ALL POWER CORRUPTS
My friend Karl had something to do with the opening of a summer camp for some sector of the Church somewhere. They were about to have a dedication service, and he was supposed to give the invocation, which he was prepared to do. He was somewhat put out and subsequently led to meditate thereon when one of the “high officials” came running to him just before the service to say: “Are you ready with an invocation? You know the Superintendent of the Synod himself is here today.” One can see immediately that one’s prayers to Almighty God need a little extra refurbishing if there are any superintendents of synods around.
What I like to hear is the introduction of a man who is going to say the blessing at a big dinner. First of all it is fun to be at the head table, or even in the planning stages for the banquet, and hear discussion of the pros and cons of who ought to be asked. After all, these honors don’t come daily!
Now the banquet hour has arrived, and the chairman announces proudly, “We will be led in our invocation by the Reverend Dr. C. Leroy Bust, District Superintendent of the Hutchinson County Sunday School Association, District Six, and Past Moderator of Ebenezer Presbytery, and former Executive Vice-President of the Humble Rendering Company.” By this time there is more introduction than man. This may all please God and give a good feeling to the audience: it will certainly impress the man who gives the invocation (to ask him to “say the blessing” or “return thanks” would be too pedestrian).
The status symbols of the grand ministry, I suppose, are substitutes for money-making. Since we can’t all be rich, we can make up for it by titles, robes, hats, and letterheads. He that sits in the heavens shall laugh.
EVANGELISM AND THE ABC
Thank you for reporting the address of Dr. Jitsuo Morikawa at the NCC—DCE meetings in Cincinnati (News, Mar. 13 issue). And thank you for your insightful editorial dealing with Dr. Morikawa’s strange theology. He certainly appears to have abandoned evangelical principles. Your reporting and your editorial should help American Baptists to correct this situation in our Division of Evangelism.
I am sure that American Baptists have no intention of abandoning their social witness and responsibility. But I am also sure that they will have no witness to make unless it is founded on evangelical principles.
FRANCIS E. WHITING
Dept. of Evangelism and Spiritual Life
Michigan Baptist Convention
Surely you aren’t serious when you imply separation of man into an “individual” being and a “social” being; into “soul” and “body”? I can’t believe that a biblically oriented journal such as yours would get involved in such an unbiblical dichotomy. The obvious message of Scripture is that man is a unity; the whole point of the Incarnation being that God became flesh.…
Morikawa is one of the few men in our time who, like the prophets, are trying to cast the message of personal salvation in a context where grace strikes with full impact on man’s total context. He is one of the few men in positions of executive leadership who want the Gospel to embrace and redeem the whole world and who are not willing that little clubs of ecclesiastical porch-sitters form and hide behind what they think is a biblical conservatism but which is nothing of the kind. They are suppressing, as if it were possible, the sovereignty of God to rule his world and to move mightily to save, and they are rendering themselves close to the brink of hell by being irrelevant.…
NORMAN R. DEPUY
Moorestown, N. J.
• We recognize that man is a social being, for if he were not, he could not be saved by another, namely Christ. And we believe that every Christian is called to bear witness to the Lordship of Christ in all spheres of life. But Dr. Morikawa says more—that salvation of the individual is contingent upon the salvation of the various social structures of life. With this, we are in hearty and profound disagreement.—ED.
As a pastor in the American Baptist Convention I agree wholeheartedly that many of Dr. Morikawa’s programs and theories are not only unscriptural but confusing.
Our failure to grow as a denomination certainly is due in part to Dr. Morikawa’s weird concepts of evangelism.
Fortunately, biblical evangelism or the seeking the salvation of individuals, and not “the evangelization of the structures of society,” is the position of a great majority of pastors in the American Baptist Convention.
STEWART H. SILVER
I feel I must write to congratulate you on your article on “South Africa’s Race Dilemma” (News, Jan. 31 issue). I want only to express my appreciation that you managed to present all the principal facts and furthermore, you have got your facts right. It is to be regretted that in the emotionally charged atmosphere in which this subject is discussed, facts also seem to be suppressed.
Hour of Revival Association
Thank you for printing the article by Mr. R. Coggins concerning “Missions and Prejudice” (Jan. 17 issue).…
Being a second-generation missionary as well as having been born on the mission field, I have seen a lot of this. I know a pastor who is willing to, and has, come to Africa to preach Christ. But let a Negro get within a block of his church, and out comes the shotgun.
It behooves American mission boards to think [on] what one of the leaders of an African country which will be shortly receiving independence stated. He said that after independence they are going to look into the parent body of missions in that country and see if in the home churches segregation is practiced. The inference is that this mission might be asked to leave the country.
ERNEST G. JONES
The Assemblies of God Mission
ON ECUMENICAL NEO-COLONIALISM
My attention has been drawn to your editorial comment (Jan. 17 issue) on “Ecumenism’s Neo-Colonial Compromises,” in which you accuse the World Council of Churches of employing “neo-colonial methods of purchasing ecumenical cooperation.” This general charge is supported by a specific reference to the Theological Education Fund, which is inaccurate and misleading.
It is alleged that the Near East School of Theology “has been exposed to a series of ecclesiastical pressures.…” The editorial then continues: “The Theological Education Fund offered $99,000 to assist in relocating the Near East School of Theology institution nearer the campus of the American University of Beirut.…” In the context of your editorial, this is clearly intended to create the impression that the T.E.F. is attempting to buy cooperation between these two institutions.
The facts are quite otherwise. The Near East School of Theology, which is a union institution, has maintained cooperative relations with the American University for many years. The proposal that the school should move from its present site to the vicinity of the university was made by the Board of Managers of the Near East School of Theology. The Theological Education Fund received a request from the Board of Managers for financial help. The Committee of the Fund (in 1962) declined the request on the following grounds: (a) that the purpose of the T.E.F. is the advancement of theological education; (b) that a change of locale would not, in itself, achieve this purpose: and (c) that the primary need of the N.E.S.T. (in the opinion of the committee) was an improvement in the quality of the teaching and administration of the school. In the light of these comments, the Board of Managers renewed the request in 1963, at the same time outlining plans for the reconstruction of the academic program and the administration of the school. On the basis of these assurances the T.E.F. Committee approved a grant of $99,000. Of this sum $9,000 is to be applied to the purchase of books, and the balance to the cost of relocation. It is difficult to see how this series of events can be construed as an attempt to purchase ecumenical cooperation by neo-colonial or any other methods. The fact is that in this, as in other cases, the Theological Education Fund has declined to use its resources merely to support cooperation, apart from serious plans for the strengthening of the training of the ministry. Moreover, the Theological Education Fund does not “offer” major grants to theological institutions. It responds (as its objectives and resources permit) to requests presented by such institutions, on their own initiative. It is the first policy of the fund to make grants only in support of proposals which have the responsible backing of the institution concerned and the constituency which it serves.
You state that the T.E.F. grant to the Near East School of Theology was made on two conditions, the first being “that $100,000 matching grants be assured by the United Church of Christ and by the Theological Commission of the United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A.” The facts are that the T.E.F. Committee required “other contributions” amounting to $200,000; and it stipulated that these should be secured by June 30, 1965. There is no reference in the T.E.F.C. resolution as to the source of these contributions. It is not the business of the T.E.F. to tell the N.E.S.T. Board of Managers where to find its resources. It is its business, however, to ensure that its grants are given for undertakings which can, in fact, be carried out. The estimated cost for the relocation of the school in Beirut was $290,000. Towards this the T.E.F. has made an appropriation of $90,000, but the payment of the grant is conditional upon the ability of the school to find the additional resources necessary to implement the proposal.
You state that the second condition attaching to the T.E.F. grant is “that the school’s president (a national) be succeeded by a non-national.” The T.E.F. Committee laid down no such condition. In accordance with established practice, it merely stated that the grant would be available when satisfactory progress had been made in the carrying out of the plans submitted by the Board of Managers of the Near East School of Theology.
I regret, sir, that you did not verify your facts before printing a hearsay account of these matters, which can only cause embarrassment to an institution which, I must assume, you desire to help.
CHARLES W. RANSON
The Theological Education Fund
New York and London
• Director Ranson’s factual data about T.E.F. proposals is correct, and CHRISTIANITY TODAY stands corrected in these details. In one respect he misinterprets our editorial, for there is no intention to “create the impression” that T.E.F. was attempting to buy cooperation between A.U.B. and N.E.S.T. CHRISTIANITY TODAY is aware that these two institutions have a history of cooperation.
What is stated in the editorial—and not conceded by Dr. Ranson—is that there were “ecclesiastical pressures” upon the N.E.S.T.; that T.E.F., the United Church Board, and the Presbyterian Commission were involved in these; and that they were directed toward the removal of the national president of the seminary in the interest of a supposed wider and more effective ecumenical service on the part of the seminary. CHRISTIANITY TODAY stands by its claim that there were such pressures, exercised not through written documents but under the surface in more personal ways. The pressure in the N.E.S.T. situation seems to have originated in the United Church Board and moved from there into the Presbyterian Commission, and through an overlapping membership has figured also in T.E.F. projections.
The intention of our editorial was not to discredit the T.E.F. Committee, which performs a useful service in aiding theological education in needy areas. It was rather a word of caution lest the committee undermine its own good work by allowing itself to be used in the manner indicated.—ED.
Your editorial … has just been brought to my attention.…
It seems a bit unfair to lift an example out of context to support your contention. I have been indirectly related with the Near East School of Theology in Beirut as a Fraternal Worker in Syria-Lebanon for the past ten years, and am well acquainted with the personnel and policies of the school.… With considered judgment and wise counsel the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., officially took the stand to integrate its work into that of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon in the spring of 1959. Five years later there are only two secondary schools, out of ten, remaining under the guidance of “foreign” mission boards, the latest having been nationalized in November, 1963. I believe that it was a judgment of wisdom which prompted the Commission on Ecumenical Mission and Relations of the United Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., to adopt the approach that when a qualified and competent national, equal to, if not superior to, the missionary he was to replace was located, then and only then would the project in question be “nationalized.” Competency, therefore, was not to be judged on the basis of one’s race, creed, or national origin, but on the basis, as it rightly should be, of one’s experience, educational background, and knowledge of program he is to direct.
I am convinced that we now have this caliber of nationals in those institutions which have been “nationalized” over the past ten years. The individual to which you refer in support of your charge of ecumenical suicide is only the acting principle, suggesting that the Board of Directors is not yet ready to pass final judgment.…
W. G. GEPFORD
First Presbyterian Church
• The devolution noted by Mr. Gepford is the program, at least, of the United Presbyterian Church in the Near East. However, program and practice do not always coincide. CHRISTIANITY TODAY has noted a significant instance in which the commendable policy of devolution was “forgotten” temporarily in the interest of “wider ecumenical concerns.”
Mr. Gepford writes: “The individual to which you refer in support of your charge of ecumenical suicide is only the acting principle (sic), suggesting that the Board of Directors (sic) is not yet ready to pass judgment.” This statement is incorrect. The person in question is definitely the principal of the seminary and has been unanimously supported by his Board of Managers in the field in the face of ecclesiastical pressure to have him removed.—ED.
CHOOSING A CHANNEL
Your warm article on Clyde Taylor (“God’s Handyman in Washington”) in the February 14 issue (News) portrays what a tower of strength this man has been for the evangelical branch of Protestantism.
But there was a disturbing overtone in the piece—the shortage of competent leadership in the ranks of the NAE, the fading image and effectiveness of this organization, the honest doubts of many Protestants as to whether we really any longer need the NAE.
Many of us are not prepared to acknowledge that the National Council of Churches (or its parent WCC) provides the best channels through which to express ourselves and propagate our faith on an interdenominational level. There is too much concrete evidence that there exists in these organizations, from top to bottom, some elements that are fundamentally opposed to what we feel is important and vital.
The statement by a speaker at the recent triennial meeting of the NCC (that the aim of the churches is the “renewal of the social structure” … “not the saving of individual souls”) is hardly conducive to enlisting enthusiasm from evangelicals.
And this statement from a recent meeting of the WCC’s Division of World Mission and Evangelism at Mexico City is hardly the kind to bolster the viewpoint that the liberalism of the 1920s no longer exists. Said the statement: “Evangelism is a misused, misunderstood word. Most people think of it as the conversion of sinners, the more the better. Actually, it’s service. Look, if I take care of a dope addict because the city doesn’t have the facilities for him and because society considers him a criminal, why, I consider this evangelism.”
The argument that statements like these are unrepresentative and untypical is getting a little shopworn.
We wish the NCC warranted our confidence, for a two-Protestant approach to the mammoth problems of our age is something less than desirable. But church history and the Scriptures demonstrate, do they not, that there are some things worse than division.
Which brings the problem into focus. If the NCC and WCC cannot command our confidence, how is the evangelical wing of Protestantism to survive, much less push ahead, unless it be rooted in an institution like the NAE? Or something in its place? Any cause that is to remain healthy over the long pull of the years must be anchored in an organization—such as liberal Protestantism is anchored in the NCC. Thank God for evangelical magazines, such as CHRISTIANITY TODAY. Thank God for evangelical colleges and seminaries. Thank God for evangelical movements such as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. But programs cannot flow from editorial staffs or schools or evangelists. Programs flow from organizations, which is why the NAE—or something in its place—is sorely needed.
Leaders and denominations who only give lip service to the NAE and refuse to take its role seriously may some day regret that back in the 1960s when they had a chance to give force to this organization they let it go by the board.
Baptist General Conference
AREAS OF CHALLENGE
I have been enjoying your editorials and many of the articles in recent issues … and was especially glad for your current editorial on “Evangelical Writing Today” (Feb. 14 issue) with its note of encouragement and hope that many evangelicals are beginning to take seriously this extremely important medium of communication.
There are still very weak areas, particularly in the field of creative or imaginative writing: fiction, poetry, and drama.…
J. WESLEY INGLES
Professor of English
Eastern Baptist College
St. Davids, Pa.
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