Creeping liberalism within the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod constituency was dealt a dramatic rebuke this month by a sister synod with which it has cooperated for nearly 90 years. By a surprisingly decisive 124-to-49 standing vote, delegates to the 36th biennial meeting of the 352,563-member Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod adopted a resolution suspending fellowship with the Missouri Synod.
The resolution, passed after a 10-hour debate on the last day of the 10-day meeting in Milwaukee, cited Romans 16:17–18 as a basis:
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”
The break has the effect of ending joint worship and, eventually, of dissolving joint projects such as cooperative missions stations, charities, and campus ministries.
The Missouri and Wisconsin synods have worked together through the medium of the Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America. They are the two principal members. Relations with the other two members, the 14,000-member Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (Slovak) and the 9,000-member Evangelical Lutheran Synod (Norwegian), were not affected by the latest Wisconsin Synod action.
Another resolution passed by the Wisconsin delegates stressed that in voting the suspension they were not “passing judgment on the personal faith of any individual member of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod,” but that they were addressing themselves to the corporate body.
Still another resolution left the way open for a renewal of fellowship, declaring that “under conditions which do not imply a denial of our previous testimony we stand ready to resume discussions with the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod with the aim of re-establishing unity of doctrine and practice and of restoring fellowship relations, these discussions to be conducted outside the framework of fellowship.”
Earlier in the convention, the Rev. Oscar J. Naumann, who was re-elected Wisconsin Synod president, sharply criticized the Missouri Synod’s liberal tendencies.
He said that a new statement prepared by the Missouri Synod’s theological faculties constituted an attack on the authority of Scripture.
“The time has certainly arrived for our synod to speak clearly and in unmistakable terms concerning this development,” Naumann declared. “When confidence has been destroyed it can be rebuilt only by the action of those who have destroyed it.”
He added that “we have not been shown that our presentation on any doctrine has gone beyond the teaching of Scripture. Therefore, we must say with Luther that unless we are shown from the clear Word of God where we have erred, we cannot recant or alter our position.”
He said that all the church’s preaching depended upon the certainty of the Bible and its unchallenged authority.
The president of the Missouri Synod, Dr. John W. Behnken, subsequently addressed the delegates and issued a fruitless plea:
“If there are errors in our midst, then remain with us and help correct these errors.”
Behnken said that differences between the two synods were not in doctrine but in the application of the Scripture. He said that the statement on the Bible referred to earlier by Naumann was merely a study document submitted to the denomination’s clergy for examination and still subject to correction. He asserted that both synods had subscribed to the same official statement on biblical authority.
Text Of Resolution Suspending Fellowship
Excerpts from a resolution adopted at the 36th biennial meeting of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod suspending fellowship with the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod:
“Whereas the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod has lodged many admonitions and protests with the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod during the past 20 years to win her from the path that leads to liberalism in doctrine and practice … and, whereas, our admonitions have largely gone unheeded and issues have remained unresolved; and … whereas the Commission on Doctrinal Matters has faithfully carried out its directions to continue discussions but now regretfully reports that differences with respect to the Scriptural principles of church fellowship … have brought us to an impasse … therefore, be it resolved that we now suspend fellowship with the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod on the basis of Romans 16:17–18 with the hope and prayer to God that the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod will hear in this resolution an evangelical summons to ‘come to herself’ (Luke 15:17) and to return to the side of the sister from whom she has estranged herself.”
At Norfolk, Virginia—The National Association of Free Will Baptists ousted five national officers in a polity dispute which reached a showdown at the association’s annual meeting in July.
A resolution which removed the five from office reaffirmed belief in congregational church government. It came as a result of a controversy over local church autonomy which split the congregation of the Edgemont Free Will Baptist Church at Durham, North Carolina. The dispute culminated with the ouster of its pastor, the Rev. Ronald Creech, and a North Carolina Superior Court order which turned over church administration to a minority group opposing the minister.
The national offices declared vacant had been held by five North Carolina clergymen who became involved in the court fight over the Edgemont church and its property. All had signed court affidavits which stated they believed in a connectional form of church government. They are:
The Rev. D. W. Hansley, pastor of the First Free Will Baptist Church, Kinston, and member of the association’s Superannuation Board; Dr. Michael Pelt, dean of the denomination’s Mount Olive Junior College, a school criticized by Creech; Dr. W. Burkette Raper, president of the college; the Rev. R. H. Jackson, pastor of Pine Level Free Will Baptist Church and member of the Home Mission Board; and the Rev. Ralph Lightsley, pastor of St. Mary’s Free Will Baptist Church, Newbern, and a member of the Free Will Baptist Bible College Board of Trustees.
The executive committee of the North Carolina State Free Will Baptist Convention subsequently passed a resolution “vigorously protesting” the national association’s ousters.
The resolution, prepared by Raper, said “we believe the issue of church government was only a pretense” for impeachment of the officers concerned and that “we believe the basic issue is the educational philosophy of Mount Olive College, the only regionally accredited college in the history of the Free Will Baptist Church.”
The national association’s executive secretary, Billy A. Melvin, then issued a statement denying that the college’s educational philosophy was an issue in the dispute.
Free Will Baptists are an Arminian group with some 2,500 churches in 51 states and an inclusive membership of about 200,000.
At Grand Rapids, Michigan—A majority element of the group which broke away from the Christian Reformed Church in 1926 is accepting reunification terms. The General Synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America endorsed a proposal made a month earlier by the synod of the Christian Reformed Church. The group includes some 15 congregations with about 5,000 members. A minority element of the 1926 rift did not agree to reunification.
At Minneapolis, Minnesota—The North American Baptist General Conference voiced strong support of the nation’s public school system and opposition to the use of public funds for religious schools at its triennial sessions.
A resolution adopted by the conference said that “religious liberty is the basis and safeguard of all other liberties.”
“Separation of church and state has proved to be a satisfactory safeguard for religious liberty in the United States,” the resolution added.
It recalled President Kennedy’s opposition to federal aid for parochial schools and noted that “certain authorities … have stated their opposition to any federal legislation for public schools unless parochial schools were also included.”
The Baptists said they would oppose such aid, whether “direct grants, indirect aid disguised as loans, and aids to religious schools under the pretext of ‘national defense.’ ”
The conference called on its members to increase their participation in public school activities.
It also voted to commend the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs “for its faithful presentation of the Baptist witness to both governmental and nongovernmental groups in instances where principles of religious liberty and separation of church and state are involved.”
The North American Baptist Conference was formerly known as the German Baptist Church of North America. It has a membership of about 52,000.
Billy Graham’s four-week crusade in Philadelphia began Sunday, August 20, climaxing months of preparations which were the most extensive ever for an American evangelistic series.
In more than 5,000 homes in eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, group prayer meetings have been conducted three times a week since June 5. With the start of the crusade, the frequency will be stepped up to five meetings per week in each home.
Five thousand trained counsellors stood ready to aid those who responded to Graham’s appeal for commitment to Christ, despite a theft of authorization materials on the eve of the crusade opening. Three cardboard cartons of postage-paid envelopes disappeared from a loading platform in back of the crusade offices. Each of the 5,000 envelopes contained a personally-typed badge and a sheet of instructions for those who had been qualified as counsellors. Crusade workers labored around the clock to address and stuff another set of envelopes with a new order of badges (a different color) and instructions.
Theological liberals tried unsuccessfully last month to organize an ecumenical federation which would ostensibly have been representative of virtually all Latin American Protestantism.
The bid was made at the Second Latin American Evangelical Conference at Lima, Peru, where some 180 delegates (missionaries and nationals) representing all but two of the Latin American republics assembled to compare notes on the effect and future of their Protestant witness.
Delegates from Argentina and Uruguay urged conference action toward creation of an inclusive Latin American church confederation. Other delegates protested that the nature of the conference precluded such action. A session was adjourned so that the proposal could be considered off the record. A debate ensued, but the proposal never came to a vote.
The crusade had wide church support. Methodist Bishop Fred Pierce Corson, who, as the crusade began, was being installed as president of the World Methodist Council in Oslo, went so far as to insert a paid advertisement in Philadelphia papers appealing to Methodists “to support this campaign for righteousness by their prayers, their presence, their services and their contributions.”
The crusade opened in Convention Hall, which has a seating capacity of 13,500. By Friday, August 25, the meetings were to have been moved to Municipal Stadium, where the Army-Navy football game annually attracts some 100,000. Graham spokesmen emphasized that there was no expectation of filling the stadium; the move was designed merely to accommodate more than was possible in the hall.
This fall will see an international exchange of evangelists in Graham’s work. Dr. S. Barton Babbage, dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, Australia, has been appointed as an associate evangelist for the Philadelphia crusade.
In return, two Graham team members, Leighton Ford and Joe Blinco, plan to hold a series of evangelistic rallies across Australia and Tasmania in October, November, and December.
Hoax or Heresy?
The August issue of Redbook magazine confirms the adage that statistics can be found to support most anything. In this case, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary of Louisville, Kentucky, which has had more than its share of embarrassment in recent years, again came out on the short end.
The magazine includes an article based upon interviews with a group of seminary students whose responses actually establish little more than the probability that liberal ministers will preach liberal theology. Fancy editorial spadework, however, implies that today’s heresy will be tomorrow’s norm in the Protestant ministry.
Among the “startling” tabulations were these: Only 44 per cent of the students believe in the virgin birth of Christ. Only 29 per cent believe there is a real heaven and hell. Only 46 per cent believe that Jesus ascended physically whole into heaven after his crucifixion.
The article was particularly unfortunate for the Louisville seminary, only one of the eightThe others: Yale Divinity School, Union Theological Seminary of New York, Northwest Lutheran Seminary, Duke Divinity School, Pacific School of Religion, General Theological Seminary, and Iliff School of Theology. included in the survey which could be unquestionably characterized as evangelically-oriented. No breakdown was available, however, on the responses of the Louisville students in distinction from the others.
Dr. Duke K. McCall, president of the Southern Baptist seminary, denounced the article as a “hoax on American Christianity … perpetrated by a slovenly interpretation of an admittedly unscientific survey.”
The basic discrepancy of the sampling was a failure to take into account relative strengths of the conservative and liberal blocs in American Protestantism.
The conservative Louisville seminary has an enrollment approaching the combined enrollments of the other seven seminaries in the poll, yet Louisville students made up only about 10 per cent of the total interviewed.
The article predicts that there will be fewer sermons on original sin in the future, then adds that “only 2 per cent of those interviewed are seriously interested in this subject”; “belief in the immortality of man also ranks as a major tenet for only 2 per cent”; and “only 1 per cent are convinced there will be a second coming of Christ.” The “1 per cent” apparently represents the response of one person, for the interviewing agency reported that only 89 students were polled in all (although the article claimed that “the firm’s researchers talked with more than a hundred”). Results of the survey are complicated additionally by the fact that the questionnaire said to have been used did not mention original sin, immortality, or the second advent.
Still another misleading aspect is the application of Episcopal Bishop James A. Pike’s widely-discussed doctrinal views as a possible harbinger of heresy. The reader is led to believe that the survey was conducted as a sequel to the Pike controversy. Actually the interviews were conducted before Pike’s views were publicized.
Even as the August Redbook hit the newsstands, the Louisville seminary and others of the Southern Baptist Convention were being asked to determine doctrinal loyalties of faculty members in a resolution adopted by the Baptist Pastors’ Conference of Oklahoma City. SBC President Herschel H. Hobbs was among those who voted for the resolution, said to have been drawn up after statements made by Dr. Dale Moody were interpreted as doctrinal deviations. Moody, professor of systematic theology at the Louisville seminary, reportedly acknowledged that he believes a person can “fall away after professing Christ,” that he favors open communion and the acceptance of members into Baptist churches by alien immersion, and that he endorses the ecumenical movement. His views on conditional immortality are also under fire.
Moody maintains, however, that the real reason for the action by the Oklahoma ministers was a speech he made last May at the SBC’s annual meeting in which he asserted that some Baptist preachers were “intemperate racial and religious bigots.”
• Transfer of three annual conferences of the Methodist Central (all-Negro) Jurisdiction to the denomination’s predominantly white Northeastern Jurisdiction will be delayed at least a year because 14 of the 17 annual conferences in the Central Jurisdiction failed to act upon the proposed transfer during their 1961 sessions. The three conferences in question have voted for transfer, but a two-thirds majority of the 17 conferences is required.
• The Congregational Board of Home Missions plans to participate in the founding of a new liberal arts college at Sarasota, Florida. The interdenominational, interracial institution will be known as New College and will be privately controlled and endowed. It is scheduled to open in September of 1964 with about 1,200 students.
• A newly-acquired headquarters building for Wycliffe Bible Translators, Inc., was dedicated last month in Santa Ana, California. The structure was purchased with help from the Irvine Foundation.
• Delegates to the 44th annual convention of the Lutheran Laymen’s Convention in Wichita last month authorized a $100,000-per-year program of “Preaching Through the Press”—nation-wide dissemination of Gospel messages through newspaper advertisements.
• A Christian television station in Norfolk, Virginia, plans to begin operation by October. Rights to the UHF channel to be employed are held by the Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc., which has also applied for a construction permit to operate a new FM station in Norfolk. The Rev. M. G. (Pat) Robertson, son of U. S. Senator A. Willis Robertson, is president of the group.… Formosa’s first Christian radio station is scheduled to go on the air this fall. All Christian missions on the island have been invited to supply programs for the station, according to a Far East News Service report.
• The Sealantic Fund, Inc., is offering some $875,000 “or as much thereof as may be required” for purchase of books by accredited members of the American Association of Theological Schools. Grants to individual seminaries will be conditioned upon their own resourcefulness in seeking funds for books from other sources.
• Abingdon Press announced this month that its editorial offices for Religion in Life, quarterly journal for Christian scholars, are being moved from New York to Nashville.
• Twenty-four U. S. missionaries were captured by Congolese rebel forces last month and placed under house arrest. The missionaries, members of the Unevangelized Fields Mission Society, were released after one week, following a meeting of a missionary representative with the Stanleyville rebel regime.
• Special services in Saigon marked the 50th anniversary of Christian missions in Viet Nam. Keynote speaker was the Rev. L. L. King, foreign secretary of the Christian and Missionary Alliance which, back in 1911, became the first agency to send missionaries to Viet Nam. The autonomous Evangelical Church of Viet Nam now has a baptized church membership of about 25,000 plus a Christian community of many more thousands.
EAST GERMANS DEFY REDS TO ATTEND KIRCHENTAG
The following report was prepared for Christianity Today by one of its Contributing Editors, Dr. Harold B. Kuhn of Asbury Theological Seminary, who was on the scene in Berlin:
With the ringing of bells in a score of church towers in West Berlin, the tenth Evangelical (Lutheran) Congress of Germany opened Wednesday afternoon, July 19. Opening services were held simultaneously in eight churches in Berlin, five in the West and three in the East. In spite of the last-minute withdrawal of permission for East Germans to attend the congress by the rulers of the so-called German Democratic Republic, there were a surprising number from the Communist-controlled zone amid the 33,000 persons who registered officially for the Kirchentag (Church Day), as the congress is known in Germany. In his opening address in the Kirche am Sudstern, Bishop Otto Dibelius told an overflow crowd that the stream of unbelief which rages as a torrent in the Communist East is also working to undermine Christian faith in the Free World.
Cancellation of permission to hold any but strictly “worship” and communion services in East Berlin created a feeling of disappointment which hung over the entire five days of the Kirchentag. Most East German Protestant leaders were specifically barred. Only one East German bishop was on hand. Many program readjustments were necessitated by the East German action. Few of the educated who would normally speak for the East German churches dared to cross the border into free Berlin. There was, however, an unnumbered host of humble Christians who could and did pass over unnoticed. The leadership of the Kirchentag took every possible precaution to safeguard the privacy and well-being of these visitors, as well as to make special provisions for their maintenance, for most of them arrived with little or no money.
The five days’ sessions were mainly concerned with five subjects: the Bible and its message; the church and the ecumenical movement; the church’s obligations to commerce, industry, and labor; the church’s obligations to the cultural life of the nation; and the church in today’s divided world.
Bible-study sessions were uniformly well attended. About 23,000 assembled in the West Berlin Exhibition Grounds to hear an hour’s exposition of the 139th Psalm. Daily “working groups” met in three separate halls to hear gifted leaders discuss such topics as the biblical understanding of man, the nature of Bible prophecy, the question of God’s image in man, and God’s covenant with Israel. Concerted efforts were made to counter the notion that the Bible is merely “a thick, black-bound book for old people.” There was remarkably little discussion about Bultmann or Tillich; the emphasis was chiefly upon what the Bible itself has to say.
Various speakers were concerned, as in past congresses, to discover why the church failed so signally in the life of Germany from 1918 to 1930, and why she capitulated so tragically to Hitler and his pagan “German Christians” after 1933. Particularly acute was the heart-searching over anti-semitism. The spirit of the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem hung heavily over these discussions; the outsider received the impression that conscientious Christians felt that they, too, were on trial with Eichmann. Careful attention was given to the “roots of anti-semitism” and to the misuse to which the German leaders after 1933 put the concept of “chosen people.”
The ecumenical movement was represented by guests from Asia, Africa, and the Americas, as well as by delegates from most of the countries of Western Europe. Discussions differed from those which might be heard in the United States, for Germany has a national church which is basically united and the denominational problem is totally different from that which exists in the Western Hemisphere.
Surprising were the depths taken in some of the discussions of the obligations of the church in commerce, industry, and labor. It was evident that church leaders are determined that the “error of acquiescence” committed during the Hitlerian era should not be repeated. Over and over again, speakers and discussion leaders sought to discover the implications of Christianity for man’s complex of interpersonal relationships and to set forth the prophetic role of the Church vis-à-vis these relationships. Much recognition was given the shrinking of the areas of human freedom within the common life and the increasing degree of obligation for the Christian to utilize constructively the areas of freedom which remain to him. Such contemporary idols as the mania for money making, the overbalanced desire for temporal security, and the reliance upon birth and class instead of proficiency came in for severe criticism.
Similar concern was expressed and explored in the discussions on the church and culture. The U. S. evangelical would often disagree with the permissiveness in attitude of Christians in Germany (even of those giving evidence of personal regeneration) toward many forms of amusement. Such institutions as the dancing school (a seeming necessity for youth from the “better” German families) are taken for granted. At the same time, concern was expressed that the message of the Christian evangel penetrate the ranks of those who shape the cultural forms of the nation.
On the question of today’s divisions, the Kirchentag leadership leaned over backward to avoid giving the impression that the meetings were arenas for intensification of the cold war. West German chaplains, for instance, were not encouraged to come to Berlin. Discussions involving political questions were conducted so as not to entail difficulties for delegates or visitors from the East Zone. Nonetheless, there was a consistent and firm recognition of the demonic quality of Soviet imperialism, whether embodied within the U. S. S. R. itself or whether expressed in the satellite countries. Emphasis was placed upon the duty of the Christian to project the evangel into his environment.
The congress transpired in an atmosphere made tense by Khrushchev’s announced determination for a “peace treaty.”
The closing rally of the congress in West Berlin’s Olympic Stadium drew a crowd estimated by some at more than 100,000. The huge throng, mingling around a giant wooden cross, heard a plea over the 100 scattered loudspeakers to “make Christ the compass of their everyday life” from Dr. Reinhold von Thadden Trieflaff, head of the church day presidium. The proceedings were carried across Western Europe by radio and television. Bishop Dibelius led the gathering in reciting the Lord’s Prayer to close the rally.
Another highlight of the gigantic congress was a children’s rally attended by more than 12,000 youngsters from 6 to 13 years of age.
Participants in the children’s rally included many children of American and British families stationed in West Berlin.
Some of the principal speakers were dispatched to hold a service of spiritual encouragement at the huge Marienfelde refugee camp. Some went to orphanages and to homes for invalids and widows. Bishop Dibelius himself was one of several important personages who took time to meet with groups of a dozen or so teen-agers, answering their questions.
Thus, in general, the emphases of the Kirchentag were heartening. On the negative side, there was a tendency to regard all church members as being Christians, by virtue of baptism and confirmation. This tendency is a heavy burden on the back of the German Evangelical (Lutheran) Church. The Kirchentag must, however, be judged for what it is, not for what it might be. As an attempt to explore the meaning of the Lord’s words, “I am with you,” for the church in general, and for her laity in particular, it is an encouraging sign in the West German sky.
An application for visa renewal by Ralph T. Henley, one of the two U. S. missionaries for Churches of Christ in Jerusalem, was rejected this month.
The action was the latest event in a series of setbacks that a small Church of Christ in Jerusalem has suffered in recent months (see CHRISTIANITY TODAY, July 31 issue). Jewish fanatics pelted the church with stones for weeks with little restraining action from local police.
Henley’s visa had expired and he was seeking an extension for two months. The visa of his American colleague in Jerusalem, Ernest O. Stewart, will not expire until November. Henley is sponsored by a Church of Christ in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Stewart by one in Toledo, Ohio.
Henley reaffirmed that neither he nor Stewart have “engaged in any activities which other missionaries are not engaged in … nor have we ever done anything outside or contrary to the laws of Israel.”
Henley charged that the motivation for the visa denial was political. He said that the Ministry of the Interior was “playing a game” with the church in hopes of getting more votes in an election held this month.
“The religious parties,” he declared, “are opposed to all missionary activity in the country—Catholic and Protestant. They should like very much to sweep the country clean of Christian contamination.”
Dr. Martin Niemöller and his wife were vacation driving through Denmark this month when their car went out of control and crashed into a tree. Niemöller’s wife and another woman in the car were killed.
Niemöller, who was hospitalized with serious injuries, is one of Germany’s most prominent churchmen and one of the most controversial because of his pacifist views. An outspoken opponent of nuclear weapons for West Germany, he frequently has embarrassed church officials by political remarks used by Communists for propaganda purposes.
The 69-year-old churchman’s most recent exchange revolved on his statements against the Kirchentag which he was reported to have made while touring East Germany. The Communist press quoted him as having charged that the congress added to cold war tensions. Niemӧller labeled the reports “false and distorted.”
Dr. Cecil Scott, British representative of the Evangelical League for Missionary and Educational Work in Portugal and Angola, was arrested last month by Portuguese police in Lisbon.
No specific charges were immediately filed against him, but the arrest was linked with recent official charges by the Portuguese government that certain Protestant pastors have been involved in terrorist activities in Angola.
A statement from the Overseas Ministry asserted that “certain persons connected with Protestant activities (in Angola) are more directly employed in campaigning against the Portuguese authorities than in achieving their evangelistic aims.”
In Angola, meanwhile, an American Methodist minister was jailed and held incommunicado for 28 days. The Rev. Raymond E. Noah finally was released by Portuguese police and turned over to officials of the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon.
Newspaper sources in Angola said that Noah had been charged—along with Scott—with assisting Angolan students to flee Portugal.
Dr. Douglas Eugene Wallace, 37-year-old professor of Bible and religious education at California Baptist College, took his own life July 10, Baptist Press reported.
Wallace was a graduate of Grand Canyon College and Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. He earned a doctor’s degree at the University of Edinburgh and had been teaching at California Baptist College since 1958.
The Cardinal …
The Roman Catholic priest, for whom the Hollywood producer traditionally reserves only favorable characterizations, may be in for a compromised role:
Producer Otto Preminger says he plans to make The Cardinal, best-selling novel by the late Henry Morton Robinson, into a motion picture.
The 1950 novel by Robinson, who was a Roman Catholic, traces a Boston youngster’s rise to the cardinalate. It is not a wholly sympathetic treatment, however, and the novel has been criticized in some Roman Catholic quarters.
… and the Eagle
Soaring through space on his orbiting flight around the world, Russian cosmonaut Gherman S. Titov exclaimed: “I am an eagle!”
What Titov did not know was that the Southern Baptists’ Bible verse for that day (August 7) admonished against such boasting. It was Obadiah 4:
“Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.”
Obadiah’s words were delivered to the Edomites, who, proud and haughty, had believed themselves to be above the reach of God.
The quotation for August 7 was selected last December as the Southern Baptist Training Union’s daily Bible passage.
Lest readers apply the passage solely to the Russian “eagle,” Editor Donald F. Ackland of Open Windows, Southern Baptist devotional quarterly, said that one must “remember the eagle is the symbol of the United States also.”
The death this month of Dr. Frank N. D. Buchman cast a question mark over the future of the Moral Re-Armament movement, one of the most successful of modern cults.
“We shall carry on in the future exactly as in the past,” said an MRA spokesman, “but there will be no successor to Buchman. A number of people who have worked at his side will take over direction. There will be no formal leader.”
Actually the movement has never had an official leader, although Buchman—who attributed every decision and act to divine guidance—was founder and undisputed titular head.
A memorial service for Buchman, 83 when he died, was held at MRA world headquarters in Caux, Switzerland. The body was to have been interred in an Allentown, Pennsylvania, cemetery near his native Pennsburg.
The question of MRA’s perpetuation emerges because of the movement’s close identification with Buchman as a person. The cult was referred to as Buchmanism in earlier days, and dictionaries still carry the term.
In its favor is endorsement at one time or another by so many world figures, including President Truman, Chancellor Adenauer, and Japanese Prime Minister Kishi. The movement is well financed, having among its followers a number of wealthy men and women.
Beliefs propounded by Buchmanites defy precise analysis because they are so highly subjective (e.g. his four absolutes: honesty, purity, selflessness, and love). Buchman to his death refused to be drawn into doctrinal specifics, even when controversy touched such issues as the role of Christ’s atonement in Christian experience.
The cult has never had church-wide support even though it is Christian-oriented in a broad sense. Buchman was a Lutheran minister, having graduated from the Mt. Airy Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia. He never married.
Buchman started the movement at Oxford University in England. The term “Moral Re-Armament” was not introduced until some years later.
A statement he made in 1936 plagued him until his death:
“I thank heaven for a man like Adolf Hitler, who built a front line of defense against the anti-Christ of communism.”
People: Words And Events
Deaths: Domenico Cardinal Tardini, 73, Vatican Secretary of State. His successor in office is Amleto Giovanni Cardinal Cicognani, 78, who for 25 years was Apostolic Delegate to the United States … Dr. Sidney Malcolm Berry, 80, former secretary of the Congregational Union of England and Wales … Dr. Hoyt Chester Woodring, Jr., 46, professor at Emmaus Bible School, Oak Park, Illinois.
Appointments: As president of Waterloo (Ontario) Lutheran University, Dr. William John Villaume … as president of the Buffalo Bible Institute, Dr. Neil Ayres Winegarden … as president of Lancaster (Pennsylvania) School of the Bible, the Rev. Stuart E. Lease … as dean of the San Francisco Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. William Kerr … as dean of the faculty at George Fox College, Dr. George H. Moore … as dean of the Baptist Bible Institute, Graceville, Florida, Dr. Walter D. Draughon, Jr. … as professor of philosophy and religion at Tarkio (Missouri) College, Dr. Addison H. Leitch … as professor of missions at Dallas Theological Seminary, Dr. Gerhard W. Peters … as national chairman of the Religion in American Life campaign, Roger Hull … as “field representative for religion in medicine” for the American Medical Association, the Rev. Paul B. McCleave, a Presbyterian.
Retirement: As professor of Christian education at Asbury Theological Seminary, Dr. Harold C. Mason, subsequently appointed visiting professor of philosophy and religion at Bethel College, Mishawaka, Indiana.
Quotes: “Some depictions on stage and screen could not better fit into the total disparaging picture the Soviets are always painting of America if they had been selected by a ‘Board of Communists’ whose goal is the destruction of our free land.”—Dr. Frederick Brown Harris, chaplain of the U. S. Senate … “Bend your knees—not your elbows—if you would solve the world’s problems.”—Mrs. Fred J. Tooze, president, Women’s Christian Temperance Union.
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