The National Council of United Presbyterian Men was cautioned against the perils of ecclesiastical meddling in political and economic affairs, in which church leaders are fallible, to the neglect of inspired precepts and principles, by J. Howard Pew, president of The Foundation of the Presbyterian Church in U.S.A.

The session in Chicago’s Palmer House marked the first united meeting in a century of laymen of the Presbyterian and United Presbyterian Churches, scheduled to merge in May.

Mr. Pew declared that the Foundation, already gifted with more than $700,000, is concerned not only with acquisition and custody of funds, but with “the preservation of a spiritual heritage of precept and principle” embodied in the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

Mr. Pew stressed the basic Presbyterian tenets of individual freedom to exercise private judgment in matters of conscience, and the corporate church’s restriction from involvement in matters that are properly the concern of the state.

The founders of Presbyterianism, he granted, “fully believed that the teachings of Christ should be extended to every aspect of human affairs,” and it is “the very essence of Presbyterianism that churchmen shall apply the principles of their religion to every problem that confronts them.” But he emphasized the right of individual determination in public affairs and clerical fallibility in political and economic matters: “If we subject ourselves to the advice or opinions of a governing group in a matter which each of us ought to decide for himself, we are simply ascribing to it an infallibility which, in fact, it does not possess.” The Westminster Divines, he noted, incorporated into the Confession of Faith a statement on the possibility of error in such pronouncements: “All synods and councils since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err, and many have erred; therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith or practice.…” He considered “it is likely that our church fathers had in mind the impossibility of finding any individual or groups of individuals possessing a sufficient store of knowledge to justify them in passing judgment on every conceivable subject.”

“Our forebears learned from experience,” Mr. Pew remarked, “that when the church assumed the right to sit in judgment on secular affairs, it became involved in all kinds of economic, social and political controversies, and it largely-destroyed its power for good.… They knew that the welfare of our corporate church would best be served by restricting it to those activities which deal with the attributes of Christianity as defined in the Holy Bible.”

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Noting that most church controversies have grown “out of the issue of freedom,” Mr. Pew posed a series of pointed questions to his lay audience:

“Are we now to regard our church Constitution as a scrap of paper?

“Are we to plunge our church into issues of international trade and all other international relationships?

“Is our church to dictate to government its policies on agriculture, natural resources, and all other relationships between government and people?

“Is our church competent to determine all relationships in social and economic life?

“Should our church set itself up as an authority on public education?

“Should it become involved in all other secular areas of our common life?

“And, are we to repudiate one of the basic tenets of Protestantism by having our church exercise control over the thinking of its members?

“Does our church have a mandate from its members to do these things?

“In fact, should our church have a Division of Social Education and Action?”

Upon the “wise determination” of these “grave issues,” he added, “depends the future of this magnificent Presbyterian institution.”

“Changing human hearts is a slower process,” he said, “but it is far more certain to accomplish the desired results. Let the church not appeal from God to Caesar, but let it devote its energy to that of promoting Christian grace—honesty, truth, fairness, generosity, justice and charity—in the hearts of men.”

Mr. Pew noted the layman’s crucial role in extending Christian influences to the social realm. He spoke of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as “universal, all-embracing, and sufficient to meet the needs of mankind.” But in contrast with ecclesiastical coercion, he commented that “the determination of right and wrong is solely a matter for the individual, subject only to the divine authority which speaks to him through his conscience. Free Christian men will apply the Gospel to all areas of life, to all human activities, to the individual in his life and work, and to society in all of its relationships.”

Dominion Notes

Figures released by the United Church of Canada show more than $5,750,000 given to its Missionary and Maintenance Fund in the past fiscal year, largest amount in history and a 10 per cent increase over the previous year.… The “sector plan” for boosting church budgets was credited for a 33 per cent increase in receipts among 58 congregations of metropolitan Toronto.… A $1,000,000 building under construction in Toronto to house United Church headquarters will be named “The United Church House”.… Dr. Lewi Petrus of Stockholm will speak at the Fifth World Conference of Pentecostal Church in Toronto next September.… Canadian Lutheran World Relief obtained 2,000,000 pounds of dry milk from the government for distribution in East Germany.

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After 50 Years

Some 1,000 “Sons of Freedom,” an extremist group of the communal Doukhobor sect, voted at a meeting in Vancouver to move to Russia if British Columbia will provide necessary funds.

A four-man delegation recently returned from Russia reported to the assembly on the possibility of settling in southwestern Siberia.

The 2,500 “Sons” in Canada have been causing trouble for nearly 50 years. They have been repudiated by the 12,000 orthodox Doukhobors because of nude parades and acts of violence.

The Doukhobors came to Canada from Russia at the beginning of the century under an agreement that they would not be required to bear arms for their adopted country. Most of the Doukhobors have observed the laws and cooperated with authorities.

The “Sons,” however, have stirred up agitation time after time in protest of governmental rule. Their acts of violence have involved the burning of schools and community buildings.

South America

Literary Moves

A Christian literature workshop prompted creation of a school of Christian journalism at Cordoba, Argentina.

Alec Clifford and Paul Sheetz, both of Verbo magazine, will direct the new school. Most of the new enrollees are students at the University of Cordoba, for 300 years an active center of Roman Catholicism in South America.

The workshop, held earlier this month, was under the auspices of LEAL (Literature Evangelica para America Latina) and featured classes in writing, advertising, libraries, and salesmanship.

In Rio de Janeiro 66 representatives of several major denominations met last month to form a Portuguese counterpart of the Spanish LEAL.

Plans were drawn up for training courses in journalism for Brazilian evangelicals.

A popular magazine is to be published also.

A. C

Worth Quoting

“No federal scholarships, thank you.”—Dr. V. Raymond Edman, head of Wheaton College, in a letter to President Eisenhower.

“Nowhere is corruption in government more apparent than in what we call ‘foreign aid.’ … This Mutual Security Program strikes at, and if continued much longer, may destroy, our religion, our way of life, the Constitution and, therefore, all decent and moral civilization.… During this century, the individual citizen’s unalienable rights to freedom and property have been whittled away or seized by big centralized government. The foreign aid program constitutes another long and insidious step towards the extinguishment of these rights.”—The Hon. Spruille Braden, to the American Coalition of Patriotic Societies, in Washington.

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‘We need to define, much more clearly and implicitly than we have yet defined it, the intimate relationship between a man’s religious faith and what he does in his business. We need to demonstrate that religion is just as relevant to the individual in his office as in his home or church. Especially do we need to establish explicitly-understood Christian principles for the conduct of business affairs. The decisions they are required to make often require courage that can come only from conscious adherence to eternal verities, not the shifting sands of expediency.”—James C. Worthy, vice-president, Sears, Roebuck and Company.

“The most ridiculous statements that I know are ‘Liquor doesn’t affect me’ and ‘I understand the Russians.’ ”—Charles E. Bohlen, former ambassador to Russia.

“Just why so many Americans want to see our highest officials fraternizing with the men of the Kremlin who have on their hands the blood of the Hungarian patriots is difficult to understand, particularly in a country dedicated to high ideals and where the slightest impropriety in our own governmental circles is pounced upon as a violation of public morals.”—David Lawrence, columnist and editor of United States News and World Report.


An Argument Won

“It is fair to say that we have won the argument against humanism in this generation. After two world wars, with Buchenwald and Belsen, people no longer believe in an escalator to perfection. The Bible is vindicated in its low view of human nature unredeemed by Christ.”

Dr. W. E. Sangster, superintendent of the British Methodist Home Mission, told a Belfast audience of evangelical Christianity’s contribution to remedying social evils of past decades in Britain. William Wilberforce, Zachary Macaulay and others identified with the “Clapham Sect” obtained the emancipation of the slaves. Lord Shaftesbury and other evangelicals worked to secure better conditions in Britain’s factories and mines, and Dr. Barnardo made it his life work to care for homeless and destitute children.

Added Superintendent Sangster:

“People today have no sense of sin. That is one of the characteristics of our age and one of the things that the man in the street has against the evangelical preacher is that he is always talking of sin.”

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S. W. M.


Harmony Or Division?

The question confronting this year’s meeting of the Congo Protestant Council at Leopoldville was this:

Should delegates support the proposed merger of the International Missionary Council with the World Council of Churches at the risk of losing unity and harmony among themselves?

The delegates’ decision to withdraw from IMC was made to allow the young Congo church itself to reach future decisions on international cooperation.

The growing importance of the native workers was manifest at the Leopoldville meeting as they sat on equal terms with delegates from the foreign missions.

The meeting ended March 1 on an optimistic note. Said one observer:

“There was no doubt in the minds of the delegates, particularly the Congolese, that denominationalism should be avoided and that every effort should be made to stress the Christian brotherhood over tribal or other affiliations. The Congo Protestant Council has so shown over the years this unity of missionary effort that its example is now bearing fruit and it warmed the hearts of older missionaries to see that their efforts towards unity had made a deeper impression than they had believed possible.”

Middle East

First Impressions

In old Egypt they call it Al-gumhouriya al-Arabiya al-Muttahida, meaning the United Arab Republic, which came into being with the formal union of Syria and Egypt. A constitution for the new state was published this month after nationwide plebiscites had approved the action.

Through radio and via sound trucks, old Egypt heard the merits of the merger expounded. British and American imperialism was repeatedly identified as the foe against whom the new union was built for protection. Press editorials had little else to talk about. Columns of advertising space were given over to congratulations for Gamal Abdel Nasser, president of the U.A.R.

When word was given to go ahead with celebrations, crews went to work around the clock on a crash basis to prepare decorations. Big firms and merchants paid most of the decorating bills, in exchange for the opportunity to exhibit their names alongside tributes to Nasser.

Much of the celebration activity was government-organized. Even large school delegations which witnessed the official ceremonies were there because regional officers of the Ministry of Education instructed them to be there. Selected organizers picked out selected students to do the parading. Public reaction was to make way for the processions, exercise patience until they were past, and then to go on about the day’s duties.

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What effect will the merger have upon Christian witness in the United Arab Republic?

Nowhere did there appear to be any radical change in governmental attitudes toward religion.

The Religious News Service reported from Damascus that the U. A. R. provisional constitution contains no stipulation for a state religion. The constitution declares that all religions are equal before the law.

Previous constitutions of Egypt stated that “Islam is the religion of the state.” Syrian constitutions of recent years, while not mentioning a state religion, provided that “the religion of the President of the Republic should be Islam.”

Two trends hostile to the West were evident even before the union: Pressure against missions has been gradually increasing throughout the past several years, while the feelings of the people have been anti-American. This has been true in both Egypt and Syria. The merger move was not expected to alter the situation.

An observer in Jordan saw the integration of the two Hashemite kingdoms as helpful to the large number of leaderless Greek Orthodox Christians in Iraq. A number of new priests are expected to be sent there and more churches are predicted. The majority of Christians in both of the merged countries of Iraq and Jordan belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Some Middle East mission boards see merger plans of their own as beneficial to the work. Presbyterian and Anglican functions have been strengthening ties for a united approach.

Missionaries throughout the Arab world are placing great hopes in a proposed Christian radio station in Lebanon, a country which aspires to be the Switzerland of the Middle East.


Centennial Formulated

Select national and foreign missionaries representing a wide variation of church polity and theological outlook have agreed to join forces on the basis of “a common belief in the Bible as the Word of God and our only infallible rule of faith and practice” for the promotion of this year’s Japanese Protestant Centennial.

An executive committee was named to plan a series of centennial conferences to October. Week-long meetings will be held in Tokyo and Osaka. Shorter series are planned for several other big cities.

J. A. MCA.

Jewish Japanese

A number of Japanese converts to Judaism are expected to take advantage of a decision by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate that recognizes them as bona-fide Jews. The decision will enable the Jewish Japanese to enter Israel under the “Law of the Return,” which guarantees every Jew in the world automatic Israeli citizenship and emigration to Israel with all expenses paid.

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There are now about 8,000 Jews in Japan, organized into a group called the Union of Jewish Japanese. The group is led by two university professors, an atomic scientist and a prominent naval engineer, both of whom took part in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

Union members speak only Hebrew among themselves, circumcise their children, and attend services in their own synagogues.

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