In retrospect the Jerusalem Conference on Biblical Prophecy, held in June, seems in several ways a remarkable event. Not only did it attest a pervasive rank-and-file interest in biblical prophecy, but it also indicated that many churchgoers, though in basic agreement about last things, welcome a frank debating of secondary differences more than a mere rubber-stamping of traditions. Jerusalem 1971 was a call to churches everywhere to search and to research the Scriptures for God’s authentic word about the future.

The mood of the prophecy conference was far different from expectations of unsympathetic critics, who envisioned either a gathering of fanatics assembling in Armageddon to glimpse the worst of an imminent Doomsday, or a counter-ecumenical conclave bent on expounding religio-political theses. The conference avoided both oracular politicizing and religious fanaticism; its confident expectation of the Lord’s return and of God’s impending judgment of men and nations was correlated with a summons to greater evangelistic engagement as well as to social and cultural involvement.

From the outset two notes were struck: “If this is God’s world, as we believe it is, we dare not forsake it to the despoilers, but recall our generation we must to the righteous and just purposes for which God has made man and the cosmos.… God desires a new race of men, even a new heaven and earth. But God’s new man is one on whom the Divine King will inscribe His laws, and it is to the holy image of Jesus Christ that he will be conformed.”

In short, prophecy in the Jerusalem conference context embraced both foretelling and forthtelling, and it was seen as an incentive rather than an alternative to socio-cultural responsibility and evangelistic engagement. ...

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