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The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline$
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Elesha J. Coffman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199938599

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199938599.001.0001

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“A Strain on the Tie That Binds”

“A Strain on the Tie That Binds”

(p.111) 5 “A Strain on the Tie That Binds”
The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline

Elesha J. Coffman

Oxford University Press

The nascent mainline did not collapse in the 1930s, but it did experience sharp theological conflict within its ranks. Ironically, the focus of the bitterest fights was pacifism. The pacifist controversy intensified right up until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, an event that erased popular support for the position and left liberal Protestants scrambling to regroup behind a new agenda. In all of this, Morrison’s Christian Century pursued two primary aims. One, the magazine sought to be a voice of moral authority for peace, first its preservation and then, after Pearl Harbor, its speedy and just reestablishment. Two, the Century endeavored to foster Protestant consensus along the lines of Morrison’s ecumenical vision. Ultimately, these goals proved incompatible, and Morrison was forced to choose between standing—alone, if need be—on principle or joining Reinhold Niebuhr’s developing “realist” school of thought about church, state, and world.

Keywords:   Pacifism, realism, Reinhold Niebuhr, The Christian Century, Pearl Harbor, ecumenism

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