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Religion: Hour of Decision

3 minute read

“The die is cast. American Protestant ism is committed.” With these portentous words the Christian Century began an editorial last week on the recently launched United Evangelistic Advance (TIME, Oct. 10). The nationwide 15-month drive of 38 Protestant denominations to win “America for Christ” by every modern method of evangelism, says the Century,” will bring America to an hour of decision concerning the free and evangelical faith which has found expression in the daily life and attitudes of its people . . .

“It is to be expected,” warns the Century, “that voices will be raised declaring that the gates of heaven cannot be stormed by mass assault, and they are right. But the point is irrelevant. In this enterprise heaven’s cooperation is assured, providing we make its cooperation pos sible. Christ wills the conversion of Amer ica. Of that we can be sure. But do we desire it above everything else? Are the churches prepared to risk it? When Christ wins America every local church will be transformed, every community changed, every denomination identified with the larger life of the ecumenical church. Did those who launched this movement realize that it might have such effects? Whether they did or not, there is no turning back now.

“The United Evangelistic Advance could double the membership of the co operating churches and still be a failure.

It could halve them and still succeed. It could powerfully stir the emotions of mil lions and leave behind it neuroses, disillusionment and bitterness … On the other hand, it could move quietly across the land and leave in its wake lives trans formed by the power of God, illumined by sound knowledge of Christian truth, radiant in the experience of fulfillment in the Kingdom of Christ . . .

“Which of these results it has will de pend upon what is going on now in the minds of church members and ministers. If they look upon this as another pious chore, another headquarters’ brainstorm that has to be endured until it has blown over, then the second half of the 20th Century will see the decline of Protestantism in America. But if church men and women are sobered by the judgments that have fallen on our world and the worse catastrophes that threaten to descend, if they are moved by the promise of new light yet to break forth from God’s word and by the love which will not let us go, then 1950 will see a momentous turning point in Christian history.”

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