Men Without Souls

It is a well-known fact that Barth and Brunner, once such close c0-workers in revitalizing European theology, do not agree. Not only their theological vision but also their political views betray sharp and striking differences.

Attention is called to this by Dr. Merrill C. Tenney, dean of the graduate school at Wheaton, Illinois, in his introduction to an English translation of Brunner’s recent warning which appears in the August issue of United Evangelical Action. Although far from endorsing Brunner’s theology, Dr. Tenney regards the article which first appeared in Neue Zuricher Zeitung as a “keen analysis of the peril now threatening the free world.” It is his conviction, based on his knowledge and observations of the Communist movement, that the Beds will not rest until they have conquered the world. Should this happen, the German theologian insists that it would result in a generation of “living men without souls.” Pointedly he accused Karl Barth, Bertrand Russell the British philosopher, and the World Council of Churches of aiding the Communist plan for world control. He makes clear that the church is surrendering to the deceits of Communism rather than resisting them. This criticism, which includes the World Council, is the more trenchant, when we remember that Brunner himself can hardly be considered a spokesman for orthodox: theology. It is to be hoped that Brunner’s warning will be taken seriously by those who refuse to listen to evangelical criticism of the World Council, because they have allowed its leadership to throw sand in their eyes. Here at least one of their own is saying what many evangelical leaders have been urging for several years.

The enemy is not only strong, even though 90% of the people behind the iron curtain are “avid anti-Communists” according to John Noble, but also sly. This should cause Christians everywhere to redouble their vigilance. More needs to be done than merely pointing out the failings of Communism and the spiritual bankruptcy in which it would engulf the peoples of the world.

To this Dr. Tenney has addressed himself in well-chosen words. “What Brunner bas not said here is that the church needs a new infusion of spiritual life that will counteract the lies of this diabolical system with the active truth of God. Communism flourishes in a spiritual vacuum; it produces a false dynamic when a form of godliness without power prevails…We can go a step farther than Brunner. While agreeing with his diagnosis of the present Situation, we can affirm that the risen Christ is the permanent answer to Karl Marx. As the sovereign Lord of history He can still lead to victory those who will serve him faithfully and boldly.”


We are living in limes of testing for evangelical Christianity. On every front the battle lines are being drawn more sharply by the forces of history. Old foes disguised in new dress seek to sweep away the faith once for all delivered to the saints. But meanwhile many who love the Lord Jesus Christ seem to sleep on sweetly, having been lulled into a raise security by the deceitful words of the enemy. This includes even the Church of Rome.

Oil every hand we are reminded that Christian churches ought to get together and work together in a world wherein so much needs doing. Even Pope John has made his ecumenical overtures. And, strange as it may seem, not a few Protestants hail his words.

Meanwhile Home doesn’t change. Her antipathy to the Christian gospel is the same as before. The February 27, 1961 issue of Ecclesia, official organ of Spanish Catholic Action, published a letter of the bishop of Madrid-Alcala stating that, in spite of the ecumenical movement and the “week of prayer” held in the Roman churches for the union of all Christendom” we must deal without any human consideration against Protestants when these try to spread their error and heresies because, after all, true ecumenism means only to return to Rome.”

This sheds an interesting light on the new repressions which Protestants are currently suffering in Spain. The precarious conditions under which they have been living so long are becoming worse instead of better.



On June 9 the Plymouth Brethren church in Zaragoza. was closed by the civil authorities despite the official permission given under the law of December, 1949. Early in the same month police confiscated some 5,000 pieces of evangelical literature. Jose Grau, official representative of the literature organization, and Salvador Salvado, the printer, are each awaiting trial for writing and publishing “clandestine literature.” Several Protestant leaders, both pastors and laymen, have been interrogated concerning their work and are being closely watched by the police.

All this, of course, goes on in the name of the law and not as religious oppression. Yet it is plain that the law is applied to cover up the fierce intolerance of the Roman Catholic Church in Spain. Several attempts have been made by evangelical writers and publishers to have their books approved by the officials. In each case they were told that Catholic ecclesiastical authorization is needed. Church officials meanwhile refuse to grant permission on the grounds that civil authorization is needed. Thus the discriminatory cycle never ends. Many literature parcels from overseas have been withheld by customs officials.

Contrary to official Catholic propaganda, the Spanish people generally are not hostile to the Protestant movement. Many sympathize with the evangelicals and criticize injustices committed against them. Even among the faithful Catholic minority—and the archbishop of Valencia said openly that only 17% of the people in his diocese were practising Catholics -there are those who openly lament anti-Protestant actions. But the clergy prefers persecution to competition. One official said to some evangelicals, “If there were religious freedom, you would give too much work to the priest. Your wings grow too fast, and so from time to time they need to be cut off.”

From all this it appears undeniable that Rome knows only one kind of ecumenism—a complete submission to the doctrine and government which it will impose, if need be even with the help of the sword of the civil authorities. In spite of all its pretensions that church leaves no room for Biblical Christianity. This is not to argue that all Roman Catholics approve of or agree to its policies. Yet the system is as intransigent today as in the days of the Reformation. Wherever Rome is in power, our spiritual freedom in Christ Jesus is in jeopardy. That church is as totalitarian in its aims as is the Communistic movement. In waging spiritual warfare on one battlefront, we do well not to ignore the dangers which threaten us on the other.


In a recent issue of Christianity Today (July 17) the editor asks the pertinent question, Is Missionary Motivation Limping? This has a unique relevance for our times and circumstances. Never before has the Christian church been so widespread and so blessed with material means as in our day. Yet meanwhile the extension of Christ’s cause seems to move at snail’s pace while the world’s population burgeons.

In many quarters which claim to be Christian there is an evident tendency to deny that those who do not believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord are lost. Here the editor calls attention to Bishop Stephen Neill’s views who writes, “We do not say, like our ancestors, that all those who have not accepted Christ are going to hell. We do say that it is the birthright of every single human being born into the world today to know that he has been redeemed by Christ, and to have the opportunity freely to accept or reject that salvation.” That this cuts the nerve which lies at the heart of missionary effort is patent.

But even those who accept the historic Christian conviction that without the grace of God in Christ Jesus men are lost forever may be conspicuously devoid of missionary zeal. It is one thing to accept the uniqueness of the gospel with the mind; another to be so convinced of it with the heart that we are constrained to dedicate time and talent and treasure to Christian witnessing throughout the world.

The words of the editor sound a much-needed warning to those orthodox whose spiritual myopia blinds them to the perishing multitudes. “Strangely enough the problem is not a theological one. A man may subscribe to all the basic doctrines of the Christian faith beginning at the Trinity and ending with the Second Advent. He may dot every i and cross every t. Such a man can still be left without the compelling conviction that men without Christ are lost; the constraining love of Christ to seek and to save the lost may be far from his thoughts. The two centuries of greatest advance of the Christian faith, the first and the nineteenth centuries, were those in which the lostness of men without Christ, and the desire to save them from a Christless eternity, were strongest. These are the indispensable motivating forces for foreign missions without which the Church’s witness to the saving Gospel becomes enfeebled and impotent.”

It is never enough for a church to have a fine mission program, well organized and efficiently administered by competent and Spirit-filled leaders. At heart every Christian, born again by the Spirit and living by the fulness of grace in Christ Jesus, must be a missionary. His daily living and giving must be lubricated by prayer without ceasing. On his knees within the inner chamber he sees most clearly the plight of the Christless masses and is stirred to do what he can that these also may hear the good news which alone saves.