Archive: What Has Happened to our Missionary Zeal?

Archive: What Has Happened to our Missionary Zeal?

Archive: Five Methodists speculate on

What Has Happened to our Missionary Zeal?

 

THE CHURCH FORGETS CHRIST IS ESSENTIAL
says Dean L. Griffith, Wilmette, Illinois

Missionary zeal is dependent upon commitment to Christ. If there is no relationship with God through Christ, there is no zeal!

We often fail to communicate this essential ingredient, so the church-goer is frequently unaware that this commitment is both necessary and desirable. Robert Raines, in his book, “New Life in the Church,” expresses it this way: “This is no side issue, no optional matter of individual whim or fancy. Jesus said to Nicodemus, ‘You must be born anew –unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nothing ambiguous or foggy or tentative, is there?”

If an individual thinks Christ is optional, how can Christianity have any vitality? If Paul had thought Christ was optional, we wouldn’t have a Christian church today! And if we feel Christ is optional now, we will not have a Christian church in the future. Christianity is always one generation from extinction. If it’s true that the trend in our church today is to change or ignore this basic premise of Christianity, how can we have a sense of urgency?

Since the average Christian almost never opens his Bible, he is usually totally unaware of what God expects of him. And he is equally unaware of what God promises and desires to do for him which is, “infinitely more than we ever dare to ask or imagine …” (Ephesians 3:20)

Often people do not realize that communicating the Gospel message can be shared in love with the same results that it has had for 2,000 years. The needs of human nature today are essentially the same as the needs of man 2,000 years ago. The redeeming, revitalizing impact of the acceptance of Christ is just as real as it was in the first century of Christianity.

If a man does not have a vital relationship with God through Christ, or does not have daily prayer (which is simply two-way communication between God and man), how can he possibly respond to the last spoken words of our Lord, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations … “? Those words mean nothing to us until Christ becomes ????he Lord of life. Then they become not only His command to us, but, more importantly, He gives us the desire to communicate His love to others.

As individuals come to a point where they are willing and desirous to have God in the central position in their life, He begins to change their attitudes and ambitions. He gives them a vast love and concern for other people. And, finally, He does so much for them that it spills over to others so they, too, can experience the love, the joy, the peace, and the purpose that Christ came to give every man who would receive Him.

I wonder if our church today needs to hear these words again …  “You do not love as you did at first.” (Revelation 2:4) Has our love lost its zeal? Who has a deep and growing love relationship with another person and then hides it from the world? The layman needs to know that he has equal privilege and responsibility with the ministry to share what God has done and is doing for him.

Surely, God is not dead! But if His influence is so dead in our lives that we no longer care to communicate our faith, we need to take another look at our beliefs. God is looking for men – any man, and every man –who will respond to Christ!

 

WE ARE TOO CONCERNED ABOUT OURSELVES
thinks Gerald Lundeen Pastor, West Branch (EUB), Bradford, Pennsylvania.
Erie Conference Director, of Christian Education

From mythology, we recall the story of the Greek warrior, Achilles. His mother was told that she could make her son invulnerable by dipping him beneath the waters of the river Styx. She did so – holding him by one heel. Achilles fought battle after battle in the Trojan War without being harmed. But the end came when a poisoned arrow of the enemy was shot into the heel that had not been dipped.

I am convinced that Satan is not overly concerned about how much the Church today faithfully attends divine worship; how many beautiful buildings are built; nor how many church budgets are over-subscribed. I am sure that he isn’t too worried when we fill each night of the week with committee meetings, circle meetings, class meetings, scout meetings, and what-have-you (in fact, I wonder if he isn’t laughing with unholy glee as he sees Christians madly dashing from one “church activity” to another – finding little time in between for personal communion with God).

But it does seem that the Devil gets quite upset when we share God’s “good news” with others. If Satan can keep us from witnessing, he will have struck us in our “Achilles Heel.” As long as we confine our beliefs to ourselves, he has no problem. But as we win others to Christ, we find Satanic opposition.

First of all, we have a theological problem. We somehow need to recapture the truth that man without Christ is eternally lost. We have tried to come up with a new theology that man might possibly be able to lift himself out of his dilemma by his own efforts. The biblical truth is that man needs Jesus Christ. Without this basic theology, it is no wonder that our sense of urgency has vanished.

Another problem we have is that of inadequate and outdated promotion. The Church today is behind the times – we need to realize that we are living in a century of tremendous progress and that there is a need to keep up with the latest developments in the promotion of missions. A technological revolution is taking place: every available means of communication and promotion should be employed by the Church to promote missions!!

Our third problem is selfishness. Most churches today have a very “active” program going. This drains the life of its members so that not much time, effort and money is left to go elsewhere! We become ingrown – promoting our own program, solving our own problems, and raising our own budgets. However, time and time again it has proven true that the Church which has a concern for the lost around the world will also have an outstanding program at home.

 

WE ARE LULLED BY A “COMFORT ABLE” GOSPEL
thinks Mrs. Malvin Jackson St. Joseph, Missouri

Does the average Christian of today realize the awfulness of being LOST? If we would ponder the Bible-given facts of an eternity without the Lord Jesus Christ, would we not have more zeal to win others to Him, here and in every corner of the world?

Compassionate hearts are aroused and everyone comes to do all he can when a child becomes lost in a wooded area, or in a city where danger lurks on every side. Why do not we, as Christians, feel this much concern for the spiritually lost? At one time, not too far removed, our preachers were inspired to preach to the congregations the horrors of Hell. This being clearly set forth frequently, gave an urgency to win souls, here and abroad. Since this preaching is outmoded in most churches, an apathy has come over many Christians toward mission work. Instead, the needs of the local congregations have taken precedence. Building expansion and like needs demand time, energy and money so mission work is left lagging.

Could it be we are being lulled to sleep with the “comfortable gospel” which only presents God’s side of love and patience, and avoids the word which plainly states that we have a jealous God who has commanded us to “go into all the world and preach the gospel” and that “he that winnest souls is wise?”

Modern day living for the Christian consists of constant rush, – work meetings, schedules, ad infinitum, until our minds can be diverted from the prime concerns. Therefore in addition to the realization that we need be working for the evangelization of the whole world “while it is still day,” our attention needs continually to be brought to this phase of our Christian responsibility.

It has been our privilege, for several years, to entertain in our home, missionaries from various places throughout the world. This has caused mission work to be very real to our family. As we recall the first-hand experiences the missionaries have shared with us, we realize the needs of their work and are compelled by the Holy Spirit to pray for them and their work.

Our zeal has lessened toward missionary work in The Methodist Church, but if it is to be carried on in future generations, we had best get our churches involved in an enthusiastic missionary education. Enthusiasm is contagious – especially when it 1s motivated by the Holy Spirit.

 

OUR MISSIONS HAVE BEEN DE-PERSONALIZED
says Robert W. Hughes, Pastor, United Methodist Church Bridgeton, New Jersey

Someone said the difference between a thing being possible or impossible is the two little letters ‘im.’ Let me suggest the zeal for missions which Methodists once had has diminished largely because we have become more concerned with ‘im’ than we are for the lost of this world. This is true in at least three areas.

First, once we were a people with a real love for the Word of God. Now we exert a certain pride in being a people who have no particular doctrinal emphasis. We have become a people who have, by our Biblical ignorance, failed to heed the command of our Lord to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” (Matthew 28:19) Unlike Wesley, the world has not become our parish to the extent that we see the universal need for salvation as he did. The world population now exceeds 3 ½ billion, and the projected estimates indicate that somewhere after 2000 A.D., 7 billion people will live on this planet. We need to return to our first love. (Revelation 2:4)

Second, the ignorance of God’s Word has created cold-hearted churchmen. Indifference to the mission field and its challenge are the result. When we have no vital Christian experience which is grounded in the Word of God, we become self-centered and indifferent to the needs of others. This indifference can be illustrated in these statistics: If each American Methodist family would give 5% of a $4000 annual income to missions, we would be able to contribute $620,000,000 annually to this cause. This is approximately 21 times more than we are doing now!

Third, the zeal for missions has 46 GOOD NEWS been dulled because of institutionalism. We have lost contact with the mission field. Because it has been de-personalized, we do not give, nor do we pray. It is hard to pray or to give with much zeal simply to some generalized place. The institution, as important as it is, does not take the place of people.

To recapture our lost zeal, we as Methodists need to return to the Biblical basis for missions and seek to reclaim our lost first love for Him. A commitment of one’s self to Christ will cause us to give if we cannot go, to pray much if we can give but little, but above all, it will open our eyes to see the fields that are white to harvest! (Matthew 9:37)

 

THE CHURCH HAS SHUT OUT GOD’S SPIRIT
says Leonard Fugate, Pastor, United Methodist Church Hornick, Iowa

Our missionary zeal is flagging today! The main underlying cause is the lack of the working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of individuals. This produces a lack of evidence of His working in our congregations in the organized church.

One secondary cause is the organizational structure, which tends to impersonalize missionary giving. In our Methodist structure, only in Advance Specials does one get the feeling that we are giving in a personal way. The balance of our benevolence giving, which is much larger than Advance Specials, as the average layman thinks of it goes into a huge pot and is given out arbitrarily. Thereby we lose the advantage of the feeling of personal giving.

During my seminary years I had the occasion to become acquainted with a number of congregations of various denominations. The one thing that stands out in relation to their missionary programs was the fact that those with the greatest missionary zeal, also showed evidence of the greatest activity of the Holy Spirit in their congregations. (Mainline denominations, not Pentecostals.) One had a benevolence budget which was greater than their operating budget. There I found an attitude of Christian love and fellowship in action such as I have seldom, if ever, found in our own denomination.

If we possess the Christian love which Christ desires of us, we cannot divorce missionary zeal from His Great Commandment. He said there were two main principles of living: the first, to love God with our entire personality; the second, to love our fellow man as much and in the same way as we love ourselves.

Missionary zeal has a direct relationship to, and is a good indication of, the spiritual condition of a congregation.

I recommend two books to every Methodist who is interested in spiritual renewal in our church: “Your God is too Small” by J. B. Phillips; and “New Life in the Church” by Robert A. Raines. Phillips says that without a power from outside, Christ’s teaching remains a beautiful ideal, tantalizing but unattainable. But if we want to co-operate, the Spirit is immediately available. Raines says: “The loss of mission appears in the local church, which is usually content to grow in physical stature and in favor with its immediate environment … Thus we lose our individual concern in corporate irresponsibility. That the average church member and the typical local church have lost their sense of mission is ultimately a judgement upon us who are leaders of the church.”

Archive: What Has Happened to our Missionary Zeal?

Archive: Books to Help You

Archive: Books to Help You

Here are some books other Methodists have found helpful and stimulating

Conducted by Associate Editor Michael Walker, Associate Minister, Walnut Hill United Methodist Church, Dallas, Texas

What About Tongue-Speaking? by Anthony A. Hoekema (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1966, $3.50) is reviewed by Bob Stamps, Associate Minister, First Methodist Church, Carrollton, Texas.

The author’s opinion is perfectly obvious from the very outset of the book. He opposes speaking in tongues. His opposition is based on the theological assumption that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were eclipsed in the life of the Church after the death of the Apostles.

The stated purpose of the author is to “make a Biblical and theological evaluation of the phenomenon of tongue-speaking.” His evaluation begins with a look at church history. “When did tongue-speaking begin?” “Among whom did it occur?” “When did it end?” “When has it re-occurred?” Such are the questions he asks of the church historians.

The author points to the fact that reference to tongue-speaking is scanty indeed after the first 200 years of the Church. And when it does appear, it seems only to occur “on the fringe,” never in “the mainstream” of the historic Church. This was so, of course, until 1901 and the outbreak of the modern Pentecostal movement. And, more recently, the rise of the neo-Pentecostals among the older, established denominations. This study of church history relevant to the issue at hand is quite valuable, especially regarding the “charismatic revival” of this generation.

From church history, Dr. Hoekma turns to the opinions of the Pentecostals themselves. He attempts to point out, as clearly and precisely and objectively as possible, what significance tongue-speaking has for Pentecostals. His method is a careful examination of their own works and testimony. This section of the book is well documented and thoughtfully developed.

Next, the author exposes the Pentecostal position and experience to the light of Scripture and finds it wanting. He constantly insists on the necessity of adjusting and interpreting experience by the standard of Scripture, rather than molding an interpretation of Scripture by experience. This is certainly a valid insistence and must be heeded by both Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals alike.

He exposes as invalid the traditional Pentecostal dictum that all should and must speak in tongues to be truly spiritual. He also points out that nowhere does Scripture tell us to seek to speak in tongues. In fact, he insists that Scripture places the experience as the least desirable of the gifts of God. He further renounces as non-Scriptural the notion held among many Pentecostals that the Holy Spirit does not enter the life at Conversion, but rather at the time of a later work of grace. Also he brings out many excesses and abuses of this gift and calls them to Scriptural order.

Dr. Hoekema follows his Scriptural evaluation of tongue- speaking with a theological one. In this section, he makes some rather interesting and forceful statements in contradiction to Pentecostal theology. Most of his statements are well thought through, substantiated by fact, and persuasively presented. However, at the heart of all his theological reasoning is the statement: “It cannot be proved with finality that the miraculous gift of the Spirit, which include tongue-speaking, are still in the Church today.”

Several arguments are advanced to defend this statement, but the whole discussion seems to revolve around the purpose for the Divine dispensation of Charismatic gifts upon the Church. Dr. Hoekema contends that God’s purpose in giving them was essentially to authenticate the authority of the Apostles. Thus, the gifts themselves were no longer needed by, nor given to, the Church after the death of the Apostles. Dr. Hoekema is hard pressed to support such a position by Scripture. At this crucial point, his argument limps feebly. It appears that Hoekema himself has become guilty of a gross blunder – that is, stretching Scripture to suit his theology.

He attempts to close his book positively by pointing out what we can learn from our “Pentecostal friends.” But his polemic dies hard. However, he does acclaim the zeal and warmth of the Pentecostals as desirable for the “whole church.” Also, he stresses that the Church should never reach the place that she does not feel the need for more of the Spirit.

What shall we say finally as regards this volume? Pentecostals and Neo-Pentecostals would do well to read it and heed its sound criticisms. Non-Pentecostals should read it critically and objectively, keeping in mind that nowhere does God tell us to despise any of His gifts, not even the least of them. Certainly even the least of God’s gifts is greater than the most desirable gifts given by men. One should keep in mind, as well, that even to the abusive Corinthian church, Paul said, along with stem admonition, “forbid not speaking in tongues.”

Wesleyan Christians can find added insight in the words of John Wesley concerning the miraculous gifts of the Spirit:

“And these gifts, the Apostle allows to be desirable; yea, he exhorts the Corinthians, at least the teachers among them, … to covet them earnestly, that thereby they might be qualified to be more useful either to Christians or heathens … It does not appear that these extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were common in the Church for more than two or three centuries … The cause of this was not, (as has been vulgarly supposed,) ‘because there was no more occasion for them,’ … The real cause was, ‘the love of many,’ almost all Christians, so called, was ‘waxed cold.’ The Christians had no more of the Spirit of Christ, than the other heathens … This was the real cause, why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit were no longer to be found in the Christian Church; because the Christians were turned heathens again, and had only a dead form left.”

(Sermons on Several Occasions Vol. II, New York: Carlton & Phillips, 1854. p. 266).

Archive: What Has Happened to our Missionary Zeal?

Archive: What John Wesley Might Say to the United Methodist Church

Archive: What John Wesley Might Say to the United Methodist Church

By Dr. Albert C. Outler

On Tuesday, April 23, 1968 The United Methodist Church was born, out of union between the Evangelical United Brethren and The Methodist Churches. Keynote address was delivered by Dr. Albert C. Outler, Professor of Theology at Perkins School of Theology, Dallas, Tex.

An expert on the theology of John Wesley, Dr. Outler told the editors of Good News that his sermon was an attempt to say what he thought the founder of Methodism would say to the new church. Space limitations prohibit publication of the entire sermon, but significant excerpts have been lifted from the body of Dr. Outler’s address titled “The Unfinished Business of an Unfinished Church” – Charles W. Keysor, Editor.

… Here we tum a new page in modem church history. And just as smugness is excluded from our celebration, so is cynicism …

We have much to be grateful for, nothing to be complacent about. Our joy this day is foretaste of a future that can be even more creative than we have yet dared to ask or think. This means that, as we tum from our ceremony of beginnings to the tasks that follow, our foremost need is for a vivid sense of the church we have been called to be.

By what norms shall we transform our covenant into genuine koinonia? By what principles are we willing to be guided in the agonies of growth that lie ahead?

One thing is for sure: what has served till now as our “status quo before” will simply not suffice for the upcoming future … The standing order is now too nearly preoccupied with self-maintenance and survival. The world is in furious and agonizing turmoil, incomprehensible and unmanageable. The church is in a radical crisis, and in the throes of a profound demoralization at every level: of faith and order, life and work. In such times, business as usual simply will not get the job done ….

The basic meaning of the word “catholic” is “whole,” “universal,” “open.” It reminds us that true unity not only allows for diversity, it requires it … It means … a community whose boundaries are set by the Christian essentials (the bare essentials at that) in which it is bad faith for anyone to deny full membership to any other, save by the canons of faith in Christ and the Christian discipline that derives from that confession.

This rules out all distinctions based on race, sex, class and culture – and so also all distinctions based on partisan emphasis on this doctrine or that, this form of worship or that, this pattern of polity or that. Here is the plain teaching of Wesley’s sermon on Catholic Spirit – a sermon we would do well to recall and to update in terms that might fit our own condition …

But catholicity by itself is not enough. The church is called to mission, and her mission is both her message and the demonstration of that message in her corporate life. Her message is not herself, either. It is her witness to the Christian Evangel: to the scandal and folly of Christ incarnate, Christ crucified, Christ resurrected, Christ transforming human life and culture, Christ in the world, Christ for the world; Christ in us, our hope of glory!

Thus, the church we are called to be must be “truly evangelical” – a church ablaze with a passion that God’s Gospel shall be preached and heard and responded to in faith and hope and love by all who can be reached and instructed and gathered into the fellowship of God’s covenanted people.

The fullness of the Gospel embraces all human concerns everywhere and always. But the heart of the Gospel is startlingly simple: that God loves you and me and all men with a very special love, and that Jesus Christ is sufficient proof of this love to any man who will receive and confess Him as Savior and Lord …

The word “evangelical” is concerned, above all, with the faith that receives the Gospel wholeheartedly and in trust. It means faith as a gift from God, faith as man’s response to God, faith as the mortal foe of human pride ….

The church evangelical is, therefore, radically Christ-centered. It is disengaged from any final dependence on her apparatus of whatever sort, save only as it ministers to her central mission: that men may receive God’s gift of saving grace in Christ, and learn to live in the world in true communion with the Holy Spirit and with one another.

The church evangelical is a proclaiming church – but it is also a teaching church. Wesley often pointed out that the difference between his movement and the others –equally zealous in proclamation- was his provision of societies in which converts came to learn the meaning of the Gospel in depth and in concrete life situations.

We Methodists and EUB’s alike … are grateful heirs of evangelical fathers and brethren. But we can scarcely boast of having fully claimed their legacy.

A church falling behind in the race with an exploding … population is not “truly evangelical,” despite its self-advertisements. A church that counts her evangelical harvest chiefly in terms of members added to the rolls is not truly evangelical. A church, the vast majority of whose members do not really understand the great issues entailed by “the Protestant principle” – God’s sovereignty, man’s justification by faith alone, the witness of the Spirit, the life of grace, the authority of the Scripture as the prime source of divine revelation, and so forth – such a church is not only not truly evangelical, she is, indeed, partaker in the greatest tragedy of modern Christianity: the abject failure of the teaching church.

Here we are – Christians by name and sign-organized to the teeth and involved in titanic labors of all sorts. And yet … our people do not really know what the Christian faith purports; do not really believe in their hearts and minds what they profess with their lips. And of those that do, there are few who can give a rational account of it to themselves and others ….

Archive: What Has Happened to our Missionary Zeal?

Archive: Evangelicals Believe in Ecumenism

Archive: Evangelicals Believe in Ecumenism

By Dale Bittinger, Pastor
First United Methodist Church, Rockwood, Tennessee
Chairman, Good News Board of Directors

The immediate reaction to the statement found in our title will be varied. Ultra liberals will disagree and accuse evangelicals of disrupting the ecumenical movement through insistence on holding on to an “archaic theology.” Some evangelicals, concerned about the brand of ecumenism that gains the headlines today, will inwardly groan, even gnash their teeth. For these the word should be irk-u-menism not ecumenism.

These feelings and emotions have little bearing on the fact that there is an authentically Biblical ecumenism. Evangelicals are proudly loyal to Christian unity rooted in the scriptures. We recognize that when hatred, suspicion, and the like creep into the Body of Christ, the life of the body is threatened. No one needs to convince us that berating fellow Christians is wrong.

No honest evangelical will deny that many of the divisions within the Church have been scandalous and ridiculous. Some have sprung from childish and selfish motivation. However, we refuse to agree that all division and diversity is sinful or disgraceful. Moreover, we strongly assert that much of the cleavage has come about as a reaction to the distortion or denial of the historic Christian faith. Many groups have been raised up of God to preserve the evangelical message. If God blesses these churches, we cannot condemn them. Further, we declare that the real divisive scandal rests with those who attack the scriptures, water down the Christian message, misrepresent the nature and task of the Church, and lower Biblical moral standards.

So, we again repeat the statement, “evangelicals believe in ecumenism.” Now let’s look at the rallying points which we consider to be the irreducible minimum for Christ-like oneness. From these essentials – we cannot – we dare not retreat.

(1.)  Evangelicals believe in an ecumenism built on biblical authority rather than theological consensus.

Many of those active in the movement toward church union do not believe that the Bible is inspired any more than any other good book. So, a Bible without authority necessitates a quest for theological consensus or agreement. These philosophical theologians reason as follows: Every religious thinker in his best moments has some intuition or intimation of religious truth. Ideas discovered in this way have a certain kind of authority. So, every theological idea, whether of the beatnik variety or not, must be considered. Through discussion and controversy, a compatible theology is being evolved. This theology will be forever relative and emerging. Agreement with the Bible is not considered a valid part of this process. So, such phrases as “trends in modem theology” have come into being. For many, then, the quest for oneness is centered in a consensus theology hammered out through intellectual struggle rather than divine revelation.

On the other hand, in John 17, Jesus’ prayer for oneness was preceded by prayer for sanctification through the Word. This sequence was not accidental. There was also a declaration that His Word was truth. He further prayed for those who would believe on Him through the Word of His disciples. This reference was to the Epistles and the Gospels. From these verses, we have a right to conclude that Christian unity must be preceded by a belief in the truth of the scriptures. No movement which denies or distorts the Word is authentically ecumenical.

(2.)  Evangelicals believe in an ecumenism whose unity is derived from the “being of God” rather than from ecclesiastical structure.

The key to the oneness for which Jesus prayed in John 17 can be found in the phrase, “As we are one.” How were Jesus and the Father one? They were one in being. In verse 21 Jesus plainly states that the Father is in Him and He is in the Father. He then declares that his followers are to be one, “in us,” meaning in the Father and the Son. So, it follows that our unity must be in the being of God.

Two corollaries emerge from this fact of unity in the being of God. First, only a divine Christ could share in the “Being of God” as described in John 17. A merely human Christ could not provide any lasting spiritual cohesion. Second, a dynamic conversion experience is necessary for a sinful man to be initiated into the holy being of God. One cannot be simply “structured in.” At this point, one learns from modern medical science that an organ transplanted into the human body must be made compatible or be rejected. The New Birth is the compatibility process for transplantation into the Body of Christ or Being of God. Only those who have believed into Christ have a common purpose derived from mutual commitment to our Lord.

Paul continues this idea of unity in the Being of God in I Corinthians 12. Verse 4 talks of a diversity of gifts with the same Spirit. Verse 5 talks of a diversity of administrations with the same Lord. Verse 6 talks of a diversity of operations but the same God working in all. Verse 14 states that the body is not one member but many. The underlying principle in all these verses is that the unity of the body is in the life of the body and not the structure.

An amusing illustration of the folly of believing in unity without life once took place in an entomological laboratory. A group of students, eager to fool their professor, constructed a bug from parts of a variety of insects. The teacher was requested to identify the species. Pupils were inwardly rejoicing at the anticipated success of their ruse. However, their smugness was soon shattered by the voice of the old man. “My friends,” he said, “that is a humbug.” Could it be that there are some humbugs being constructed in ecclesiastical laboratories?

It must be observed, however, that Paul did not reject the idea of structural unity. He simply relegated it to a secondary status. So, we follow in the steps of our Lord and His great apostle in teaching that inner life in the being of God, not outer conformity, is the primary well-spring of Christian unity.

(3.)  Evangelicals believe in an ecumenism that springs from the urgency of proclaiming the New Testament Gospel to our age.

The evangelistic task should draw the followers of Christ together. Mutuality of mission should result in unity. Nevertheless, the twentieth century Church has been sharply divided over the goals and methods of evangelism. We of the evangelical theological bent are suspicious of some efforts at unity because we cannot accept the substitution of non-biblically oriented ecclesiastical propaganda for the New Testament kerygma (good news of redemption in Christ). We are disturbed when such things as race relations, birth control, war and peace, and poverty relief are seen as the heart of the message of the Church. We stand aghast when civil rights marches, political lobbying, legislative agitation, and the like are given priority over the proclamation of the redemptive message of salvation from sin. For us, no movement toward unity can countenance the changing of society through pronouncements and agitation as of more importance than the changing of individuals through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. We believe that no constructive social change can be expected until individuals, who make up society, are transformed as individuals, through surrender to Christ and the receiving of His Spirit.

The evangelical ecumenist feels that Acts 1:8 spells out true evangelism: “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you and ye shall be witnesses of me.” From this we see that the evangelistic enterprise is the presentation of the story of Jesus in such a convincing way, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that men are convicted of their sin and turn to Jesus Christ for salvation. Changed men will change society. No other conception of the task of the Church can have ecumenical cohesiveness.

(4.)  Evangelicals believe in an ecumenism which derives its power from the Holy Spirit rather than from the impingement of numerical strength.

The “merging mania” with its accompanying belief that growth in numbers brings growth in power and prestige is foreign to the scriptures. The present world system may share this belief, but such is not the teaching of our Lord. He said, “Ye are not of the world even as I am not of the world.” The Bible also quotes God as saying that His means of operation is not by secular might or power but by the dynamic of the Holy Spirit. God’s Book also drives home the fact that God has never needed majority to carry on His work. Such incidents as Gideon and his 300 reveal that God does not need to create a monopoly to achieve His will.

Our government has recognized that man cannot be trusted with exclusive control in the commercial world. Pre-Reformation Church history has shown that men can also misuse an ecclesiastical monopoly. So, God’s people pray not so much for numerical strength as for spiritual power. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we will not only be welded together in oneness, we will also have a saving influence on our age.

In summary, let me say that we need one faith more than one organization. We need unity in Christ more than union of churches. True union will come not from voting or desiring it but from a common loyalty to Christ and His Word, and a common experience of Christ as Savior. So, we aspire not so much for one denomination as for one mind – the mind of Christ. We seek one Spirit – the Holy Spirit. We hold to one faith as revealed in the scriptures. We do not seek to build a super church, but we seek to lift up a super-Christ. In the words of Paul, our aim is that Christ may be all in all.

There are three contenders for supremacy in the Church: Christ, man, and Satan. God grant that Christ may prevail.

Archive: What Has Happened to our Missionary Zeal?

Archive: A Campus Revolution

Achive: A Campus Revolution

Does the college campus respond to the clearcut claims of Christ?

By Dr. James F. Engel
Professor of Marketing, Ohio State University
Trinity Methodist Church, Columbus, Ohio
Member, Good News Board of Directors

“Before you leave this course, your faith in Christianity, if you have any, will be destroyed. Christianity is a myth – a crutch for the intellectual misfit.”

Sound familiar? These words were stated this year by a philosophy professor at a major university on the first day of a required course with 500 students in attendance. And similar thoughts are echoed on other campuses around the country. Make no mistake about it – Christianity is facing a challenge that it cannot ignore, and our response will shape the very destiny of tomorrow’s world. Don’t forget that tomorrow’s leaders are in the college classrooms today.

What is the Church’s answer? This is hard to summarize, but the guiding philosophy on a number of campuses is a drive to be RELEVANT. (Don’t stick to an outmoded gospel! Let’s “demythologize the Bible!” “End the war!” “Burn the draftcards!”) ACTION! (“Today’s student doesn’t want to hear the fundamentalist line.” “The gospel is the social gospel.” “Conversion – leave that to Billy Graham.”)

There are thousands of men and women who study and teach at colleges and universities, who, like myself, consider the attack on Christianity to be an attack on our intelligence and the validity of our faith. Moreover, we don’t find draft card burning and some of the other attempts to be “relevant” to be even close as an answer. We believe that Jesus Christ is who He said He was – the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Furthermore, we feel that it is high time to state these views with force and clarity. We are convinced that Christ is the only answer in a tangled world.

Does the college campus respond to a clearcut presentation of the claims of Christ? You bet it does, and this can mean only one thing as it has throughout history – spiritual revolution!

The campus today is in turmoil with a myriad of undercurrents. Students and faculty are restless. Why shouldn’t we be? It is becoming increasingly apparent that knowledge alone is not sufficient to solve the problems of the world. We are no closer to peace today than we were hundreds of years ago, and it is said that the great majority of scientific advances have been packed into the past 10 years. If the answer is in knowledge, then we should have the solutions in sight. But where are they?

Many men and women on college campuses look at those of us in the church and, by and large, dismiss us as being irrelevant. They declare: “You blew it! You sit in your comfortable churches, but you do nothing to solve the problems of the world.”

It doesn’t take a very perceptive student to see that the world is aiming toward some type of climax, and to their credit, many of these men and women want to do something about it. Fault their strategy if you wish, but don’t fault their motivation. At least they are trying.

To the casual observer, it might seem like the campus is the center of atheism – that it is “off-limits” to meaningful Christianity. To some extent, a version of Christianity is off-limits on the campus, and that centers around the impotent Christ, the God on a throne in a placid heaven wearing a long white beard, the “meek and mild” Jesus, the Christianity that is proclaimed on Sunday morning but not lived on Monday. Hypocrisy is despised, and a Christianity that is powerless and irrelevant indeed has no place on the campus. But that is not really Christianity – only a caricature.

The real Christ, the living two-fisted Christ, is something else. This Christ was a complete stranger to me until June, 1965. Then, after 31 years of Sunday morning “churchianity” in The Methodist Church I was challenged at a Faith at Work Conference to let Christ take over my life. I had lived my life for my-· self and my professional reputation, but attainment of some of these very life goals left no satisfaction. To the eyes of the world, my wife and I would probably have been the ideal young faculty couple – financial means, nice home, nice family, good professional reputation. The only thing missing was meaning in life. And that did not come until Christ became our Lord and delivered that abundant life He and He alone can give.

Since beginning my walk with Christ, I have discovered that faculty and students alike are ready and willing to meet the real Christ – to live lives like the first century Christians who “turned the world upside down.” A faculty prayer breakfast at Ohio State turned out over 300 Christians, many of whom offered comments like “I have been a Christian, but I have never known how to live for Christ on the campus.” One log burning alone can do little. But watch out when several are put together! A movement is sweeping the country today under the sponsorship of Campus Crusade for Christ. It involves small “action groups” whereby students and faculty meet in real Christian fellowship, experiencing God’s love, and learning together how to see lives change right on the campus. The natural result of this kind of fellowship has to be an overflow of love and concern to the lives of others. Such groups are now in existence with students on nearly 1,000 campuses that we know of. In just one year, at least 50 campuses have seen the growth of such action groups among faculty.

How are these things happening? By and large, the organized church as we know it, has not taken the leadership. It is laymen who have experienced changed lives who, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, become God’s ambassadors where they are. When the church emphasizes draftcard burning and social action without Christ, the impact is virtually nil! This is being repeated on hundreds of campuses. But huge crowds throng to hear the Gospel presented meaningfully in campus lingo and jargon. The response is overwhelming.

To those with the emphasis on war and peace (and the emphasis on war and peace and the other social concerns which too frequently monopolize the Christian channel on campus), I issue this challenge: can you honestly show that you are getting the job done? Are lives changing? Is this restlessness and search for meaning being satisfied? I am convinced from my travels coast to coast that there is a hungering for God as there has seldom been before. Experience is showing beyond a shadow of a doubt that students and faculty will respond to Christ; that they are willing to accept the Bible as God’s Word; that they are willing to live for Christ. Just show them who Christ really is and how He can change a life. Far too many have sat in church going through the motions as I did and never have experienced true Christianity.

Just this last quarter, students thronged into my office to talk about their problems. Why? Simply because I unashamedly stated in class that I had committed my life to Christ and that He changed me totally! No preaching; just an honest statement of what is important to me. If others have the right to publicly attack Christianity, those of us who are believers have the right to proclaim Christ! Four students prayed with me in a period of several days and received Christ. Others who were Christians experienced genuine renewal and now are vibrant witnesses to the Gospel. Some might say these kids are just misfits. But in reality, each is a campus leader who knows the score and has lived in the mainstream of campus life.

A book could be written about the lives being changed daily, as students and faculty members themselves are witnessing to others. And isn’t this the kind of revolutionary Christianity that changed the world in the first century? We are finding daily that our God “frequently is too small” and that we must believe that Christ is willing to do things far beyond our dreams.

A revolution is taking place; God is putting His army together to change the world, and this is not limited to the campus. vi these times, as never before, we have unique opportunities to see lives change as we make ourselves available to Christ as His ambassadors. The church is far more than a structure; it is each person who knows Christ personally and will live a life under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Methodism lies right at the heart of the Protestant mainstream, and God has given us a remarkable Wesleyan heritage for spiritual revolution. John Wesley preached Christ; lives changed; a total society changed! It can happen again.

The burden, however, is on you and me. We are irrelevant if we are not living lives consistent with our calling. Sunday morning Christianity is not enough. The pastorate, in tum, has a great obligation to ground us as laymen in the Word of God and to train us to be effective witnesses. Let’s remain true to original Christianity and proclaim openly and honestly that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Archive: What Has Happened to our Missionary Zeal?

Archive: The Biblical Basis for Christian Social Concern

Archive: The Biblical Basis for Christian Social Concern

By Donald L. Frank Pastor
First Methodist Church, Mineral Point, Wisconsin

Current times are very confusing to the dedicated Christian. He is the person who has heard the good news in Christ … he has responded … and now he is trying to live out the faith in his daily existence.

But he hears different voices shouting at him when it comes down to the matter of political, economic and social issues. One voice tells him that Viet Nam or the metropolitan riots, or poverty, aren’t the church’s business. But another church voice is urging “Start marching!” “Get arrested!” “Burn your draft card!” “Storm city hall!” “Run for office!” This, we are being told, is the proper pattern for Christian life-style today.

Is it any wonder, then, that so many people in our churches are confused? Is it any wonder that sincere Christians are searching for principles of Biblical truth and plain old common sense … principles to help them live according to God’s will in a world filled with complex and difficult problems?

We look to the Bible as the standard of authority, for both faith and practice. And so we need to bring the revelation of God, as found in the Scriptures, to bear on this specific question: What guidance does the Bible give for Christian involvement in the concerns of man’s social, political and economic life?

When we turn to the Scripture, our minds turn automatically to the life of Jesus Christ. For in the “Word made Flesh,” God’s revelation has reached its peak, and God’s will has been most perfectly expressed. As we look at the total picture of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels, two major concerns spring into view. His first concern was about the individual person’s relationship with God. This great, over-arching concern of Jesus is evidenced from the very beginning of His public ministry: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) Jesus was constantly concerned that men should live in close communion and obedient fellowship with God. Christ’s first recorded public message announced the way in which this was to come about: Man was to repent (tum around so as to face toward God) and believe in the good news which God had sent in the Person of Jesus Christ. The balance of Jesus’ earthly ministry was the proclamation of that good news of redemption, which the “turned around” man was to believe and to implement in daily relationships with God and his fellowman.

Our friends in the church who ignore the individual’s personal relationship with God in and through Jesus Christ ignore the very starting point for the Gospel of Christ. His message is intended to penetrate the lives of individual people, causing them to examine their motives and actions … to confess their sins … and then to receive God’s forgiveness. Thus liberated and inspired by His Spirit, believers can enjoy a new life, a new outlook and a new usefulness to God. There are certain things which must happen to change a man as an individual person. No government program, law, march, or protest can replace this inward transformation of the will, the value standards and the emotions. If, as we believe, a man’s life is ultimately dependent upon God and is incomplete without Him, then a man, whoever or wherever he is, must come to terms with God. First of all, a man must meet Him as an individual. Only then is it possible to live in a relationship of faith and trust and obedience, the source of practical Christian behavior in daily life.

The early church, as described in the Book of Acts, began with this kind of an outlook. It confronted the individual. It told him about Jesus. And then it drew him into a Christ-centered, intimate fellowship. It studied the teachings of Jesus. And it went out into the world to be accused of turning the world “upside down.” But always, top priority was given to man’s relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

It is tempting to stop at this point. And, to our shame, some Christians do just that. We have used the walls of our churches like the Berlin Wall: to isolate, to separate. In so doing, we have served up “half a Christ” (if even that) to the world – and to ourselves. For, as we said previously, there are two major concerns which spring from the life of Jesus. Over and over again, the Master showed vital concern about the relationship of man to his fellow man. This is a necessary and inevitable consequence of the personal relationship with God.

Examples are abundant: the parable of the Good Samaritan, the second great commandment of our Lord, the parable of the Great Judgement, and the personal attitude of Jesus as He healed, visited, fed, and reminded the people of their obligation to one another. All these are specific indications of the deep and constant concern which Jesus had for the way in which man lived with his fellow man – especially fellow disciples.

Jesus indicates that the way in which we live with God is tied up with the way in which we live with one another-and vice versa. For instance, look at the question asked Jesus in Mark 10:17, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Then look at Jesus’ answer: “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21) The thing which the man lacked, really, was an awareness of his responsibility to use his God-given wealth for the benefit of other people. He had fulfilled the commandments that applied to him personally. But, this was not enough to please God. The rich man’s outlook needed expansion – his own self and possessions had gotten in the way. If he was to inherit eternal life, he had tel find a loving faith which would unite him with his fellow man, as with his God. Both these dimensions of true faith were lacking; his religion was a matter of keeping rules.

Teaching about the Last Judgement (Matthew 25:31-44), Jesus points out that God will honor and save people whose vital faith made them care about others, even though “the blessed” were not conscious, at the time, that by serving other people they were simultaneously serving Christ. On the other hand, God will dismiss and reject people who lacked a faith real enough to generate spontaneous compassion such as the Good Samaritan demonstrated. The damned are those who fail to understand that “he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (I John 4: 20b). In this parable, the blessed and the damned are symbols of those of us who de fine things in isolated terms of religious and non-religious, church and world, and confine themselves to the “religious.” Jesus teaches that this kind of a dichotomy cannot exist in His disciples’ lives.

Over and over again these two themes are interwoven in the life and ministry of the Master: man’s relationship with God and man’s relationship with other man.

The life of Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of the writing of the Old Testament prophets – writings which reached a peak in that famous passage in Micah 6:6-8 which concludes: “He has showed you, 0 man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” The prophets Micah, Amos, Hosea, et al., were all concerned about the way people were treated and taken advantage of by the so-called “religious elite.” These religious leaders went through the motions of being religious. But they were not concerned inwardly, so their religion was not a reality of heart and life. The condemnation of God’s spokesmen thundered down upon the hypocrites because they had broken covenant with the God, who required honesty and compassion toward others as the natural response to His kindness toward His chosen people.

Lying behind these utterances and attitudes of the prophets were the commandments and rules of the Jewish people dating from the Exodus itself. These divine rules show a concern for other people and often express a very exacting ethical standard of dealing with someone else. God’s concern for the man who is forced into servitude is shown by providing for a year of jubilee or release. God shows His concern for the person who loses an animal because of another man’s negligence. A fair method of repayment is set forth. God also shows His concern for the poor and widowed. Fields are not to be picked clean at harvest time in order that needy people might go through and glean some food for themselves. Written into the founding principles of God’s covenant is a holy concern for other people. This same concern for persons expressed itself fully and perfectly in the life of Jesus, the teaching of Jesus, as well as His death, resurrection and His promised return as Redeemer of the universe.

Following in the footsteps of Jesus, the apostle Paul continues emphasizing this same dual nature of the Christian life. In his splendid letter to the Romans, Paul outlines his doctrine of Justification by faith (Romans 3:21-22), which stands at the heart of our Christian faith. We are saved by faith in Christ. Christ alone. Let us never forget or lose this!

However, in the very same letter, Paul also writes: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren … to present your bodies as a living sacrifice …” (Romans 12:1 ) And he goes on in that marvelous twelfth chapter to speak of a life of love, hospitality, contribution, blessing, harmonious living, repaying no one evil for evil, peaceable living, feeding the enemy, and overcoming evil with good. If we do believe the Bible we cannot escape the conclusion that we are under God’s command to live with others in a way that reflects the faith which we profess to have.

We cannot read the Bible in its totality without running, over and over again, into the understanding that any man who is in a proper faith relationship with God is also under certain obligations toward other people. Here lies the Biblical mandate for Christian social action or concern in our own day. The individual who says that the church ought “to mind its own business” (meaning that the church ought to leave the cares of the world alone) doesn’t have a Scriptural leg to stand on. On the other hand, there is no such thing as a “social gospel.” That is a myth! There is one Gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ. It has profound social implications, but these cannot be divorced from the personal implications if the gospel of Christ is to be maintained in its intended fulness. For if we understand the faith only in terms of social involvement or action, we have departed from the faith as recorded in the Bible and as exemplified in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Any honest survey of the Bible, with the question of social involvement in mind, leads to the following conclusions:

  1. Our relationship to God is linked inseparably to our relationship with others.
  2. We are called to put our faith into action, socially as well as individually.
  3. Our involvement is rooted in Christ’s call to be one of His. Any social involvement that is Christian must be guided, empowered and nourished in a life of faith, worship, prayer, and growing knowledge of Scripture.
  4. Our commitment to God must find practical expression in the daily struggles of life.
  5. The Gospel is not social or personal – it is both.