In 1953, the year I began my seminary studies, Charles Clayton Morrison published a provocative book on Christian unity that envisions a post-Protestant church for the United States. Morrison’s thesis, which explains the title of his book, The Unfinished Reformation, is that the original reformers in Germany, Switzerland, France, and England did not intend to divide the one Church of Christ. Their goal was to overcome its wrongful developments and reform the church so that it would be what Christ intended it to be.
Because of the political and social struggles of their time, however, the reformers were isolated from one another and a divided church was the result. Describing the growing interest in the ecumenical movement of his time, Morrison asserted that the Protestant churches were expressing their Reformation character as they sought to reestablish the unity of the Church of Christ on earth.
In another book, published twenty years earlier, Morrison had discussed other ideas that dealt directly with the divided state of the churches of his time and place. Throughout the 1933 book, Morrison urged the churches to reclaim their gospel heritage, recover their autonomy from the social order, and move together to recover their unity. While developing a history of the Consultation on Church Union, a forty-year effort to recover the unity about which Morrison had written, I reviewed the ideas that he had presented in these two books.
To my surprise, I discovered that he had anticipated some of the principles that emerged during the period after 1960. I also realize that he had anticipated some of the problems that would later cause the Consultation to fall short of its goal, which had been to develop a post-denominational church to serve the people of the United States. Read more … CCM Completing What the Reformers . . .