Features-Theological Contrasts at Evanston. Competition and Rivalry.

Methodism arose in an hour when spiritual power was at a low ebb.


Chaplain, White Memorial Hospital

Archbishop Michael, of the Greek Orthodox Church, and Bishop Barbieri, of the Methodist Church, are among the six elected as the Presidium of the World Council of Churches. The six presidents will serve until the next general assembly, but these two in particular rep resent interesting contrasts in theological concepts. Methodism arose in an hour when spiritual power was at a low ebb. The established Church of England two centuries ago possessed all the outward appearance of power plus the claims of so-called apostolic succession. But mere formality and history were not enough to meet the need of the human heart, and the Spirit of God broke through the barriers of decadent religion and gave birth to the Evangelical Revival, which swept the country like a prairie fire, calling men and women to repentance and challenging all, of whatever rank or avocation, to bear witness of their living Lord. Led by a well-trained, Spirit-filled ministry, it was largely a movement of lay preachers.

All this, Bishop Barbieri able leader of Methodism in Latin America symbolized, and especially so as he rehearsed the story of religious intolerance in certain countries. In striking contrast with the vigorous movement of early Methodism was Arch bishop Michael, of the Greek Orthodox Church, symbolizing as he did the traditional church of the centuries. And the contrast was all the more vivid when he spoke as the voice of the whole Orthodox delegation and expressed his unqualified conviction that the only way real unity could be achieved is for all the churches to accept the traditional teaching of the Orthodox Church. He stated: "The whole approach to the problem of reunion is entirely unacceptable from the standpoint of the Orthodox Church. . . . One cannot be satisfied with formulas which are isolated from the life and experience of the Church. . . . From the Orthodox viewpoint reunion of Christendom with which the World Council of Churches is concerned can be achieved solely on the basis of the total, dogmatic faith of the early, undivided Church without either subtraction or alteration. We cannot accept a rigid distinction between essential and non-essential doctrines, and there is no room for comprehensiveness in the faith."

Continuing, he said: "The Orthodox Church cannot accept that the Holy Spirit speaks to us only through the Bible. The Holy Spirit abides and witnesses through the totality of the Church's life and experience. The Bible is given to us within the context of Apostolic tradition in which in turn we possess the authentic interpretation and explication of the Word of God. Loyalty to Apostolic tradition safeguards the reality and continuity of Church unity. . . . The unity of the Church is preserved through the unity of the Episcopate. . . .

"Thus when we are considering the problem of Church unity we cannot envisage it in any other way than as the complete restoration of the total faith and the total Episcopal structure of the Church which is basic to the sacramental life of the Church." His speech was a carefully prepared document and was placed in the hands of the whole assembly. Rejecting the idea that unity can be attained only by repentance and a return to the truth of God's Word, he stated unequivocally that while there have been "imperfections and failures within the life and witness of Christian believers," yet "we reject the notion that the Church, herself, . . . could be affected by human sin. . . . Her holiness is not vitiated by the sins and failures of her members." And then concluding, he said: "We are bound to declare our profound conviction that the Holy Orthodox Church alone has preserved in full and intact 'the faith once delivered unto the saints.' " Reunion With Rome In the light of these inferences of infallibility, it was not strange to our ears when we heard this same archbishop on another occasion state before the assembly his hopes for an early reunion with Rome. His actual words were: "Here in America I have a very dear friend who has distinguished himself in the field of Roman Catholic theology, a man whom I have known for many years. I must admit that he examines the existing differences between our Churches with a genuine impartiality and a thorough independence of mind. When some years ago we met somewhere here in the United States, over a friendly dinner table, and we discussed again certain of the basic differences between our two Churches, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, we found our selves fundamentally in virtual agreement, and if

two of us, there would perhaps come very, very soon that gladsome joyous consequence." In the same speech he mentioned certain churches who "through the use of propagandistic books, pamphlets, sermons, even through personal visits from house to house" seek to propagate their faith. "Where such efforts exist and are pursued today, they most certainly must cease," he said. While we quote these statements, we would not give the impression that these views represented the thought of the whole World Council. Far from it. We asked many of the foremost leaders of the council concerning their attitude to such statements, and each reply was about the same; that is, that the Orthodox Church was only a segment of the council a vocal segment, to be sure, but not in all respects representative of the council as a whole. In fact, one leader said to us, "It is better for them to speak out, for then we know how they think." The Opposing Concept A few sentences of Bishop Barbieri's ad dress will point up the contrast even more.

He said: "We speak today of iron and bamboo and banana curtains" behind which "dominant imperial powers [have] built an impassable wall so that no liberal ideas, either in politics, economics, or religion could be imported. . . . "Parallel to the despotic authority of the imperial political powers, the Roman Catholic ecclesiastical authority grew up and asserted itself on totalitarian lines, true to the underlying Catholic philosophy of 'Ubi Roma, ubi, Ecclesia,' i.e., 'Where Rome is, there the Church is,' by which there is no other way to become and to remain a Christian except through the agency and the ministration of the Church of Rome. Out side her fellowship there is either Paganism or things, in the multiplicity of their manifestations, have to be eleminated by whatever means are at hand, if not by persuasion, then by force, if force can be exerted either directly or indirectly." Emphasizing this, he declared:

"If we search deep and intelligently, at the bot tom of every curtailment of religious liberties, we shall find the direct or indirect influence of the Catholic Church. She is the instigator, the inspirer and the prompter of much of the religious unrest and prejudice which crop up here and there. She is always seeking a favourable moment to cause discomfort and difficulties; and, in doing so, she does not hesitate to use the baneful principle that 'the end justifies the means.' " Not tied in any way to the concept of apostolic succession, Bishop Barbieri is the vigorous voice of Protestantism in certain countries where liberty has been definitely curtailed. His presentation was a forthright analysis of the problems that our own as well as Methodist, Presbyterian, and other missionaries are meeting. He went further in his report than many might have felt

prudent, but that was characteristic of this World Council Assembly. There seemed to be no hesitancy on the part of any to state his clear convictions. Bishop Barbieri is a champion of religious liberty, understanding clearly the real issues of our time.

Church and State

Bishop Dibelius, of Germany, another of the newly elected presidents of the World Council of Churches, is also a champion of religious freedom. Like many others in attendance at this great council, he has suffered much for his faith. A few sentences from his report to the assembly will reveal the clear thought of many of these men on these matters. Briefly reviewing the attitude of the state toward Christianity under the Hitler regime, he recalled how his church related itself to the problem of political direction. "It did not identify itself with the nationalistic movement," he said. In fact, a declaration was sent to the state in 1934 which left no doubt as to the attitude of the confessional church. It read: "We reject the false doctrine that the state above and beyond its special task should and could become the only and total order of human life." After quoting this firm statement, he declared: "Independence from men and dependence on God alone can grow into the church only from within. . . . The temptation of Jesus is continued in the history of His Church. Only after the Church becomes independent from the worry over daily bread, independent from the danger of conceit, and independent from every aspiration toward external power, only then can it rest assured that the Spirit of Jesus Christ is with it still. Only then it may refer to itself, in humble confidence, the words of Holy Scripture: 'Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him' (Matt. 4:11). . . .

"If the Church lives thus, then it is at any rate regardless of what its tradition and inner structure may be and regardless of how it may otherwise live a living witness to the fact that there is still another world, a world over which the state possesses no power and which sets a limitation to its totalitarian demands. The totalitarian state is really totalitarian only when the Church, as a Church, no longer exists within its orbit. "If God grants His grace, this shall nowhere hap pen; this must never happen. "Of necessity there will be clashes with people and powers which are differently oriented. Clashes with the state will come with the totalitarian state which demands the highest authority for itself. . . . The state cannot act other than politically.

Should the Church then permit herself to be drawn into this political front? Should she not rather say to the state: Perform your task! As for us, however, we will work for peace within the ambit of our own resources, retaining our loyalty to the word of Him who is our peace and our hope, thus holding fast to our independence from you, the state. "Perhaps the state will not understand this; it can only think politically. Even among Christians, many will not understand this. But should not the Church, for the sake of her independence, remain steadfast at this point? For the Church in a totalitarian state, these questions are the daily bread. Daily the Church has to decide anew, and she must, if she decides against the wishes of the state, pay for the consequences that must result. "No one who has not lived in a totalitarian state has any conception how heavily this burden rests upon the churches. . . . Inner freedom must be fought for and won by a wrestle within. This is as true for churches as for individuals." In striking contrast with Archbishop Michael's statement, quoted previously, on the question of freedom for propagation of the faith, is Bishop Dibelius' clear statement on the issue of Christian literature: "If in schools hatred against other races, other peoples and against other special groups is preached to the children, then the church must rise and pro claim with John the Apostle: 'Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer' (1 John 3:15). If through state channels books are distributed in which religion in general and the Christian faith in particular are opposed, then the Church of Christ cannot re main silent. There is no need for deliberation here. The only need is decisive strength and bravery in faith. . . ." No statement could be clearer, and yet one of the most impressive things about the World Council of Churches was the tolerant attitude of delegates toward one another. Despite the fact that at times their theology and philosophy seemed widely separated, yet they seemed eager to try to understand one another. At times there was sharp divergence of opinion, but there was also a spirit of friendliness and fellow ship. In contrast with the words of Dr. Dibelius of Germany was the statement by the Hungarian churches, who confessed with repentance before God and their fellow Christians that "they failed to express their faith by deeds." "We remember with the feeling of shame that, . . . we, as churches, failed to make a united stand against this evil [fascist anti-semitism]. A few of our best leaders, at the risk of their own lives, had the courage to save lives, . . . while a considerable number of our churchmen either uncritically accepted the theses of anti-semitic propaganda, or in a paralysed helplessness tolerated the shameful events. We are thankful to God for having graciously accepted this repentance of ours. . . . We must learn that Christianity is not so much the occupation of the soul as rather the soul of our occupation. . . . "We live in the joy of the presence o£ Jesus Christ in our midst and in the hope of His glorious coming.

Therefore we gird about our loins and try to per form all services of our earthly stewardship in believing obedience. " 'Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?' " 'Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall and so doing' (Luke 12:42, 43)." This important document is titled "The Witness of the Hungarian Evangelical Churches to the Christian Hope." It was accepted and passed at the Ecumenical Council of the Churches of Hungary on June 17, 1954. Let us pray that many of these leaders will see the full beauty of God's truth. Looking at this council through the framework of our prophetic message, we can readily discern the prospect of future Eroblems, when many of these leaders will e brought face to face with the claims of the everlasting gospel as it swells into the loud cry.

Today we as a people are respected; tomorrow we may well be despised and rejected. But while keeping a clear vision as to the future, let us not fail to discern our present opportunity to emphasize the reality and beauty of our message as the complete answer to the question, "In what way is 'Christ the Hope of the World'?" And let us not be too hasty in our judgment. The counsel of the Lord is unmistakable on this point. We read: "In the advocacy of the truth the bitterest opponents should be treated with respect and deference. Some will not respond to our efforts. . . . Others even those whom we suppose to have passed the boundary of God's mercy will be won to Christ. The very last work in the controversy may be the enlightenment of those who have not rejected light and evidence, but who have been in midnight darkness and have in ignorance worked against the truth. Therefore treat every man as honest. Speak no word, do no deed, that will con firm any in unbelief." Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 122. Responsibility of Spiritual Advisers Many of those who make up the personnel of the World Council of Churches are called to give counsel to men in very high positions of statesmanship. I could not help

sensing the responsibility a minister of that kind must be under who is called to be the spiritual adviser to men who mold the destinies of a whole nation or perhaps a group of nations. Sitting in the congregation of Dr. Elson in the National Presbyterian church here in Washington, B.C., a few weeks ago, that same thought impressed itself upon me. Not only was he preaching to a group of influential citizens in the business world, but in his congregation were many Sena tors, Army generals, and even President Eisenhower himself. In fact, the chairman of the building committee, who presented briefly to the congregation the progress of the plans for a new and enlarged church edifice, was a prominent Army general. How different must be the thinking of a preacher who is challenged day by day to give counsel to world leaders, from the thinking of some of us who are burdened with the legion of little cares and goals pertaining to our own congregations, made up as they are of faithful men and women drawn largely from the humbler walks of life! President Eisenhower, before going over to Evanston to address the World Council of Churches, spent considerable time in close counsel with his pastor, Dr. Elson. What would be our attitude if such a world leader should come to us for counsel?

The apostle Paul doubtless had reference to something of this kind when he urged the church to pray for all who are in authority. As a group of workers called to proclaim God's last message to the world, we do well to bear up before the throne of grace, not only those upon whose shoulders rests the heavy burden of state, but also the spiritual advisers of those who are daily challenged by the problems of this crisis hour of the world. To discern the problem is not enough; we must be part of the answer to the problem the balm in Gilead. This is what we discovered many of these earnest religious leaders are groping for. Challenged by a world in perplexity, facing possible annihilation of civilization, these leaders are seeking to find a way through, but without the clear prophetic guidance which this mes sage contains for them. Let us pray that God will give us tact and wisdom to be able in the spirit of brotherly love to cause the light of the prophetic Word to shine upon their path.

Competition and Rivalry

DUDLEY C. NEWBOLD Chaplain, White Memorial Hospital

Perhaps there is no stimulus so easily applied and so effective in getting things done as that which comes from competition. This grows out of the fact that in these days men are "lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud." And anything that tends to self-importance, caters to pride, or gives something to boast of, makes a powerful appeal to people "in the last days."

So successful is rivalry in the reaching of certain goals that religious denominations, as well as individual churches, make use of this means to reach worthy ends. To set Sabbath school classes competing with one another in the matter of attendance and mission giving will generally boost attendance markedly, and will stimulate large offerings. Of course, we want to see the work of God succeed, but we must guard against trying to do God's work in man's way. Dividing a church into Ingathering bands and stirring up an intense spirit of rivalry among the groups will often cause them to raise amounts of money far beyond what would ordinarily be secured. In fact, enthusiasm to gain top honors for their bands will at times lead some members of the groups to neglect important family or business responsibilities or even resort to deceitful tricks in the soliciting of funds. And why? Because men are "lovers of their own selves," and each feels that he must at all costs maintain his ego status. True Christianity crucifies the ego, however. How many times we have seen a congregation, in its effort to raise some important goal or project, place in the foyer of the church a large placard with the name of each member, with the amount of money assigned to him, and alongside his name the actual amount of money turned in to date. Sometimes the list is set up with the names of those who have collected the most at the top and other names listed in a graded scale down to the least according to the amounts given. Who wants the shame of being at the bottom or near the bottom of the list of solicitors or givers? Have we ever wondered in what order those names might appear if we could see them in heaven's record? It probably would be a very different picture. "Many receive applause for virtues which they do not possess." Gospel Workers, p. 275. The modern equivalent of ancient trumpet blowing is to list members in the order of the gifts for Ingathering or to list the names alphabetically and put after each name stars in accordance with the number of Minute Man goals reached. The counsel of the Lord is clear and we do well to ponder these words: "There is in man a disposition to esteem himself more highly than his brother, to work for self, to seek the highest place." The Desire of Ages, p. 650. But in the kingdom of Christ "the principle of preference and supremacy has no place. The only greatness is the greatness of humility. The only distinction is found in devotion to the service of others." Ibid. Another and very successful form of rivalry is that of setting young men competing with young women. Here the honor of one's sex is at stake. Each side determines it must win. I wonder as I counsel men and women who are in marital difficulties whether the seeds of bitterness, antagonism, and desire for pre-eminence sown in years past are not bearing fruit now.

Competition among division, union, and local conferences in the matter of baptisms, mission offerings, and book sales is not any thing that tends to humility and brotherly love. And all too often covert rivalry exists between individual ministers in the matter of baptisms. Is it Scriptural to compare the fruitage of consecrated workers? Paul declared that while he sowed, Apollos watered, but it was God, and He alone, who brought results. There can be no true in crease without the power of God. You have heard of the old Scottish minister who was discharged because during a whole year he had gained but one convert, and "that one only a boy." But what a boy Robert Moffat! Is it any less a sin to "number Israel" today for the purpose of emulation than it was for David to do it?

Vocabulary of Competition

Our denominational language is often indicative of competition. One of the common expressions in our church papers is that this or that preacher was called to a position "of greater responsibility." The expression implies that there are some men who carry lesser responsibilities and consequently are not entitled to the honor, the wages, the privileges of their brethren and equal sustentation with them. One of the expressions commonly heard in ministerial institutes is, "I am at the bottom of the ladder. I can't fall lower I am just an evangelist," or, "I am just a pastor."

Is it not sad that the men who deal directly with the eternal issues of the souls of men, who daily comfort the sorrowing and point the dying to Christ, who seek to turn the wayward to God, who go from house to house opening the Scriptures, are made to feel that their work is of minor importance? Because positions that have to do with the temporal things of the church are sometimes regarded as of greater honor than those that have to do with the spiritual needs of individuals, it is surely no cause for wonder that such positions are sought.

Surely the stigma of smallness should never be put upon men who give their whole time in going about doing good and in the simple terms of the gospel talking to men in public and private about the kingdom of God. This is the work that Jesus did. We must not despise the men who, like the apostles of old, give them selves to prayer and the preaching of the Word. Among the workers there should be no small, no great "All ye are brethren." "When the laborers have an abiding Christ in their own souls, when all selfishness is dead, when there is no rivalry, no strife for the supremacy, when oneness exists, when they sanctify themselves, so that love for one another is seen and felt, then the showers of the grace of the Holy Spirit will just as surely come upon them as that God's promise will never fail in one jot or tittle. But when the work of others is discounted, that the workers may show their own superiority, they prove that their own work does not bear the signature it should. God cannot bless them." Ellen G. White manuscript 24, 1896, quoted in Aflame for God, p. 454.

Rivalry does not belong to the kingdom of God. It had its beginning when Lucifer challenged God for His place and His throne. It turned the first-born son of earth into a murderer, and it reached its height when Caiaphas, jealous of his place and position, condemned the Son of God to suffering and death. It will come to its end when everything evil meets the full justice of God, when jealousy, covetousness, and all the blighting effects of sin will be obliterated in the cleansing fires of- the last days. God save us and separate us from that which caused the tragedy of Calvary and renders the gospel of none effect in the lives of many professing the Saviour's name. There surely could be nothing more tragic than for any of us to hear the words of our Judge, "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matt. 7:23). Those words will not be spoken to men of the world, but to some who have been leaders in the church. Brethren, let us think on these things.

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Chaplain, White Memorial Hospital

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