One of my critics—and I have some—has asked why I write so much on my experiences in restaurants. Says he, “What do you do all the time? Eat?” This is a harsh question. I don’t eat all the time. Sometimes I sleep.

But in a restaurant recently I was led to other thoughts. I said to the waitress, “What’s good?” “Oh, most anything,” she replied. Then, pointing to a nearby table, I asked, “What’s that?” She answered, “That’s hash.” And so I asked, “What about it?” Her reply was, “No, no. Yesterday it was the Chef’s Special and the day before it was the Blue Plate Special.” There came to mind that wonderful old definition, “Home is where you can trust the hash.”

I always liked another definition of home: “It is a good home when the piano keys are sticky.” I know I am touching a responsive cord in many places when I mention that.

Robert Frost, who has said so many nice things in such a nice way, has said this, “Home is where when you go there they have to let you in.” Isn’t it wonderful to come in from almost any place on the map with the confident feeling that here, at last, the door will be open and you can be as tired as you want. You can quit putting your best foot forward for a while, and you will finally find time to unwind.

There is a lovely story in the fifteenth chapter of Luke about a boy who was pretty badly mauled. I suppose he was dirty—pig pens will do that—and I am sure he was mightily ashamed. Home is where a boy like that can say to his father, “Make me one of your hired servants,” and the father says to him, “Welcome home, son.” Sometimes the Gospel gets a little complex, but there it is in its simplicity.



This letter reproduces mimeographed material, the original copy of which had not yet been received by Christianity Today at this writing, a week after it had been circulated across the United States to a number of clergymen. It is reprinted here, with an editorial comment, consistent with Christianity Today’s policy of full and open discussion.—Ed.In its issue dated October 23, CHRISTIANITY TODAY published excerpts from two documents of a special committee of The United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. as well as quotations from an unauthorized tape recording. Each document had been clearly identified as a “Confidential Document to be Used only in Consultations Sponsored by the Committee on a Brief Contemporary Statement of Faith.” Christian and journalistic ethics have been violated in the publication of this material, and the work of the committee has been seriously jeopardized.

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Alteration of the confessional position of the church—the work in which the committee is involved—is the most serious matter that can be undertaken within the polity of The United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. The procedure for amendment is constitutionally prescribed and is surrounded by carefully chosen checks and balances. Such action must pass through six required steps: Briefly, passage by two separate special committees, three General Assemblies, and two-thirds of the church’s presbyteries.

The first step only—the work of a drafting committee—has been under way for six laborious years, and this committee has reported regularly to the General Assembly on its progress. The committee’s reports, in the minutes of the General Assembly, are the only public documents yet issued in the whole study and are the basis on which the General Assembly each year has requested that the work be continued.

The chairman of the committee promised the General Assembly in 1962 that the first public appearance of a draft of the committee’s work would be in the Blue Book of the General Assembly. It now appears your publication of portions of tentative and preliminary documents has betrayed this pledge.

In keeping with its responsibilities, the committee has conducted a number of consultations with pastors, laymen, and professors. In each case it has been explained that the subject of the consultations was—for the present—to be held in confidence to guard against misunderstanding and misrepresentation of work still in progress.

This procedure is entirely in accord with good polity and with good sense. It in no way interferes with public debate and discussion at a later date, but prevents senseless debates and alarms on matters that may never get beyond committee conversation.

The confidential nature of the documents was violated after a group of United Presbyterian ministers, having been reminded of the confidential nature of the documents, heard a talk by the chairman of the committee on the proposed new statement of faith.

When it was discovered in the consultation that a recording had been made, the person who made the recording was requested to give up the tape. He surrendered a roll of tape which was blank, and later returned the filled tape, stating that he had made a mistake in identifying it. Several verbatim quotations and other unmistakable evidence show, however, that the tape recording was part of the basis of the CHRISTIANITY TODAY article.

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On the basis of the foregoing facts, we are forced to the conclusion that CHRISTIANITY TODAY has knowingly or unknowingly violated an orderly process within Presbyterian polity with which it has no business; that it has violated journalistic ethics; and that, most grievous of all, it has risked the creation of misunderstanding and strife among Christians in so doing.

The General Council of The United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. requests that you publish this letter with the same prominence given your report in the issue of October 23. In due time, full public discussion of the work of the special committee will be in order, and at that time the church will welcome comment and theological reflection from the editors of CHRISTIANITY TODAY.

Chairman of the General Council

Secretary of the General Council

The General Council of the General Assembly

The United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A.

New York, N.Y.

• CHRISTIANITY TODAY carried editorial comment on the projected Presbyterian confession after a Princeton Seminary Alumni Day meeting at which Professor Edward A. Dowey, Jr., chairman of the committee, evaluated and criticized the proposed draft. The meeting was not a confidential committee discussion, nor a deliberative consultation of theologians, but a quasi-public session attended by non-Presbyterians as well as Presbyterians.

CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S accuracy is unquestioned. But the magazine is criticized for premature publication of “portions of tentative and preliminary documents”—which documents, it should be noted, were discussed at length at the Princeton meeting. The draft was quoted in the news section because CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S policy—unlike that of some denominational journals—is not to indulge in editorial criticism without fairly excerpting related documents.

The magazine may, indeed, have made a tactical mistake in publishing excerpts from the “tentative and preliminary” draft ahead of the target date preferred by denominational leaders. Although the committee has been at work for six years, we do not recall during that time ever receiving a press release from the denomination’s Office of Information on the committee’s activities and plans. There is an increasing journalistic concern for the public’s “right to know,” and ecclesiastical agencies are not exempt from responsibility in this regard. We were, in fact, unaware that enactment of the final document will be a three-year process. In this misunderstanding we were perhaps misled by more hasty adoption of theological bases in some ecclesiastical and ecumenical assemblies.

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From comments and reports on the extended Princeton discussion, it was our impression that the material, while not yet fully ready for the General Assembly’s Blue Book, was nonetheless an appropriate subject of discussion in an audience inclusive of non-Presbyterians. If the “unauthorized tape recording” which the General Council has contradicts our report in any way, the council need only make the tape available. We have the highest respect for the historic ministry of this great church and view its continuing contribution with lively interest. CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S objective was not to prejudge the final action of the General Assembly but to provide the fullest disclosure of information bearing on an important ecclesiastical development. In line with this objective, we assure the General Council that CHRISTIANITY TODAY will publish the full text of the final draft of the proposed Presbyterian confession, if it is made available simultaneously with its approval for the Blue Book, in an issue that reaches our 250,000 readers a full month before the 1965 General Assembly.—ED.

One has only to read [the] Oct. 23 issue and note the contrast between Calvin’s stand on the Bible (p. 16) and the new confession on the Bible (p. 39) to understand how far these church leaders have departed from the truth and that confusion and error radiate from the top down, not from the humble man in the pew.…

Tucson, Ariz.

Hooray for the Presbyterians! By drafting a new confession that speaks relevantly and honestly to contemporary life the United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A., like the United Church of Christ, will become a “reforming and uniting” church, what God and Jesus intended for every Church.…

Immanuel United Church of Christ

Hinsdale, Ill.

When you fundies get to seeking God’s Kingdom with 1 per cent of the zeal you have in promoting the Virgin Birth, inerrancy of the Scriptures, premillenarianism, etc., then there will be a “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” and an advance in the Kingdom that neither the Apostle Paul, nor Jesus himself, ever dreamed.… The Presbyterian Church

Dimmitt, Tex.

In your criticism of the Presbyterians’ new statement of faith, you seem disturbed that there is “no mention of hell.” I do not find any such mention in either the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed, which have for centuries been accepted as standards of belief in the Christian Church. Are they therefore also to be condemned?…

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Cattaraugus, N.Y.

• The Apostles’ Creed: “… He descended into hell.…”—ED.

Its adoption will end forever the practice of subscribing to the Westminster Confession of Faith with fingers crossed and tongue in cheek. Its adoption will end forever the “relationship” of that church to historic Calvinism. Its adoption will drop the mask of Presbyterianism, and indicate that the field of Reformed doctrine has been left entirely to other churches to occupy and defend. For this development we should thank God and take courage. For now perhaps people will believe us when we make the claim to be the spiritual succession to the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. The clearing of the air is good to see.

The Garden Grove Orthodox Presbyterian Garden Grove, Calif.

New Wineskins Welcome

Thanks for the article (“Dare We Hope for Renewal of the Church?,” Oct 9 issue) by T. Leo Brannon.

All Methodist General Board people are not horrified of the idea of doing away with the church school, and considerable discussion has revolved around this possibility. Some staff members have made proposals in this direction. The deepest concern among the staff of the Division of the Local Church is for a more effective teaching ministry in the church. New wineskins are welcome to bring this about.

Division of the Local Church

Board of Education

The Methodist Church

Nashville, Tenn.

To suggest that we might “junk” the church school as a step toward the renewal of the Church is preposterous! One might accuse almost anything today as being stereotyped and sterile, but the statistics prove that the Sunday school has, in evangelical circles at least, been on the upgrade since the formation of the National Sunday School Association in 1945.

While T. Leo Brannon and others consider “junking” the church school or “ignoring” it, millions of Americans will be attending the ever-enlarging Sunday schools of today and tomorrow. The thousands of churches who have caught the challenge of an effective program of Christian education have enlarged their facilities; improved standards have been established; teachers are being trained; and today’s materials published in unprecedented quantities convey the message of God’s Word to every age-level of the whole family. While others suggest ignoring the Sunday school, NSSA is on the move to encourage America’s Sunday schools to double in this decade.

National Sunday School

Executive Director

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Chicago, Ill.

I advocate the need and value of study groups which lack fervor at present, but the church school is far from being obsolete. One hour on Sunday is not a lot of time to teach anyone, but it is better than nothing at all.…

McKeesport, Pa.


I felt I should express how very much I am impressed with “Letter to a Seminarian” (Sept. 25 issue). After fifteen years in the pastoral ministry I understand an article like this one.…

First Methodist

Bangor, Me.


The editorial “The Triple Revolution” (Sept. 11 issue) points out the dangers of a suggested solution to the economic problems which cybernation presents. Let us hope, however, that Christians will come forth with positive suggestions.…

If we can avoid a nuclear holocaust (which would destroy both the problem and the civilization which created it), the trend toward a shorter work week and more leisure time will certainly continue. A higher percentage of our young people will have the opportunity to continue their education beyond high school, and longer post-graduate training programs will be required in many professions. Such programs have the advantage of keeping young people from the labor market until they are in their mid-twenties (or later). The number of working years will be further shortened by earlier retirement.

Those of us who insist that man does not live by bread alone should rejoice in the opportunity for a fuller life which automation will make possible. Education in the techniques for earning a living must be supplemented by education in the art of living a life. Leisure may provide the opportunity for mischief, but it may also afford an opportunity for the cultivation of the spiritual and cultural aspects of life. Church and school will both be challenged to help our youth (in particular) to find a more useful, meaningful life.

On the negative side, automation eliminates thousands of jobs, resulting in economic chaos among those unable to find other work. The Christian conscience must seeks ways and means of assisting those who face job dislocation to meet their immediate economic problems and to find the employment which will restore meaning and self-respect to their lives.…

Assoc. Prof. of Ancient Literature

Central Michigan University

Mount Pleasant, Mich.

Instead of clouding the scene by warning of the “evils of socialism,” your writer should seek to square with the situation described by these perceptive and concerned analysts. While we may feel compelled to insist on the continued relevancy of St. Paul’s admonition connecting working and eating, there is no theological reason to demand that General Motors, rather than Uncle Sam, does the employing!…

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Goshen, Ind.


I was very much interested in reading Mack B. Stokes’s article titled, “The Call to the Ministry” (Sept. 25 issue).… As one of two lay members for a period of ten years on the Commission on Christian Higher Education of the Augustana Lutheran Synod, I feel that I can submit herewith a few observations on the subject, since it was discussed many times at the meetings of the commission during my tenure.

The call to the ministry is not magical or mystical, though the supernatural is interwoven with it. It can be explored if, to quote an ancient master of the Church, a man “goes up into the tribunal of his conscience and sets himself before himself.” Spiritual experience, favoring providences that have cleared the road educationally, reasonable intellectual gifts, a friendly disposition, a burning sense of loyalty to Christ, and, last, an urge that holds him from rival engrossments and drives him toward his kingdom of opportunity—these are the requisites that warrant the confidence that he is commandeered for stewardship within the house of God. No more is needed or wanted to rid him of any misty frame of mind, any fog of indefiniteness, any haunting uncertainty, regarding his consecration. He has buttressing evidences that neither accident nor chance has led him on, that within the drab of common day there has reached him an edict born in the eternities and immensities. The voice of duty and the voice of privilege bid him believe that Christ has stamped him with the seal of His appointment.…

McGregor, Minn.

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