The past decade and a half have been exciting years of witness. We have tried to present orthodox Christianity to nonevangelicals reasonably and persuasively and to provide evangelicals with a scholarly apologetic for their faith. We have explored the relation between evangelism and social action on the part of Christians and have tried to stimulate a new sense of responsibility in those who formerly had shied away from involvement in the affairs of the world. At the same time we have given hearty support to personal and mass evangelism. As a tenth-anniversary project CHRISTIANITY TODAY sponsored the World Congress on Evangelism in 1966, which resulted in regional congresses that have brought new life and vigor to many within the churches around the world. We look expectantly and prayerfully to the nationwide evangelistic efforts in 1973, an outgrowth of the Key Bridge consultations initiated by CHRISTIANITY TODAY three years ago.

There is another side to the picture. Ours is a deeply troubled world. Men without Christ, confronted by unprecedented challenges, drift as though the needle of the compass pointed in all directions at the same time. Yet our world is not irreligious. Many persons who have scrapped belief in the supernatural still cling to one form or another of naturalistic belief. They, like Christians, are “believers” in the sense of taking things on “faith,” rather than holding only to physically verifiable “facts.”

The professing church, like the world, has been shaken by the storms, and its foundations have been subjected to erosive forces. Wracked by agnosticism and unbelief, and infiltrated by atheistic existentialism, the professing church presents no united front to ride out the storm or even to satisfy its adherents. Some of its members have given way to a humanism that enthrones man, denies the supernatural, and rejects the efficacy of prayer. Syncretism in the professing church has blurred belief in Christ’s uniqueness as doors have been opened to admit men of no religion or of the great ethnic non-Christian religions. Within the church there are also universalists who proclaim the ultimate redemption of all men: they are already saved whether they know it or not, and there is neither a final judgment nor a separation of the saved from the lost.

In this kind of world, what does CHRISTIANITY TODAY stand for?

We believe that Christianity is the most intellectually satisfactory and viable view of life; that it is reasonable and defensible; that the Holy Spirit speaks to the mind as well as the heart; that there is a continuing need for thought journals that in an irenic and scholarly way expound the biblical world and life view.

Article continues below

We reiterate our belief in the reliability and the authority of the written Word of God that reveals Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word. We believe that to deny that authority is to create powerless pulpits.

We believe that sin lies behind the world’s deepest troubles and that the problem of sin will not be finally resolved until Christ returns. Sin’s effects, however, can be ameliorated, and some degree of righteousness can prevail for longer or shorter periods of time as the Gospel is preached, believed, and applied to society and its structures by redeemed men.

We believe that Christians young and old are looking for guidance as they face the many and varied political, economic, and social problems of our day. They know that these are theological problems precisely because they are human ones. And they are counting on Christian leaders for help. We believe that evangelicals whose interest has been limited to the salvation of souls should also be concerned about their Christian responsibilities in other areas of life. All evangelicals should work to make the ethical principles of the Bible regnant in culture. They should be encouraged to express their faith through their vocations. There is a particular need for the evangelical voice to be heard in art, literature, music, and the mass media.

We believe that Christianity has repeatedly shown it can relate itself to new circumstances; we are convinced that its principles can be applied to any age and to all problems. Our age, with its multiplicity of challenges, calls for bold and creative approaches as well as new understanding. It calls for risks taken in the confidence that God is all powerful and Christians are expendable. CHRISTIANITY TODAY will look for bold and creative approaches and will take those necessary risks. Above all, we will continue to be open to new light from the Bible and better understanding and appreciation of its teaching in all matters.

We intend to proclaim Christ’s Gospel with passion and to apply the ethical teachings of the Bible to the contemporary social crisis. We will resolutely declare what we believe God’s revelation and its implications are in such problem areas as war, youth, race relations, poverty, the environment, lawlessness, over-population, drugs, and pornography.

We will continue to call the Church and the world to repentance and to new faith in Jesus Christ. We will not hesitate to draw attention to the devastating inroads of humanism and unbelief in the professing churches. Nor will we be delinquent in appraising thoughtfully and speaking critically about the institutionalism that grips many churches; this has often substituted social action or brotherly camaraderie for evangelism and has obscured or depreciated the Gospel.

Article continues below

Believing in biblical unity and praying for its empirical manifestation in history, we will subject ecumenical endeavors to searching scrutiny in the light of Scripture. We will strongly encourage those we believe to be in accord with God’s Word. We will try to hold the doctrine of Christ and, in the spirit of Christ, to speak in love.

We are committed to these ends. CHRISTIANITY TODAY pretends no infallibility; we have had to change our opinions from time to time. We will earnestly attempt to make no statements beyond those we think can be supported from the Word of God. We solicit the support of our readers, their prayers, and their suggestions for improvement.

George Whitefield Bicentenary

Two hundred years ago this past September 30, George Whitefield died in Newburyport, Massachusetts. His name is imperishably engraved on the scroll of the world’s greatest evangelists. But his influence was more than evangelistic. The great social reforms of the nineteenth century were byproducts of the Gospel he preached. His was an age of great evangelists among whom were numbered in the Evangelical Revival of the eighteenth century John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, Theodore Frelinghuysen, Gilbert Tennent, and Samuel Davies.

In the foreword to the first volume of Arnold A. Dallimore’s exhaustive new biography of Whitefield, D. M. Lloyd-Jones observes: “One can say he was the greatest preacher that England ever produced.” Whitefield addressed tens of thousands of people in the open air, both in England and in America. Even so hardened and objective a character as Benjamin Franklin recorded how singularly moved he was by the fervid and dramatic preaching of this man. Whitefield broke with Wesley over the Calvinist-Arminian issue, though they remained friends and in their labors complemented each other.

What is not so well known about Whitefield is that his work is said to have resulted in the founding of some fifty colleges and universities in the United States (including Princeton and Pennsylvania universities). His memory was perpetuated by the converts he made, by the writings he left, and by the institutions founded through his influence. We pause to pay tribute to a great saint and to pray that God will send us some more like him.

Article continues below
Lessons On Guilt From An Ex-Nazi

Most men can learn something about acknowledgment of guilt from, of all people, a former Nazi. Albert Speer’s memoirs, Inside the Third Reich, have just been published in this country by Macmillan. Speer was Hitler’s minister of armaments and war production, and his organizational skills undoubtedly prolonged the war. “My moral failure,” he says, “is not a matter of this item and that; it resides in my active association with the whole course of events.” Few men have as much responsibility for the course of world events as did Albert Speer. For those of us who are bit players on the stage of life—the ordinary German soldier or munitions-maker, for example—confession should come a lot easier. There is no evidence that it does.

And what about the injustices, the evils, of which we are unaware? What about the white man who does not know or care to find out about the wrongs done to blacks and browns? What Speer says of his own ignorance of Hitler’s extermination of the Jews has grave implications for other inhumane acts and attitudes:

I myself determined the degree of my isolation, the extremity of my evasions, the extent of my ignorance of horrors I ought to have known about.… I did not investigate, for I did not want to know what was happening.… I was inescapably contaminated morally, because from fear of discovering something which might have turned me from my course, I closed my eyes.… I still feel responsible for Auschwitz in a wholly personal sense.

Some of us have a long way to go before we honestly acknowledge our role, however small, in the ills of our society. We find it easier and more comfortable to focus on the roles of others, and to blame them for whatever is wrong. So we speak about “the blacks” or “the students” or “the establishment” and their supposed misdeeds rather than our own. We are guilty of hypocrisy, in applying a higher standard to others than we apply to ourselves. How easy it is to find somebody else to blame: society, parents, advisors, subordinates, anybody. How hard it is to focus on ourselves, to confess our sins, to place our feet on the right path.

Instead of thanking God that we are not as this pornographer, or that bomb-thrower, or this bigot, or that militarist, we ought to be praying that he be merciful to us, sinners—and sinners not only in general but also in particular. By ourselves we cannot right all wrongs. We cannot even rectify our tiny portion in many of the complex matters of life. Speer cannot undo the wrong he did, but in his honest and public recounting of events and attitudes he has done what he could to warn nations against taking the road that his own race once did. It may not be that the wrongs of which we are unaware are as hideous as the Holocaust; it may be unlikely that what we do or don’t do will make as much difference as it did with Speer. But in the light of biblical revelation, it is certain that some day each one of us must give account of himself alone.

Article continues below
Happy Holy Day

On October 10 our Jewish friends celebrate Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Although Christians do not observe this day, at least formally, its significance is deeply imbedded in their theology. Under the Old Covenant, the high priest entered the holy of holies once every year and sprinkled blood on the horns of the mercy seat, first for his own sins and then for the sins of the people. This Old Testament sacrificial event enabled men to manifest their faith so that their sins were “covered,” looking forward to the death of Christ.

The Book of Hebrews teaches us that Christ is the fulfillment of the sacrificial system, our high priest who entered once into the holy place to make atonement for our sins. He did what the blood of bulls and goats could not do.

All Christians are deeply indebted to Judaism, out of which came the Christian faith. Jesus, a Jew, is our Messiah even as he is the Jews’ Messiah. And our desire is that every Jew may know him whose Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. We wish a blessed Yom Kippur to those to whose faith we owe so much!

Explorers Of Light And Love

Among momentous words, four of the best known have to be “Doctor Livingstone, I presume?” They marked the end of a young reporter’s search for the missionary-explorer apparently lost in Central Africa and the beginning of a new life for himself.

“I grant he is not an angel,” Henry Morton Stanley reported after spending four months in Africa with David Livingstone, “but he approaches to that being as near as the nature of a living man will allow.” Livingstone so impressed Stanley that the former Confederate soldier took up the aging missionary’s fight against slavery.

Livingstone loved his black friends too much to ignore their plight. “If the good Lord permits me to put a stop to the enormous evils of the inland slave-trade,” he wrote shortly before his death, “I shall not grudge my hunger and toils. I shall bless His name with all my heart.” But his concern was not only social: “For thirty years,” notes his tombstone in Westminster Abbey, “his life was spent in an unwearied effort to evangelize the native races … of Central Africa.” Even when he severed his mission-board connection to work for the British government, his explorations were made primarily to open the door of what Stanley called the “dark continent” to the spiritually enlightening Word.

Article continues below

In the century since Stanley set out to “find Livingstone,” transportation and communication advances have slashed the curtain of intellectual darkness. But to rend the veil over human hearts still requires “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” wielded in selfless love like that of Livingstone and Stanley.

Backing Black Colleges

With increasing attention and funds being given to black students in the white university, an important and venerable institution is being overlooked: the black college. Presidents of twenty black colleges met last month to raise a legitimate grievance. Their institutions are being ignored in the current rush for equality in white colleges.

Only 3 per cent of all federal funds to higher education go to black colleges, which educate 90 per cent of black students from the South and one in ten nationally. Of about 110 black colleges, 80 are private. Traditional sources of private revenue are all but non-existent for them: few alumni are prosperous enough to contribute substantially, and low-income students cannot pay high tuition. Gifts from foundations are often conditional on accreditation, which half the black colleges do not have and cannot attain without money for adequate facilities and faculties. In addition, top students and professors are lost to the big scholarships and salaries offered by prestigious schools—largely through federal funds.

Two months ago the federal government pledged an additional $29 million for black colleges for the 1970 fiscal year. The total is still nowhere near the $2 billion mentioned by some presidents as a minimum figure for maintenance of black schools. Setting figures isn’t the answer, says Vernon Grant, director of the United Negro College Fund. “It’s like asking your wife how much she needs. What we really need is commitment—hard, sincere, firm commitment.…”

Who can plead “not guilty” in this matter? Voters and people in responsible secular positions have the ability and the power to correct the imbalance—if they want to. And as Christians, we have a still greater responsibility, for most of the private black colleges are church-related. In a time when both Christian education and Negro education are in flux, these black schools bear a doubly difficult burden. The answers are not clear and will not come easily, but with serious consideration—and allocation—a beginning can be made.

Article continues below
Middle East Maelstrom

President Nixon has sought vigorously to defuse the Middle East timebomb in order to prevent escalation of the war between Egypt and Israel and to avoid a Soviet-American confrontation. He succeeded in working out a ceasefire, but unforeseen difficulties kept peace negotiations from getting off the ground. Israel seems to have been disadvantaged by violations of the ceasefire.

More recently, civil war broke out in Jordan, and Syria intervened illegally. But this cannot hide the fact that the Palestinians have a just claim and that any adequate settlement must include some provision for them.

The United Nations stands by helplessly as the situation deteriorates and the world faces possible chaos. The European powers, which will suffer greatly from the loss of oil if a general war erupts in the Middle East, sit on their hands and offer little help but much criticism to the United States, which has at least tried to break the deadlock. We can only hope that Mr. Nixon’s program for peace will not be permanently derailed. Whatever happens, arriving at a just peace will require statesmanship of the highest order, substantial concessions by each side, and greater integrity than evidenced so far.

Prophetic Faith

When on October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus took possession of one of the Bahama Islands, he believed he was fulfilling prophecy. It is not perhaps widely known that the “admiral of the oceans” discovered America believing he was under the illumination of the Holy Spirit, not the light of the stars. In 1502 he wrote to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella: “In the carrying out of this enterprise of the Indies, neither reason nor mathematics nor maps were any use to me: fully accomplished were the words of Isaiah” (referring to the gathering of the remnant of Israel in the last days).

Because he was true to the intent of prophecy, Columbus drastically affected the course of human history. What the world needs now is more men like Columbus: men possessed of a spirit of adventure—and propelled by the Holy Spirit—who will obey the call of God.

Article continues below
Assessing Pornography

CHRISTIANITY TODAY set forth its overall view of the pornography problem in a lead editorial, “Pornography in a Free Society,” in the May 22, 1970, issue. We ventured some preliminary observations on the report of the Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography in the September 11 issue. An appraisal of the final text and dissenting opinions is also scheduled for these pages.

Reaction to the report may tend to go to one of two extremes. Some politicians will be tempted to make too much of it, capitalizing on public sentiment against it, and ignoring other important national concerns in the process. Pollution of the mind is a worthwhile campaign issue, but no office-seeker ought to be allowed to duck other questions because of preoccupation with the pornography report.

The greater danger is to regard the report’s assumptions as being beyond question, and to look at it as governmental support for permissiveness. Such a view will only contribute to the decline of morality in America and ultimately the demise of America itself. Permissive societies never last.

Christian Americans should call upon their incumbent and would-be congressmen to take an unequivocal stand on the report.

The Secret Of Contentment

In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul makes a statement that very few Christians can honestly say for themselves. He says: “I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation, whether it be fatness or hunger, plenty or want …” (Phil. 4:12, Living Letters).

Many Christians are never really content. We complain because we do not have certain things. We wish that our station in life were different. The prince would love to become a pauper, and the pauper a prince. The grass in the other pasture seems so much greener.

When Paul spoke of being content he was not expressing a complacency about the evils in the world around him, nor was he implying that he was satisfied with what he was. He was conscious of his own weakness and sinfulness and said, “I do not consider myself to have arrived spiritually, … but I keep going on (Phil. 2:13, 14, Phillips). But he was content with his lot in life whether things were up or down.

Paul’s contentment was not the satisfaction of a man who had everything going his way. While he was writing about his contentment, he was in prison. He had been “flogged, imprisoned, mobbed, overworked, sleepless, starving” (2 Cor. 6:4, 5). He was plagued by a “thorn in the flesh,” but even of that he said “I have cheerfully made up my mind to be proud of my weaknesses because they mean a deeper experience of the power of Christ” (1 Cor. 12:9Phillips). Paul’s contentment did not ebb and flow with the tides of good and bad fortune. The source of his contentment was not affected by changing circumstances.

Article continues below

How could a man honestly say that he knew this kind of contentment? Paul gives the answer in the immediate context: “I am ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within me” (Phil. 4:13, Phillips). Paul summed up his whole reason for living in one word—Christ (Phil. 1:21). He expressed his motive for living in these words: “… that I should never be in any way ashamed but that … I should honor Christ with the utmost boldness by the way I live, whether that means I am to face death or go on living” (Phil. 1:20, Phillips). He could even rejoice in imprisonment because through it the cause of Christ was being advanced (Phil. 1:12–14). He found his contentment in having things the way God wanted rather than the way he would like to have them. The source of Paul’s contentment was Jesus Christ whom he loved and whom he longed to please.

The contentment Paul experienced was not reserved for “super-saints” like this giant of the early church. It is within the reach of every Christian who will seek it in the same way Paul did.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.