‘Deep Divisions’

Cutting the Gospel “down to a size that fits” into our culture has resulted in “one of the deep dilemmas facing contemporary overseas mission work.”

In expressing this opinion at the annual meeting of the National Council of Churches’ Division of Foreign Missions, Dr. Eugene L. Smith of New York, chairman of the division’s executive board, charged that Protestant theology in the United States has been moulded by “our fabulous and unmatched prosperity.”

The official, in his address to some 300 representatives of 45 Protestant denominations at the five-day conference in Buck Hill Falls, Pennsylvania, stated:

“To the very degree we become successful, influential and established, we move away from the radical and, therefore, disturbing elements of Christian truth. We expurgate the Gospel of those elements which embarrass us by their radicalism, their grandeur or their terrifying purity.…

“By preaching a culturally-rooted Christianity, many have been guilty of theological parochialism at its arrogant worst. From such aggressive blindness, the Church has suffered deeply, and there have developed some of the deep divisions within Christianity.”

Charging that contemporary preaching often smacks of “obscurantism” and “lack of clarity,” he said ministers frequently feed their congregations “theological half-truths” and fail to preach “the whole Gospel” in terms that can be understood by the average man.

Dr. Roy G. Ross, general secretary of the Council, said Christianity in the Far East was hampered by Protestant divisiveness and an awakened new missionary zeal on the part of other religions.

Much of the divisiveness in Asia was attributed to “sect groups.”

Referring to a mass resurgence of Buddhism in the Far East, he said ...

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