Friday, July 31, 2015

30 years ago: The death of Eugene Carson Blake

On July 31, 1985, Dr. Eugene Carson Blake died at the age of 78. Dr. Blake was Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. from 1951-1958; President of the National Council of Churches from 1954-1957; and General Secretary of the World Council of Churches in 1966. He was known for his liberal theological, social, and political views and helped to organize Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington in 1963, but is perhaps best remembered for delivering a speech in 1960 that was credited with beginning the Consultation on Church Union (COCU) (see my previous post on the beginning of COCU).

Dr. Blake was typical of the liberal Protestant clergyman of the 1960s and '70s who got his name in the paper for participating in demonstrations regarding trendy causes such as opposition to the Vietnam War, and getting hauled off in a paddy wagon to the police station for violating prohibitions on unlawful assembly. Bible-believing Christians at the time rejected Dr. Blake and his activities.

Typical also of the results of the activities of Mr. Blake is an example cited by Dr. Carl McIntire, then President of the International Council of Christian Churches. Billy Graham had scheduled a visit to Poland from September 28-October 5, 1966, under the sponsorship of the Baptist, Lutheran, Reformed, and Evangelical churches of Poland, all of which were controlled by Poland's Communist government of that time (yes, even as far back as 1966, Billy Graham was quite willing to be used by government-controlled churches in Communist countries), but his application for a visa was, surprisingly, rejected by the Polish government. From Dr. McIntire's book Outside the Gate (1967), p. 154:

Dr. Graham is now beginning to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Eugene Carson Blake. He was the leader and president of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. who went to Moscow in 1956, spoke in the Baptist Church, visited the theological seminaries, and was received by Metropolitan Nicolai. He returned with this pronouncement on behalf of peace and understanding, which the Communist spokesmen had also agreed to. It took the [United States] Senate's Internal Security Subcommittee to receive the testimony of Yuri Rastvorov and Petr Deriabian, which revealed that these men with whom Dr. Blake was dealing and whom he later brought to the United States as his guests were all spies and that Metropolitan Nicolai was an agent of the KGB, the secret police. But the pictures of Dr. Blake and his party in Moscow were used by the Communists in their slick publications all over the world; and in the propaganda for peace, which the Communist government is promoting. Dr. Blake became a very useful tool and propaganda piece.

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