Sunny skies punctuated by slowly drifting fleecy clouds covered Nairobi and the Kenyatta Center as the Fifth Assembly of the World Council of Churches ended its deliberations with an act of worship. It left behind the usual assortment of assembly papers as attendees began the laborious job of evaluating what happened over a period of eighteen days.

From my perspective, Nairobi was a substantial improvement over Uppsala. The radical cast of the 1968 assembly had yielded to a more centrist approach, a better balance, and the rediscovery of evangelism as an important part of the mission of the Church. Undoubtedly the International Congress on World Evangelization in 1974 with its Lausanne Covenant had something to do with the mood that prevailed.

One of the finest of the speeches was given by Professor Charles Birch of the University of Sydney, Australia. Under the title “Creation, Technology, and Human Survival,” Birch painted a realistic picture of the human predicament, which he thinks now threatens the survival of man. He specified five areas that led him to his pessimistic conclusion: the population explosion, food scarcity, scarcity of non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels, environmental deterioration, and war. He adduced specific evidence to show that time is short, the threat to survival is real, and the need for the churches to get involved in changing matters is urgent. His theologizing left much to be desired, but apart from that, his portrait was accurate. He intimated that there was not much hope for a solution that was not imposed by some form of authoritarianism.

At this point evangelicals have something to learn from the WCC. While it has been overweighted on the side of socio-political involvement in the ...

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