It was Bishop Moloney who had opened his eyes to a further use of confession, both private and public. Buchman had long known that people were more interested and more lastingly helped if he told them of his faults and how he had been freed from them, than if he set before them his virtues, real or supposed. But the revival in the Bishop's diocese which had begun with the Bishop's and his servant's mutual honesty confirmed for him that the principle might have much wider application. So, in the next decades, when he was deploying large teams of people and when his usual practice was for them to do the bulk of the speaking in any meeting, he encouraged speakers to be honest about the specific liberations which handing over control to God had brought to them. This, he found, was the surest way of showing people, whether believers or unbelievers, that God could help them in personal or public matters, that God was in fact a God of power. However, he set firm limits to what should be publicly confessed. Nothing must be mentioned which involved a third party, and where questions of sex were involved, he always said, 'If your sins were forms of impurity, never say what they were. Just say "impurity".'

The taboos of those days being what they were, Buchman's frank dealing with sexual problems, even in private, provoked criticism and rumours. Those who wished to attack him were apt to pounce on any lapse in discretion at any of his meetings, whether he could be considered responsible for them or not. Buchman, however, was undeterred. The facts were there and he could not shrink from dealing with them. 'Men used to come to me, a different man each half-hour,' he once said, recalling visits to summer conferences at Northfield. 'There it was - you could not underestimate it when you got it by the bushel.'

Buchman had also learnt by this time that if one proposed that people should hand over complete control of their lives to God, or even try to live by absolute moral standards, one provoked active opposition. Sometimes it was of the casual kind which had appeared among students in Penn State when Bill Pickle stopped drinking and bootlegging; at others, the more sophisticated - and, he had begun to think, planned - type of action which had removed him from China. This, of course, was quite a different matter from honest disagreement with his approach, or from the fact that his personality did not appeal to everyone. 'Thank God we can disagree without being disagreeable,' he was wont to say. He wrote to Shoemaker, 'Yes, I am liable to make mistakes as other men are and I always want you to feel you can tell me anything."11 He remained friends with hundreds of people who held sincere intellectual doubts on the way he went about things.