Revolting jolts on campus

File Thirteen

There is nothing quite like an anonymous letter to make me feel insecure. Two of them came my way a good many years ago before I had enough nerve to inquire around discreetly whether anyone else ever got any. To my delight I discovered a college president who kept a file just for anonymous letters. After that, it didn’t seem so bad.

I remember one time I said something about the Negroes in something I had written, and a woman from St. Louis wrote me about four pages of virulent attack in which she used some pretty strong words. She closed like this: “You are probably the kind of person that never answers your mail so I won’t sign this, but meanwhile why don’t you learn to act like a Christian?”

All this is by way of announcing that last week somebody sent me a cartoon, underneath which he had written, “Et tu Brute.” Apparently the writer of the anonymous note was educated! “We who are about to die salute you.”

So what to do about insecurity? Our dog is our best weather guide, because she always comes and lies behind my chair a good many hours before a thunderstorm. She thinks I can do something for her. It was a shocker one day when I took her for a walk to discover that whereas I had thought she kept me safe and secure from all alarms, as a matter of fact she was counting on my presence to support her. So sometimes the dog hides behind me and sometimes I hide behind the dog, and I don’t think you can trust either of us.

Do you remember the vice-president in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, who every morning as he rode the commuter train mused, “I wonder if this is the day they will find me out”?

Time magazine reported on a little girl who had fallen down an abandoned well: after hours of screaming and crying, she finally “cried like a little girl who knew even her mother couldn’t help her.” Do you ever recall that you inhabit a planet?


Campus Rebel Replies

I would like to offer my thanks for the news report (Sept. 2 issue) “Rebel Spirit Jolts Church Colleges,” for I think that you have brought to light a situation … which few evangelicals like to talk about.

As the former editor of the student newspaper at Barrington (R. I.) College my associates and I led a student rebellion against what we considered administration injustices, and certain ridiculous thought patterns, i.e., administration-invited evangelistic chapel speakers who have in their home offices neon-lighted pictures of Jesus that cry real tears!

What so many fail to see is that our evangelical colleges have so very much to offer to society but allow their potential to be destroyed by certain members of their constituency who have not even kept pace with changes in contemporary evangelicalism, let alone changes in the Church at large. Most of them are still living in the Scopes Trial era. Administrative leaders often lack the moral and intellectual courage to break with such individuals, for financial or other reasons. Thus student rebellion is significant as well as admirable.

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Rebellious Christian college students are concerned with finding meaning for their faith, and meaning for their respective institutions in our contemporary society. They find that some of the old traditions have lost their meaning and must go.

By its example, is it not the task of Christian college to turn out young men and women to show the world that things can be done, that dreams can be embodied in action, that a better life can be achieved? Does not the Christian faith reflect a questioning spirit, a desire for change and investigation, an irreverence for false authority that has lasted 2,000 years, a built-in dissatisfaction with the status quo?

These are exciting days for our Christian college campuses. Our prayers and support should go to each president and board of trustees with such rebellions on their hands. May they have the courage and the wisdom to act in such a way as to bring honor to their respective schools and to the Christ they profess to serve.


Newton Centre, Mass.

Are you for us or agin’ us?? Why not try oil on the troubled waters next time?


Managing Editor

The Alliance Witness

New York, N. Y.

You certainly were too captious in preparing and publishing the [news report], especially the statement regarding our college. I refer to the portion which reads, “at fundamentalist colleges the most conspicious agitation is for an overthrow of old taboos. At Northwest Nazarene College, Nampa, Idaho, the student body approached open revolt in trying to win approval for the wearing of shorts and short-sleeved blouses in the dining hall.”

There is at least one significant error in that assertion, namely, it is not in accordance with fact.… I have been associated with Northwest Nazarene College for twenty-one years and have never, at any time, witnessed student-body action that “approached open revolt”.… Do you not feel that a rectification is in order?


Vice President for Development

Northwest Nazarene College

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Nampa, Idaho

Both as a student and as a Regent of Northwest Nazarene College, I have never once heard of any so-called revolt.… I am amazed that statements such as this would appear in CHRISTIANITY TODAY without being checked for accuracy.


First Church of the Nazarene

Walla Walla, Wash.

• We regret any discomfort to our friends, but our report was based on information from what we consider to be reliable sources.—ED.

Today’s college-aged Christians are uneasy in the presence of what they term the hypocrisy and over-simplification of their elders. Knowing by experience that 100 per cent moral purity is impossible in human society and that it is all too easy to do the right things for the wrong reasons, they either resent or ignore adults who preach in terms of absolute standards without making any effort to relate these standards to everyday living in a world of wheat and tares. But the same students gravitate toward anybody who is willing to confront the problems of relating biblical standards to the complex actualities of the twentieth century. By their own admission, they need calm, honest, contemporary interpretations of scriptural moral principles as opposed to lofty and unsupported assertions of absolutes which make Christianity seem hopelessly impossible.…

My chief sorrow concerning the quotation somewhat inaccurately attributed to me is that it seems to implicate Nyack Missionary College in particular, whereas in actual fact Nyack makes more effort than many evangelical schools to present Christianity meaningfully both to its students and to the world at large. I have great respect for the Nyack administrators and for many colleagues on the faculty, who are “avant-garde” in the sense of confronting difficult issues with courage and honesty. It is unfortunate that the news editor took my comments concerning the importance of wrestling in the pulpit with the problems of contemporary Christian experience, and presented them out of context so that I seemed to be attacking a school for which I feel much respect.



English Department

Nyack Missionary College

Nyack, N. Y.

Books And Bigots

In Current Religious Thought (Aug. 19 issue), John Warwick Montgomery has exposed “Bibliographical Bigotry” in a most candid way. He provides facts to back up his claim, which is indisputable. Having attended both an evangelical seminary and a very liberal one, I can testify that all he says is true. I found further that in the evangelical seminary our courses required us to read from the “liberal” writers while the liberal seminary ignored evangelical scholars entirely.

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The Methodist Community Church

Lincoln, Calif.

How very typical of your magazine! J. W. Montgomery’s article pinpointed the problem by being a perfect example of it. “Defensiveness” and “fear,” two words he used in the last paragraph to describe liberalism, seem to be the very elements which permeate his thought, and are too often characteristic of your editorial viewpoint.

A man who is genuinely concerned about dialogue hestitates to use words such as “self-styled,” “unstable,” and “bigot” to describe one whose views differ with his own.

Of what or of whom is Mr. Montgomery afraid? Why are the continual attacks on liberalism necessary? What have you prevented or accomplished by such attacks? Who have you saved? I really want to know.


Trinity Baptist Church

Santa Monica, Calif.

[This] is one of the best short pieces you have yet published.… It points out the true villain as far as bigotry is concerned. His title might well have been, “The Limited Learning of the Theological Liberals” or “One-tracked Minds”!


St. Elmo Presbyterian Church

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Hurrah for Dr. Montgomery’s “Bibliographical Bigotry”! As one connected with a seminary library some time ago, I appreciate his substantiation of what I always suspected.

But the problem of bibliographical bigotry is even more acute in the public library field. A librarian who tries to select materials representing the biblical Christian point of view is left high and dry when he comes away from the standard selection tools and the reviewing media.…

One problem in public librarianship seems to be to convince the “establishment” that biblical Christianity and secular humanism are really two world-life views, incompatible, equally religious, and have the same rights to existence in our pluralistic society.…



Pulic Library

Coatesville, Pa.

His observations concerning the non-liberal liberals are correct.… But are not the conservatives equally guilty—and, amazingly so—of the same sort of thing in regard to their so-called ultra-dispensational brethren? ARTHUR OSTERLUND Minneapolis, Minn.

Since Dr. Montgomery makes specific reference to the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, implying some charge of “bibliographical bigotry,” … I would like to ask him publicly for some clarification. When he says that “the divinity school made a very poor showing in the field of biblical eschatology …” upon his examination, I wonder what subject heading he looked under. There is no Library of Congress subject card on “Biblical Eschatology,” though there is one on “Eschatology—Biblical Teaching.” Now under this subject heading we have quite a substantial collection of works, and without immediate examination of every item, I surmise we have every major, critical, scholarly, substantial work in that field—in all languages.

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Now Dr. Montgomery is professional enough to know that “bias” enters into all of our judgments about everything. He knows something of the constant battle … to be fair in [the] representation of the various perspectives, schools, movements, et al., in developing library collections. And he knows further that we never have enough funds … even if we wanted to select everything.… We do not build up heavily in the area of Unitarianism, not because of any bias against it, but because a theological school in the area (Meadville) specializes in this. Likewise we do not develop great collections of “biblical prophecy” because we assume that Moody Institute will do so, and we need not. I have made it my policy to see that “neo-evangelicalism” gets a fair representation in our collection, though we do not attempt to get every pamphlet or tract that they produce. We have the Gordon Review,CHRISTIANITY TODAY, Evangelical Theological Society Proceedings, National Association of Evangelicals publications, and other items, and display them along with the other representative points of view.…



Division of Divinity

and Philosophy

The University of Chicago Library

Chicago, Ill.

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