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Christianity in the World Today

A crusade that may be destined to shape the pattern of American Protestantism in the latter half of the twentieth century opened in San Francisco’s Cow Palace on Sunday afternoon, April 27, before an overflow crowd of more than 18,000.

With nearly 300,000 advance reservations received a week before opening date, the Billy Graham team reported that statistically San Francisco was surpassing every other campaign, including New York. Participating churches, counsellors, buses … all are breaking records: only New Yorks total budget figure remains unchallenged.

It was not the size of opening throngs that marked off this Billy Graham crusade from previous campaigns, however. What makes San Francisco significant is the definite theological shifting and realignment that is taking place. Discussions in past weeks at student and faculty meetings in the numerous seminaries and Bible schools of the bay area, at pastoral conferences, at denominational and ecumenical gatherings and ministerial breakfasts, have moved inevitably toward the burning issue: Is the San Francisco Bay Cities Crusade authentic Christianity or is it not?

By opening day the opinion had crystallized and the lines were being drawn. The division was not the one so familiar to America of “liberal” and “evangelical.” The great central segment of Protestantism was committed to a mass evangelistic effort as never before. Twelve hundred churches had responded, 300 more than on opening day in New York, and a number of them showing a drive and zeal—not to say hospitality—that astonished the Graham team. Endorsements came in from councils of churches and denominational offices, though not from all. An attitude worthy of note was expressed by ...

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