Roman Catholicism

Aged Pope John XXIII continues to make the early designation of “caretaker pope” look very premature. In his announced intention of calling an “ecumenical council,” he continues to gamer tremendous publicity for Roman Catholicism, giving the Soviets a run for their headlines, Lunik and Mikoyan notwithstanding.

Since 1563 there has been only one such gathering, the Vatican Council of 1869–70, and it created in Christendom a universal stir which prompted publication of a multitude of books and pamphlets even before the council’s assemblage. And the forthcoming council may not convene until 1961, due to the vast preparations demanded. But when it does occur, presumably in Rome, it will be big and exceedingly colorful with more than 3,500 ecclesiastics expected to attend. Apparently their chief consideration will be means of bringing about unity between their own church and other Christian communities.

There was a day when popes avoided church councils like the plague, for they regarded them as rivals to their own authority. But the Vatican Council changed this by absolutizing the pope’s power and thus making councils practically superfluous.

Early ecumenical councils were very different. Current papal domination was unknown. Such dangerous heresies as Arianism and Pelagianism, among others, were condemned. Of the twenty councils considered ecumenical by the Roman Catholic church, the Eastern Orthodox church accepts the first seven, and Anglicans have recognized as ecumenical the first four—sometimes the first six. The Trinitarian definitions of the first four councils are common property of Roman, Orthodox and Protestant alike.

The two most important and definitive councils for modern Romanism were the Vatican Council and the Council of Trent, the latter meeting intermittently from 1545 to 1563. Necessitated by the Protestant Reformation, it was called to settle doctrinal controversies and reform church discipline. Theologically, the character of exclusive Romanism was here engraved upon medieval Catholicism.

Pope Paul III reluctantly opened Trent under pressure from Emperor Charles V, but once in session it was under papal domination. At Charles’ urging, Protestants were invited, but in answer the evangelical princes and divines pointed out that the council would be “neither free nor Christian, nor ecumenical, nor ruled by the Word of God.”

Despite the claim of ecumenicity, the council was really a Roman synod. The Eastern church was never invited; the Protestants were anathematized without a hearing.

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What Trent did to the Protestants, the nineteenth-century Vatican Council was called to do to modern liberalism and rationalism. Orthodox and Protestant representatives were invited by the pope. The Eastern Patriarchs considered this an insult to their avowed equality with the Bishop of Rome, while the evangelicals chose to ignore or decline the offer.

Papal control of a council was never greater. Gallicanism fell before Ultramontanism, with the crushing of the Episcopate’s independence. Papal absolutism was completed in the proclamation of the pope’s infallibility. This led some to believe that any improbable future council would simply be an empty ritualistic extravagance.

And now there is to be another.… This one seems aimed at church unity and perhaps against communism.

Seemingly overlooked was the fact that such Roman overtures to Orthodox and Protestant as are being predicted are not new. In fact, the Roman hope for the Vatican Council was that it might become a general feast of reconciliation of divided Christendom.

Also neglected was the fact that councils have often been more creative of division than unity. The early ecumenical councils produced Eastern schisms which exist to this day. The Council of Basel, Ferrara, and Florence (1431–45) failed to solve Latin and Greek differences. The Trent and Vatican Councils, with their hardening of Roman dogma and the pronouncement of papal infallibility, have only widened the breach between Rome, on the one hand, and Constantinople, Canterbury, Wittenberg, and Geneva, on the other. Indeed, the Vatican Council gave rise to the Old Catholic Church, formed by some of Rome’s ablest divines who saw in the papal infallibility dogma a false innovation but who were outnumbered and outmaneuvered in council proceedings.

Orthodox and Protestant reaction has this time been friendlier than it was to some previous Roman proposals. But this was mingled with marked caution and much skepticism. How ecumenical would the council be and on what basis would it be called? These were oft-repeated questions voiced to the press by ecclesiastics who had not yet received their invitations.

Reunion with Eastern Orthodox bodies appeared to be the primary goal of Pope John, who has seen years of service in Eastern territories. But major obstacles exist, chief among them being papal supremacy (versus conciliar supremacy) and the doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit (being, according to Eastern Orthodoxy, from the Father only and not Father and Son as taught by the Western churches).

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Orthodoxy has known many sorrows under the domination of Mohammed and Marx. She would be seriously handicapped at a council with Rome if the Soviets stood in the way of attendance, for the bulk of her some 150 million members is behind the Iron Curtain.

Anglican efforts toward reunion with Rome have been rebuffed by Roman refusal to recognize the validity of Anglican episcopal consecration. What status then would Anglicans have in a council with Rome?

Romanism regards the Orthodox churches as schismatic but the Protestant churches as heretical, which makes participation by the latter in the proposed council very dubious. Dr. Edwin T. Dahlberg, president of the National Council of Churches and no hater of ecumenism, has insisted in effect that the Protestants be treated as equals. Protestant agreement on this point thus far would appear to make an International Council of Churches prediction of departure of Protestant apostates for Rome unrealistic (though some observers sense the possibility of Protestant defections).

For the pope has made it clear that his supremacy is not to be questioned, that Rome is “in possession of the truth.” Concessions could be made only in the realm of canon law, liturgy, and discipline—certainly not in infallible dogma. Only the week before, special prayers had been said the world over for return of non-Romans to the authority of the pope. But Pope John said, “Let us reunite; let us end discussions.”

Somehow this all was strangely reminiscent of Rome’s foe Mikoyan, whose smile seemed to promise so much, but who could concede so little because of prior commitments. The Roman frown was still to be seen in Spain and Colombia, where there were reminders that Foxe once wrote a Book of Martyrs.

As one leaves the church in Trent where the council sat, he looks up to see a comely row of hills. He wishes the delegates of old had looked, as the Psalmist, to these and beyond for their help and guidance rather than to Rome and down musty Vatican corridors of heretical accretions. The Tridentine errors loom large across the face of Christendom.


Protestant Panorama
• Danish archaeologists working in the British protectorate of Bahrain claim to have found the site of the biblical Garden of Eden.
• An elderly couple donated last month some 17,280 acres of West Texas farmland to Wayland Baptist College. The land, valued at more than two million dollars, represents one of the largest individual gifts ever made to Christian education.
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• The Mississippi Baptist Convention board plans to use property which once was the site of the U. S. Maritime Academy for a year-round assembly ground. The site was purchased at auction last month for $455,000.
• An assembly of the Rhode Island Council of Churches rejected last month an amendment to its constitutional preamble which would have excluded from membership Protestant churches not accepting Christ as “Divine Saviour and Lord.” The present constitution states belief in the deity of Christ but does not bar opposition.
• The Canadian Baptist, official organ of the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec and the Baptist Union of Western Canada, is observing its 100th anniversary of continuous publication under its present name.
• The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in a four-to-three vote last month that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation cannot be prosecuted under the Lord’s Day Act for broadcasting on Sunday.
• Churches in the United States have received about $410,000,000 in financing from life insurance companies, according to a survey by the Institute of Life Insurance.
• In Milwaukee, the Concordia College Conference of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod approved church-sponsored social dancing “under careful supervision and guidance.” Missouri Lutherans traditionally have opposed social dancing, but this was the second synod group to liberalize its stand in recent months. In November, the St. Louis Lutheran Pastoral Conference stated that social dancing would be permissible if properly supervised.
• At its 64th annual convention, the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles voted unanimously to accept a goal of $1,300,000 as its share in a four-million-dollar capital funds drive for additional buildings at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California.
• Plans were announced this month for a one-million-dollar expansion of church work in urban renewal by the Board of National Missions of the United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A.
• Dallas Theological Seminary held a ground-breaking service February 8 for a $325,000 library building.
• Religion in American Life, which campaigns for regular church attendance, received space and radio-television time valued at more than eight million dollars last year.
• A new adoption agency and family counselling service has been instituted in New York state as an affiliate of the National Association of Evangelicals. Pending issuance of a charter, the Evangelical Child and Family Welfare Service is limiting activities other than adoptions.
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His magazine, edited by Joseph Bayly, was named “Periodical of the Year” by judges at an annual meeting of the Evangelical Press Association.
• A “stay-at-home-and-enjoy-your-family night” was held by the Young Married Peoples Society of Concordia Lutheran Church in suburban St. Louis. The special “night” was prompted by concern over an increasing number of religious and other types of meetings. Participation was checked by telephone calls.
• A 17-man military contingent at the South Pole dedicated a 16-foot-square chapel last month. “Now it can truly be said the earth turns on a point of faith,” said naval Lieutenant Sidney Tolchin, officer-in-charge.
Nation’S Capital
Catholics In Congress

Official inquiries by the Library of Congress reveal that Roman Catholics are the most numerous in some two dozen religious categories represented in the Senate and House this year.

The Library of Congress reports that 103 members of Congress, 91 in the House and 12 in the Senate, list membership in the Roman Catholic church. In both houses Protestants as a group still outnumber those of other faiths, but the 1959 totals represent an increase of eight Catholics when compared to tabulations for the 85th Congress. Back in 1937 Catholics in Congress numbered 110, but it was not certain whether they held a plurality.

The present Catholic representation bears nearly the same proportion to the total membership of Congress as the total of baptized Catholics bears to the whole U. S. population.

The 86th Congress has three ordained ministers, all Democrats: Representatives Merwin Coad of Iowa (Disciples of Christ), Walter H. Moeller of Ohio (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod), and Adam Clayton Powell of New York (Abyssinian Baptist).

Here is a summary of religious affiliations or preferences expressed by members of Congress in response to the Library of Congress inquiry:

Supreme Court Survey

The U. S. Supreme Court bench has three Presbyterians, two Baptists, an Episcopalian, a Methodist, a Jew, and a Roman Catholic.

Chief Justice Earl Warren comes from a Methodist family background, but now attends a Baptist church.

Justices William O. Douglas, John Marshall Harlan, and Tom C. Clark are Presbyterians.

Justice Hugo L. Black retains membership in a Baptist church in his home state of Alabama, although he often attends a Unitarian church in Washington.

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Justice Felix Frankfurter is Jewish and Justice William J. Brennan Jr., Catholic.

Justice Charles Evans Whittaker is a Methodist and the newest member of the court, Justice Potter Stewart, is an Episcopalian.

Graham On Television
North Americans will be able to witness the Australian crusade of evangelist Billy Graham via television beginning Saturday night, February 28.
The initial telecast will be an hour-long film of one of the nightly meetings scheduled to begin in Melbourne, February 15. It will be beamed over the American Broadcasting Company television network at 10 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. Some stations will schedule the telecast for a later time.
Drys Try Again

Among some 5,000 bills introduced in the first three weeks of the 86th Congress was a proposal which would ban liquor advertising in interstate commerce. The bill sponsored by Democratic Representative Eugene Siler of Kentucky is similar to a number which have been introduced in recent years. Such a measure has yet to come out of a Congressional committee. Last year an anti-liquor advertising bill sponsored by Republican Senator William Langer of North Dakota created a stir in public hearings but died in committee. Langer was expected to re-introduce the bill.

Other bills already introduced would:

—Create a “Medical Advisory Committee on Alcoholism” within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

—Allow income tax credit for tuition paid for higher education in public and private schools.

—Make the bombing of churches, synagogues, and schools a federal offense.

—Eliminate civilian chaplains for the U. S. Military Academy at West Point.

—Exempt from the Social Security program members of the Old Order Amish Mennonites who object to it.

—Among resolutions proposed in Congress are measures which would (1) amend the U. S. Constitution to recognize “the authority and law of Jesus Christ, Saviour and Ruler of Nations”, (2) establish “National Prayer for Peace Day” and “National Family Day.”

A so-called “Christian Amendment” has been introduced by various sponsors in the last three Congresses but it never has gone beyond a public hearing.

In The Public Interest

Resolutions approving compulsory radio and television time “in the public interest” and condemning “liquor advertising” were passed unanimously by National Religious Broadcasters, Inc., in their annual convention at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel, January 21–22.

Some 150 broadcasts are represented in the 16-year-old body, including such programs as the “Lutheran Hour,” the “Hour of Decision” and the “Old Fashioned Revival Hour.” They spend an estimated 12 to 15 million dollars annually in broadcasting the evangelical gospel message. They reach multiplied millions of listeners and viewers in America and around the world.

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Three years ago NRB took a strong stand for the sale and purchase of radio and television time for the broadcasting of religion and achieved a notable victory. This year a more subtle attack on the principle had been made in a proposal of T. A. M. Craven, Federal Communications Commissioner. Under the present code, licenses to operate stations stipulate that time must be given to programs “in the public interest” (involving religion, art, music, education, public welfare, politics, etc.). Mr. Craven, backed by a considerable sector of the industry, proposed that this public interest license requirement be eliminated and that the Federal Communications Commission refrain from checking station programming practices. The Washington meeting of NRB went on record as strongly opposing the Craven plan. Evangelicals believe that American air waves belong to the American people, that the public has authority through its duly constituted FCC to protect the rights and the freedoms of broadcasters of religion.

Speaking personnel at Washington were indicative of the esteem in which NRB is held. Mr. Harold Fellows, president of the industry’s National Association of Broadcasters, spoke in the opening session. Mr. John Charles Doerfer, FCC chairman, addressed a noon-day luncheon. Dr. William J. Millard gave a series of technical addresses. Network notables participated.

Vice President Richard M. Nixon received a citation and bronze plaque for his contribution to world peace. Other citations went to Mr. Fellows and to Dr. Billy Graham, whose “Hour of Decision” broadcast was recognized as the outstanding religious program of 1958.

Forward steps taken by NRB at Washington included (1) authorization of the immediate opening of a national office in the capital, (2) inauguration of a series of workshops for the improvement of broadcasting techniques, and (3) promotion of better station-management relations.

The convention closed on an international note with addresses by the Rev. Ralph Freed of the Voice of Tangier, Tangier, Morocco and the Rev. William J. Roberts of the Far East Broadcasting Company in Manila. It was disclosed that evangelical broadcasters now belt the globe with gospel messages in more than 100 languages and dialects. Remarkable evangelistic results are being achieved even in Iron Curtain and Bamboo Curtain countries.

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J. D. M.

Clergy Vs. Conscription

The National Council of Churches reiterated its stand opposing a peacetime draft when a representative joined a number of other Protestant churchmen in protesting continued conscription before a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

Testifying in behalf of the council last month—against a four-year extension of the military draft—was Dr. Henry C. Koch, president of the National Capital Area Council of Churches.

New York
Death At The River

Three clergy members of the Methodist Radio and Film Commission were listed among victims in the crash of an American Airlines plane early this month. A Lutheran pastor also was killed when the craft, a new Lockheed Electra bound from Chicago, plunged into the East River while approaching LaGuardia Airport.

The Methodist ministers were en route to the annual meeting of the commission in New York. All were from Nashville, Tennessee. They had attended another meeting in Chicago. They were identified as the Rev. William A. Meadows, 39, the Rev. W. C. Walton Jr., 41, and the Rev. Royer H. Woodburn, 46.

One of the first bodies recovered from the river was that of the Rev. Francis C. McGrath, pastor of the Bethany Lutheran Church at Elmhurst, Long Island, New York. McGrath, 31, was returning from a visit to Concordia Teachers College, River Forest, Illinois, where he was to teach a two-week course in audio-visual aids next summer. He had been working on a doctor’s degree at Columbia University.

Communist China
Crippling Unity

All Protestant denominations on the Chinese mainland are being merged into a single church body and the majority of local churches are being forced to close, according to reports received by the China Committee of the National Council of Churches. Dr. Wallace C. Merwin, executive secretary of the committee, said last month that 16 long-established denominations in China are involved in the merger.

Typical of the closing of churches was the shutdown of all but 12 of 200 Protestant churches in Shanghai and all but four of 65 in Peiping, he said. Closed churches are being turned over to the government as “patriotic gifts,” he added.

These crippling blows to Protestant Christianity are being carried out by constituents of the Three Self Love Country committee, the only Protestant agency recognized by the Red Chinese government, Merwin said.

“By leaving the churches little choice except to join the committee,” he said, “the Chinese authorities are succeeding in maintaining closer controls over the churches and their members.”

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In addition to churches, the committee has acquired Protestant schools, hospitals and other institutions. Merwin said that as a result “it is not so much a persecuted church as a captive church.”

The reports from China indicated that during the first six months of 1958 church workers underwent an intensive course in “education for socialism” as part of a general “thought-rectification” campaign.

Congregations are constantly urged to carry out self-reform and to take an active part in China’s “giant leap forward,” Merwin said. Church leaders everywhere were reported pledging obedience to the government and the Three Self group.

“Today Chinese Protestants are told that church division and denominational names are ‘vestiges of Western colonialism aimed to divide and rule,’ ” Merwin said. “It is also the first time that Protestant congregations have had to surrender their properties and funds on such a large scale,” he added.

Merwin collected his data from personal letters which have come out of Red China and from material which appeared in a Communist periodical.

Another view behind the Bamboo Curtain is supplied by David H. Adeney, who previously worked on the mainland, first for the China Inland Mission then for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship.

“The persecution of Christians never comes directly from the government,” says Adeney, who now lives in Hong Kong and who regularly talks with refugees from Communist-held territory. “It is always from the Communist elements from within the church.”

In the March issue of His magazine, Adeney notes a complacent attitude toward the 600 million living under the Peking regime:

“It is only a few miles to the border of China, yet the Christians in Hong Kong and in Western countries seem to stand on the sidelines, almost unmoved by the spiritual battle which does not affect them. We know so little of sacrifice in our own daily lives and we often fail to realize that the Lord is … calling us to cast off the lethargy and love of ease.”

Reader Poll
Results of a CHRISTIANITY TODAY reader poll, which showed opposition to U. S. recognition of Communist China by more than an eight-to-one margin, have been formally submitted to Secretary of State John Foster Dulles as a matter of information.
An aide said the information would be brought to the personal attention of Dulles, who at the time was preparing to go to Europe for talks on the Berlin Crisis.
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CHRISTIANITY TODAY instituted the poll in its December 22nd issue, which contained an editorial criticizing suggestions advanced by the National Council of Churches World Order Conference last November. A coupon was printed and readers were invited to mail in their own views before January 10.
A total of 1212 replies expressed opposition to U. S. diplomatic recognition of Red China while 145 were in favor of such recognition.
On the question of whether or not to admit the Peking regime into the United Nations, 1,221 said they would oppose such action while 146 said they would favor it.
Great Britain
New Translation

Top British scholars are turning out a new translation of the Bible. They are working from original texts, rendering them into contemporary English.

The New Testament, to be published jointly by Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press, is expected to appear early in 1961. The Old Testament will require several more years to complete. Work got under way in 1947 with formation of the Joint Committee on New Translation of the Bible.

General director of the translation is Dr. C. H. Dodd. Represented on the committee are the Churches of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, plus the Methodist church, the Congregational Union, Baptist Union, Presbyterian Church in England, Society of Friends, the British and Foreign Bible Society, and the Bible Society of Scotland.

West Germany
Slander Charge

West German church leader Martin Niemoeller, long a campaigner against nuclear arms, was formally charged with insulting the Bonn army last month.

The president of the Evangelical Church of Hesse and Nassau had been quoted as stating at a pacifist meeting in Kassel that “the training of soldiers and the training for leading positions in the military command posts must be regarded as a higher school for professional criminals.” He denied the statement. He claimed he had merely said that the training of commando units of the former German army was a school for potential war criminals.

Belgian Congo
Escape For Protestants

Protestant missions and missionaries in the Belgian Congo were reported operating normally despite a month of rioting and demonstrations.

Part of the rioting, which killed 175 early in January, was directed against Roman Catholic property, apparently because the uprising was in protest against the Belgian colonial government and most Catholic missionaries in the Congo are Belgian citizens.

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Confused by tribal rivalries, political aspirations of small minority groups, and the undercurrent of growing nationalism, Congolese at Leopoldville saw across the river at Brazzaville a new and unexpected freedom from French colonialism. Dormant feelings erupted with tragic results in the Congo capital.

Belgian authorities were unprepared for the uprisings, first at Leopoldville and

later at Matadi. Panicky police fired prematurely, some observers said, and orderly demonstrations turned into bloody fighting.

The original riots were blamed on the Abako movement, headed by a former Roman Catholic seminarian who was subsequently charged with violation of state security and inciting racial hatred.

The outbursts were not limited to religious properties. Commercial and government establishments were attacked with resulting damages estimated in millions of dollars.

Continent Of Australia
Saturation Evangelism

A four-point program of “saturation evangelism” was projected for Australia on the eve of the scheduled opening of Billy Graham’s Melbourne crusade. It was the most thorough and well-integrated plan ever advanced for a Graham campaign.

Coordinator of the program is the Rev. Leslie Green, formerly associate minister at the First Christian Church, Fort Worth, Texas.

Green, now ministering in a Sydney church, is “federal director of visitation evangelism” under a continent-wide liaison committee of churchmen cooperating with the Graham team.

Elements of the program:

1. Utilization of crusade counsellors and other volunteers in door-to-door visitation prior to the crusade. (Goal is to reach every home with a personal invitation to attend the crusade.)

2. The witness of the mass meetings (with “Operation Andrew” transit pools).

3. Personal counseling of inquirers.

4. Follow-up, to include another door-to-door visitation project.

People: Words And Events
Deaths: Lutheran Bishop Eivind Berggrav, 74, formerly a president of the World Council of Churches and Primate of the Norwegian state church, in Oslo … Cecil B. DeMille, 77, outstanding producer-director of Bible films, in Hollywood … Methodist Bishop John W. Branscomb, 53, in Orlando, Florida … Professor Wilhelm Neuser, 70, retired head of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Lippe, Germany, in Detmold … the Rev. Jacob R. Perkins, 79, retired minister, author, and former warden of the Iowa penitentiary, best known as co-author of the Rotary International code of ethics, in Council Bluffs, Iowa … Dr. George L. Robinson, 94, retired professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at McCormick Theological Seminary, in Chicago … Dr. R. A. Forrest, founder and president emeritus of Toccoa Falls Bible Institute … Melvin Loptson, 28, American missionary to Lebanon under the Christian and Missionary Alliance, in an airliner crash near Amman, Jordan … the Rev. Andrew H. Argue, 90, evangelist of the Penetcostal Assemblies of Canada, in Willowdale, Ontario … Mrs. Robert S. Denny, 44, wife of the associate secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, in Washington.
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Elections: As Episcopal Bishop of Washington, the Rev. William F. Creighton … as president of the Men’s Council of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S., J. W. Baldwin … as president of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the Methodist Church, Dr. Edward W. Seay.
Appointments: As first Lutheran bishop of Southern Rhodesia, the Rev. Dean A. H. Albrektson … as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, New York, the Rev. Stephen F. Olford, for the past five years pastor of the Duke Street Baptist Church in London, England … as president of St. Paul Bible College, the Rev. Harry T. Hardwick.

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