POVERTY, CHASTITY, AND OBEDIENCE
If you drive north in western Iowa, the likelihood is that you will pass Sioux City, and the stockyards, and what must surely be the largest dunghill in the world (Ps. 113:7, KJV). This I did, and then headed east to a small town to make a commencement address. When I stopped at a service station to get my bearings, I asked the location of the high school. The boy said, “Catholic or public?” Thus spoken we have the only two divisions in the public thinking of American religion. During the last war a man could specify for his dog tag Catholic, Jewish, or Protestant; if he was nothing, he was given a Protestant dog tag because he was neither Catholic nor Jewish.
At the restaurant later I found out that the boy waiting on me was going to be in the graduating class, and he assured me that in their town you went either to St. Mary’s or to the public school. “And what kind of a Christian are you?” I asked. “I’m a Lutheran, I guess,” he said. Iowa has some good Lutheran colleges, so I asked him what college he planned to attend. He told me, “Guess I’ll go to Iowa State,” so apparently he was more public than Lutheran. I should have liked to have had time to look into the plans of the boys of St. Mary’s to see how the church colleges of Rome are making out in the State of Iowa.
Things won’t be so bad after the ecumenical movement gets us all together. We won’t have to worry about St. Mary’s and public because maybe the public will become St. Mary’s.
There may be a few bumps on the road ahead, however. Most of our “Protestant” seminaries are pushing hard now for “the new morality.” Meanwhile Time magazine (May 21, 1965) gives us the startling news that there are 8,600 Jesuits active in the United States. Just how are the ecumenical-minded seminaries getting ready to unite their new morality graduates with 8,600 men who have taken the vows of chastity?
May I congratulate your anonymous editorial writer responsible for “Presbyterians Find a New Vocabulary” (June 18 issue). Doubtless it will raise the wrath of many Presbyterians.…
Stick with us, friends. Pray for us. For who knows but what God may see fit to bless even errant Presbyterians.
Central Park Presbyterian
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
What is there about a group of honest, concerned United Presbyterians seeking, among other things, to give contemporary expression to their faith that bugs you so?…
May we suggest that you relax a bit; listen more; understand better; and then take pen in hand to address reasonable men, even though to disagree with them.
Faith United Presbyterian Church
Medford, N. J.
With genuine pleasure I read that an Omaha minister had nerve enough to say (News, June 18 issue) he … would have to walk out of the present U. P. denomination if some of the ideas presented at the General Assembly at Columbus went through, which they did.…
I was surprised and disappointed at your slanderous skirmish with the poor United Presbyterians.…
If your job ever becomes available, don’t call me and I wouldn’t call you because I would not want to be in your position.… Sand Lake Baptist
Averill Park, N. Y.
That the new confession proposed “confirms the widening impression that many churchmen no longer have an authoritative divine Word for men in all ages and places” is a statement one could not make if he really understood what the new confession is trying to say.…
It is gratifying to know that the United Presbyterians are moving out of the narrow confines of sectarianism in the direction of the Catholic fullness of worship in Word and sacrament.…
South Gate, Calif.
I have the distinct impression that you would have liked to carry Carl McIntire’s picket, saying, “I told you so in 1933”.…
TAKE YOUR PICK
The June 18 issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY is exceptionally filled with a wide variety of interests of vital importance. I enjoyed reading every page of that issue.
The article by Dr. Lindsell on “Who Are the Evangelicals?” is a sparkling jewel of that issue. I like especially these two sentences: “If a man is an evangelical, he is theologically conservative. If he is theologically liberal, then he is not an evangelical.” First Covenant Church
Los Angeles, Calif.
One of the stupidest things that I have ever read in a Protestant publication is the [article] by Harold Lindsell in the June 18 issue.
“If he is theologically liberal, then he is not an evangelical.”
I do not think Mr. Lindsell stands to that degree in the wisdom of God to make any such statement.…
I imagine that it is rather difficult to get faggots in Washington. So we use CHRISTIANITY TODAY.
BY WAY OF SUGGESTION
In re “Great Evangelistic Events Through the Centuries” (June 18 issue): I seriously question the evangelical concern of a few groups or individuals mentioned by the compilers.…
Long Beach, Calif.
Even allowing for space limitations in your list … I am absolutely astounded to note that you did not include the tremendous ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon!
Pine Mountain, Ga.
• Somehow his name fell out of the list.—ED.
I must take this opportunity to express … my deepest gratitude and appreciation especially for your recent issues and particularly for the June 4 issue.
Hats off to David L. McKenna for his most insightful, stimulating article, “The Jet-Propelled Pulpit.” It’s about time someone reminds us that we are preaching to meet needs.…
Three cheers too for N. Gene Carlson’s challenge to “save us” by a return in the pulpits of our land to expository preaching. How in the world are we ever going to get this point across to so many preachers who have obviously long ago run dry? Isn’t it a pity that so many men preach their own message and then try to justify it by “proof-texting”?
Moody Bible Institute
Your plain and practical issue, concerning preaching and the preacher, was a refreshing breeze upon the academic deserts of our day. We must continually remember our “high calling.” We must go back to the Bible.…
North Syracuse Baptist
Church North Syracuse, N.Y.
While there is much in the editorial (“Crisis in the Pulpit,” June 4 issue) with which I can agree, I find that CHRISTIANITY TODAY does not stand where it suggests we stand—in the “world of human sin and need,” and “in the dusty commonplaces of life”.…
The world is full of sin and need; maybe the preacher is mindful of his own. Life is dusty; but “Crisis in the Pulpit” is like smiting the dust “that it may become lice throughout the land.…”
First Baptist Church
Meredith, N. H.
“The Best Way to Preach” by N. Gene Carlson is definitely one of the best articles I have read on the subject of expository preaching. It should encourage many clergymen to back away from their often dry-as-dust topical sermons and to move ahead with messages enriched with the clarity and the authority of God’s precious Word.
The Guidance Press
Editor and Manager
There is no question of the supreme value of expository preaching; but I realized some months ago that there is an even greater question the preacher must face at his homiletical work table. It is this: What is the main message I must spell out for my people this Sunday, and (after that is determined) what is my best way to present it?
I simply cannot believe that expository preaching alone is the one best way to preach the Gospel. Such preaching has brought many blessings to my people; but I preach an equal number of topical sermons, and I find it hard to believe that God does not bless that method fully as much as the other.…
Some topics which I feel must be put across in the pulpit do not readily lend themselves to the textual and expository approach.…
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church
Hay Springs, Neb.
CONFESSIONS OF A NEW PH.D.
I suppose that Frank E. Gaebelein’s article, “The Aesthetic Problem: Some Evangelical Answers” (Feb. 26 issue), more than anything else, gives me the courage to express my ideas publicly. If the area of aesthetics is, as Gaebelein maintains, a comparatively new field for evangelical Christianity, then perhaps my thoughts, added to those of others, may afford a sort of beginning. Perhaps they can furnish some preliminary material upon which others may labor, modifying, correcting, and systematizing as the case may be.
While the experience of writing my dissertation on “The Significance of the Variants of 1578 in the Evolution of Ronsard’s Poetic Technique” is still fresh in my mind, I should like to share it. Since my topic seemed to me to be about as far removed as it could possibly be from what a Calvinistic Christian would normally choose, I was constantly haunted by certain perplexing questions and misgivings. The more I enjoyed my project the more I wondered if what I was doing could really glorify God. I enjoyed it, for my subject was almost purely analytical and creative. Almost every day the light dawned. And yet despite my conviction that all truth is God’s truth and that one way to glorify God and to enjoy him forever is through the discovery and contemplation of truths, it did seem that the area of particular truths upon which I seemed to have been led to concentrate were rather far down in God’s scale of values.
The questions which kept recurring had to do with the poet, with the poetic object, and with the time factor. Strangely enough, so long as I concentrated upon the poetic technique, I had no problem. Concerning the poet, I would ask myself whether it was right for a Christian—particularly a Calvinist—to make a sympathetic study of one who championed the persecutors of the Huguenots. Would it not have been wiser to have left to a non-Christian the task of finding out what was good in the works of one who did not—in my estimation, at least—seek to glorify God? When it came to the poetic object, I wondered whether an artistic portrayal of an ignoble thought or emotion could be beautiful and certainly whether it could be worthwhile. What was the relationship between beauty and goodness or between beauty and truth? Was it my duty as a Christian to append to my aesthetic evaluation of the various representative poems and their modified versions an ethical evaluation as well? Probably what worried me most of all was the time factor. Was it right in my case to embark upon a project which would take many hours from other activities, activities which from the average Christian’s point of view would surely seem much more worthwhile? Each time these questions came to mind I almost always concluded in the same manner. Did I not know that I was where I was supposed to be for that day? I would have to trust my Lord and Saviour to show me the next step. In the meantime, I would continue with my immediate goal.
The task I had set for myself was to attempt to understand what the poet was seeking to accomplish and then to judge his efforts from the aesthetic point of view only. In other words, by means of a formal analysis, I sought to discover the poem’s inner workings. I evaluated the complete poem on the basis of its integration and unity of effect. The harder I tried to put myself in the poet’s place, the better I understood why he did what he did and the more I marveled at his genius. I felt less and less inclined to criticize him even from the aesthetic point of view. His solutions for his structural problems aroused nothing but the most humble admiration for his genius, perseverance, and ability to learn from his past mistakes. Through this study I began to understand and, in a measure, to share the humanist’s humility before genius and particularly before the great creative thinkers of the past. Frankly I see nothing unchristian in this experience. I do not see how we detract from God’s glory, if we admit that he has given great gifts to unbelievers as well as believers. The more perfectly we understand what these gifts involve, the more we magnify the God who can dispense such talents. As for concentrating on someone who hated Calvinism, if I was able to be objective, does this not prove that Christianity and scholarship are not opposed as some seem to think?
I now feel that my time has been well repaid in learning to use a method which is going to prove very useful. It is a technique I never could have begun to master, had I not been able to forget momentarily all thought of judging the poet or the poem from an ethical standpoint. Of course, after one has completed a formal analysis, there is nothing to prevent making ethical judgments. Whether or not the Christian critic ought to append an ethical evaluation to a poetic analysis would depend, I should think, on the circumstances. In any case he would surely want to view everything in the light of God’s Word, for himself if for no one else. However, if I have learned anything at all in writing my dissertation, it is the danger of making one’s ethical evaluation too soon. It is important to be certain that one has discovered the total intrinsic form. If one has missed the irony and sarcasm, for example, that sometimes show that the poet himself disapproves of the ignoble thought or emotion that is being portrayed, then there is no conflict between the poetic truth and the ethical truth. One only makes himself and the Christian position in general look ridiculous if he finds something that is not there. One task for the Christian critic or teacher, therefore, is to be sure that the work is understood before it is submitted to this kind of test.
I am still trying to think through the relationship between aesthetics and the Christian world view. Dorothy Sayers may be right in finding no contradiction between poetic truth and theological truth (The Man Born to be King, p. 19). In the meantime, my experience may encourage other beginning Christian scholars to persevere and to trust that an all-wise God has his reasons for placing them where they are, reasons he will divulge in due time, provided they have in the first place sought his preceptive will.
FOR SHUFFLING THE LINEUP
Your article, “The Hospital Chaplain” (June 4 issue), was of real concern to me. I am chairman of the Counseling Services Committee of the local county Council of Churches. We are developing our services at the present time, and one of the major innovations we are presenting is that on the therapy team a clergyman is to be included.…
Our position (mine particularly) is that on the road back to health from illness there are several items to be considered: the functioning of the physiological organism, the central nervous system (mental, conscious and unconscious), the will, attitudes, wishes, and desires along with aspirations and value systems; that is, the body, mind, soul, and spirit are integrated in the well person. Surely in dealing with shame and guilt, with pseudo-guilt and with real guilt, the clergyman ought to be included on all therapy teams.
ONE LAD TO ANOTHER
I appreciated the penetrating review of my recent book, Jesus and the Kingdom, by Professor Waetjen (June 4 issue). He raises several points which indeed call for clarification. May I, however, be permitted to point out that several of his questions are already answered in the book. (1) “It is strange that so little is said of Jesus’ works of healing and restoration.” In fact, quite a bit is said; pp. 145–54 discuss Jesus’ victory over Satan, which is the spiritual reality behind the demon exorcisms; pp. 154–60 have as their background the messianic acts of healing and restoration mentioned in Matthew 11:2–6; and pp. 207 ff. expound the miracles of healing as an anticipation of the messianic salvation. (2) “It is even stranger that nothing is said about the death and resurrection of Jesus. This appears to have no place in the eschatological teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God.…” As a matter of fact, the significance of Jesus’ death is discussed on pp. 320 ff. (3) An “unresolved question” is the connection between “Jesus teaching on the Kingdom, his death and resurrection, and the beginnings of the Church.…” The neglect of such a basic question would indeed be a serious oversight, for it involves the all-important contemporary question of the continuity between Jesus’ teaching and the primitive kerygma. This very problem is recognized and discussed, and a positive solution suggested on pp. 266–69. Jesus’ teaching on the Kingdom is not, therefore, “abstracted from his death and resurrection.”
I do not think I misquote Frost, as the review suggests. What is called a quotation is in fact my summary interpretation of what I understand Frost to mean, and this summary is based on an exact quotation cited on p. 52. The problem here is that Frost’s language is extremely technical and must be interpreted within its own particular content.
Mr. Stuber’s response (Eutychus, June 18 issue) to the March 26 editorial about John R. Mott, in relation to the surrender of spiritual principles which John R. Mott promoted, is of great concern to me.
Mr. Stuber stated: “In fact, the YMCA is now in one of the best positions of any organization to be the Christian demonstration center for the application of the kind of Christianity advocated by Dr. Mott”.…
Mr. Lansdale, late general secretary of the National Council YMCA, has referred to the YMCA as a “sleeping giant.” If this is true and the YMCA is in a position to become a Christian demonstration center to follow Mott’s advocation, then those of us who are YMCA secretaries will have to find Mott’s Saviour in today’s world; or in other words, “the giant” must awaken and be counted.…
The unfortunate truth is that “Christian” for many YMCA secretaries means anyone, regardless of his religious beliefs or in spite of the fact that he hasn’t trusted in the finished work of Christ for the remission of his sins, who is sincere in what he believes in spite of God’s Word.
I am persuaded that Mr. Stuber is correct about the YMCA being in a unique position as a demonstration center for the basic Christianity Dr. Mott believed in, if fellow secretaries will: (1) Call upon Christ for regeneration ourselves by the Holy Spirit and (2) those who have experienced this new birth, call upon Christ for a new demonstration of his power to change lives spiritually and physically, in the context of today’s world.…
Extension Work Secretary
Young Men’s Christian Association
Washington, D. C.
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