New politico-economic pressures stir sharp counter-criticism

The National Council of Churches recently stepped further into the economic arena by pressuring two leading New York banks to discontinue credit to South Africa in protest of apartheid. The NCC urged the Chase Manhattan and First National City banks, in which it maintains large accounts, to oppose renewal of a forty-million-dollar revolving credit to the South African government when the loan comes up for renegotiation by a ten-bank consortium.

The action startled many Christian observers into blunt criticism of the NCC’s deepening entanglement in secular affairs. Apparently, some said, council spokesmen think it moral to boost trade with Communist nations and immoral to extend credit to South Africa. Objectionable as apartheid may be, they said, are commercial banks hereafter to lend funds only to NCC-approved recipients? Does the NCC plan to supervise the moral overtones of the hundreds of thousands of bank loans and to meddle in banking as much as it meddles in politics?

Some laymen indignantly suggested that the NCC may itself misuse, for secular and political goals, financial contributions that church members sacrificially give for spiritual objectives. Increasingly disturbed by the NCC’s political trend, they directed at leaders of the conciliar movement the old adage that “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Of the NCC’s current $23,583,910 budget, they noted, only an insignificant portion undergirds evangelism, in the historic Christian sense of that term.

Some critics protested that the NCC is rapidly returning to a medieval complex reminiscent of that which the Protestant Reformers opposed in Roman Catholicism. Medieval scholastics disapproved ...

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