HOPED FOR AND UNSEEN
There came to my lap recently a most delightful set of pictures, the complete layout of the golf course for the National Open. So I just sat there and played the course and came out just a shade under par. This, I might point out, is a little better than most of the big-name golfers were doing at the time. It isn’t really hard. First, that long drive down the center of the fairway, so long that the next shot put me on the green; and, of course, if you concentrate, you never need to have more than a two-putt green. It was with great satisfaction that I laid the magazine aside. Shortly thereafter I tried my skill on the local course, and what do you know, I made 102. Some little thing must have gone wrong.
Robert Frost said one time, “Writing blank verse is like playing tennis without a net.” Come to think of it, if it weren’t for that net, a lot of things in the game would be much simpler.
Back in college football we had about 200 possible plays on the offense. When the plays were drawn on the board, we had two men on one at the crucial points and some very fine blocking, and every play was a touchdown play. In fact, when we watched the movies after the game or studied some of the “stills,” it was easy for the coach to point out where one man had slipped on the block and the touchdown play had actually gone for two yards. There was always the question, too, of how that fellow (namely me) could drop a pass.
This, I suppose, is the clue to the new language of our day called existentialism, or, more popularly, situational ethics. The point is clear enough. Knowing perfectly well what we ought to do, it turns out that in a given amount of existence (existentialism), or in a given situation (situational ethics), things somehow don’t open up quite the way we expect. It is the wrong time, or there are too many people involved, or the cookie doesn’t crumble according to the plan. As John Calvin said so nicely, “It is easier to run out of the way than to walk in it.” The important thing, I guess, is whether we are heading in the right direction. Arriving at the promised land took the Israelites a multitude of very rough days.
CHRISTIANITY AND PSYCHOTHERAPY
In the article “Psychotherapy and Spiritual Values” (July 2 issue), Dr. Walters maintained that a Christian therapist, whether or not he uses Christian theology in his therapy, exerts an evangelistic influence on the patient. Would he also say that an atheistic therapist would automatically exert an atheistic influence on his patient? It seems that he is confusing the therapist’s personal religious beliefs with the therapist’s scientific evaluation of the problem and his resultant psychotherapeutic methodology. A therapist’s Christian beliefs can only influence a patient when the therapist actively involves his theology in the therapy. I am certain there must be many therapists who, although unbelievers, conduct themselves in such a manner as to be indistinguishable from Christian therapists. Thus a Christian therapist does not necessarily exert an evangelistic influence on his patients any more than a Christian professor exerts an evangelistic influence on his students. It is certainly possible for both therapist and professor to exert such influences, but it is not necessary for the normal execution of their duties. I would assert that a Christian theologian, who also was well-versed in the field of psychology, could present a course in psychology without exerting his Christian influence on the material.
Psychology is not inextricably tied up with theology because they are both concerned with man’s mind. Psychology is a science which can be predominantly taught by reference to factual observations. Let us not fall into the trap of regarding psychology as some “magic” correlate of theology. Theology is not so easily classified as some would have it. Theology is based on biblical verities, on philosophy, on history, and on natural sciences, as well as on psychology.
Is the need for “head-shrinkers” among the clergy apparent because an altar of penitential tears has been replaced by a comfortable, form-fitting chair? Since when has the sinner been expected to be anything but ill at ease?…
West New York, N. J.
GREEK AND TURK ON CYPRUS
Your editorial, “Who Is My Neighbor?” (June 18 issue), which supports the Turkish viewpoint stigmatizing the Greeks of Cyprus as “barbarous,” has disturbed me.
You concentrated on one alleged event. Three small children and their mother were found murdered, and you take the word of a British journalist that the crime was committed by Greek terrorists—and of course this means that almost every last Greek on Cyprus is a cruel barbarian, while the Turks are poor, gentle, defenseless people. Undoubtedly this British journalist was not there at the time of the alleged crime, and his conclusions are presumptive. The criminals were never arrested, and it is hard to see how the bloody towels prove that they were Greeks. Turks have been known to kill other Turks, just as Americans have been known to murder other Americans. You also display a rather naïve credulity in accepting the British journalist’s statement that the bodies lay in the room for five days, because in the Middle East this is highly improbable, to say the least.…
American Mission to Greeks
Ridgefield, N. J.
I would like to commend you for your editorial.
When I was serving the Dutch Chapel in Istanbul in 1954 I became familiar with the excellent work done by the WCC, in particular with Muslim refugees from Bulgaria. But I also became familiar with the persecutions of the evangelicals in Greece by the State Church. It seems to me I have never seen any protest by WCC officials about this. But I was told one time “the important thing is to have the Orthodox Church in the WCC”.…
First Congregational Church
Weeping Water, Neb.
HONESTY OR SECRET SIN?
You are to be highly commended for your editorial, “The ‘New Morality’ and Premarital Sex” (July 2 issue).… Too long has the evangelical church, whether through fear or through ignorance, refused to comment on this subject.
For the editor of a Christian periodical to admit in print that he is aware of what is probably the most widely read and most influential magazine in today’s colleges, Playboy, is praiseworthy honesty.…
This article should be read by all high school and college students, whether Christian or non-Christian, for it is both respectable and honest, daring to treat of and to answer the basic questions. The Hugh Hefner philosophy is accepted by many people, churchmen and so-called Christians included. It is time that someone with authority and ability answered it.
Assistant Professor of English
Nyack Missionary College
Nyack, N. Y.
Perhaps someone there secretly enjoys perusing Playboy’s filthy pages. God knows even our secret sins.…
A SECOND VIEWPOINT
Readers of CHRISTIANITY TODAY should not be misled by J. D. Douglas’s remarks in the June 18 issue which suggest that the Church of England in South Africa is an Anglican church. Since it is not in communion with the See of Canterbury, it cannot be recognized as a member of the worldwide Anglican communion. From the Anglican standpoint it is simply a schismatic body. Its bishops are not members of the Lambeth Conference, to which all Angelican diocesan bishops belong, and its scope of operations clearly indicates that it is a rival to the catholic and evangelical Church of the Province of South Africa, which is very much a member of the Anglican communion and counts many heroic Christian faithful and martyrs amongst its ranks.…
Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
New York, N. Y.
Just one note from a Roman Catholic layman who read with interest Part I of Dr. Runia’s view of “The Church of Rome and the Reformation Churches” (June 18 issue). Dr. Runia is assuredly correct in pointing out that “the Roman Catholic doctrines of the primacy, Petrine succession, and infallibility of the pope” are still held in the Roman Catholic Church to be essential and unchanging doctrines (in the sense, of course, in which that church really proposes them). But when he says in particular that for Catholics “the pope is still … ‘our most holy Lord, the Pope,’ ” the author unwittingly risks, it seems to me, misleading his readers. For nothing in papal doctrine implies that the words “most holy Lord” are at all essential to Catholicism.
Albuquerque, N. M.
As a charter subscriber and an avid reader and devoted admirer of your journal I rise to a point of theological order—and I believe a strong evangelical point—prompted by Klaas Runia’s article.…
In Dr. Runia’s zeal to simplify the issues that divide us from Rome he refers to Mary in the Christian scheme of salvation with these words, “There is no place for Mary or the saints in the divine scheme of salvation.” I think this is a direct affront to evangelical faith. Granting that Mariolatry became a great bone of contention and still is, and recognizing that the Roman church is reaffirming the centrality of Christ as the one Mediator between God and man, do we not as evangelicals recognize that the salvation of men involved man as well as God? And that Mary’s assent to be used by God the Holy Ghost, giving men in this way credit so to speak for their free will, was essential to the Incarnation? Once the break was made by Adam, God had to find a human being who would freely consent to His entry into human nature, and this was the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was “in man, for man,” that God fought the foe, and without her opening freely the door, a real incarnation—God become really man—could not have happened, because that essential quality of man (and of evangelical faith), namely, free will, would have been destroyed. Where is evangelical faith without the appeal to a free consent to Christ’s discipleship?
In all the schemes for reunion, our Orthodox and Catholic friends assure us that Mary is not an option in Christian theology but an essential person, for without her there could not have been a real incarnation. This strikes me also as elementary, not only for the Catholics and Orthodox but also for evangelicals, if they believe in man’s freedom.
Church of the Nativity
MORE ON THE SEINE SEMINARY
I take exception to your June 4 report about the new seminary started in Paris (News). You said “plans were not approved until every effort to revitalize [my italics] the seminary at Aix-en-Provence … had come to a standstill.” Had it not been for sabotage and sectarian tendencies, however, things might have been different. We badly need a healthy theology in Europe, and the institution at Aix-en-Provence could have done much more and better. As a graduate of this school I think its really evangelical and authentically Reformed orientation actually displeased the so-called “conservatives” of French-speaking Protestantism.
St. Maurice-l’Exil (Isere), France
J. D. Douglas’s “review” of The Gospel According to Peanuts (June 4 issue) enigmatizes me. While waiting for whatever it is going to take to enlighten me on the intent if not the content of his “review,” permit me to put in a word for this little classic. I found it a reading experience of sheer delight, and in the ultimate. Who knows, it may make a substantial contribution in the crusade to kick some of the stuffiness out of the modern pulpit! I had the added dividend of reading it in tandem with How to Become a Bishop Without Being Religious, and For Preachers and Other Sinners.
AT ISSUE TODAY
It is time an evangelical blew the whistle on Mr. Jarman (“The Church and the World,” Mar. 12 issue). The tired cliché that because first-century Christians did not get involved in socio-political activities we should not either is a non sequitur on at least two grounds.
First, an argument from silence is never very strong. The New Testament in several places makes it explicit that it is selective, not exhaustive, in recording the doings of the early Church, making it hazardous to jump from lack of an unambiguous statement to the conclusion that a particular thing was not done.…
Second, and much more important, the argument ignores totally the radical difference between the situation of the early Christians and ours. There was absolutely no avenue open in the first-century Roman empire for any individual to promote any social or political program, whether he was Christian or not. What Christians did do (and this is recorded) was to claim and use all the civil rights they had to obtain protection for themselves and others (cf. Paul’s assertions of Roman citizenship and appeal to Caesar).…
I am not unaware that the crux of the argument is the asserted difference between the involvement of individual Christians and the involvement of the church in its corporate capacity, but I would like to claim that the difference is pragmatically unworkable and theologically unfounded. The fact that I am publicly identified with a particular congregation of the Lord’s people in a very real sense commits that congregation to the image I create by my daily conduct (unless the church so disapproves what I do as to publicly discipline me, but that biblical principle is hardly practiced today): I am the church acting in the market-place.…
I am a fervent evangelical, belonging to what many call one of the “straitest sects” of our faith, and I would find it totally incongruous if I had to draw a line beyond which my Christian convictions were not applicable, or beyond which I could not act in conjunction with others of like precious faith. I would find it totally incongruous (and I think John and James would agree) to proclaim interest in souls and disinterest in society.
Teaching Fellow in Linguistics
Hartford Seminary Foundation
LIGHT ON THE CAMPUS
There is a light growing brighter each year and (on many campuses) driving back the spiritual darkness that has shrouded many of our universities and colleges (both church and secular) in varying degrees of unbelief.
That light is the light of the claims of Jesus Christ being shared through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, a non-denominational student Christian movement designed to present the claims of Jesus Christ to collegians throughout the United States and around the World. The Gospel is presented through team meetings in living groups, personal counseling, Bible studies, literature, films, and records.…
The training I’ve received through their ministry has changed my life. Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, I’ve had the privilege of sharing Christ with many people, and seeing some receive Christ as Saviour and Lord. I will make an absolute statement: God raised up Campus Crusade for Christ, God pays the bills, and God has given them … most effective materials and techniques for reaching twentieth-century Johnny Joneses on the campuses of the world.…
Fort Knox, Ky.
CHURCHES AND APPLES
The renewal of the Church (Louise Stoltenberg, Apr. 23 issue) is indeed a struggle, and it is painful. It is painful because it is internal, and is coming from within as a response to the situation without. The very uncertainty of the Church as it seeks to find itself is its very strength, for the Church is alive enough, dynamic enough, to see its weakness. Therefore, the Church is renewing.
Churches and apples are analagous. When they are green they begin to ripen. When they think they are ripe, they begin to rot.
Owingsville Christian Church
THE BLIND AND BLIND
It’s no wonder that people in general feel that the Church has so little to say anymore when it is getting its lessons from the burlesque show (“Sexual Dialogue,” News, Apr. 23 issue), and when it feels that the legislatures of earth can rewrite the laws of God! I am reminded of Sebastian Brant’s Ship of Fools, published in 1494:
For priests there’s little reverence;
Their worth is reckoned but in pence,
Many a fine young clerk today
Knows no more than a donkey may,
And shepherds of men’s souls one sees
That tend the flock but for the fleece.
A better term to describe their so-called church can be found in Revelation 3:9, “the synagogue of Satan.” And as to the use of “Protestant,” I have a very difficult time classing these men with Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and Huss.…
It’s time that the modern-day Christian prophet ceases his attempt to change the unchanging law of God and that he proclaims it as St. Paul does in Romans 1:18–32. The present picture of many churches today can be summed up in the famous doggerel:
So blind lead other blind today
And both from God must surely stray.
Post Falls, Idaho
I would like to call attention to the way the March 12 article “Robot or Child?,” by Henry M. DeRooy, oversimplifies an important theological problem. In trying to do justice to the truth of man’s responsibility it improperly limits the doctrine of God’s sovereignty. The article states, “The divine greatness created within its own territory, yet outside its perfect control, a free agent.” In other words, man, because he is man, is less under God’s control than if he were a mere thing, a “robot.” But this is a notion which, however logical and commonly accepted it may be, the Bible in many places compels us to reject. Listen to Isaiah: “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.… Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it?” (Isa. 10:5, 15). “But,” someone will object, “if the Assyrian is so completely under the control of God he must be a mere robot!” Not at all, is Isaiah’s answer. “He meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few.… Wherefore … when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria.… For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom” (Isa. 10:7, 12, 13). The Bible confronts us with the same teaching everywhere, especially where it reveals the Saviour, who, “being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23; cf. 4:27, 28). It insists, however mystifying it may seem to us, that man’s choices and actions as well as all other events are completely under the control of “him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11). This plain teaching of the Bible compels us to reject such simple alternatives as “robot or child” and accept the more difficult truth that both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man must be maintained; neither must ever he denied in order to simplify our presentation of the other.
In facing these difficult problems we may profitably recall that the Apostle Paul concluded his discussion of them with the exclamation, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out.… For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever” (Rom. 11:33, 36).
Smithers, British Columbia
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