In the quick darkness of a winter afternoon, the glow of Christmas lights makes cheerful the city. Crowded strangers, in groups measured by traffic lights, are warmed and patterned and painted by the strings of lights at corners. Shoppers, passing windows of daylight, are framed as though they belonged together.
In that nave of the cathedral of merchandise, the grand aisle on the main floor, metropolitans pause to look up at a winking firmament of incandescent stars. One even points a child’s eyes upward—perhaps to glimpse in them the dancing reflection of the sparkling lights of Christmas.
What would the season be without electricians? I studied the store’s canopy of wired stars. What happened, I wondered, when a star blew out? Did it carry a string of stars with it? Would it be replaced after closing hours by a union man on some towering “cherry-picker” crane? Or would it hang like a dead star in a galaxy until the end of the season?
My reverie on circuitry was switched off as the great organ began to play a selection from Handel’s Messiah. “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.…”
The Light of Christmas is not the composite glow of men’s lamps, nor the vast glitter of fleeing galaxies. It shines above that fiat of cosmic illumination from which all suns rise, “Let there be light!” It is the Alpha Light of the first, uncreated Word, the Omega Light of glory in the new creation. Shepherds, blinded by the radiance of angelic glory, peered into the darkness of a manger to see the greater Light. He is the true Light, who came into the world.
Yet the judgment is that Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the Light. God has set his glory above the heavens; the Lamp of God’s house shines on every man: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
But squinting electricians wire Christmas lights across the sunrise, or rig circuits to trigger another dawn—of doom.
Revised Slandered Version
It happened that I was reading my Bible just before I read … “What Are the Pacifists Doing?” (Oct. 26 issue).… Therefore, to make the New Testament coincide with your point of view, may I suggest the following revisions:
“Blessed are the bellicose and the bomb-throwers, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).
“Blessed are the war-makers (American!), for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9).
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, … Slay a man for wounding you, and a young man for bruising you, and be avenged seventy and sevenfold” (Matt. 5:43 and Gen. 4:23, 24).
“If thine enemy hunger, starve him; if he thirst, rejoice and be exceeding glad” (Rom. 12:20).
“And now abideth distrust, despair, and hate, these three; but the greatest of these is hate” (1 Cor. 13:13).
“I am come that they might have death, and might have it sooner” (John 10:10).
“And he took a sword and girded Himself.… Then said Jesus unto him, put up again thy towel into its place: for all they that take the towel shall perish by the towel—and it shall serve them right!”
As you note, the translation is far from complete, but certainly this ought to be sufficient to make the process plain.
The Potsdam Church of the Brethren
• We don’t care for the Potsdam Revised Version. We merely want a Bible that doesn’t excise Romans 13 and the scriptural emphasis that God authorizes the state’s use of power to preserve justice and restrain iniquity. Any neglect of this will inevitably lead to a good many reductions.—ED.
Pacifism is not based on Communist ideals but on New Testament teachings. It is more than refusal to participate in organized murder which is war, but teaches Christian love as a motive.
It is not passivism. Gandhi taught his Indian followers to resist evil, but not in the spirit of hatred or with weapons of war.…
I noticed you rightly distinguished between pacifists and the historic peace churches. Pacifism has no scriptural support but nonresistance does.…
CHRISTIANITY TODAY is to be commended for giving serious attention to pacifists.… You note that “the Christian Gospel not only challenged the military virtues of the pagan world but also replaced them with virtues like peace and compassion,” and aptly called for “spiritual rebirth into a new race of redeemed men.” This I understand to mean that Christian ethics are for Christians—we can’t extract Christian behavior from non-Christians,—but then they are for Christians. This affirmation, of course, does not guarantee peace, nor does it provide a national policy. But then it does not claim to do so. It merely asserts that in military questions as in any other it is our task to follow Christ.…
The Church Peace Mission
Washington, D. C.
You are so right about what is being spooned to a generation that bypasses and ignores history, replacing Almighty God by such Babel towers as the U.N., a world court, a world bank, global police and Santa Claus, militarism’s dictates, entanglements and schemes of men such as squandering billions of dollars in the attempt to conquer outer space, outsputnik Russia, etc. Peace can only be realized when men come to their senses enough to return to God’s Way, Truth, and Life as demonstrated by our Lord.…
I do appreciate the warning not to allow our good intentions to be misjudged and misinterpreted.… I just resent my beloved denomination (Church of the Brethren) being classified with radical pacifists of all classes and colors and banner carriers. I am a bit sorry that on June 25 some Brethren did carry banners—as individuals—while three-quarters of the whole group were either in a prayer group or visiting congressmen.…
Williamson Road Church of the Brethren
I want to commend you for using almost five pages … to discuss an urgent ethical problem which has received too little attention from the Christian church. I was surprised, however, that for a journal that consistently attempts to place both the questions and the answers of biblical theology over against current problems, you approach the problem mainly from the standpoint of political analysis. While the Soviet use of pacifist activity and the degree of influence of pacifism on United States policy (and here I feel you are much too complimentary of pacifist influence) are interesting questions, they hardly represent the kind of biblical and theological perceptiveness I would have expected.
Mennonite Central Committee
Your article … is superb!
An extremely interesting editorial is “Recasting the Ecumenical Posture” (Oct. 26 issue). Thanks.
Colgate Rochester Divinity School
Rochester, N. Y.
May I express hearty approval of your editorial.… It seems to me that you have presented a good approach to our problem of division.…
I am interested to read what response your suggestion will draw from the various bodies.
LaBelle View Church of Christ
I was happy to see the fine sermon by the Rev. James L. Monroe on “The White Man’s Dilemma” (Oct. 26 issue). I shall hope that he expresses the sentiments of the majority of white Christians in the South.…
Berlin Bible Church
Narrowsburg, N. Y.
In reference to “The White Man’s Dilemma,” … relish it or not, the depraved nature and actions of Ham set him apart from his brethren, and to say the least, called down no blessing on him or his posterity.
The sermon … was characterized by a reasoned approach and a spirit of humble obedience to God’s will, … characteristics we would all do well to emulate, particularly when discussing the race problem. This sermon found its origin in the much maligned South. However, I cannot recall ever having seen in print a comparable statement from the ranks of Northern conservatives, whose posture in respect to this problem is revealed by the following remark from one of their number now studying at the Free University: “I’ve never been able to get too excited about race relations.” This, I’m quite certain, is the typical attitude of Northern conservatives regarding the subject.…
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
I would like to express … my appreciation for the article.… What we need above all is an integration of our own souls, so that what we say with our lips is one with what we witness with our lives.…
First Congregational Church
Shaking Of The Lamp
If your readers will lay Professor Reid’s interpretation of Calvin [“… The sovereignty of God’s Grace in Christ Jesus dominates Calvin’s whole point of view”] beside my interpretation of him (Book Reviews, Oct. 26 issue), and then read Calvin to decide for themselves, the exercise will prove profitable to them and the light of truth will shine the brighter for this shaking of the lamp.
Prof. of Historical Theology
Columbia Theological Seminary
Against The Sunday Laws
The article “Never on Sunday,” by Samuel A. Jeanes (Oct. 26 issue) needs to be answered.…
Sunday-keeping Christians who advocate Sunday laws are decidedly in the minority in the United States. Witness the statement by Mr. Jeanes that “merchants have said that if church people would refrain from making Sunday purchases their places of business could remain closed.” This certainly indicates that a very large number of Sunday-keeping Christians are not interested in restricting sales on Sunday. Why should the minority seek by state legislation to enforce their point of view upon the whole population?…
Religious Liberty Association
Washington, D. C.
Today’s Sunday laws do not require anyone to rest for health; they do require some trades to cease operating on that day. They except businesses that sell tobacco, gasoline, newspapers, and those that furnish transportation, et cetera.… Is the purveyor of cigarettes or gasoline less in need of one day’s rest in seven than one who sells rocking chairs or lamb chops?…
The most powerful force today promoting Sunday legislation is the Roman Catholic Church. There can hardly be any doubt that the motivations of the Catholic Church and the Lord’s Day Alliance are religious, and nothing but religious.…
Sunday laws will send men to jail for acts performed on Sunday, right and harmless on other days of the week, and in no sense criminal.…
Seventh-day Adventist Church
Mr. Jeanes says, “A law that regulates secular activity on Sunday may make the practice of some religions more expensive.” Then he cites analogies that are quite unanalogous: Roman Catholics supporting parochial schools and Protestants tithing! Mr. Jeanes seems oblivious to the one vital ingredient here: free will. Religion, whenever fit to pass under that name, has been a matter of free will, a completely voluntary observance.…
Berrien Springs, Mich.
If the church seeks the support of the state to facilitate an observance of the Sabbath, does this constitute a legalistic approach to the practice of Christianity?… Does the author really believe “the cost of the practice of religion is determined by the dedication and conviction of the adherent”? If so, then doesn’t the convenience of an enforced Sunday law tend to make religion cheap?
Religious Liberty Secretary
Columbia Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Washington, D. C.
Re “Review of Current Religious Thought” by Harold B. Kuhn (Oct. 12 issue): … In his next to the last paragraph Mr. Kuhn lists what he considers the defects of Dr. Nels F. S. Ferré’s The Christian Understanding of God. He writes: “This view has several defects: First, it has no foundation in Scripture. Second, it may be questioned whether in any future state moral performance would be significantly different or decisively better than in this life. Third, it neglects a number of clear scriptural statements, such as the solemn reminders of the place ‘where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched’ (Mark 9:44) and our Lord’s own account of the rich man and Lazarus.”
At least these comments may be made: (1) In the minds of many of the early Fathers there was more Scripture to support the more lenient view of future punishment than there was for the so-called orthodox view.… (2) Is one in error to believe that when the Lord “makes all things new” there may be an improvement in moral performance? (3) In regard to “clear scriptural statements” Mr. Kuhn refers to one metaphorical statement and one parable. Some of us believe that metaphors must have a metaphorical interpretation, and that parables must be treated as parables.…
Adams Center, N. Y.
Kuhn says, “… (Liberals usually pass with a discreet silence the equally massive and heinous genocidal crime of the murder of six million Kulaks in the Soviet Union …).”
Note that liberals might use the murder of six million Kulaks as further argument for universalism on the reason that we do not think God is any more like Russian Commissar than Nazi Fuehrer.
My … point in answer to the parenthetical innuendo is simply an understanding of how a universalist might argue, although I personally disagree with that position. I believe universalism is contrary to the teaching of scripture.…
First United Presbyterian Church
South Of Cuba
This time in history could be the sunset for Christian missions here, or it could be the beginning of a bright new day. Religious interests are being stirred as some of the people are becoming aware of the responsibilities of independence, especially under the present leadership. Muslims and Hindus are rising up from complacency in what seems to be a greater zeal than that which I have observed among the Christians. Pray for us.
British Guiana Baptist Mission
Georgetown, British Guiana
In the article “Scholars Cite Obstacles to Christian Advance” (News, Oct. 12 issue), not one gentleman said, “My failure to speak and write about the Lord and his Church in such a way that all peoples clearly understand”.…
I am quite sure that each one of your experts has placed a sensitive diagnostic finger perceptively upon the paralysis which, to a critical degree, hinders the visible church in its efforts to fulfill its divinely appointed role in the world.
What perturbs me, however, is the failure to identify what may be the most damaging virus in the church’s blood stream—the Christian education program. Inadequacy here represents not merely a vitamin deficiency, but may indeed be a virulent fount of poison. Malcolm Boyd in his book, If I Go Down to Hell, … indicates something of what I am trying to say in these probing words: “In our churches the Bible stories are parroted by children herded into the very Sunday Schools which may later prove to have been a major force in driving them permanently from the church!”
Director, Christian Education Service
David C. Cook Publishing Co.
Both Stimulant And Shock
I was shocked. Your “stimulating venture,” as you call it, to provide $1,000 [in] cash prizes for the best sermon refuting universalism may be stimulating but it is hardly Christian.…
Perhaps if you pay out enough gold you can change the trend which is “sweeping Protestantism”! God forbid!…
Tri-City Presbyterian Church
Myrtle Creek, Ore.
I had the pleasure of sitting at the feet of Dr. Henry C. Sheldon, recognized in Methodism as our chief theologian and Bible scholar.… Your call to concern over the distorted “gospel” seems perfectly in line with his polemic on deism, rationalism, humanism, etc. I hope I will be able to join those who make genuine contributions.…
Copy Editor’S Vacation
I am a nefew of Uticus, one of his favert kinfolks. How cum you don’t ever revue any kids books and write a articul on how a ejucated preacher can make his mind littler to help us kids see threw his sermons?
The preacher in our church has a lot of big books he calls the logicul tombs, and he is always berried in one.
Sugar Creek Book Room
• We are tinking aboue deez maters. U tink maybee revu of kid stuf like thurd grayd speler help? We allso reed more logicul tombs four big anser to make mind littler.—EDD.
Mr. Gates misleads his readers (Eutychus, Sept. 28 issue).… It is true that the opening words of the First Amendment to the Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” do not, in Mr. Gates’ words, “in the least debar individual states from doing it.” However, he ignores the Fourteenth Amendment, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Supreme Court decisions have consistently made applicable to the states the restraints that the First Amendment provisions impose upon the federal government (e.g., Everson v. Board of Education, Niemotko v. Maryland).…
Mr. Gates may object to our laws, but when he attempts to answer his own question, “What saith the law?,” he should at least be accurate.
Social Science Div.
Sterilize Or Agonize?
You are wrong in opposing sterilization as you do in your editorial of September 28.… Please show me the “virtue” of bringing unwanted children into the world; of bearing children who are unloved because they are a mere by-product of animal passion, and so destined to a life of poverty, ignorance, squalor and crime. Is this an expression of morality? My experience with migrants and in the underprivileged areas of Charlotte convinced me that sterilization would be a blessing to many people, and a benefit to society.… My experience confirms the idea that in many cases sterilization is the moral action, not the opposite. (Incidentally, I believe every adult who becomes a public charge via the Department of Public Welfare should be sterilized.) …
Charlotte, N. C.
Only One Sin?
Re Basic Christian Doctrines #43, “The Final State: Heaven and Hell” (Sept. 28 issue): this is a subject very much debated, and the position of orthodox Christianity is, to this writer—as to many others past and present—plainly unscriptural.…
It does violence to the concept of God’s justice to hold and teach that he will punish with never-ending torment those who may have lived in sin even for the permitted three score years and ten, let alone those who have indulged only one sin.… The reward of the wicked is eternal punishment, not eternal punishing—eternal in its effects.…
The immortality of the soul doctrine is the product of Satan’s first lie in the Garden of Eden, “… ye shall not surely die … ye shall be as gods.…”
Printed Over Down Under
Your August 31 issue has just reached my desk—yes, surface mails are rather slow … when it comes to periodicals.…
I want to say how impressed I was with … “A Layman and His Faith” (“Sinning and Sinned Against”). In fact, I was so impressed that I am making … this request for permission to reprint this article in toto in the next issue of the church magazine which it is my responsibility to edit …, the Australian Signs of the Times.…
Might I just say how much CHRISTIANITY TODAY has continued to improve since its first publication, until today it occupies a vital place in the field of evangelical Christianity.
Signs Publishing Company
Warburton, Victoria, Australia
We publish within our Presbyterian Church of New Zealand a magazine called the Evangelical Presbyterian and I find that it is necessary to receive CHRISTIANITY TODAY to keep us in touch with the pulse of the world church.…
Papakura, New Zealand
Choice Of An Object
“The Craftsman’s Character” (Minister’s Workshop, Sept. 14 issue) blessed my soul. I heartily agree with Paul S. Rees that “authentic pulpit proclamation is more than the preparation and delivery of a sermon: it is the preparation and delivery of a preacher.” I wish that every seminary and every school that has anything to do with the training of preachers would put this concept of preaching into the hearts and lives of the young men they are training.…
Calvary Baptist Church
Lost In A Crowd
As one who is extremely concerned about the trend … toward expanding government control and the ever-increasing effect of socialism that is accompanying the same, I cannot help but feel that conservative evangelical thought has somehow missed the primary danger which is involved.
Great stress has been laid on the … gradual loss of individualism as well as the tendency toward conformity.… In this country, among the teenagers and college students, there is an alarmingly great desire to conform not only in dress, but in social habits and desires as well. With the advent of the labor union, the individual merit of the worker’s contribution is no longer recognized as it once was. Instead there is a blanket wage increase in many industries following labor-management negotiations.…
The worst result of all of this is the effect that it is having on the individual and his relationship with God. If the individual equates himself more and more with groups, unions and masses in general, he is losing sight of the absolute importance of his individual relationship with God. The Lord Jesus Christ was always concerned with the individual. In the Scriptures he says, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Again and again in the Gospel of John, chapter 3, the emphasis is laid on “a man” and his relationship with God.…
Hempstead, N. Y.
Word To Theologians
Congratulations on your fine stand for Christianity without all the weird interpretations. I wish theologians would quit turning themselves inside out to “accommodate” Christianity to each shift in scientific thinking. If they were actually scientists they would have a clearer picture of how little unanimity of opinion we have re many issues.…
Horticultural Research Division
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