Is Resigned Bishop James A. Pike a heretic? The Episcopal Church is officially studying the problem as a result of last month’s meeting of the House of Bishops (see previous issue, page 53). On the eve of that meeting, Pike stated these views in an interview with Ken Gaydos of KBBI, Los Angeles:

Q: Back in March, United Press International quoted you as saying, “What we need today is fewer beliefs and more believers.” In what are we to believe?

PIKE: First, from the data that suggests a certain measure of order on which science and technology rest—beauty, love, grace, the unexpected breakthroughs in life—I see something here that enables me to affirm that there is a unison in the universe; a consolating, organizing Evolver who is at least personal since we have been evolved, and we have personality, and no stream rises higher than its source. Beyond this, I do not affirm any more by extrapolation all the way out to the skies that he is omni-this, omni-that, and omni-the-other. When we do that, we set up the problem of evil, if he’s omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. I would not deny any of these “omni’s.” It’s just that this is going way, way beyond the data in the modest inference I’d make.

Q. Do you believe in an eternal life?

PIKE: I would say there is not only eternal life, but we are in it now, which will lead me to say, “Let’s get with it, now. Here is where I’m called to decide, serve, love, hopefully be loved, and enjoy one world at a time, to be sure, but as set in the context of eternal life.”

Q: When does this eternal life begin for a person, and for whom?

PIKE: I believe I’m already in a dimension beyond that which you see in the special temporal container I am wearing.

Q: Who else is in eternal life? Would you say everyone?

PIKE: It’s part of the nature of persons, and this gives me a chance at this time to insert this point. Don’t think I’m talking about the supernatural. I don’t really believe in the supernatural. If God is, he is the most natural thing there is. If I go on forever, that’s the way I am as a person, and that’s the way you are; that’s the way we are. It’s not something supernatural. It’s of the nature of the persons.

Q: Of special interest to many of our listeners is the comment you made some time ago when you found it necessary to jettison the Virgin Birth, the Trinity, and the Incarnation. Would you clarify this for us?

PIKE: Yes. The first thing I would like to clarify is that I did not use that particular verb. That was the Look magazine, and it’s the senior editor’s way of interpreting me; but I won’t deny the word, even though it is a little rough. What I really was going to say is that I find the fourth- and fifth-century definitions in terms of philosophical concepts today for the doctrine of the Trinity (three persons in one substance) as using categories that are not very meaningful to us today—as really unnecessary. About all we can affirm of each of the persons can be affirmed of God. God is in Christ reconciling the world to himself; or in him—as St. Paul says in Colossians—does the fullness of God dwell. One doesn’t have to say second person plus the Trinity here. In modern terms substance is rather meaningless. It doesn’t mean much in physics any more, and I don’t know what a spiritual substance would be. If you say three persons, you are almost implying a Committee-God, which I don’t think was ever meant and I certainly don’t think we want to affirm today.

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And, as to the Virgin Birth, my difficulty there is not with the concept of miracles (all kinds of amazing things happen all the time). That’s not my hang-up. But looking at the New Testament data itself, there are more points on the side of normal birth than vice versa.

Q: Now, how would this affect your concept of redemption?

PIKE: I don’t think that would affect it at all—in fact, Jesus as being a man born under the law, as St. Paul puts it, with no mention of the Virgin Birth. Now all those texts that identify him as one of us make more relevant and more applicable now in life all that we see in the images of him; whereas, if he were not a free, deciding person, as in St. Luke 2:52—“He grew in wisdom and stature and he grew in favor with God and man”—then it says very little to me as to how I can grow and encounter, rather than shrivel, and encounter the usual life-choice when encounters come up, and so I think it contributes to the redemptive aspect of this victorious servant image of Jesus.

Q: Some people feel that you have departed rather radically from the traditional affirmations of the Episcopal Church, the Thirty-nine Articles, and even some of the creeds. Now, as you approach this thing, do you consider yourself to have departed from the traditional clichés, or doctrinal positions of the Church?

PIKE: No, I do not feel I have, because I don’t think there’s a finality to any of these statements. The Thirty-nine Articles for a long time we felt were only a historic statement of our allergic reaction when we had papists on the one hand and Puritans on the other. Men have not been regarded as binding. The creedal affirmations were developed by the councils of bishops in the early Church. One of the articles itself says that the councils of the Church—being made up of men and not always guided by the Holy Spirit—have erred, can err, and have erred even in the matters pertaining to God. One of the articles which I believe in—the Holy Scriptures—we take seriously, but we are not fundamentalist about it and do not proof-text out of them. I would feel, myself, that in the task of separating the earthen vessels from the treasures (to use St. Paul’s analogy, which was also found in the Dead Sea Scrolls earlier), we might endanger the treasure by the task of examining critically the vessels and perhaps seeking to replace them or reshape them or relabel them.

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Q: Would man’s destiny be any different in eternity if Christ had not come? Did Christ do anything to change my destiny in eternity?

PIKE: I will answer in existential terms. This has happened. It is happening that these insights I affirm have come to man and have come to me. Whether otherwise I might have reached them or others would have, I don’t know. There are lots of insights and lots of world religions; and, of course, on other planets there apparently is life somewhere. What they’ve reached in what ways, I don’t know. I do know that through this is how I have reached it.

Q: You would take Christ’s resurrection as a literal thing?

PIKE: Not so. I believe he lived on past death as a real being, not just as a memory. I take the earlier way of stating it that St. Paul has in Corinthians: that there is a physical body and there is a spiritual body, and after death there are other means of communication relationship than this physical frame which dies.…

Q: [If the church removes you as a bishop] what will be your reaction?

PIKE: I will feel sorry that the church has done this to itself, but I have a full-time post. I’m with the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. I would be free Sundays to do what I do free for the church, mainly confirm in the various parishes as a worker priest in the purple. I’ll be sorry not to be doing that, but my basic work here at the center—which is looking at all democratic institutions, but specializing on the Church to see what’s happening to it as an institution, and seeking to state truth more clearly—will go on, and I would go on speaking at universities and other places, and probably still in churches. My life would not change very basically, but the Episcopal Church would have changed, because we have had an Anglican heritage of a very peculiar combination which most outsiders don’t understand: the continuity of Catholic form, tradition, and esthetics, along with openness to truth and relevancy with lots of roominess. So we would have become a different kind of church if this judgment went that other way, which I think they would have become, because I wouldn’t be here any more. I’d be very sorry to see it do that.…

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Q: How much support do you have for your own self in this, and from whom?

PIKE: Rather widespread support among the laity and clergy, judging from their response when I do around-the-country speaking and from mail and from the writings of other people.… Some preachers have said in their pulpits that if I go, they have to go, because they cannot believe these things that the church might define itself as believing, in the way that they are stated. Certainly, a statistical study, rather a responsible one, has recently shown that only one-third of Episcopalians believe in the Virgin Birth, only one-fifth of them believe in the Second Coming, and so forth right down the line—not that truth ought to be decided by statistics or that this case will be decided that way.


In Aberfan, Wales, a communal funeral for more than 100 children who died when their school was buried under a sliding mass of black slime was conducted by Anglican Bishop Glyn Simon, Roman Catholic Archbishop John Murphy, and the Rev. Stanley Lloyd, a local Congregationalist.

East Germany’s Gerald Götting, State Council vice-president, promised that Martin Luther will not be depicted as “the chief advocate of socialism” during next year’s 450th anniversary of the Reformation, but will be honored in “historical context, free of any taint of reactionary abuse.”

The French Protestant Federation voted to “encourage” continued merger talks among four Lutheran and Reformed bodies that include three-fourths of France’s 600,000 Protestants.

Seven persons were killed and hundreds injured November 7 in New Delhi, capital of India, as a mob led by near-naked Hindu priests rioted to force a national ban on slaughter of cows, which Hindus consider sacred.

The Asian Evangelists Commission last month completed the largest evangelistic crusade ever in Colombo, capital of Ceylon. Total attendance was 36,200, and more than 1,000 inquirers were counseled.

If state parliaments and twenty-five synods approve, the Church of England in Australia will be renamed the Anglican Church of Australia.

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The General Council of Britain’s Student Christian Movement is seeking talks with “conservative evangelicals.”

A Montreal court invalidated a clause of a will disinheriting a daughter for marrying outside the Jewish faith, as a violation of Quebec’s religious-freedom law.

The U. S. Agency for International Development will give Church World Service, Protestant relief agency, $1 million worth of surplus property.

Next fall, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (United Presbyterian) begins a cooperate graduate religion study program with the University of Pittsburgh.

Educational Communication Association honored the film The Bible; a Southern Baptist TV production, “The Inheritance”; and France’s Paul Eberhard, editor of L’Illustre Protestant, largest Protestant journal in Europe.

Indiana’s Valparaiso University (Missouri Synod Lutheran) will open a nursing school in the fall of 1968.

Seven out of ten students in a cross section poll of the University of Wisconsin said the significance of religion in their lives has stayed constant or increased in college. The Wisconsin Alumnus also reports that one-fifth of the students have no religious preference but that most of these had no church membership when they entered the university.


President Arthur Flemming of the University of Oregon (see March 18 issue, page 36) will be the only official nominee for president of the National Council of Churches at next month’s assembly, Religious News Service reports.

Mrs. Lorraine Mulberger of Milwaukee, citing Romans 14:13, sold for about $36 million her controlling interest in the Miller Brewing Co. founded by her grandfather. A former Roman Catholic, she now attends an independent Bible church.

Richard B. Martin, 53, a Negro, was elected suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island October 31, after an earlier convention ended in a deadlock.

Arthur Dore, press officer of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, was named director of interchurch relations and communications, replacing the Rev. Leonidas C. Contos.

The Presbyterian U. S. Board of World Missions named J. Hervey Ross its first medical secretary.

In McAllen, Texas, Assemblies of God pastor Henry Collins announced he would give 120 trading stamps to everyone who attended an October service. Afterwards he reported, “It did not go over with a howling success.”

Bob Mitchell has taken the new post of field director for the Young Life Campaign.

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Paris W. Reidhead, downtown New York City pastor in the Christian and Missionary Alliance, will become the first international development director for the LeTourneau Foundation.

Spanish Professor Robert deVette was appointed admissions director at Wheaton (Illinois) College.

Methodist Bishop John Wesley Lord of Washington, D. C., has proposed that his church sponsor residences for unwed mothers.

Meliton Hadjis was elected Metropolitan of Chalcedon and thus became first in rank among bishops of the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Holy Synod in Istanbul.

Gunnar Hultgren, primate of the national Lutheran Church of Sweden, will retire next October 1, at age 65.

Carl Gustav Diehl, a Swede, was elected bishop to head South India’s Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church as of January.

Masahisa Suzuki, Tokyo clergyman, was elected moderator of the United Church of Christ in Japan (Kyodan) at its twenty-fifth anniversary assembly.

They Say

“When I commit a sin, there is nothing casual about how I feel. I am not simply violating a self-created ‘code of honor.’ I know now that I am sinning against One who gave his life for me on the cross.…”—Brooks Robinson, of the world champion Baltimore Orioles, in Christian Athlete.


WILLIAM N. FEASTER, 28, United Church of Christ clergyman, and first Protestant chaplain killed during the Viet Nam war; near Saigon, a month after being wounded by “friendly” artillery in a midnight mistake while on patrol with the 196th Light Infantry Brigade. Buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

JAKOV ZHIDKOV, 81, white-bearded chairman of the Soviet Union’s All-Union Council of Evangelical Christians—Baptists, which he led into the World Council of Churches; in Moscow, two weeks after he was replaced as chairman by Ilya Ivanov, pastor of Moscow’s Baptist Church. Touring Baptist leaders from North America and England attended the funeral.

THOMAS J. SAVAGE, 66, foe of South African apartheid; the day after the enthronement of his native-born successor as Anglican bishop of Zululand and Swaziland; in Eshowe, Zululand.

HORACE HULL, 81, Presbyterian layman, owner of one of the largest Ford dealerships in the world, board member of CHRISTIANITY TODAY and other evangelical organizations; in Memphis, of a heart seizure after surgery.

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