Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 22, 1960

Beyond The Horizons

By Wm. E. Wallace, Box 407, Poteau, Oklahoma

Goings-On In Denominational Missions

Radically liberal denominational leaders are pushing for big changes in the foreign missions of the denominations.

It is a movement away from American control of mission churches toward self-governing foreign denominations.

This is designed to create national churches in the various mission fields which would take their places as members of the World Council of Churches. It is described as a move from "paternalism" to "fraternalism." Instead of American denominations continuing in the fatherly role, they would become brother denominations to the national bodies abroad. The strategy of this liberal denominational move is that of a world order of churches under the World Council of Churches.

The steps in this move are critically outlined by Clyde W. Taylor in the religious journal, Action. The steps are:

1. In years past as foreign missions entered and established work in mission fields the missions were organized into councils to facilitate representation before government.

2. The councils were organized into national councils.

3. The councils are being reorganized so all organizations will be with one council.

4. The fourth step is the creation of one "Church of Christ" in the nation.

5. The final step is the uniting of this new "Church of Christ" with the World Council of Churches to complete another milestone in the ecumenical movement.

Taylor further observes that the "only final answer is a great super-church, or what we might call a 'Protestant Rome."

James DeForest Murch writes about this matter under the heading "The History of Ecumenical Strategy." Murch is remembered by many as a participant in the Detroit unity meetings in 1938 when leaders of the Christian Church met with Claude F. Witty, J. N. Armstrong, E. L. Jorgenson, Don Carlos Janes, and George S. Benson.

The conference was exposed as a "disarmament conference." The old Bible Banner exposed the meeting.

The following article by Murch is a good analysis of the radical liberal denominational movement which March opposes.

The History Of Ecumenical Strategy By James Deforest Murch

To understand properly the current revolution from missions to mission it is essential to recall some history.

In 1910 at Edinburgh, Scotland, occurred the first interdenominational missionary convention. Edinburgh's all- engrossing concern for Christian missions — "the evangelization of the world in a generation." Most of the missionary leaders at that time, notably Dr. John R. Mott, believed without reservation that the world was lost without the gospel. Eventually the International Missionary Council came into being, along with the Foreign Missions Council of North America, heralding a new day in missionary cooperation and advance.

Other world meetings were in rapid succession, but it was not long before the apostles of liberalism, who were slowly but surely taking over leadership in their respective denominations, came into control. At the world conference in Jerusalem in 1928, official pronouncements recognized "Christian truth" in non-Christian religions and values in cooperation with their followers "in an intense battle against all the evils which endanger our modern civilization." Social redemption in the name of Christ assumed an importance above the preaching of the gospel and individual salvation. These advanced views were by no means acceptable to the churches at large, but there were interesting behind-the-scenes developments in almost all the major denominational mission boards.

Then came the Laymen's Missionary Inquiry. Liberals, convinced that progress toward their objective could not be speedily achieved through ecclesiastical machinery because of evangelical opposition, were able to get John D. Rockefeller, Jr., warm friend of Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, to support a lay approach to the problem. In 1931 an Appraisal Committee headed by Dr. W. B. Hocking, professor of philosophy at Unitarian Harvard, toured the world and came home with shocking recommendations.

Among proposals to the churches were included (1) abandonment of aggressive evangelism and proselytization, (2) selection, education, and appointment of liberal-minded missionaries, (3) recognition of the right of churches on the mission fields to determine policies and approve missionaries, (4) unification of all mission boards under a general administrative board.

When liberal missionary leaders persisted in the introduction of their radical policies and the appointment of liberal missionaries, tragic divisions resulted in many denominations. The Northern Baptist Convention split three ways. Splinter groups left the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. and set up an independent board. In 1949 the Southern Baptist Convention and several other denominations withdrew from the Foreign Missions Council. A veritable wave of new "faith," "independent," and "direct-support" missions were created to take the place of apostate boards. This rending of the body of Christ apparently brought no regrets, and liberal leaders intensified their efforts to achieve their ends.

With the advent of the National Council of Churches in 1950 and the World Council of Churches (1948), both of which were in control of liberal leadership, plans were laid to eliminate both the interdenominational Foreign Missions Conference in North America and the International Missionary Council and merge their interest with the NCC and WCC. The IMC-WCC merger is still in process of realization. It is expected to remove the last of the barriers to complete liberal denomination of the ecumenical missionary enterprise.

There are many missionary leaders who have not wholly approved liberal trends, notably Dr. Hendrik Kraemer, Dr. Daniel T. Niles, Canon Chandu Ray, and Dr. C. Darby Fulton. The debate still goes on, but the official juggernaut rolls on toward the achievement of its goal.

What may be expected as the program of the advocates of "world missions" develops? (1) All the old mission boards and their distinctive testimony on foreign fields will be scrapped. United Presbyterian and Disciples of Christ work is already in the process of disintegration. (2) NCC-related churches will then contribute "foreign aid" to the so-called "younger churches" in non-Christian lands. (3) These younger churches will be patterned along the lines of the Church in South India and completely integrated in the World Council of Churches. (4) These controls will eventually extend to the older churches, including all those in America composing the National Council. (5) So-called "confessionalism" will be destroyed and be superseded by a new ecumenical church exalting a nebulous christ, rejecting the authority of the holy Scriptures, and substituting an ecclesiastical authority comparable to that of the church of Rome.

One thing is certain, the true church of Christ will continue its God-given ministry in the evangelization of the world. It is encouraging to know that in America there are more than twenty million Protestants who are members of churches not in the Councils and who are opposed to this revolutionary concept of mission. This impressive company is further augmented by millions in churches nominally included in Council membership who no longer support the liberal missionary program of their denominations.

The latest available figures of the Missionary Research Library (1956) reveal that only 43.5 per cent of the 23,432 Protestant missionaries serving abroad, belong to the USA denominational boards cooperating through the NCC. These figures do not include hundreds of other evangelical missionaries who were unreported to the MRL.

Reliable estimates indicate that sixty per cent of all new missionaries going out each year are committed to the kind of missions described in the Great Commission. From this great company of ambassadors of the biblical faith come amazing reports of multitudes won to Christ, churches being established, nationals being trained for evangelism among their own people. They see no need to change their missionary strategy from missions to mission. They are determined to preach no other gospel than that which came by revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:6-12). — From the Christian Standard June 18, 1960 via Action, August 1960.

It is interesting to note that while the denominations are in controversy over functional matters on a higher or different level or category of liberalism and conservatism, there is reflected in our controversy over functional matters the same sort of tension between liberal and conservative thought.

— W. E. W.