“The sermon became famous in theologically liberal circles within a few weeks. It was published in The Christian Century(June 8) and The Christian Work(June 10). But this was just the beginning. A layman in Fosdick’s congregation, Ivy Lee, approached him. He asked: Would Fosdick consent to a reprinting of the sermon? Fosdick agreed, and soon thereafter Lee sent 130,000 copies to ministers and laymen throughout the nation.(63) The original title had been toned down; it was now called The New Knowledge and the Christian Faith. After it had been mailed, Fosdick announced that all this had been done without his knowledge.(64) Over 30 years later, however, Fosdick admitted in his autobiography that Lee had come to him and had asked permission to publish it.(65) That is to say, he had lied in 1922.
Someone had put up the money to print and mail 130,000 copies of this sermon. At the time, it was not clear who had done this. Also, the title had been changed. Why? Fosdick never publicly admitted why: because John D. Rockefeller, Jr., had suggested the change. Rockefeller had written to Lee: “The object in circulating this sermon is to get the views therein expressed widely read and not stir up discord. The title which I suggest is clear and accurately descriptive,–at the same time it does not breathe controversy. . . . This is merely a suggestion; whatever Raymond Fosdick thinks wise, and perhaps he will care to take up with the matter with his brother, will be satisfactory to me.”(66)
What interest did Rockefeller have in all this? Considerable: he was putting up the money to mail it.(67)This expenditure was part of his lifetime strategy to win American Protestantism to ecumenism and theological liberalism, a plan that he supported with over one hundred million dollars.(68) Much of this was spent during an era in which the dollar was worth at least ten times more than it is today.”