Can the Canadian Church demonstrate that its life and Gospel are relevant for the second century of Canada’s life as a nation?

A few years ago Dr. Ian Rennie, Canadian Presbyterian minister and church historian, summed up the historically church-dominated nation of Canada as “the last of the Puritan lands.” But in this centennial year of 1967, that description is very nearly a part of yesterday. New forces are at work on the Canadian scene. The Church is clearly in danger of seeming quite irrelevant to the younger generation of Canadians struggling to stand free of their past and forge a new culture with exciting, creative possibilities for tomorrow. Recent waves of immigrants have frequently brought with them both bitter disillusionment with the Church as they have known it and a much freer culture. Mix these with the heady wine of space-age achievements and the result is a generation of new Canadians whose life style is increasingly incompatible with the essentially Victorian traditions of the Canadian church.

The most pressing challenge facing the Canadian church in 1967 is, therefore, whether it can demonstrate that its life and Gospel are relevant for the second century of Canada’s life as a nation. There is no question whether Jesus Christ is relevant. But there is a considerable question whether the Church is prepared to prove him so in its own experience by dying to its past and living exposed to the future and to God. If it is not, it will be dismissed by the new Canadian generation as “phony” and “powerless,” and that will be that.

Many Canadian Christians see this challenge and are striving to meet it. The sixties, for instance, have seen an unusual emphasis on mass evangelism. Through the efforts of Crusade Evangelism, ...

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