent at its beginning. It has been quietly but persistently working its body into the Church, until now it is head and shoulders within and it is high time we awakened, before our tent is wholly occupied. Modernism is the nose of the camel. The camel is Unitarianism. The nose, Modernism, is considered harmless by a large element in our Church to-day. This is because they fail to see the camel to which the nose belongs. The camel is that doctrine that robs the Son of God of his special divinity and brings him down to the level of man. The camel, Unitarianism, has always stood just outside the tent of the Trinitarian Church, seeking admission.

It appeared in the first century, when we find certain of the Jewish Church were attracted by the personality of Christ, and agreed to accept him as a leader, but would not recognize him as divine. In the second century there were those who were willing to recognize in Christ one superior to a man, a kind of a connecting link between God and man, but in no wise God. In the third century Ammonius Saccas and the philosophers of his day loudly proclaimed the beauty of his character, but declared him only a lovely man. In the fourth century, Arius of Alexandria went so far as to acknowledge the pre-existence of Christ, and even proclaimed that he would be the Judge at the end, but denied he was God.

So one could continue in each century to find the camel trying to work his way into the Trinitarian fold. For want of time, we pass to the sixteenth century, where we find Socinus developing a theory almost identical with that held by the Modernists to-day, and which is only Unitarianism in a veiled form. According to his theory, Christ was a man, who so thoroughly developed himself in his moral character that God accepted him as the Messiah. This opinion gained rapidly for a season, but seemed to die out within the next century. , Then it came forward with renewed force. The camel was determined to get in the Church’s tent. The Socinian idea, Modernism (Unitarianism), was allowed to percolate into the Presbyterian Church in England, and stifled its growth there. The idea crossed to Massachusetts and began to bore from within into the churches in Boston. Again it met with a measure of success. Fully twenty-five per cent of the Congregational churches accepted the theory of Socinus. Dr. Ellis, in a history of Unitarianism, prophesied that in fifty years the Trinitarian Church would be a matter of history and that the Unitarian idea would be the dominant religion of North America. The Socinians, or Unitarians, worked openly and boldly for a season. By every conceivable method they sought to rout the Trinitarians of New England, but a little faithful group persisted in staying in the Church and fought so desperately that the camel was forced to partially withdraw from his position. At last he decided to change his method of operation. He decided not to work openly, but quietly and secretly from within.

During the past century he has continued to work in Jesuit form, until we must admit to-day there is somewhat more than the camel’s nose of Unitarianism found in the tent of the Trinitarian Church. It is high time that the Evangelical Church should recognize the presence of this force seeking to work from within and understand the disastrous results if allowed to continue. If the camel which is now appearing at the door of our Church’s tent with its nose is given favorable consideration, Modernism will push on and eventually the camel of Unitarianism will be standing boldly in our place. This done, all that the Evangelical Church has stood for, fought for, and died for, will have gone for naught.

The Unitarian doctrine is essentially different from that held by Evangelical Churches. Its idea of God brings God down to the level where we find him in the Koran, the bible of the Mohammedans. We read in the Unitarian organ the account of the visit of one of their representatives, fresh from their school in Meadville, Pa., to a professor of theology at the Azhar Mosque School in Cairo. The Unitarian reports the interview between himself and the professor of Moslem theology as follows: “I told him what I was, . . . and asked him whether or not the Mohammedans would favor co-operation with the Unitarians. . . . He asked me if besides denying the Godship of Jesus, we believed in the prophetic mission of Mohammed and in the religious value of the Koran. On receiving an affirmative answer, he was completely satisfied and said that he knew no obstacle why the two religious bodies, Moslems and Unitarians, could not work together with the utmost cordiality.” Another professor says in The Christian Register, official organ of the Unitarians, “Islam should be looked upon as a sister of Christianity. It is nearer liberal Christianity in many respects than is the orthodox Christian faith.” Rev. J. H. Dietrich, of the Minneapolis Unitarian church, says: “The character, of a man’s life upon this planet depends not upon divine intervention, nor upon prayer, but upon what we ourselves are and what we ourselves do. We do not believe in that friendly Providence which the other religious sects feel sure will establish the kingdom of God. The many cases in which individuals have to suffer . . . forces us to give up the idea that we “are under the protection of an external or beneficent Providence. In its place we recognize a mighty evolutionary force, . . . the great unknown.”

As would be expected, when they have taken away our God, with him would go his Word. So the same minister declares, “Modern knowledge has also taken away the Bible as the Word of God,-. . . and when you realize what a cruel and foolish Word of God that was, you surely are not sorry.” To make his suit complete, he declares, “Another thing which has been taken away is the theory that Jesus is Saviour alone of humanity. . . . In his place, we put a whole shining galaxy of men and women whose smile is the light of the centuries.” With God, God’s Word and God’s Son banished, with it goes hope, and so he adds, “I wish very much for the sake of humanity to stop men from yearning after the great undiscovered future.”

The Unitarian doctrine of man is directly opposed to that held by the Evangelical Church and taught by the Word of God. The Unitarian believes in “the capacity of human nature to do the greatest thing that human life requires.” They say they are in no way dependent on Jesus. The same divine quality that was in Jesus is in every man that is born in the world. Jesus to a Unitarian is not the Alpha and Omega. He is only one of a line of revealers to men. One of their professors says, “He had the power of making a credulous people believe he was in a highly specific sense the direct agent of God.”

His belief concerning Christ is brought down to the lowest standard. He considers the narrative of Christ’s birth of a virgin mother an insult to motherhood. They not only deny his miraculous birth, but rob him of his ideal life. John Chadwick, in “Old and New Unitarian Belief,” says: “To say that Jesus was a perfect man is an assertion as impossible to believe as that the inhabitants of Mars eat nothing but unleavened bread. Certainly there are things about Jesus in the New Testament which are not helpful to the doctrine of his impeccability, for example, that dreadful treatment of his mother.” It will at once be recognized that his sacrificial, substitutionary work has no place in their thoughts. Edward Everett Hale exclaims: “We do not believe it possible for any substituted being to take the consequence of a man’s sin or to turn over to him a fixed quota of blessing.” Another of their writers says: “We do not call him Saviour because we are certain that humanity has had as many saviours as it has had good men and women. . . . No man can be transformed from bad to good vicariously any more than he can be healed from an illness through another receiving medical treatment for him.” To declare one’s belief that Christ will come again to judge the quick and the dead is to be pronounced by Unitarians insane. The Christian Register declares the second coming “a doctrine more heinous and rotting to the soul than polygamy, witch-burning and slavery combined.” One of their ministers characterizes the second coming as “the debauching second coming enormity.”

It naturally and logically follows from what has already been said that his hope for a future is not very encouraging. President Eliot, speaking before the Harvard Summer School of Theology, on “The Religion of the Future,” has this to say: “To a human soul, lodged in an imperfect, feeble or suffering body, some of the older religions have held out the expectation of deliverance by death and of entrance upon a rich, competent and happy life, in short, have offered a second life, presumably immortal, under the happiest conditions. . . . Can the future religion promise that sort of compensation for the ills of the world any more than it can promise miraculous aid against threatening disaster? A candid reply to this inquiry involves the statement that in the future religion there will be nothing supernatural.” One puts it more compactly when he says, “We leave heaven to the sparrows.” Another of their ministers, writing in The Christian Register, speaks of heaven as “that ridiculous spiritual roof garden in the next world.”   This is only a miniature picture of the camel of Unitarianism whose nose, Modernism, is already in the tent of our Church.

His method of propaganda is deceitful. It is a movement from within the Church. The American Unitarian Association carries on its active propaganda almost entirely among members of the Christian churches by the distribution of free pamphlets. As many as a million pamphlets go out in a single year. They are persistent in their effort to get control of those allied organizations of the Christian Church. Why are they so interested to get into the Y.M.C.A., Y.W.C.A., and other organizations of American Christianity ? A Unitarian editor gives the correct answer: “Our doctrines are especially good for budding and grafting on older stock, … we are sometimes astonished to see how our position on the Virgin Birth and miracles have been incorporated into the body of an old faith. To be sure, these new and vigorous branches are of a nature to render the remainder of the tree of but little value. We should frankly confess that the honest truth, frankly uttered, does not appeal to the masses, but when a strong flavor of it appears in an old stock, it is often welcomed with enthusiasm. Then it appears under the enticing name, ‘Liberalism.’ “ They no longer advise Unitarians in connection with Evangelical or Trinitarian Churches to sever their connection and come over boldly into their body. A leading Unitarian minister speaks for them when he says:. “A good many Unitarians are doing more good where they are than they could do anywhere else. They are undoubtedly capturing strongholds that we could never carry by direct attack. They are the Modernists of Protestantism who are working from within the fold. We want more of them, and we want them where they are.” Rev Minot Simons says: “Liberals, unhatched Unitarians, are in all the Churches. Some way must be found to bring them together and to organize them on the basis of Liberalism. To be suspected of Unitarianism would discredit them with their associates.”

The next item of interest is to note to what extent the camel with his method referred to has succeeded in getting into our Church. Some idea can be had from the following statements: “Unitarians are on all important committees of the Massachusetts Federation of Churches.” So wrote the president of the American Unitarian Association some years ago. The Federation of Churches in Boston lowered its standard, giving” Unitarians and Jews voting rights in that Federation. The Keith theater services, held under the Federation auspices, employ Unitarian speakers. Unitarian pastors are retained in the Federation of Churches of Philadelphia, in spite of the protest of a large, active group of Evangelicals. The Massachusetts Sunday School Association has voted to admit Unitarian schools. The report of the American Unitarian Association for 1918 congratulates its constituency on the admission for the first time of a Unitarian delegate to the meeting of the International Sunday School Association. During the World War the Unitarians contributed and the Y.M.C.A. accepted their gift of $75,000 for war work in France. A number of Unitarian ministers were sent abroad under the red triangle. At last the camel’s nose was in the tent of the Y.M.C.A., in which has been invested $150,000,000 on the strength of its Evangelical movement. No sooner was the nose thus admitted than they began to criticise the evangelical work of the Y.M.C.A. The president of the American Unitarian Association told the public the Y.M.C.A.’s hymn book was a composition of musical slang and literary trash, and said: “Chaplains and Y.M.C.A. secretaries who have some real religious sensibility welcome our Unitarian hymn pamphlets.”

In our universities are being formed a so-called Student’s Christian Association, in practically all of which Unitarians are admitted, and in some, Protestants, Catholics, Buddhists, and non-church members are admitted on the same basis. A prominent Unitarian has made the following statement: “Ten years ago we set out to capture the large universities of the land, and we have practically done it, and now we are setting about to capture the Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A.”

The same camel pushing his nose into the Church’s tent is just as ambitious to get a foothold in our educational institutions. His presence here is probably more disastrous than in the Church. It is in the educational institutions that the pliant mind is being bent. The leaders in the world, of Modernism, which is the nose of the camel, Unitarianism, have long since recognized this and have erected a veritable network of influence in this direction. It would be impossible in so short a space to give the various ramifications of this effort in our schools, academies, colleges and universities. Perhaps the most energetic and the most invidious arm of the octopus is the so-called “Religious Education Association,” founded some years ago by President W. R. Harper, of Chicago. It is a “Religious Education Association,” and not a “Christian Education Association.” Unitarians are lined up in the Religious Education Association. Prof. F. G. Peabody, a Unitarian, was formerly president. President Eliot was a speaker at one of its conventions. A writer in The Christian Register says: “No association could come nearer the ideals of our own churches than this. It is an association devoted entirely to aims identical with our dearest loyalties. Unitarians can do no better work for their own cause than to enter into cordial relations with the brave enterprise so splendidly carried on by the Religious Education Association.” The plan of operation of the Religious Education Association is identical with that of the Unitarian Association. It definitely advocates against the development of new and separate organizations. Its plan is to advise and co-operate with organizations already in existence. The Unitarian Church advocates permeating present organizations by working from within. The Religious Education Association has adopted the same method with reference to our educational institutions. It disavows allegiance to any particular school of thought. It appoints commissions, councils, committees of every kind to carry out its programme within existing organizations.

One of its greatest and most productive fields of operation is the Sabbath-school. Up until a few years ago the Sabbath-school had received very little attention from men who called themselves educators, but within recent years a group of men saw the opportunity of quietly working in the Sabbath-school in paving the way for reconstructing our religious thought for the next generation. Now they are determined that the old Sabbath-school system of America shall be transformed. They have commended the Beacon Series of Sunday School Lessons as the best in the world. Suffice to say the Beacon Series of Sunday School Lessons is Unitarian. After attacking the educational field of the Sabbath-school movement, they turn to the Young Men’s: and Young Women’s Christian Associations. The report of the International Committee of the Y.M.CA., 1924, says: “The religious work department of the Y.M.C.A. is to maintain relationship with the Religious Education Association and the National Association of Bible Instructors.”

The next push for Mr. Camel, following his nose, was into the Bible chairs in our colleges. It is sad to admit that our Bible chairs are dominated by men in close touch with the so-called Religious Education Association, which we have found to be a kind of a mongrel religious association. A large number of those who hold Bible chairs in our institutions are members of the National Council of Bible Instructors, whose president, until his death, was Professor Kent, of Yale. It may be worth while to pause here and make a brief review of his beliefs as gathered from his book, called “Life and Times of Jesus.” Referring to the resurrection, he says: “Pursued by fear and anxiety, Peter would easily reach the Sea of Galilee on the third day from Jerusalem. . . . With the eye of faith he saw the Friend and Master.” And again: “Many hold that the body was removed sometime between the close of the Jewish Sabbath and sunrise of the first day of the week, at the command of Joseph, who had offered the tomb as a temporary resting place. Naturally, Joseph would wish to reserve the tomb for the use of his own family. In any case, the problem of what became of it was of significance chiefly to those who shared the current Jewish belief in a bodily resurrection.” How does this conform to Paul’s categorical statement, “If Christ be not risen, your faith is in vain”? Again, he says: “Jesus’ mighty works were not so- mighty after all. Even the miracles of healing were not always permanent. . . . The cure of leprosy was presumably merely the relief of a curable skin disease. The daughter of Jairus was in fact not dead, but sleeping, and Jesus, knowing this, undertook to raise her from the dead. Of course, our Lord’s power over the forces of nature cannot be sanctioned.” For instance, he says: “Jesus’ words, ‘Peace, be still,’ were addressed to his perturbed disciples rather than to the troubled sea. The feeding of the multitude was only a spiritual feeding. The account of how Jesus, in the blackness of the night, waded out to meet his disciples, has been unintentionally clothed with a miraculous halo.” A Unitarian reviewer of Dr. Kent’s book has this to say, “A new day has opened for the presentation of the Christian religion, a day in which men, hitherto divided, will clasp hands and work together in spiritual ardor.” Bear in mind that Professor Kent, who so loosely and lightly interprets Scripture, was, until his death, president of the National Council of Bible Instructors, in which, organization a large number of the teachers in our Bible chairs are members.

Bible chairs were established in our colleges by men and women of Christian faith and character.

Mary Lyon, a pioneer in women’s education at Derry Academy, taught so much Bible the trustees objected, so she went to the farmers of Western Massachusetts and secured funds to found an institution which should be, as she said, “perpetually Christian.”   This institution is Mount Holyoke. The army of women that went out from this institution, trained in the Scriptures and Butler’s Analogy, have gone over the earth. To-day, Professor Laura Wild teaches the Bible at Mount Holyoke. President Woofey introduced her as follows: “A re-interpreter of evangelical Christianity for the young men and women of the student classes who cannot be held by an outworn phraseology.” Professor Wild tells the young women of Mount Holyoke that the Apostle’s Creed is a kind of shibboleth, a necessary password to the orthodox, but totally without meaning in as far as real living is concerned. Professor Wild has also written concerning “The Evolution of the Hebrew People.” Here is a sample referring to the Hebrews: “There were three factors that entered into their development, the land, their outside enemies and their native genius.” Notice, God is left out. Therefore, in beginning the study of the Bible at Mount Holyoke, God is left out of account. She advises her class to compare Galatians with other essays, as Emerson on- “Self-Reliance,” and Cabot’s “What Men Live By,” thus putting these on a par with that wonderful and inspired message of St. Paul to the Galatians. The first book recommended for collateral reading at Mount Holyoke is the “Outline of History,” by H. G. Wells, to say the least, a free-thinker. Professor Wild, of whom we have just been speaking, was sent to Gingling College, Nanking, China, a union college for girls, operated jointly by Presbyterians, Baptists and Disciples, to spent her sabbatical year teaching Chinese girls.

For another instance, take Wellesley College, founded by Henry Durant, who was converted under the ministry of Dwight L. Moody. Just a little more than fifty years ago he laid the corner-stone of the new college for women at Wellesley. In that corner-stone he placed a paper in which he had written: “This building is humbly dedicated to our heavenly Father with the hope and prayer that he may always be first in everything in this institution, that his Word may be faithfully taught here and that he will use it as a means of leading precious souls to the Lord Jesus Christ. Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build.” He refused to have his own name given to the college. He always said, “The college belongs to God, not to me.” Mrs. Helen Gould Shepard founded a professorship in Biblical history at this college. That professorship is now filled by Professor Ezra Kendrick, who is an active member in the aforesaid Religious Education Association. With regret it must be added here also that Professor Kendrick spent her sabbatical year in mission institutions in the Far East.

Another instance is to be found in Smith College for Women. Sophia Smith, in her will, left $375,000 for the purpose of establishing an evangelically Christian college for women at Northampton, Mass. One article in her will reads as follows: “Sensible of what the Christian religion has done for myself and believing that all education should be for the glory of God and the good of man, I direct that the Holy Scriptures be daily and systematically read and studied in said college and that all the discipline shall be pervaded by the spirit of evangelical Christian religion.” Now notice how this has been perverted.   Professor Woods, the head of the Bible Department, is a Modernist. Rev. Margaret Crook has been made associate, professor in Biblical Literature. Miss Crook is a Unitarian professor from Norwich, England.   

Bryn Mawr is another case in point. It was founded by Dr. Taylor, who desired that it should teach an evangelical Christianity, as revealed in the New Testament. It was Dr. Taylor’s prayer that Bryn Mawr should become in the highest and most blessed sense a school of Christ, in which the students should learn of him under the training and discipline of the Holy Spirit. It is hard to see how Professor Leuba, now in that institution, can in any way carry out the wish and prayer of the donor. Those who are familiar with the questionnaire which he sent out some few years ago, under the caption, “Belief in God and Immortality,” can scarcely escape the conclusion that Leuba is an ultra modernist, if not more. He would tear down all that reminds us of God. Says he: “The Thanksgiving Proclamation of the President should be discontinued. From an expression of genuine belief this custom has become an objectionable tradition, which the sooner it is abandoned, the better for those who keep it up and for those to whom it is addressed. It were better instead that we should be taught to realize our dependence upon each other and the gratitude we owe to the millions who strive, often in material distress, in order to build our material and spiritual prosperity.” “A death that ends all is satisfactory, even a desirable goal, . . . many of the most distinguished moralists contend the belief in immortality is ethically wrong, yet,” says he, “much is made of it among benighted Christian populations.”

The camel is thrusting his nose in the Vassar tent. At the first meeting of the board of trustees of Vassar, Matthew Vassar insisted that the training of their students should never be entrusted to the skeptical or irreligious. Professor Durant Drake, of this institution, is a member of the Religious Education Association. The American Unitarian Association has published a tract by him, entitled “What Religious Education Might Be.” In this tract we read as follows: “The so-called religious education of to-day consists chiefly of bits of the history legends and chronicles or even the gospel incidents and the missionary journeys of Paul are the directest and most vital means of awakening or reinforcing the religious life of youth. To try to awaken interest in the religion of to-day through a study of the Psalms and sermons and anecdotes of the Jews of two thousand years ago is a curious pedagogical inversion.”

Professor Votaw, of the University of Chicago, says: “The American college began as an institution of religion. This status is passing. Some denominational colleges have discontinued their ecclesiastical connections and others will do so in the future on the same principle that the public schools are free from Church control.” Enough has been said to show that the Bible departments in our colleges have been perverted from the evangelical wishes of their founders and donors. One would only find more of the camel’s body in the educational tent by continuing the study as it relates to the great state universities. Out of such institutions and under such influences come the youth back into our churches to continue their deceptive work and push the camel’s nose of Modernism and body of Unitarianism into our pulpits and pews with the result that the Christ of Calvary is crowded out of the tent.


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