Harvard Christians are becoming more numerous, active and vocal.
In what it calls "a new campaign for Jesus," the Harvard-Radcliffe Christian Fellowship is manning tables at the College dining halls, distributing a book of selections from the New Testament and asking students to "open their hearts and let Jesus into their lives."
"We've passed out close to 2000 books this week," Christopher J. Weinhold '77, a member of the Fellowship's executive board, said Friday.
Though members of the Fellowship termed the evangelical program a success, a few students did not agree.
"They were being ignored. Everybody just laughed at them," Andrew F. Pierce '77 said last night.
"The book's parallels between ancient Biblical times and the present day were a bit strained," Laura E. Holmes '78 said.
Jeffrey P. Wiegand '76, president of the Fellowship, said yesterday that the group was "trying to provide an opportunity for students to hear the good news about Jesus. We don't want to be offensive or repressive, just direct."
"There has been a gradual but perceptible increase in participation in the Church over the last five years," the Reverend Peter J. Gomes, minister in the Memorial Church, said Friday.
However, he said that he does not think that there is a new zealousness. "There is zealousness in the sense of celebrating a new identity, but that is classical Christian zeal," he said.
"During the sixties there was an exaggerated discontent with all sorts of institutions, the Church among them," Gomes said. "In the early sixties there was faith in government, in the New Frontier.
But this faith in "civic salvation" gave way to "salvation by knowledge," Gomes said. "The university was viewed as a citadel to deal with the problems of our age."
Gomes said that theory lasted only until 1969, when student demonstrations began to increase.
"During this time the Church had been put aside. Now, in the context of these other fallen empires and ambitions, people see something in the Church worth considering," Gomes said.
Sixty of those people gathered Friday night in Parlour B of the Freshman Union and sang "I've got peace like a river in my soul," clapping to the sound of three accompanying guitars, oblivious to the cynical pool and pinball players down the hall