The Consultation on Church Union, which this year is drawing up a proposal for an American super-church, apparently has little appeal for the most ecumenically minded Baptist group, the American Baptist Convention.

At Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, last month, forty-six voting members of the ABC General Council discussed all sorts of relationships with other Christians, but the Consultation (or Blake-Pike proposal, as commonly labeled) had few champions and suffered two stunning defeats.

The first was the report of the Division on Cooperative Christianity, whose eight members include four former ABC presidents. It recommended on a five-to-three vote that the ABC shun formal COCU talks. Then General Secretary Edwin H. Tuller, ABC’s top administrator, eschewed a disinterested stance and came up with a surprising, hard-hitting statement against COCU involvement.

In February, the General Council will decide whether to follow the division’s and Tuller’s advice or to ask the annual convention to join the COCU negotiations, which now include six mainline denominations. The General Council, as between-conventions legislature for the ABC, has full power to enter into COCU without a convention vote, but this is unlikely.

The division’s study had been requested at the last annual convention by Dr. Robert G. Torbet. He and Dr. W. Hubert Porter have been the ABC’s observer-consultants to COCU for three years.

Southward Ho

If the American Baptist Convention joined the Consultation on Church Union (see story above), this would probably cripple efforts to get the ABC and other Baptist groups together.

The Rev. Howard R. Stewart, chairman of the Baptist Unity Movement, which hopes to merge the American and Southern Baptist Conventions, is thus opposed to COCU. “There is a strong feeling it might be better to put our Baptist house in order first,” the Dover, Delaware, pastor said.

Others in the ABC think they have more in common with non-Baptist groups than with the Southerners. A new chapter in relations between the ABC and the SBC began October 1, when J. C. Herrin set up shop in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for what some call an ABC “invasion” of the South.

The big, fast-growing SBC has made major inroads in the North in recent years. Herrin’s answer to this is still fuzzy, but he seeks to sign up churches that have already left the SBC and to establish fellowship groups that would become new ABC churches in competition with the entrenched SBC. He also hopes for eventual merger with Negro Baptist churches and perhaps entire denominations, particularly the Progressive Baptist Convention.

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There are now thirty-two ABC churches in the South. Their leaders will meet in Atlanta this month with Herrin to map future plans. The main speaker will be ABC’s controversial evangelism director, Dr. Jitsuo Morikawa. This choice of keynoter and Herrin’s appeal for ABC liberalism on the ecumenical issue indicate the shape this challenge to the SBC may take.

On the eve of the Valley Forge meeting, eighty ABC theology professors urged the General Council to approve COCU. But at the meeting, the COCU camp lacked leadership. Torbet, who is now ABC president, believes he must remain neutral on what may be the hottest and most divisive issue before the ABC in years. Neither he nor Porter will say publicly whether he thinks the ABC should enter the Consultation. The three members of the division who disagreed with its recommendation kept anonymous and silent.

The loyal-opposition mantle fell by default to Dr. Robert Middleton of Chicago, whose church is aligned with both the ABC and the United Church of Christ. In February, he will move to amend the report and get the ABC into COCU. The report now going out to ministers and other leaders will mention his plan. Grass-roots support may be mobilized one way or the other in the next three months, but mail to the denominational magazine Crusader currently is reported to be split 50–50 on the issue.

There is widespread feeling in the ABC that Baptists won’t be able to join the church resulting from COCU if it takes the shape that now seems likely. If this is so, the ABC must decide now whether it should become active in setting up someone else’s church.

Another problem: leaders are sure that if the ABC ever joined the super-church, a large number of local congregations would refuse to go along. The ABC has been hit with schism before and has little taste for another.

The division report carefully listed the pros and cons of COCU, but the majority concluded that most “Baptist distinctives” such as baptism of believers only and congregational polity would have to be compromised too deeply.

Though opposing COCU, the division suggested other ecumenical avenues: stronger ties with the National and World Councils of Churches, Baptist groups, and other “free churches.” It said local churches could join the COCU church and keep parallel affiliation with the ABC.

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Tuller reported that talks with the pacifist Church of the Brethren would resume at Elgin, Illinois, December 4. There has been “a measure of progress” in getting together with the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, he said, but no future meetings are presently scheduled with the Christian Churches (Disciples), who are heavily involved in COCU.

Tuller’s statement on COCU questioned whether a universal Protestant church would be as healthy as a variety of churches existing side by side in an ecumenical spirit. He cited Denmark, where the official Lutheran Church claims 97 per cent of the population but only 1½ per cent of the people attend church. Where Protestants are a tiny minority, as in Southeast Asia, Tidier said, organic union is more beneficial.

Proponents say a big, unified church would wield more power in the social-political-economic sphere, Tuller said, but this also has dangers, as evidenced in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.

Another pressing ecumenical issue—cooperation and possible merger of Baptist seminaries with those of other denominations—received no attention at Valley Forge. Torbet said this is a matter between the ABC Board of Education and Publication, which advocates mergers, and the seminary boards. (See article, page 15.) The division report on COCU, however, mentioned the efficiencies of “a unified theological program under the aegis of a united church” as one of COCU’s advantages.

The General Council backed Torbet’s plan for the executive committee to prepare a position paper on the ecumenical issues facing the ABC for presentation at the next national convention. May 11–15 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Evangelism Around The World

Numerous evangelical leaders familiar with the Far East share a growing conviction that scarred and suffering Korea, once the “hermit kingdom,” is the base for the evangelization of Asia. Latest indication of Korea’s Christian potential came in a year-long national evangelistic campaign climaxed last month with a gigantic rally in Seoul. Some 40,000 attended the rally, singing hymns to the accompaniment of U. S. Army and Navy bands and chanting, “Christ Our Way of Life.”

Among special guests on hand for the grand finale were evangelist Leighton Ford and Irv Chambers, both associates of Billy Graham. Dr. Bob Pierce and Dr. Paul Rees of World Vision had taken part in the campaign earlier. United crusades were held in nearly forty key population centers throughout Korea during 1965, which marked the eightieth anniversary of Protestantism in Korea.

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Aim of the Korea-wide effort was to confront every citizen with the claims of Christ, and indications are that by the end of the year most Koreans will have had the chance. An estimated one million have attended services, and perhaps as many as 10,000 converts have been counted. Nearly all church groups cooperated.

In Spain, according to European Baptist Press Service, more than 600 persons made professions of faith in three weeks. The evangelistic challenge was proclaimed in forty-six churches and mission stations of the Spanish Baptist Union. Guest preachers, assisting Spanish pastors and missionaries, came from Mexico, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia.

An “evangelism in depth” campaign continues in the Dominican Republic, with 6,000 conversions already reported. The campaign there began the same week in April that the political uprising started. Both sides in the political struggle are said to be supporting the work. The campaign is scheduled to end with a preaching crusade from January through March.

Rx For The Masses

An awesome spiritual hunger among North Americans is reflected in the unprecedented demand for Billy Graham’s new book, World Aflame. In one week alone, 29,542 copies were shipped from the Doubleday publishing firm to bookstores from coast to coast.

“In our opinion,” said a Doubleday spokesman, “this is a weekly record sale for any book ever.”

In the first eight weeks the book was on the market, it sold 263,430 copies and skyrocketed to the nation’s best seller list.

The book is basically an evangelistic appeal, highly readable and provocative. Its thoroughly biblical content ranges from the origin of sin and the predicament of modern man to the Christian believer’s social responsibility and his perspective for the end time.

I, Zondervan, Take Thee, Harper …

Harper & Row of New York, one of America’s top book publishers, is selling most of its Bible department to Zondervan, the evangelical firm in Grand Rapids. On January 1, Zondervan will assume rights to the King James and Revised Standard Versions, the Harper Study Bible, and Bagster’s New Testament.

Harper salesmen will represent Zondervan to secular buyers, while Zondervan’s staff concentrates on religious bookstores. The sale (price not made public) gives Zondervan a New York foothold and strategic distribution, and complements its effort to upgrade its catalogue.

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Harper plans to expand its general religious offerings and will continue to publish the Moffatt Bible translation and the forthcoming New Testament translation by William Barclay. Harper said it left the Bible field, in part, to avoid the complex, specialized production problems it entails.

New Design For Church Education

Bethany Press is publishing an 848-page book for Christian educators to use as a basic reference tool in church curriculum planning. The five-pound tome is entitled The Church’s Educational Ministry: A Curriculum Plan. It retails for $18.95.

Publication of the book culminates a five-year joint undertaking by sixteen denominations through the National Council of Churches’ Division of Christian Education. Eight NCC member denominations cooperated in the endeavor, known as the Cooperative Curriculum Project. However, no Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Lutheran groups were included. Neither were United Presbyterians.

Shuttlesworth Shake-Up

When Cincinnati’s Revelation Baptist Church voted 284 to 276 to keep the Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth as pastor November 4, it seemed he had squeezed out a final victory.

But dissident members carried on their campaign (see News. October 22, page 45). A motion filed in Common Pleas Court five days after the church meeting claimed that unauthorized members voted and that the moderator misapplied terms under which the meeting was held.

Shuttlesworth, civil rights aide to Dr. Martin Luther King, called the vote “a great victory” and stressed “love and forgiveness.” He said the main issue was his firing of a woman Sunday school superintendent who disagreed with him. A later charge was that he bought a new church site without consulting church members. The dissidents’ lawyer, Smith Tyler, Jr., chairman of the local Barry Goldwater campaign last year, calls Shuttlesworth’s claims of a right-wing cabal against him a “smoke screen.”


Matching Gift

Gordon Divinity School is being offered a challenge grant of $175, 000 to erect a new library building on its suburban Boston campus. Following a pattern now used by numerous big donors, the school will be expected to raise an equal amount on its own to be eligible for the grant. A Gordon spokesman said the donor prefers anonymity.

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A $25,000,000 Ruckus

Dr. Thomas J. J. Altizer, one of the “God is dead” movement’s outspoken pallbearers, is creating an acid test for academic freedom at Methodist-owned Emory University.

National publicity of Altizer’s startling theology spotted the start of Emory’s $25 million fund-raising drive, biggest ever in the Atlanta area. A display ad in the Atlanta Journal advised: “If this disturbs you like it does me and a few other Emory alumni, write the office of president of Emory and tell them why you, like me, are not donating.…”

The chairman of the fund drive is William R. Bowdoin, a banker and Emory trustee. He fears the effects of Altizer’s views, called the 38-year-old professor “irresponsible,” and rumbled, “I wish he’d leave and leave promptly.”

Emory’s board chairman, Henry L. Bowden, said a teacher at a Christian university who expounds anti-Christian principles “is fouling his own nets.” Nobody would expect to get away with it at a Roman Catholic school, he added.

Among those pressing for dismissal is the retired bishop of Atlanta, Arthur J. Moore, also of the Emory board. He stated, “I do not think there is a place … for a man who denies the basic tenets” of Christianity.

Altizer admitted to the New York Times: “If I were fired I’d have a hell of a time getting a job.” But Altizer has tenure, and university President Sanford S. Atwood supports his right to stay on and say what he wants.

The most acute embarrassment occurred at Emory’s Candler School of Theology, one of the Methodist Church’s twelve official seminaries. Its dean, Dr. William R. Cannon, favors academic freedom but is aware that the principle is “a lot more saleable on the campus than it is off.”

Cannon issued a 1,400-word statement pointing out that Altizer teaches religion in the liberal arts college, not the theology school; is a layman; and is not a Methodist.

As to Altizer’s ideas, Cannon said the “God is dead” slogan has some truth in it if it means many people are indifferent to Him today. But Altizer means much more than that. He claims God’s death is a historical event of our time. He recently told students at a lecture sponsored by Duke University’s Methodist Divinity School that the quest for “total redemption … demands the death of the Christian God, the God who is … the almighty Creator.”

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Introduction To American Theology

Britain’s Princess Margaret and her husband, Lord Snowdon, got a lesson in theological problems during their visit to the United States last month. While in Tucson, Arizona, they attended an Episcopal church where the Rev. George Ferguson preached on the current rash of theological opinion asserting that “God is dead.” Ferguson said he had “no doubt of the excellence of God’s health, but I am sure he is irritated with the children he has created.”

Edinburgh: A Jurisdictional Dispute

In the eyes of Samuel Johnson “contradicting a bishop” was an appalling prospect, but even the resourceful doctor would have been speechless before last month’s Scottish controversy wherein bishop contradicted bishop. It all began when the Rev. John Tirrell, a California Episcopalian currently pursuing doctoral studies at New College, Edinburgh, arranged to assist Dr. Harry Whitley, minister of the High Kirk of St. Giles, John Knox’s old pulpit.

In entering this Presbyterian area Tirrell incurred the displeasure of Dr. Kenneth Carey, Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh, who inhibited him from officiating in any of the diocese’s churches, because the bishop holds that no minister can operate in two denominations simultaneously. But Tirrell’s home bishop, the Right Rev. James Pike, made it clear from his temporary base at Cambridge University that Tirrell was still subject to his jurisdiction and had his approval for the ecumenical gesture.

Protesting that he had not been consulted, Carey demanded an apology from Tirrell and Whitley, and a guarantee that Tirrell’s work at St. Giles would not be “a sacramental ministry.” A further condition imposed was that Tirrell be subject ultimately to Carey’s jurisdiction. This elicited from Pike a “godly admonition” forbidding Tirrell to apologize. Tirrell holds that having been ordained to the priesthood in the Church of God, and to be a faithful dispenser of the Word and sacraments, he could not in conscience accept Carey’s conditions.

The resultant publicity spotlighted a subject on which Scottish churchmen tend to be nervous: relations between the national church (1,270,000 communicants) and its little episcopal sister (55,000). It seems clear that Dr. Carey is applying the rules of his church correctly, but Bishop Pike is not noticeably inhibited by the letter of someone else’s law, and Dr. Whitley (the only Scot of the quartet) has inherited some of Knox’s relish for controversy in a worthy cause.

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Dutchmen Differ

The Free University of Amsterdam came under fire from Dutch Reformed churchmen in South Africa last month for granting an honorary doctorate to Dr. Martin Luther King (see November 19, 1965 issue, page 47). At its synod in Capetown, the Dutch Reformed Church of the Cape Province adopted a resolution charging King with Communist sympathies. It said that his “political views could not be regarded as Christian in character.”

Rhodesian Regime Under Fire

“Now therefore we, the Government of Rhodesia, in humble submission to Almighty God, who controls the destiny of nations, conscious that the people of Rhodesia have always shown unswerving loyalty and devotion to Her Majesty the Queen and earnestly praying that we the people of Rhodesia will not be hindered in our determination to continue exercising our undoubted right to demonstrate the same loyalty and devotion in seeking to promote the common good so that the dignity and freedom of all men may be assured, do by this proclamation adopt, enact and give to the people of Rhodesia the Constitution annexed hereto. God save the Queen!”

In these pious terms Prime Minister Ian D. Smith issued a long-threatened unilateral declaration of independence for Rhodesia, and promptly provoked the wrath of churchmen around the world who stood ready to denounce his giving the nation’s 220,000 whites an autonomous upper hand over its 4,000,000 blacks.

“This action of the Rhodesian government is a very serious and mistaken policy which we can only deeply deplore,” said Dr. W. A. Visser ’t Hooft, general secretary of the World Council of Churches. “Tragic” and “totally irresponsible” was the way a Methodist Board of Missions official put it. “We stand with the world in horror,” said United Presbyterian leaders.

Little support was given the Archbishop of Canterbury’s endorsement of force against Rhodesia, but the United Christian Missionary Society (Disciples of Christ) voiced approval of economic sanctions.

In the Rhodesian capital of Salisbury, Smith became the target of criticism from the nation’s leading Anglican clergyman. Bishop Cecil Alderson, citing “laws designed to subvert the spirit of the displaced (1961) constitution,” added that “submission under protest will not be enough.… There is a Christian right and maybe a Christian duty to disobey.”

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Viet Nam Circuit Riders

Conflict or not, South Viet Nam’s churchmen have a job to do, one which continually takes them into enemy areas and brushes with the Viet Cong.

The area along “Route 19” is typical. This key road is the only supply link between Quinhon, on the coast, and the central highlands, including the Second Corps headquarters at Pleiku. Some 15,000 refugees have huddled in the foothills along the route.

A native pastor recently tried to visit a sick Christian in a village north of Quinhon and stumbled into a Viet Cong nerve center where a major attack was in the making. He was arrested, and soon United States forces began bombardment. The minister found himself thrown into underground shelters with VC troops. Eventually a rebel vouched for him and he was freed. Under unrelenting crossfire, he dodged his way across paddies, woods, and muck to safety.

The Tin Lanh (“Good News”) Church’s district superintendent in this area must cover Quang Nam province, in which only a few coastal towns are “secure.” Last month he was stopped twice and almost shot while bicycling toward the church at Phuoc Tien, a village tucked up against the jungle mountain range. After hot questioning, in which he admitted getting a lift in a U.S. helicopter, he finally got through to Tam Ky on the coast in time to preach Sunday morning.

Buildings survive as well as men. Reports are that Marines spared a village marked for devastation south of Chu Lai when they saw a tiny church atop a small rise. The VC now control the village, but the church still stands.

Another small church (23 feet wide and 46 feet long) was dedicated October 31 in primitive Khe Sanh, which is in the northern jungle hugging the 17th parallel. Missionaries flying in are used to facing VC gunfire. All roads to town have long since been cut by the VC, but resourceful, dedicated natives, with help from Special Forces men and planes, managed to build and furnish the church. It took a year. A fierce battle raged the week before the dedication, but the church was not attacked. The VC can hit Khe Sanh any time they please. But for now, the believers don’t have to brave the elements and the tigers to worship. One member told a missionary, “From the beginning of creation we tribesmen have never had anything so great. This truly is a place where we meet the Great God of the Skies and he meets us.”

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HENDRIK KRAEMER, 71, noted Dutch Reformed churchman who served from 1947 to 1955 as director of the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Institute; in Driebergen, Netherlands.

W. VERNON MIDDLETON, 62, Methodist bishop for western Pennsylvania, of a heart attack; in Pittsburgh.

CARL MICHALSON, 50, professor of systematic theology at Drew University, killed in the crash of a commercial airliner near Cincinnati, where he was to have given an address the next day on “Life and Its Setting: The Meaning and Experience of Existence.”

EVERETT F. SWANSON, 51, Baptist minister who resigned his Chicago church to embark on a worldwide evangelistic tour out of which grew Compassion, Inc., largest orphanage work in Korea; in Chicago.

The Cambodian Twist

Cambodia finally got rid of its last Christian and Missionary Alliance missionaries from North America by refusing to extend residence permits. Subsequently, four leading Cambodian pastors were arrested because it was illegal for them to preach or hold services once their sponsoring mission had dissolved. Missionary News Service reports the Alliance in France hopes to take over administration of the Cambodian churches so they can regain legal status.

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