In a meeting without precedent in U. S. history, Jewish rabbis, Roman Catholic priests, and Protestant clergymen, with leading laymen of their faiths, gathered to discuss ways to rid America of racialism.

The National Conference on Religion and Race convened in Chicago, “home of Lincoln,” January 14–17, 100 years to the month after the Emancipation Proclamation freed the Negro from slavery. Convinced that racial discrimination is a moral problem that cannot be solved by legal and economic pressures alone, delegates issued “An Appeal to the Conscience of the American People” with the prayer that it would effect a new emancipation. Purpose of the appeal is to sensitize the conscience of the American people to the moral evil of racism in its many forms.

Admitting that the U. S. government had again shown the way in the recent Supreme Court decisions, delegates spoke frequently of their sinful failure to follow the example of the government and the moral imperatives of their own religious faiths. Discrimination in housing, employment, schooling, transportation, and the use of public facilities in American life, plus various forms of discrimination within their own organizations, were identified as failures of church and synagogue.

Among many practical resolutions was selection of ten large “target cities” as areas in which inter-faith groups will attempt to deal concretely with racial problems on the local, grass root level.

The cities chosen were Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Oakland, San Antonio, New Orleans, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and St. Louis.

Dr. Franklin H. Littell of Chicago Theological Seminary told the more than 650 delegates and 300 observers that America is only now shedding its heathenism and becoming Christian. “Racialism,” he said, “has precisely the same relation to our church life as polygamy in Africa,” a carry over of “pre-baptismal practice” into our church life. He asserted that while racialism is America’s greatest social problem, it is not the church’s most basic issue. Racialism, he declared, is our churches’ “moment of truth” in which they can discover whether they are truly the Church of Christ.

With the touch of the thunder and passion of Old Testament propheticism, Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel decried racism as “satanic,” a “blasphemy,” an “eye-disease, a cancer of the soul.” He found redemption in a justice “charged with the omnipotence of God,” and concluded exultantly, “What ought to be, shall be!”

In the panel which followed Heschel’s impassioned speech, New York attorney William Stringfellow, an Episcopal layman, shook delegates by asserting “this conference is too little, too late, and too lily white.” He described the very idea of the conference’s declaration of conscience as “absurd” since the initiative in racial matters has already almost wholly passed to minority groups. He said present religious structures are pervaded with “demonic” powers.

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Praising the high quality of Negro leadership, Stringfellow said he was thankful that the initiative and leadership “is not in hands of a black General Walker.” He denounced Heschel’s humanism and called for a candid recognition that society’s only hope for unity and reconciliation lies in the unity achieved in Christian baptism. Looking at Heschel at his immediate right, he declared that reconciliation is “not by man” but by God in the Christ of the Cross. Heschel responded to Stringfellow by saying, “Despair of man’s power for goodness is the greatest heresy.” If man has not such power, he asserted, “God has spoken in vain.” He added, “Fortunately, Moses did not study theology under Mr. Stringfellow. If he had, he would still be working in Egypt.” Stringfellow later declared that he did not regard the conference as without value, but feared its possibilities would be superficially over-estimated.

NEWS / A fortnightly report of developments in religion


We have met as members of the great Jewish and Christian faiths held by the majority of the American people, to counsel together concerning the tragic fact of racial prejudice, discrimination and segregation in our society. Coming as we do out of varous religious backgrounds, each of us has more to say than can be said here. But this statement is what we as religious people are moved to say together.


Racism is our most serious domestic evil. We must eradicate it with all diligence and speed. For this purpose we appeal to the consciences of the American people.

This evil has deep roots; it will not be easily eradicated. While the Declaration of Independence did declare “that all men are created equal” and “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” slavery was permitted for almost a century. Even after the Emancipation Proclamation, compulsory racial segregation and its degrading badge of racial inequality received judicial sanction until our own time.

We rejoice in such recent evidences of greater wisdom and courage in our national life as the Supreme Court decisions against segregation and the heroic, non-violent protests of thousands of Americans. However, we mourn the fact that patterns of segregation remain entrenched everywhere—North and South, East and West. The spirit and the letter of our laws are mocked and violated.

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Our primary concern is for the law’s of God. We Americans of all religious faiths have been slow to recognize that racial discrimination and segregation are an insult to God, the Giver of human dignity and human rights. Even worse, we all have participated in perpetuating racial discrimination and segregation in civil, political, industrial, social, and private life. And worse still, in our houses of worship, our religious schools, hospitals, welfare institutions, and fraternal organizations we have often failed our own religious commitments. With few exceptions we have evaded the mandates and rejected the promises of the faiths we represent.

We repent our failures and ask the forgiveness of God. We ask also the forgiveness of our brothers, whose rights we have ignored and whose dignity we have offended. We call for a renewed religious conscience on this basically moral evil.


Our appeal to the American people is this:

SEEK a reign of justice in which voting rights and equal protection of the law will everywhere be enjoyed; public facilities and private ones serving a public purpose will be accessible to all; equal education and cultural opportunities, hiring and promotion, medical and hospital care, open occupancy in housing will be available to all.

SEEK a reign of love in which the wounds of past injustices will not be used as excuses for new ones; racial barriers will be eliminated; the stranger will be sought and welcomed; any man will be received as brother—his rights, your rights; his pain your pain; his prison, your prison.

SEEK a reign of courage in which the people of God will make their faith their binding commitment; in which men willingly suffer for justice and love; in which churches and synagogues lead, not follow.

SEEK a reign of prayer in which God is praised and worshiped as the Lord of the universe, before Whom all racial idols fall, Who makes us one family and to Whom we are all responsible.

In making this appeal we affirm our common religious commitment to the essential dignity and equality of all men under God. We dedicate ourselves to work together to make this commitment a vital factor in our total life.

We call upon all the American people to work, to pray and to act courageously in the cause of human equality and dignity while there is still time, to eliminate racism permanently and decisively, to seize the historic opportunity the Lord has given us for healing an ancient rupture in the human family, to do this for the glory of God.

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Another panelist, Sheed & Ward editor Philip Scharper, agreed that “racism is an intolerable heresy,” but saw its resolution only in a theology of the Incarnation. Discrimination will not be resolved, he contended, until men recognize that the Negro no less than the white has been redeemed “by the blood of Christ,” and that Christ’s blood alone can wash away our “ethnic pride and cultural superiority … blotting out forever those … cherished distinctions which set us off from the lesser breeds without the law.”

Various delegates declared in discussion groups that they rarely if ever heard sermons on the evil nature of racial discrimination from the pulpits. Sargent Shriver, Director of the Peace Corps, addressing a full meeting of the conference, asked: “I wonder why I can go to church fifty-two times a year and not hear one sermon on the practical problems of race relations?” He challenged delegates to tithe a tenth of their time to the achievement of social justice. Many delegates confessed that the embarrassment of their own personal failures, and that of their churches, kept them from speaking out against the segregation of their civic communities.

In the conference’s closing address Martin Luther King declared that segregation is “morally wrong and sinful,” for every man’s creation in the image of God means that there “is no graded scale of essential worth. Only a Negro,” he declared, “understands the social leprosy that segregation inflicts upon him. Like a nagging hell, it follows his every activity, leaving him tormented by day and haunted by night.”

Many voices, both lay and cleric, asserted that the clergy often fail to speak against racism in concrete terms for fear of loss of status, or even position.

The conference was called by the Department of Racial and Cultural Relations of the National Council of Churches; the Social Action Department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference; and the Social Action Commission of the Synagogue Council of America. The Rev. Benjamin E. Mays, president of Morehouse College, Atlanta, was chairman. Mathew Ahmann, Executive Director of the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice, was the conference’s Secretariat. More than 70 religious groups participated.

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Several invited Negro organizations declined to attend. Most conspicuous was the absence of the president of the 5,000,000-member National Baptist Convention, the Rev. J. H. Jackson. According to the Rev. Phale D. Hale, executive secretary of the Social Action Commission of the Ohio Baptist General Association, close friend of both Jackson and Martin Luther King, “personal relationships arising out of past experiences” in the World Council of Churches and in the formation of the conference, led to his rejection of the invitation.

The theological basis on which the three major U. S. faiths met was the common confession that one God created all men in his own image and each man has therefore rights and dignities which all others are obliged to honor. Appeal was made to the words of Malachi (2:10), “Have we not all one Father? hath not one God created us?” This was accepted as a basis for the conference without any debate. This basis indeed allowed for the hoped for amelioration of racism through resolutions and united programs of concrete social action. It did not, however, deliver the conference from basic ambiguity and contradiction on a deeper level. Within the accepted limitations of their coming together, delegates could not appeal to that grace of God in Christ which can alone cleanse evil from the human heart. Delegates repeatedly admitted that everyone knows what is right, but continually asked for the source of the power and courage to do the right. NCC President J. Irwin Miller put the matter in sharp relief when he told the assembly, “We often find ourselves unable to practice what we preach.”

The conference did represent, however, an anguished and determined effort toward conquering America’s greatest and most dangerous social problem.

At times emotions rose to the point of breaking—not into anger but tears.

Church And Politics

The implications of a “Christian Social Relations Committee” proved too much for the vestry of St. Michael and All Angels Church, Los Angeles.

The vestry set up a committee to study the proposal of the Los Angeles Diocese of the Protestant Episcopal Church “to foster the formation in every parish and mission of the Diocese of a local Christian Social Relations Committee.” The committee probed the pros and cons for six months, then returned with a 22-page report which instead proposed establishment of a “Good Works Committee.”

The report was adopted by the vestry by a vote of 11 to 0, with the rector, the Rev. R. K. Riebs, abstaining.

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A resolution of the vestry concluded that “the proposed Christian Social Relations Committee is not in the best interest of this Parish Church.”

The resolution noted that “the establishment of the proposed Christian Social Relations Committee, whatever else it might serve to do, would commit our Parish Church to a program of political action and that this kind of controversial activity and its natural and consequent by-products would seriously jeopardize and impair our ability to carry out the valid and important purposes for which we have joined together in this church.”

Announcing A Reprint

Bethany Press, publishing house of the Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ), says it is reprinting The Message of Genesis, the book which created a major theological furor in the Southern Baptist Convention last year.

The book will be out this month as the first in a new line of paperbacks, according to Darrell K. Wolfe, director of Bethany Press. Both Wolfe and Dr. Ralph H. Elliott, the author, said corrections of spelling and typographical errors will be the only changes from the first edition.

Broadman Press, the Southern Baptist publishing agency which first issued the book then decided not to reprint it after 5,000 copies had been sold out, reportedly loaned the type to Bethany Press.

Elliott, at first defended by trustees of Midwestern Baptist Theological School, eventually lost his teaching position at the Southern Baptist school when he would not agree to withhold the book from a second publication.

The theological viewpoint of the book was sharply criticized by Southern Baptist conservatives.

Wolfe, in announcing the reprint plan, was somewhat condescending:

“It is well written from the point of view of style. While it is not a major scholarly work, we believe that it will fit the Bethany line without discredit.”

Had officials of Bethany Press considered that in reprinting the book they might fan the flames of theological controversy in a sister denomination? Wolfe did not say.

“Our directors notified me to go ahead if I thought the book was of sufficient quality,” he declared, “and my publication committee told me to go ahead for this reason:

“They thought the book warranted being published because of the way it had been handled in the past. In other words, they felt that no man ought to lose his job just because he had a book on the Bible published that did not happen to appeal to all of the constituents.”

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A Ransom For The Siberians?

Is there still hope for the 32 Siberian peasants who sought refuge from religious persecution? Could their fellow Christians in the more fortunate free world find a way to help them?

These questions echoed in the mind and heart of many an evangelical believer this week, kept alive by the memory of a plaintive cry:

“Those who believe in God and Christ, help us!”

The plea had been uttered by one of the peasants herded into a Soviet bus for removal from the U. S. Embassy in Moscow. Around the world evangelical Christians shared an uneasy conscience because it remained unanswered.

Perhaps the most dramatic proposal for helping the peasants, who presumably were back in their home town of Chernogorsk, was this:

Why not raise a ransom fund and offer Khrushchev the money for release of the 32 from Russia?

James B. Donovan, New York attorney involved in the return both of U-2 pilot Gary Powers and the Cuban Bay of Pigs invaders, was pessimistic.

“I’m sure it would be rejected out of hand,” he said. “Russia would have no idea of permitting them to leave.”

Donovan, a Roman Catholic layman, did not shut the door on the possibility that he might be willing to negotiate for release of the Siberian Christians if interest from the Kremlin were forthcoming. He said he would make that decision in the light of circumstances.

[A complete report on the plea for refuge by the Siberians appeared in the news section of the January 18, 1963, issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY. In the same issue, an editorial voiced disappointment that “no church or church organization seized the opportunity to ransom the ill-fated Cuban freedom fighters from Castro’s island prison.”]

[Richard Cardinal Cushing, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston, belatedly revealed that there had indeed been a church organization involved; Cushing himself had raised $1,000,000 to help liberate the Cubans. The funds he raised, Cushing said, came from small contributions of $1,000 or less from persons of all religious beliefs. Some $200,000 was already on hand, he said. The cardinal told newsmen he agreed to raise the sum when informed by U. S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy that the money was needed. Cushing’s involvement reportedly raised some Protestant concern.]

Observers were quick to point out that an offer of money for the Siberians would be a situation quite different from the one which brought back the Cubans.

Gordon Shantz of Harrisonburg, Virginia, director of Russian-language Mennonite radio broadcasts beamed to the Soviet Union, declared that although there is not much parallel with the return of the Cuban invaders, the idea of a ransom for the Siberians is due “some exploration.” “It might be worth following up,” he said.

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Dr. Oswald C. J. Hoffmann, whose “Lutheran Hour” radio broadcast is also heard in Russia, lamented the fact that the State Department and the U. S. Embassy in Moscow “failed to get more mileage” out of the incident. But he added that “I don’t see much purpose in this ransom procedure. There isn’t a ghost of a chance. It would be a pure propaganda move.”

Neither the World Council of Churches nor the National Council of Churches had a comment on the Moscow incident.

Leaders of the Baptist World Alliance called on the Russian government to permit an impartial international commission to investigate the complaint of the Siberians. They made the plea in a personal letter to Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin delivered to the Russian Embassy in Washington.

State Department Press Officer Lincoln White, asked if Protestant churches could expect any encouragement from the U. S. government if they sought to ransom the Siberians, said he did not know one way or another.

Timely Accident

The Rev. Earl Kelly, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Holly Springs, Mississippi, was preaching on the second coming of Christ.

He had just quoted Matthew 24:27, “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

At this point, a large light bulb fell from its socket in the ceiling and shattered on the floor in front of the pulpit.

As reported by Baptist Press, Kelly was equal to the occasion. He told the startled worshipers, “His coming will be just as sudden, and unexpected, and devastating to the dreams that are not Christ-centered.”

Most generous offer in behalf of the Siberians came from the National Association of Evangelicals. A cablegram signed by Dr. Robert A. Cook, NAE president, and Bishop C. N. Hostetter, Jr., chairman of its World Relief Commission, urged Khrushchev to grant the 32 believers permission to leave the Soviet Union.

An NAE spokesman said the offer of help could be interpreted as willingness to sponsor the Siberians as refugees.

Dr. Carl McIntire, president of the International Council of Christian Churches, also wired an appeal to Moscow as well as to the U. S. State Department asking for release of the Siberians.

“But under no circumstances would we consider a ransom,” he said. “That would be immoral. God can deliver these people without our committing an immoral act.”

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Meanwhile, Religious News Service reported from Moscow that the Siberians had presented written petitions at the embassy but that American authorities were unwilling to release the texts. Embassy spokesmen said the petitions were forwarded to the State Department for “detailed study.” They added that no copy of the pleas had been provided to the Soviet foreign ministry.

According to the one report, “there were many pages” in the petitions, “handwritten and signed by many names.”

Some observers saw in the phrase “many names” the possibility that the Christians who appeared at the U. S. Embassy may have carried petitions signed by a large number of believers from Siberian areas.

If so, Christians signing the petition—in entrusting it to the group which journeyed some 2,400 miles to Moscow—took a great risk. Had the petitions been intercepted by Soviet authorities before reaching the U. S. Embassy, the Communist regime could have placed charges.

A complete news blackout on the incident still existed throughout Russia two weeks afterward. The only announcement from the government was distributed by a news agency, Novosti, and consisted of an English-language detailing of “crimes” committed by “Evangelical Christians.” Designed strictly for Western consumption, it listed a series of “criminal” activities attributed to an “unregistered” sect.

Cruelty to children constituted the major charge. Indirectly, by noting that children had been taken from sect members because of alleged cruelty, the Soviet agency supports the peasants’ charge, shouted out at the U. S. Embassy, that their children would be taken from them.

A New Encounter

Study of the Holy Spirit brought together two ends of the ecclesiastical spectrum—the Protestant Episcopal Church and the Assemblies of God—in two closed-door meetings last year “to find out what we might be able to learn from each other about Christian faith and life.”

Specifically, much of the conversation centered on the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Church today. Both sides discounted any aims toward doctrinal agreement or ecclesiastical negotiations.

A joint statement issued January 16 reported that “there emerged a deep sense of Christian understanding and mutual trust. We found ourselves a fellowship, open to the leading of the Holy Spirit to a degree which we had hardly dared to expect.”

There was no explanation of why the talks had been a closely guarded secret.

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Conferences between officials of the two churches were held at the Assemblies of God headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, and at the Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City. The first meeting was held February 16–17, 1962, in Springfield and the second November 8–9, 1962, in Kansas City.

The idea originated in a letter written by Carl G. Conner, public relations representative of the Assemblies of God, to Peter Day, editor of The Living Church, an Episcopal weekly. Conner commented on an article in The Living Church relating to the charismatic movement in the Episcopal Church and suggested the possibility of further discussion. Day received the proposal enthusiastically and took it up with church officials, who appointed an official committee.

Attending the meetings, in addition to Day, who was chairman of the Episcopal delegation, were the Rt. Rev. Edward R. Welles, Bishop of Western Missouri; the Very Rev. Ned Cole, Jr., dean of Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis; and the Rev. William N. Beachy, M. D., chaplain of St. Luke’s Hospital, Kansas City.

Included in the Assemblies of God delegation were the Rev. Thomas F. Zimmerman, general superintendent; the Rev. Howard Bush; the Rev. Charles W. H. Scott; the Rev. Gayle F. Lewis; the Rev. Bert Webb; the Rev. J. Philip Hogan; and the Rev. M. B. Netzel.

Sources identified with the current charismatic revival say that a number of Episcopal churches are experiencing its manifestations. The Protestant Episcopal Church became the first of the old-line denominations to utter an official reaction when its House of Bishops issued a statement last fall. The statement said, in effect, that the movement must not get out of hand. Here is the complete text:

“Since, from time to time, new movements rise within the life of the Church, we, your bishops, share two observations.

“(a) When a new movement rises, which may stress some aspect of the richness of Christ, it is the duty of the whole Church to view it with sympathy, to work to keep it within the great fellowship, and to discern what in the movement is of God that we all may learn from it. Our attitude must be generous, and charitably critical. If, for example, a movement rises concerned with the fact of the Holy Spirit, the proper response is for all of us to consider anew the divine promises and divine gifts, trying the spirits by their fruits. We must bear always in mind that souls differ, that God’s Spirit is ever moving in new ways, and that new movements have in history enriched the Body of Christ. We observe further that we are a Church, and not a sect, and that our spiritual home is, and should be, spacious.

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Overseas Move
Westminster College, a United Presbyterian school in Fulton, Missouri, plans to import a 285-year-old war-damaged church from London as a memorial to Winston Churchill.
Dr. Robert L. D. Davidson, college president, says moving St. Mary the Virgin Church from Aldermanbury to the Missouri campus and its reconstruction should be completed by June.
Plans to move the church had been ridiculed earlier by Pravda, Communist daily in Moscow, which brought the comment from Davidson: “We couldn’t be more complimented.”
Westminster College was the scene in 1946 of Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain” speech in which he called for a strong American-British alliance against Communism. The address was belittled by Pravda as “one in which the Cold War was declared and which legalized the sad role of the junior partner of the U. S.”
Christopher Wren, noted British architect, designed the church, which was completed about 1677.

“(b) Having said that to the whole Church, we observe that the danger of all new movements is self-righteousness, divisiveness, one-sidedness, and exaggeration. We call, therefore, upon all new movements to remain in the full, rich, balanced life of the historic Church, and thereby protect themselves against these dangers; and we remind all clergy of their solemn vow to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of this Church. The Church, transcending in its life both the generations and the nations, is by its nature more comprehensive than any special groups within it; and the Church, therefore, is both enriched by, and balances the insights of all particular movements.”

An Episcopal Record

A record membership of 3,591,853 in 7,735 parishes and missions of the Protestant Episcopal Church—a gain of 2.5 per cent over the previous year—is reported in the 1963 Episcopal Church Annual published by Morehouse-Barlow in New York.

Of the total, 3,334,253 are members of congregations and missions in the United States and 247,600 belong to 16 missionary districts outside the country.

The members are served by 9,811 ministers—a five per cent increase—and 15,510 lay readers.

Commenting on these and other statistics in the yearbook, Clifford P. Morehouse, editor of the annual, wrote that this is “probably not more than the normal population growth” of the country.

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Citing a 1.62 per cent decrease in church school pupils and a 12 per cent decrease in ministerial candidates, Morehouse said:

“The question naturally arises: Is the Episcopal Church doing its full share in the religious life of America, or is it losing ground to other religious bodies and to the prevailing secularism?”

Morehouse, president of the church’s House of Deputies, observed that “fortunately statistics do not tell the whole story.”

He pointed to a “new awakening of lay activity in the Church” and a “growth of vision and of sound planning both in the home areas and in work overseas.”

‘You Can Call Me Red’

Since 1931 Britain has had four monarchs, eleven governments, and four primates in Anglicanism’s mother see, but amid all the changes and chances of this mortal scene the Dean of Canterbury has remained unmoved. Whoever conjures up an idyllic tale of cloistered seclusion in the ancient cathedral city (population 30,376) would be so wrong, for this onetime $2-a-week engineering apprentice caused uproar after uproar by tireless championship of Communist states and Marxist policies.

Born of capitalist parents in 1874, Hewlett Johnson did welfare work in the Manchester slums and was a strong advocate of Social Credit in his earlier days. Appointed to Canterbury by Labor Premier J. Ramsay MacDonald, he visited Russia in 1938 and thereafter published The Socialist Sixth of the World (now 22 editions, 25 languages). “I cannot lay claim to too much respectability,” he said once. “Underneath my skin I am a bit of a barbarian.” Though never a member of the Communist party, he journeyed far to world peace rallies, was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize in 1951, and in support of Red China charged the Americans with germ warfare during the Korean War. This led to a debate in the Houses of Parliament during which Dr. Geoffrey F. Fisher, then the archbishop, said the dean had “abused and compromised his office” (from which he could not legally be removed). Johnson never shunned publicity, and caused another furor when the Russians suppressed the 1956 revolution in Hungary.

Since he obstinately resolved never to quit his historic post while his health was good, the announcement of his resignation, effective May 31, has sparked off considerable speculation, for his wife claims he is “in perfect health.” Quizzed if pressure had been put on him, Johnson said: “I would rather not answer that. But that would not decide me at all because pressure has always been brought to bear upon me to retire by archbishops and by canons.” To Fisher, the distinguished-looking “Red Dean” was “a nuisance to be endured with such patience as we can command.” Fisher’s successor, Dr. Arthur M. Ramsey, is more equivocal; asked about the dean at the National Press Club in Washington last year, he replied: “Well, the dean is a very, very old man.”

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Discussing the resignation, the Church Times first curiously suggested that his predilection for Russia was useful because it prevented anyone from maintaining “that the Church of England was entirely committed to an anti-Communist crusade,” but elsewhere dryly concluded: “Dr. Johnson expresses his intention of doing more important work than that of being Dean of Canterbury, namely the writing of his autobiography. Perhaps that is sufficient comment on his occupancy of this important position for more than three decades.”

J. D. D.

Agonize, Not Organize

Bishops wearing copes and mitres unwittingly encourage a person to think that he is “all right for eternity,” suggested the Rev. A. G. Pouncy, Rector of Bebington, at last month’s Islington Clerical Conference. This annual gathering of evangelicals in the Church of England (established by Bishop Daniel Wilson in 1829) could boast the presence of six bishops, but never a cope or mitre was to be seen. Alluding to the “appalling wastage” found in Anglicanism (75 per cent of those confirmed in England do not attend even one Communion a year), Mr. Pouncy said “indiscriminate baptism is the mother of insincere confirmation.”

In his presidential address the Rev. R. Peter Johnston, Vicar of Islington, said: “It is the constant danger of the Church to find in ecclesiasticism a form of escapism from her primary task of evangelism.” For evangelicals not less than for others it was a question of priorities, he continued. “Attendance at that committee meeting is deemed essential; the Prayer Meeting takes second place. We pride ourselves on our ability to organize. Our forefathers, like the Apostle Paul, knew what it was to agonize in prayer.” For the individual, suggested Mr. Johnston, the greatest need is for personal holiness; for the Church the greatest need is for spiritual revival.

Canon J. F. Hickinbotham, Principal of St. John’s College, Durham, pointed out that baptism witnesses to the New Testament truth that Christ’s salvation is decisive and complete (“you cannot have more or less [quantitatively] of the Holy Spirit indwelling your heart”)—a single salvation is expressed by a single sacrament. It cannot be affirmed that confirmation is theologically necessary to receiving the fullness of salvation. Pursuing the conference theme, “The Theology and Practice of Confirmation,” was Dr. Philip E. Hughes, editor of The Churchman, who expressed regret that the Church had mislaid the biblical doctrine of baptism, rooted in covenant theology. He urged that baptism should be withheld from the children of those who were not practicing Christians, and that such children could receive baptism and confirmation later as a joint rite. Canon James Atkinson of Hull University, one of the 32 theologians who signed last year’s “Open Letter to the Archbishops,” said that baptism is the whole rite of initiation. Confirmation, he added, is the ratification before the church of baptismal promises, not an objective purveying of the Holy Spirit.

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J. D. D.

Violent March

Angry mobs marched down Jerusalem’s Street of the Prophets one night last month. They smashed windows, assaulted a Protestant missionary, and overturned the car of another.

Authorities blamed Yeshiva (Jewish Talmudic school) students and arrested seven of them. The students, characterized by black gabardine apparel, belong to an ultra-orthodox school. They were said to have been angered by Protestant missionaries who allegedly took advantage of poverty conditions.

One of the targets of attack was the Finnish Lutheran Mission’s Shalheveyah boarding school, which was stoned by from 50 to 100 young people who carried posters denouncing missionary activities in general and those of the nearby Hebrew Evangelization Society in particular.

A center operated by this society was stoned less than two weeks before. The director, Yaacov Goren, had invited neighborhood children to what was described as Chanukah celebration. Some parents said they had not given their consent, and this led to some stone-throwing in which Goren’s wife was slightly injured.

In the later violence, the Rev. Rysto Santala, director of the Shalheveyah school, was beaten when he tried to protect his wife from being harmed by the demonstrators, according to police. The Zion Christian Mission also was damaged, and a car owned by the missionary pastor of the Israel Messianic Assembly was overturned.

The Israeli Cabinet voted unanimously to apologize to the Finnish government for the attack. Santala asked police not to prosecute the students who were arrested.

What Is Error?

Augustin Cardinal Bea announced in Rome that when the Second Vatican Council reconvenes in September, the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity which he heads will present a schema, or decree, proclaiming the right of all men to freedom of conscience.

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He made the announcement before some 200 representatives of 21 religious bodies, including Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Jews, gathered for an agape sponsored by the Catholic International Pro Deo University in Rome and modeled along the lines of the feasts of brotherly love common in early Christian times.

Participants hailed the cardinal’s announcement as “extremely important” and said the speech could be regarded as the “Magna Charta” of a new orientation given to the Catholic Church by Pope John XXIII.

Bea declared that, like the Second Vatican Council, the agape was inspired by a spirit of universal charity. He went on to warn against identifying truth with one’s own beliefs and stressed the need to understand other men’s convictions and respect their freedom to follow their own consciences.

Among others taking part in the agape, besides Jews and Latin and Eastern Rite Catholics, were Eastern Orthodox, Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Waldensians, and Moslems.

Cardinal Bea told the participants, who shared a symbolic meal consisting of fish and simple pies similar to those prepared by Jews 2,000 years ago, that “an authentic love for truth demands that we recognize it wherever encountered.”

“To those objecting that error has not the right to exist,” he said, “we must answer that error is something abstract. The past’s so-called wars of religion were aberrations of a misunderstood love for truth. They were waged by men who forgot that not less important than truth is man’s right to follow his own conscience and to have his independence respected by all.”

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