Pacifists fight back

All Curled Up

There has come to my hands, as too often happens, a church bulletin. I understand that men in the active pastorate like to get these things from each other just for the sake of ideas, but they do nothing for me.

This particular bulletin, which came out in December, is an extended one that includes a newsletter and a list of recommended books. Wouldn’t you know it, the list of books has the usual covey of Christmas cuties, the kinds of books publishing houses get out for the seasonal trade with the misguided assumption that around Christmas and Easter, when people are rushed to death, they will be wanting to read special little books of religious poetry, religious art, somebody’s self-conscious prayers (for publication), and the customs surrounding holidays in “other lands.”

But after the usual fare, this particular minister suggested, to show that he is “in,” that his parishioners read Camus, Bonhoeffer, Salinger, Faulkner, and Hemingway (but not quite Henry Miller). It is no feather in my cap to recall that I have already read the books listed; but this does not prevent me from wondering why authors like this get into book lists in church bulletins.

More to the point, such authors are always included on the book lists sent out by colleges for the freshmen to read as a kind of orientation before they start their studies. Who is trying to kid whom, and just what do the compilers of these lists have in mind? I have no particular objection to these authors’ being read; what hurts me is that this kind of stuff is being read when a lot of other stuff is not.

It is one of the strange quirks of our education today that we want everybody to think about calculus before they have learned arithmetic. Unless most people learn pretty soon what the simple Gospel is—sin, salvation, newness of life, and eternal hope—there isn’t much use in our discussing the subtle variations.


War And Peace

Your analysis of our involvement in Viet Nam (“Where Do We Go from Here?,” Jan. 7 issue) was penetrating and prophetic. This is the kind of solid Christian guidance we need. I’m going to start praying my prayers for peace instead of wishing them.

Deerfield, Ill.


With [General William K. Harrison’s] military logic, I cannot quarrel (“Is the United States Right in Bombing North Viet Nam?,” Jan. 7 issue). But his employment of the questionable dogma of the Second Coming to afford his view a religious sanction was, to say the least, reprehensible.… He chides the pacifists and peace-mongers for their vain efforts.

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I cannot imagine that the God we have known in Jesus Christ would be adverse to our attempts, however futile, to become “peacemakers.” Besides, it would be utter abdication of elemental human responsibility not to work for peace—or is the United Nations a massive exercise in futility?…

But if the Second Advent, as the General says, is the sole source of lasting peace, then instead of manufacturing and detonating bombs, Christians ought to be praying, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Pentwater, Mich.


One of the most confused and confusing articles I have ever read on Viet Nam is the one by General Harrison.… He … dismisses pacifism as being irrelevant.…


Calvary Reformed Church

Grand Rapids, Mich.

Statistical Static

Re “Seminaries Hold the Line” (News, Jan. 7 issue); You quoted the AATS figures concerning the percentage of students preparing for the ministry, mentioned the United Presbyterians and the Anglican Church of Canada, and then added, “All other large denominations declined.” This is strictly false, as a not even very careful reading of those figures shows. The United Church of Christ, for example, had a percentage increase of over 30 per cent. A number of other major denominations also did not decline.…


Executive Director

Council for Church and Ministry

United Church of Christ

New York, N. Y.

• The article compared 1965 enrollments with those of the previous year, but not “percentage.” A “not even very careful reading” of staff report Number 8, Volume IX, from the American Association of Theological Schools shows the U.C.C. seminaries had 773 students in 1965 and 777 the previous year. Other major denominations with lower numbers in 1965 were the United Church of Canada, American and Southern Baptists, Disciples, Methodists, Southern Presbyterians, and Episcopalians. Mr. Wilke’s 30 per cent increase is probably a comparison between 1956 and 1965.—ED.

‘Dangerously Extremist’

I am shocked at the full-page ad (Jan. 7 issue) of the Conservative Book Club. The Conservative Club, as we know in our area, is a front for the John Birch Society, a dangerously extremist organization.… Kinston, N. C.


I am “a politically conservative Christian who supported politically conservative politicians out of a lively fear of socialism through expanding federal controls and the welfare implications of projected government programs” (“Will 1966 Signal a Breakthrough?,” Jan. 7 issue). However, I was extremely offended by the advertisement of the Conservative Book Club.… Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

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Dr. Poling Replies

I certainly appreciate that generous and heartwarming editorial on page 32 of your January 7 issue. Thank you.…

Also this letter gives me the opportunity to express my appreciation for CHRISTIANITY TODAY. That same issue of January 7 is chuck-full of important, timely, vital material. Particularly I have read with appreciation “Will 1966 Signal a Breakthrough,” “Is Protestant Christianity Being Sabotaged from Within?,” and “The Future of Evangelism.” And also, let me add, the article and editorial on Viet Nam.


Chairman and Editor

Christian Herald Association

New York, N. Y.

The Nature Of Crucifixion

The reference to mandrake juice and the Crucifixion (“Did Jesus Die on Calvary?,” Dec. 17 issue) fails to note, first, that Hugh J. Schonfield incorporated Horner’s theory about the crucifixion of Christ into his recent book, The Passover Plot, and, second, that the theory that Jesus did not die on the cross, but took a narcotic drug that fooled the Romans, is patently incompatible with the most rudimentary consideration of the nature of crucifixion. The spread arms and pendant body raise the rib cage and drop the diaphragm maximally. The victim can breathe only by raising the body, an action which requires the use of the large muscles of the legs if it is to be maintained for any length of time. This is why the legs of those crucified were broken to hasten death: death by suffocation would ensue within minutes. Therefore, if Christ had taken a drug in sufficient quantity to induce unconsciousness while hanging on the cross, it would not have taken a spear thrust to hasten his death. He would have been dead before his friends could have taken him down. The plot so elaborately spun out by Schonfield necessarily falls apart because of its inconsistency with this one elementary fact. Indeed, if Jesus reappeared physically after the crucifixion, this recent theory requires the identical miracle of resurrection which Schonfield and Horner are at pains to avoid.

Unfortunately, this error will continue its devastation, for it satisfies the desire of man to avoid the claims of Scripture. The unloved correction can only plod slowly behind the flying falsehood. Upland, Calif.


Send Me More

Many of us were overjoyed to receive the essay on “Revealed Religion” by Gordon H. Clark (Dec. 17 issue).… Would you send me twelve copies of this essay, that I might distribute them to [a] class (and thus also be assured that no one walks off with mine, which is being loaned-to-death!).

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Concordia Theological Seminary

Springfield, Ill.


Delightfully I noted that our history of philosophy text was none other than Gordon H. Clark’s Selections from Hellenistic Philosophy. With this opening I was able to put your wonderful pamphlet into the professor’s hands; an interesting discussion ensued.…

Portland, Ore.


Soul-Winning Chaplain

In re “Is the Chaplaincy a Quasi-Religious Business?” (Dec. 17 issue): Why is it that the evangelicals often question the motives of their ministering brethren who serve in the military chaplaincy?… It has been my privilege to win somewhat over 3,000 men and women to Jesus Christ since I have become a Navy chaplain.… I have given opportunity for decisions again and again in public services. I have gone so far as to give old-fashioned altar calls in Marine and Navy chapels, all done in good taste and order. I have never been called in question by the command about my methods and principles.…

Chaplain Corps

United States Navy



A Jesuit Joins Us

Please enter me for a subscription to your magazine.…

Thank you … for giving us a distinctly diverse and consistent approach to the great religious themes of today … so that we outside your fold can learn to appreciate better the conscientious positions of Christians in many churches.


S. J. Chicago, Ill.

Loyola University

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