From the stately pulpit of the National Presbyterian Church in Washington last month came a public rebuke aimed at a new crop of Protestant cynics.
Dr. Edward L. R. Elson, who for eight years of the Eisenhower administration was “the President’s pastor,” scored the recently publicized “cynicism of some American religious spokesmen about religion, about the state of the church, and about American life and culture.”
In a sermon to an overflow congregation at the famous Connecticut Avenue church, Elson explained that he was applying the term “cynic” in the modern conventional sense, in the dictionary meaning of “a sarcastic, pessimistic person” or “one who sneeringly professes disbelief in sincerely good motives and altruistic conduct.”
He used the term to describe contemporary critics in American Protestantism who repeatedly decry the current wave of religious renewal as “unreal or even dangerous.”
“It is the mission of the church,” he declared, “to provide for confession of real sins, to admit and exteriorize genuine defects, to accurately evaluate and assess the quality of personal piety, personal conduct and social morality. All of this we must do to find forgiveness and new life, to know the deeper meaning of salvation and the amendment of life where we are feeble and ineffective.
“But to be chronically critical, to be constantly censorious, to perennially peddle disdain, to assert only negatives can lead to very serious sickness of the soul and eventually to the destruction of the whole fibre of our common life. If we become saturated with cynicism, we begin to wither away into impotency.”
Elson asserted that the Church must stand in the center of life and make its gospel and its fellowship relevant to all of life.
“Nor must the clergy be mere chaplains—the status quo,” he added. “They must be prophets who know in the depths of their being that they speak for God the word that is based upon his Word.
“But a vindictive disdain, a latent envy, a cynical slur is not prophecy. If everyone conforms to the processed pronouncements and ‘packaged prophecy’ so readily available, we may well blunt the creative insights and prophetic judgments which ought to be forthcoming from all of God’s prophets.”
What is the precise nature of the religious awakening of recent years?
Elson said it has come “primarily in the parish church through hard-working pastors and dedicated self-sacrificing laymen. Religious renewal comes by the work of the Holy Spirit and must be assessed in broader terms than individual leaders.”
How Cynicism Pervades Protestantism
Dr. Edward L. R. Elson, minister of National Presbyterian Church, describes the cynical thought pattern in U. S. Protestantism as follows:
“Much has been said in recent years about the revival of interest in religion. There can be no doubt such has taken place. The evidence is all about us in the lengthening of church rolls, the church building boom, the rise of dynamic laymen’s movements, the earnest searching of youth, the sale of religious literature, the new translations of the Bible, the improved quality of the clergy, the revitalized Christian education curriculum, and the reappearance of effective mass evangelism.
“But there are those who say all this is unreal or even dangerous. A veritable torrent of cynicism has been poured out in the sadistic columns of some religious observers. To listen to some spokesmen you would conclude that American Protesantism is anemic if not completely impotent, that American laymen are spiritually destitute, that their faith is flabby and their morals inferior. The laymen, we are told, have become slaves to the evils of the ‘organization man,’ manipulated by the mob, directed by the climate and mores of suburbia, possessed only of a ‘religion-in-general,’ a do-gooder sentiment without do-good philosophy!”
He avers that the United States has experienced religious renewal despite a moral sag and cultural deterioration, and he rejects the contention that one cancels the other.
“In a nation of 170,000,000 people it is possible to have both negative and positive influences at the same time,” he said. “The truth is that we have had both—the moral sag and deterioration of culture have been real in a nation where at the same time religious activity has been real and for many persons very vital.
“By exaggerated attention to negatives,” he charged, “we accelerate a weakening process.”
Elson, who witnessed first-hand the transition of a traditionally Protestant White House to its occupancy by the first Roman Catholic president in history, voiced fears over the effects of “a torrent of chronic negativism.”
“It is a well-known law of the soul that if you become excessively morbid, if you dig up old sins or symptoms, petting or fondling defects and failures, you can produce illness.… The public self-flagellation to which some tend to submit us can produce only a crowd of national penetentes slashing at the veins where the blood of American life flows.”
The noted Presbyterian minister chose as a text Hebrews 11:1:
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
“How do you regain confidence in our spiritual heritage?” Elson asked. “Not by cynicism! Not by self-lampooning, not by self-flagellation, not by self-berating, not by self-denunciation. We cannot be anything great and strong on negatives.”
“Only by a robust and rugged religious faith can we stand up to the demands of this age. And the kind of faith America needs now is best mediated in and through the churches.”
Elson said that “in our society religious life is not an option; it is an imperative. For we cannot have our culture except as we have a central core of worshiping, witnessing, praying, serving, and sacrificing religious men and women. Is not the man who omits praying, neglects church-going, excludes God from his home and personal life until he is a religious ignoramus, though perhaps a pleasing pagan, a definite drag on our life? He derives from our society the richness it has produced without his contributing to its renewal. And is not the man who maintains a religious home, who says his prayers, studies his Bible, and gives to sustain the witness, is not that man, however imperfectly and humbly seeking to know God and do his will, contributing to the strength of America?”
The Controversial Bishop
Bishop James A. Pike seemingly is intent on going down in Protestant Episcopal history as one of the church’s most controversial personalities. A convert from Roman Catholicism and a member of the bar, Pike now is regarded as a foremost figure in the Protestant ecumenical movement. Unlike most key churchmen, he is well known at U.S. grass roots, primarily as a result of (1) a TV series and (2) his flair for the striking statement. The head of the California Episcopal diocese will readily ‘speak out” on most any subject, and his remarks usually are articulate and arresting. To newsmen, therefore, he is “good copy,” which makes for wide publicity. Recently he has challenged basic Christian doctrines, and the result has been still more publicity, but at this point ecclesiastical concern has developed over whether he has perhaps gone too far.
Until he voiced doctrinal criticisms, Pike’s fellow churchmen tended to dismiss his multiplicity of utterances with a shrug. It is now clear, however, that his stock has taken a plunge in the eyes of a number of high-ranking Episcopal officials. A number have chided him publicly for attacking scriptural precepts of his church. Still others are believed to be seriously perturbed, though they have not indicated it publicly. Last month Pike got an indirect rebuke from the Episcopal Bishop of Long Island in a pastoral letter ordered to be read in all 210 churches and missions of the diocese.
Bishop James P. De Wolfe declared that no bishop “has the authority to revise the faith of this church, either by adding to it or subtracting from it.”
Although the letter did not mention the California bishop by name, De Wolfe later commented that it “obviously” referred to Pike.
The letter declared that the definition of the church’s faith “is the responsibility of the church operating under the guidance of God the Holy Ghost. Up to the present time, the church has never interpreted the definition so as to negate the doctrine of the Trinity, the birth of incarnate God, the Son of a woman who was a virgin, the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, or the essential dependence of the structure and operation of the church upon bishops and the apostolic ministry. Despite misleading headlines and press notices in many newspapers and magazines, the faith declared by the church in the creeds is not in question by the church.”
Meanwhile in California, an Episcopal clergyman who opposed Pike’s election as diocesan bishop in 1958 found himself out of a job. The Rev. Robert Sherwood Morse, fired as Episcopal chaplain for the University of California at Berkeley, charged that Pike is now “smashing the opposition.”
A diocesan spokesman gave this explanation: “There was a fundamental disagreement between Father Morse and the board for which he works—the Division of College Work of the Department of Education of the Diocese.
“There are two general philosophies about church work in colleges. One is that the church become a part of college life. The second is that it should draw students out of college life to the church.
The Vatican’S Desanctification Decree
Desanctification of one Philomena by the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation of Rites prompted recollection that another “holy person” of the same name existed prior to 500 A. D.
In Washington, the National Catholic Welfare Conference’s Bureau of Information issued a statement of explanation by the Rev. Francis J. Connell of Holy Redeemer College, a leading Catholic theologian.
“There really was a holy person named Philomena and her feast day in the Roman Martyrology is July 5,” the statement said, adding that “the ‘St. Philomena’ ordered stricken from the roll of saints … was a young girl of unknown identity whose remains were found in 1802 under circumstances that misled many persons into believing they had found the relics of an early martyr.”
The Philomena of Roman Martyrology is even more obscure, however, than her nineteenth-century namesake, and the decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites apparently rules out veneration of her as well.
The Vatican ruling was dated February 14. A Bureau of Information spokesman said he was unable to explain why it did not receive public notice until last month.
Connell reassured Roman Catholics of the usefulness of prayers and devotions during the last 150 years in honor of Philomena: “These countless prayers and novena devotions were directed to God, albeit through a nonexistent saint.”
“The church’s official position is the former and Father Morse’s position seemed to be the latter.
“The board, composed of laymen and clergymen, recommended the dismissal, and the bishop accepted the recommendation.”
Morse agreed with the explanation—as far as it went philosophically.
“I think the Episcopal faith is a democratic church that traditionally has encouraged differing philosophies and attitudes,” he said.
Morse added that he “felt the need of UC students for their own chapel. Because I have done this, he fired me.”
Pike contends that Americans ought to be allowed latitude in their views without having to invite smears. He told a Minneapolis audience last month that “the real issue is freedom versus totalitarianism. These people who call themselves patriots [a reference to the John Birch Society] want to destroy freedom of speech, of opinion, of association and of conscience.” Dismissal of Morse, on the other hand, gave some observers the impression that Pike regards freedom as a one-way street.
Sex and the Oscars
Hollywood’s preoccupation with the sordid side of sex reached a new high last month with the announcement of Oscar winners:
—Elizabeth Taylor was named best actress of 1960 for her role as the nymphomaniac model in “Butterfield 8.”
—“The Apartment,” a comedy-drama about extra-marital affairs in a West Side flat, was chosen as the best American picture of the year.
—Billy Wilder was cited for the best job of direction in connection with the film, “The Apartment.”
—“The Virgin Spring,” sex-studded production directed by Ingmar Bergman, was selected best foreign-language film.
—Shirley Jones was named best supporting actress for her portrayal of a prostitute in “Elmer Gantry.”
—“Never on Sunday,” another film featuring prostitution, was honored for producing the best original song.
The film industry’s vilification of the clergy was also acclaimed with the “best actor” award going to Burt Lancaster, the immoral evangelist in “Elmer Gantry.”
This sort of vilification gets a new twist in a film now playing across the country, “The Sins of Rachel Cade.” This time the errant heroine is a young missionary woman.
To an Unknown God
An interreligious center featuring a revolving “all-faiths altar” will be built on the campus of George Washington University, Washington, D. C.
Chairman of the center will be Dr. Joseph R. Sizoo, noted churchman who has been director of the university’s religious education program for the past 10 years.
The new center, of imposing modern design, will occupy almost an entire city block. The chapel will seat more than 700 worshipers and will include a revolving altar with three sides for use in Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish services, and a fourth side when programs are sponsored by those of other faiths.
Originally founded by Baptists as Columbia College, George Washington University is now a private non-sectarian institution with an enrollment of more than 10,000.
Holy Land Campus
Its campus situated atop the Mount of Olives, a new, Christian-oriented school of archaeological and biblical studies will open next spring in Jerusalem, Jordan.
A building already acquired is actually located on the Mount of Olives, just above the Garden of Gethsemane, providing a commanding view of the temple area and the walled city of Jerusalem.
Sponsored by the Near East Archaeological Society, the school will be open to college and seminary students, ministers, teachers, as well as laymen.
Students will have their choice of three terms: spring, summer, and fall-winter, with classes in biblical archaeology, biblical history, geography, and related subjects.
After visits to Pompeii, Italy, and Egypt, the students will be led on a two-week survey trip through the Near East by Dr. Joseph Free, executive director of archaeological studies at Wheaton College.
Opening of the spring term will begin with a week’s field trip to several Holy Land sites. Additional such trips will ensue on a weekly basis.
Students also will get a chance to witness an archaeological excavation process at Dothan, 60 miles north of Jerusalem.
Officials of Chicago’s Northern Baptist Theological Seminary are understood to have turned aside a proposal for merger with Central Baptist Theological Seminary which would entail relocation at the latter’s Kansas City campus.
“Northern’s location in the strateoic Chicago area is not negotiable,” say seminary trustees.
The merger-relocation plan originated with the Board of Education and Publication of the American Baptist Convention, under whose aegis both seminaries operate. The board reportedly felt that nine seminaries are too many for the size of the convention.
The seminary’s own $2,000,000 relocation program, which will take the campus to a 50-acre site in suburban Lombard, Illinois, is moving along at an encouraging pace, according to Dr. Benjamin P. Browne, executive officer who will begin a two-year term as president September 1. He estimates that classes on the new campus will begin by September, 1963.
The seminary was founded in 1914 on Chicago’s West Side to counter the liberal theology then prevalent at the University of Chicago Divinity School, still affiliated with the American Baptist Convention also.
During the presidency of Dr. Charles W. Kohler, Northern attracted at one time the largest student body of the convention’s eight (now nine) seminaries in a theological college as well as a graduate divinity school.
There had been some support among Northern officials for a merger with Central with a consolidated campus at Lombard, but they decided against issuing a formal invitation.
Northern’s present campus is located in a neighborhood which has been deteriorating in recent years.
A New Start
Ground was broken last month for a new campus for Louisville (Kentucky) Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
First stage of construction will cost some $3,975,000, of which $2,500,000 has already been raised.
The move to the new campus is set for the fall of 1962.
Nearly 100 delegates from 22 U. S. Christian colleges assembled on the campus of Evangel College, Springfield, Missouri, last month for the third annual convention of the American Association of Evangelical Students.
The assemblage represented a task force of evangelical student leaders dedicated to social and political awareness alongside their personal spiritual commitment.
Dr. J. Robert Ashcroft, president of Evangel College, told the students that the evangelical distinctive must be vital, not merely verbal.
“We must come to grips with human need,” he said. “Jesus touched mankind at its sorest points.”
Ashcroft said that in trying to dissociate themselves from the social gospel, the fundamentalist movement lost also a social consciousness and awareness.
The association represents more than 10,000 students across America. It was formed in 1956, and its first national conference was held at Wheaton College in 1959. The second took place last year on the campus of Houghton (New York) College.
The ‘Good’ Work
Russian Orthodox theological schools in Stavropol, Kiev, and Sarato have been closed “for lack of students,” Moscow Radio reported last month with undisguised satisfaction.
It said meanwhile that the number of students enrolling at seminaries in Moscow and Leningrad had dropped sharply as a result of the “good work” done by the antireligious Komsomol, Communist youth group.
The Moscow Radio broadcast included statements by a former student at the Leningrad seminary who claimed that he had been induced to “give up religion” because of the “immoral life” of the teaching staff.
The Miami Ruling
Two years ago an atheist, Harlow Chamberlin, filed a law suit in Miami asking that Dade County public schools be prevented from requiring or permitting recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, saying of grace, and classroom observances of Christmas and Chanukah.
A few weeks later three Jewish parents and a Unitarian, with the aid of the Florida Civil Liberties Union, followed suit with a demand that the daily reading of the Bible in the schools—required by state law—be discontinued. They also asked an end to baccalaureate services and other school practices with a trace of religion in them.
The issue grew into a bitter community battle which saw animosity expressed between the Greater Miami Council of Churches and the Greater Miami Rabbinical Association. It was the highlight of last November’s school board election in which a liberal Jew, related to one of the litigants, barely won a seat over a retired businessman backed by leaders in the Council of Churches. It attracted Dr. Leo Pfeffer, constitutional authority of the American Jewish Congress, as one of the attorneys in a tumultuous trial which monopolized local newspaper headlines for weeks.
Finally, last month, Circuit Judge J. Fritz Gordon issued his ruling. His decision did not completely satisfy anyone involved, but the reading of the Bible was given his hesitant approval.
In an 18-page opinion which at least one of the plaintiff attorneys has declared will be appealed all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court and school board attorneys have indicated they, too, may appeal, Judge Gordon held that daily Bible reading in the public schools does not violate either the federal or state constitutions.
The judge, a deacon in a Christian (Disciples of Christ) church, emphasized that the law was not unconstitutional because as applied in the schools students are excused from the Bible readings upon request. He hinted, however, that perhaps it would be well that students not be told that what they are hearing is from the Bible.
Judge Gordon decided that after-hours Bible courses conducted in the schools by the Child Evangelism Fellowship, religious holiday observances depicting the birth or crucifixion of Christ, and movies which “depict various religious happenings” are taboo.
But he upheld such other religious practices as baccalaureate programs, display of religious symbols, and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.
The whole list of religious issues was included in the combined suits in a deliberate effort eventually to get a U. S. Supreme Court ruling covering the whole field of religion in the public schools instead of the existing hodgepodge of single—and somewhat conflicting-decisions on such issues as released-time programs of religious education for public school children.
Cancer and Religion
Evidence that death rates from various types of cancer differ remarkably among the three major religious faiths in the United States is shown in a study published last month by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Statistics are based on 84,431 cancer fatalities in New York City hospitals over a five-year period and represent the preliminary findings of Dr. Vaun A. Newill of the department of epidemiclogy of Harvard University’s School of Public Health. The Journal is published by the National Institutes of Health and the U. S. Public Health Service with funds voted by Congress to promote research.
Initial purpose of the study was to gather evidence of a phenomenon long observed by cancer research—that cancer of the cervex (neck of the womb), a common cause of death among women, is found much less often among Jewish women than those of other faiths. The study strongly confirmed this, showing the death rate for that cause among Jewish women to be only 9 per 100,000, compared with 22 for Catholic women and 24.8 for Protestant women.
Newill and other scientists believe this may have some connection with the Jewish custom of circumcision, for the study also showed that while cancer of the genital organs is rare among males, it is only half as common among Jewish men (0.5 per 100,000) as Catholics (1.1) and Protestants (1.3).
On the other hand, Jews were found more subsceptible to some of the other forms of cancer to the extent that their over-all cancer death rate is estimated at 543.5 per 100,000, compared with 533.9 for Protestants and 504.4 for Catholics.
By sexes the over-all cancer rates of all forms were put at: women—Jewish 516, Protestants 450, Catholic 430; men—Protestants 623, Catholic 578, Jewish 572.
Meanwhile, other medical studies are being made among religious groups. Preliminary reports of a study among Seventh-day Adventists, a vegetarian group that eschews smoking, show that lung cancer and stomach cancer are very rare. A survey among Trappist monks, however, shows surprisingly that they are prone to sudden heart attacks despite their tranquil life and austere diet. A study of Mormons, who reject tea and coffee as well as tobacco, indicates they suffer less from high blood pressure than other groups.
A Kennedy Choice
James W. Wine was nominated last month to be United States Ambassador to Luxembourg. He was formerly associate general secretary for interpretation of the National Council of Churches, having resigned the post last year to join the Democratic campaign staff as assistant to the chairman of the party’s national committee for community relations. His particular assignment was to answer questions on Church-State issues. Wine is a Presbyterian layman.
Mackay’s First Love
Having recently returned home from a lecture tour around the world which included ten countries in Asia, Dr. John A. Mackay, president emeritus of Princeton Theological Seminary, has assurances for the Christian community-at-large that he is by no means “retiring”—not really.
Forthcoming visits to several Latin American countries reflect Dr. Mackay’s intention of devoting his remaining years to his “first love,” Christianity in the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America.
Currently delivering a series of lectures on “Christianity in the Hispanic World” at American University, Washington, D. C., which has elected him Adjunct-Professor of Hispanic Thought, Dr. Mackay challenges the contention that Protestantism never appealed to the Spanish mind. He seeks a rediscovery for the Christian world of the lost evangelical tradition of sixteenth-century Spain. This tradition embraced Catholic mystics who remained within the church and Spanish Reformers who broke away from it. Spain was “on the point of becoming Protestant,” asserts Dr. Mackay, but the political situation was most unfavorable. Ecclesiastical force was brought to bear upon the Crown in the form of the notorious Inquisition, and among other things a great evangelical literature, much of it produced in prison, was lost for 300 years.
Dr. Mackay has been accumulating certain of these little known sixteenth-century works, which he describes as “evangelical and Christocentric.” He notes, moreover, that “thoughtful Roman Catholics in France and the United States have become very critical of their church’s tradition in Spain, Portugal, and Latin America.” They affirm that the Spanish form of Catholicism lacked an incarnational quality. It has failed to relate itself to life.
Roman Catholicism has made no creative impact upon Latin American reality. Its detachment of religion from life issued, for example, in a violent reaction against the church in Mexico and in religious cynicism in Uruguay—where “God” is often spelled without a capital letter (dios). Latin American Catholicism has never challenged the intellectual life, nor has it developed a worthy religious literature. Its emphasis has been upon ritual and upon authoritarian institutionalism. It has manifested no transforming spiritual power, declares Dr. Mackay, but rather has shown more interest in maintaining earthly grandeur and prestige. Thus it loses ground. It now discovers, for example, that Brazil’s native-born clergy includes more Protestant ministers than Roman Catholic priests.
It is to this total situation that Presbyterian Mackay addresses himself, through traveling, writing, and lecturing, to “enlarge evangelical horizons in the Hispanic world.”
Pat on the Back
Protestantism gets a pat on the back in an article in Fidel Castro’s Revolution which appeared prior to last month’s abortive invasion.
The article contrasts Roman Catholic approaches with the Protestant “sense of community” and cites fruits of conversion.
“It is a well-known fact,” the writer declares, “that a Roman Catholic who drinks too much stops drinking when he becomes a Protestant. This spectacular conversion impresses his wife and family, and they all adopt the new faith.”
The article continues: “But the change can be noticed in other matters as well. He is a more punctual and better workman, and more honest and clean in his business dealings.”
Observers raised some eyebrows upon reading the article, for the writer apparently is an unbeliever.
Enter the Hierarchy
Roman Catholic intervention is blamed for the Costa Rican government’s decision to revoke a permit for a parade which was to have climaxed the Latin America Mission’s eight-month “Evangelism-in-Depth” program April 16 in San Jose.
The government explained that it had feared a parade would create disorder inasmuch as this is an election year.
Protestant missionaries countered that the parade was to be a purely pacific gesture in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the evangelical church in Costa Rica. They pointed out that Roman Catholic Holy Week processions were held as usual this year, as were patriotic parades and demonstrations.
The parade was to have been staged in connection with the windup of an evangelistic series in an 8,000-seat auditorium in San Jose.
A Dominican friar in a published protest called the meetings “a serious insult to the Catholic religion and an outrage against our political constitution.” He also accused the Roman hierarchy of “pusilanimity” for not combating the evangelistic rallies more vigorously.
The Manchester Story
It began as a Manchester crusade, designed to reach the laboring class in the city that is the heart of Great Britain’s industrial region.
As interest mounted it became the North of England Crusade, drawing support from churches in Sheffield, Preston, Liverpool, Stoke, and Leeds.
By the spring of 1961 it had become the All-Britain Crusade, and when Billy Graham steps to the platform in Manchester’s Maine Road stadium on Monday evening, May 29, the most far-reaching evangelistic effort in the thousand-year history of the British Isles will be launched.
The largest number of counselors and personal workers ever assembled for a Graham crusade—over 10,000—are being trained by Dan Piatt.
So vast and intricate is the system of land-line relays that has been set up for all over Britain and Eire for the meetings, that it is expected that more people will be hearing the crusade services through the “relays” than will be in Maine Road stadium. Yet the stadium was expected to be packed throughout the four weeks of the crusade. Some 30,000 seats are under overhead protection, and there is space for 20,000 more persons.
The film arm of Billy Graham’s evangelistic ministry is marking its tenth anniversary with release of “Decade of Decision,” which traces his crusades in the United States and abroad. The film ministry, currently operating under the name of World Wide Pictures, has thus far completed 155 productions.
Total attendance at film showings in the United States is estimated at more than 20 million for the 10-year period. Additional hundreds of thousands have seen the films overseas.
Production offices are located in Hollywood, and are under the direction of Dick Ross. Distribution offices are located in Minneapolis and in England, Australia, and Canada.
Graham will speak by radio to the entire British nation on Sunday, June 4, over the BBC home service. The following Sunday he will be seen on a nationwide BBC telecast. A similar nationwide telecast during the Glasgow Crusade of 1955 was watched by Queen Elizabeth II, and resulted in Mr. Graham being invited to Windsor Castle subsequently to preach to the royal family.
On Sunday, June 18, Graham has been invited to participate in the annual civic service in Birmingham, England. After a procession led by the lord mayor, the evangelist will preach at St. Martin’s-in-the-Bullring, where Canon Bryan Green, internationally-known Anglican preacher, is rector. The service will be relayed to the public market and a nearby theater.
At least 300 relay centers have been set up, each serving four or five separate meetings. At one point in the crusade, it is estimated that there may be some 2,500 relay meetings tuned in simultaneously.
The All-Britain Crusade officially opens May 23 with a ministers’ meeting in the late W. E. Sangster’s church, Central Hall, Westminster, London.
In Wales 40,000 ticket applications were reported for tickets to a rally at Swansea, May 24. It is expected to be the largest evangelistic rally in the history of the country known for its 1904 revival.
The current British evangelistic series will close in Scotland with a public rally on June 24 in Glasgow’s Ibrox stadium, and another in Belfast June 26.
Accra, capital of Ghana and scene of many a rowdy nationalist conference affecting the course of current history in Africa, was the venue this spring of a linguistics conference that will help missionaries to press forward with the Gospel message.
Eighty-five delegates from West African countries, the United States, and Europe, took part in the West African Linguistics Congress sponsored by Columbia University, New York, and the Ford Foundation.
Professor S. Greenberg of Columbia, chairman of the congress, paid tribute to the work of missionaries who have done the bulk of linguistic work in West Africa. Forty per cent of the delegates were missionaries.
Main interest of delegates representing educational institutions was to fill in the gaps of man’s history by relating language patterns. Some looked upon the findings as support for the theory of evolution, but missionaries was the evidence in a different light.
“If I weren’t already a convinced evangelical, what I’ve seen of language patterns would convince me more of the Bible’s historical accuracy,” declared veteran missionary R. T. Dibble, who has been engaged in linguistic work with a Brethren group in Nigeria since 1921. He has just completed translation of the Bible into the Igala language, spoken by 400,000 people.
“We find extremely backward, primitive tribes with distinctive, perfect tonal patterns, which convinces me that man has degenerated, not evolved.”
Two new journals were proposed at the congress, one to aid linguistic workers through publication of reports of their work, the other to give technical help by providing findings in tonal patterns, orthography, and related matters.
Delegates saw the Vernacular Illustrated Publications project developed by the Sudan Interior Mission as one immediate answer to the need for suitable materials for new literates. “VIPs” are Christian leaflets written simply and highly illustrated. Advantage for missions working in small language groups is that costs can be cut by translating a basic edition into other vernaculars, keeping the same layout and illustrations throughout.
W. H. F.
The month-long Tokyo Christian Crusade which was scheduled to begin May 6 promises to emerge as one of the boldest evangelistic ventures ever undertaken in a non-Christian country.
Nightly rallies at the 10,000-seat Meiji Auditorium are expected to attract throngs from all over Japan to hear Evangelist Bob Pierce, president of World Vision, Inc., crusade sponsor.
The rallies are putting a high premium on quality music. Included in the program are a 1,000-voice choir, an 85-piece orchestra, and top U. S. gospel musicians.
Christian leaders who will be on hand to aid in the crusade include Dr. Wilbur Smith, Dr. Samuel Shoemaker, Dr. Carlton Booth, Dr. Paul Rees, Dr. Richard C. Halverson, Dr. Dwight Ferguson, Dr. Ralph Byron, Armin Gesswein, and Bill Bright.
Crusade leaders report cooperation unparalleled in Japanese Christendom, but some protests have persisted. Leftist groups have attributed political motives to the crusade, while a few independent church groups have objected to the cooperation of clergy known to have favored preservation of Shinto shrines as national symbols.
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