Key ’73 – The Key to 1973?

“Key ’73” — Catching name for a reli­gious program, isn’t it? The year 1973 is to be a key, a key to be used to unlock the love of God within the church and cause it to overflow and envelope all people in North America. 1973 is to be the great and memorable year of evangelism, the sharing with all others the meaning of true forgiveness and love of God. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for even-one to become so en­thusiastic and “on fire” for Christ? Before you get too excited, let’s examine what Key ’73 really has in mind.

The theme of Key ’73 is “Calling our Continent to Christ.” The theme is taken from Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” Key ’73 is promoting all congregations of all denom­inations to (1) work separately developing their own programs, (2) work simultan­eously during 1973 for maximum impact, (3) work cooperatively using national tele­vision, radio, and the press. The emphasis is placed on “doing your own thing” and all doctrinal differences are quickly and eagerly over-looked. The strategy of Key ’73 is to use the congregation, the link between the individual and the community, in ultimately obtaining the whole continent for Christ. But the work must first start with the “man in the pew” working at the congregational and community level. No massive move­ment in evangelism can be envisioned with­out his involvement and cooperation.1

Key ’73’s format includes six different phases, the first of which is already com­pleted. Phase One was labelled “The calling of our continent to repentance and prayer.” December 15—January 17, 1973 was dedi­cated to prayer for the extension of God’s Kingdom by millions of people. At 12:00 noon on those day s, every-one was supposed to set aside whatever they were doing and pray for Key ’73. This time was supposed to be signaled by the ringing of church bells, blowing of car horns and city sirens. On January 6, a television special on wit­nessing was shown to millions of people all over the country. Phase Two began January 1 and is to last until Easter. This phase is to concentrate on evangelistic Bible studies. Copies of the Gospel of Luke and Acts are to be distributed to every home in North America and home and church studies are emphasized. Phase Three will be direct evangelistic confrontations on streets, in homes, and on college cam­puses. March 7 through Easter will be spent in training for witnessing and on Easter day there will be another T.V. special celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Phase Four, which will carry through summer, also contains more televi­sion specials and witnessing through travel­ing teams of skilled musicians, artists, etc. in parks, shopping centers, and resorts. Youth is emphasized in this phase. Phase Five, and the month of September in partic­ular, is dedicated to the presentation of the gospel at every state fair and additional community contact through mass media. The final phase begins with Thanksgiving and ends with the beginning of 1974. The main emphasis will be the true meaning of Christ­mas, opposed to the secular celebration, and a big television special describing 1973 events and calling for continued commit­ment.2

Rev. W. Smedes, Minister of Evangelism of the Christian Reformed Church echoes the opinion of the CRC when he states that there is no danger in participating in Key ’73. Key ‘73, according to him, is not designed or intended to create another ec­clesiastical movement or to force groups into some new church union. “Evangelism Thrust,” the Christian Reformed version of Key ’73 is doing its part in communicating the gospel message to others through its workshops and study groups. College com­mittees at Calvin, Dordt, and Trinity are working out ways to bring out evangelism on their campuses. 3

Now, the question may arise— What is the Protestant Reformed denomination

contributing to the Key ’73 program? If the answer is nothing, why not?

Over 130 denominations have pledged their support in the greatest evangelistic movement ever planned to sweep the country. Among these are Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholics, Church of Christ, and Christian Reformed, just to name a few. All of these are working hand in hand to spread the “good news.” In this group we have some which scorn the divinity and atonement of Christ, and some which reject the blessed truth of sal­vation through grace. The main emphasis is going out and seeing how many lost souls one can save. As David E. Kucharsky stated in the October 27, 1972 issue of Christianity Today, “Many of us have long thought of someday trying to do something really significant for God. Well, 1973 is the year!”

Could the Protestant Reformed Churches cooperate with others with whom it is not in agreement? Could we work with those whom our Confessions so strongly warn against? Professor H. Hanko made it all clear when he gave the following example in the May 15, 1972 issue of The Standard Bearer:

I may desire to raise a large amount of money for the Cancer Fund. To do this, I enlist the aid of the Mafia. I cooperate with them in this venture and say before all the world: I and the Mafia are raising money for the Cancer Fund. I explicitly disavow the philosophy of the Mafia and I disassociate myself from their “method­ology.” But I ask no questions. If they choose to raise such money by means of extortion, murder, robbery, that is their business and I shall not inquire into their methods. It is sufficient that we are co­operating together. Anyone would im­mediately have serious and legitimate questions about my moral standards. Co­operation necessarily implies some meas­ure of approval.

Even though the emphasis of Key ’73 is on cooperation, with each denomination working separately toward the same goal and no doctrinal compromise, I fear that this is only the first step toward that final union in the establishment of the anti-christian church. It is really frightening to see it even beginning now, under a seem­ingly pious cover. Let us pray that God gives us grace to withstand the trials, doubts, and decisions ahead and that we continue to witness to others through our walk and conversation of God’s great LOVE.



  1. Tract from “Back to God Tract Com­mittee.”
  2. Ibid.
  3. “Evangelism Thrust News,” Christian Reformed Board of Home Missions.