Let us speak the truth in love, and be sure it is the gospel truth we speak

In this terrifying world where a thousand voices are clamoring each for its own viewpoint, the Church too is in ferment. This is not new. For the Church lives “between the times”—between its beginning at Pentecost and its consummation in Jesus Christ at his Second Advent. On the one side, the Church is pressed by the dramatic impact of the ecumenical movement, outwardly pressed in the most visible way by agencies like the World Council of Churches and in lesser ways by the World Evangelical Fellowship, the International Council of Christian Churches, and other groupings. Added to this are such things as the effects of Vatican Council II on the Roman Catholic Church, the recent visit of the Anglican primate to the Pope, and the Consultation on Church Union in the United States, which proposes a new denomination numbering more than twenty million people.

In all this, a recurring question is: What is the role of the evangelical in the midst of the great confusion caused by rapid change, and in the search for solutions to spiritual needs?

The evangelical surely has his own problems, and the weaknesses of his witness have been identified many times. He has often been written off as one who has no social conscience, who is not interested in improving the social, economic, and political structures of society. He is sometimes labeled divisive because he opposes avant-garde ecclesiastical leaders who think denominations are intrinsically sinful. He is characterized as loveless—and sometimes he is, especially in the heat of battle when issues are being determined, tempers flare, and swords swing. He is called a champion of the status quo because he appears to ...

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