Features

Features-Progress of the World Council

This is without doubt the greatest church council of our generation, or perhaps any other generation.

Editor, The Ministry

Associate Secretary, General Conference Bureau of Public Relations

As write, the lovely chimes of the First Methodist church just across the street from my hotel are pealing forth that old Baptist hymn, "Blest Be the Tie That Binds." At once it seems a significant symbol of the fellowship so characteristic of this great World Council of Churches. Just one week ago today this mighty convocation opened with a service of worship held in this same beautiful Gothic church, which is a part of the Northwestern University. What a busy week this has been for all of us! Even as observers and press reporters, we have been under pres sure. The demands on responsible leaders of this great council must be tremendous. Some of us know something of the pressures of a General Conference session, but here is something much larger and more complex. As a demonstration of organization, it is a masterpiece; nothing of importance has seemingly been overlooked. More than six hundred press representatives are here, including the editors of six of our regular Adventist journals the Signs of the Times, the Review and Herald, the Message Magazine, These Times, Our Times (England), and of course THE MINISTRY. A report from Howard Weeks, of the General Conference Bureau of Public Relations, appears in this issue, in which he presents briefly the way the central organization is functioning in providing both the secular and the religious press with information, as well as getting the news to the world through radio and television.

This is without doubt the greatest church council of our generation, or perhaps any other generation. Here are leaders and representatives of churches, the membership of which totals 170,000,000. A few of us Adventists, actually thirteen in all, are privileged to observe this great assembly at close range. Every courtesy has been shown us, and we have been welcomed even into the closely guarded groups and section studies. We will have to confess that there have been times when we would.have liked to express ourselves, especially when the groups were discussing the theological implications of what is called the "main theme"; that is, the theme around which the whole council is built: "Christ the Hope of the World." This theme is one that naturally fits into our thinking, and given the opportunity, I believe we could have helped to clarify the subject in the minds of many.

Opposing Views Presented

In the brief report in the September MINISTRY, reference was made to Dr. Edmund Schlink, of Heidelberg, Germany, whose clear-cut message at the opening plenary session set before the council the great doctrine of the Second Advent. Needless to say, there was some opposition to his theology, many American theologians particularly resenting it. A sharply different view was pre sented at the same meeting by Dr. R. L. Calhoun, professor of historical theology at Yale, who emphasized what we some times speak of as the "social gospel."

During the smaller group meetings many references were made to these "opposing views": Dr. Schlink representing what they called "Continental theology," and Dr. Calhoun representing the "American view point." That nomenclature, however, was far from correct, for we have met many theologians and denominational leaders from the United States who agreed with every word of the presentation by Dr. Schlink, who, by the way, based his mes sage on a clear "Thus saith the Lord."

These two university professors were presented at a press conference during this weekend, and again we were especially impressed by the sound scholarship and Scrip tural understanding of this German theologian, who defended his position from the Word of God. In the course of the inter view Dr. Calhoun declared that the discoveries of modern science have added much to man's concept of God's majesty. But Dr. Schlink pointed out that modern re search was made possible only by the fact that Christ made men free from superstitions and fears. Continuing, he declared that "only when such ideas are abolished are men free to do real scientific research." Then, commenting on Dr. Calhoun's ad dress, he said that he had really begun where the Yale professor had left off. "He [Dr. Calhoun] showed the changes that had taken place in eschatological thinking in both Europe and America, . . . analyzing in a most brilliant way the humanistic theory as well as others. . . . Dr. Calhoun led us to the point where we have to start anew," he said, "where we must draw our thoughts from the Bible. So I started with the New Testament sayings on the theme. ... It was necessary to start with the Bible, because all Churches acknowledge the authority of the Bible." In answer to another question concerning the manner of the Second Advent, Dr. Schlink stated that "the return of Christ will be sudden, and this is the unanimous view of the New Testament. However, the day and hour of His coming is not known." Both men agreed that the gathering together of thinkers from all over, the world in such councils as this could well lead to a period of growth in learning, unless through our folly "we wipe ourselves off the planet." Dr. Schlink used language familiar to us when he declared that too often "men tend to be occupied with present problems," little realizing that they are living "on borrowed time."

And that while "it is the personal relationship between God and man that counts," yet "this relationship has to do with the whole man. Heaven does not mean only a spiritual or theoretical communion between God and man. The coming of the Kingdom means the end of everything that is sick, suffering, or corrupt in men. To be in heaven means no thirst, hunger, or death, and the resurrection of the body." Such clear concepts of truth become all the more thrilling to us when we remember that Heidelberg was once the very center of rationalism! We have included these actual quotations so that our readers may perceive that while at times we have witnessed what seems to have been a veering away from the full implications of the heart of the council theme, yet there is much that calls forth our gratitude to God that some vital phases of His last great mes sage are being dis cussed. With the evolutionary theory as the foundation of much of the education and theology of today, it is no wonder that there is much haze to, obscure the light. But, as the great apostle in writing to the Galatians rejoiced that Christ was being preached, even though it be but a partial presentation or even by contention, so we as the heralds of God's, last message to the world can also rejoice that such a council as this has been dis cussing Christ as the only hope of the distracted world.

Discussions of the Main Theme

It is heartening and even surprising to see how close some of these leaders come to stating truth just as we see it. For in stance, Bishop Lilje, chairman of the co ordinating committee of the main-theme discussion groups, of which there were fifteen, charged the Christian churches, clergy and laity alike, with spiritual and mental laziness. "We have to realize much more than we do what God expects of us," he said. "Can we live by a faith that is not up to date?" he asked. "In the nineteenth century, groups of Christians, moved by the concept of the imminent return of our Lord, began to proclaim that message with power, and out of it grew the great missionary movement around the world. Now what do we have in place of that today? Is it only a few cultural concepts?" As he pressed these questions upon the others on the panel discussion, it seemed they did not have any real answer. And yet, fellow workers, in spite of the obvious lack of a full Scriptural knowledge of the great theme of the council, they are nevertheless discussing it. Surely this is something for which we can thank God. It is wonderful that so many are being driven by the very choice of the theme to think more about our blessed Lord, His place in history, and the destiny of this planet.

Little Modernism Apparent

It is heartening to see how little of what we think of as modernist thinking seems to come out in these discussions, and how much of what is truly fundamental. Bishop Lilje, referring to the great doctrine of justification by faith, declared that "it points to a consummation; it is related to eschatology because it leaves the final judgment still to be dealt with. We are looking to an end, not in some act of achievement, but in some act of God's majesty, when every man will have to be confronted with that majesty. His only hope is in Christ." Concluding his answer to a panel question, he said, "While we have to rethink Christianity in each generation, we do not have to re-invent it, even if some scholars feel they must." It is not difficult for Adventists, schooled as we are in the Scriptural revelation, to see the obvious weaknesses in the theology of some who have spoken, but a study of the full report of the committee, which re port is to come before the whole assembly for acceptance, reveals that it is the result of a very careful analysis. And, by the way, Dr. Schlink and Dr. Calhoun were both members of that committee. The report represents the work of three years; not continuous work, however. What changes may be made, if any, no one can say, but it is unlikely that there will be many major changes at this late hour. Churches all over the world are expecting that from this council some real and vital declaration will emerge. And when it does it will give us the greatest chance of our whole history to preach the message with power. It is true that the report as it stands today is different from the way it appeared at the first writing, and that some things have been restated so as to place less emphasis upon the strictly eschatological aspects of the theme. Nevertheless there is so much in it that is commendable that it ill behooves us to criticize it unduly. When we try to visualize the number of different denominations and cultures the writers of this important document have had to please, it seems little short of a miracle that so much trenchant truth has been included. To discover that a great world assembly such as this is willing to go on record with such a clear pronouncement is something that should make us as Adventists lift our hearts to God in praise.

Gems of Real Truth

The document as it comes before the council is by no means concise; it contains over thirty thousand words. But here and there are some real gems. Notice this in the very first section: "To those who ask, 'What is in front of us?' we answer, 'It is He, the JLing, who confronts us.' To those who ask, 'What may we look forward to?' we answer that we face not a trackless waste of unfilled time with an end that none can dare predict; we face our living Lord, our Judge and Saviour, He who was dead and is alive for evermore, He who has come and is coming and will reign for ever and ever."

The document urges that the citizens of God's kingdom must learn to look beyond the course of history, recognizing them selves to be a "pilgrim people forbidden by its divine calling to be at peace with the powers of evil." And again, "What we hope for is the fullness of what we already possess in Him; what we possess has its meaning only in the hope for His coming." It would be difficult to find a clearer or more thoroughly Scriptural statement of the blessed hope than this which appears under Section E of Part One: "Those who are now sons of God will receive the fullness of their inheritance as joint heirs with Christ. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. We shall all be changed.

The dead will be raised incorruptible, receiving a body of heavenly glory. The agony of the created world will be recognised as the travail of childbirth. Blind eyes will see, deaf ears will hear, the lame will leap for joy, the captive will be freed. The knowledge of God will cover the earth. The Holy City will appear, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. The choir which no man can number will sing Halle-

lujahs to the praise of the Eternal. God's people will enter into the sabbath of rest, and all created things will be reconciled in the perfect communion of God with His people." And a little further down we read: "He has bidden the Church to live with loins girt and lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master's return, . . . Our obedience is one measure of our hope. It is for the Church to stand vigilantly with its Lord, discerning the signs of the times and proclaiming that now is the time of judgment, now is the day of salvation." Emphasis on Evangelism "World-wide Evangelism in This Generation" is the title of a paper to be presented this week. And in studying it one is confronted with expressions familiar to us, such as, "The one great task which has been given to the Church is to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth." And again: "Between the birth of our Christian hope in the first coming of Christ and its final consummation when 'he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead' there lies the unfinished task of world evangelism." Not only the challenge of world evangelism, but also the content of the true evangelistic message, has been stressed at the council.

And of course in that area there has been some dif ference of opinion. But withal there is the consciousness that the hour in which we live is propitious for the proclamation of the full gospel as the answer to the prob lems of this present life and as the only hope for the future. Evangelism has been studied in its many aspects. But of this we will say more in our final report next month. How to reach the great industrial worker groups, the ad vantage of the appointment of "factory chaplains," as well as methods of reaching the populations in the great metropolitan centers, and the overwhelming challenge of great unchristianized areas of earth all these have come into the scope of evange listic discussion. Subjects such as the race problem and segregation, the upsurge of nationalism in certain areas of the world, the problems of religious liberty in Latin America, the Middle East, and the Far East, the Christian attitude to war these and many others equally explosive have been fearlessly dis cussed. And one of the most encouraging features of this whole council has been the forthright but kind way in which such subjects have been handled. The speakers have been able men and scholars. It is far too early to forecast the ultimate result of this World Council.

Naturally some of us may be already discerning a prophetic significance in it all. It may be true that an organization of this kind could be used in the future by even an evil power to thwart the purposes of God, but that certainly is not the picture at present. We are discovering every day how well we as a people are known and in what esteem we are held. And who knows but that in the judgment we may discover that much of the understanding of the times in which we live, on the part of these Christian leaders, has come from our own books and journals? These are great days in which to preach the message, and may God keep our minds clear and free from prejudice while His Spirit enables us to give the message with new inspiration and power.

Public Relations at the World Council Assembly

HOWARD B. WEEKS Associate Secretary, General Conference Bureau of Public Relations

Last May Charles C. Parlin wrote in the Christian Century of the advance preparations for press coverage of the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches: "It is no small task to interpret the World Council of Churches' Evanston meeting to the public. Yet without such interpretation, this Second Assembly of the council could be little more than a semiprivate meeting of the world's theological and ecclesiastical top-brass. Evanston must be brought to the world."

The gigantic information machinery in operation during the assembly itself was a testimony to the seriousness with which World Council leaders took their commi ment to speak to the world.

"This public relations responsibility," as Mr. Parlin termed it, was thoroughly organized and given a budget of f 40,000 exclusive of contributed personnel and expenses, which were valued at more than $250,000. (By contrast, our expenditures for this purpose at the General Conference session were less than S900.)

Fifty-four public relations workers carried an around-the-clock schedule preparing releases, bulletins, memos, and full texts of addresses for newspapermen, religious editors, and broadcasters, who turned out six hundred strong to relay the message of the world's Protestant leaders to those who read their publications. All of these materials consumed more than two tons of mimeograph paper besides another four tons for delegates' materials, and kept a dozen machines almost continuously at work. Forty linguists were engaged translating documents and speeches for the delegates and the world's press.

Seventy telephones were installed for the benefit of reporters. Western Union put a staff of thirty-five in the press rooms to transmit press wires on the twenty-five teletypes set up for the assembly. More than fifty buses operating on regular schedule carried reporters and delegates without cost between the widespread points of assembly operation. Daily briefings and press conferences kept newsmen fully posted on events of the day, and deference was given photographers and reporters wherever possible.

Besides a dozen or more newsmen from United States network and local stations, at least sixteen representatives of six major international broadcasting services were on hand, including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Far East Broadcasting Company, and the Voice of America.

In addition, the World Council of Churches' own radio and television staff of more than twenty persons provided tape recordings and films for use by radio and television stations both here and abroad. Some interviews, speeches, and news dis patches were transmitted directly from the Northwestern University studios to New York, Toronto, and London. Were these costly preparations and activities worth while? Did they accomplish their purpose? The information you read for yourself in newspapers and magazines should answer the questions.

More than one hundred thousand words a day and scores of pictures flowed out of Evanston to the ends of the earth, carrying the mes sage of the Second Assembly.

There is much we can learn from this great and intensive public information pro gram. Seventh-day Adventists from their earliest beginnings have been committed to a world work. They bear a story of true hope to all mankind. Yet it would seem that too often we choose the field of public information as a place to economize. If each Adventist church were as energetically committed to telling its story through the public press as are the people of the World Council, only a few months could completely transform the climate in which its work is done. May God help us to exercise the wisdom and foresight shown by these consecrated Protestant leaders in going "all out" to convey to the world the inspiration of their assembly theme: "Christ the Hope of the World."

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

DONALD T. SORENSON South Lancaster, Massachusetts

It is the latter half of the nineteenth century and we are about to visit the Pastor's College in England. As we enter the door we come across a stout, burly individual wearing a long frock over coat, a felt hat, and carrying a stout stick over his shoulder, unless the occasion called for his limping with it. We might take him for some "English squire who has forgotten his top boots" or for a well-to-do farmer who has dropped in to look the place over. But chances are that the black-eyed, dark chestnut-haired man of common stature and bloodless complexion is Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who wears a clerical coat or hat neither in nor out of the pulpit, abhors the title of Reverend, and in all things aims to be simply a man among men. If we converse with him we discover his chief attractions are a lively imagination, usually exhibited in homely and familiar figures of speech; a free, colloquial manner of address, that catches the understanding of the simplest; and an enthusiastic ardor, which captivates all his hearers unless they are unusually insensible. Shortly after this we attend some of his meetings and learn more of him.

His voice is full and musical. He can speak so loudly and clearly that twelve thousand people can hear him at one time in the open air. Although his voice is loud, it is also sympathetic and easily modulated. His language is plain, and his remarks are pithy and pungent, sometimes familiar and colloquial but never light or coarse. It has been said that his remarks "by no means so abound in frothy declamations, extravagancies, and coarse wit, as many suppose; nor can the popularity of the preacher be attributed to these sources of attraction for the populace. On the contrary, these sermons contain the evidences of a real power and effectiveness in the highest sense." His sermons contain a boldness, which some times shows in the form of frankness, and a clearness in the fullest sense of the word.

His style has been described as flowing, but terse, simple, forcible, and above every thing natural and free from mannerisms. And as we listen to him we notice it is not rapid or fervent but easy, idiomatic, and picturesque. It is also lively, flexible, and variable, and we agree with the one who wrote:

"His style is in many respects admirable. It is English; not Latin, not Greek, not French, but English the language, not of Coleridge, nor of Johnson, but of the Bible and of Bunyan not of the metaphysician and theologian, but of the farmer, the mechanic, and the laboring man in short, the language of common life, the language understood, spoken, and appreciated by nine tenths of the people."

His method is lucid and orderly, as is shown in his statement: "Once I put all my knowledge together in glorious confusion; but now I have a shelf in my head for every thing; and whatever I read or hear I know where to stow it away for use at the proper time."

His manner is both sound and suitable. It is serious, frank, and calm, yet tender and genial. His tone and spirit are cordial; his gestures are few, but those few are completely natural.

His applications are direct.

A Quick Thinker

He has the ability of changing his text and complete sermon even as he rises to give it and of preaching without notes on a new text and topic. We are informed that he has done this several times, and as we in quire further of those who know him we hear many anecdotes concerning what he has done in the pulpit. Many of these stories are untrue, such as the widespread tale of his sliding down the pulpit banister to demonstrate how sinners go to hell. But there are many which are true, such as the time he had been preaching for about five minutes when the gas went out and ten thousand people were plunged into darkness. A few calm, reassuring words from the lips of Mr. Spurgeon, and a panic was averted. He immediately changed his text to "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life," and continued with his sermon, relating his thoughts to the condition that surrounded them. When the lights came on no preacher could desire an audience more attentive and absorbed in his words. Again he changed his text to "light is good" and continued to the end of the service.

This story, we realize, not only illustrates his ability to change his text at the last moment, but also shows how well he was able to think on his feet. It shows self-possession and ease of adaptation.

Another story illustrates Mr. Spurgeon's quick thinking. He was accused by some "busy Pharisee" of breaking the Sabbath because he had his horse pull his carriage on Sunday. Mr. Spurgeon quickly replied that his horse was in reality so far a Jew that he kept his Sabbath on Saturday. That the horse lived under the law of works and not of grace and, therefore, was not permitted to work on Saturday.

His Lifework

After one of Mr. Spurgeon's meetings we go to his study to ask him just what he considers his work to be on this earth. He tells us that he once read a story in the Guide to Kingsbridge about the Start Bay villages where Newfoundland dogs are trained to fetch a rope out of the sea. One dog that saw a child in the water, swam out, got the child, and laid it, nearly dead, on the sand. After he found that licking the child's face did not revive it, he went to the village and pulled on people's coats until some came and cared for the little flame of life left in the child. As Mr. Spurgeon read the story, he hoped that he would be like that dog. And now he goes out into the water after souls and tries to bring them in. Then he would kiss them into life with loving words; but as that is not within his power, he goes and tugs at the garment of Jesus and asks Him to come, give them life, and raise them up. He does not doubt one bit that Jesus will do it. This, he says, is his lifework.

As we search for interesting anecdotes we find one that happened through coincidence. Once Mr. Spurgeon, as he put it, "drew the bow at a venture." He stated from the pulpit that a man was down in the audience, on the left-hand side of the house, with a bottle of gin in his pocket. Then he proceeded to say what might do such a man some good. Later, a man came to him and asked, "How did you know I came into the church that day with a gin bottle in my pocket? So I did, but how did you find it out? You got me on the wrong side, though. I was on the right-hand side of the house, instead of the left." Mr. Spurgeon smiled and explained that what was right-handed to the man was left-handed to the speaker, who was facing the audience. Strange to say there was a second man in the audience with a bottle of gin in his pocket. This one sat on the opposite side from the first, but figured differently, and so he too was assured in a similar way when he claimed he had been placed on the wrong side. Happily, Mr. Spurgeon tells us that both men were converted.

Advice to Ministers

In one of our conversations with Mr. Spurgeon, he gives us some advice for min isters. He tells us that the preacher above all others must be self-reliant. His experi ence proves that those who wish to excel as extempore speakers must trust to memory, not to notes. He explains that if one makes his notes just a few lines longer one Sunday, soon he will "require them longer still."

Further, he says that to the public speaker a liberal supply of fresh air is of vital im portance, and pastors should not be afraid of opening their chapel windows. He relates an anecdote that took place shortly after he arrived as pastor of New Park Street, whereby he found that if you resist the devil, he will flee from you, but resist a deacon and he will fly at you. The windows of this church were kept closed all the time, and every time Mr. Spurgeon opened them the deacons would close them. One morning, when the congregation arrived, they found all the windows broken out. There was much indignation and searching for the vandal, but he was never found, though many suspected. Mr. Spurgeon did not hide the knowledge of his visit to the building, and holding out an article he said: "This old stick was responsible for it." After this incident the windows were left in his control. We have left London, and time passes quickly.

Then we hear the sad news that at the age of fifty-seven Mr. Spurgeon has passed on to rest after a great service to God and humanity. We rush to London in time for one of the most remarkable funeral pageants that city has ever seen. There is no royal pomp, no military display nothing to appeal to idle curiosity or traditional reverence for rank and title. Yet for miles we see mourning crowds lining the way. Shops and warehouses are closed, and all the flags are at half-mast. More than sixty religious bodies are represented in the procession.

Those of the most diverse creed and rank join in the common sorrow. The Prince and Princess of Wales send their sympathy; the dwellers in humble homes close their blinds in token of grief, and follow on foot in the sorrowing throng. Dele gates of the Salvation Army occupy a carriage in the procession, and the bishop of Rochester, of the Church of England, pronounces the benediction at the grave.

As we turn homeward, we realize that "in life and death, this one man seems to have touched alike the high and lowly, awakening anew the sense of our common humanity, our common dependence upon the one God, the universal need of the sympathy and the help of the one Redeemer for whom he so mightily pleaded."

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Editor, The Ministry

Associate Secretary, General Conference Bureau of Public Relations

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