What happens to evangelical concerns in the “ecumenical consensus”?

In closing remarks to the United States Conference of the World Council of Churches, Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, the WCC’s next general secretary, expressed impatience with conservative Protestants who lack enthusiasm for the ecumenical movement because of its inclusive stance. His comments can scarcely be viewed as aimed at other than evangelical Protestants, who on the American scene number more than 40 million. Of these, two-fifths are inside the conciliar movement—many discernibly restive in their association—while three-fifths remain outside.

“Some believe they hold a corner on evangelical concern,” Dr. Blake complained, in warning delegates from twenty-eight major American denominations against sharply contrasting saints with sinners or theologically literate with theologically illiterate Christians. Deploring “the labeling sin of churchmen,” he stressed that the Christian task is not essentially one of judgment.

Dr. Blake’s remarks, reports Harold Schachern, religion editor for the Detroit News, were “an obvious reply” to a paper presented at the Buck Hill Falls Conference (by invitation of the WCC American Committee, on the topic of evangelicals and ecumenical developments) by the editor of CHRISTIANITY TODAY (see page 10). If this is actually Dr. Blake’s response, he apparently expresses a flat No! to suggested patterns of ecumenical reform that would stimulate evangelical interest in the conciliar movement.

“I get a little tired,” Dr. Blake is quoted as saying, “of those who somehow suppose that others who engage in ecumenism or social action, or leave the beaten track in search of answers, somehow are not interested in the Gospel and evangelism and the ...

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