Diagnosis praised; physician scorned
Discussions about machines “taking over” usually end in an insecure half-laugh, because sometimes you just can’t be too sure. That automation is here to stay is undeniable. That some scientists think life can be created in the laboratory is supposed to pose all kinds of threats for theology and especially the doctrine of man. And that some combination of unemployment and living terror is ahead of us is increasingly becoming the theme of avant-garde writing.
But I think that in the long run we have the machine stopped. Neither machines nor laboratory cells can really replace human beings unless they reach the stage at which they start blaming one another. This practice is a reflection of the true human condition, and it seems an impossibility without somewhere the fact of sin.
One of C. S. Lewis’s best books is The Great Divorce. It was William Blake who made classic the hope of universal salvation when he wrote The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, meaning by his title that eventually heaven and hell could get together. But in The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis, with his usual penetration and wit. sets before us the possibility of people in hell moving on into heaven. The only trouble is that they can’t bear to live in heaven because they carry hell around with them, and the hell is that they can’t forgive and, worse than that, can’t stand to be forgiven. Pride won’t allow it.
Lewis points out that Napoleon is moving into deeper and deeper hell because he insists on settling with his generals the question of whose fault it was at Waterloo. Not being able to let loose of this obsession, he moves on toward the deep darkness.
Try it on yourself. Is the burden of your sin finally the inability to quit blaming someone for yourself?
The Bible Is For People
When I started to read Dr. Hughes’s article. “What Is the Bible For?” (Nov. 19 issue), I wondered if he would present a lot of philosophical and theological ideas without explaining such a simple thing as why my wife and I love to read the Bible. But he came through wonderfully.…
East Dennis, Mass.
Excellent diagnosis! Helpful witness!
St. Louis, Mo.
After reading the article … I have just one observation to make to the editors of CHRISTIANITY TODAY: “Physician, heal thyself”.…
If Luke were to write to Theophilus today, his manuscript would doubtlessly be returned with a rejection slip and the notation that, while his work was good, his subject had already been assigned to a staff writer.…
San Marino, Calif.
I have just read Dr. C. Darby Fulton’s article (Nov. 5 issue), dealing with the subject of organic church union.
It is the finest thing l have read on this subject. He covered the subject marvelously in a few words. I believe time will reveal how right he is.…
First Baptist Church
I feel a little unhappy about the headline on page 4, “Spiritual unity cannot exist without organic church union.” Perhaps this could be extracted from what I say in my article about a false antithesis between “spiritual unity” and “organic union”; yet it is a misreading of what I mean. I feel a very considerable degree of spiritual unity with many Christians from whom I am still visibly separated. What I will not do is to accept this state of affairs as being adequate to what our Lord requires of us or what the Bible teaches. The whole ecumenical movement springs, as it seems to me, from the joyful conviction that in Christ we have (underlying many differences) a spiritual unity, but that it remains for us to clothe it in forms that are less confusing, anachronistic, and unserviceable than the ones we now have.
PATRICK C. RODGER
Commission on Faith and Order
World Council of Churches
It’s the compromising view that organic unity must be had at any cost and is the most important end, which most of us abhor.… The most important thing is that Christians, regardless of what other tags they put on themselves, must work together with love toward one another if they are to have a profound influence on the world.…
ESTON W. HUNTER
We must ask ourselves whether or not the current chase after “ecumenicity” is prompted more by factions seeking greater material gain and higher social status than by an actual outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Diminishing and perverting of practiced morals and ethics has never been more evident. Is it likely that a host of nominal Christians, seldom evincing goals beyond those of social affluence and personal pleasure, should suddenly express a collective desire for the organizational unity of a spiritual body?…
Christ’s members are not known by the societies or institutions to which they may belong, nor are they distinguishable by the doctrines which they profess to believe. Christians … are only intimately known by the Spirit who indwells them and, generally, by each other as common works … manifest their faith.
HENRY A. GOERTSON
New Westminster, British Columbia
Dr. Darby Fulton’s article on church unity says what I have always felt.… I truly believe one faith must come first. Organic union first won’t last.
BETTLE D. BRIDEWELL
Musings On Music
Re “Quiet Revolt in Gospel Music” (News, Nov. 5 issue): There are two impressions given … which are not quite accurate. [The National Church Music Fellowship is] not really iconoclastic, eager to snatch away the “unworthy” music which is cherished by the man in the pew. Our program is a positive one, seeking to find the middle of the road between “the two extremes—those who judge music only by artistic ideals and those who aim only at the desires of the listener.” Our constitution states our purpose thus: to promote a ministry of music that may bring, “through the power of the Holy Spirit, the most powerful and permanent spiritual results.”
Secondly—I doubt that my friends at Moody Bible Institute have turned their backs on church music education that is broad in scope and excellent in quality. The same issue of the magazine announced that they will grant degrees. I understand that this includes a degree in church music that could be accredited by regional agencies and the National Association of Schools of Music.
DONALD P. HUSTAD
La Grange, Ill.
I was practically standing up cheering by the time I had finished it. I am an evangelical but I am also a musician, and I am often heartsick at the music standards which believe that if it is quality music it must be sinful, or at least a product of the liberal camp.…
For more than forty years I have labored in the music field of the Church and am one of those greatly disturbed by the present trend which seems to be a campaign by the American Guild of Organists to educate congregations to the use of more music by the three B’s. I find no fault in this save to point out that this does nothing to help people to worship. I have given up my membership in the A.G.O. and regret that this over-emphasis on music ability is causing many defections from the Church itself.…
WESLEY A. STRICKLAND
Stony Brook, N.Y.
You quote the results of the Lutheran effort to raise the standards of their music, and I am sure that they have worked very hard; but have you ever sat in a Lutheran church (as I do every Sunday) and listened to the deafening silence as the three trained musicians in the congregation try to carry the whole group when they are singing one of their liturgically correct, properly written songs? Or—have you observed the polite yawns and disinterest when some outstanding choir threads its way through a great old unintelligible oratorio? I can’t believe these things especially please the Lord.…
If other churches succeed in putting together such a mass of uncomprehendingly difficult and crashingly boring music as the Lutheran church has in its latest hymnal, then they can see, as we do, churches full of people … with their mouths closed as the organist perspires his way through a hymn.
Don’t mistake my criticism of the Lutheran church. I love it.…
KENNETH M. CLAAR
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