A great many people have said something like this, but perhaps Thoreau said it best: “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” I remember the story of some mountaineers sitting around a stove in a country store. One of the boys was telling about all the new puppies he had and what wonderful bird dogs they would grow up to be, when one of the men at the stove broke into the conversation. “I want to get my name in early,” he said. “I don’t want one.” There is a wonderful sense of freedom in being able to get what you want; there is also a wonderful sense of freedom in not wanting.

I thought of this the other day as I drove along the highway listening to the loud, enthusiastic word from one of our radio hucksters. There was a great contentment in knowing that I didn’t have to do a thing about what he was saying, even though he was highly convincing to himself, I suppose.

It’s a good game sometimes to speculate about how many activities in this land of ours would fail if they depended on customers like me. I know we have to keep the wheels of industry spinning; but when you get around to thinking about it, you realize there are whole areas in life that you never touch. I am athletically minded, but I have never seen a professional wrestling or boxing match; and the only horse racing I have ever seen has been at a small county fair. I think television would curl up if it depended on me, and so would liquor, gambling, hunting, and a great many other things. Of course, if I had the money, the travel business would thrive.

The other side of this coin is, What worthwhile projects would succeed if everyone involved in them were as faithful and hard-working as I am? A little serious thinking on that side will nick you where it hurts.


I would like to express my appreciation for the January 15 issue and especially the articles by Dykstra, Redding, and Alexander.…

My patience has dwindled low seeing how the churches and the religious centers sit ominously across the street from the campus waiting for people to come to them. Instead of [involving themselves] in campus life the campus pastors sit in judgment on such groups as Inter-Varsity. How wonderful it would be if more Christians would be the ideas that Dr. Alexander wrote in his article, “A University Professor Writers His Pastor” …

I have been associated with a doctor at the Medical Center here who has a concern and a burden for college kids. His vitality and insight have led him to go on campus, into the dorms to meet kids and invite them to his house to meet his family. Every Sunday night we have twenty to thirty guys out at his house in an informal discussion. We have big problems with transportation, yet we are involved with some 100 students.…

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More Christian families are catching glimpses of what they can do for Christ on campus because of the doctor and his family …

Gainesville, Fla.

Your issue … evoked both pleasure and unease—pleasure because some campus issues were so perceptively outlined, and unease because so much remains to be said.

Though your contributors may have refrained from the blunt assertion, it is possible that some may feel confirmed in the flattering assumptions that intellectual doubt is merely a rationalizing smokescreen for willful sin, and that it is anti-Christian presuppositions rather than real issues or difficulties which drive a damaging wedge between church and campus. I would not for a moment question the element of truth in these assumptions, but other factors must be underscored to balance the picture.

Doubtless all our mental vision is clouded by the sin of the race, but this is not to assert that individual loss of faith is explicable by individual moral delinquency any more than an individual’s sickness is a consequence of his particular shortcomings. Maybe it is the student who is sternest in his intellectual integrity who is hit the hardest as hitherto unrealized facts unfold, and those who emerge with faith unscathed may include some who have never bothered to think: they may simply accept Christian and non-Christian beliefs alike and fail to see their incompatibility. Nor is doubt necessarily founded in ignorance of the scriptural data. It may be that it is the devout Bible-reader who wrestles most with the time-honored problems of “Old Testament morality,” massacre, expressions of hatred, and contradictions real or apparent—the accounts of Judas’ death, for instance. Nor will he be able to ignore social issues, or the unfortunately recurrent confrontation of science and Scripture. Will his views necessarily remain unmodified if he reads that giants of the Reformation as well as the Roman Catholic hierarchy fought the sphericity and motion of the earth with biblical texts, or that Christian leaders such as Luther, Calvin, and Wesley denounced demonstrative activism (let alone the American Revolution) as defiance of the plain meaning of Romans 13? It is not enough to assure a frustrated student that such questions will dissolve away as he leaves adolescence behind, or that a bit of practical Christianity will banish the doubts generated by “intellectual theorizing.” It savors too much of drowning one’s sorrows in drink! Nor need it be thought that some of the all-too-popular reconciliations of science and Scripture or even denunciations of “scientism” will close the question for an honest scholar. He knows full well the merited skepticism which will greet any affirmation that the vast panorama of geological history can be deposited between the gap so conveniently discovered between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis, and will wisely refrain from confronting his professor (or his students) with the assertion that it is all a result of the Flood and that centuries of patient analysis must be dismissed as figments of uniformitarian imagination. Far too many students have been trapped between the extremes of biblical “literalism” and rationalistic “naturalism.”

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No, I don’t presume to know all the answers; I wish I did. But somebody must say, in plain English, that the problem does not lie solely with the campus, and that vulnerable viewpoints, dogmatically asserted, are going to add to the spiritual shock which follows removal from a home where life is focused on one faith to a campus where different faiths (secular as well as religious) are presented in parallel lines. We may legitimately protest the not infrequent distortion of our faith, but our problems will not be lessened if anti-intellectualism looms large in the Christian community, if special pleading is evident in our apologetics, and if false accusations are given credence. Even liberal intellectuals have their ideals, not excluding academic freedom, racial equality, and the search for truth unfettered by any “dogma.” The Christian who sees faith in Christ as a great integrating force illuminating every facet of life may have his work cut out on a secular campus, but his task can sometimes be embarrassed as much by the opinions and attitudes of his allies as by the threatening undercurrent of anti-supernatural scientism and secularized humanism. If it is a conservative Christianity which we seek to proclaim, it must be an informed and tenable one.

Assoc. Prof. of Geography

San Fernando Valley State College Northridge, Calif.

On the whole, it is a satisfactory issue. However, I would seriously question the introductory article, “The Christian Student in a Secular Milieu,” by John W. Dykstra.

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Now Mr. Dykstra is himself a teacher in such a “secular” institution. Certainly the kind of concern he manifests for the real needs of students would help change the atmosphere of any “secular” setting. I gather that the primary intention of his article is to describe some of the factors that create difficulties for the average Christian student.

Unfortunately, his opening paragraphs may leave the impression that he is renewing the old attacks upon the “god-less university.” Such a description of the state university is patently false. In the very same issue … you note that the new executive of the Inter-Varsity Fellowship comes from an academic post at a state university. The secular university is peopled by all kinds of professors and instructors, many of them confessing and witnessing Christians.

In short the secular university, if it is truly objective, does not hinder a Christian concern on the part of the dedicated believer. It asks only that a man be competent in his discipline and that he deal fairly with all of his students. Indeed, universities today encourage a positive interest in students on the part of the faculty. We can help such concerned faculty persons by thinking through and demonstrating a theology of “Christian presence” within the secular structures of our time.

Executive Director

The University Christian Association University Park, Pa.

My most humble thanks for another fine issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY. AS a Lutheran pastor who has had some of the experiences of struggling with all the so called theological “insights” of the “up-to-date” theologians, especially the ones of my own denomination, it is indeed refreshing to get a view of things which appreciates history and the struggles of the giants of past centuries for what they are, and for their contribution to our age as well. The depreciation of all that has gone before, with an insistence that we have now arrived, has always seemed quite hollow, for in my simple estimation, the problems of man have always been the same, albeit the outward circumstances may have changed.

I am awaiting the outcome of my application for a year of study in Finland. The article by Montgomery, “On Taking A European Theological Doctorate,” has clarified many things for me, and thus I now look forward to this opportunity with even greater desire if granted.…

Mass, Mich.


Almost everything that Addison H. Leitch says is worth consideration, and I usually agree with him.

But his adulation of Albert Schweitzer (Current Religious Thought, Jan. 15 issue) I cannot accept. When Dr. Schweitzer uses his “masterful reasoning powers” in his book, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, his “masterful reasoning powers” lead him to the astonishing discovery that Jesus was fallible, that Jesus made mistakes!

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The trouble with Dr. Schweitzer is that he does not know that “masterful reasoning powers” are altogether insufficient to discover the truth about the historic Jesus.

There was a man in the New Testament who was reminded of this when our Lord told him that “except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

Albert Schweitzer and DeGaulle appear to have much in common. They can never see their mistakes. The insufferable pride of man disgusts me. JOHN R. STEVENSON Saxman United Presbyterian Church Sterling, Kan.

I must write now while the experience is fresh. [The article] regarding Albert Schweitzer is without doubt the finest, most humane (and most Christian!) appraisal of that famous man that I have ever read. It touched my heart and my mind. Only today I completed a study on Schweitzer for … one of our Lutheran publications. I wish I had been able to show the insight into this amazing man Mr. Leitch has shown.…

Newberry College

Newberry, S. C.


I would like to … [comment] on the article by Dr. Kuhn regarding poverty and unemployment (Current Religious Thought, Dec. 18 issue). We have made a fetish of higher and higher wages, reduced work week, and wage control (minimum wages) as if these factors improve the lot of all. It just is not so. Wages ought to be arrived at in a free-market competition. The totality of what we have to share amongst ourselves in the way of goods and services, can never be more than the sum total of our productivity; the sharing ought to be commensurate with one’s [productivity], and not based on what some may obtain by means of coercive action of governmental action (e.g. minimum wages).…

Then also, we hear again from various quarters about the need of a shorter work week and higher minimum wages, but this will not solve the problem, rather aggravate it. Higher wages do not improve the lot of the masses because the cost of their production rises at the same percentage factor. High wages in a free economy are the result of, and reflect the efficiency of, the industrial system; it is not—as some maintain—the artificially forced wage standard which improves the standard of living. Someone will have small productivity and receive less than the one with the higher productivity, but he still adds to the sum total of the goods and services enjoyed and shared by our entire society. To deprive a marginal worker front this opportunity to work at some wage reduces thereby the quantity of goods and services to be enjoyed by all; it is demoralizing and against all common sense and Christian morality. By what Christian ethic can the standpoint be defended which claims that a man must not be allowed to work except at a certain wage which he is not qualified to earn?…

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Marblehead, Mass.


I was amused at Lawing’s cartoon (Jan. 15 issue) showing an evident Moses holding the Ten Commandments. The caption reads: “Aaron said perhaps you’d let us condense them to ‘act responsibly in love.’ ”

But as I chuckled, I began to realize that this was essentially what Jesus did. Remember his remarks when asked what the greatest commands were? J. HOLLAND VERNON Montana Conf. District Superintendent The Methodist Church Great Falls, Mont.

It seems to me that Matthew 22:37–40 closely parallels what many mean by “act responsibly in love.” This would certainly be true for the second table of the Law.…

First Covenant Church

Billings, Mont.

Those who reduce the moral law to love and then redefine love so that the moral law is altered (and such notions as pacifism, socialism, government welfare, and antinomianism justified on that basis) can learn a great deal from that cartoon.

Los Angeles. Calif.


In spite of your continuing articles on Communism, racial prejudice, emotional illness and mental retardation, campus educational needs, theological trends, ecumenism, church-and-state relations, et al., those of the liberal theological perspective—beyond Sadducceism—are still harping on your fine periodical as lacking modern “relevant” social ethics for Kingdom citizens.…

To me, this is like having black before your eyes and calling it white.

Maybe this is their withdrawal symptom from a truly relevant ethics that has both, as the Apostle Paul might say, “the goodness and severity of God,” which is based upon the Reformation principle of Holy Scripture only instead of personal relativism. First Baptist Church

Menard, Tex.


A few months ago I was in the study of a well-known evangelical in the States. I reminded him that the last time we were together was the night on which we had heard that Machen had been put out of the ministry in the Presbyterian Church. And then I also recalled that when on that night in 1936 I had said that I was going to leave the Presbyterian Church, he had said that I was making a mistake—that “we” are staying in for a few years and [later] lead a big group out.

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His response to my recalling this was that the separatists had accomplished little in the almost thirty years which had passed since then. In general I tended to agree with him, but noted that those who had stayed in had not done anything much either. Then we were on a ground which made a constructive conversation possible.

In the May 22, 1961, issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY I wrote:

In the 1930s liberalism in the United States reached a point where it led to a division among the evangelicals. One group followed a historic emphasis, especially in Reformed Churches, and separated when the liberals came into control in most of the major denominations. The other group did not separate.
In surveying the first group, one must distinguish between a strong acceptance of the principle of the commanded purity of the visible church and what has happened in the intervening thirty years among those who have separated. There is cause for sadness in the results of the separated movement. While the criticism does not apply to everyone who took this position, yet the organized leadership of “the separated movement” largely developed an expertness in preparing a kind of lawyer’s brief which has the end of “winning one’s case at any cost” by choosing that portion of the facts which is convenient to this end, and in using this lawyer-brief mentality against liberals and true Christians equally.
In surveying the second group, one must distinguish between staying in an ecclesiastical unit at any one specific point of history, and the surrender of church purity as a principle. There is cause for sadness in the historical results of the action of this second group of evangelicals. For their ecclesiastical contacts have tended to “bridge-building” in wider areas of cooperation, and then tended to theological contacts of a “bridge-building” nature.

Since four years have passed since this was written, something more can be added. It is ever more clear that there remain two kinds of separatists; and on the other side, “bridge-building” among some evangelicals has reached the stage where the term “evangelical” has become meaningless. The surrender of emphasis on the purity of the visible church has led to wider and wider areas of evangelistic cooperation, and theologically, in many parts of evangelicalism, a widening tendency to compromise the doctrine of Scripture. There is an increasing tendency to lose the sense of antithesis, and with this how will the great antithesis of justification finally stand?

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The hopeful thing is that a second kind of evangelical is appearing who knows something is wrong and is trying to do something about it. The danger is that such men will do “something” in limited areas, but simply continue further along in the historical situation—like a man who keeps crawling but with the ice always breaking beneath him—repeating the basic mistake of losing the sense of antithesis.

It would seem to me that the only solution is a total one—on both sides of the division of Bible-believing Christians which has existed since the thirties:

First, recognize that the basic principle involved is not “separation” but the principle of the purity of the visible church. Begin talking privately and publicly about this principle and discuss and pray together as to what our responsibility concerning this is. When we do this, we are back where the present difficulty in the general evangelical ranks began.

Second, place purity of doctrine (and life) with love at the center, instead of having Christian activism and evangelism in the center.

Third, analyze what is the total world situation we face today. Realize that history has moved since Warfield and Hodge—that Hegel’s presuppositions have won in the twentieth-century world, and that the monolithic culture (secular and religious) is one of relativism, syncretism, and anti-Law. We will then be ahead of our times instead of training men for fifty years ago, and it is not far-fetched to say that our Christian colleges could leap-frog into being true twentieth-century educational institutions. Missionaries trained in them could catch up with the “natives” they are trying to teach, and Christian parents and educators would not feel confused by the gap between themselves and the next generation. In our moment of history an emphasis on antithesis as against relativism is the true offense of the cross against the world and the general world-spirit about us. This is facing a total culture, as the early Church faced their total cultural environment as it rested on false religion and false philosophy. This is also preaching Christ today—missing the presuppositional changes from a previous day largely leaves us in communication only with the upper middleclass, while the workers and the intellectual and creative people are left ignorant of the Good News which is for all men.

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The point of contact for evangelical renewal should be the principle of the purity of the visible church, even though we may not all have the same light on the specific application of the principle in practice. The link between those who believed in the practice of the principle of the purity of the visible church was unfortunately smashed; instead, there has grown up a general evangelical framework which tries to act as though it does not matter if the principle of the purity of the visible church exists or not. The question was swept under the rug, and evangelism and Christian activism went on undisturbed. It has gone on toward an increasingly contentless and unevangelical evangelicalism. Now thirty years later, with the new evangelical view of the Bible increasingly separating the total authority of Scripture from the things of the cosmos and the events of history upon which the Bible touches, such “evangelicalism” has come in a circle to a place not greatly different than the view which B. B. Warfield opposed so rightly in the case of Henry Preserved Smith in the days when liberalism was first entering the Presbyterian and other churches, just before 1900.

Surely this is not the moment either to think only of individual salvation or to retreat to a defensive position. Is it not possible by the grace of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit, to go back on both sides and pick up the pieces?—To find contact between those across the lines who agree that the past thirty years have brought much less than the people of God in the thirties thought properly would be ahead; those who accept the scriptural principle of the purity of the visible church as a principle for which we are responsible under the leadership of the Spirit, each one considering “what God would have me do about it in practice in my generation”? We are fewer in numbers now, unhappily, than thirty years ago, but to take such a position and practice would put us in step with many throughout the world; for example, the evangelicals in the Church of England who openly face the possible tearful meaning to them of this principle in the days ahead. That is very different from our American and related evangelicals who act as though organizational continuity takes precedence over the doctrinal purity of the Church.

Chalet les Melez

Huémoz sur Ollon, Switzerland


Michael Green’s “Preaching the Advent: A Contemporary Approach” (Jan. 1 issue) is incredible. Reading the article through twice, and three times, I must admit I became excited—but also appalled. Imagine a key article such as this on the Second Coming—and directed at ministers at that—with not even a mention of such crucial concepts as the pre-tribulation rapture, the seven-year tribulation, and the millennial reign of Christ.

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Green stimulated my thinking and guided me into fresh considerations of the importance of our Lord’s coming for my own personal life. However, my excitement was soon dampened considerably.

Relevance in preaching is, I suppose, a worthy goal. But far more important than to communicate the spirit of a moving truth to the present generation is to declare dogmatically the minute details of correct doctrine which alone render the Second Coming the “Blessed Hope.”

Fresno, Calif.

Michael Green … says regarding the doctrine of the Advent, “The New Testament does not isolate it like that. It does not speak of a Second Coming.” In Hebrews 9:28 it says, “… unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” This is the only place in Scripture where our Lord’s Return is specifically designated as “second”; but that is enough, and the idea pervades the New Testament.

East Williamson Reformed Church East Williamson, N. Y.


I would like to express my appreciation for … the stimulating article, “The Minister and His Work” (Jan. 1 issue).

I appreciate Dr. Gaebelein’s emphasis on preaching Christ. His reason for it, however, deserves a second look. There may be somebody in the audience “who may never have another opportunity to hear the message of salvation,” but is this the basic reason for mentioning Christ in every sermon? True preaching of the written Word must always reveal the living Word. When the preacher has not found Christ in his text he must start to dig deeper. Admittedly a difficult task, but is it permissible to preach the Word without preaching Christ?

Surrey Christian Reformed Church

North Surrey, British Columbia


In the article “Revelation as Truth” (Jan. 1 issue) you quote Adolf Koberle as saying, “In the New Testament the great deeds of God are proclaimed like news: ‘The battle is finished: the victory is won; the trespasses are forgiven.’ Then the reader is called to appropriate this subjectivity and to realize this good news for himself.” I wonder if you intended to use the word “subjectivity,” or did you intend “subjectively,” which seems to me to fit the argument better. The whole point is that the Gospel has an objective, historical basis which in turn is to be realized subjectively. I fail to understand how this can be termed “subjectivity.”

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Second Street Presbyterian Church

Albemarle, N. C.

• Reader York is wholly right. Dr. Köberle’s word was “subjectively.”—ED.


God bless you for including the material on the deity of our Lord … by Drs. Bruce and Martin in your December 18 issue.

Regarding their remarks on Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:46 (page 17), it seems to me that one of the most important issues recorded in the cry of our Lord is omitted. The authors point out that Christ cried from the cross in Aramaic rather than the Hebrew of Psalm 22. The words of Christ, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” contain the Aramaic word lamah, and it is translated “why.” This particular word for “why” means “to what purpose.” The other Aramaic word for “why” is maddo and means “for what cause.”

Christ did not ask “for what cause” (maddo), but “to what purpose” (lamah), his heavenly father had forsaken him. Here is a subtle assertion of the deity of the fulfiller of the great messianic twenty-second psalm.

Minneapolis, Minn.

To refer to F. F. Bruce and W. J. Martin as “laymen” is exceedingly misleading. As you noted, one is professor of New Testament and the other of Old Testament.

They are “unordained” only because the fellowship to which they belong (Plymouth Brethren) does not recognize a special clergy-caste. Both are, however, recognized as able ministers of the Word of God in this fellowship.

Pasadena, Calif.


Thank you for the excellent article by James Taylor, “Born of a Virgin.” In these days of doctrinal vagueness his clear-cut acceptance of this important scriptural teaching is most refreshing. With respect to his treatment of Isaiah 7:14, however, I must express disagreement. It is not correct to say that bethulah “can mean only ‘a virgin pure and unspotted.’ ” Actually, the word can mean a virgin, a betrothed virgin, and (as attested both by Scripture and by extra-biblical sources) a married woman. The word almah is perhaps on the whole the general equivalent of English “maiden” or “damsel,” although it is never used of a married woman. In Isaiah 7:14, all factors considered, it is best rendered “virgin.” Had Isaiah wished to speak of a young woman he could have used the colorless word naarah.

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Nor does it do justice to the prophecy to say that the birth of the Child “was to be a God-given sign to King Ahaz indicating conquest of the kingdoms by the king of Assyria.” This is not the basic meaning of the prophecy, nor was the sign given specifically to Ahaz. The prophecy had a far deeper meaning, and serves as the mother or fountain prophecy upon which subsequent Messianic prophecy in Isaiah is based.

Hence, it is not correct to say that this prophecy finds an immediate fulfillment in chapter 8. It is the mother who names the Messiah, but it is the father who names Maher-shalal-hash-baz in chapter 8. Furthermore, if chapter 8 is the fulfillment of 7:14, why is the mother called almah in 7:14 but nebiah in chapter 8? The whole idea of a double fulfillment of the prophecy really rests upon a misunderstanding of its true meaning and significance. Hence, there is no need to speak of two virgin births.

Three points must be considered if we are properly to evaluate this passage: (1) The birth is said to be a sign; (2) the presence of God is seen, not in the deliverance from Syria and Israel, but in the birth of the Child; (3) the use of the strange word almah, which can only be satisfactorily explained when this wondrous passage is regarded as a prophecy of the supernatural birth of the Messiah.

Professor of Old Testament

Westminster Theological Seminary

Philadelphia, Pa.

The difference, if any, between bethulah and almah is so slight that even today practically every Jewish-edited Hebrew-Hebrew or English-Hebrew (but not Hebrew-English!) dictionary makes the two words virtually synonymous, as in the Ugarit. For example, the leading English-Hebrew dictionary defines “virgin” by “almah or betulah” (An English-Hebrew Dictionary, edited by Efros, Kaufman, and Silk, published by Dvir, Tel-Aviv). And bethulah is defined by “almah, a woman who has not known a man” in the four-volume definitive Hebrew-Hebrew dictionary by A. L. Shushan (Kiryat Sefer Publishing Company, Jerusalem). This same work defines almah as “a young woman, especially an unmarried one,” an obvious attempt to be accurate, even though the editor could not bring himself, as a Jew, to use the word “virgin.” Incidentally, in modern Hebrew, a “Miss” is an almah.… Staten Island, N. Y.

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