XIII. THE CHRISTIAN AND MISSIONARY ALLIANCE
MR. SIMPSON'S second trip to Great Britain was made in response to an invitation to take part in an international convention which had been called by Dr. W. E. Boardman, to meet at Bethshan, London, in June, 1885, at which delegates were present representing many of the forward movements and associations for the deepening of spiritual life in all parts of the world.
This gathering strengthened Mr. Simpson's conviction that the time was ripe for an association of believers in the fullness of the Gospel. An editorial in Word, Work and World in October of that year speaks of the need of "A Christian Alliance of all those in all the world who hold in unison the faith of God and the gospel of full salvation."
In the Year Book of the Christian Alliance for 1893 Mr. Simpson stated the platform and purposes of this organization which later became The Christian and Missionary Alliance.
"The Christian Alliance was organized in the summer of 1887 at Old Orchard convention for the purpose of uniting in Christian fellowship and testimony in a purely fraternal Alliance the large number of consecrated Christians in the various evangelical churches who believe in the Lord Jesus as Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming Lord. It seemed to very many that there was a divine necessity for a special bond of fellowship among those who were being thus simultaneously called into closer intimacy with our coming Lord in order that we might give a more emphatic testimony to these great principles which might well be called at this time 'Present truths,' that we might encourage and strengthen each others' hearts by mutual fellowship and prayer, and that we might unite in various forms of aggressive work to give wider proclamation to these truths and prepare for the coming of our Lord. With this view the Alliance was formed and founded upon the special basis of the Fourfold Gospel as above expressed. In all other respects and with reference to all other doctrines its attitude is strictly evangelical."
"It is not an ecclesiastical body in any sense, but simply a fraternal union of consecrated believers in connection with the various evangelical churches. It does not organize distinct churches or require its members to leave their present church connections. There is no antagonism whatever in the Alliance to any of the evangelical churches, but a desire to help them in every proper way and to promote the interest of Christ's kingdom in connection with every proper Christian organization and work. Its organization is extremely simple, consisting of a central executive Board in New York, incorporated under the laws of the state with auxiliaries and branches in the various centers of population."
Any Christian could become a member of the Christian Alliance by signing this simple creed: "I believe in God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in the verbal inspiration of the Holy Scriptures as originally given, in the vicarious atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the eternal salvation of all who believe in Him, and the everlasting punishment of all who reject Him. I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming Lord."
Where a group of members existed, they formed a local branch of the Alliance with stated monthly or weekly meetings and in some places a local superintendent. A number of such branches constituted a state auxiliary with regularly appointed officers, of whom the state superintendent was the active head. A group of states formed a district, under a district superintendent. The superintendents were voluntary or honorary workers, but, as the movement progressed, it became necessary for many of them to devote their entire time to this ministry. The faith principle was carried out, the central organization contributing nothing to the support of these workers, though in later years state and district superintendents have been granted a small allowance to assist them in the work.
Rev. E. J. Richards, Home Superintendent of the Society, gives this summary of the organized work: "At the present time there are between three and four hundred branches and connected churches in the United States and Canada. There are twenty officers known as secretaries or department heads, district superintendents and field evangelists. About two hundred located pastors and local superintendents, twenty-five evangelists devoting their whole time to revival campaigns, and fifty to seventy students of both sexes from the Bible schools, who are pouring out their lives in the neglected sections of the home field, winning souls for Jesus and getting splendid training for aggressive work in the regions beyond."
At the Old Orchard Convention in 1887 a missionary organization known as The Evangelical Missionary Alliance was also effected. The Principles and Constitution then adopted are so fundamental to The Christian and Missionary Alliance that a synopsis is given.
It will be undenominational and strictly evangelical.
It will contemplate the rapid evangelization of the most neglected sections of the foreign mission field.
It will use thoroughly consecrated and qualified laymen and Christian women as well as regularly educated ministers.
It will encourage the principles of rigid economy, giving no fixed salaries.
It will rely upon God to supply the necessary means through the freewill offerings of His people. It will endeavor to educate Christians to systematic and generous giving for this greatest work of the Church of God.
It will form auxiliaries and bands in all parts of the country for the promotion and extension of its objects.
It will be governed by a board of directors elected annually, who shall appoint and direct the missionaries employed.
It will leave each church established on the foreign field free to organize and administer its affairs as it may choose, provided that such method be scriptural in its essential features. In November, 1889, after conference with friends in Canada, this missionary society was incorporated as The International Missionary Alliance. Dr. Simpson was the General Secretary of the Board, and upon him fell most of the executive and administrative duties for several years. David Crear, a successful business man of New York City, was Treasurer, and has ever since given his services freely in that office, devoting much of his time and a large portion of his income to the Alliance work.
The International Missionary Alliance was supported chiefly through the Christian Alliance, and the two societies were virtually one in purpose and in constituency. Consequently in 1897 they were united formally and legally under the name of The Christian and Missionary Alliance. Rev. A. B. Simpson was elected President and General Superintendent; Rev. A. E. Funk, Secretary; David Crear, Treasurer; and Mrs. A. B. Simpson, Financial Secretary. There was also a Board of Managers consisting of twenty-four members, including the above named officers. This amalgamation not only simplified the management but also brought the home and foreign fields into even a closer relationship, and The Christian and Missionary Alliance has been in a unique way a foreign missionary institution. Its local workers at home are never heard appealing for their personal support, but there are no more earnest advocates for foreign missions. The Alliance conventions have been, if possible, even more missionary in spirit than formerly, and the climax of every convention is the missionary offering.
The increasing demands on the administration and the necessity for fuller supervision of the home work resulted in a revision of the constitution at the Annual Council in May, 1912. Without interfering with the duties of the executive officers, departments were created, each with an executive secretary. These include the Finance Department; the Home Department, which has supervision over all of the work in America; the Foreign Department, which directs the different missions abroad; the Deputation Department, which has charge of missionary literature and deputations; the Publication Department, which is responsible for the preparation and issuing of books and periodicals; and the Educational Department, which has general supervision over the Training Institutes in the United States which are recognized by the Board. This system of administration has proven to be a great blessing to the work and relieved the pressure which was overwhelming the executive officers.
It is doubtless largely on account of this increased attention to details that the society has had a perhaps unequalled record in the fearful years of testing during the great world war. Although allowances have been greatly increased owing to the higher cost of living, and the demands for transportation and expenses on the fields have been nearly doubled, it has been possible to appropriate full allowances every month since 1914 and to remit all necessary expenditures for station work. The native staff has been increased, new stations opened, buildings erected, and a score or more of missionary recruits added each year.
The principles upon which the Alliance is organized were the expression of Dr. Simpson's own convictions and attitude. From the outset he deprecated every tendency to separativeness from other Christians either in spirit or in organization. Yet he saw that unless great wisdom and much Christian forbearance were shown on the part of the Alliance leaders and teachers, a line of cleavage would almost imperceptibly appear, and the society would tend in the direction of sectarianism. He used constant vigilance and much wise diplomacy to prevent any of his associates from departing from the vision which had been given of the work. With pen and with voice he frequently restated the stand originally taken. In the Alliance Weekly for November nth, 1899, he had this to say on the mission of the Alliance:
"Let us never forget the special calling of our Alliance work. It is not to form a new religious denomination. It is not to duplicate a work already done. It is not to advocate any special system of theology. It is not to glorify any person or people. It is first to hold up Jesus in His fullness, 'the same yesterday, today, and forever.' Next, to lead God's hungry children to know their full inheritance of privilege and blessing for spirit, soul, and body. Next, to witness to the imminent coming of the Lord Jesus Christ as our millennial King. And finally, to encourage and incite the people of God to do the neglected work of our age and time among the unchurched classes at home and the perishing heathen abroad. God will bless us as we are true to this trust."
Again, we find him writing in the same organ in 1912: "While the Alliance movement to a certain extent is unavoidably a self-contained organization and requires a sufficient amount of executive machinery to hold it together and make it effective, yet we must never forget that it has a certain interdenominational message for the Christian Church today and that this ministry must not be clouded by any narrow sectarian tendencies that would alienate the sympathy of those in the churches that are open to our message. There are cases continually arising where it is necessary to provide special and permanent religious privileges for little bands of Christian disciples who have either been converted in some evangelistic movement or pushed out of their churches by false teaching and harsh pressure and prejudice. Yet these local and independent congregations should never be considered as Alliance churches in any technical sense, but simply independent movements which God Himself has specially raised up 'through the present distress' and over which we exercise for the time a certain spiritual oversight."
Dr. Simpson always maintained the distinction between an Alliance branch and an independent church. Replying in an issue of The Alliance Weekly of 1913 to a correspondent who asks whether it is consistent for Alliance branches to dispense ordinances, receive and dismiss church members, and perform other church functions, he said: "The acts and functions referred to are entirely proper on the part of an independent church which may be affiliated with the Alliance, but are not consistent in a regular Alliance branch. The same company of people may have a double organization. They may be on the one hand a church organized and properly legalized under an independent charter, and as such be in fellowship with the Alliance, but entirely controlling their own property and worship. At the same time many members of this congregation or church may be united in an Alliance branch which enjoys the hospitality of the church. This is the case with the Gospel Tabernacle, New York City, the oldest, perhaps, of these independent churches."
So, too, Dr. Simpson never swerved from his determination to hold the movement true to the great fundamentals of the Gospel, and to insist that healing and other phases of the testimony be kept in a properly subordinate place. In the report of the dedication of the Mid- way Tabernacle, St. Paul, the headquarters of the work of District Superintendent Rev. J. D. Williams, on Dr. Simpson's last deputational tour in December, 1917, this statement appears: "He took occasion to emphasize in the strongest possible way the fact that the primary objective of the Alliance movement was not the teaching of special doctrines, but the salvation of souls and the reaching of the neglected classes from whom the conventional methods of modern churches were steadily creating a distressing gulf of cleavage and separation. He trusted that this should always be the primary ideal and aim of our work."
A society with such principles could not hope to build up a great, visible organization. It was always a great satisfaction to Dr. Simpson to know that the message had reached and permeated multitudes who had no outward connection with the Alliance. He had no sympathy with any tendency to exclusiveness or with self- centered little gatherings of the saints, nor yet with the mere aim to build up a work. To him, an Alliance branch, however small, was a lighthouse in its own community and a recruiting station for the little army of good soldiers of Jesus Christ which had been sent to the ends of the earth.
Yet this motive and ideal was the strength of the organization. Factions might divide it and false fires might burn a local branch to ashes, but the Alliance would always emerge with new vigor, because two or three disciples with "Jesus in the midst" constituted a unit of this society.
The Alliance was regarded by the public as the personal work of a great leader. Thousands kept asking "What will become of the Alliance when Dr. Simpson is gone?" The answer was given in the last year of his life when he was not in active leadership. His absence from his pulpit, from the great conventions, and from the editorial chair and the executive offices was keenly felt, yet there was no falling off at any point, and the missionary offerings were larger than ever before. Since he was laid at rest almost another year -- the period of supreme test of his principles and methods -- has passed, and the society is in the midst of an advance movement all along the line. This is the surest testimony that can be given that he had received and obeyed a heavenly vision in the development of the movement known as The Christian and Missionary Alliance.
The Life of A. B. Simpson is the Official Authorised Edition by A. E. THOMPSON, M. A. with Special Chapters by Paul Rader James M. Gray, D. D. Kenneth Mackenzie, J. Gregory Mantle, D. D. F. H. Senft, B. A. R. H. Glover, M. D. W. M. Turnbull, D. D. Published by Christian Alliance Publishing Co. 318 West 39TH St., New York in 1920. Lightly updated to the language of the 21st century by D. N. Pham. (c) 2012.
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