What’s New? [‘Standing . . . at the Edge of 1969’]
What’s New? [‘Standing . . . at the Edge of 1969’]

– Dec. 28, 1968 –

Please forgive me for rerunning yet another classic editorial. This, by my count, is the third week in a row. And yet, after scouring a half-dozen end-of-the-year issues searching for something to share, I think this editorial from the final issue of 1968—one of the most turbulent years in our nation’s history—will stimulate the most thoughts. Editor Edwin V. Hayden wrote this one.

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What’s New

Standing as we do at the edge of 1969, with the moving hand of time prepared to push us into it whether we like it or no, we feel a little like a boy on a diving board at his first spring visit to the swimming hole, balancing between fear and pleasure as he anticipates the plunge.

This New Year will bring much that is new, and filled alike with marvelous possibilities and desperate danger, in every field of our experience. A warring world sees its emissaries in Paris, quarreling about a peace they are not quite sure they want in Vietnam, while the geyser at the Jewish-Arab fault in the Near East bubbles and steams in threat of eruption. There is new horror or new peace in 1969.

In scientific exploration the doorway to the year is the gateway to the moon and whatever lies beyond. Excuse us while we catch our breath!

The United States will see the establishment of a new national administration, from which no one knows quite what to expect, and concerning which each citizen has his own hopes and fears. At some points we hope for what our neighbors fear! (Not every one would be pleased with liquorless receptions at the White House, for example.)

We enter the New Year with a new focus on civil tensions. Race-related summer riots in city streets have yielded their front-page interest to year-round turbulence, variously related, on college and university campuses. The pattern is sufficiently similar in many nations to indicate that it is not entirely accidental.

The religious world sees new problems and new possibilities in missions, as lands like India gradually close their doors to foreign missionaries, as ecumenical missions turn their attention increasingly to humanitarian enterprises, and as evangelistic missions focus their forces on the remaining open and fertile fields.

Among denominations new patterns emerge with the shifting of denominational fences. Mergers remove the barriers that have separated the participating denominations, only to build new barriers between the participating and nonparticipating segments in each denomination. In some cases, as in Disciples Restructure, the walls within a religious communion are built up in preparation for anticipated mergers in other directions. A result is seen in new and severe tests of the fellowship described in the New Testament. Can we still recognize brothers in Christ despite denominational lines and labels?

From where we stand, 1969 looks like a turbulent pool for our plunge. If it is to yield to us more of what we hope than of what we fear, some other new elements are in order. These are within ourselves, and do not depend on outward circumstance. We recommend a new measure of devotion to Christ and His cause, a new commitment of life and substance, a new capacity for participation in good works, and a new depth of dependence on God. Thus equipped, we shall best serve with our fellows to keep the New Year bright, and we shall find ultimate victory beyond whatever darkness we must endure.

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—Jim Nieman, managing editor, Christian Standard

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