ALL IN COLOR
Life is now a four-color process. Every mail brings a gorgeous sample of another venture in color publishing. About the only black and white in our magazines is in the text of articles, which no one reads. I have been urging the editor to boost the readership of Eutychus by printing these paragraphs in color. If my purple prose had ink to match, the effect would be stunning. Other, more agitated, correspondents might be offered a hue to match their cry; leftish sentiments would be more recognizable in shocking pink.
I once invested in a home color organ company that was to bring mood color to the American living room. Unfortunately, that was before color television. The American public seems to be more responsive to animated color. It is the day, or rather the night, of the color spectacular.
It is plain that we must have religion with color added. In the church visual, the more pageantry the better. We now have color bulletins and color movies, but so many affairs remain drab. Even the local Easter sunrise service has very little color except for the sun, and the new choir robes are disappointingly charcoal. Stained glass windows help, but the pictures don’t move. Projected film techniques ought to be able to outstrip a craft of the Dark Ages. Since these windows are not functional in any case, a vista-vision screen might provide an interesting substitute.
At this point in my technicolor reverie, I put on my polychromatic sport shirt and floral tie and sought out Pastor Peterson. He was sympathetic, but a little less than enthusiastic.
Color, he suggested, was not beauty any more than sound was harmony. He even alluded with extreme tact to an unfortunate incident when I was in charge of the mixing rheostats for the stage lights at the high school band concert. (It was an early experiment in my color organ period.)
He also said that while God is the fountain of all beauty as of truth, His is the beauty of holiness. Aesthetic delight falls far short of spiritual worship. On the pastor’s desk was a magazine travelogue (in full color) describing the spectacular beauty of a passion week procession in South America. Pagan pageantry with a Christian veneer—but vastly more color, action, and noise than in the procession toward Emmaus on the first Easter morning!
WHAT THEY GET
Regarding David Baker’s article “What They Get in Sunday School” (Feb. 29 issue), I beg leave to reply to three points:
1) He charges as having “no Christian spiritual content whatsoever” the Westminster booklet “The Little Seeds that Grew.” This is, after all, for three-year-olds, and hardly claims to be more than a picture book. Baker has evidently not read the parent-teacher text, When They Are Three, that is to be used with it. It provides ample Christian content, which the teacher or parent is to apply to the pupils’ booklet.
2) If Biblical literalism is to be the standard for a good Christian educator, then how would Dr. Baker use it to educate people who ask, “Where did Cain get his wife, if no other people existed?” and, “Which of the Gospels is the most true when all four give different versions of the wording on Jesus’ cross?”
3) Baker talks as if teachers in local churches ought to rise up and rebel by choosing whatever curriculum suits them. Has he given up his Presbyterian vow to let the Session and not the teachers decide such matters?
WILLIAM E. RICE
Nearly forty years ago Professor George Jackson of Manchester University, England, writing in The British Weekly, called attention to what he regarded as a surprising and dangerous situation in the Church. He claimed that, at least as far as England was concerned, the battle over the Old Testament was over, that leading scholars of all denominations accepted the conclusions of the Higher Criticism. Yet he went on to say: “We are afraid it is no exaggeration to say that probably five-sixths of the Old Testament teaching given in the Sunday-schools of this country last Sunday was based on the presuppositions of fifty or a hundred years ago.” So being himself a “critical” scholar he declared that it was the great task of the leaders of the Protestant Churches to correct this dangerous imbalance by indoctrinating the children of the church with or as to the assured results of Biblical criticism.
As a matter of fact this task had already been undertaken in America nearly two decades earlier by the organization of the Federal Council of Churches (1908) under the leadership of well-known liberals among whom Dr. Shailer Mathews of Chicago was perhaps the most widely known. This organization later became the National Council of Churches; and it made this matter of indoctrination one of its major tasks. How successful this organization has been in carrying out the task is made very clear by the article, “What They Get in Sunday School,” by Dr. D. W. Baker. As regards the S. S. material Dr. Baker gives startling examples of modernistic teachings and trends in the lesson materials of the N.C.C. As to the extent of its influence he tells us: “Everything involved in religious education is coming more and more under N.C.C. control.” This is no exaggeration. It simply directs attention to an amazing record of achievement. It is hard to realize the greatness of the change which has taken place in the comparatively short space of two or three decades.
It is high time for Bible-believing Christians to awake to the seriousness of the situation, to shake off their apathy and reassert their right to proper leadership in the field of Christian Education. This need not mean wholesale and indiscriminate rejection of all the S.S. materials provided by the N.C.C. As Dr. Baker has pointed out, there is much that is good in them. It does mean that we should refuse to accept that which is bad and demand its elimination; that we should refuse to place loyalty to boards and agencies and councils above loyalty to the Word of God; that we should insist that the N.C.C. and its affiliates cease their attempt to force the Churches to accept its “official” Bible, the RSV, in preference to all others. It means also that we should recognize the value of the S.S. materials provided by the American Sunday School Union and by the Scripture Press and similar organizations which are loyal to the Word as an effective protest against the attempts of the N.C.C. to dominate the field. In view of their great zeal for ecumenism, both inter- and supra-denominational, the present leaders of N.C.C. and the denominations which they represent should look with favor upon such inter-denominationalism as is represented by these organizations, despite the fact that their existence and popularity constitute a serious check to the monopoly of the field by the N.C.C.
OSWALD T. ALLIS
I commend you for the article.… We do need to review the facts regarding the materials that interpret the Bible to our people. Where they are false guides they should be exposed; where they present truly the Word of God we should rejoice.
DANIEL C. CAMPBELL
First United Presbyterian Church
The article … reminded me once again of the theological latitude that exists in the Presbyterian Church.
May I take issue with Mr. Baker’s statement that the book, “The Little Seeds That Grew,” a part of the Presbyterian Christian Faith and Life Curriculum, is “An example … having no Christian spiritual content whatsoever.…” Mr. Baker has noted that “it is one of the so-called Westminster First Books for Nursery.” Let me remind him that it is one of four; the others being: “In Our Church,” “His Name Is Jesus” and “I’m Growing.” The book in question is used as part of a year’s teaching program including these three other books and not in isolation! The immediate purpose of the book in question and the quarter of study in which it is used (the spring quarter, incidentally) is to show that God plans for things to grow. Since when, may I ask, is the Providence of God not “Christian spiritual content”?!
San Juan Larger Parish
United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.
The perils mentioned by Dr. Baker can serve a useful purpose if they alert every evangelical teacher and fill him with resolve to exercise discrimination in his choice and use of lesson materials.
JOHN A. BAIRD, JR.
St. Davids, Pa.
Mr. Baker, it seems to me, is witch hunting. The article is full of innuendo and unsupported “evidence” of something or other that Mr. Baker is trying to prove. For instance, Mr. Baker quotes a part of the statement of objectives agreed upon by over forty denominations and used helpfully for years by them, and then darkly insinuates that the statement is “revealing” and that it should be “repudiated” but suggests nothing better in its place.…
I would hope for at least two articles to appear … in the future: one by Mr. Baker analyzing the theological principles, social objectives, and the curriculum builders of such organizations as Scripture Press, Standard Publishing, etc., and a complete examination of the types of cooperation carried on by Christian educators within the framework of the NCC by a qualified writer such as Dr. C. Adrian Heaton.
Well written, ably documented, and sadly needed.
ABRAM M. LONG
After reading David W. Baker’s shocking article, I could only think of Matt. 18:6. “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
We were worried long ago, back in 1951–52–53 when we read what was contained in the Adult Student and other publications used in Sunday Schools and churches. Thank you for the article about this.… It is indeed alarming to think how many young people, and adults, have been indoctrinated with these beliefs since the years long ago when the Sunday School material became filled with such teaching. We have watched this happen and we know it is true.
Those of us who have been watching these things with alarm for many years know how the National Council of Churches controlled the material used by the many Women’s organizations in churches and we saw the same trend in that material as in everything that came from the National Council.
B. M. CRIPPIN, SR.
Oak Park, Ill.
Regarding the article on Church School literature, are you aware that the Methodist Adult Student for September, 1959, carried a series on “The Church’s Role in Labor and Industry” by Clair M. Cook? The publication did not explain that, in his role as Executive Director of the Religion and Labor Foundation, Dr. Cook ordinarily reflects the views of top union officials. Treasurer of the Religion and Labor Foundation is A1 Whitehouse, Director of Reuther’s Industrial Union Department. Among the Foundation directorate are the heads of most big International unions including Reuther, Meany, Carey, Hayes, and several others.
MRS. L. E. WEISS
Your editorial (Dec. 7 issue) questioning the disowning of the National Sunday School Convention in Columbus by the Ohio Council of Churches fits here in our land, too.
When our city’s first Vacation Bible School was held last September, the local ministers’ fraternal felt impelled in their wisdom to issue a press release publicly dissociating themselves from it.
One wonders if these bodies are devoted to giving the Gospel to the world, or to withholding it—that is, unless it comes branded with their official imprimatur.
Incidentally, the VBS was packed out with children every day.
JOHN B. TRIM
Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia
[In] the editorial, “Youth and the Church School” (Feb. 29 issue) … you conclude there is a vacuum in evangelicalism’s ministry to youth in the local church. It would be sad—if true—were such a vacuum to exist for lack of a tested means of reaching and holding young people in the church. Perhaps you have overlooked two well-known youth organizations, Christian Service Brigade and Pioneer Girls, which are preventing such a vacuum in hundreds of key evangelical churches throughout the United States and Canada. Now more than twenty years old, these two organizations have come of age and are reaching nearly 75,000 boys and girls weekly between the ages of 8 and 18.
JOSEPH B. BUBAR
Christian Service Brigade
A garland is due Calvin Linton for “The Effortless Journey” (Feb. 15 issue)—the most poignant appraisal of the dereliction of modern culture which I have read.
If only the thousands of young people facing these perplexing problems could read this before they start their life’s journey into nothingness.
MRS. JACK HAMILTON
The best thing you’ve published.
GILBERT E. DOAN, JR.
Modern literary giants do have something vital to say to this generation; but they never get that something to full expression, because they have thrown out the one source of hope that alone can give life richness and meaning.
EDWARD A. JOHNSON
Dongola Lutheran Parish
In your most welcome lead editorial, in which you rightly lamented the dreadful dearth of Christian fiction, especially in the juvenile department, of real literary worth, you missed a splendid opportunity to proclaim the outstanding exception in this field of generally dismal quality. I refer, of course, to George Macdonald’s exquisite children’s books: At the Back of the North Wind, The Princess and the Goblin (and sequel), and The Light Princess. These have always been regarded throughout the English-speaking world as classics in the field of children’s literature, although occasionally of late his works have been pushed aside on lists of perennial “best books,” perhaps being considered a bit old fashioned for young space enthusiasts, as so many “normal” youngsters of our non-religious public schools are supposed and encouraged to be. In addition, please note the godly atmosphere of Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies; also, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Wonderbook and Tanglewood Tales.
It was good to see mention of Macdonald’s “island in the midst of this flood” of nineteenth century anti-Christion propaganda in the excellent article by Harry Jaeger in this issue. Incidentally, Macdonald, the unequaled master of dream-portrayal, maintains the hauntingly beautiful quality so characteristic of his children’s books in his fairy tale for grownups, Phantastes, which has experienced a worthy revival of popularity owing to its author’s most famous protégé, the twentieth century’s Mr. C. S. Lewis. A few years back Mr. Lewis did the world a charming service in “paying his debt” to this saintly Christian by presenting us with a slim little volume entitled, George Macdonald: An Anthology, consisting of 365 bright gems culled by Lewis from Macdonald’s voluminous works, mostly sermons.
As one who appreciates the literary genius of the author of the modern Christian fiction-masterpiece, The Screwtape Letters, surely you must be aware of Lewis’s deservedly popular series for children beginning with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Another fictional work that is a standout in literary merit of our day is the poetic, apocalyptic trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien (who writes the thrilling modern classic for children, The Hobbit).
MRS. TOM DODSON
We note with real pleasure the appearance in your fine journal of the article “The Clergy in Modern Fiction.” As of October, 1959, the author, the Reverend Harry Jaeger, has been associated with the David C. Cook Publishing Company as Editor of the Adult Publications.
CHARLES W. KEYSOR
David C. Cook Publishing Co.
CHURCHES VERSUS SECTS
I have … read C. Stanley Lowell’s fine article, “New Protestantism in Latin America” (Jan. 18 issue).… One minor point: … Lowell says “These new Protestant groups are sects still in process of becoming churches.” This is both untrue to the major stress of the article and to the Christian faith.
Christianity does not know “Churches” and “sects.” There is no biblical warrant for calling one kind of gathered (or state) Church a sect and another a valid Church. All those churches which accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and the Bible as their rule of faith and practice are valid Churches. Otherwise we should have to speak about “the sect” at Corinth!…
“Small Gathered Churches growing into large well-established Gathered Churches” is what Mr. Lowell really meant.
Bethany, W. Va.
I do not have an unqualified enthusiasm for Protestantism’s leading theologians. Even the best of them are failing to reach the general public and while their retort may be that they are theologians, not prophets, such a thought would never have crossed the minds of Luther and Calvin. Although both these men were potent writers they were also men of action and they insisted on reaching not only learned men but the men in the street. Whatever we may think of a Barth, or a Tillich or a Niebuhr, they are completely unknown to the average person. I can even go further and say that many ministers are unacquainted with their works except that they know these men write. This of course may be the fault of the general public and the ministers. On the other hand I think a great deal of the fault lies in the way in which these men write. Barth’s great work on dogmatics is incomprehensible to the general reader. In fact it is very difficult going for anybody other than the initiated. I once remarked to a minister that I doubted whether God understood what Barth was writing about in his “Dogmatics”.…
THIS MATTER OF MISSIONS
In … [regard to] Protestant Panorama (Jan. 4 issue) … many presbyteries in [the Southern Presbyterian Synod of Virginia] have missionary workshops, and the Synod last summer gave its two day pre-synod conference to foreign missions.
JAMES E. BEAR
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