Two of the most significant recent developments in the life of the World Council of Churches center in relations with Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. A third relationship of major importance is that with the “conservative evangelicals.”

Few religious groupings are more difficult to define. In the United States it includes bodies as divergent as the Assemblies of God and the Wycliffe Bible Translators, the Free Methodists and the Christian Reformed Church, the Southern Baptists and the Missouri Lutherans. Its members generally hold in common a conservative theology; a concern for “purity” in the Church; a vivid missionary interest; and a profound distrust of the ecumenical movement. Perhaps the most precise definition, for the purpose of this article, is organizational: those Protestant Christians who refuse membership in councils of churches—city, state, national, or world.

The importance of this group in the United States is great. It includes the fastest-growing religious bodies in the nation. Membership of Protestant churches belonging to the National Council of Churches of Christ is about forty million; of churches who do not belong about twenty-four million.

The number of foreign missionaries of all agencies related to the Division of Foreign Missions of the National Council increased from 1952 to 1960 by 4.5 per cent; those of the conservative evangelicals by 149.5 per cent; the income for “foreign missions” of the former by 50.5 per cent; of the latter by 167.3 per cent. “Foreign mission” giving within member churches of the National Council in 1960 was $91,979,000; of those outside $71,700,000. Foreign missionaries of the former numbered in 1960, 10,324; of the latter 16,066.

Highly symptomatic of the situation in the ...

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