In his recently published lecture, “Key ’73—What Must We Say About It?” the Rev. Engelsma made the point that Key ’73 is not only a movement which aims at and effects a union of many churches, but that it is not atemporary movement. Writes he:
The leaders of the new evangelicalism who gave us Key ’73 are going to give us much more after 1973 in order to perpetuate and strengthen the union begun in Key ’73. For this reason, those in Reformed Churches who are opposed to Key ’73 but who console themselves regarding their church’s participation in Key ’73 by supposing that Key ’73 is a temporary evil are fooling themselves. Key ’73 is only a beginning.
Rev. Engelsma goes on to point out that it is the purpose of these leaders of new evangelicalism not only to promote “cooperative evangelism,” but also “to further transdenominational evangelical cooperation beyond evangelism.”
What I now write is in confirmation of colleague Engelsma’s point that Key ’73 is not a mere temporary evil.
True, this is not evidence that this neo-evangelical movement plans “transdenominational evangelical cooperation beyond evangelism.” But it is evidence that they do not intend at all that Key ’73 will be an isolated effort. There is more in the offing—also more in the line of so-called “cooperative evangelism.”
Already plans are being laid and efforts are being put forth for Key ’75—only now in Australasia.
Dr. Carl F. H. Henry writes about this in a recent issue of Christianity Today (July 6, 1973, page 38). In an article entitled “Key 75 For Australia?” one can find the same kind of neo-evangelical jargon which Rev. Engelsma cites in his lecture. Writing about the younger generation in Australia, Dr. Henry states: “. . . they realize increasingly that to gain wide hearing for the biblical good news Christians must mount some kind of cooperative witness.” (emphasis added) And in his comments on one of the Graham crusades in Australia he writes: “The later crusade stimulated no fewer than 4,000 women’s prayer groups to dedicated intercession and rallied evangelical forces tocooperative engagement.” (emphasis added) An again: “Today Australian Christians see the need for a national effort that enlists believers in every city and community in a cooperative evangelical witness.” (emphasis added)
Significantly, it appears that a possible Key ’75 down under will be the same kind of ecclesiastical hodge-podge as is Key ’73. For in his concluding paragraph Dr. Henry writes:
Early interest in a cooperative transdenominational evangelistic thrust that enlists both clergy and laity was responsible for the invitation I received to meet with church leaders concerning Key 75 possibilities. Since Methodists and Baptists had already declared for worldwide denominational evangelistic emphases in 1975, and the Salvation Army in Australia is now also committed, a Key 75 thrust seems quite possible. Such proposals could be merged into a continent wide effort that emphasizes a saving relationship to Christ above denominational relatedness, and maintains continuity with the identifiable Key 73 priority for personal evangelism. At the invitation of ecclesiastical VIPs, I ventured 27,000 Eight miles and gave thirty-five addresses in seventeen days to clergy and church leaders, university students, and local congregations in nine cities. Hundreds of churchmen and lay workers long for a Key 75 type of evangelistic thrust, and their denominational decision-makers seem very open to the possibilities.
About a week before the above-mentioned article by Dr. Henry was published, we had a visit from brother Wm. van Rij, our agent for the Standard Bearer in Australasia, who also tries to keep us informed about ecclesiastical developments in New Zealand and Australia. According to his oral report, the proposed Key ’75 movement down under has all the same characteristics as the Key ’73 effort. He reported that in New Zealand Dr. Henry was insisting that there must be co operation for this movement among evangelicals, liberals, and Roman Catholics—even to the point, according to friend van Rij, that Dr. Henry would have nothing to do with such a Key ’75 movement unless there would be such three-way cooperation. We have not yet seen confirmation of this in writing, but the idea does not surprise us. In fact, it is quite in keeping with all that we have seen in the Key ’73 movement.
All of this confirms what the Rev. Engelsma warned against in his lecture.
For our North American readers, let this confirmation serve as additional warning that this neo-evangelical movement is not a temporary, one-shot thing, and that no one should soothe his conscience about participation therein by imagining that it is temporary. The Key ’73 movement is one of the most deceptive and the gravest dangers in today’s ecclesiastical scene.
And for our Australasian readers, we urge that they also be alert against the siren song of this sweet-sounding but deceptive ecumenism. Moreover, for their instruction we offer them the pamphlet by Rev. Engelsma. Already a large supply of these pamphlets has been shipped to New Zealand. But we will send even more, if requested, also to Australia. God’s people are in need of sound and well-documented instruction such as this.