While most nations sense that the midnight hour has struck for solving race problems, South Africa pleads for time and understanding in reaching a solution. To many its policy of apartheid seems like lifting one’s hand against the sea. But the South African position calls for a fair hearing, for it has been widely misunderstood and misrepresented.

Unlike European relationships to many African countries, the white Afrikaner neither displaced nor dispossessed the black African. White and black moved into South Africa at about the same time. After a period of conflict, each staked out separate territories and each charted an independent way of life. The native Bantus (aborigines) today have the highest per-capita income of all African races. Nowhere in Africa do non-whites enjoy a higher standard of living, education, and health. Four out of five Bantu children are in school. The Bantu literacy rate is the highest in Africa. Their university achievement is proportionately far superior to that of any other African race. The 2,000 non-white university graduates in South Africa exceed the number in other African territories with a combined population of 80 million. The government-sponsored non-white settlements provide residential benefits unknown to multitudes of Africans and have virtually replaced all slum areas.

Yet the worldwide explosion of race problems has focused sharp attention on South Africa’s rigid segregation policy and practices. Nations promoting Negro rights consider intolerable South Africa’s withholding from non-whites a vote in determining national policy, and its requiring them to ride separate buses, to enter and leave public buildings through separate doors, to sit on separate park benches, and to live in segregated suburban communities. The Bantus live outside Johannesburg on land they lease but can never own. (Liberia applies the latter policy against the whites.) One will even find entrances marked: GOODS AND NON-EUROPEANS. University apartheid has also been declared. In the United Nations. South Africa, condemned for racial bigotry, is made out to be more or less the polecat of the world.

Why does the Afrikaner, whose fierce devotion to liberty and self-determination built a nation where a century ago there were treeless plains, now strenuously oppose a multi-racial society? In part because the Vortrekkers or founders envisioned a distinctive national culture. They came to South Africa, much as did early colonists to America, to carve out a new nation for themselves, except that the Afrikaner came to virgin territory. But there is another reason: the present population imbalance. The population of South Africa is about 15 million. While there are proportionately more whites than in any other African nation, the whites now represent only one in four to five persons. Johannesburg’s metropolitan area includes about 400,000 Europeans, about 690,000 Bantus, and 90,000 Eurafricans and Asiatics. Moreover, the Afrikaner has an unparalleled economic investment in South African industries and in its gold and diamond mines.

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South African whites are wholly unimpressed by the hasty Belgian and British concessions of equal rights (one vote to one person) to Africans. In Kenya and Rhodesia the result has been Britain’s departure under political pressure. In the Congo the Belgians were faced with revolution and virtual expulsion after many years of costly colonial development. In this substitution of black for white domination the Afrikaner finds neither hope nor justice. An uprooted Afrikaner would have no place to go.

What the Afrikaner proposes instead is “separate but parallel development.” The government is pouring immense resources into the development of separate African communities. An elite group of political leaders in the Broederbond questions the patriotic loyalties of public critics of apartheid. Apartheid therefore becomes not simply a political policy committed to the formation of self-governing Bantustans, but simultaneously a racial policy that involves complete racial segregation except within highly delimited areas.

This policy of apartheid, to which the nationalist government is firmly dedicated, is increasingly attacked as discriminatory from two sides. Criticism stems on the one hand from those who consider a multi-racial society an inevitable African development; from African spokesmen in the United Nations who want African self-determination (and define African as nonwhite); and from the ever-present Communist propagandists. The Communist line is that in any part of Africa the white man should be regarded merely as a visitor. Professing to come as visitors to help the Africans, they grab political power through devious means (as in Nyasaland and Mozambique). In Congo-Leopoldville Red agents recently were expelled for plotting the overthrow and death of Congolese leaders.

Caught between the pressures of world opinion and national opinion, many Afrikaners today waver unpredictably between two unreconciled moods. More and more Afrikaners concede that apartheid is unnatural, yet that its alternative—judged by the results in Congo and Rhodesia—would be calamitous. They consider that the majority of non-Europeans in South Africa are no more ready for self-determination than many other Africans. Some Afrikaners concede that apartheid may prove a workable policy at most for ten years, and that they are fatefully late in training Africans for a democratic social and political development. Others argue that African tribalism is historically so inherently authoritarian that a democratic development will prove only a temporary transition to future dictatorships. Afrikaners stress that the nonwhites are now unqualified to evolve a stable society and a developed economy, and that their takeover of South Africa would not only swamp the whites but force the United Nations to feed and run South Africa, as has been the case with numerous other African nations. They are determined to resist a hysterical yielding to the pressure and panic of world opinion calling for a hurried turnover of responsibility to those unprepared for self-determination. The prevalent conception of democracy—in which the vote of the ignorant weighs as much as the vote of the enlightened—is not highly prized by Afrikaners.

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Yet in the rather feeble opposition party, in church circles, and in the English-language newspapers one discerns increasing uneasiness over the government’s rigid apartheid policy. The Pretoria government has discouraged visiting journalists by withholding visas, contending that the South African situation has been too much misrepresented. The editor of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, unable to secure a visa from the South African consulates in New York and Lisbon, received a visa from Nigerian immigration officials (South Africa maintains no embassies in other African countries).

In recent months the Broederbond, a secret organization that supports apartheid and that reportedly has numbers of clergymen in its ranks, has become a subject of high controversy. Albert S. Geyser, professor of divinity at the Witwatersrand University, charges that the Bond seeks to use the church for political purposes. Bond leaders have criticized the “new deal” Dutch Reformed churchmen connected with the Christian Institute, while “old line” churchmen contend that ministers who differ from official decisions should be regarded as disloyal to the church.

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Despite such ferment, the short-term visitor senses little open race hostility in South Africa. Non-whites seem to accept the situation without apparent resentment of the established patterns, although some Negro spokesmen are beginning to join the issue, and there is an undercurrent of impatience among non-Europeans in urban areas. In Transkei the non-Europeans have voted two to one to support the multi-racial ideals of Paramount Chief Victor Poto against Chief Kaizer Matanzima, advocate of apartheid and tribal nationalism; but the office of chief minister is non-elective, and the government may resist naming a critic of its policies. Poto has announced his determination to create in Transkei a model multi-racial society for all South Africa. In the key cities not a few white leaders speak apologetically of prevailing patterns.

The race problem is not the only special issue before the South African churches, even if other concerns are more neglected. The divorce rate among Johannesburg whites is 1 in 2.8 marriages. The Dutch Reformed Church is meanwhile raising a public standard against Sunday swimming, dancing, and flying. The colored (mulatto) churches have only recently voted to withhold ordination from a divorced man. The colored group is spiritually more responsive to “the white man’s God” than the Bantus, although they are emotionally unstable and given to liquor; they are also proportionately better educated than the Bantus. On the other hand, they have neither European nor Bantu culture ties. The Bantus are still widely gripped by witchcraft and ancestor worship. Curiously, transplanted missionaries, coming to South Africa after doors have closed on their ministry elsewhere in Africa, have usually engaged in a ministry to Europeans rather than to the blacks.

The Rand Daily Mail of Johannesburg recently carried a series of articles by Christian leaders on the Church’s role in respect of the South African race problem. The consensus was that churches are failing to provide moral leadership; that they are more the product than the molder of their environment; and that, moreover, they are divided in their attitudes toward apartheid. The laity as well as the clergy were blamed for this situation. Courageous church leaders are left unsupported in their views; the significance of Christian commitment is widely confined to private life; and some churchmen seek biblical justification for the status quo. Subtle political pressures operate meanwhile to silence all criticism.

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Yet there is a growing sense of wrongness in the present situation, and some evidence of indignation over its perpetuation. The conviction widens that any solution lies not primarily in the espousal of particular political solutions but rather in the practice of the Christian ethic. Some churches are taking a new look at the implications of racial equality for their virtual exclusion of non-whites from congregations. The Methodist Church has chosen an African as its new president. Dutch Reformed churches, which have traditionally left the regulation of South African social relations wholly to government, are showing a new searching of conscience in the matter, aware that in favoring apartheid they differ not only from other churches of South Africa but also from the Reformed churches of the world. Roman Catholics concede that even where whites, coloreds, and Indians kneel in the same church, their association does not survive the benediction. There is noticeably less tendency to concentrate on difficulties than to apologize for failure.

There are basic differences over the role and strategy of the Church. Some would enlist the Church in a political crusade, promote a clamor for constitutional change, and fan the fires of black resentment with all the risks of violence. Others contend that the Church should not directly concern itself with social change, but instead promote within the body of Christ a unity of persons that transcends social distinctions and works to undo them. They emphasize the danger of regarding the political sphere as the Church’s main responsibility, since the Church has no final insights into the particulars of legislative reform. Yet Christian citizens are being urged to become vocal and politically active. One point of growing sensitivity centers in the present government policy of frowning on different races’ eating together, even in church.

Father Tom Comber, rector of St. Andrew’s, Kensington, Johannesburg, argues that “the Church will become indigenous only in the proportion that it becomes a genuinely multi-racial fellowship.” And an African minister, the Rev. Christian Molefe, rector of St. Andrew’s Anglican Mission, has warned that the Church will lose the African if the apartheid issue is not faced squarely. The future of Christianity in South Africa, he contends, “is very doubtful.… The upcoming generation … will take action—either by leaving the Church or by going somewhere where they feel they can be treated as equals.”

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South Africa is showing signs of an awakening conscience over its race problem. Outside condemnation is a luxury that those who live in lands with racial problems of their own can scarce afford. South Africa needs understanding of its special dilemma, and the prayers of Christians everywhere. In its determination to avoid the unhappy developments of neighboring African countries, may it also avoid sundering both the whole body of humanity and the body of Christ.

Religion And Revolution

When 3,000 students gather during their Christmas holidays under church auspices, what do they discuss?

“Revolution” was the subject this time. Collegians and seminarians from throughout the United States and from seventy-seven other nations met at Ohio University to hear speaker after speaker call them to devote their lives to the revolution now sweeping the world.

They met as the nineteenth Quadrennial Ecumenical Student Conference on the Christian World Mission. Sponsor was the National Student Christian Federation, an agency of the National Council of Churches and successor to the old Student Volunteer Movement and other interdenominational college groups. SVM, under the early leadership of D. L. Moody and John R. Mott, had as its motto, “The Evangelism of the World in This Generation.”

Theme for the nineteenth quadrennial was, “For the Life of the World.”

Christians, it was said, must be prepared to give their lives to improve the lot of humanity—politically, socially, and economically—because Christ is at work in the struggle for such changes. Delivering the first address of the conference, the Rev. Eliezer D. Mapanao of the Philippines said; “The world asks from us, not tax-deducted donations, but the depth of compassion that makes us stand alongside men in their struggle for justice, equality, freedom, and the fullness of human life as God purposed it to be.”

Mr. Mapanao, now directing Princeton Seminary’s International Study Fellowship on the University Mission, suggested that the traditional missionary concept of a Christian ministry to the heathen, or “outsiders,” is no longer valid. Instead, he said, Christians have “no choice left today” but to catch up with the revolution and take their places in the world.

The question facing the students is not whether to involve themselves in the revolution, but how to do so, they were told by the Rev. Vincent Harding of the Mennonite Ministry of Reconciliation in Atlanta, Georgia. He and other speakers at special “civil rights meetings” stressed that “God is working” in the revolution.

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Students were promised that even more revolutionary activity awaits them when the racial struggle is concluded. Dr. Robert W. Spike, executive director of the National Council of Churches’ Commission on Religion and Race, declared that a “major social revolution” started with 1963’s explosive events, and that the race issue is “only the beginning.”

“Revolution is the act in which the Church follows in God’s steps,” said the Rev. Rubem Alves of Campinas, Brazil. Alves, a student at New York’s Union Seminary, told his audience that Brazilian Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Communists have found a common goal in working for “the humanization of man.” Mr. Alves described Marxists as “catalysts” in the revolution and counseled the students against considering them as a “group with which we are in competition, using all our intellectual and spiritual power to defeat them.”

Giving a basis for this involvement in “the life of the world” were two daily lecturers. The Very Rev. Alexander Schmemann, dean and chaplain at St. Vladimir’s (Russian) Orthodox Seminary, New York, spoke on the conference theme. Leading a narrative study on the life of Christ was the Rev. Philip Zabriskie, director of college and university work for the Protestant Episcopal Church.

Mr. Zabriskie said the lesson of Peter’s vision and subsequent ministry to Cornelius in Acts 10 is that a Christian’s first missionary calling is to be ready to receive and to “be open.”

Professor Schmemann also stressed the necessity of “opening up” to the forces at work in the world. Such an attitude is seen in a study of history’s Christian “victories,” he noted. Both lecturers underscored the idea in the Mapanao address that relieving human hunger is a “sacrament.”

Student attention was directed at the word “sacrament” throughout the conference. The emphasis reached its peak at the communion service, which the noted Christian historian Kenneth Scott Latourette described as unique in the history of the ecumenical movement. With some adaptation, the service was conducted according to the tradition of the second-century bishop Hippolytus. Episcopal Bishop Daniel Corrigan presided and administered the elements, assisted by “presbyters” and “deacons” of fifteen or more denominations, many of whom had not been episcopally ordained.

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About twenty-five Roman Catholics attended the conference. Some came as official observers, but about ten registered as regular delegates.


The Fundamental Baptists

Early this year Zondervan Publishing House will issue a book with the unsensational title of Biblical Faith of Baptists. It may not go down as the publishing event of 1964, but it will record one of the more significant Baptist gatherings of recent years: the Fundamental Baptist Congress, held last fall in Detroit, where some 10,000 United States and Canadian Baptists took a unanimous stand for an infallible Bible, separatism, and anti-ecumenism.

A compilation of the addresses given at the congress, Biblical Faith of Baptists will be a “veritable handbook … declaring clearly what we believe,” according to the Canadian Baptist News.

As Baptists who hold their independence dear, delegates were careful to point out that the unity affirmed in Detroit was doctrinal, not organizational. They came representing themselves, not their associations.

Nor can the congress itself be called a permanent institution at this time; another one has been called for 1966, but plans go no further than that now. There is little machinery for operating between sessions beyond a planning committee that will meet later this year, and there is no one spokesman.

But there are some ambitious plans, and they reach out beyond North America. One project in the works is the “International Baptist Fellowship,” which is to be, on a worldwide basis, what the Detroit congress was last fall for North America. So far, nothing much exists beyond the name; but the Baptists behind the project held one international meeting in London in 1962, and they are proposing another by 1967.

A forthright, militant note, which may provide an indication of the emphasis of future gatherings, was sounded at Detroit.

“Every one of the 33,173 verses in the Bible is a message from God Almighty,” declared Dr. Wendall Zimmerman, keynote speaker. He said the Bible was “the Word of God or the biggest bunch of fraudulent sayings ever palmed off on an unsuspecting public.” One listener said after the address. “That does to me what ‘sic ‘em’ does to a dog.”

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“The speakers in this congress,” said Dr. Robert Ketchum, “are Baptist leaders who had to separate from their original Baptist conventions. The need for such a separation lies in two basic facts. First, the appearance of apostasy in these conventions; second, the plain command of the Scriptures to separate.”

Its adamantly separatist stand may prevent the Fundamental Baptist Congress from ever embracing a significantly larger segment of the denomination (there are over 20 million Baptists in the United States alone), but its promoters believe that their separatism is positive rather than negative.

“That which separates us from others separates us unto Christ and unto each other,” said Dr. James Bedford.

“Positive, aggressive, Bible-teaching,” was the way Dr. Jackson described their ministry. “We wanted to make it manifest that there are thousands of loyal Baptist churches who believe the Word of God and are loyal to the historic position.”

It turned out that there were more than anyone had realized. Besides the official invitations to the speakers, letters were sent to 1,800 Baptists and Baptist groups that are “fundamental and separate from the apostasy,” but others heard of the meeting and came. Among the delegates were members of the Baptist Bible Fellowship, the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, the Conservative Baptist Association, the Southern Baptist Premillennial Fellowship, the World Baptist Fellowship, the Regular Baptist Churches of Canada, the Association of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Canada, some smaller groups, and many unaffiliated churches.The project got its first real push forward in 1962 when Dr. H. C. Slade of Toronto, who had been asked to take the initiative in planning, and several other men met in Ketchum’s Chicago offices. The committee selected Detroit, “the strongest citadel of Fundamental Baptists to be found on earth,” as the site of the congress. Subsequently, a planning committee was chosen, and, shortly before the congress, 100 pastors were called together for a breakfast meeting. They acted as hosts during the congress.

Despite the disclaimers, could the Fundamental Baptist Congress eventually turn into, say, the Fundamental Baptists? Could doctrinal agreement lead to organizational consolidation?

“It is not our intention,” said Dr. Jackson. “Anything is possible,” he admitted, but such a unification is “not our under-the-table purpose in any sense. What the future may hold, we do not know.”


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