Insight on the News
● A “downstairs pub” has been set up in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., serving beer, wine and soft drinks for an hour or so after Sunday services and on weeknights after church meetings. The rector of the church says he got the idea after finding a pub in an Anglican church in London and one in a Roman Catholic church in Belgium.
Church members have named the pub “The Winged Lion” and on its recent anniversary joined in singing a chorus of “happy birthday, dear pub.” One member said of the pub, “It’s become the center of parish life.” If the downstairs pub is the “center” of life for the church, one cannot help but wonder what goes on upstairs.
● The world faced an unusual period of instability during the first half of 1974. Major changes suddenly took place in the governments of France, England, Canada, West Germany, Portugal, Israel, Italy and Argentina, creating a ‘crisis of leadership.’ As an article in the New York “Times” commented: “There is a feeling that another page has been torn off the calendar of history and that this is the start of a fresh, unfamiliar sheet.”
But the instability was perhaps most painfully evident in the economic field. The shakiness was brought on by an explosion of world oil prices, galloping inflation and the uneasy shifting of values of national currencies. People in many lands worried about their financial security for the future, and a feeling of general distrust prevailed. No one knows what the American dollar, the French franc, the Italian lira, the Japanese yen or the British pound will be worth in years to come.
With mankind’s problems so interlinked and intertwined, world economists admit frank puzzlement as to where the solution lies. The chief European correspondent for “The Wall Street Journal,” Ray Vicker, says: “The truth is nobody really knows where the world is heading today, politically, economically or financially. There never has been a time when so many imponderables hung over markets and over those elements which control actions of markets. So there are no real havens anywhere, no matter how men might seek them.”
Christ Jesus foretold that our generation would be a time of “anguish of nations, not knowing the way out.” But he also said of his true followers seeing such times, “Lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.”—Luke 21:25, 28.
Emphasis on Evangelizing
● Lausanne, Switzerland, was the site of an International Congress of World Evangelization during July 16-25. Two thousand seven hundred Protestant evangelists were invited from 150 countries. This fall, Roman Catholic bishops meet in Rome to discuss the theme: “The Evangelization of the Modern World.”
Evangelizing (from the Greek word for “good news”) means to proclaim the gospel or good news and today implies also making disciples of those accepting the good news.
The recent focus on evangelizing by the churches is notable. Why? Because they have given it so little attention in the past. For example, in discussing a drop of some 100,000 in Presbyterian membership during the past four years, national moderator Dr. Clinton Marsh said the decline was not due to the church’s heavy involvement in social reform efforts. “The problem,” he said, “lies with the members. They have been doing too little evangelism.”
A similar view was taken by U.S. Catholic bishops. In a “position paper” they said that there was a “general admission of the fact that enthusiasm, zeal, and a spirit of sacrifice to spread the gospel were not more noticeably present in the modern church than in the past.”
The fact of the matter is that the religious leaders themselves have shown little “enthusiasm, zeal, and a spirit of sacrifice” for evangelizing. Among first-century Christians, the spreading of the good news of God’s kingdom was a part of their daily lives. It still is among Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, as is well known by people in over 208 countries and island groups. The recent emphasis on evangelizing by Christendom’s churches, however, is another case of ‘too little, too late.’