Eleven hundred Asians from twenty-four countries gathered in steamy Singapore November 5–13 under the banner “Christ Seeks Asia.” Their congress, sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, was an outgrowth of the 1966 World Congress on Evangelism in Berlin.

The Asian Congress met to implement Berlin proposals, define biblical evangelism, stress the urgency of proclamation to Asia’s two billion people, assess the obstacles to evangelism in Asia, develop effective techniques, evaluate evangelism programs in the light of changing conditions, and challenge churches and Christian organizations to a bold and cooperative program.

Unlike the World Council of Churches conclave at Uppsala last August, which devoted itself mainly to social, political, and economic issues, the Asia-South Pacific Congress concentrated on winning men to personal faith in Christ. While some attention was paid to the theology of evangelism, the delegates spent most of their time devising strategy.

From the outset, the Asians said plainly that they wanted to stand on their own feet and be independent of the West. While grateful to Graham for making the congress possible, they wanted it known that it was an Asian congress run by Asians. Some delegates said there was too much western involvement. But the Asians had problems of their own: Chinese from Singapore complained they had inadequate representation.

Asians have grave doubts about the theological stability of the West. Dr. Jong Sung Rhee of Korea charged that. Western Christianity has been infiltrated by humanism, liberalism, syncretism, and universalism. Spontaneous and prolonged applause greeted his statement:

“If our guilt-conscious western friends cannot stand firm against the danger of religious syncretism which is infiltrating Christian minds so rapidly in recent years, we Christians from non-Christian countries, that is, non-white Christians, should take over the battle.”

The congress did not break new ground theologically, perhaps because Asia has not yet developed a scholarship comparable to that of the West, which has had centuries of opportunity. The theology that did emerge, however, was evangelical, for delegates whose churches are both in and out of the WCC.

Most position papers stressed the need for good works by Christians as a witness to the Gospel and as an expression of human concern. There were differences in the congress papers on the role of the institutional church in sociopolitical matters. Donald Hoke of the Japan Christian College, Tokyo, said that “it is the individual, and not the Church corporately, who is to go out into society and work to achieve [social reform].” Benjamin Fernando, a Ceylon layman, called for the Church to speak out corporately and said, “Even democracy … must be constantly under the judgment of the Church.”

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Professor Alan Cole of Singapore told the delegates that opposition to the Gospel in Asia is little different from that faced by the early Church. M. A. Qayyam Daskawie from Pakistan, in a paper on witnessing in a resistant culture, boldly declared that one “big hindrance is the constant demythologizing that some Western scholars practice with reference to the Christian faith. This has been accompanied by the decay in morals that has come in the wake of a permissive, affluent society. To the people of our part of the world, western nudity and drinking are far worse than what goes on nearer home. The freedom of action, thought and speech which are the hallmark of western culture are completely misunderstood and misrepresented.”

Chua Wee Hian of Hong Kong and David Claydon of Australia told of the need for reaching Asia’s youth, who increasingly make up the bulk of the population. The youth, they said, are confused by the adult world. Better educated and more affluent than their fathers, youth are lonely and isolated in high-density living areas. What they want most is to be delivered from the feudalism of their fathers and to secure a voice in molding their future.

Again and again the idea surfaced that God has given the West its opportunity; now he is giving Asia its chance. And Asians do not want the new wine in old wineskins.

Some of the congress highlights came, not from papers, but from testimonies of participants. Datin Aw Kow, a Chinese housewife whose husband started the Singapore newspaper Evening Sun, told how she was made chairman of the paper with complete charge over its operations. God supplied newsprint for her in an almost miraculous manner and provided personnel in answer to her believing prayers. Daniel Liu, Honolulu police chief since 1948, testified to the grace and goodness of God. Even more thrilling were stories of what God has done in New Guinea among headhunters in primitive cultures.

Dr. Helen Kim, formerly South Korean delegate to the United Nations and now a roving ambassador, urged Asian churches to bring Christ to all men. She pointedly said that “some scholars in theology and some church leaders in Asia say that the Holy Spirit is already working in these non-Christians through their faiths so they need not be considered as people to whom we need to preach. I cannot follow that way of thinking.” Having frankly rejected the viewpoint espoused by some in the conciliar movement, she went on to speak of the uniqueness and finality of Jesus Christ, whom men must receive personally.

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At the conclusion of the congress, delegates read in unison a declaration in which they acknowledged past failures to evangelize as they should and affirmed their intention of fulfilling their mandate in the days ahead.

The congress seemed to mark the beginning of a new era in Asia as delegates talked together, prayed together, and set up a continuing body to carry on when the congress adjourned. Area groups will hold theological consultations, and evangelistic teams will be exchanged among nations.

Two significant events followed the closing session. In one, the Japanese delegation went to the Singapore war memorial and publicly asked forgiveness for what their nation had done in World War II. The same evening more than four thousand people attended a meeting at the national theater. Akira Hatori, Japan’s foremost radio evangelist, related his conversion experience and called for the commitment of Christians to the task of evangelism. A great hush fell over the audience as he concluded his message.

It was hard to avoid noting differences between Uppsala and Singapore. In Singapore there were no policemen guarding the assembly; no acrid, tobacco-charged atmosphere; no protest marches and student revolts; no anti-U.S. resolutions on Viet Nam. There was a keen awareness of the Communist threat in Asia and an appreciation of what the United States had done to contain that threat.

The announcement of Richard Nixon’s election to the presidency brought a round of applause. The absent Billy Graham would have enjoyed listening to the Asians sing “Happy birthday, dear Billy,” on the occasion of his fiftieth, which came during the congress.

The congress was saddened by the news that Congress Coordinator W. Stanley Mooneyham, a BGEA staff member, suffered a recurrence of a heart condition and was hospitalized before the congress ended. Cliff Barrows led the singing for the congress. Graham’s associate evangelist Grady Wilson will return to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur for mass evangelistic campaigns early next year.


Starvation this month in Biafra will be “the greatest catastrophe of the century,” predicted Father Dermot Doran, Irish missionary who has helped lead relief airlifts. United Church of Christ staffer B. Kenneth Anthony estimates December daily deaths at 20,000. Meanwhile, church spokesmen denied a rift with the separate Red Cross operation over its previous statements that Biafran needs are being met.

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In the first six months under a liberalized law, more than 14,000 women in Britain were given legal abortions. Canadian Catholic Bishop Alexander Carter said members of Parliament who ask their bishops how to vote on relaxation of abortion laws are told to vote their conscience.

Marking its fiftieth anniversary last month, the Belgian Gospel Mission is dropping church administration functions and acting as evangelistic arm of the Association of Free Churches, organized in Belgium in 1962.

A group of anti-missionary Jewish students quietly demonstrated against a meeting of Pentecostalists in Jerusalem.

LOGOI Inc. and the David C. Cook Foundation teamed up to distribute 500,000 religious booklets in Spanish during the Mexico City Olympics. Some 300 volunteers aided in distribution.

The District of Columbia is considering raising $18 million in needed revenue by taxing church and other tax-exempt property. Congress killed a similar plan two decades ago.

The Gallup Poll reports that in the United States 72 per cent of those surveyed oppose inter-racial marriage, but only about one-fifth are against marriages between Catholics and Protestants, or between Jews and non-Jews.

Religious Instruction Association found only twenty-six communities where public high schools offer objective courses on the Bible, despite U. S. Supreme Court approval of such instruction.

Some forty students at Wheaton (Illinois) College are spending two hours a week in a volunteer course on Afro-American history. Text is Lerone Bennett’s Before the Mayflower.

Church Panorama

Membership of the newly merged United Methodist Church is 10,990,720. The former Methodist membership decreased 36,256 in the last year; the Evangelical United Brethren lost 8,337.

The Judicial Council, highest court in the United Methodist Church, refused to take jurisdiction in a petition claiming that endorsement of civil disobedience “in extreme cases” is against the church articles. In another issue from this year’s national meeting, the Methodist Publishing House balked at having itself investigated and is not participating in Project Equality despite denominational endorsement of the fair-employment pact.

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After a three-hour discussion of church unrest, the Southern Presbyterian home-mission board passed a vote of confidence in its staff. Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Presbytery gave a congregation a “certificate of dismissal” so it could join the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod.

The United Presbyterians’ church-and-society council wired President Johnson and President-elect Nixon urging immediate Senate ratification of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

The board of Hartwick College, Oneonta, New York, voted to dissolve its 170-year ties with the Lutheran Church in America. And the Texas Baptist convention voted to end control over Baylor University’s medical school so it can get federal and state aid.

The Vatican City weekly told Italian Catholic citizens and legislators it is their duty to fight divorce laws.

Some forty Basque priests occupied Derio seminary near Bilbao, Spain, to protest against Bishop Pablo Beope, charged with favoring Franco over the Basques. The protest continued despite Beope’s death.

In Portugal—where Baptists reported a record 265 baptisms last year—Catholic Father Jose Alves was dismissed from his suburban Lisbon parish for criticizing the nation’s church and government.

A Baptist evangelistic crusade in a northern Denmark town of 2,000 drew 1,300 persons on closing night. Significantly, two Lutheran organizations cooperated in the five-day effort.

Rumania’s Pentecostalists now number 80,000 in 900 congregations.

The Greek government set new terms of tenure that will force retirement of three Orthodox metropolitans and twenty bishops.

After a petition from 6,000 laymen upset over dismissal of heresy charges against Principal Lloyd Geering, the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand affirmed the Apostles’ Creed and recent assembly statements on other doctrines.

South Africa’s Baptists issued their own statement on apartheid, criticizing an anti-apartheid decree from the national council of churches for confusing “national survival with personal salvation.” On apartheid itself, the Baptists admitted divided opinion but condemned imposing of personal hardships on the basis of skin color.

The American Bible Society proposed a budget of $8,340,000 for 1969 and discussed plans to get a Bible into every U. S. home to mark the nation’s 200th anniversary in 1976. A recent poll showed that 10 per cent of American homes have no Bible and that the book is used regularly in only 22 per cent.

The Vermont Council of Churches rejected an inter-religious preamble to its constitution and passed 105–50 a statement that member groups must accept Jesus Christ as “divine Lord and savior.” The action, which expels Unitarians, was backed by Lutherans and Baptists. But Episcopal Bishop Harvey Butterfield said he was “ashamed” of the action and would find it hard to justify further council support.

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JOSEPH HAROUTUNIAN, 64, Presbyterian and native of Turkey who taught systematic theology at the University of Chicago; in Chicago, of a heart attack.

DERWARD W. DEERE, 54, Old Testament professor at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary; in San Rafael, California, of a coronary attack.

ALVA J. MCCLAIN, 80, president emeritus of Indiana’s Grace Theological Seminary; in Waterloo, Iowa.


President-elect Richard Nixon’s victory speech said a placard he saw during the campaign would be the theme of his administration: “Bring Us Together.” The sign was carried by Vicki Lynne, 13. daughter of United Methodist minister David Cole of Deshler, Ohio, but it wasn’t her own message. She found the sign on the ground and held it aloft without reading it.

J. Robert Nelson of Boston University will be the first Protestant visiting professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, founded to combat the Reformation.

McCormick Seminary student Roy Ries, Jr., is suing the city of Chicago for $1,250,000 for being clubbed by police during the Democratic Convention. He was hospitalized twelve days.

Presbyterian pastor Ben Haden of Chattanooga, Tennessee, has quit NBC-radio’s “Bible Study Hour” and started his own program, which he hopes will go nation-wide. NBC has been running replays of his old tapes since October.

California Governor Reagan refused to extradite Edgar Eugene Bradley for the New Orleans probe of an alleged conspiracy to murder President Kennedy. Bradley is West Coast representative for fundamentalist broadcaster Carl McIntire.

A federal jury convicted Vincent McGee, Jr., sophomore president at Union Seminary in New York, who refused induction into the armed forces after being reclassified. The prosecution argued that McGee, a Roman Catholic, was not a legitimate candidate for the priesthood because his church did not sponsor his studies.

The “Catonsville Nine,” Roman Catholic pacifists who destroyed draft records, were sentenced to prison terms varying from two to three and one-half years.

Metropolitan Meliton, dean of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox patriarchate, predicted the marriage of Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy to divorce Aristotle Onassis “will be respected on the Roman Catholic side.” Meliton, a key ecumenical negotiator with Rome, said the Orthodox validity of the marriage must be considered.

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The Vatican removed excommunication and celibacy vows from John Leahy, former superintendent of Atlanta Catholic schools, who married a widow.

Philippine faith-healer Antonio Agpaoa, 29, has been charged by the U. S. marshal in Detroit of $72,000 fraud for promising cures that did not work in a mass airlift to Asia last year (see December 8, 1967, issue, page 51).

The U. S. Supreme Court refused to review the littering conviction of Baptist pastor Vernon Lyons for passing out Scripture portions in a Chicago park. Justice William O. Douglas favored a review but gave no reasons for his position.

Presbyterian clergyman Donald Kauffman, managing editor of Fleming Revell publishers, will take the same job at Christian Herald.

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