No profession in the world makes greater demands on a man than the Christian ministry. The spiritual needs and moral problems with which he must deal are as wide and deep as life itself. And they are just as complex. The minister of all people must continue to be a student, and read, read, read. He may finish seminary and graduate schools with highest honors, but he must continue to be a student until he dies. He can minister to others only what he has received; being no “widow’s cruse” or artesian fountain of wisdom, he can give no more than he gets.

It is sadly but widely true that the Protestant minister is seldom a student. Although books are his tools, his library, housed in an extra bedroom turned study, is often only a small, depressing collection. His least enlightened member knows he needs a “car allowance”; his most enlightened member probably never thought he might need a “book allowance.” If the need exists, it apparently does not become known.

We are sensitive about novelists and movie producers who portray the Protestant minister as a buddy-buddy, well-meaning, but not very enlightened member of the human community. The portrayal is usually grossly overdrawn; yet there is enough truth in it to make people, generally polite to ministers, laugh in a darkened theater or in the privacy of their own reading rooms. The nice-man-but-not-too-bright image is often supported by the TV panel that includes ministers. Gone are the days when the Protestant clergyman was regarded as a man of special wisdom for the problems and heartaches of life. Today the perplexed and brokenhearted usually come to the minister when the lawyer, physician, psychiatrist, and marriage counselor have failed. The minister is often the last resort in trouble, as he is in death. No one challenges his aptitude for burying the dead, but relatively few regard him as a source of wisdom for life.

Ask the religious book publisher or salesman what ministers buy and read and how much, and he may talk, if you promise him not to tell. The best religious books which grapple with the theological issues and ethical problems of modern life come with a high price tag—not because this type of author gets higher royalties, but because, unless the author is one of the few “big names,” such books sell only in small quantities. There are about 270,000 Protestant ministers in the

United States. If the writer of a good religious book can appeal to 10 per cent of them, he is overjoyed and may even suffer euphoria. Many a good religious book is published not because of an anticipated high market but from a publisher’s high sense of duty. It is sadly true that the average Protestant minister’s interest in books does not go more than a handbreadth beyond next Sunday’s sermon. Unless you are among the blest, the next sermon you hear may be the evidence.

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The Protestant minister must return to serious reading and study. He must study the Bible seriously. All too many Sunday sermons have almost no obvious relation to the Bible. Many a minister, and the reference is to evangelicals, echoes the teaching tradition, the “truths held” in his religious community, rather than authentically expounding the Scriptures. Many pulpits reveal that there is far more of a tradition in Protestant churches than these churches admit or recognize.

The Protestant minister must be a life-long student of the Bible. This is far more necessary for him than for the priest of the Roman Catholic or Orthodox churches, which rely heavily upon liturgy and ritual. With refreshing candor Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston admitted recently, “For some reason or other, Catholics are reluctant to read the Bible.” However that may be in Catholicism, it cannot work out in Protestantism, for without the Bible the Protestant pulpit has nothing to say.

But the Protestant minister must also be a student of life, both life past and life today. Every minister should study intensively one or more of the great theologians and the great theological issues of the past. He should wrestle with a giant or two, because this will be far more profitable to him than spreading his reading thinly over the whole theological board. And let the minister study religious traditions other than his own; let the Lutheran study Calvin, and the Calvinist, Wesley, and perhaps each of them, Augustine or Barth. It is only within the clash of ideas that he will come to know his own tradition, which itself emerged from and was shaped by conflict.

But let the Protestant minister also study the world in which he lives and to which he ministers. Let him read three or four modern novels each year—and not always the best—for every significant novel is a reflection and an evaluation of its times. Modern novels, movies, plays are all signs of the times—the times to which a minister must minister the Gospel.

Read, minister, read! Read widely, for every sermon must echo a background far larger than the sermon. It is the background that gives the sermon resonance and quality. To achieve this the preacher must not devote the major part of his weekly studies to next Sunday’s sermon. If he studies only for the next sermon rather than in widely varying areas, his sermons will sound hollow and lack that haunting aura of eternity they can and must have if they are to be an expression of the Word of God. A sermon must sound as though God is behind it and all of life in front of it. The minister at the pulpit-point of convergence can produce such sermons only if he continually studies the Bible and continually appraises all of life. This means reading and more reading.

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Protestant ministers frequently complain that they do not have time for adequate reading and study. Whatever the causes—and they are many, both in the congregation and in the minister—it still remains cruelly true that he who does not have time to read does not have time to preach. Can the Protestant minister who says that he does not have time for study really have an answer to the layman who, after many weekly disappointments, says that he does not have time to listen?

Sir Winston Churchill

On January 24, the seventieth anniversary of his father’s death, Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill died in London, having exceeded the biblical span by a full score. His paternal forebears were English aristocrats, his mother an American whose father had owned and edited the New York Times. Winston became a soldier of the queen, and before Victoria died had served with the Spanish Army in Cuba; fought the Pathans on India’s northwest frontier; charged with the famed Twenty-first Lancers at Omdurman in the Sudan; as war correspondent was captured by the Boers—and escaped. He took to politics and when World War I began was First Lord of the Admiralty, later becoming a combatant colonel.

In public life he made enemies, for he held controversial views and was not slow to express them. In the 1920s he recognized the threat of international Communism, and predicted that the great powers would learn to regret that they had not taken more positive action against Bolshevism before it had grown too strong. Just before World War II Churchill was in the wilderness, for he spoke against the Nazi menace when appeasement was the temper of the times. Yet when war came in 1939, Churchill, within sight of his sixty-fifth birthday, was restored to his old Admiralty post, whereupon that stuffiest of all English institutions broadcast to all ships the three electrifying words: “Winston is back.”

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Eight months later he succeeded the ineffective Chamberlain as Prime Minister. A Garibaldi redivivus offering nothing but blood, toil, tears, and sweat, Churchill felt himself one who kept tryst with destiny. Apprising the enemy that Britain would defend her island to the last, he asserted that even if defeated (and he would not admit the possibility) “our Empire … would carry on the struggle until, in God’s good time, the New World … steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the Old.” On this Cordell Hull commented: “The President and I believed Mr. Churchill meant what he said.” Mr. Churchill did. Then France fell under the shadow of the crooked cross, and Britain became an island fortress standing alone against a ruthless and seemingly invincible foe.

At this darkest of all moments in British history the voice of one man encouraged his people. A third of a million men were miraculously evacuated from Dunkirk’s beaches. In those summer days of 1940 the R.A.F. won the Battle of Britain against formidable odds, and the Prime Minister’s broadcasts, heard clandestinely in Occupied Europe, put into enslaved millions new hope that Hitler’s vaunted Third Reich might not after all last that thousand years. But there was another Churchill. Visiting the London slums after a devastating air raid, he broke down and wept on hearing the welcome and seeing the spirit of the people, causing an old woman to say: “You see, he really cares.…” A fickle electorate rejected him in 1945 but recalled him in 1951, and for four years until he retired at eighty he showed his versatility in the unfamiliar role of peacetime leader.

On religious faith he was reticent. In 1930 he said of the compulsory church attendance of his schooldays: “I accumulated in those years so fine a surplus in the Bank of Observance that I have been drawing confidently upon it ever since.” During his early soldiering he admits that he “did not hesitate to ask for special protection when about to come under the fire of the enemy; nor to feel sincerely grateful when I got home safe to tea.” About reconciling the biblical narrative with modern scientific and historical knowledge he was oddly pragmatic: what matters is the benefits of receiving a message that cheers your heart, fortifies your soul, and promises reunion with loved ones “in a world of larger opportunity and wider sympathies.” Asked on his seventy-fifth birthday if he feared death, he replied: “I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”

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Winston Churchill lived as a man of the world. He loved personal power and loved also the luxuries of life, in which he indulged fully. He was given talents above the ordinary and strength to perform great tasks. He had a happy home life—he had married in 1908 “and lived happily ever afterwards” (unlike three of his four surviving children who have aggregated five divorces among them).

The whole world’s sympathy goes out to Lady Churchill at the passing of one who did so much for the free world and to whom it owes so much, a man who both wrote and made history. His six-volume account of World War II was a tremendous feat for a septuagenarian. Never was honor more deserved than his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953, never tribute more perceptive than President Kennedy’s a decade later when Churchill became an honorary citizen of the United States: “In the dark days and darker nights when Britain stood alone … he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.” He regarded Churchill College, Cambridge, founded in 1960, as his national memorial, but his ultimate memorial lies in the perpetuation of those human freedoms for which he fought so valiantly. A few hours after his death an Irish TV emcee rashly asked a distinguished panel: “Who do you think is the greatest man in the world now?” There was no answer.

‘A Time For Christian Candor’

Bishop James A. Pike, enfant terrible of the Episcopal Church, has again spoken out. In the past he has gained generous publicity for his many activities, none of which generated more light and heat than the famous Blake-Pike proposal for church union. Now he is again to the fore. He has written another book and should, if he has not already done so, head for the nearest bomb shelter. The flak is beginning to fall.

For some time Bishop Pike’s theological views have been suspect. Now he baldly parades his denial of the Virgin Birth and the Trinity for all to see. Union Theological Seminary Professor Macquarrie in his review in the New York Times says that Bishop Pike’s stance “would slam the door in the face of the Roman Catholics just when they are making overtures to the Protestant world; and it would be gravely divisive in the Bishop’s own church, which prizes its historic faith and order.” Whether the bishop’s views will also influence future efforts to unite the Episcopal and other churches with the United Presbyterians remains to be seen.

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One must applaud vigorously the reaction of the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Episcopal Church to Bishop Pike’s book, A Time for Christian Candor. In the American Church Quarterly, the editorial writers say that “Bishop Pike is so Sabellian as to justify the classic and characteristically slashing dictum of Tertullian, ‘They [i.e., the Sabellians] put to flight the Paraclete [Holy Spirit] and crucify the Father’.…” Not only do they accuse their bishop of being a refurbisher “of outworn heresies”; they also label him irresponsible and unethical. His “slight pretense of learning may easily lead the uninitiated reader into supposing that Bishop Pike knows what he is talking about, which would be a most unfortunate error.…” Indeed, they say: “… we quite understand why Bishop Pike in the middle of all his busy Episcopal concerns should have written his book so badly; what we cannot comprehend is why he should have written it at all.”

The greater shock for Bishop Pike’s Anglo-Catholic critics is not his anti-Trinitarianism but that, no longer accepting the faith of the Church, “he does not propose that he shall thereby be debarred from enjoying the emoluments and accepting the honored and privileged dignity which accompanied his office.” This is to them “a more baffling ethical mystery than the metaphysical mystery of the Trinity itself.”

But is the bishop’s wishing to have his heretical cake along with his episcopal prerogatives really so mysterious in view of the inevitable connection between doctrinal heresy and ethical relativism?

A Heartening Beginning

The Inaugural Address of a president of the United States constitutes a milestone in the American pilgrimage, though the significance of the occasion varies considerably. Pundits have noted that the most decisive events of an administration have often been unenvisioned by the chief executive on Inauguration Day. In a distant sky on the other side of the globe a cloud no bigger than a man’s hand may be forming which will in time direct lightning shafts of crisis straight at the White House and rumble its thunder up Capitol Hill. But the Inaugural Address is generally reserved for articulation of hopes and aspirations that, perhaps mistily, embody the American Dream.

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So it was this year as Lyndon Baines Johnson took the oath of office in the forty-fifth inauguration of a United States president. He voiced the aspirations of most Americans for justice, liberty, and union in generally bipartisan terms that drew plaudits from leaders of both parties, though it was noted that the means of attaining the lofty goals are often a matter of debate.

Though his delivery was not so impressive as his words, the President’s warmth and sincerity were manifest. The New York Times spoke of the force of his “plain Biblical prose,” but beyond this it was good to see in the address the reflection of certain biblical principles. In declaring that “we have no promise from God that our greatness will endure,” President Johnson, after first attributing to God our opportunities, disavowed the presumption of an innate American righteousness that would guarantee an otherwise unconditioned outflow of God’s blessings. In warning that “the judgment of God is harshest on those who are most favored,” the Chief Executive echoed the words of our Lord, “Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” In confessing that we often fall even in the process of moving forward, the President avoided excesses of national self-congratulation. When he told of “what America is all about,” his rhetoric soared: “It is the uncrossed desert and the unclimbecl ridge. It is the star that is not reached.…”

That spiritual means toward high aspiration were not forgotten seemed indicated by a special worship service on the morning of Inauguration Day. Following a precedent set in 1953 when President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower with his cabinet and prospective White House staff and families attended a service of prayer and intercession at the National Presbyterian Church on Inauguration Day, President Johnson arranged a service at the National City Christian Church in Washington at nine on the morning of his Inauguration. At the President’s invitation, Dr. Billy Graham preached the sermon (see page 30). The church was crowded with members of the cabinet and the Supreme Court, members of Congress, governors, military officials, and many others.

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It is heartening that Mr. Johnson planned such a service with its clear recognition of the spiritual heritage of the nation. Doubtless it helped set the tone of the Inauguration. May it also set the tone for the administration and encourage citizens to uphold their Chief Executive in prayer.

Ignorance Often Has A Loud Voice

A nation no less than an individual can find itself in a distressing set of circumstances from which there seems to be no right way to extricate itself. The United States seems to be in that kind of predicament in Viet Nam, about which it is getting all kinds of advice.

Recently 105 clergymen in the District of Columbia and its environs petitioned President Johnson to negotiate peace and get out of Viet Nam on the best possible terms. Six hundred other clergymen in the same area refused to advise the President. Dean Francis B. Sayre of Washington Cathedral (Episcopal) was one of them. He explained his refusal by saying, “As a minister I don’t feel competent to know as well as the President’s technical advisers about what should be done.… There are technical considerations which I am not competent to judge.”

We commend his wise judgment and that of the other 599 Washington area clergymen who refused to sign. There is wisdom in recognizing one’s limitations, and in realizing that no man can give wise counsel beyond the limits of his knowledge. Whether Dean Sayre’s rejection of the opportunity to appear to know more than he does stems from his White House birth or from his descent from Woodrow Wilson we do not know. But we do know that it could have come from plain common sense.

What special wisdom do clergymen have on the military and international intricacies of the United States government’s involvement in Viet Nam? None. They can indeed speak piously about our difficulties in Viet Nam, but a vocal and uninformed piety is worse than silence. Clergymen do well to preach loudly and clearly about what they know; for the rest they do best to put their hands to their mouths. Too often Protestant clergymen counter Rome’s infallibility with their own all-inclusive wisdom, and their tongues speak what their heads know not on matters in which their competence is no greater than that of the schoolteacher or the mailman.

The 600 who refused to tell the President how to settle matters in Viet Nam have been publicly chided for being too timid. They were reminded that they knew the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” and were told that this knowledge was enough to warrant their telling the President what to do. But not only does this reveal an inflated assessment of what clergymen know about political matters. To imagine that the answer to our involvement in Viet Nam lies in a simple reference to the Sixth Commandment is also a naive over-simplification.

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Clouds Over The Air Force Academy

According to an announcement by Secretary of the Air Force Eugene Zuckert, “a well-organized group of ten or twelve cadets” at the Air Force Academy have been “stealing examination papers and offering them for sale.” The number of cadets involved is said to exceed one hundred and is believed to include thirty members of the football squad. Already thirty-five cadets are known to have resigned.

The scandal recalls the one at West Point in 1951, when the expulsion of ninety cadets almost wiped out the Military Academy’s football squad. But this situation is more serious because it involves the theft and sale of examination papers, whereas at West Point the cheating had to do with giving other cadets test questions used on previous days.

All who know the service schools with their proud traditions will understand the clouds that darken the beautiful Colorado campus of the Air Force Academy. It is sad that this revelation of calculated dishonesty should come so early in the academy’s history. Yet it may ultimately help establish the standard of unswerving integrity the nation must expect of young men to whom it gives so much in preparation for professional careers in a most demanding service. The situation, dismaying though it is, should be evaluated in the context of the honor system that is at the root of morale in the government academies. That the cheating was brought to light by young men faithful to their obligation is clear evidence of the effective working of the honor system among most of the 2,700 cadets. In contrast is the situation in most high schools and colleges where cheating is far more widespread but calls forth comparatively little student outrage.

Public indignation at what happened at Colorado Springs cannot be directed at the Air Force Academy alone, although it is the scapegoat. The guilt is widespread, involving parents and other adults who set youth such shoddy examples as cheating on income tax returns, padding expense accounts, and making a quick dollar by devious means. To say this is not to exculpate the guilty cadets. It is simply to recognize that the service academies cannot avoid admitting some who lack the moral strength to live up to the honor system.

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Moreover, as the sorry intrigue at the Air Force Academy is unraveled, it should be noted that, as in the earlier West Point scandal, many of those involved are football players. The question must be pressed whether big-time football with its exorbitant demands upon the time and energy of young men already under a most stringent academic routine is really indispensable to the training of officers.

Unlike the other institutions of higher learning in the nation, the four service academies belong to us all. Their welfare is thus a matter of public interest and national concern. Let all who condemn these unfortunate cadets search their own lives for breaches of integrity. For integrity is indivisible. Citizens careless about their own honesty share responsibility for lowered standards of integrity among American youth.

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