“As far as I can tell,” writes a history professor at a large Midwestern university, “the evangelical Christian groups are hardly making a ripple on campus. They work independently of one another, even in competition with each other. There is no book table, and no jointly sponsored campus-wide activities. Nor is there any attempt to write on current issues in the school newspaper or to be involved in student volunteer services such as tutoring and visiting old peoples’ homes, although hundreds of humanists are involved. The Christians are typically holding each other’s hands in prayer meetings and Bible studies, and ‘discipling.’ But I see no vision for a united Christian outreach to the campus community that is socially relevant and intellectually respectable in terms of a Christian apologetic.”

This indictment raises at least two major questions that should be seriously heeded by every evangelical believer: Is this an isolated instance or is it typical of the Christian life and witness on campus? And second, should we expect Christian students to do the things this professor mentions? After all, young people go to college primarily to learn, to invest time and energy in a course of study that will enable them to work effectively in the world in subsequent years. Should evangelistic outreach be a significant part of their life structure during this preparatory period?

A reply to the first question is not easily drafted. The picture is mixed. Here and there, campus outreach appears to be vigorous and fruitful, and there is some evidence of coordination. When Korean prophet Sun Myung Moon visited Berkeley, for example, seven evangelical campus groups acting in concert as the Christian Student Coalition of the University of California took out a full-page advertisement in the Daily Californian. They challenged Moon’s Christian claims and gave a brief summation of what the Gospel is really all about.

But to seize the initiative and offer an evangelical speaker who would draw crowds of students is much more difficult. One is hard pressed to come up with an evangelical with anything like the drawing power of Bobby Seale or William Kuntzler, for instance. Collegians still respect status and success and are attracted to celebrities, of whom, besides Billy Graham, there are few in the evangelical world.

Moreover, even evangelicals are not always inclined to work together simply around the theme of redemption. That the Good News of salvation is central to Christianity is an undisputed point among all evangelicals, but they are not always eager to rally around that alone. Demands are invariably raised that concern be widened, and with that comes disagreement and division.

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In contrast to what good reports there are about Spirit-blessed evangelistic programs on secular campuses across North America, we can count many disappointments, as brought out poignantly by the history professor. Perhaps the biggest letdown recently was that virtually nothing was done to carry out Key 73 at either Christian or secular colleges.

Our second question asked whether we should even expect group (as distinguished from individual) evangelistic efforts on campus. No doubt many have concluded that the campus is for learning and that religious witness except on a one-to-one basis is inappropriate there.

We reject that conclusion. Its view of evangelism is parochial, and it does a grave injustice to the pervasiveness of biblical truth in a total life and world view. “Should we evangelize?” is really not the question, for how can we avoid it? Someone has to have the, last word, and if Christians are not making the Bible the ultimate referent, then they must be granting that position to some competing principle.

The fact that we can go about our business, whether it be study or vocation, oblivious to the biblical claims upon us to use our time and talents as Christ’s witnesses in every area of life indicates how far our culture has shifted from its biblical undergirding. Some people construe the Lordship of Christ over all of life in such a way as to deny the freedom we have in Christ and the Gospel. That too is a mistake. However, for the Christian the search for truth as a whole cannot be carried out independent of biblical principles.

One day the profound way in which the Bible confronts man’s predicaments will be rediscovered in a dramatic new way. May God hasten the day.

Off On The Right Foot

The joint Committee on Merger Exploration of the Wesleyan and Free Methodist churches is recommending a strong statement on Scripture. If a new denomination does come into being, it will be getting off to a good theological start with a doctrinal stand like this. A crucial portion of the proposed statement reads as follows:

These Holy Scriptures are God’s true record, uniquely inspired by the Holy Spirit. They have been given without error and transmitted without corruption of any essential doctrine. They are the singularly authentic and authoritative revelation of God’s acts in creation, in history, in our salvation, and especially in His Son, Jesus Christ.

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We hope that any attempts to dilute the position will be resisted.

Billy Graham’S Twenty-Fifth

A year ago the Board of Directors of CHRISTIANITY TODAY approved, in principle, some kind of celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of Billy Graham’s ministry, which dates back to his Los Angeles crusade in 1949. Later Lloyd Ogilvie, minister of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, suggested a series of special meetings at the Hollywood Bowl. From these two independent ideas there have developed plans for a three-day (September 19–21) stand at the Hollywood Bowl sponsored jointly by churches, ministers, and laymen of Southern California, and CHRISTIANITY TODAY. On the closing night CHRISTIANITY TODAY will arrange the program and offer its salute to Mr. Graham, co-founder with L. Nelson Bell of this magazine, member of our board, and longtime friend. Join us in Hollywood as we honor God’s servant on this happy occasion!

New Directions In Portugal

Usually a military takeover of a government heralds the end of any democracy and the beginning or intensification of dictatorship. Portugal’s nearly bloodless revolt under General Spínola may prove to be a happy exception. We should fervently hope and pray that this will be so, for the sake of the people as a whole and of the evangelical community in both European Portugal and her overseas (primarily African) territories.

A legitimate concern about Portugal and Portuguese Africa, however, is that a right-wing dictatorship that severely restricted Protestantism might be replaced in time by left-wing dictatorships and African nationalist movements that forbid Christianity altogether. Reaction to one totalitarian extreme—or the fear of it—seems to breed some other form of totalitarianism rather than a firm commitment to responsible freedom. The Portuguese Communist party seems to be emerging as the best organized of the various long suppressed alternatives to the Salazar-Caetano dictatorship.

In the providence of God may leaders emerge wherever the Portuguese flag flies who will govern with the consent of the governed and with firm commitments to freedom of religion. No denomination should be favored by the state above others, nor should any for religious reasons be repressed.

Feeding The Hungry

The famine in Africa continues unabated; the outlook is even more grisly than when we spoke on the subject last fall (Sept. 14 issue). At that time we published the names and addresses of some agencies engaged in famine relief in Africa. We list them again, and urge every reader to get out his checkbook right now. Your sacrificial gift will help to save the lives of helpless and hopeless people. Churches can take up special offerings for this purpose. The Scripture says: “You shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother.… You shall give to him freely … because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake” (Deut. 15:7 ff.).

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Sudan Interior Mission Cedar Grove, New Jersey 07009
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association 1300 Harmon Place Minneapolis, Minnesota 55400
World Relief Commission National Association of Evangelicals P.O. Box 44 Valley Forge, Pa. 19481
World Vision International 919 W. Huntington Drive Monrovia, California 91016
C.A.R.E. 660 First Avenue New York, New York 10016
Church World Service 475 Riverside Drive New York, New York 10027

Designate contributions for famine relief in Africa.

The Mitchell-Stans Verdict

Americans like to think their leaders are a notch or two higher on the moral scale than the rank and file. They respect good leadership. They are disturbed at reports of chicanery in high government circles—so much so that they tend to resist hearing about it, or to refuse to believe it.

Thus for the bulk of the American people, the Mitchell-Stans verdict was as widely welcome a piece of news as they have heard in a long time. For a very brief period many people began to hope that maybe the scandals uncovered within the last year or two were not so pervasive after all. Watergate developments following quickly on the heels of that verdict dashed those hopes.

This terrible moral mess in which our leadership is now involved is creating a vacuum. The populace should keep alert to trade-offs it might be offered to fill that vacuum.

Holiday Haze

On Monday, May 27, Americans are observing Memorial Day, honoring the war dead of bygone years. Since 1969 the last Monday in May has also been set aside by presidential proclamation as a day of prayer for peace. On the Jewish calendar, May 27 of this year marks the Feast of Weeks as well (the Christian counterpart of this festival, Pentecost, falls on the following Sunday, June 2).

How many people will take any of the reasons for commemoration into account when deciding how to spend that Monday? The great temptation is to look at it simply as a day off from work, a part of a long weekend, the kick-off day for summer. For many Memorial Day means opening up the summer home, or taking the first camping trip of the year, or launching the picnic season. In recent years Americans have gone to doing their own thing to such an extent that little is left of the old-fashioned community commemorations.

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If nothing else, fly your flag on Memorial Day. Or make it a point to do at least one other thing especially appropriate to the occasion.

The Tapes: Tardy, Tempered Truth

For $12.50 anyone can buy the edited version of the White House tapes put out by the Government Printing Office. Few of us will wade through all the material, but there is one lesson evident from even a skimming of the conversations: It is better to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and to do it right away. To do so may be costly, but the cost is always less now than later. God says, “I the LORD speak the truth” (Isa. 45:19).

Faint Not

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” The saying is reportedly a favorite of President Nixon, who has certainly shown “toughness” even though there is wide disagreement about his handling of Watergate. Unambiguous examples of righteous toughness abound in Scripture.

The going got tough for the Apostle Paul, as he relates in Second Corinthians 11. He was beaten, jailed, stoned, shipwrecked, adrift at sea; imperiled by rivers, robbers, fellow countrymen, pagans, false brethren; exhausted, hungry, cold, in pain. Any one of us, in similar circumstances, might conclude we were not in the will of God and return to home and hearth, where life might be less demanding. But not Paul.

In Galatians Paul said: “In due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (6:9). No doubt many of us have missed the harvest because we “fainted” (the word here is translated in other versions “lose heart,” “throw in our hand,” “slacken our efforts”). Suppose Abraham and Sarah had quit before Isaac was bom? Suppose Noah had quit before the ark was finished? Suppose Moses had quit because there was no water in the wilderness? Suppose Joshua had lost heart before Israel entered the Promised Land?

And suppose Jesus had quit before Calvary?

Alive In The Andes

“We decided that this book should be written and the truth known because of the many rumors about what happened,” wrote the sixteen survivors of a plane crash in the Andes Mountains over a year ago. The sixteen, all rugby players, lived for ten weeks in the mountains between Uruguay and Chile, eating the snow-refrigerated flesh of their companions who had died. Alive (Lippincott, 1974), by Piers Paul Read, dramatically and graphically tells the story.

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Throughout the book the question of God’s providence recurs. Several of the men believed that God had given them human meat to survive in the same way that “Christ … gave his body to us so that we could have spiritual life” (p. 91). And after being rescued, those same people gave God all the credit for preserving their lives and sanity: “I can assure you that God is there. We all felt it, inside ourselves, and not because we were the kind of pious youths who are always praying all day long.… One feels, above all, what is called the hand of God, and allows oneself to be guided by it” (p. 338). Others refused to admit that God did anything, believing that they themselves were responsible for their survival.

Perhaps the skepticism stems from a question asked but not answered in the book: “Why does God let us suffer like this?” This question is perhaps the most difficult one for any Christian to answer, and it is one that hinders many from accepting Christ’s way. “If God had helped them to live, then He had allowed the others to die; and if God was good, how could He possibly have permitted [this]?”

Paul tells us that God’s “ways are past finding out.” If we accept God as he is presented to us in Scripture, we know that ultimately all suffering works to our good when we trust him. And reading Alive ought to make us thankful that God gives most of us comparatively simple problems to face, for few of us must literally fight to live.

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