To convert or not to convert? That was the question argued back and forth by evangelical, neo-orthodox, liberal, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox theologians at the second National Faith and Order Colloquium, held June 11–15 on the campus of Notre Dame University. The colloquium, arranged by the National Council of Churches, drew nearly a hundred representatives from a broad spectrum of theology within the structure of nominal Christianity. Notably absent were the Pentecostals and the far right American Council of Christian Churches.
The colloquium proved to be a landmark for conservative evangelicals. To encourage evangelicals and Roman Catholics to participate, the National Council leadership made it clear that involvement in the colloquium in no way aligned participants with the NCC’s ecumenical structure. Thus freed from any embarrassment or qualms of conscience, many conservatives were able to take an active role.
The official colloquium topic was “Evangelism in a Pluralistic Society.” The first National Faith and Order Colloquium, held last year in Chicago, dealt with conversion.
President James I. McCord of Princeton Theological Seminary delivered the keynote address. Position papers were read by Father Robert Hunt of Catholic University; Dr. Robert T. Handy of Union Theological Seminary, New York; Dr. Joseph P. Fitzpatrick, Jesuit professor of sociology at Fordham University; Dr. Langdon Gilkey of the University of Chicago Divinity School; the Rev. Robert Stephanopoulos, pastor of the Greek Orthodox Church of Our Savior in Rye, New York; and Dr. David O. Moberg, professor at Bethel College, St. Paul.
In a paper on the sociological approach to the study of evangelism, Moberg argued: “Theological differences regarding ...1
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