Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 10. June 1st, 1950
What Good is the Church
What Good is the Church
Despite the inclemency of the Heavenly Metreological Department, large numbers of the faithful and otherwise foregathered in the Little Theatre on Friday May 26 to debate the issue "That the Church is the Greatest Influence for Good in our Society."
Mr. Maurice McIntyre opened the case for the affirmative. He stated that the Church, (the general body of Christians) had an influence for material and spiritual good ( and had no possible rivals. The State compelled good. The activities of the church for good included homes for incurables, the Y.M.C.A. (Interjector: "You haven't stayed in the Wellington edition.") and people like Shaftesbury. He finished on a peculiar line which was unfortunately never taken up: "If the story of God and Christ is true, then the Church is obviously doing good by teaching the truth about them."
Miss Nancy Pearce, opposing stressed the conflicting and piecemeal influence of the Churches—the Roman Church objecting to divorce in principle and gambling only in excess, Protestant sects liking their vice versa. The initiative in leading social progress has passed to humanists with the Christian ethic, acting through the State and other institutions. The Church condemned Communism not on ethical grounds but because she was a property owner and had a vested interest in capitalism. The Church had survived many social forms, and if she was an influence for good, why should she not survive Communism? Politically she had a reactionary and a bad influence. Any moral influence for good was limited to one hour a week.
Affirmative seconder Mr. Maurice O'Brien quoted some Latin, the Dockers' Strike and Cardinal Manning. "What has a greater influence for good than the Curch?" (F.L.C.: "Alcohol.") He maintained the superiority of human over divine law. "We cannot have equality without reference to the spirit." (C.V.B.: "No, alcohol is a great leveller.")
Mr. David Trudgeon now rose to negate. The medieval Church had kept the paupers in charge, but had kept them paupers. The State had long since taken over all charitable functions, through the work of anticlericals and socialists. The Church just organised homes for waifs and strays. Its social role had been subordinated to its purely religious one. "It has been so heavenly laden that it is of little earthly use."
Closing, Miss Pearce pointed out that salvation had little to do with influence for good in society. Christian social doctrine was perverted by the Church, and left to individuals and organisations outside the Church, often against the Church's violent opposition.
Mr. McIntyre: "The Church may be small in active numbers, but its influence is great. The Russian Communist Party only had two per cent of the population in 1917." All property was held today for the community, as a result of the Church's influence. But that is only part of the Church's teaching, which concerns love of self, neighbour, and God.
The motion was carried by 25 votes to 21.
The judge, Mr. K. Scott of the Pol. Sci. Department, placed the following speakers in order:—1, M. J. O'Brien; 2, F. M. McIntyre; 3. Miss N. Pearce; 4, C. V. Bollinger; 5, J. Newenham; 6, L. B. Robinson 7, J. Mutch.