On a green hill overlooking the Dnieper River lie the remains of the most celebrated of all Ukrainians, the nineteenth-century poet and reformer Taras Shevchenko. Originally the gravesite was adorned with an ornate iron cross, but Soviet authorities replaced it with a monolithic pillar that supports a statue of Shevchenko. The switch aptly illustrates the tug-of-war now being waged between Communists and the free world for the memory of Shevchenko. In a major bid to preserve what they regard as an accurate image of his religious and social philosophy, thousands of Ukrainians from throughout the Western world streamed into Washington, D. C., for the dedication June 27 of a Shevchenko monument on a park site authorized by Congress.
At stake this year, which marks the 150th anniversary of his birth, are the Ukrainian nationalistic spirit and Christian orientation of Shevchenko’s poetry, generally considered among the greatest in Slavic culture. The Ukraine, although as large as France in both land and population, is seldom thought of as having any importance as an independent nation. Not even the fact that it is a charter member of the United Nations seems to mean much for its national identity. So dominant is the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that the Ukraine’s voice is as weak as it was in the thirteenth century, when an invasion by Genghis Khan ended its first four centuries of independent existence.
Today’s 45,000,000 Ukrainians regard Shevchenko as having dealt a crushing blow to Tsarist tyranny and the serfdom of his time. Communists go a long step further and assert that he was a Bolshevik who died before his time. Christians maintain, on the other hand, that he was a devout patriot. Indeed, Ukrainian Protestants credit him with inspiring the first translation of the Bible into the Ukrainian vernacular.
Shevchenko, though a nominal church member, sharply attacked the religious establishment of his day. He regarded Russian Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism as corrupt and hypocritical. He denounced ritualism and reflected in his writings indignation over such things as widespread drunkenness and gluttony during holidays.
Ukrainian Protestants interpret Shevchenko as rejecting accretions and excesses that he considered unbiblical. He had ready praise for creative Christian action, as seen in a poem he wrote about John Hus described by one critic as depicting “a social and religious reformer glorifying the final victory of the spirit over the material existence.” Shevchenko never set forth his own religious convictions systematically, and what reflections he did record were not designed to withstand close theological scrutiny. Nevertheless, his cry for church reform was not unlike that which had broken over Europe three centuries before but had failed to penetrate much beyond the Carpathian Mountains. Shevchenko was in a sense a latter-day amplifier of that cry.
The Rev. Wladimir Borowsky, executive secretary of the Ukrainian Evangelical Alliance of North America, says that Shevchenko’s objectives of church reform represent Protestant principles.
“This approach to religion and to Christianity, a social action concept, differs from the concepts generally accepted by the Ukrainian traditionalists who limit God’s kingdom to heaven,” Borowsky declares. “His concepts are in accord with modern Protestant thought which stresses the spirit of the Gospel, its realistic and practical aplications to daily life, its emphasis on the ecumenical uniting concepts that foster brotherly love.”
Shevchenko was born in 1814 as a serf on an estate near the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. His artistic ability won him formal training, but the feudal master demanded payment of 2,500 rubles in return for freedom (Shevchenko’s parents died before he became a teen-ager). The money was raised through sale of a portrait by a professor in St. Petersburg’s Academy of Arts who recognized the Shevchenko genius. Once he was out of bondage, the young Ukrainian’s key interest shifted from painting to poetry. His first collection of poems was published in 1840 in a book Kobzar (Folk Bard), which in its complete form has had total sales of more than eight million copies. His greatest poem, Haydamaki, an account of the Ukrainian nationalistic struggle, was completed in 1841.
A secret organization, the Society of Saints Cyril and Methodius, which sought political and ideological liberation for the Ukraine, captured Shevchenko’s imagination. When authorities clamped down, Shevchenko was arrested and banished to an army post as a private “under the strictest supervision with the prohibition of writing and drawing.” He was pardoned in 1857 but kept under police watch. He resumed writing and secured permission to publish only a few months before his death in 1861 his Primer. Dr. Clarence Manning, a Columbia University scholar and an expert in Slavic literature, says that it “was definitely written for the Sunday Schools which were springing up in Ukraine under the new order.”
Shevchenko was only forty-seven when he died. He had enjoyed only nine years of freedom in his entire lifetime.
Communists began a drive to exploit the memory of Shevchenko in North America shortly after World War II. The “people of the Ukraine” presented to Canada a monument of Shevchenko and promptly turned it into a base for the dissemination of Communist propaganda. Ukrainians in Canada came to Shevchenko’s defense and erected a statue of their own in Winnipeg; it was dedicated in 1961 by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.
The idea of a memorial in Washington has had the support of virtually all Ukrainian groups—Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox. It was inspired by the fact that Shevchenko had considered George Washington a type of hero needed in the Ukraine. One of his poems asks:
“When shall we get ourselves a Washington to promulgate his new and righteous law?”
Located across the street from the famous Church of the Pilgrims (Southern Presbyterian), the U. S. memorial to Shevchenko features a fourteen-foot bronze statue of the bard by the Ukrainian-Canadian sculptor Leo Mol. It is dedicated to “the liberation, freedom, and independence of all captive nations.”
One of Shevchenko’s most interesting associations was with the American Negro actor Ira Aldridge, who was then considered one of the outstanding interpreters of Shakespeare but who was not accepted by the American theater. The two became close friends.
Another intimate acquaintance of Shevchenko’s was Panko Kulish, a literary celebrity, and this friendship is regarded as having been the keystone in planning the translation of the Bible into the Ukrainian vernacular. After Shevchenko’s death Kulish spearheaded the translation work, and the first New Testament was published in 1880. The entire Bible came out in 1903.
Our soul shall never perish,
Freedom knows no dying,
And the greedy cannot harvest,
Fields where seas are lying;
Cannot bind the living spirit;
Nor the living word,
Cannot smirch the sacred glory
Of th’Almighty Lord.
—From “The Caucasus”
… Beneath your breath a prayer of pride
Asks God to send the worst adversity
And every kind of plague in high degree
Upon your fellow Christians …
May God appoint your condign overthrows,
All ye new pharaohs with your hearts of clay,
Rapacious Caesars of this latter day!
—From “The Neophytes”
My poor, lowly tribute
… To that Czech renowned,
To the martyr great and holy,
Hus the well revered.
Take it father, I will humbly
Pray to God Almighty
That the Slavs may be hereafter
Worthy friends and brothers,
Sons of that same light of Truth,
Like that noble heretic,
Who at Constance suffered!
May they give true peace to mortals,
Glory too forever.
—From “John Hus”
Terrible to fall into chains,
Die in captivity,
But worse, far worse, to sleep, to sleep,
To sleep in liberty …
—From “Days Are Passing”
Shevchenko had been an avid reader of the Bible in Russian and drew on its themes for his poetry. His full stature as a religious reformer may not be recognized, however, until his works win wider distribution in translations that do them justice. William Bahrey, associate editor of the Ukrainian Christian Herald, says that to appreciate Shevchenko “the English-speaking people must await the translating genius of an Edward Fitzgerald (whose translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is considered classic).”
Perhaps the most descriptive affirmation of Shevchenko’s personal faith is found in a letter he wrote to a countess in 1857:
“Now and only now, have I come to understand the truth of the words, ‘As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten …’ (Rev. 3:19). Now, I only pray and thank Him for His eternal love for me and for the trial He sent me. He cleansed and healed my poor and suffering heart. He removed from before my eyes the distorting lens I once used in appraising others and myself. He taught me to love my enemies and those who hate us. No school—other than the school of trial by suffering and extensive meditation—can teach this to you. I now feel myself to be, if not perfect, then at least a blameless Christian. Like the purified gold just out of the hearth, like the infant just out of its bath, so do I leave the misty purgatory to see the new and lofty ways of life. This I call my genuine good fortune.… With the certainty of a Christian reborn I have described to you my sorrowful, seemingly dreamlike past.”
The 78-year-old Athenagoras I, “first among equals” of Eastern Orthodox patriarchs, collapsed while officiating at a lengthy ceremony in Istanbul this month. He was later described as being in “satisfactory” condition, and physicians prescribed a regimen of “complete rest” for at least a month. Reports conflicted on the cause of his collapse, although exhaustion was stressed in all.
The Ecumenical Patriarch was officiating at a ceremony involving the blessing of a sisterhood group engaged in carrying out welfare and philanthropic work. He had been standing for three hours and was about to distribute the “holy bread” (communion). As he fell, he was caught by priests attending him. His scepter crashed to the floor. He was taken immediately to his residence at the patriarchate and placed under “strict” medical attention.
The patriarchate had been reported under considerable pressure in Istanbul since the outbreak of fighting between Turkish and Greek Cypriotes. Although the government has said that the patriarchate, staffed by many Greek Orthodox prelates, would not be affected by the controversy, some severe restrictions were reported.
The Theology Of Healing
What is the purpose of Christian medical ministries?
This was perhaps the key question that held the attention of a special consultation in Tubingen, Germany, last month. The majority of participants were doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel attached to ecclesiastical institutions around the world. After six days of discussion they issued a statement calling upon the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation, the two organizations that sponsored the consultation, to take a “new look” at the meaning of healing and particularly at the role of church-sponsored medical institutions.
The statement stressed the need to reexamine the concepts within the Church that view Christian medical work either as primarily for meeting physical needs or as a tool for evangelism.
It recommended that pilot projects be set up within selected hospitals in which teams comprising a physician, a nurse, and a pastoral counselor would seek “to treat the patient in the totality of his sickness.”
It was asserted that “the Christian Church has a specific task in the field of healing” and that it has “insights concerning the nature of health which are available only within the context of the Christian faith.”
The statement affirmed that “all healing is of God.”
Mission In The Mountains
As L’Abri Fellowship begins its tenth year in the Swiss mountains near Aigle, its trickle of inquirers has become a small, steady stream of atheists, existentialists, college and university students, and even young ministers probing Christian answers. They find “The Shelter” an open house for candid discussions, directed reading courses, access to 600 hours of taped lectures, and weekly Saturday-night colloquiums by the founder of the spiritual compound, Francis Schaeffer. A missionary who teaches weekly classes in a coffee shop near Lausanne University and has traveled as far as Cambridge University to engage atheists in group discussion, Schaeffer has one main theme: non-Christians live on incredulity, while Christianity has satisfying intellectual answers.
Schaeffer brushes aside any comparison of his rather inaccessible retreat to a monastic community withdrawn from life and society. “We don’t operate in a cave with a twelve-foot wall,” he says, “and we are in more contact with contemporary life than many of the churches.”
L’Abri’s converts have included many “offbeat” prospects—an English ballet dancer, an American operatic star, an atheistic law student, a Smith College art student studying in Europe, a Swiss “national poster girl,” a former divinity student under Barth and Brunner who turned atheist, and three teachers from a New England girls’ college.
The supply of potentials is hardly exhausted. In recent weeks the floating “student body”—participants need Schaeffer’s written permission to come—has included an existentialist couple and their baby born out of wedlock; a law student steeped in Hindu thought; a graduate of a liberal New York seminary and a graduate of a conservative Midwest college, both convinced that there must be “something more” to historic Christianity. L’Abri has a small working library, including a branch of the Evangelical Library in London, and its inquirers come for a period of a month to a year. Schaeffer and his fellow workers maintain a semi-family relation to guests and aim “to demonstrate the existence of God by living in the midst of answered prayer.” L’Abri’s academic thrust, meanwhile, seeks to relate a strict biblical view to the contemporary philosophical and cultural dilemma.
The existential-dialectical theology Schaeffer sees as one movement in the broad line of modern thought in the period after Hegel. He deplores a tendency even among the “general evangelicals” to deny the real possibility of intellectual answers by stressing a “leap” rather than a “step” of faith. Schaeffer insists that one need not sacrifice any aspect of philosophical truth to become a Christian. He deplores as misguided any regard for the dialectical theology as a “third force” and insists that it is simply a further development of liberalism.
The basic question of the times, as Schaeffer sees it, is “whether absolutes exist, in philosophy as truth and in morals as right.” The Christian solution, he stresses, lies not in the problem of revelation (where contemporary theology locates it) but behind this, in an emphasis on the image of God in man, in view of which man can know things truly and know the right.
L’Abri Fellowship is more a spiritual clinic on an academic basis than a campus. No formal classes are held, no credits given, no diplomas offered. Schaeffer’s program of itinerant lectures frees him from the necessity and opportunity of working out his position in comprehensive written form, although his taped lectures on such subjects as Christianity and science, Christianity and art, Christianity and modern philosophy, Christianity and modern theology are available on a lend-lease basis in several countries. The L’Abri learning center is named after the Protestant Reformer Guillaume Farel. There Schaeffer records one or two new lectures a week, and tape recorders are busy much of the week replaying earlier lectures.
Not all inquirers become converts by any means. One day the Lausanne coffeehouse lecture was attended by a “black Jesus” and “twelve black apostles,” as thirteen mockers named themselves. Schaeffer spent the hour in prodding them to justify, if possible, their faith in honesty and love, and countered that only Christianity provides a satisfactory basis. They never returned to mock. In Cambridge evangelical students arranged for a discussion with twenty atheists, one of whom became a believer some months later. While the total number of converts may be statistically small, L’Abri seems to garner more from the forgotten fringes of modern life than most evangelical efforts.
Schaeffer’s judgments on contemporary life and Christianity are harsher than mainstream appraisals. He sees secular life and thought as an exercise in futility and despair. He criticizes Protestantism—in both its ecumenical and its evangelical expressions—as neglectful of the purity of the Church.
Schaeffer was a student of the late Dr. J. Gresham Machen at Westminster Theological Seminary and graduated from Faith Theological Seminary. His first missionary appointment was under the Independent Board of Presbyterian Missions, but he refused continuing identification with Dr. Carl McIntire’s International Council of Christian Churches, which offered him its secretaryship. His wife, the former Edith Seville, was born in China to missionary parents under the China Inland Mission. The Schaeffers live in Chalet Meleze in Huemoz sur Ollon, where their three grown daughters are active in the work of L’Abri Fellowship. An eleven-year-old son attends school in England, where the movement has a branch work.
Schaeffer is pessimistic about the outcome of the Protestant-Roman Catholic dialogue, although he has an indirect debt to Rome in the establishment of L’Abri Fellowship. When he and his wife first came to Switzerland for missionary effort in 1948, they located in Champery in the canton of Valais, which had been untouched by Protestant effort since before the Reformation. Their evangelistic work grew steadily, and after some years of preaching, converts included an atheist, once baptized in the Roman church, who was active in the city council. He was the city’s first Roman Catholic to become a Protestant. When the Schaeffers returned from furlough, gendarmes presented them with two sheets of paper, one giving them six weeks to remove themselves from Champery for two years, the other ordering them to leave Switzerland. Out of the appeals and counter-appeals came a compromise under which the Schaeffers located in Huemoz sur Ollon, which is remote enough that one can walk eight hours on the foot trails and meet nobody. But the trails have become familiar to scores of borderline souls who have managed to locate L’Abri Fellowship, and a remarkable number of them have become Christian converts.
CARL F. H. HENRY
A man once described as one of the few Calvinists not confident that he was among the fortunately predestined died last month at Maidenhead, England. Born Willam Maxwell Aitken in a Presbyterian manse in Ontario eighty-five years ago, he was elected to the British Parliament, became the first Lord Beaverbrook, bought and rejuvenated a struggling national daily, championed Empire Free Trade, fought strenuously against the threat of bishops-in-presbytery for his father’s native Scotland, and fought just as strenuously against Britain’s entry into the Common Market. His Sunday Express noted that he never missed a Gipsy Smith revival meeting if he could help it.
After a visit to Palestine in 1925 his disgust with the commercialism that had sprung up around the Holy Places, coupled with Christianity’s “strange and devastating departure” from the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, provoked him into writing a little book. For personal reasons it was not published until 1962, when it appeared as The Divine Propagandist. In it, he said, “I have searched the Gospels and neglected theology.” One might wonder if he searched the Gospels quite enough, for his conclusion suggests that, thanks to Jesus who showed us perfection, the human race is slowly entering into the Kingdom of God in becoming more humane, more charitable, more enlightened.
Though he referred to his Presbyterianism as too deeply rooted to be other than a dominant influence in him, Lord Beaverbrook gave to his beloved University of New Brunswick a statue of Thomas Aquinas to match one of Calvin. Toward the end of his life he admitted that he no longer prayed or read the Bible. Yet he remained in some sense the son of his Scottish father. Only two weeks before he died, the Scottish edition of the Daily Express (over whose policies he maintained strict control) had been severely attacked in the Kirk’s General Assembly for its criticism of a church report advocating a “brighter” Sunday.
The Rev. John R. Gray, who said that his Church and Nation Committee’s report had been “grossly and persistently misrepresented” by the newspaper, subsequently paid tribute to Lord Beaverbrook as “a great man.” Mr. Gray said he had respected the man because he stood by his convictions even at the expense of his newspaper.
Among Lord Beaverbrook’s charities was the monthly payment of $25 to every retired Presbyterian minister and minister’s widow in the Maritimes.
J. D. DOUGLAS
‘People Who Demonstrate’
On the morning after Nelson Mandela and his seven fellow accused were sentenced to life imprisonment in Pretoria, a cartoon on the front page of a London daily newspaper expressed the reaction of many Britons. It showed a row of Black South Africans arraigned in court, with the simple caption underneath: “Guilty—all 10,000,000.” In the course of his seven-month treason trial, Mandela had outlined his position thus: “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination.” He declared his willingness to die for his ideals.
Mandela, though he pleaded not guilty, admitted that he had been one of the chief leaders of organized sabotage against the South African government. It was necessary, he said, “because the government used violence against the Africans on every possible occasion. And government violence can only do one thing and that is to breed counterviolence.”
When it was known in London that judgment was imminent, there was a vigil at St. Paul’s Cathedral, organized by Christian Action. Afterwards there were demonstrations and processions in major British cities. Students at Oxford University rained blows on the South African ambassador. About fifty Members of Parliament marched from Westminster to South Africa House to protest against the conviction. They put through the letter box a message said to contain more than 100 signatures from Members of all parties. Asked by CHRISTIANITY TODAY to comment on British reaction, a spokesman at South Africa House would merely say: “We do not pay attention to people who demonstrate.”
J. D. DOUGLAS
Rebel With A Heart
A rebel leader in the Congo was responsible for leading fourteen Protestant missionaries to safety after their mission at Lemera in central Kivu province had been surrounded by his Communist-backed followers for more than seven weeks.
Moise Marandura, once a servant at the mission, responded to an appeal for aid from the missionaries—twelve Swedes, an American, and a Briton—by saying: “You were very kind to me in the old days. Now I will see that you are unharmed.”
A rebellion against the central government led by the National Liberation Committee, a group of leftist exiles in Bujumbura, capital of neighboring Burundi, broke out in January. Most committee members were followers of Patrice Lumumba, the Congo’s first premier who was slain in 1961.
The missionary group, which included three children, reached Kilibi on the Burundi border after Marandura and about forty of his men had escorted them on a sixty-mile journey through the rebel-held Ruzizi Valley. From Kilibi they proceeded to Bujumbura.
No Idle Pews
Church attendance in Nigeria is on the upswing, according to the newly-elected president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention.
Dr. Emanuel A. Dahunsi, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lagos, noting that “pews are never empty” in his own church, called attention to the growth of the convention since it was organized in 1914.
The convention now has 922 churches and preaching stations with a total membership of 65,000. Baptists totaled 9,000 last year, and some 98,000 students are in Baptist educational institutions.
A blue-ribbon panel of evangelical educators aims to open broad new areas of coordination among some 105 North American foreign mission boards. Organized as the Committee to Assist Missionary Education Overseas, the group has already surveyed mission executives to determine ways in which it might help. It is a joint venture of the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association and the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association, which together represent a task force of some 13,971 active missionaries.
Missionary News Service reported that a subcommittee of CAMEO will be devoted to coordinating recruitment procedures for short and long-term missionary candidates. Another subcommittee will study educational opportunities for missionaries on furlough and perhaps develop new programs.
Also in view is a plan to provide assistance to missionary boards in working out accreditation policies and procedures.
CAMEO is made up of executives of more than a dozen major evangelical colleges and seminaries in the United States. They hope to encourage American schools to share selected faculty members with overseas institutions and to send administrators as well to aid less sophisticated educational endeavors. New scholarship programs, curricula studies, and textbook coordination are also envisioned.
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