The man who had more to do with the Confession of 1967 than any other individual is Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, the stated clerk of the General Assembly. This change in the basic foundation of the church was necessary not only in order to make the church ecumenical but to make it the leading ecumenical force in the United States of America. By February 11, 1966, when Dr. Blake was elected to the office of general secretary of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland, it was already clear that the new confession was well on its way to approval. His hand stayed on the helm until virtually all opposition collapsed. His skill and genius at ecclesiastical maneuvering and accomplishing his own desired end marks him a rare personality in today’s Protestant history. And when he accepted the office of general secretary, Ecumenical Press Service of December 1, 1966, reported that Dr. Blake “indicated three areas of immediate importance to the WCC:-The first involves making the Council truly ecumenical.”

The leaders of the World Council of Churches have indeed chosen the right man, the best man, to unify their interests and to promote the development of the ecumenical church. The tragedy is that a man of his gifts is dedicated to the advancement of apostasy and inclusivism and not to the preservation of the historic Christian faith and the preaching of Christ and Him crucified.

The apostasy seems indeed to have able spokesmen, whom the god of this world has blinded and has ordained them to dream the dreams of church power and this world’s grandeur.

The General Council of the United Presbyterian Church wrote of Dr. Blake’s departure, “We give him freely, but we claim him fully,” and it emphasized, “We were already committed to the ecumenical task. He added momentum to our direction.” And of his term as stated clerk the eulogy continued: “Within three years he was elected President of the National Council of the Churches of Christ. He was soon a member of the Central Committee and the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches [1954]. He led the first delegation of American churchmen beyond the Iron Curtain thus to affirm that neither principalities nor competing powers could separate those who belong to Christ.” But there he was dealing with Metropolitan Nicolai, later identified by the United States’ Senate Internal Security Committee as an agent of the KGB, the Soviet secret police.

The Communists had captured Blake in their program for peaceful coexistence and as a leading Protestant spokesman to provide a platform in the United States for Nicolai and Nikodim, the chief spokesmen of the Communist government to carry on its effective psychological warfare. Though this collaboration with the Communist spokesmen has become a major issue throughout the Christian world and particularly in the United States, Presbyterian Life, June 1, 1966, featured the picture of Nicolai placing his hand on the Liberty Bell in Independence Hall and said, “In historic 1956 visit, churchmen from U.S.S.R. are taken by Blake and others to see the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.” The acceptance of the Communist-controlled churches into the World Council of Churches was made possible by Dr. Blake’s leadership more than by any other single factor, and when the decision was made to elevate Dr. Blake to the most powerful position in the Protestant world, the nomination was first cleared with the Soviet officials.

TIME magazine, February 18, 1966, reported the decision as follows: “The main obstacle to Blake’s election was potential opposition from the influential delegates of Orthodox churches behind the Iron Curtain. Although Blake is well liked by the Orthodox—he led a pioneering team of U.S. churchmen to Moscow in 1956, and three years ago helped arrange a U.S. tour by representatives of the Russian patriarchate—the council officers feared that Russian delegates might be under governmental pressure to vote against an American. Discreetly assured that this was not so, a special nominating committee of the council then went ahead to propose Blake.” The men who were controlling the Russian delegation were the Russian government and secret police spokesmen.

The General Council’s eulogy of Dr. Blake pointed up next, “His 1960 sermon in San Francisco began the process of consultation which may lead to the union of eight American denominations.” But Dr. Blake himself, as reported in the Courier-Express, Buffalo, New York, May 14, 1961, “expressed the hope that his Protestant merger plan, which will go before the United Presbyterian General Assembly this week, will become one step in a long range reunion of all Christendom, including the Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.” He was the author of the “Open Letter on Church Unity,” which laid the foundations of the Consultation on Church Union. A testimonial dinner given to him on May 9, 1966, in New York City featured Roy Wilkins, leader of NAACP; Walter P. Reuther, of AFL-CIO; John C. Bennett, president of Union Theological Seminary; and the program itself declared that God had called him “to march for freedom, to declare the equality of the children of God, to summon the churches to unity of action, to fight the good fight for the poor, to submit to civil arrest…” The latter was a reference to his civil disobedience on July 4, 1963, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Everything that Dr. Blake has previously done and all the program that is outlined for the future is for the development of the world church and world government. This is amply prepared for, so far as church sanction is concerned, in the Confession of 1967. Dr. Blake has led the Presbyterian Church through revolution to a destruction of the Westminster Confession of Faith and now he has moved to Geneva, Switzerland, to lead the whole world through revolution in the development of what he called on December 1, 1966, in his inaugural statement “a world community of peoples.”

At a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, July 22, Dr. Blake and Metropolitan Nikodim both made statements and concluded the conference by giving to each other the kiss of peace. Each kissed the other on both cheeks. Dr. Blake’s statement reads:

There are some people, even within the membership of the churches, who do not believe the Church can contribute to the transformation of society. They believe that any religious institution is altogether conservative, which is to say its value, if any, to society is to conserve the tradition which blesses and sanctifies the society as it is.

A living Church in any particular place, unless it is a protesting minority by tradition, does in fact perform a conservative function in its society and that is the chief reason most of its members and the community at large value it. But a living Christian Church performs another function, too. It is a stimulus, a critic, an inspirer, a value setter of the society. It is this latter function that is the subject of this brief address.

How does a Christian Church contribute to the transformation of society?

1. First of all through its regular services of the public worship of God. In all our traditions the scriptures are read; thanksgiving, petition and intercession are voiced in prayer; the sacraments are offered; and God’s praise is sung. In most churches there is the regular preaching and teaching from the Bible and sometimes this preaching is relevant to the real issues faced by the congregation, both as individuals and as a part of the community.

I mention this, first, because some of us, in our anxiety to do better than we have done, forget how central to any relevance of the Church is its regular worship of God. If I did not believe this, I would have long since put my efforts into some more efficient institution for social transformation such as a school or a political party.

2: A second way the Church contributes to the transformation of society is by the formulation of concrete goals for society and concrete means to reach them in the light of the gospel. These may be formulated, and are formulated at each level of the church’s structure from the local level to the world level. This is what we are doing here.

Pronouncements, studies, manifestos, and the like often seem powerless. Their effect is seldom spectacular. I have heard for many years more criticism of the Churches and Councils making pronouncements than I have praise or appreciation. Nevertheless the public witness of the Church by public pronouncement does affect society, both immediately and in the long term. In 1952 when Senator McCarthy was at the height of his sinister power and influence in the United States; before his fellow Senators found their courage to discipline him, when the other branches of government and even the universities were amazingly quiet, my own church, through the leadership of John Mackay, did in fact help bring about the end in the United States of that phase of the cold war by a public pronouncement.

In 1966 it is clear that the statements of the World Council of Churches and of the National Council of Churches in my country are, even if as yet unsuccessful in determining policy, nevertheless an important contribution to that corrective criticism of United States foreign policy to keep it from runaway escalation.

In the long range, study documents and policy resolutions can make an incalculable difference. There is nothing so powerful as good and compelling ideas set down in language that is understood.

3. Again the Church contributes to the transformation of society by its pastoral care of its members who are in positions of influence and leadership in government, private institutions, and voluntary organizations. I know of no Church which has done this adequately. It is easier to criticize than to care. This pastoral work does not need to be restricted to the ordained clergy. But it is part of the calling of priest or minister and can be of vital significance.

4. Finally, the Church can contribute to the transformation of society by clearly identifying itself with the cause of the poor, the discriminated against, the alien, the prisoner, the rejected and the outcast. Most churches, as churches, do not do this very well. They are content to leave it to the occasional saint or prophet whom, as our Lord has indicated, they acknowledge and praise only after they are dead.

In a world such as ours the occasional production of an authentic saint is not enough. The Church as Church must act, take a stand, and march with those in the society who alone cannot win their battle for justice, freedom, and equality. This is a risk. It results always in controversy. But if the Church is to live it dare not, in our kind of world, turn its back on God’s poor. Youth of the Church are usually the first leaders. It was so in the civil rights revolution still going on in my country. Young people, boys and girls, began the sit-ins in lunch counters long before their elders, ministers and laymen, priests and nuns began to march and demonstrate. I am convinced that the putting of one’s body in the right place and at the right time is often the only way that a Christian can help his Church to be a part of the transformation of society.

There is another battle going on in my country in which the churches are just beginning to become fully involved. It is the war against poverty. Closely tied into the race and civil rights problem, as yet we have not been able to make our churches generally see the moral issue that it is. I hope this conference and its reports will help us.

There are, however, a number of denominations who, with the Roman Catholic Church in many cities of the United States, are fully committing their financial resources, programmes and leadership to the mobilizing of the poor themselves in community action. Political power for the poor themselves-in many of our cities this is black power-is one important ingredient in the transformation of our society as more and more the city is the location of the struggle.

All of these ways of influence are costly. They cost money, sometimes even by the withholding of gifts by those who do not yet understand. But more, this influence is costly in sacrifice of time, and effort, and thought, and at the ultimate, of life itself. Comfortable American churches have been pained and surprised and troubled and inspired by the fact that we have had some authentic martyrs in our time. No normal man sets out to be a martyr. But sometimes simple integrity and love, more important even than courage, puts Christian bodies where the action is, and this is the way the Church contributes to the transformation of society.

Metropolitan Nikodim’s statement is significant for various reasons. He expressed the foreign policy position of the Soviet Government in regard to the war in Vietnam, and when I, as a press reporter for the Christian Beacon, asked him what the difference was between his statement and that of the Soviet Government, he indicated that they were the same. He also decided hat the time had come when he could confess publicly that the Christians of the Soviet Union “are active builders of a classless, socialist society.” The Communist-controlled churches are helping to build the Communist society and promoting the Communist interests in psychological warfare throughout the world. This statement alone reveals that Dr. Blake has been aiding those who have used him and the National Council of Churches to promote the cause of world Communism. Nikodim’s statement in full reads:

The convoking of a conference, having as its aim the definition of the place and role of the church, i.e. of millions of Christians, in the conditions of the revolutions of our time, whether of political, revolutionary change, or social, economic change is most significant. It speaks of the growing consciousness of Christians, including church leaders, of their responsibility before society and before the community of men as a whole.

The membership of our conference reflects the basic social structure of our time as it has taken shape. Those taking part have come from the developed countries of the West, the developing countries and the socialist countries. The presence of numerous ecclesiastical and secular authorities permits the members of the conference to receive a fairly wide and in many ways very exact picture of the state of the community of man, with its realities and problems, its successes and misfortune, with its hopes and its faith in the present time.

When I speak of the needs and problems of the contemporary world, there rises before me the image of the valiant struggling and suffering people of Vietnam and the heart of man cannot but be filled with a sacred indignation before the cruel and unlawful actions of the United States in Vietnam. At the same time, it is impossible not to think of the cruel racist regime of the Republic of South Africa and in Southern Rhodesia, the struggle for liberation of the peoples of Angola and Mozambique, various aspects of the painful process that is the establishment of independence-political and economic-of the peoples of many African countries, possessing an ancient and highly developed culture and who have none the less been pushed back in their movement forward, on the way to progress, by civilized colonisors, who have frequently used to this end and to their shame the sacred symbol of the Cross of Our Lord. There takes place before our eyes the valiant struggle of the peoples of the Latin-American countries for liberation from oligarchic dictatorships and a harmful foreign tutelage.

I should also like to say that Christians in the Soviet Union, as Archpriest Borovoi has already said in his commentary, have not only accepted the socialist revolution that took place in our country, but have and are active builders of a classless, socialist society, which is free from exploitation, racial or other inequality, and every member of which possesses equal rights as well as the opportunity for individual development and an active participation in the life of the whole of society.

I think there is no need for me to speak of the theological significance and necessity of these profound revolutionary transformations to which we Christians must give our answer. A great deal has already been said about this at the Conference.

Our Conference testifies to the continual process of growing consciousness among Christians of the necessity of a many-sided service to humanity on a national, regional or global scale of the understanding, by many Christians, of the necessity to have one’s place among these who, in difficult conditions of struggle, contribute to the advancement of humanity on the way to progress.

Our Russian Orthodox Church, as all Christians in our country, actively asserts its testimony in our society, taking part in its development and improvement. We are pleased to be taking part in this Conference and will be happy if our experience can in any way help our meeting to come to a result which will contribute to the successful service of churches and Christians to all humanity, its progress, its peace and well-being.

And may the Lord of Life and the World, Our Lord Jesus Christ, help us in all this.

It was also clear at the conference that Dr. Blake will never be able to issue any statements or do anything so far as the World Council is concerned until it has first been cleared with Moscow. This is a requirement of their unity, and has become the normal practice of the World Council of Churches.

If Dr. Blake is as successful in his revolutionary program for the whole world as he was in establishing the Confession of 1967, there will be an eclipse of freedom upon the earth.