The Witness of the Student Christian Movement: Church Ahead of the Church

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The Witness of the Student Christian Movement: Church Ahead of the Church. By Robin Boyd. London: SPCK, 2007. Pp. xii, 212. Paperback £14.99.

It has been almost a decade since Risto Lehtonen published Story of a Storm: The Ecumenical Movement in the Turmoil of Revolution (Eerdmans, 1998). Now Robin Boyd, whose career with the Student Christian Movement (SCM) goes back to 1951 (part of the "golden years" of SCM), when he was appointed secretary of its theological college department, has provided us with his own analysis of the rise, fall, and (possibly) rebirth of that ecumenical student ministry. His own roots in the progress of global Christianity go back to 1899, when his father, thena student at Queen's Belfast, signed onto the Student Volunteer Movement as a missionary recruit, serving in India and then as home convener of the foreign missions of the Irish Presbyterian Church.

The story Boyd tells is thus a personal one at the end of a long life of service in India, Australia, and Ireland. There are heroes in this book, among them M. M. Thomas, Lesslie Newbigin, and, particularly for their biblical emphases, Suzanne de Diétrich and Hans Ruedi Weber. But there are also individuals who bear responsibility for the collapse of SCM during "the storm," especially Ambrose Reeves, general secretary from 1962 to 1965. That was the point when, Boyd asserts, SCM sowed the seeds of its own destruction by becoming a single-issue society (political and social justice) and establishing a policy of open membership. …

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