Native Americans of hemisphere are drawn to Oklahoma event.

Three Pueblo Indian women of the Jemez tribe had just sung “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” To them, the song’s lyrics meant a lot: people in their northern New Mexico tribe of 2,000 take advantage of, and poke fun at, the tribe’s handful of Christians, said the women.

“Though people call me a holy roller. I won’t turn back, I won’t turn back,” went a final verse.

Afterwards, Indian evangelist Thomas Claus dabbed at his eyes with a handkerchief. “It’s just like I’m living in a dream to see all this meeting come to pass,” he said from the speaker’s podium.

Claus, a full-blooded Mohawk, spent most of the previous two years organizing last month’s “Sonrise ’81,” The first-ever inter-American congress of Christian Indian leaders called attention to the need for indigenous Indian leaders and churches. The Jemez women and other delegates reminded listeners that Indian Christians form a minority among their own people.

While certain tribes and Indian groups have growing churches, by and large Native Americans remain a sizable mission field. Only about 2 percent of the 20 million Indians, Eskimos, and Aleuts in the Western hemisphere are evangelical Christians, asserted planners of Sonrise ’81. They estimate that 500 of the 1,200 tribes lack an indigenous, evangelical church.

A trained, motivated leadership could turn things around, Indian evangelicals believe. “I’d like to see every Indian church have an Indian pastor,” said Claus. “We need more Indian Bible institutes and colleges.”

Seeking to build and stimulate this leadership, about 300 invited Native American leaders came to last month’s congress held on the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman. Most represented North American tribes known perhaps to many Anglos only from late-night cowboy movies—Shoshone, Osage, Ojibway, Tuscarora, and Choctaw, among others. But congress planners also spent about half of their $50,000 budget for transportation of 40 or so Central and South American Indians who attended: Cakchiquel of Guatemala. Misquito of Nicaragua, Quechuas of Peru, and others. In all, more than 60 tribes and 10 nations were represented. Many showed off their native dress in a congress-ending parade and rally in which World Vision’s Stanley Mooneyham, Theodore Epp of “Back to the Bible,” and Oklahoma Governor George Nigh were honored with conferral of Indian names.

The history of Sonrise goes back several years. As the invited delegate representing North American Indians at the 1974 Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, Claus remembers, “I felt all alone. Of the 3,000 delegates, I was the only Indian.”

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Feeling convicted about developing Native American leaders. Claus spent all one night walking and praying in the empty streets of Lausanne. That morning, he says, God called him to lead such a cause. A year later he organized a Conference on Indian Evangelism and Leadership in Albuquerque, New Mexico. About 25 Indian leaders attended the meeting, held in conjunction with a Billy Graham crusade. Claus and Graham became friends in the 1950s when both were Youth for Christ staff members—Graham, the YFC vice-president, and Claus, a member of a family gospel singing team.

From the Albuquerque meeting emerged the consensus for a new organization that would develop a stronger Indian church. The projected organization emerged in the form of CHIEF (Christian Hope Indian Evangelical Fellowship), and headed by Claus. CHIEF has family and women’s ministries among Indians, and it sponsored last month’s five-day Sonrise congress.

Denominations and small, independent mission agencies have plowed plenty of personnel and energy into Indian missions over the years. But often results were slim, as apparently some “white men” created their own problems by forcing Western structures upon the Indians. Sonrise delegates recalled mission-run schools on the reservations in which children were punished for speaking their native tongue.

“There resulted instances when Indians asked, ‘Does becoming a Christian mean I have to give up my language?’ ” said Ed Young of Gospel Recordings. The Los Angeles-based group sends out “field recordists” who, with the help of an interpreter, record in the local dialect a simple evangelistic or discipleship message, and then makes those tapes available to the locals through missionaries and national believers (Young said 150 to 170 Indian languages are still spoken in the U.S.)

Among the Navajo—the largest tribe in the U.S., with a population of 175,000—church growth is spiraling. Workers say such growth is the best example of what happens when the Indians themselves take leadership and form indigenous churches.

In 1950, after more than 50 years of missionary work, only about 35 Navajo congregations existed. Since then, 308 new churches have been planted, 200 with Navajo pastors, said Thomas Dolaghan of Navajo Gospel Mission. He describes the turnabout in The Navajos Are Coming to Jesus (William Carey Library, 1978).

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Dolaghan lists several reasons for the growth, but most have to do with the Navajos being able (and allowed by missionaries) to adopt much of their culture to Christianity, and to develop their own leaders and churches. Churches were built from the Navajos’ emphasis on the extended family, or “kinship evangelism.” New Navajo Christians were encouraged to remain in their family groups (camps), and to witness to relatives. Many “house” churches grew, with the average size of most Navajo congregations today about 35.

Dologhan says the Navajo encountered many of the problems shared by other Indians: alcoholism—“I performed 25 burials in one year, and 21 were alcohol related”; lack of self-worth—“We teach there is no greater personhood than being a son of the living God”; and many social needs—“God has the power to meet those needs.”

Anglo workers can play an important role, but they must be sensitive and patient, Sonrise ’81 attenders said in interviews. Frustrated workers who leave after a year only hurt the credibility of others.

White evangelicals can help with their dollars by financing seminary and college scholarships for Christian young people, said Russell Begaye, who directs the Southern Baptist work in 430 Indian congregations in the U.S. He and others discussed the need for Indian studies programs at evangelical seminaries, theological education by extension, and for establishment of a seminary for Native Americans.

Besides attending the many seminars and workshops, attenders had a daily Bible hour with pastor John MacArthur of Panorama City, California. Nightly preaching services and musical programs from various tribes seemed planned to recharge the leaders spiritually so they could charge up their people back home.

Mostly because of economics, the conference cut back from a previously announced nine days to five. And a hoped-for attendance of 800 to 1,200 did not materialize. Claus had sent information packets to most denominations in the U.S., but few sent representatives.

Still, Claus believed the goals of forming new fellowship and strategies were met. Offshoot meetings are already planned: the Latin Americans formed a planning committee for a future regional conference, as did Indians from the upper Midwest and Canada.

Indians Work At Sorting Out Their Culture And Religion

“There’s one thing I don’t like about the government schools,” muttered a Minnesota Chippewa, “They teach Columbus Day. How can you discover a place if people are already living there?”

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Despite the many language and cultural differences between Native American tribes in the U.S., there remains a sense of common identity and pride. Indian evangelist Thomas Claus said, “There’s no Indian culture per se, but we feel a kinship.”

(Some Sonrise ’81 attenders preferred the terms Native American, or tribal or indigenous peoples, while others felt comfortable with “Indian.” Most pointed out, however, that the latter term is not accurate, the tribes not coming from India.)

The 1980 U.S. census showed that the population of Native Americans topped one million for the first time. Aleuts, Eskimos, and Indians combine for a 1.4 million grouping, or about .6 percent of the U.S. population.

Most Indians continue to live on trust areas and reservations, which are located in more than 30 states. There they have certain economic advantages—no state or property taxes, and housing and food subsidies.

Jobs, however, are scarce on the reservation, and unemployment is high. An estimated 60 percent are unemployed on the huge, 25,000-acre Navajo reservation touching parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, according a missionary there. For that reason, more Indians are moving to the cities. Estimates range as high as 10,000 to 15,000 Indians in Minneapolis; 20,000 in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and 25,000 in Chicago.

Only now are mission groups and many Indian Christians realizing the need for Indian urban ministry. The Southern Baptists, for instance, opened their first Indian church in Chicago this month. Claudio Iglesias, pastor of an SBC church and a native Kuna Indian of Panama, helps lead the interdenominational but government-funded Indian Urban Center located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The center staff helps Indians find jobs and housing.

On call 24 hours a day as a police chaplain, Iglesias says he counsels Indians—perhaps feeling lonely, and cut off from cultural ties—who are strung out on drugs and alcohol.

Generally, traditional Indian religion views life holistically, with little distinction made between the secular and the religious. Traditionalist Indians believe in a creator-God, but attach significance to spiritism, the harmony of nature, and interpret all of life through their religion.

Evangelists to traditionalists shouldn’t attack the old beliefs, cautioned James O. Buswell III of William Carey International University, who did doctoral study on the religious practices of the Seminoles. Evangelists should witness in love, letting the Holy Spirit do the work, but also providing a Christian philosophy of the harvest, healing, the earth, lightning—“anything that the old religion emphasized,” he said.

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Indian Christians are upset by the influence of the Native American Church, a group using the hallucinogenic drug peyote in worship. Many Indians attest to a fear of the spirit world because of personal experiences with the occult.

Navajo Herman William describes leading to Christ a man who became afraid after owls began talking to him. Williams attests to a ministry to medicine men, and says several became Christians and are leaders in Christian and Missionary Alliance churches he pastors. Exorcisms and a renouncing of fetishes often are involved, he says.

Many Indian Christians are torn over which cultural practices can be retained within their Christianity. For instance, festivals that once had religious meaning are now regarded mostly as a time to have fun. Can a Christian participate?

Chippewa Craig Smith, who will head a Sonrise regional conference next year in Minneapolis, hopes time will be devoted to this issue. Probably the biggest question facing many Indian Christians is, What is cultural and what is religious?

Historic church-lodge rivalry behind Italian government’s fall.

How could membership in a Masonic Order possibly have led to the downfall last month of the Italian government?

Christian Democrat Premier Arnaldo Forlani’s government resigned as three of its cabinet ministers were linked to the secret Propaganda Due (P-2) lodge. The biggest military shakeup there since World War II was also touched off by the P-2 scandal, and hundreds of prominent Italians stood to lose their jobs.

Alleged blackmail and criminal activities were involved, but much of the controversy arose from the fact that the cabinet ministers, 30 members of Parliament, military officials, diplomats, judges, and other influential figures belonged to a secret society outlawed by the Italian constitution.

The dramatic turn of events puzzled Americans, but was much less mystifying to Italians, whose history is full of rivalry between the Roman Catholic church and the Freemasons.

Freemasonry did carry political overtones in early U.S. history. About one-third of the signers of the Declaration of Independence—including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin—were members.

Today, however, the Freemasons in North America are known by such names as the Shriners and the Orders of DeMolay and Rainbow, and are regarded merely as fraternal and charitable organizations. This overlooks the fact that they are quasi-religious in character and form the largest worldwide secret society. In recent decades they have not been perceived as sinister, even though their occasional anti-Catholicism and reluctance to recognize lodges of black Masons brought some adverse publicity.

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But Italian history is littered with actions of Freemasons who, in their campaign for a strong, unified secular state, rocked the Catholic boat.

When the first Italian lodge was founded in Florence in 1733, the pope was the temporal ruler of much of central modern-day Italy. Beginning with Pope Clement XII in 1738, the Catholic church, under threat of excommunication, forbade Catholics from becoming Masons. Eight later popes repeated his condemnation of the secret fraternity, including Pius IX, who attacked the organization in an encyclical in 1869—just before Garibaldi, a Masonic grand master, wrested Rome from him in 1870.

Eventually, however. Freemasonry softened its anticlericalism, and the church began to reciprocate.

In spite of the denial, by 1971 the Italian press began to publicize three lengthy articles published in Civilta Cattolica, by Jesuit priest Giovanni Caprile. Caprile appeared to suggest that it is possible to be a “good” Mason and at the same time a “good” Catholic. There were no denials from the Holy See. The thought seemed to fit the mood of Pope Paul VI, who was making every effort to propagate the “Catholic conscience” among “all men of good will” (Ecclesiam suam).

In July 1974, the head of the Sacred Congregation for the Defense of the Faith, Cardinal Franjo Seper, replied, with papal approval, to a letter from the president of the American Episcopacy, Cardinal John J. Krol: “Only those Catholics enrolled in associations that truly conspire against the Church” are henceforth to be excommunicated. (It said nothing about those that conspire against civil government—a significant omission, in hindsight.)

Meant to remain secret, the letter was almost immediately published in the American Catholic Star Herald. An avalanche of inquiries arrived in Rome asking the significance of Seper’s letter. Nothing negative was heard from Vatican circles; the hunt for Masonic demons appeared to be over.

Italian Catholics began to affiliate with Masonry as never before. Masonic enrollment doubled. By 1975 more than 100 Masons were members of the Italian Parliament. Most of these belong to the anticlerical lay parties, but even some of the most important personalities in the Catholic-endorsed Christian Democrat party are associated with the Masons.

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Masonic grand master Lino Salvini and official representatives of the Vatican met often. Salvini has claimed that some 30 Christian Democrat members of Parliament are also members of the Masonic Order. The Jesuits have been at the forefront of the rapprochement, but even Bishop Alberto Ablondi, president of the Italian Episcopacy Commission on Ecumenism, attended one of the dialogue sessions.

When Pope Paul VI died, the Rivista Massonica lauded him, saying: “This is the first time a pope has died who was not in a state of hostility with the Masons.”

Not all Catholics were pleased with the truce. Ultraconservative Bishop Marcel Lefebvre and other right-wing Catholics openly accused Paul VI of being “a Lutheran sympathizer and a Mason.” Inside the Vatican, anti-Masonic poison spread, due to the heavy financial losses suffered at the hands of their chief financier, Michele Sindona. An avowed Mason, as Vatican financial affairs front man, Sindona led the Vatican down a path of speculation that ended in his conviction in New York City on charges of bank fraud, and in millions of dollars of losses for the Vatican.

With Pope John Paul II, the winds changed dramatically. One move after another has marked him with traditionalist tendencies, and his conventional hostility to the Freemasons was affirmed by recent developments.

In March, Italian investigators seized materials from the home and office of Licio Gelli, the founder and grand master of Propaganda Due, an illegal secret lodge. P-2 is distinct from the reported 526 lodges of the 20,000-member Grand Orient Masonic grouping. Italy’s law against secret organizations did not figure to affect the Grand Orient, since its membership lists were presumed to be available to the authorities on request. However, the P-2 list found in the raid had been kept truly secret, thus exposing its members to prosecution.

In the mid-1970s, Italy’s left-wing press began asserting that P-2, with about 1,700 members, was tied to a “hidden center of power,” presumably Fascist in nature. This may prove true. A parliamentary committee investigating the scandal has charged that the lodge was involved in a plot to set up an authoritarian government in Italy. Magistrates are also investigating probable P-2 links to the faked 1979 kidnaping of Sindona from New York, and other criminal acts.

Learning of the undercover investigation, the Vatican quickly responded. The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith inserted a 24-line announcement on the second page of a March issue of the Vatican’s semiofficial daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano:

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“The present canonical discipline,” it stated, “remains in full force and has not been modified in any way; consequently, neither the excommunication nor the other penalties have been abrogated.”

With the rumored investigation, that sent shock waves throughout Italian society. And it positioned the Catholic church for the public breaking of the scandal last month, allowing the news to vindicate John Paul’s tougher stance toward the Masonic Orders.

Pauline priest Rosario Esposito, leading Catholic authority on the Masons in Italy, says he agrees with the canonical order issued in March, but doubts that the last word has been said. He expects the soon-to-be issued revision of the Code of Canon Law (a process under way since Vatican II in 1962) to provide that.

“If the church accepts to dialogue with the Marxists, I don’t see how it can possibly refuse to do the same with the Masons,” Esposito says. He added, “Whoever seeks to discredit and cloud the rapport between the church and Masonry, attempting to return to a preconciliar position, is commiting a grave error that will put the church in very serious difficulty.”

Liberal U.S. Catholics reacted to the Pope’s clampdown bitterly. “Rome knows best.” Commented Peter Hebblethwaite, the National Catholic Reporter Vatican affairs writer, “No change. We are back to square one.”


Operation Mobilization
Logos Docks At Shanghai, Displays Books In Peking

Correspondent David Adeney accompanied the ship Logos on its visit to Shanghai, China. His report:

Operation Mobilization’s ship Logos, with 133 people representing 25 nations, sailed up the Huangpu River on April 27, and berthed at the Shanghai Passenger Terminal. During the three-day journey from Hong Kong, much time was spent in orientation and prayer in preparation for 15 days in China. We realized as soon as we arrived that the Chinese authorities were uncertain how to deal with a ship that is so different from any other that has visited China. This was evident when swarms of customs officials boarded the ship. They went everywhere, asking questions, taking pictures, and inquiring into the work of the ship’s company.

On our first day in Shanghai, 10 officials flew down from Peking, and, together with 40 from Shanghai, came to a reception on the Logos. They were shown pictures of the Logos in other ports and listened to a description of its activities, and songs by the ship’s choir. In concluding remarks, the director, Allan Adams, stated our desire to learn through our visit to China. At the same time, he emphasized that as a company of people, we were committed to seeking to follow the teaching of the Bible. The officials toured the ship after the reception, and visited the book exhibition. The authorities would not allow visitors to board the Logos, so there was no public book exhibition in Shanghai.

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The Chinese government had only given permission for a week-long book exhibition to be held in the National Art Gallery in Peking. This exhibition of mainly secular books also contained two Bibles, the illustrated New Bible Dictionary, and about 30 titles related to Christian issues. Between 700 and 1,000 young people attended the exhibition each day and spent hours reading the books, including some of the Christian writings. The books were displayed under various topics on shelves along the walls and people could exchange their ID card for a book, which they would then read at one of the tables in the center of the hall. There were no opportunities to buy books.

During the Shanghai stay, tour groups from the ship visited Hangchow (Hangchou). Soochow (Su-chou), and places around the city. We had prepared a leaflet in both English and Chinese describing the character of the Logos and giving a short Christian greeting. The groups took these illustrated leaflets off the ship and used them as conversation starters with people they met in the parks or on the tours. They found the people extremely friendly, and many enjoyed meaningful conversations with Chinese young people. The authorities in Peking, however, felt the leaflet was too religious to be distributed at the book exhibition, and substituted a more general one describing the ship that did not include the Christian message.

On the two Sundays, members of the Logos attended seven different churches—all of them packed. Some of the ship’s company met with Christians in their homes. Chinese Christians said they prayed for the ship and spoke of the encouragement its coming had brought them. They especially appreciated news of the “prayer chain,” which was maintained throughout the visit.

The response of officials to the ship’s visit appeared to be positive. A tour guide, for instance, remarked about the simple and chaste lifestyle on board—in contrast to other ships he had observed. Government functionaries gave a farewell banquet to the heads of departments on board ship and expressed the hope that the Logos would return to China.

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Guatemala Conference
Seminary Event Sparks World Missions Thrust

Ninety-nine years ago Presbyterian missionary J. C. Hill arrived in Guatemala, invited by liberal President Justo Rufino Barrios to establish the first permanent Protestant work in the country. Since that auspicious beginning, the evangelical church, preparing now to celebrate its centennial in 1982, has grown from a persecuted handful to a respected, sizable minority. Estimates put the evangelical community at between 15 and 20 percent of the population, or well over one million Christians.

Throughout its history, the church in Guatemala and in the rest of Central America has been strongly evangelistic. Evangelists and colporteurs hiked through the hills, reaching remote villages. In some cases, churches have extended their outreach to neighboring countries.

But despite their strength, evangelicals in Central America compare poorly with countries like India and South Korea when it comes to the organization and support of Third World missions. So there was special significance in the “First Conference on the World-Wide Mission of the Church.” held in Guatemala City last month.

Sponsored by the Central American Theological Seminary, the conference drew some 300 participants. Including the students and speakers, 22 countries were represented. Evening sessions, open to the public, drew crowds of up to a thousand.

Ronald Blue, chairman of the missions department at Dallas Theological Seminary and a former missionary in Central America and Spain, presented the biblical basis of missions to the group. The program also included workshops on specific topics, and reports on unreached areas of the world. But perhaps the greatest challenge came from Theodore Williams of India, executive secretary of the missions commission of the World Evangelical Fellowship, and Wade Coggins, executive director of the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association and interim general secretary of WEF, who reported on the development of Third World missions in other areas.

“God doesn’t manufacture his plan in one country and then export it all over the world,” said Williams. He urged that local groups be free to develop sending agencies along their own patterns. He also noted that in India, support for their missionaries does not usually come from the wealthy but from those who give out of the little they have.

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Prince Ntintili, a black South African studying at Dallas Seminary, cautioned participants against trying to duplicate traditional Western agencies. “Christians in Africa think that to be a missionary you have to have a lot of money and a lot of degrees since that is the pattern they have seen,” he said. But he also noted that there are over five thousand Africans serving as missionaries on their own continent.

On the final day of the conference, the participants approved the “Declaration of Guatelama,” a statement in which they confessed that after “almost a century of evangelical presence … we have done very little for the world mission of the church,” and pledged themselves to be informed, to pray, and “to seek immediately the Lord’s direction as to the steps necessary in order to form missionary societies or other appropriate national organizations, in the Central American area.”

The reaction of both pastors and students to the conference was enthusiastic. One student from Bolivia commented, “I always thought of missionaries only as white people. Now I realize God can use anyone.”

A pastor from El Salvador said, “God has given us so much fruit that we shouldn’t worry if he takes one or two people from each congregation to be missionaries.”

One concrete result of the conference will be the addition of a missions curriculum to the seminary’s courses, said Emilio Antonio Nunez, president of the organizing committee for the conference and head of the seminary’s graduate program.


The Kirk Is Immovable On Military Deterrent

In recent years, commissioners to the Church of Scotland General Assembly in Edinburgh witnessed groups and placards outside the hall, protesting against some past or anticipated apostasy. This year a sizable body of dissidents gathered to give a hostile reception to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher when she arrived on a visit to the Kirk’s supreme court.

That court was later to take up the matter of unilateral nuclear disarmament, a position sought by an influential and growing lobby. It had the support for the first time of the powerful church and nation committee, which saw such disarmament as “the expression of Christian witness most consonant with the gospel of the nuclear age.”

David Whiteford disagreed, arguing that we should keep the deterrent which “has cost us no lives so far, just money.” He made a telling comparison with pacifist tendencies apparent in the assembly some years before World War II.

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Former moderator George Reid condemned the opposition’s arguments as “totally unchristian.” He scoffed at the thought of keeping faith with NATO, to which should be rendered the things that are NATO’s. He implied that the other side had not properly understood the Gospels.

After the debate and some procedural confusion, they took a vote in which some two-thirds of the 1,250 members participated. To the surprise of many, the establishment had backed a loser. By nearly 200 votes, the house opted for the deterrent.

The assembly was more of one mind in expressing concern about the teaching of religious education in schools. A curious anomaly was pointed out by another exmoderator, Andrew Herron: the national church was often denied facilities in Scottish schools that were available to schools run by the Roman Catholic minority. Representations to the Secretary of State for Scotland, said Herron, had been given “the soft answer that turneth away deputations.” It was agreed that Kirk sessions should be urged to press for adequate provision of religious education in their local schools.

The assembly handled a theological point over baptism uneasily. Three ministers appealed the decision of two lower courts to take no action against a minister who had gone through a form of believer’s baptism at the hands of an independent evangelist in Caithness. Donald Riach had regarded it as confirming his baptism as an infant. The assembly deferred the issue by setting up a five-man commission of inquiry. Basically the problem is whether baptism is to be regarded as of “the substance of the faith.” In 1976 the assembly censured an elder for undergoing a second baptism.


World Scene

Ecuador has asked the Summer Institute of Linguistics to phase out its operations there over the next 12 months. Last month’s decision was ratified by President Jaime Roldós Aquilera shortly before his May 24 death in a plane crash. His successor, Oswaldo Huturado Larrea, is not expected to reverse the action. The SIL, Wycliffe Bible Translators’ alter ego, had completed translation of the New Testament into three Ecuadorian languages. Translations in four other languages are in process; completion of all would require another five years or so.

Latin American Jesuits have been instructed not to use Marxist analysis as a foundation for their theologies of social justice. In a letter written last December, but made public only last month, Pedro Arrupe, superior general of the Society of Jesus, balanced that by rejecting anticommunism as a means of concealing injustice: “Although Marxist [economic] analysis does not directly imply acceptance of Marxist philosophy as a whole … it implies in fact a concept of human history which contradicts the Christian view of man and society and leads to strategies which threaten Christian values and attitudes.” The letter was reportedly issued after careful scrutiny by the Vatican.

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A British member of Parliament has asked for a government inquiry into the Salvation Army, after the screening of a documentary program on the country’s independent television network. Among the charges in the program: food and clothing given to the Army were sold to its clients; men were turned away because they could not meet the nightly accommodation charges; physical violence was employed by staff; and misleading advertising was used that conceals the fact that only 14 percent of money raised through appeals goes to social service. Producer Ken Jones adduced many of his charges after having visited 27 hostels in the guise of a vagrant with inadequate funds.

Scandinavians from a broad theological spectrum met last month for a post-Melbourne/Pattaya consultation. The meeting, held in Oslo, was arranged by Kjell Ove Nilsson of the Nordic Ecumenical Institute, a participant at both world conferences. Danes, Swedes, and Finns joined Norwegians in searching for insights that could be applied to the Scandinavian situation (and to Scandinavian missions). At first, professors at liberal universities, lecturers from conservative free faculties, and others tended to lose themselves in theological arguments. But when they turned their attention to practical issues, a positive spirit soon prevailed. Among other speakers, Knud Sørenson, head of the Danish Mission Society, focused attention on the inroads in Scandinavia of new religious movements with Hindu origins.

Rome police have stopped street preaching by Protestants for the first time there in 17 years. On the advice of higher authorities, the police in April issued an order restraining 27 North Americans from holding an open-air service. The “Centurions,” sponsored by Christ’s Mission of Hackensack, New Jersey, are a church planting team collaborating with three Rome evangelical churches in establishing a church in an area of Rome where none now exists. Team director Dennis Eenigenburg said, “We are not going to accept this ruling without a fight.” The right to preach openly in Italy extends to foreigners, and was established in a 1964 legal ruling.

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Auditors of the South Africa Council of Churches accounts have declined to give a “clean” report for the ecumenical organization’s 1980 accounts. They cited “serious” shortcomings, including the failure of former employees to repay housing loans on their departure several years ago, and various payments unsupported by adequate documentation.

Bibles, placed in Israeli hotels by the Gideons, have been removed and destroyed, according to CT’s correspondent there. Also, he reports, an orthodox Jewish group, whose identity is so far unknown, has been making the rounds of the country’s kibbutzim, gathering for burning Bibles containing the New Testament, and replacing them with copies of the Torah (Old Testament).

Nepal’s first Bible school was opened last month in Kathmandu. The Nepal Bible Institute principal, Ramesh Khatry, is a graduate of India’s Union Biblical Seminary. Mariano Di Gangi, Canadian chairman of BMMF International, gave the inaugural address. He was in Nepal to attend the worker’s conference of the United Mission to Nepal, which has almost 300 members in the Himalayan kingdom.

A technical assistance agency has decided to allow workers to return to Afghanistan. At its April meeting in New Delhi, the International Assistance Mission (IAM) board of managers agreed to the request of several staff members to return to Kabul. Last February, after the murder of staffers Erik and Eeva Barendsen (CT, February 20, p. 52), the IAM decided to withdraw all personnel. The mission has provided aid in Afghanistan since 1964 under a protocol agreement with the government for technical and training assistance in physical rehabilitation. Work has been done with visually handicapped, but plans are for orthopedic and postmedical rehabilitation as well.

Seed for planting in Cambodia (Kampuchea) was barely delivered before the monsoon rains. Reg Reimer. World Relief director for Southeast Asia, says. The seed rice is essential to assure the country does not slip back into famine. Although WR was ready to start as early as mid-February, its cooperative project with UNICEF was held up by the attempted coup and hijacking in Thailand, and by bureaucratic delays in the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. By the time WR finally got the go-ahead in mid-May, delivery of 1,300 metric tons of rice along the Thailand-Cambodia border was complicated. Voice of America broadcasts alerted farmers of delivery dates, and WR spent $80,000 for plastic tarps to distribute with the seed—to prevent its sprouting in the bags on the return oxcart journeys. Border distribution should be complete by the end of June. Another 2,500 metric tons sent by sea to the port of Phnom Penh should be delivered by mid-July.

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A shipment of Bibles and hymnals has been delivered to the Protestant churches of Vietnam. The Asia Pacific regional office of the United Bible Societies (UBS) in Hong Kong received confirmation that 20,000 Bibles and 20,000 hymnals had arrived in Haiphong harbor aboard a Russian freighter. Printing of the Bibles was financed by the Federation of Protestant Churches in East Germany after a 1980 visit to the German Democratic Republic by Buy Noanh Thu, vice-chairman of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Vietnam, alerted it to the need. The Bibles were printed in East Asia about a year ago. The UBS, which arranged their shipment, had to wait for months to secure space on a Vietnam-bound ship. The Bibles and hymnals were finally stowed in the hold of the Sinegorsk in March.

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