Last summer’s World Student Christian Federation conference in Strasbourg, France, on the mission of the Church was the culmination of several years’ discussion. Now, half a year later, it is far from forgotten. Afterthoughts are still provoked, particularly over an “ideology” of missions which seemed to float through the conference and its study materials.

One delegate expressed the matter this way: “The ‘ideology’ or presupposition of some of those responsible for the Strasbourg conference might be stated thus: that the present structures and organizations of the church, particularly those of missionary societies and boards, are no longer adequate to meet the challenge of the modern age and enter into a positive, free encounter with a ‘world come of age.’ Expressed more bluntly, the inference seemed to be this: one of the greatest hindrances and stumbling blocks to the mission of the church to the world is foreign missions. The answer: a new concept of ecumenical mission, unhampered by denominationalism, confessionalism, missionary societies, or boards, which would in the freedom of the Holy Spirit discover new forms and patterns for living in an open, dynamic dialogue on the frontiers of the modern world.”

Those who offered this criticism conceded that this mood was a disturbing undertone rather than an avowed policy of the conferees. In fact, over against the idea of any WSCF conspiracy to undermine missions, stands its originally defined missionary raison d’être: “To enlist students in the work of extending the Kingdom of God throughout the whole world.” Over the past decades, however, observers have noted WSCF’s missionary concern to be considerably less than overwhelming. Thus recent signs of awakening interest have ...

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