Christianity Today promotes the meeting of contemporary life with the eternal Christ.
Each fortnight the magazine’s message is centered in the great doctrines and precepts of the Bible. Its forty pages are devoted to biblical theology … biblical ethics … biblical evangelism … biblical studies. Its witness is dedicated unreservedly to Jesus Christ as the incarnate, crucified, risen, ascended and exalted Redeemer, the world’s only Saviour and Lord.
For this very reason CHRISTIANITY TODAY touches all the major areas of modern life. The timeless truths of revealed religion hold vital relevance for the swift-moving scenes of our fast-ebbing century.
The great struggle between law and injustice, bondage and liberty, war and peace tenses these taut times. God’s sovereignty and man’s spirituality are neglected priorities of our era. What message is more vital, more urgent, than the revelation of redemption and life in the midst of modern sin and death?
Freedom is a basic concern of our century. Freedom comes from above, not from below; God is its living source. “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36, RSV). And freedom is one—not many. The splintering of freedom into many fragments—religious, political, economic—is the first blurring of Jesus Christ as Lord of life. All human liberties depend in a crucial way upon the fate of revealed religion in this generation.
If Jesus Christ is Lord, religious freedom is a divine imperative: man dare not be compelled to worship false gods, and must be free to worship his true God. If Jesus Christ is Lord, political freedom is a divine imperative: state absolutism (or totalitarian government) is condemned, and every state is properly limited in its powers. If Jesus Christ is Lord, economic freedom is a divine imperative: no welfare state (the half-way house to socialism) is to restrict man’s responsible stewardship of his talent in the earning of his bread, nor to preclude his good and wise use of his own wealth as a spiritual trust.
The loss of man’s freedoms, the rise of the all-powerful modern state, the neglect of the Living God—these developments stand intrinsically connected. The totalitarian state is neither conducive to Christianity nor tolerant of it. Communism perpetuates its doctrine of state absolutism by its assault on supernaturalism and by tolerating the Christian religion only in an attenuated form. As trust in God wanes, men more and more approve the state’s power of compulsion to provide guarantees of human well-being in the absence of spiritual means. But dependence upon state paternalism dissolves voluntarism and freedom and invariably leads to the exploitation of the many by the few.
Freedom endures only in a nation whose citizens live by the rule of truth, justice, charity and generosity. Wherever untruth, injustice, enmity and greed prevail, the strong exploit the weak, might displaces right, and social order sooner or later gives way to anarchy. Without the constraints of divine moral law, human life becomes corrupt and human government becomes unjust. The virtues of truth and justice and love of neighbor are the virtues of revealed religion. Where the virtues that spring from redemptive religion are long neglected, freedom itself is soon dissolved. The rule of God in the lives of men remains the only enduring alternative to the reign of tyrants.
Lutherans And Jewish Evangelism
The Jew is unique. The long sweep of history affirms this. He now tends to be a displaced person in a new sense. Some ecumenical leaders seem uncertain whether to evangelize him or welcome him as a fellow believer. Some denominational programs tend to reflect this mood, and independent groups have assumed a large part of the work of Jewish evangelism by default.
In contrast to this development is the vigorous literature distributed by the Department for the Christian Approach to the Jewish People of the National Lutheran Council.
The Apostle Paul’s declaration that the Gospel is “to the Jew first” is emphasized along with a denial of the common idea that the Jews already possess “a good enough religion.” Also stressed is the challenge implicit in the fact that half the world’s Jews live in America. To preach the Gospel to others and neglect the Jew is “to discriminate against him.”
Appreciation is expressed for the historic role of the Jews as a divinely appointed channel for the Word Incarnate and Written. Modern Jewish viewpoints are delineated in order to effect a more sympathetic Christian witness. For example, if baptism and the crucifix are repugnant to the Jew, it must be remembered that during periods of persecution, “hundreds of thousands of Jews were given the choice between baptism and death” and that the crucifix was “worn or carried by their persecutors.” Again, the Christian minister’s sermon must convict of sin. “Judaism does little of that, but tends rather to strengthen a man in his self-confidence.”
Would that every denomination shared the Lutheran refusal to abandon the Jew to his vain reach for God apart from Christ—condemn him to seeing Christ as a false Messiah or, at best, a stranger.
Revolutionary Developments On “The Roof Of The World”
All Southeast Asia is deeply concerned about developments in the crisis precipitated by Red China’s invasion of Tibet.
When Communist authorities reached an agreement with the theocracy in Lhasa incorporating Tibet in the Red China orbit, certain limits were placed on “foreign” aggression. These restrictions have now been ruthlessly repudiated resulting in revolution against Red authority inside Tibet and widespread fear among Bandung nations that Mao’s promises are worthless.
Since the Tibetan issue has strongly religious implications it is possible that a reviving Buddhism in the Far East may now realize the threat of atheistic communism and stir the Orient to organized resistance.
The death of reactionary Llama Buddhism in Tibet might be a blessing under other circumstances. It has kept a nation under vile superstition and spiritual slavery and denied freedom and progress to its people. But the system which would replace it is far worse. If it succeeds all Asia is doomed.
The Church’S Dual Loss: Great Preaching And Hearing
Some weeks ago we had the privilege of hearing Dr. William Fitch, gifted minister of Knox Presbyterian Church, Toronto. Dr. Fitch (softening the oft-voiced complaint about “the disappearance of great preachers” to a “lack of great preaching”) ventured to say something also about a change that has come over the pew. If preaching today is different from that of yore, perhaps the art of responsive listening has deteriorated as well. We quote some aptly phrased words.
You will hear on many sides today people lamenting the lack of great preaching. The days of great preachers are gone, they say. And no doubt what they say is true. Perhaps there are reasons for this state of affairs. For one thing, the very lack of great preaching could be a judgment on the church for preacher idolatry. It is not difficult to find instances where congregations have worshiped the creature—even though he was a preacher—more than they have worshiped their Creator. But probably there is a deeper reason for this alleged lack of great preaching. It could be a judgment of God on the refusal of men to listen when he speaks. There were days in the Bible when there was a famine of the Word. And it came because the people refused to hearken to the preacher God had sent. There is therefore a very vital connection betwixt hearing and preaching. One of my teachers in seminary, Professor A. J. Gossip, would occasionally quote with relish the words of R. W. Dale, the great Congregational leader in England. Dale was discussing with a friend the work of the church a generation before when the other said: “There were great preachers then, Dr. Dale.” “There were,” answered Dale, “and there were great hearers too.” It is good for us to say with the Psalmist: “Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk for I lift up my soul unto Thee.” But it is of the first importance that we also learn with David to say: “Cause me to hear Thy loving-kindness in the morning, for in Thee do I trust.”
The Nizam Of Hyderabad: Paternity And Parsimony
A man said to have everything is the Nizam of Hyderabad. He has ruled a state almost the size of Great Britain with a population of more than 18 million. Competent guesses have pegged the value of his jewelry collection at no less than $2 billion. A devout Moslem, his legal wives have numbered four, but 42 other companions rounded out the harem. He has had 50 children.
But he has also been called the Miser of Hyderabad. His palace has been described as shabby; he drives old cars. He has been said to save laundry bills by using one old white suit so constantly that he waits in his bath while it is being washed or patched.
One of his daughters recently married. The wedding was not up to the lavish standard one might expect of an Oriental potentate, but the Nizam did celebrate with a monthly grant of $21 to a couple of local orphanages. Years ago, another daughter’s wedding had been canceled on the prediction of a holy man that her father would not long survive her marriage.
This picture should constitute a good object lesson for the materialist. Apparently the “everything” possessed by the Nizam includes some undesirable things and omits some great treasures.
Our Lord warned long ago that “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things that he possesseth.” Christian missionaries in Hyderabad and elsewhere know that such things can be lost by a slight twitch in the course of history, and that true riches are constituted in what a man is—not what he has. This wealth endures through eternity.
A Christian is what he is because of Christ. And because of Christ, “all things” are his, whether “things present, or things to come,” and he is Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
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