Seeking an evangelistic breakthrough in Switzerland, where the Protestant Reformation once struck deep roots, Dr. Billy Graham’s experiment with two-day crusades in Berne, Zürich, Basel and Lausanne provided the most extensive mass meetings for evangelism in Swiss history. The spiritual hunger of the masses was attested not only by crowds running into the tens of thousands, but by the fact that hundreds in each city overcame their natural and traditional reticence and registered public decisions for Christ.
Although Barthian theology crippled the hold of liberalism on Swiss church life, Barth’s notion that all men are already saved in Christ, and need merely to learn the news, is one of the factors retarding evangelism. Graham and Barth spent a day together in advance of the crusades, and while Barth acknowledged no hope for this world other than in the return of Christ, he also expressed lack of enthusiasm for Graham’s evangelistic invitation asking sinners to “accept Christ in order to be saved.” Graham said that the revival of theological thought and the awakening interest in evangelism could once again profoundly affect social and political life.
In a meeting with ministers in Basel, Editor Carl F. H. Henry of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, who also addressed well-attended gatherings of the clergy in Berne, Zurich and Lausanne on the rim of the Graham meetings, gave a spirited critique of neo-orthodox theology from the standpoint of evangelical apprehensions.
Graham’s pattern of two-night outdoor meetings in Switzerland was an experimental venture to conserve his strength while multiplying the strategic centers of his ministry. In Berne he was preceded by associate evangelist Roy Gustafson who conducted one-night services in nearby ...1
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