Saturday, December 02, 2017

This Week in Texas Methodist History  Dec. 3

Methodist Churches Cooperate with ABS for “Khaki Bibles” for the Troops, First week of December, 1917

The American Bible Society, an ecumenical group devoted to Bible translation, publishing, and distribution, designated the first week of December, 1917, for a massive fund drive that would enable the purchase of a Bible for every American soldier.  The Methodists of Texas responded eagerly to the call. 
The goal was $400,000 and both San Antonio and  Houston were assigned quotas of  $3000.  The ABS would provide the Bible for $.25, and they would be distributed free to the troops through the YMCA.   The drive was supposed to last from Dec. 1 to 11, with every preacher delivering a sermon on the topic on Dec. 9.    Methodist preachers in Houston at the time were I. B. Manley at McKee St., R. E. Ledbetter at West End, and J. W. Mills at St. Paul’s. 
If they had any doubts about were the church hierarchy stood on the war, those doubts were shattered when the MECS College of Bishops issued a formal statement on participation the war after their meeting in Jackson, TN.
The committee that signed the statement consisted of Bishops Atkins, Murrah, and McCoy.    The bishops admit “Our government did not enter the war through military necessity, but from higher compulsion---by a compelling sense of comradeship with all that is highest and best in human civilization.”   Students of just war doctrine will note the dismissal of that doctrine.
The main justification to the bishops was that the war was really against rationalism.  German theologians and philosophers had led the movement toward examination of Biblical texts as historical documents-(rationally).  The bishops conflated rationalism with materialism and atheism.  Germany must be defeated or the world would be taken over by atheism!  That was the message.  

 Six months later, at the General Conference of 1918, John Moore was elected bishop of the MECS.  He was one of the very few Methodists who had actually gone to Germany for theological study. 


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