More people live in Asia than in all the other continents put together. Besides being the most populous continent, Asia is also the most non-Christian. It is the only one where Christian communities are not a major element in the culture.

This gives added importance to the Asia-South Pacific Congress on Evangelism, scheduled for Singapore November 5–13. Evangelicals from a host of churches and organizations must confront the spiritual needs of this vast area and try to map a coordinated strategy for biblical impact.

But whether one weighs Christian strategy today in world or regional terms, one question is always paramount: What about the 600 million Chinese living on the mainland under Communism? Evangelicals concerned about Asia must realistically grapple with this question. We can hardly speak about reaching Asia without considering China. And how can we plan future strategy, not knowing which way China will go?

Some helpful perspective has come from George N. Patterson, who has spent more than two decades studying China and has won wide audiences for his analyses, including some of the world’s leading English-language newspapers and periodicals. He feels that dynamic, expanding Christianity has a sure future in China, “whether the present extremist Communist regime remains in power or is replaced by a more moderate one.” He regards it as a “reasonable deduction,” moreover, that “within the next ten to twenty years there will be a more tolerant regime in Peking, certainly in matters of internal and external politics and economics, if not in religion.”

Patterson, who first went to China as a Scottish missionary and now lives in Hong Kong, sees little chance for the reinstatement of Chiang Kai-shek “with the concomitant return of Western-style denominationalism.” “All serious Christian thinking about China should accept this as final,” he declares. “Western missionary paternalism is as dead as medieval feudalism.”

If this is so, is there any way for Christians in the West to help Christians in Red China extend the Kingdom of God?

“I think there is,” Patterson answers in the manuscript of another book in a series he has written on Asian questions, particularly as they relate to Christian enterprise. (This latest volume is due for release by Word Books in December.) He foresees establishment of a major Christian communications center in Hong Kong from which radio and television could be beamed directly into Red China. The groundwork for this is already being laid. A publishing house is in operation, and the Hong Kong Baptist College now has a school of journalism. Patterson hopes that the communications center can be linked by satellite with all other parts of the globe.

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In addition, however, he is urging the adoption of completely new approaches that will implant the Gospel in Asia more firmly. “The evidence does not point to the failure of Christianity in and of itself,” he says. “It points to the failure of the vehicle by which it was communicated. If Christianity has been rejected by Asians along with Westernism, the fact only supports Kenneth S. Latourette’s contention that the Church is never successfully planted in a culture previously alien unless there is also a profound and extensive communication between the Christian culture from which the missionaries came and the alien culture to which they go. Such a communication has been largely lacking in many Asian countries.”

But Patterson also notes some significant progress in this direction in several nations. He reports that “an increasing number of Asian Christians are realizing that they are responsible for both the purity of the Church’s faith and the intelligibility with which it communicates that faith. Out of this double concern is being born a true theology, a theology which is not just an empty imitation of Western formulations but an attempt to express the whole counsel of God in terms that their fellow countrymen can make their own.”

“The excitement or spiritual enthusiasm being generated by those Asians who are experiencing the out-working of the Scriptures in their everyday living, from peasants through professors to politicians, has to be felt to be believed. All around them the great Asian religions are becoming increasingly anachronistic in the twentieth century. And where these religions are attempting adjustment, it is in secular terms in a dubious participation in national politics.”

As the first stage in any new strategy of missions, Patterson suggests organizing the growing body of significant Asian conviction and witness and giving it appropriate forms of distribution.

He sees the key professional pivots for a new strategy arising out of this century’s communications revolution as high finance, mass media, and the humanities. The older missionary movement, he feels, grew out of the industrial revolution, and its main pivots were economics, medicine, and education.

Patterson issues a moving challenge: “Just as in the early stages of the industrial revolution there were Christian leaders of vision and skill who placed an ineradicable imprint on their generation and century, so in the communications revolution there are men already highly placed in these fields who are deeply convinced Christians. But unlike the era of the industrial revolution, their vision and skills are not being realized or utilized to spread the Christian message but are being dissipated in vaguely unsatisfactory professional or academic pursuits as ends in themselves.”

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The Key Bridge strategists, an interdenominational group exploring broad new avenues of evangelical cooperation, met in Newark last month to get an idea of how the Church might move meaningfully amid urban problems.

Newark was an especially appropriate site for this meeting, quite apart from the fact that a riot there last summer killed twenty-five persons, injured countless others, and caused some $10.2 million in property damage. For Newark is the focus of a number of biblically oriented evangelistic efforts among Negroes obliged to live in the squalor of the inner city. None has been spectacularly successful in numerical terms, but all have in common a gratifying depth. Those who know the inner city best insist that effective evangelism must embrace compassion and identification beyond traditional dimensions. This is what is being tried in Newark. An unexpected but promising by-product is the effect on Christian suburbanites, some of whom are now beginning to realize the importance of personal identification with those in spiritual need.

The Rev. Bill Iverson, a young Southern Presbyterian minister, is Newark’s best-known example of empathy. He resigned a pastorate several years ago to open a lunch counter where teen-agers could gather and talk over problems with trained Christian workers in a very informal way. The place has also become an exhibit hall for young artists. No yardstick of achievement is available, but concerned Christians cannot help feeling that this approach opens a doorway to the heart.

Evangelical leaders of inner-city Newark say there is considerable antagonism toward the Church. One of the more outspoken cites a need to “get the hell out of the clergy,” his point being that there is so much immorality and self-centeredness among the ministers that parishioners have written them off. The indifference toward traditional church methodology was illustrated in the somewhat disappointing turnouts—even if in excess of 1500—to a week-long evangelical crusade conducted by Negro evangelist Tom Skinner in Newark’s Symphony Hall. The crusade had a good effect, however, and helped to revive the Evangelistic Committee of Newark and Vicinity, which dates back to a crusade conducted by Wilbur Chapman in 1901. Also helping to break down barriers is Campus Crusade, which is bringing in some 200 students from all over the country to Newark this summer; in addition to proclaiming the “four spiritual laws,” they are helping to clean up riot-scarred buildings and vacant lots for recreation and other beneficial activities. Still another effort is a series of Sunday-afternoon sing-outs in the parks of Newark, led by Metropolitan Opera singer Jerome Hines.

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The Key Bridge group, eager to see evangelicals join hands in projects like these and in other facets of cultural and ecclesiastical life, adopted a statement urging “all Christian churches and organizations concerned with evangelism to designate 1973 as a year of special evangelistic emphasis.”

The statement invited the attention of each body “to those areas of our national life often overlooked in evangelistic effort. We urge each church and organization to share its insights and resources in order to reach to the fullest possible extent all areas of North American life.”

Southern Baptists and Missouri Synod Lutherans have already put a 1973 evangelistic thrust on their church calendar.


In their protest against the widely assumed primacy of economic concerns and the institutional church’s unfortunate political entanglements, it is easy for evangelicals to ignore the Christian believer’s rightful role in the social realm. And if there is one virtue that the followers of Jesus Christ will not want to relinquish to the merely humanistic agencies, it is the virtue of compassion.

Current discussions of a guaranteed annual wage or income for all provide the Christian community with a special opportunity not merely to deplore unsound theories but to advance constructive alternatives.

Despite dire predictions, widespread joblessness is no more likely to be an outcome of the cybernetic age than it was of the industrial revolution. Neither Encyclopaedia Britannica nor the new Encyclopedia of Philosophy carries an alarmist interpretation of the computer era.

The biblical emphasis on “work to eat” (see 2 Thess. 3:10) is as timely today as ever. Much of the problem of unemployment would be remedied if indolence were overcome and a sense of personal responsibility and self-respect were nurtured. But not all unemployment is due to indolence.

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In ministering to the jobless, the Christian community can do more than simply reinforce the services of charity. For the concept of vocation, or calling in one’s work, holds special importance for Protestant Christianity. The provision of work—and not merely of welfare-program jobs—should therefore be of special concern. Wherever there is a jobless man willing to work, the Christian community has an opportunity to consider that man’s special gifts and how he can invest them in the service of God and neighbor. And wherever the jobless are unwilling to work, the Christian community faces the high task of providing new and adequate incentives. That is at least as important as holding together the biblical emphasis on “work to eat.”

The man who has found a job, and in finding it has also found the meaning of work, is able to replenish both his stomach and his spirit. John Stuart Mill long ago noted that man refuses to sink to the level of a satisfied pig. It is part of the Church’s task to lift him to the level of divine sonship in his work.


A mood of frustration seems to be settling over the American scene. The nation’s fortunes are being shaped by forces that outrun the majority will. The assassin’s bullet has repeatedly altered the political future of the nation. Inflation has undermined much of the elderly’s confidence in the adequacy of their savings, the more so in view of possibilities of devaluation. The war in Viet Nam, even when viewed as a necessary response to Communist aggression, seems more and more to assume the outlines of military and political fiasco, while 25,000 men—mostly under the age of twenty-one—have died in America’s longest war.

Some political spokesmen apparently hold the notion that Americans have a Christian Science mentality and want to hear only good news. We think they are wrong. What Americans need and want is the truth, and their spirits are weary, we think, of slanted reassurances that provide no adequate basis for facing and interpreting the future. The nation needs great leadership—and greatness is not necessarily identical with charisma, sex appeal, eloquence, or popularity. Great leaders are a divine gift to a nation, and the churches may well keep prayer for such leadership high among their Sunday worship priorities.


Chief Justice Earl Warren’s decision to step down from the nation’s highest tribunal brings to an end a Supreme Court era that has markedly influenced American society. The Warren Court’s steady stream of controversial, far-reaching decisions probably has played a larger role in the current national social upheaval than actions by either the executive or the legislative branch of government during the past fifteen years.

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Following the theory of sociological jurisprudence that posits the importance of changing social conditions more than enduring constitutional principles as the basis for legal decisions, the Warren Court has exercised power beyond the traditional Supreme Court role of interpreter of the law. Its judicial findings have at times amounted to passage of new “laws” that properly are the function only of the legislature to establish. Such usurpation of power has weakened America’s traditional system of checks and balances. When life-appointed Supreme Court justices take it upon themselves to act as a legislative body, the electorate has no effective means (short of impeachment or constitutional amendment) of checking the political changes the Court sets in motion.

In its deliberate reshaping of American society, the Court has handed down important decisions both of great benefit and of serious harm to the nation. Its findings in the area of civil rights have been laudatory. In its decisions that outlawed public-school segregation and ordered desegregation “with all deliberate speed” (Brown v. Board of Education, 1954–55), guaranteed public accommodations for Negroes (Heart of Atlanta v. U. S., 1964), and supported open housing (Jones v. Mayer, 1968), the Court took steps long overdue to make the spirit and letter of the Constitution operative for discrimination-plagued minorities.

But its decisions affecting criminal procedures have greatly hampered law enforcement and indirectly contributed to growing lawlessness. Although passed as protective of individual rights, decisions reinforcing a defendant’s right to have his lawyer present at questioning (Escobedo v. Illinois, 1964) and requiring that he be given a “four-fold warning” of his rights before questioning (Miranda v. Arizona, 1966) have in practice often hamstrung police and worked to criminals’ advantage. If these decisions do not go beyond the intent of the Constitution, as well they may, they at least reveal a lack of sociological sensitivity to the growing crime problem.

The United States has yet to see the effects of the “one-man, one-vote” apportionment decisions. Although the nation’s founders realized the necessity of balancing the power of the large and small states by establishing two legislative houses based on different representation policies, the Court seems almost arbitrarily to have discarded the principle of balanced sectional representation. We can only hope the “one-man, one-vote” concentration of power in urban areas where political block voting often carries the day will not adversely affect the entire country in the years ahead.

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Murky decisions in other vital areas have created confusion and failed to deal adequately with difficult issues. The Court’s feeble decisions on freedom of the press have neither slowed the tide of pornographic literature nor enunciated a satisfactory definition of obscenity. In the area of religion in the public schools, the Court clearly misinterpreted the constitutional framers’ intention in “the establishment clause” when it ruled against all prescribed religious exercises in the schools. While the decision is one with which all can live, even if religious values face a suffocating future, the Court seems to have taken unwarranted liberty in twisting the Constitution’s original meaning, and has failed to show clearly how its ruling affects various practices concerning religion in our public schools.

The timing of Chief Justice Warren’s retirement and the President’s nomination of Abe Fortas as his successor give further cause for concern. With the Court out of session, there was no need for a lame-duck president to appoint a new chief justice. Many believe Warren resigned at this time to insure appointment of a liberal successor by a liberal president rather than risk the possibility that a new Republican president might nominate a conservative chief justice. If the Senate confirms Justice Fortas and associate-justice nominee Homer Thornberry, both longtime personal friends of the President, America may feel the effects of politically entrenched liberal power for many years to come.

America needs a Supreme Court that is above partisan politics and dedicated to strict and honest interpretation of the law of the land.

A character in Shaw’s Man and Superman exclaims, “A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bear it; it would be hell on earth.” Although the Scriptures may not endorse this sentiment, “happiness” is not prominent in the Bible, especially in its modern connotation of creature comforts and mental repose.

But the Bible does abound in another word concerning man’s spiritual state—a word that is like a line of trumpeters reaching from Genesis to the Apocalypse. It expresses a quality often found lacking in our time, not only in the world at large, but even in many Christian circles. The word is “joy.”

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Argument may be made that we have no great cause for joy in our day, even in the Christian camp; and that, moreover, we should deplore that sort of joy whose artificiality is obvious to every realist. The Scriptures themselves are quick to note the distinction between false and genuine joy, disparaging the pursuit of temporal pleasures where heartbreak may hide behind the façade of mirth or gladness be but the starting-gate of grief (Prov. 14:13). Vividly the Word of God portrays the hollow joys of the academic dignitary who had everything human genius could secure but who tagged each item of accomplishment with the bitter report: “This too is vain” (Eccles. 2, Moffatt). In the Bible, authentic joy emanates from the right relationship to God—“Thou wilt show me the path of life; in thy presence is the fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11).

The joyless spirit of the present-day world offers no excuse for the melancholy of those whose symbol is a cross. Robert Bridges might have been speaking for the first Christian witnesses when he said, “Our joy [is] livelier and more abiding than our sorrows are!” In the New Testament two things emerge almost startlingly: agony and ecstasy. The Acts of the Apostles keeps telling us about the “great joy” that appeared here and there where believers thrust their way through a pagan world. In one episode the disciples “departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing.…” One might think the mayor had given them permission to conduct their meetings in the city hall. But nothing of the sort. These believers had hit a Berlin-wall of opposition from the civil authorities; they had come from the council bruised and limping. The reason for their elation, the chronicler says, was that “they were counted worthy to suffer shame” in Christ’s name (Acts 5:41).

Early Christians rejoiced over other things besides injuries received for Christ’s sake. One item in the record seems astonishing in our materialistic time: believers actually rejoiced over the loss of personal property (Heb. 10:34). Paul and Silas singing at midnight in jail symbolize the spirit of that indomitable young Church. Paul further voices that spirit when he writes about being “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10). Loathed by his countrymen, imprisoned, flogged, lonely, he could say to the Ephesian elders, “None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, that I might finish my course with joy …” (Acts 20:24).

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Joy may have been something of a heritage to those first Christians, for gladness is often reflected in the Hebrew Scriptures. They were elated over redemption: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness …” (Isa. 61:10). The Scriptures themselves evoked jubilation: “Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart” (Jer. 15:16). The completation of God’s house could set them off on a whole week of exultant banqueting (Ezra 6:22). Jubilation was not only permissible to them—it was an order! “And ye shall eat before the Lord your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the Lord thy God hath blessed thee” (Deut. 12:7). The psalmists had the hills singing, the trees clapping their hands; at times the whole earth seemed to be shouting in ecstasy over the sovereignty of the Most High. “Make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise” (Ps. 98:4). “Let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God; yea, let them exceedingly rejoice” (Ps. 68:3).

Jesus, en route to a dark and agonizing adventure, paused for a brief period with his followers. The wrath of an ungodly world was about to break on his head. It was as if heaven held back the gale while he had his quiet moment with his friends. He told them that things would get bad; they would be sheep assaulted by wolves. They would be hated and hurt. But the light ran over his face as he said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). Later, as if to engird them with a final hope, he promised, “No one shall rob you of your joy” (John 16:22, NEB).

When one turns from the glowing faces of the wounded men in the New Testament, it can come as something of a shock to see the unexpectant faces of many modern worshipers. A young and rather cynical writer said to us, “Having just finished a hard look at the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament, may I ask you Christians a few questions? At what fork of the road did you jettison all that wonder? What became of all that ecstasy, all that music?” We could only answer sadly, “Sir, we have wondered, too!”

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The power of the Christian faith does not always lie in its theological validity, tremendously important though that be; nor in its vast constituencies and institutional thrust. It lies also in the Spirit’s power to create an inner ecstasy to override human agony. Long-ago reformers who faced the Herculean task of restoring a people’s broken-down faith and rebuilding their broken-down world said, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10).


Resurrection City turned out to be one of the best-publicized but most short-lived cities in history. It lasted six weeks. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference had been given a permit to set up camp on federal land. When the permit expired, authorities quickly leveled the shantytown adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial.

Resurrection City was held out to be a hope for the poor. But its problems became so numerous that one wonders if SCLC leaders were not privately relieved to see it go. Forced evacuation spared them the embarrassment of having to abandon the project on their own, thereby conceding its failure.

Weather was a nagging problem. The U. S. Weather Bureau in Washington recorded measurable rainfall on eighteen of the days between May 12 and June 24. Area residents say they have not had such a prolonged damp spell for years. In addition, temperatures fell below normal, and the flimsy plywood and plastic huts gave inadequate protection. Some Christians contended openly that the recurring rain was a judgment of God upon the Poor People’s Campaign. It may be true, but one would be hard pressed to support such a thesis scripturally.

For compassion toward the poor there is, of course, considerable biblical rationale. But poor people tempted to demand subsidy from a government whose bank balance is overdrawn by some $340 billion might well think of encamping instead in Las Vegas, where untold millions are squandered with no appreciable benefit to organized society.

Social-action oriented clergymen have reportedly been trying to move their efforts from the political to the economic sphere. But for the time being, this shift has been suspended. The charismatic effect of a national election campaign is too much to resist.

William R. MacKaye of the Washington Post says a growing number of clergymen and ex-clergymen are in government jobs. They tend to concentrate in such comparatively new, idealistic agencies as the Peace Corps and the Office of Economic Opportunity. In fact, so many clerics are said to work in OEO that some have dubbed the agency the “Office of Ecclesiastical Opportunity.”

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Meanwhile, some mainline denominations pay salaries to Washington lobbyists and provide funds for such projects as the Poor People’s Campaign. Hosea Williams, who was city manager for Resurrection City, is listed as getting $12,000 yearly salary plus $1,000 pension from the United Presbyterian Board of National Missions.

Lay people are more and more bringing their churches to task for political programming. The failure of Resurrection City could well encourage a more sensible approach to social problems.


Is the ecumenical era fast turning into an age of ecclesiastical regression? Two major developments justify the question.

Pope Paul VI seems to have set back Vatican I and II to pre-Reformation days by his reaffirmation of papal infallibility, the perpetual virginity of Mary, the Mass, a celibate priesthood—in short, Roman Catholicism as the true religion. The Pope had good reason to rebuke the “passion for change and novelty” in Romanism, where modernists increasingly outflank conservatives. Many American Catholics seem even more dismayed over the Pope’s failure to modify his church’s stand against birth control than over doctrinal disputes, which most leave to the hierarchy.

Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, on the eve of the Uppsala Assembly, interpreted to Americans by television the World Council theme of making “all things new.” He managed not to mention the name of Jesus Christ or the scriptural promises, and spent most of his time defining Christian relevance in politico-economic terms. He renewed the hope of reunion with Rome.

Evangelical Christianity cannot out-organize, out-spend, or out-publicize ecumenism. What it can do is out-evangelize the establishments that neglect the Lord of the Church and his mission. When modern Christianity finds a new set of priorities, it will come alive in the twentieth century.

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