Heidelberg, Germany: Episcopal leader, Rev. Henry I. Loutitt, says church attendance among members of the Armed Forces is particularly encouraging. Loutitt, who is Protestant Episcopal bishop of South Florida and chairman of the Armed Forces Division of the National Council of the Protestant Episcopal Church, says attendance of Armed Forces personnel at church services compares favorably with any civilian church.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts says he believes a Roman Catholic could be elected president. Kennedy says the people are running ahead of the politicians who say a Catholic would have no chance for the presidency. In 1928, says Kennedy, Al Smith failed in his presidential bid for reasons other than his Catholic religion. He pointed out that Smith did better in the South that year than Adlai Stevenson did in 1952. Well, it is a pretty good bet that any presidential candidate with hopes for election is going to have to espouse civil rights for all on a basis of equality. Al Smith lost many votes because of his religious affiliation, and any candidate of that faith probably would lose votes. Given both an integration declaration and a Catholic affiliation, it is more than doubtful that such a candidate could carry a single southern state. Had this reporter had a vote in 1928, he would have voted for Al Smith, largely because of the bigotry injected into the campaign. There is considerable evidence that anti-Catholic bias has decreased considerably in the last 25 years, but no conclusive evidence that it has disappeared, unfortunately.
In Montgomery, Alabama, this week two white men, one a teenager, were acquitted of charges of bombing a Negro church. An all-white jury rendered the verdict and a packed courtroom cheered the verdict. The prosecutors told jurors that an acquittal would say that it’s all right to bomb Negro churches and dwellings, and might lead to retaliation. The defense countered with the assertion that an acquittal would serve notice “that we are not going to yield another inch fighting for our way of life.” And what is that way of life? Simply a denial to other human beings, because of the accident of race (which is unimportant anyway and about which the individual can do nothing) those same rights that they, the white folks, demand for themselves? How one person can insist upon those rights for himself, deny them to other human beings, and then say that he honestly believes that God is the father of all humanity? It is impossible to see. It would indeed be a capricious father that would show so much partiality among the children he creates. Perhaps a form of tragedy would have emerged from the trial, whichever way the verdict had gone; but it is tragic for individuals so to try to deceive themselves on such fundamental matters.
From Chicago and Philadelphia comes more comforting news. In Chicago, the Southern Baptist Convention has urged an end to resistance to integration. It also has demanded in a unanimously adopted report that persons perpetrating violence against Negroes in the cause of segregation be brought to legal justice. And by the end of the autumn of 1958, a fifth Southern Baptist seminary may be admitting qualified Negro students. Thus the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary at Wake Forest, North Carolina, would be added to other Southern Baptist clergical educational institutions – teaching Negroes at Louisville, Kentucky; New Orleans, Louisiana; Fort Worth, Texas; and Berkeley, California.
In Philadelphia meanwhile, the American Baptist Convention has voted to choose ministers and accept the membership in its 6,000 churches without regard to racial background or origin.
A noted biblical archaeologist and Jewish leader has gone back to Israel on a twofold mission. Dr. Nelson Glueck, president of the Hebrew Union College, a Jewish institution of religion in New York City, will put final approval on plans for a half-million dollar graduate school in archaeology. The school will be operated in Jerusalem by the college institute. Dr. Glueck also will resume his mile-by-mile exploration of the Negev desert region. Last summer, the theologian-archaeologist uncovered some prehistoric settlements. These pointed to a thriving agricultural civilization in the Negev as long as 4,000 years ago.
Quite a furor has been aroused in England by the accusation of the archbishop of Canterbury, directed at the Roman Catholic Church there. Dr. Geoffrey Fisher says that the Roman Catholic Church in Britain is hostile to the established church and does not work with it as Catholics work together with other churchmen in Europe. Dr. Fisher, speaking at Wolverhampton, charges that the Catholic Church is waging what he termed “open war” against Anglicans.
The reply came from London by Dr. William Godfrey, Roman Catholic archbishop of Westminster, who declined to reply to the Anglican minister’s charges, but said that he would “rather not make any statement. I prefer to leave it to the good sense of the British people to judge who is waging open war.”
Back in our own country, something of a tempest in a teapot was aroused by the warning some time ago that Catholics should not attend the so-called Crusade Services now going on in Madison Square Garden, New York City. The Rev. John E. Kelly says in Washington that he was not voicing personal prejudice when he warned Catholics to stay away from Graham’s revival meetings. Kelly, information director of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, says he was voicing a long-established rule of the Roman Catholic Church. Kelly says he has received a lot of mail from Catholics as well as Protestants accusing him of bigotry. And when churchmen wade into such an argument, it is the time for a layman reporter to stay out of the ridiculous mess.
Last Sunday I dealt with in as much detail as the time permitted with the current schools of thought regarding objective criticism of biblical literature. It is not surprising that it aroused some of you to disagree. That is good, for where there is no disagreement, there is not likely to be any thinking.
The fact is the books of our Bible are not all in the order of events or in the order in which they were written. Thus the first five books of the Old Testament are composed of four separately written narratives composed years apart, and combined and recombined, re-written and re-edited from about 850 B.C. to 250 B.C. The Jews had two Bibles. One in Hebrew was made official about A.D. 100 but no Hebrew manuscript exists that is earlier than the 10th century. They have a Greek Bible that was translated the second and third centuries B.C. So, even when we talk about the Old Testament, we may be talking about either one or both of these Bibles.
In studying any part of the Bible, it is necessary to restore as nearly as possible the actual wording of the original manuscript of the author. This is known as “lower criticism” and fortunately has been pretty well done for the present-day student.
“Higher criticism” includes all that can be learned about a passage and its author that is not included in lower criticism. In considering any part of the New Testament, for example, it is necessary to look for the sources of ideas. One person has identified 11 separate sources for the fourth Gospel, and not all those sources were Hebrew. A part of this higher criticism is to see if a passage in question is supported by parallels in other Gospels and in apocryphal literature. In addition, the careful student, in considering any part of the Bible will try to find who wrote it, when it was written, the cultural pattern at the time of writing, the political situation, the interest of the writer, and the language conveyed to the people to whom it was addressed. It is especially pertinent in the Old Testament to identify the approximate time of writing in order to know the trend of changing religious thought under the impact of political and cultural change due to contacts with alien cultures.
The truth is that the Bible has many literary stereotypes. These may be classified as miracles, legends, folk-tales, parables, naive philosophy or wise sayings, traditions, etc. Moreover, considerable work has been done in separating Jewish from Hellenistic elements.
Today more is known about Bible literature than at any previous time. It is a fascinating literature, and it stands in its own right. It’s moralities, philosophies, errors, and insights find parallels in the literature of many peoples – in English, Chaucer and Shakespeare, for example.
Comments made here on these two programs are intended in no way to detract from the importance of biblical literature; on the contrary, they should make the person who really wants to know something about this great literature more satisfied than ever. In this connection, the book entitled “Origin and Character of the Bible” is highly recommended.
Allusion has been made here a few times to the incredible situation in South Africa. Now comes a recent issue of The Christian Century that underscores the shocking things happening there. There are about 3 million whites and 10 million Africans. In that unhappy land it is legal to persecute Africans. The theory of the law seems to be that anyone who does not like the government of South Africa as presently constituted is a communist and therefore guilty of treason. This is an old McCarthy trick that the South Africans seem to have imported.
In July 1955, a so-called Congress of the People was called and an alleged “Freedom Charter” was drawn up. Its contents seem innocent. Indeed, it sentiments and propositions might well appear in any Christian sermon on any Sunday in the year. Yet, over 200 arrests have been made charging those who signed it with treason. The barbarous white masters of that strange country have passed laws that zone the whole country racially, register the population by race, forces an education that prepares the Africans as servants of white masters, and controls the movements of the Africans.
In parts of our own country there is race prejudice, but prejudice and discrimination are not elevated into law. The reverse is true; Negroes are legally free to propagandize, educate, and agitate. Also, it is not a case of a minority enslaving a majority.
Of course the South African Union is a part of the British Empire. In theory the parliament of Britain has complete control over all the empire from dominions to crown colonies, but this principle is not applied. Legally the British Parliament could repeal all or any part of the Constitution of South Africa. Probably it would not be politically smart. But couldn’t it do something? If not, is this not something the United Nations might take up under its human rights declaration? It would appear that the great powers of the world are more ready to defend oil and other commerce than human beings.