Controversy that resulted in delaying the appointment of a new general secretary of the World Council of Churches was an “instructive” incident for the international organization, according to a leading official of the United Church of Canada.

Dr. Ernest E. Long, secretary of his church’s General Council, addressing a symposium for workers at the Interchurch Center in New York, reviewed this year’s meeting of the World Council of Churches’ Central Committee at Enugu, Nigeria.

The churchman, a member of the WCC policy-making unit, stated that during closed sessions “sharp differences of opinion were expressed” over the nomination of the Rev. Patrick C. Rodger, Scottish Episcopal clergyman, as successor to Dr. W. A. Visser ’t Hooft in the WCC’s top executive post.

“That the Central Committee survived this ordeal without serious permanent cleavage in its ranks,” he said, “is a fact of considerable significance.…”

At the Enugu meeting, rather than act on the nomination of Rodger the committee appointed a new nominating committee to consider additional candidates.

This action, Long stressed, as reported by Religious News Service, “was not a reflection” either on the Executive Committee, which made the initial nomination, “or on Mr. Rodger, who within his own field is held in high esteem.”

The 43-year-old Scottish clergyman is director of the World Council’s Department of Faith and Order.

Concerning a successor to Visser ’t Hooft, one of the world’s leading ecumenists and WCC general secretary since the organization was formally organized in 1948, Long said the next secretary “must be one in whom the churches have confidence, and also the staff in Geneva, which is made up of highly intelligent and dedicated people, and whose morale is an important factor in the work of the Council.”

“It seemed to us to become clear in the discussion,” he continued, “that the fundamental concept of the World Council of Churches has changed, and the new general secretary, as did Dr. Visser ’t Hooft, must reflect that change.

“The World Council is more than the sum total of its parts. It is not a superchurch, but it does possess an ecclesiological significance far beyond that envisaged in 1950.

“The office of general secretary has come, therefore, to stand in a new relationship to the churches and to the total church. He must be more than an administrator or a theologian. He must be the embodiment of the new ecclesiological concept of the church.…”

As the Central Committee delayed action on the secretaryship, Visser ’t Hooft was requested to remain in the post through a “critical moment in church relations.” He indicated he would continue until the committee meets in February, 1966, instead of retiring as initially planned next September, on his sixty-fifth birthday.

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The committee expressed a desire for the Dutch Reformed clergyman’s continued service through the fourth and last session of the Vatican Council, next fall, and because of “tensions in church relations between East and West.…”

In his review of the Central Committee’s sessions, Long called attention to the approval of a joint working group with the Roman Catholic Church and the general improvement of WCC-Catholic relations.

“It is astonishing to see the almost unbelievable development in this relationship,” he said.

“At Rhodes in 1959 the possibility of a closer relationship with the Roman Catholic Church was looked upon with suspicion and misgiving.”

Sanctuary For The Scrolls

Israel’s prized Dead Sea Scrolls will soon have a fancy home of their own as part of a national museum complex on the western edge of Jerusalem. The museum, scheduled to open in May, will incorporate the Bezalel Art Museum, the Samuel Bronfman Biblical and Archaeological Museum, the Billy Rose Garden of Sculpture, and the Shrine of the Book. Israelis predict it will be “the largest museum between Rome and Tokyo.”

It is the shrine that will become the sanctuary of the scrolls. A white dome rises from a square basin studded with fountains which will send jets of water cascading down the dome.

The Jewishness Of Rina Eitani

Israel’s League for the Prevention of Religious Coercion points to a politically inspired “witch hunt” in the Jewish sector of Nazareth as a blatant example of the evils of union of state and religion. League leaders have challenged the National Religious Party for its attack upon Mrs. Rina Eitani, Mapai (Labor) Party’s city councilor, following the NRP’s discovery that she is a “Gentile” who never formally converted to Judaism. According to religious law, a Jew is one who has a Jewish mother or has undergone ritual conversion.

Religious party leaders branded Mrs. Eitani an imposter and set out to achieve their political objectives by destroying her hard-earned position as a leading citizen of Upper Nazareth.

Mrs. Eitani suffered under the Nazis in Poland as a Jewess, endured imprisonment in Cyprus as an illegal immigrant to Palestine under the British, and worked in a border settlement during the early days of the state. She married in a Jewish ceremony and is raising her children as Jews in every respect. She is a competent civil servant and a specialist in immigrant absorption.

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Religious party leaders shattered Rina Eitani’s life with such calloused indifference that a wave of revulsion and shock swept the nation. First, a ministry of interior official demanded her passport. Then the NRP issued pamphlets decrying her racial impurity and challenging her fitness to serve her city and her state. Schoolmates of the Eitani children taunted them with cries of “Goy” (Gentile) and sent them home in tears.

Davar, a Hebrew language daily, defined the campaign as a “new and ugly phase in the NRP’s struggle in Upper Nazareth against Mapai, which has handled the affairs of this Jewish city since its erection eight years ago.” One Israeli correspondent wrote that the NRP apparently “regards all means as justified” in order to achieve more representation on the local council.

As the smoke cleared and Mrs. Eitani began putting together her shattered world, Israelis recalled the 1961 court decision in the case of Brother Daniel, a Jewish convert to Catholicism, who wished to become an Israeli citizen. He applied for citizenship on the basis of his Jewish birth. The court ruled, however, that he was not entitled to citizenship on those grounds, because public opinion withheld Jewish status from a person who had converted to another faith. Clearly it was a secular decision, not based on religious law. Now, argues the League Against Religious Coercion, it may also be said in light of the loud outcry in the Eitani case that public opinion regards as Jewish a woman who was born to a Jewish father and who has led a Jewish life.

Consistency, if not decency, urges, the league demands, that the cloud over Rina Eitani’s Jewishness be removed. Some observers fear that the situation will become even more confused in the days ahead if religion and state remain united. More cases, they say, can be expected to plague the personal and family lives of Israelis. But the demand is swelling in Israel for the government to make greater efforts in the field of human rights and religious liberty.


Reacting Healthily

Last autumn Archbishop Martti Simojoki of Helsinki said some hard words about the abuse of free thought shown in a new novel entitled Juhannustanssit by the Finnish author Hannu Salama, in which blasphemous words about Christ are placed in the mouth of a drunken man. Later in the autumn the book was reported to the Public Prosecutor, and the Minister of Justice has now decided to prosecute the author for blasphemy. The archbishop has clearly stated in interviews that he finds it strange that a court of law should pronounce judgment on questions to which free public opinion should react in a healthy manner. He has not called for censorship or prosecution but has said some hard things about the actual book and the sick culture that brings forth literature of this kind.

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This led the church newspaper Församlingsbladet to point out that it is only Protestant countries that have effectively safeguarded freedom of the press. In countries in which modern paganism in one form or another dominates or has dominated public life, there is not sufficient room for human rights, including freedom of the press. The article concludes: “We Christians must not be the first to call for censorship or prosecution. On the other hand, we may well be the first to point out the state of ill-health into which the individual and the nation fall when law, truth and love are set aside and self-assumed standards and other manifestations of human selfishness and uncharitableness are put in their place.”

Obscenity and atheism are appearing more frequently in books published in Finland, according to a group of about twenty Conservative members of the Finnish House of Representatives, who have addressed a question on the matter to the Speaker.


A South African View

Four South African clergymen, three European and one African, began a tour of Scotland last month on the invitation of the Inter-Church Relations Committee of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

The Dutch Reformed Church, said Professor W. J. van der Merwe of Stellenbosch University, is the oldest church in South Africa and has 2,700,000 adherents of whom 1,400,000 are non-white. Like other churches in South Africa it has followed a policy of organizing congregations according to racial and cultural backgrounds, though it has never been opposed to joint worship among the races. Asked about the statement contained in the British Council of Churches’ report, The Future of South Africa, that apartheid is “a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,” Professor van der Merwe said these words were going to call forth very strong reactions in South Africa and might make dialogue very difficult for the churches in England and the churches in Africa.

“I am convinced that many of those who support apartheid are convinced Christians,” he stated. “You may disagree with their point of view but I do not think you can say they are entirely un-Christian and that would be the implication of the statement.” He also did not think that it could be said that apartheid is absolutely and intrinsically an evil policy that indicates willful disobedience to Christian principles.

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The Society In Which They Live

For some time religious bodies and individuals in Britain have protested against undesirable plays on BBC television. Says the official report of the state-owned corporation, which monopolizes radio and runs two of the country’s three TV channels: “Criticism will not make the B.B.C. abandon its policy of presenting established plays by established playwrights about the problems of sex and violence in human relations … nor will it change the B.B.C.’s belief that serious writers of today must be allowed to say freely what they feel about the society in which they live.”

In the House of Commons a motion was tabled which calls for the resignation of the BBC’s director-general, Sir Hugh Greene. The motion was occasioned by a satirical sketch on birth control in a program emceed by David Frost, but the motion spoke also of Sir Hugh’s “inability to control his programme managers.”

Said a seventeen-year-old English boy, “We have a middle-age problem more acute than the teen-age problem. If they had set a better example things might be different for us. Sex is thrown at us through films, TV, and newspapers—we can’t get away from it.”

Twenty-one members of the Oxford University humanist group, claiming to represent “a substantial body of opinion,” have complained to a government commission about college discipline. Deploring the expulsion of several students for having members of the opposite sex in their rooms after official hours, they recommend that Oxford cease to have “any official attachment to any code or system of belief.”

The youthful tendency to pass the buck was demonstrated most vividly in the recent paperback Generation X, in which youngsters talk frankly about themselves. “My name is Sheila Cooper and I am nineteen years old,” says one striking quotation. “If I see a great mushroom cloud hanging overhead, I shall say: ‘What do you think of it now, you pseuds, you great warriors, you diplomats and politicians? You had your chance to bring love into the world but now it’s gone for good.… You’ve lowered the curtains on yourselves and there’ll be no encore. But has it got to be this way?”

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Confidential Directives

A controversy was brewing this month over directives purportedly originating in the Vatican, one of which would curtail Roman Catholic participation in ecumenical ceremonies.

The directives, labeled confidential, were attributed to “the Holy See” and were said to have been transmitted via the church’s Apostolic Delegate to the United States and the chairman of the National Catholic Welfare Conference Adminstrative Board.

One cited concern “about some excesses which are taking place in religious services wherein Catholics and non-Catholics participate.” It said that “the Holy See wishes the Bishops to understand that, until the Conciliar Commission has established specific and definitive norms regarding ‘communicatio in sacris,’ participation in such ceremonies should be avoided.”

The other directive criticized the priests who receive communion at a public mass instead of celebrating purely private masses.

The American Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenism held its first meeting this month in Washington. Discussion reportedly centered on guidelines for prayer and common worship with non-Catholics.

A report is to be drawn up and presented to the entire body of U. S. Catholic bishops for approval. A broader framework for common worship is to be prepared by a Vatican commission headed by Augustin Cardinal Bea. The American directives presumably will conform to the Vatican precedent.

There has been a degree of confusion regarding the extent and forms of common worship since Pope Paul VI promulgated the decree on ecumenism adopted by the Second Vatican Council. In the meantime, some American bishops have established their own rules.

The bishops’ meeting in Washington named a number of liaison committees to foster dialogue with non-Catholic denominations.

The Canadian Evangelicals

Evangelicals in Canada are laying the groundwork for united witness through the establishment of their first broadly representative, interdenominational organization. At a meeting in Toronto last month, officers were elected and a brief statement of faith was adopted. Although a coterie of key evangelical churchmen has been holding regular meetings for a number of months, no public announcement was made until after the February meeting.

Observers say that the new organization, to be known as the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, will be a virtual Canadian counterpart to the National Association of Evangelicals in the United States. There are said to be about one million Canadian evangelicals in denominations not represented in the Canadian Council of Churches. Many other evangelicals belong to churches within the council.

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Membership is open to individuals willing to subscribe to the statement of faith who are in sympathy with the work of the fellowship. In the future, affiliation will be provided for local churches, schools, mission boards, and denominations.

Representation in the fellowship has thus far been largely limited to Ontario, but a Canada-wide “council of reference” is now being established. A spokesman said the fellowship plans to conduct a public convention and business meeting within a year and that a constitution will be proposed at that time.

Dr. Oswald J. Smith of People’s Church, Toronto, was elected president of the new fellowship. Dr. J. Harry Faught of Danforth Gospel Temple (Pentecostal), Toronto, was chosen as executive chairman.

Here is the text of the statement of faith:

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada believes:

1. The Holy Scriptures as originally given by God, divinely inspired, infallible, entirely trustworthy, and the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.

2. One God eternally existent in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

3. Our Lord Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, his virgin birth, his sinless human life, his divine miracles, his vicarious and atoning death, his bodily resurrection, his ascension, his mediatorial work, his personal return in power and glory.

4. The salvation of lost and sinful men through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ by faith apart from works, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit.

5. The Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the believer is enabled to live a holy life to witness and work for the Lord Jesus Christ.

6. The unity of the spirit of all true believers, the church, the body of Christ.

7. The resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life, and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.

Hawaii Crusade: Phase Two

The second phase of the Billy Graham crusade in Hawaii was in some respects even more dramatic than the first. The first phase extended over a period of about two weeks and centered in the city of Honolulu. It included a number of public appearances by the evangelist in addition to his eight services in the Honolulu International Center.

The first phase made a remarkable impact. Inquirers totaled 2,907. The crusade was the topic of conversation all over the island of Oahu. Churches reported a resurgence of interest.

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But when the crusade moved to the neighbor islands of Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai during the week of February 21–28, the Graham team saw the greatest fruits of evangelism—percentage-wise—that they have seen anywhere in the world.

On the island of Maui, for instance, which has a population of 29,000, nearly 10 per cent of the population came to hear Graham at the close of a short crusade led by associate evangelist Grady Wilson. Those responding to the invitation numbered 383, or an unprecedented 13.7 per cent of the audience. The figure is all the more astounding when compared with the estimated total of 1,800 Protestants on the island. The statistics also indicated that 70 per cent of those making decisions came for salvation.

The picture was almost duplicated on the “Big Island” of Hawaii. Following a brief crusade led by the Rev. Joe Blinco. Graham preached to nearly 2,700 persons with 353 making decisions for Christ. Here the first-time decisions ran to 72 per cent.

The island of Kauai told a scaled-down version of the same story. Here Graham followed another of his associates, Dr. Akbar Haqq.

During the second week, Graham and Haqq went back to Honolulu for an appearance at the University of Hawaii to close a student-sponsored series of lectures on “Religion and Modern Man.” Top religionists representing Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism had preceded the Graham team.

Newspapers reported that attendance at the earlier lectures had ranged from six to eight hundred, but 5,000 students jammed an amphitheater to hear Graham. He gave them a gospel sermon pitched on the intellectual level. A question-and-answer session held after the lecture was packed out. It was from a professor in the university’s department of religion that Graham had received the strongest criticism of his crusade and his theology (see CHRISTIANITY TODAY, March 12, 1965).

Four of the Honolulu meetings were video-taped and will be shown on more than 250 television stations across the North American mainland early in June.

During the final days of the crusade. Graham was taken ill and failed to respond to treatment. He was admitted to a hospital in Honolulu on March 10 suffering from what was described as “an acute bronchial infection.”


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