Far-reaching decisions for an intensified program of evangelical cooperation at the world level were made at the annual convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Los Angeles April 6–10. Action followed a world survey by Dr. Clyde W. Taylor, executive secretary of the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association and the Rev. Fred Ferris, executive secretary of the World Evangelical Fellowship (both NAE related). A sizeable portion of the NAE budget in 1959–60 will aid in undergirding the world program.
The team reported that in a world confronted with the rapid spread of atheistic Communism there is increasing evangelical unity and growth in many lands. In West Pakistan representatives from most of the missions and native churches in the country are forming a new fellowship. The Evangelical Fellowship of India at its national convention in Vizagapatam reported a greatly enlarged membership. In Ceylon evangelicals have completed a successful evangelistic campaign. Another is projected on a huge scale in Japan. Nepal is opening its doors to evangelical hospitals and schools. In the opinion of Taylor and Ferris, the world situation is ripe for the greatest evangelical advance in years.
Prior to the Los Angeles convention Dr. Taylor, accompanied by Dr. Herbert S. Mekeel, president of NAE, and Dr. George L. Ford, its executive director, conferred with President Eisenhower about the world situation. The President expressed a deep interest in the determination of evangelicals to train native lay leaders to spread the Gospel in their respective lands and in plans for a new series of booklets and tracts on Marxism answering the supporters and sympathizers of communism.
The World Evangelical Fellowship, which is to carry the load of the new program, grew out of conferences between the American NAE and the World Evangelical Alliance (British organization) in 1946. Some 20 national and regional evangelical bodies are now affiliated. The beliefs and objectives of the WEF are similar to those of the NAE and the WEA. It has active commissions on evangelism, Christian action, missionary cooperation and literature. Headquarters offices are maintained in London and Chicago.
Evangelicals are growingly conscious of the need for effective cooperative world fellowship. They need a strong united front to deal with communism, Romanism, liberalism, paganism, atheism and other enemies of the faith. They are concerned about growing restrictions against the propagation of the Gospel. There has been deep disappointment concerning leftist developments within the World Council of Churches and the International Missionary Council. Evangelicals at Los Angeles felt the time had come for united evangelical action at the world level. Leaders foresee an emerging organization big enough and broad enough to include all evangelicals around the world who see the need. It will bear malice toward none and have charity for all, it will give a united testimony for “the faith once for all delivered,” and be a medium through which the swelling tide against Christianity may be turned back.
This significant development was but one in a convention attended by some 1,500 delegates. Besides the public mass meetings at which the major addresses were heard, there were some 15 simultaneous “miniature conventions” of commissions and related agencies. Over 80 exhibitors represented special interests.
Dealing forthrightly with current issues, NAE reaffirmed its opposition to the recognition of Red China, its stand for the separation of church and state, its pleas for religious liberty in Spain and Colombia, its opposition to the manufacture and sale of intoxicating beverages, and called for Protestant unity to confront Rome’s coming Ecumenical Council with a strong biblical ecumenical testimony.
Major addresses were delivered by Dr. Taylor, General William K. Harrison, Dr. Paul S. Rees, Dr. Herbert Mekeel, Dr. Carl F. H. Henry, Dr. L. Nelson Bell, Dr. Jared Gerig, Dr. Mark Fakkema, Dr. Harold Erickson and Dr. Thomas Zimmerman.
Visitors and observers, including members of the press, were impressed by the deeply spiritual tone of the meetings. One reporter said, “I attend all the major inter-church conventions in America and this one exceeds them all in real religious commitment and fervor.”
For the first time in its 17 years of history the Association was debt free. Its Commission on World Relief with around $100,000 in reserves reported the largest distribution of food and clothing in its history. The expanding National Sunday School Association prepared to purchase a new headquarters building in Chicago’s loop district. The EFMA reported 50 member boards with a third of all the missionaries in the world. The National Religious Broadcasters with its 150 radio and television broadcasts includes most of the major paid-time programs on the air. Other related agencies reported equally encouraging progress.
NAE growth and effectiveness have come largely in these related groups, rather than through a strong central administration. A number of factors have contributed to this situation: Threats to evangelical churches and functional organizations demanded quick action. Emergency commissions and agencies were created to deal with these problems. Many of them were successful in gaining immediate financial support and cooperation far beyond the Association itself. The central body’s financial problems have kept it moving slowly within unfortunate limitations. Centralization and integration are due to come in plans for the future as adequate financial undergirding is available. This will make for greater effectiveness and larger impact on the life of American Protestantism.
The gravest weakness in the Association (41 member denominations; a service constituency of 10 million in all churches) seems to be its inability to rise above its present limited constituency and to think and plan in terms of the whole evangelical complex in American Protestantism. Many evangelicals believe that the reasons which called NAE into being are still valid in the thinking of 20 million more American Protestants inside and outside the National Council of Churches. Most of this potential constituency have not been convinced that the NAE is the answer to their problem. The Association has won to its standard a large number of Holiness and Pentecostal denominations and thousands of independent Baptist and Bible churches. It has made a favorable impact on some pastors and laymen in major denominations in the NCC, but these men feel their viewpoints have not been sufficiently reflected in NAE policy and program to make a strategic appeal to their denominations. Some thought has been given to the problem but other matters have been so pressing that conferences on the subject have been fruitless if not futile.
The Los Angeles meeting closed on a high note of faith and hope for the future. The 1960 convention will be held in Chicago, April 25–29.
An instrumental quartet led by a Roman Catholic music teacher introduced jazz to the ritual of historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Norwalk, Connecticut, this month.
For Russell Martino, the music teacher who respects jazz, this was no ordinary Sunday morning. It began in a night club where his alto saxophone-piano-bass-drums ensemble played for a dance until 1 a.m. At 7 a.m. he and another member of the quartet attended Catholic mass.
By 9:30 a.m. the group was assembled at the Protestant Episcopal Church, where they had been hired by the Rev. Anthony T. Treasure to perform “The Twentieth Century Folk Mass,” reportedly to give the rector his sermon theme—that religion is part of every phase of life—and to show young people that religion is not “fuddy-duddy.”
The “Folk Mass,” also known as the “Jazz Mass,” was composed several years ago by an Anglican vicar in England, the Rev. Geoffrey Beaumont.
Throughout the communion service performance, a number of popular song hits were reported distinguishable in rhythms ranging from waltz to ragtime. While 500 would-be worshippers were crowding into the sanctuary, it was said, the ensemble played a progressive jazz improvisation of “I’ll Remember April”; after “There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy,” “Bernie’s Tune”; following the “Agnus Dei,” “Lover Come Back to Me” and a few blues songs; with the rector’s blessing, “It’s Almost Like Being in Love.” The church choir sang the vocal part of the mass.
Martino said his participation in the service was solely on a professional level. “I did not worship God and Jesus Christ while there,” he said. He suggested that adverse reaction to the performance of jazz in a church could be blamed on the general public’s lack of understanding of the essence of jazz.
After the service, Treasure called it “very reverent, very impressive and very moving,” but some members of the church’s vestry expressed displeasure. The congregation had mixed feelings.
The Rt. Rev. Walter Henry Gray, Protestant Episcopal bishop of Connecticut, refused to comment.
Alva I. Cox Jr., director of the National Council of Churches’ audio-visual and broadcast education division, thought well of the jazz mass. “But the music is so bad I hope the experiment is not judged on the quality of the product,” he said.
It was at least the third time in recent years that Episcopalians made news with their interest in jazz. In 1958, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Glendale, Missouri, began sponsoring free showings of jazz movies in the City Hall. Prior to that, the Rev. Alvin Kershaw, Episcopal rector of Peterboro, New Hampshire, won $32,000 on a television quiz program with his knowledge of jazz.
Americans smoked more than 436 billion cigarettes during 1958, an all-time record, according to U. S. Department of Agriculture figures reported by Religious News Service.
The figures represent an increase of 27 billion over the previous record of 409 billion cigarettes consumed in 1957.
Cigarette consumption now averages 185 packs annually per man and woman above the age of 15 in the United States.
In addition to domestic consumption, the report went on, the United States sent 13,400,000,000 cigarettes to members of the armed forces overseas.
The seven U. S. military officers chosen to try the first space flight represent a variety of faiths. They listed their religious affiliations as follows:
Navy Lieutenant Malcolm S. Carpenter, Episcopal.
Air Force Captain LeRoy G. Cooper, Methodist.
Marine Lieutenant Colonel John H. Glenn Jr., Presbyterian.
Air Force Captain Virgil I. Grissom, Church of Christ.
Navy Lieutenant Commander Walter M. Schirra Jr., Episcopal.
Navy Lieutenant Commander Alan B. Shepard Jr., Christian Science.
Air Force Captain Donald K. Slayton, Lutheran.
Exit Amish Schools
A court order closed two Amish schools in Hardin County, Ohio, this month.
The ruling from Judge Arthur D. Tudor culminated a legal hassle lasting several months. The Hardin County board of education sought to compel compliance with state standards.
Levi Beechy, bishop of the local Amish settlement, called the injunction a “test of faith and conviction.”
During the trial, Amish farmer Henry Hershberger admitted that the two schools do not teach science, a state requirement, because the settlement does not believe “in the monkey theory of man.” The Amish country schools also were criticized for not conducting sessions the required number of days and for failure to teach Ohio history.
In his ruling, Tudor also enjoined Amish teachers from continuing careers until they are legally qualified by state educational standards.
Last fall, during a controversy leading up to the court action, an Amish father took his children out of an Amish school. He said subsequently that the move resulted in his family being banned from church activities and that his neighbors would not talk to him.
Wearied by continuing accusations of ousted professors, President Duke K. McCall of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary says he would willingly submit to another hearing on charges that he abused his authority.
McCall, in his defense, points to the action of a board of trustees committee which cleared him of “abuse” charges brought by the professors. The committee, he said, found no evidence that he had misused his administrative authority. He added that he would be willing, however, for another examination to be made of his policies and practices.
Meanwhile, 12 of 13 professors dismissed from the seminary as a result of the controversy last June continued to blame McCall for all the trouble, despite a decision by trustees last month which rescinded the dismissals and asked the professors to resign instead. One of the ousted professors was reinstated last summer and continues to teach.
Dr. Heber F. Peacock, spokesman for the dismissed professors, says the problem at the seminary “is more acute now than it was a year ago.” The group claims to be “personally reconciled to all concerned,” but asserts that “to expect reconciliation to an uncorrected situation wherein the abuse of authority is allowed to prevail is to misuse the term.”
McCall repeatedly maintains that the point at issue has been a trouble spot since seminary trustees spelled out the president’s authority in 1943. He adds, however, that each of the dismissed professors took up his critical position gradually, for all were employed by the seminary since 1943.
A special committee of Southern Baptist Convention presidents is still investigating the Louisville institution’s dispute. A report will be presented to the convention’s executive committee next month.
A New Dean
Dr. Samuel H. Miller was named dean of Harvard Divinity School this month, succeeding Dr. Douglas Horton, who is retiring.
Miller is minister of Old Cambridge (Mass.) Baptist Church and has taught at Harvard since 1953, the same year in which Colgate conferred upon him an honorary doctor of divinity degree. Miller’s only earned degree is a B.Th. from Colgate.
Harvard University President Nathan Pusey noted “historical irony” in the new appointment. He recalled that the university’s first president, Henry Dunster, resigned his office when he became convinced that the Baptist attitude toward infant baptism was the correct one.
When the Harvard Divinity School was established within the university early in the nineteenth century, one of the provisions was that “no assent to the peculiarities of any denomination of Christians be required either of the students or instructors.”
Miller is the first Baptist ever to head the divinity school.
Barth Vs. Bultmann
Bishop Hanns Lilje, leading Lutheran church figure, says the theology of Bultmann is gaining increasing respect among students in Germany.
Nevertheless, Lilje told a press conference in Washington this month, Barthian principles still wield a great deal of influence among German clergymen. Lilje referred to Barth as the “greatest Protestant theologian of our time.”
The bishop is head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hannover, chairman of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany, and vice chairman of the Evangelical Church in Germany. He is a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches.
Current interest in theology surpasses anything expressed since the days of early Christianity, according to Dr. Nels F. S. Ferré, professor of Christian theology at Andover Newton seminary.
“Because of our critical world situation as humanity,” Ferré told a Methodist convocation in Kansas City this month, “there is a rising tide in general theological interest, possibly unexcelled in Christian history and certainly not equalled since … the early councils.”
Noting that varying views are contending for theological leadership, he said that “what we need today is the kind of theology that centers in Christ, God’s own love come from his eternal being into our human history and into our personal situation.”
“We must go beyond stuffy orthodoxy and sophisticated modernity, beyond fundamentalism’s fanaticism and liberalism’s vagueness, beyond the neo-orthodox flight from reality and neo-naturalism’s refuge in modernity,” he added.
Demonstration of “practical holiness” by efforts to solve such “tragic” social, economic and moral problems as unemployment, poverty, alcoholism, gambling and inadequate housing and medical care was urged by the National Holiness Association in a resolution adopted at its annual convention in Cincinnati.
Such problems, the resolution said, “challenge all who believe in the gospel of perfect love to demonstrate that their holiness is practical by doing all within their power to correct these tragic conditions.”
“When Christ transforms a man’s character, he becomes a worker together with Him to change his unwholesome environment,” the statement said.
“The fact that many methods of church groups end in disappointing failures,” it added, “challenged us anew to return to the principles and practices of John Wesley.” It noted that Wesley, 18th century founder of Methodism in England, laid the foundation for widespread social reform “in a vital and morally transforming personal experience of the grace of God.”
Fifteen hundred clergy and lay delegates from the association’s 1,500,000-member affiliated constituency attended the three-day convention. Featured at the meeting were discussions of means of “witnessing to the deeper spiritual life” as well as sermons of inspiration and Biblical exposition.
People: Words And Events
Deaths: The Rt. Rev. Edwin Anderson Penick, 72, senior Protestant Episcopal bishop in the United States, at Chapel Hill, North Carolina … Dr. John Van Ness, 92, noted Presbyterian minister, in Philadelphia … Dr. Frank Masters, 88, former president of Oklahoma Baptist University, at Mayfield, Kentucky.
Elections: As president of the National Religious Publicity Council, William C. Walzer … as president of the Southern Baptists’ Georgetown (Kentucky) College, Dr. Robert Lee Mills … as president of the National Holiness Association, the Rev. Morton W. Dorsey … as secretary of public relations for the Southern Baptist Executive Committee, Dr. W. C. Fields … as treasurer of the National Association of Evangelicals, Rufus Jones (all other NAE incumbent officials reelected).
Appointments: As professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Ray Summers … as an executive secretary of the American Bible Society, the Rev. A. P. Wright.
Resignation: As president of Taylor University, Dr. Evan H. Bergwall.
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