Christianity in the World Today
The wonder of Easter will unfold in majestic settings around the world when millions gather before sunrise to glory in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Services of worship will be held on awe-inspiring mountaintops, in spacious amphitheaters, imposing cathedrals and small country churches. Inner warmth will come to thousands, as men of God unveil again in simple words the greatest miracle of all ages.
One of the notable sunrise services will take place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, where the speaker will be Dr. Norman C. Hunt, University of Edinburgh professor and contributing editor of CHRISTIANITY TODAY.Dr. Carl F. H. Henry, editor of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, will interpret the significance of the service to the Bowl and radio audience.
The message prepared by Dr. Hunt has meaning for people throughout the world. It is presented here, in part:
“Many of us observe the festival, but do not believe the fact, or if we do believe it we know little of its transforming power. Our attitude to Easter is characteristic of our attitude to God; we acknowledge him but we do not really know him. We respect him but we do not love him. Yet the glorious message of Easter is that God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, who by his death and resurrection has made it possible for sinful man to know him. We need to pray Paul’s prayer this morning—‘that I may know him and the power of his resurrection.’
“The prevailing attitude of ordinary, intelligent people to the Christian faith is not one of antagonism but rather of tolerant scepticsm, if not agnosticism. Our times might be called ‘the age of unbelief.’ Call it ‘honest doubt’ if you will, but it is still unbelief. Christ is not denied, but neither is he exalted. He is the great teacher, but not the only saviour. Christian morality is accepted as an ideal but its only dynamic, the spirit of Christ indwelling the heart is rejected. Men are prepared to believe in God in a vague, shadowy sort of way, but a personal God and a personal saviour they cannot, or will not, accept.
“Thinking people everywhere admit that something has gone sadly wrong with society and with the individual, but the biblical diagnosis of it as the spiritual disease called ‘sin’ they refuse to believe. A great change has come over the attitude to religion in the universities during the 10 years or so in which I have been a university teacher. Whereas a decade ago, following the end of the war, there was a surge of optimism and confidence which made religion almost unnecessary, today in common room and quadrangle, students’ union and hall of residence, wherever university people gather to discuss and argue, one is sure to hear someone say, ‘Things are in a mess; it is time we got back to God and the Church.’ Or, ‘What we need is a revival of religion.’
“In a sense, I suppose, this is some little gain in that men are less self-confident than they were, and yet, I cannot help feeling there is a grave danger in all this. All too rarely does the name of Jesus Christ come into the discussion. Why? Because his very name means ‘saviour’ and men who will not believe that they personally are sinners see no reason why they should need a personal saviour. It is all very well to say ‘We must get back to God,’ but God is holy; we are sinful, and between us there is a great gulf fixed which can only be spanned by the atoning work of Christ upon the Cross. ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.’ We need to be reconciled to God.… There is no other way than the Cross of Christ to accomplish this.
“It is because of our persistent refusal to acknowledge the fact of sin in our hearts that God remains distant, unreal, unknown. We may be good living, kindly, hard-working, honest, religious, God-fearing, church-going folk, but we have no certain, assured spiritual anchorage in a world of change and decay. We believe in God, but we do not know him. You may remember the story of Paul in the Greek city of Athens, told in Acts, chaper 17. In that great center of human civilization, that repository of the priceless treasures of art and architecture, philosophy and drama, Paul came upon the altar with the inscription upon it, ‘To the unknown God.’ Small wonder that his spirit rebelled at this prostitution of man’s noblest aspirations, at this evidence of man’s capacity for God, man’s longing after eternal things expressed in the altar, and his spiritual bankruptcy expressed in the inscription. Here was the ultimate agony of man’s idolatry—an altar to an unknown God.
“Paul rose to the occasion as he cried, ‘Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.’ It was all so unnecessary, this ignorance; God had revealed himself in Jesus Christ. No longer need men grope after him, crying, ‘O that I knew where I might find him.’ God’s perfect revelation of himself in Christ had been given for all to see and believe.
“Almost two millennia have come and gone but this world of ours in the 20th Century is spiritually akin to the Athens of the first. All around us are great churches and monuments to Christian leaders. This very land of America is itself a monument to the great faith and Christian conviction of the Founding Fathers. The personal liberty we cherish is based upon the Christian philosophy. Yet, for most of us, God is still unknown, and the altar of our hearts has the same inscription upon it, ‘To the unknown God.’ As a consequence our quest for peace of heart is vain, our lives are purposeless and unsatisfying, our best hopes are frustrated. Our religion brings us no real spiritual satisfaction and some us have already given up trying to maintain the pretence of Christian living.
“Diagnosing aright the fundamental need of these men of Athens who ‘spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing’ (what a commentary that is on our generation). Paul ‘preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection.’ What a gospel for a dead city! The Risen Christ instead of the unknown God; a vital faith instead of a vague, empty philosophy. And who better than Paul to declare such a message? To the Athenians, God was unknown; to Paul, he was the one of whom he could say, ‘I know him in whom I have believed.…’ He had seen him on the Damascus Road; he had known his friendship on many a long, weary journey; he had experienced his consolation when persecuted; he had proved his emancipating power when imprisoned for the sake of the gospel. Paul was sure of Christ; he really knew him.
“Nearly 25 years ago, in my late teens, I got to know him, too. Born in a godly home, trained in the Christian faith from earliest childhood, a regular attender at church, yet God was unknown to me. In my self-confidence and intellectual pride, I saw no reason why I needed to accept Christ for myself, and I despised the sentimental emotionalism, as I saw it, of those who kept harping on the need for a personal decision. How thankful I am that one day God broke my pride, convicted me of my sin, made me realize I was estranged from God, and revealed to me Christ who had died and risen again to make a reconciliation possible. In faith I received him into my life and I was ‘born again.’
“I knew him, and I know him still!”
“One of the most zealously guarded traditions in America is the separation between church and state. Yet there are few nations in which religion exerts greater influence than it does in the United States,” according to a State Department Public Affairs official who examines some 257 religious publications each month.
Harry W. Seamans, Senior Organization Liaison Officer of Public Affairs and active layman in the Methodist Church, who addressed the recent National Association of Evangelicals Convention in Buffalo, New York, said religious freedom and religious influences depend and thrive upon church and state separation.
Only in this way, he said, “could the 268 religious denominations existing in the United States today feel secure that no government privilege will be extended to any one denomination above another.”
Seamans, who interprets State Department policy to representatives of religion who make inquiries, said, “The members of both houses of the U. S. Congress open each session with prayer. Every coin minted today for use is inscribed ‘In God we trust.’ These factors are brought out only to illustrate the extent to which the American government, basing its authority on the consent of the American people, is bound to be influenced indirectly, even without any concerted pressures directed against it, by organized religious groups. Religious influences may be even greater, of course, when various churches band together and deliberately exert pressure in behalf of a moral cause.”
“The Christians in Tibet don’t even know where New York is but they are praying for the Billy Graham Crusade because they know God is going to work there.” Dr. Robert Pierce, President of World Vision, Inc.
“In Washington, since establishing the (NAE) office 13 years ago, we have watched as our freedoms have been threatened. Our government has continued to grow until big government threatens to become, not a government for the people, but in place of the people.” Dr. Clyde W. Taylor, Secretary of Public Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals.
People: Words And Events
Christian Oscars—“Seventeen,” produced for Gospel Films, Inc., by Charles Peterman, wins Christian “Oscars” in four of 10 categories—best actress (Cheryl Lee Oppenhuizen), best direction (Ken Anderson and Ralph Papin), best musical score (Ralph Carmichael) and best soul winning film. Other bests by National Evangelical Film Foundation—best actor, Ray Collins, in “Unfinished Task,” Family Films, Inc.; best motion picture, “Unfinished Task;” best documentary, “Walking Middle East,” Bob Jones University; best missionary film, “Before the Harvest,” Word of Life; best educational film, “Crescent and the Cross,” Winona School of Theology; film with best sermon, “Facts of Faith,” Moody Institute of Science.
Alumni Giving—Moody Bible Institute Alumni, with $200,857 in 1956, ranks 14th among 165 other large private coeducational schools in giving to alma mater. Led by Columbia, Cornell, University of Chicago, New York University, Pennsylvania, Syracuse, Boston, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Loyola, Marquette, Temple, Illinois Institute of Technology.
Separate News Items—Clare Booth Luce, wife of Henry R. Luce, editor of Time and Life, named by University of Notre Dame, to receive 1957 Laetare Medal, given annually to outstanding member of American Catholic Laity.… Henry R. Luce, criticizing separating religion from education in public schools, tells Presbyterian that “secular, agnostic education is the greatest problem facing the Christian Church today.”
Religious Studies—Rockefeller Foundation grants $140,000 to Missions Research Center of University of Chicago for a program of “interreligious studies.” University hopes to bring three experts to Chicago to teach Buddhism to students.
Up in Smoke—Tex McCrary, radio and television producer, unable to obtain representative of tobacco industry to engage in radio debate on smoking and health. Cancels proposed interview on National Broadcasting Company television with Dr. David M. Spain, member of study group that issued recent report warning of direct cause-and-effect relationship between smoking and lung cancer. “Will not be possible for us to participate,” says letter from Tobacco Industry Research Committee.
Link with Faith—Harry Denman, Nashville, Tenn., General Secretary of Methodist Board of Evangelism, following return from Russia, says “the many world-famous religious paintings still on display in Russian museums may be the one link with faith still possessed by the young people of that country.”
Gift from Widow—Mrs. Lillian M. Nelson, 73-year-old widow who has lived frugally all her life, gives Texas Baptists $100,000 in common stocks. Money to be used for missionary work in foreign lands. “If I can’t go to the foreign mission field,” she says, “it is my duty to make provision for those who can. I am obligated to see that the other person has the same opportunity of knowing Christ that I have had.” She and husband, Joseph Edward Nelson, both school teachers, bought no new cars, took few vacations and wore made-over clothes.
Baby-Sitting Fees—No arrangements for a nursery at the site of the 1957 Southern Baptist Convention in Chicago. Groups in charge of arrangements reveal that hotels in city provide “baby sitter” services for parents, but that rates are “very high.”
Deluge of Letters—Over 100 Congressmen received letters from Dr. J. R. Sneed, First Methodist Church, Los Angeles, asking that they press FCC for full investigation of radio station which announced intention of eliminating religious broadcasts. First Methodist program, broadcast since 1923, recently was discontinued.
Digest—Philippine station DYSR, church sponsored, to step up power from 10,000 to 100,000 watts. Will reach Indonesia, Burma, Thailand, East Pakistan, India and other countries.… Public Affairs Commission of Los Angeles Church Federation urges members to oppose state’s “loyalty oath” as threat to separation of Church-State.… Complete Bibles, Testaments, or Bible portions, now published in 1,109 languages.
Dr. Louis H. Evans of Hollywood, Calif., minister-at-large for the Board of National Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A., will receive the “Churchman of the Year” award from the Washington Pilgrimage on April 27.
William Harper Bryan, Baptist layman of St. Louis, Mo., will be named “Lay Churchman of the Year.” Mrs. W. Murdoch MacLeod of New York, general director of United Church Women, will receive the “Church Woman of the Year” award.
The citations will be presented at a dinner in Washington, D. C. during the three-day Pilgrimage which brings together churchmen from over the country to consider the implications of America’s religious heritage. Cecil B. DeMille, movie producer, will make the presentation to Dr. Evans.
The second annual Faith and Freedom Award in Journalism will be announced and presented at the dinner.
Speakers at Pilgrimage sessions will include Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Senator Francis Case (R-S. D.) and Sir Hubert Wilkins, noted explorer.
A massed band concert at the Lincoln Memorial will commemorate addition of the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. Another special ceremony will be held to make the 350th anniversary of the first American settlement at Jamestown, Va.
Dr. Evans formerly served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. He now travels more than 40,000 miles a year, has filled 450 speaking engagements since 1953, and has written several widely-read books.
Mr. Bryan, president of the Associated General Hardware Company of St. Louis, is a trustee of Third Baptist Church there and has taught a Sunday School class since 1923. He has been prominent in St. Louis civic affairs.
Mrs. MacLeod has directed the work of United Church Women, a department of the National Council of Churches since 1948. Previously she was with the Board of Women’s Work, Presbyterian Church in the U. S.
The Issue: Freedom
“Only faith in God can turn back our plunge toward a totalitarian state.… What a travesty it is to see so many of our ministers, and laymen, too, running to Washington to obtain more laws to make more people subject to more government controls!”
These opinions were among those expressed recently by J. Howard Pew, noted industrialist and Presbyterian lay leader, in an address at Chicago to the National Council of Presbyterian Men in the U. S. A.
Mr. Pew, retired president of the Sun Oil Company and for years identified with the Presbyterian Foundation (U. S. A.) Board as a member and president, said, “Those of us who have given years of study to this problem, believe that our country has already gone far beyond the limit of safety.…”
“The Founding Fathers were students of history. They knew that every government throughout recorded history had eventually fallen into the absolute control of unprincipled men, who enslaved the people, confiscated their property and threw the objectors into jail.
“They knew, too, that many of the great minds throughout the world had for thousands of years been pointing out that Divine Law, Moral Law, commonly called Natural Law, must be basic to all man-made laws, if dictators were to be prevented from destroying the freedom of people.
And so our Founding Fathers gave to us a Declaration of Independence, a Constitution and a Bill of Rights, which virtually said to those who might eventually come into control of our government: ‘We the people are endowed by God with certain inalienable rights,’ and that this government was set up primarily for the purpose of protecting the people in the exercise of those rights. In effect it said to them: ‘We the people will handle our own human relations and control our own institutions.’
Answers To Prayer For Crusade
Preparation highlights for the Billy Graham New York Crusade, beginning May 15:
More than 1,500 cooperating churches.
► Telecasts—The Crusade Committee has announced that it is accepting the offer made by a major television network of one hour each Saturday night. The telecast will carry the meetings coast-to-coast from Madison Square Garden. The unusual opportunity, most challenging ever offered an evangelistic undertaking, will be available from the first Saturday in June through the duration of the Crusade. Each telecast will include sufficient time for a choir number, solo by George Beverly Shea, sermon by Graham and the accompanying invitation for commitments to Christ. Plans also call for nightly telecasts over a New York station to begin with the start of the Crusade.
► Counsellor training program—opening enrollment totaled 3,200, with peak enrollment of 4,500 reached at end of second week. (London’s peak was 2,300).
► Prayer—New York Radio Station WABC, flagship station of American Broadcasting Company network, utilized from 12:15 to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Effort joined by thousands in homes, apartments, business offices and factories. Amplified by world-wide program under guidance of Willis G. Haymaker.
► Ushers—more than 2,000 churchmen recruited to fill nightly need of 600 in big 19,000-seat Madison Square Garden.
► Choir—two complete choirs, each with 1,500 voices, being organized. One will sing Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and other to sing Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
► Associate evangelists—enlarged staff will join Dr. Graham in meeting need for scores of daily auxiliary meetings. Includes Grady Wilson and Leighton Ford of Graham team, the Rev. Joseph Blinco and the Rev. Stephen Olford of London, Dr. Paul S. Rees, First Covenant Church, Minneapolis; Howard Butt, layman-evangelist from Corpus Christi, Texas; Paul Little, former Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship staff member.
► Special speakers for pastors’ workshops—Dr. L. David Cowie, University Presbyterian Church, Seattle; Dr. Robert Boyd Munger, First Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, Calif.; the Rev. John Stott, All Souls’ Church, Langham Place, London and the Rev. Tom Allan, organizer of “Tell Scotland” movement, Glasgow.
► Group reservations—new high reached. Chartered trains, planes and buses already arranged from such distant points as Oklahoma City, Houston, Nashville, Richmond, Louisville, Detroit and Toronto.
“Today our courts and our politicians spurn Natural Law. They refuse to accept it as the basic law of our land.
“The issue is freedom, just as it was 180 years ago; and freedom can exist only in a state where the people generally accept honesty, truth, fairness, generosity, justice and charity as a rule for their conduct. If the people of a state accept bribery, guile, cupidity, deception and selfishness as a rule for their conduct, then the strong exploit the weak, might becomes right, and anarchy stalks the land. Freedom under such conditions for the individual is no longer possible.
“But honesty, truth, fairness, generosity, justice and charity are the attributes of Christianity. So if we would have individual freedom, we must first have faith in God. William Penn truly said: ‘Man will either be governed by God or ruled by tyrants.’
“The wearers of the cloth have long realized that religious freedom is of paramount importance if America is to remain great; but far too few of our ministers realize that religious freedom cannot exist in a collectivist state, because freedom is indivisible.
Thus, if we should lose our industrial freedom, then religious freedom, political freedom, and all other freedoms will certainly fall. Christ depended on the power of persuasion. He saw clearly that attitudes of the heart cannot be changed by coercion, law or penalty.
“When Christians lose faith in the message of Jesus and seek to reform society by the power of the state, they are in effect appealing from God to Caesar; they are resorting to force because they have lost faith in the power of their religion.…
“During the last hundred years, America has made far greater material progress than was previously achieved by the whole world during all recorded history. How did America accomplish so much in so little time?
“There seems to be only one answer to this question—individual freedom. Today most people are losing their interest in freedom because they are prejudiced in favor of certain objectives which deny the true concept of freedom.
“This is not a new subject. Lincoln was deeply concerned over it, for in 1864 in a speech to the American people he said:
“ ‘The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty, but in using the same word, we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men and the products of other men’s labor. Here are two not only different but incompatible things, called by the same name—liberty.’
“Lincoln believed that each man should control his own life and the product of his labor, provided that by so doing he did not infringe upon the rights of others.
This is the concept of liberty which was held by our Founding Fathers, who bequeathed to us the finest form of government ever conceived in the minds of men.
“Real liberty is the freedom of the individual to exercise his talents, his initiative, his ingenuity and his resourcefulness. It is freedom to be an individual. Bogus liberty is the freedom of the individual to have the security of a government bird cage.
“In 1790, John Philpot Curran, the great Irish patriot, said: ‘The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.’ Now Curran did not invent that idea. He undoubtedly acquired it from the letters of Saint Paul and from the teachings of Christ himself.
“Saint Paul wrote: ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.’ And again he wrote: ‘Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.’
“But it was Christ who taught us, saying: ‘If ye continue in my word … ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ ”
Religion At Harvard
A Harvard University student committee has urged that the study of religion be given a more prominent place in the liberal arts curriculum.
The committee’s recommendations were based on a survey of the state of religion at Harvard since 1954.
Sixty per cent of 150 undergraduates who answered a questionnaire replied that religion or faith was necessary to achieve a “fully mature” philosophy of life. Twenty-three per cent replied that it was not.
The report stressed that Harvard had “intensely religious” origins and traditions, which were broken by the rise of the 18th century rationalism and 19th century liberal unitarianism.
Birth Of Church
May, 1960, has been set as the time for the constituting convention of the new Lutheran Church that will emerge from the union of at least three, and possibly five, Lutheran denominations.
The target date for the birth of the new church was fixed by the Joint Union Committee of the Evangelical, American and United Evangelical Lutheran Churches.
These groups, committed to union by convention actions last year, may be joined by the Lutheran Free Church and the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (Suomi Synod). Both are scheduled to make decisions on merger this summer.
With more than 2,000,000 members, the proposed merged body will be known as “The American Lutheran Church” and will have its national headquarters in Minneapolis.
Far East Chaplains
Dr. L. Nelson Bell’s article on Korea, in the February 18 issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, mentioned that chaplains in the Korean and Chinese Nationalist armies are supported by their respective governments.
Information has now been received that the Indonesian and Philippine armies also have Protestant Chaplains assigned to their armed forces. Christians have expressed profound thanks for this significant development in the Far East.
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