Statement Of Policy And Purpose

With this issue CHRISTIANITY TODAY begins its third year of publication. For many religious periodicals this is a time of trial and trouble; for CHRISTIANITY TODAY it has been an era of heartening growth.

This enlargement of influence is directly linked to the resurgence of interest in evangelical Christianity. The new feeling for biblical theology and evangelism, the widening awareness that the Christian revelation speaks directly and authoritatively to the crisis of modern culture, are sure signs of the times. CHRISTIANITY TODAY seeks to sustain and to advance these interests.

At a time of anniversary it is appropriate to review foundational convictions and guiding principles. CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S vast reader audience will be interested in the original statement of policy and purpose:

There is a growing conviction among ministers and laymen that a magazine is needed to present evangelical Christianity competently, attractively, and forcefully. It is felt that evangelical Christianity has often been misrepresented by both liberal and fundamentalist. Some liberals have not taken time to study the works of evangelical scholars; some fundamentalists have been so busy attacking others that they have failed to present adequately the positive aspects of historical Christianity.

The main thrust of CHRISTIANITY TODAY will be to present in a positive and constructive way the basic truths of the Christian faith as clearly taught in the Scriptures. Mindful of the great creeds of the historic evangelical churches, it will be neither reactionary nor static. The magazine will seek to present the content of the Christian faith on a high ethical plane, undergirded by Christian love, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Designed to win men to the evangelical faith, the magazine will request all contributors to keep this specific aim prayerfully in mind.

Those who direct the editorial policy of CHRISTIANITY TODAY unreservedly accept the reliability and authority of the written Word of God. It is their conviction that the Scriptures teach the doctrine of plenary inspiration. They believe sincerely that the lack of spiritual power in the pulpit today is often due to lack of confidence in the Bible as the final authority in matters of faith and practice.

Today many sincere Christian men hold to such central revealed truths of the Bible as the deity and vicarious atonement of Jesus Christ, but are hesitant about the doctrine of plenary inspiration. There is general acceptance of other vital doctrines of the Word, though the Bible is thought to contain errors. Nonetheless, such men will be solicited for articles which otherwise conform to the central teachings of the Scriptures.

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The policy of CHRISTIANITY TODAY will be to apply the biblical revelation vigorously to the contemporary social crisis, by presenting the implications of the total Gospel message in every area of life. Fundamentalism has often failed to do this. Christian laymen are becoming increasingly aware that the answer to the many problems of political, industrial, and social life is a theological one. They are looking to the Christian Church for guidance in these spheres. We have the conviction that a consecrated and gifted evangelical scholarship can provide strategic answers.

There is a realization that the period of three years in a theological seminary is not sufficient to prepare a student fully for the ministry. CHRISTIANITY TODAY will seek to supplement seminary training with sermonic helps, pastoral advice, and book reviews. To achieve this end it will solicit articles from leading ministers and theologians.

The list of evangelical scholars is growing. This is evident in America, Great Britain, and the Continent. The magazine will provide a medium of scholarly exchange of viewpoints by the publication of articles from such sources. This should prove helpful to the busy minister, who usually has little access to the works of scholars in other lands.

By enlisting correspondents from all countries and large cities, CHRISTIANITY TODAY will provide a comprehensive view of religious life and theological movements throughout the world.

The magazine will seek to avoid controversial doctrinal discussions growing out of distinctive denominational differences, while defending the great emphases of the historic creeds. It does not intend to concern itself with purely internal problems and conflicts of the various denominations. If significant enough, there will be objective reports of such.

CHRISTIANITY TODAY will view objectively all movements such as the World Council of Churches, National Council of Churches, National Association of Evangelicals, American Council of Christian Churches, etc. Evaluation of the policies and actions of such movements will be governed by the principles involved, rather than bias.

Those enlisted as contributing editors, correspondents, and as contributors of articles, may not find themselves in full agreement with all the policies and objectives of CHRISTIANITY TODAY. Nevertheless they will be in entire agreement with the main endeavor of the magazine: to enrich the ministry with the fruit of evangelical scholarship.

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To this end, CHRISTIANITY TODAY solicits prayer, support, and constructive criticism.


The Art Of Keeping Christ At A Distance

The interests of the 115-year-old financial journal The Economist often reach far beyond the business world. A recent issue turns a critical eye on the spiritual outlook in England. An article titled “How Many in the Pew?” yields statistical data that 8 million adults in Britain attend church fairly regularly; about 18 million apparently feel guilty that they do not; 12 million others assert they never will attend.

Comments The Economist:

England is much less evangelised than it was 60 years ago.… Presumably the immediate task is to bring back to church some of those who are not, at any rate, either indifferent or hostile, as well as their children; for that task the clergy are few.… Some inkling of its difficulty is suggested in the Gallup poll’s discovery that 79 per cent of those asked thought it possible to be a Christian without going to church.… There was a big majority for the proposition that economic security was more important than religion, that politics could do more for people than religion.… The general picture which emerges is that of a Britain in which probably less than a quarter take their religious observances seriously; in which, admittedly, the genuinely anti-clerical minority is smaller than in most other countries; but in which about 70 per cent of people regard the Christian religion as a good thing provided it does not interfere with their private lives.

American churchmen will find scant comfort in the better news that a majority of persons in the United States are church affiliated. For, as in Britain, the Christian religion remains on the margin of many streams shaping cultural and social influences on the American scene. All too many church members, moreover, think Christianity is a desirable force in national life provided it does not crowd them too disturbingly for sacrificial dedication.


A Major Contribution To Historical Research

Nashville, Tennessee, “The Athens of the South,” may soon become a major center for historical study and research in American Protestantism. A first step in this development was the dedication of the million-dollar library and museum of the Disciples of Christ Historical Society in Nashville, September 12–14.

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The magnificent Tudor Gothic structure with its ultra-modern library facilities was the gift of the Phillips family in Pennsylvania and dedicated as a memorial to Thomas W. Phillips, pioneer Disciple layman. It is strategically situated in a cul de sac surrounded by Vanderbilt University, Scarritt College and Peabody College and is adjacent to the Joint University Library. Two other major Protestant communions are planning to locate their official historical collections in this area.

The Disciples have set a high standard for what may follow. Their building is air-conditioned throughout, and the moisture-controlled stacks and vaults guarantee maximum care for all manuscripts, documents, books, pictures and relics. In rooms that look like chapels from the outside, are rows of shelves filled with church publications for browsing. There are lecture rooms for small assemblies. There are cubicles for writers and researchers. There are facilities for microfilming, projection and visual instruction; also work rooms for cleaning and repairing books, paintings and relics.

Invaluable for Disciples in the location, collection, cataloging, arranging and preserving of historical materials related to the Nineteenth Century “Restoration-Unity” movement led by Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Barton W. Stone and Walter Scott, this Nashville center is also a valuable contribution to general church history and to modern ecumenical study.


Compulsory Chapel Attendance At Our Military Academies

What a nation does with minorities often reflects its greatness or weaknesses as fully as what the majority does.

One of the ironies of contemporary American life is that community policy is being conformed in many sectors to the views of a vocal minority of secularists. Even more strange, Protestant clergy in some instances have become aggressive spokesmen for the non-religious humanists.

Now the Rev. Curtis Crawford of First Unitarian Church in Annapolis raises the issue of compulsory church attendance at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. He insists that the regulation requiring chapel attendance there, at West Point, and at the new Air Force Academy in Colorado, is hardly consonant with the American concept of religious freedom. The freedom not to believe requires the freedom not to attend.

The American tradition is a God-fearing tradition, and the incorporation of the words “under God” into the pledge of national allegiance indicates that sometimes congressmen have a clearer vision of national priorities than some of our clergy. That does not mean, indeed, that atheists and agnostics cannot be absorbed into the American culture, nor that they should be coerced into religious conformity; religious freedom assuredly is one of America’s great distinctives. But while the majority must respect the rights of the minority, the minority too are obliged to recognize the rights of the majority. A military tradition in which the recognition and worship of God is rendered optional becomes, in the context of the modern struggle with totalitarianism, a significant secular concession in a society that is by tradition and at heart theistic.

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We shall need to find a way through the problem of minorities without allowing them to determine major turns of majority policy. As it is, cadets and midshipmen are not required to worship, but simply to attend. While church affiliation is a majority phenomenon in American life, the idea of chapel attendance specially commends itself. But would not the requirement of attendance likewise gain force if the American church members attended voluntarily with the same regularity that they expect midshipmen and cadets to attend compulsorily?


Protestant Press Month: The Place Of The Editor

October is Protestant Press Month and the editors of CHRISTIANITY TODAY would pause to pay tribute to their fellow craftsmen. The debt Protestantism owes its editors can never be repaid in anything but profound appreciation.

In the secular field, newspaper and magazine editorials serve the general public in forming conclusions which the reader may not have the resources to reach entirely on his own. The religious editor does that much and more for his readers. He is dedicated, not only to do research which is hard to come by for the average Christian leader, but to study and declare these facts in the light of biblical principles.

Thus to offer guidance is to fulfill an aspect of the Christian commission to witness. The evangelical editorial can serve to maintain the clarity of the Christian testimony and to sharpen its lines of relevance to the church and the community.

Our readers may disagree with our views, but if we have stimulated an interest which draws forth a well-stated counter view we have encouraged Christian thought. Editorials are never impositions. Editors always want to be right, but even when they are wrong they serve the best interests of the cause of Christ in opening the way for balanced discussion.

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In these crisis days an unusual opportunity belongs to evangelical editors. May we seek God’s guidance to meet the challenges of the hour.


Does The Minister Grasp His Layman’S Problems?

During the recent conference on “Christianity and Law” at University of Chicago, Professor Markus Barth made a startling statement. “Clarence Darrow,” he said, “while a professed non-Christian, may have been more Christian than a church-attending corporation lawyer who never gets his hands dirty.” Yet an attorney subsequently pointed out that the corporation lawyer is not hard put to soil his hands in the course of his professional duties.

Professor Barth was disappointed that solution of another ethical problem did not include consultation with a minister. But it is commonplace that laymen often shun discussion with their ministers on the ethical problems arising in their vocations. Rightly or wrongly, “the reverend” is seen as one who has never had to make the same kind of ethical choices as those who “deal with the world.” Supposedly cellophane-wrapped through college and seminary, the theological student is observed spending even summers in church work. Graduation then thrusts him upon the parishioner who asks himself, “How could he possibly understand what I face on weekdays?”

The church’s seminaries and the church’s clergy should concern themselves with this problem. Empathic agape is a prerequisite. What about a measure of practical experience? Or a program that will bring the professional lay leader and his minister into a frank sharing of the ethical dilemmas faced in the course of Christian vocation, and into an earnest quest for the light shed upon them by the Christian revelation.


Will To Greatness In Russia And America

America is rapidly changing one of her basic attitudes to life. The will to greatness is being stifled by a demand for security of a sort which will be bought at the price of national solvency and personal freedom.

Adlai Stevenson, after a four-week tour of Russia, wrote that “Men Working” is the symbol of Russia today. He said: “I bring back with me an image of a vast, rich, underdeveloped country hard at work with the single-minded purpose to build itself up to challenge America’s world leadership.”

We have been rightly proud of our great industrial, social and cultural achievements. All are the blessings of God through free enterprise and hard work. Now there is grave danger of thinking that progress can be maintained by other means, shifting the emphasis from work to leisure, from personal and corporate initiative to security guaranteed by government.

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The fear of competition from a socialistic state may seem incompatable with the views expressed above, but the crucial difference between the Communist government of Russia and our Republican form of government, is that in Russia its people are being urged to harder work and greater endeavor, while in America the bureaucrats are holding out to the people the mirage of ease, pleasure and security.

How great is that difference? It is the difference between progress and regression; between continued greatness and an enveloping mediocrity.


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