A Princeton professor protests the worst incursion of churchmen into political affairs since the Middle Ages


The 1966 Geneva Conference on Church and Society fanned into a crackling fire the long-smoldering discontent of many churchmen and laymen over the political activity of the World Council of Churches. Last week this criticism gained strength through the publication of a sharply worded book entitled Who Speaks for the Church? (Abingdon, $2.45). In it Dr. Paul Ramsey, a well-known Princeton professor, turns a piercing spotlight of condemnation upon the ecumenical establishment’s involvement in political policymaking.

Professor Ramsey not only castigates the WCC hierarchy for procedures and conclusions of the Geneva Conference but also declares that neo-Protestant political incursion shatters all Reformation precedent and the modern Roman papacy in welcome contrast.

Ramsey was an invited observer who as “co-opted staff” attended background discussion sections barred to other observers in Geneva. His bold rejection of WCC procedures and policy pronouncements therefore greatly embarrasses conciliar spokesmen who recently have dismissed all protest as an unworthy reaction either of right-wing extremists or of ecumenical malcontents. Ramsey’s brilliant, hard-hitting critique of ecumenical ethics is more important, and more authentic, than any volume yet to emerge from the Geneva Conference on Church and Society.

“As a Protestant,” he writes, “I, at least, am resolved to stand with Luther against both pope and council, or the pope in council, Visser’t Hooft in council, or Blake in council, unless I can be shown from Scripture and sound reason.”

Ramsey’s criticisms of conciliar political involvement are not unlike those ...

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