Dear Heresy Hunters:
Another mention of this headline-grabber may nauseate certain readers, but I can’t resist one more verbal peek at Bishop Pike. Any cleric who wears a button at his church convention stating, “I Believe in Life After Birth,” and fends off some of Carl McIntire’s practitioners of religious picketry by extending a handful of purloined posies deserves the publicity he seeks.
The censured bishop emerged from the latest Episcopal convention fragrant as a rose. Fearing the stir of a heresy hearing, the paper-tiger House of Bishops not only appeased Pike by changing the procedure in censure cases but also made it nearly impossible to hold a heresy trial. Fortunately for him, however, they did not entirely eliminate the “anachronistic” charge of heresy. Had they done so, Pike’s new book, If This Be Heresy, would have been passé. Now its sale is assured.
The controversy prompted publication of two Pikean analyses prior to the convention. William Stringfellow and Anthony Towne in The Bishop Pike Affair contend that opposition to the bishop is an ultra-right-wing plot. They scream that growing conservative power in church councils “makes a rightist, racist, anti-ecumenical, traditionalist coup d’église a realistic, and imminent, possibility.” Maybe the leftists’ “galloping paranoia” has subsided since Pike tamed the tigers.
New York Bishop Horace W. B. Donegan poses the Great Question of Our Day in his booklet, Bishop Pike: Ham, Heretic, or Hero? He concludes that Pike is a fascinating combination of the three and has rendered a service in calling us to rethink the Faith. My view is that Pike’s theological bill of fare is something like a hero sandwich of ham on wry stuffed with pickled heresy. The heroic element lies in the underpup’s boldness in declaring his convictions and facing down his peers. The ham on wry is in quips like his tale about the disadvantage of preaching trinitarian doctrine in polygamous societies: It’s a matter of offering three gods and one wife against three wives and one god. The pickled heresy is that Pike’s errant ideas about the Trinity, Christ, and the Resurrection are all adaptations of old heresies argued more impressively and as futilely centuries ago.
Now Pike’s spiritualistic séances are arousing more controversy. Did medium Arthur Ford really put him in contact with his deceased son? I can prophesy one thing for Episcopal bishops: their House will continue to be haunted by Pike for many years to come.
WATCHING THE TREND
After reading the editorial “The Urgency of Personal Conversion” (Oct. 13), I am constrained to give my personal endorsement. I fully concur in every word of it.
I have watched this tendency [away from emphasis on personal conversion] gradually grow in practice in the churches of which I have been a member since my own conversion in 1888. While it has not been so pronounced in my own denomination as in some others, I can but feel that some of our own pastors have been somewhat affected.…
I am a layman myself and hesitate to be critical, but I think this to be a grave departure from New Testament doctrine.
D. P. CARTER
ACCREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE
“Two for Philadelphia” (News, Oct. 13) states that the Philadelphia area has three conservative seminaries that are non-accredited. Westminster Seminary is mentioned as one of these. You are right about our conservative position but wrong about our lack of accreditation. Westminster Theological Seminary is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and has been since 1954. We have never sought accreditation by the American Association of Theological Schools, for reasons related to our conservative theological position.
EDMUND P. CLOWNEY
Westminster Theological Seminary
ANSWERING HIS QUESTION
Milton D. Hunnex, in his article, “Have the Secularists Ambushed God?” (Oct. 13), answers his own question very emphatically. Dr. Hunnex is surely a great Christian philosopher. Men like him … will make for stemming of the tide of atheism.
EPHRAIM D. CONWAY
PIQUED FOR PIKE
We are particularly “turned off” by your very biased attitude toward the person of James Pike. We feel it is not your duty to judge men or to ridicule their integrity. Needless to say, we found such a “Christian magazine” a little short of Christian brotherhood and love.
We would appreciate it if such shallow reflections as the ones concerning James Pike published in your October 13 issue (“The Pike Side Show”) would stop laughing at and start caring for [him], as the unconditional Father-of-us-all would have it. Then we would be as full of praise for your magazine as I’m sure James Pike himself would be.
MR. AND MRS. JACK BRADFORD
Fort Worth, Tex.
I will be the first to voice the opinion that, to me, Bishop Pike has done irreparable damage to his church, and that furthermore he is the world’s number-one heretic today. Yet, in spite of this fact, I do not feel it in good taste to hold him up to ridicule in magazine cartoons (Eutychus and His Kin, Oct. 13). He is still a human being, entitled to his individual dignity. Even though he seems hell-bent upon destroying his own dignity, dare we, as professing Christians, go so far as to dangle his failings and foibles before the reading public?
K. G. HENDRIX
Sunman Evangelical Parish
WORD FOR THE DAY
Thank you for L. Nelson Bell’s article, “That Day” (Oct. 13).… There is very little preaching left in which men and women are presented with the challenge to put their trust in him who by his death and resurrection in history saves them from the wrath to come.
May Christ have mercy on his people and on a sin-cursed world.
CORNELIUS VAN TIL
Professor of Apologetics
Westminster Theological Seminary
We especially appreciated your latest [Eutychus] production as it related to a proposed Bible conference cruise (Oct. 13). Good for you, Ancient Mariner! Keep those lower lights burning.
JAMES A. NELSON
Trinity Baptist Church
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Eutychus’s comments on the Christian Herald revival cruise were surprising, to say the least. Is he suffering from an advanced case of sour grapes or just deadline strain? As a totally impartial observer (by virtue of ignorance of the subject), I was more puzzled than entertained.
FIRST WORDS OF DIALOGUE
There was one note which I found missing from the extraordinary, and I am sure undeserved, coverage you gave to my book Who Speaks for the Church? (“A Challenge to Ecumenical Politicians” and “An Ecumenical Bombshell,” Sept. 15). This was my endorsement of a suggestion made at the Geneva Conference by the Quaker economist Kenneth Boulding, that we in the United States need to open a serious dialogue between the liberal church opinion represented in the NCC and those who call themselves conservative evangelicals. The ritual of Billy Graham’s appearance at the Miami Beach meeting of the NCC is not what Boulding meant.
If I may draw this to the attention of your readers, I said:
With this goal and task before us, I imagine you can understand my belief that neo-Protestant ecumenism may be as capable of reform as evangelicals are likely to discharge the proper role you describe for them, namely, enunciating theological and moral principles that bear upon public life and saying to the world a proper and relevant word about social justice.
What each of us stands most in need of is colleagues. Since I was only proposing a program for bringing into being a truly ecumenical Christian social ethics, it is no wonder you found my sketch of the possible results somewhat obscure and disappointing. The lively word will continue to escape us, so long as one party speaks of asserted concepts of social justice and not in the same breath of scriptural truth and another party speaks of that truth but not in the same breath of norms of justice.
True, I do not believe that a proper Christian ethics will be “confined” simply to the truth of Scripture. But I do not want to “go beyond” this—certainly not beyond “Scripture and sound reason.” We do need to search out together every entailment of this truth for the world of today, and to prolong this into our lives.
Professor of Christian Ethics
Princeton, N. J.
• CHRISTIANITY TODAY editorialized that Dr. Ramsey’s dismissal of evangelical social ethics as simply a secular counterview to secular liberal ethics was too sweeping and unjustified. But his beginning of a response to the possibilities of fruitful dialogue is welcome. The American religious scene would have been vastly different had not the Federal Council and National Council, despite large evangelical constituencies, committed themselves officially to non-evangelical positions, as has the WCC, both in conferences and in pronouncements. The ecumenical pattern in recent years has been one of increasing private dialogue with evangelical leaders (particularly with unaffiliated evangelicals) and of increasing public suppression of evangelical positions. This has given evangelical Christians a feeling that ecumenical dialogue tends to exhaust their time and is futile. But ecumenical structures apart, Dr. Ramsey’s plea for discussion is worthy, and his appeal to Scripture and sound reason is formally the place to begin.—ED.
Dr. Ramsey’s polemic was long overdue. It is, in a sense, unfortunate that the very basic theology which causes many of us to disagree with almost all of the pronouncements of ecumenical politicians also causes us to abhor the very act of making pronouncements on socio-political issues. Therefore, we cannot, in good conscience, retaliate.…
I, for one, have long resented the fact that when an ecumenical VIP or council speaks “as from Sinai,” the world around me, not knowing any better, considers that voice to speak for all—including me. To speak so, within the Protestant context, displays irresponsible churchmanship and colossal conceit. I’m glad someone is putting this word out.
STACY L. ROBERTS, JR.
Chaplain, U. S. Navy
Gulf of Tonkin, Viet Nam
CALL THE GREAT PHYSICIAN
The editorial “We Are Sick” (Sept. 29) is an eloquent and forceful analysis which deserves wide attention.
I hope that this statement will summon many of our citizens, and in particular our political leaders, to a reappraisal of our current social crisis. I hope also that evangelicals will respond to the challenge by making an even more effective penetration of the inner city in order that the saving and healing power of the Great Physician may be made available to those who so desperately need his touch upon their lives.
HUDSON T. ARMERDING
It’s easy to get sick over what killed the patient, especially when it might have been prevented.…
I’m sick of the loud, wounded, indignant voice of the Church about wrongs that could have been prevented by a bold, decisive Church taking the leadership to nip the problem in the first place.… Don’t you think “judgment begins at the house of God”? How about a line or two … about the Church’s responsibility in all this? And then maybe some solid points on what the Church ought to do now? The horse is out of the barn—got any suggestions about corralling him?
A great big “thank you” and a hearty “thank God” for your editorial. It makes me sick, too, to realize that there are apparently so few of our American people who are “sick” of the prevailing conditions in our nation and in our churches.
S. G. POSEY
Executive Secretary Emeritus
Southern Baptist General Convention of California
San Diego, Calif.
‘EWE’-NITING THE FLOCK
I found “Canada’s Fragmented Evangelicals” (Current Religious Thought, Oct. 13), another most interesting ‘interpretive report” from Dr. Fitch on the Canadian scene.… It seems to us that Canada’s evangelicals are fragmented in many instances in a most positive way: like the bread in the hands of the Master. The Lord in fact has his witness permeating our fragmented national society. Probably not more than 3–4 per cent of our population are living disciplined Christian lives, but that witness, co-ordinated by God’s “idea man,” the Holy Spirit, is making a most impressive mark in our society.
The witness of that 3–4 per cent may not have much lobbying power, but maybe that’s not in the Spirit’s scheme of things. After all, our commission is “as sheep among wolves.” The very idea of seeking to “ram” our views down the unwilling jaws of the wolf-pack makes some of us feel a bit more “sheepish” than usual.
Campbell-Reese Evangelistic Assn., Inc.
Dr. Fitch’s observations are tragically inaccurate. He begins by saying, “You travel far in Canada before you find any evangelicals making a good effort to cooperate with their fellows. The bitterness of evangelical unity above the forty-ninth parallel is tragic and inglorious.” This is simply not the case!…
1. Within the past month a great National Sunday School Convention was held in Toronto. More than 3,000 delegates were registered from practically every Protestant denomination.…
2. A ministerial fellowship encompassing almost all of the evangelical pastors of Greater Winnepeg has been functioning for close to twenty years. These men have a wonderful record of cooperation in evangelical crusades, Sunday school conventions, and other such ventures, with much blessing and success. This is being duplicated in Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and many other Canadian cities.
3. One of the most glorious triumphs of the Gospel in our history has recently been written in the success of the “Sermons from Science Pavilion” at Expo ’67. Close to three-quarters of a million dollars was raised for this effort; hundreds have professed faith in Christ. The editor of the liberal United Church Observer exhorted his readers to have nothing to do with this “divisive” exhibition either by contribution or attendance. In a wonderful display of united faith and effort, the evangelicals of our country rose to the occasion and today give God the glory.
4. Our land has been greatly blessed by the Bible-college movement; there are fifty-four across the dominion. The heads of these schools have organized into the “Christian Educators Conference” and in a very fine Christian spirit meet regularly to discuss matters of common concern. The same spirit of unity prevails amongst the leaders of the faith missions. Consequently, the number of young people being thrust out into missionary service per capita can scarcely be equaled by any other country in the world.
Our churches and leaders who are remaining true to the Word of God are not without fault. However, the generalizations of your correspondent … should be documented or retracted.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada holds great promise as an agency to speak unitedly for the evangelicals of our land. The movement is in the infancy stages. Many of us had hoped that its development would be more rapid. Premature criticism however is of no constructive value.
God has been good to this land. The united efforts of evangelicals have been far-reaching and will continue into the future. Your correspondent states, “One of the greatest barriers to an organizational form of cooperation is the reluctance of evangelicals to become involved in anything other than the preaching of the Word and the saving of souls.” This is meant no doubt as a criticism; I think it should rather be accepted as a commendation. Our liberal churches have become involved in Viet Nam, birth control, the United Nations, and have forgotten to a great extent the great commission to “preach the Gospel to every creature.” On the other hand, the above statement is only part of the truth. Evangelicals are building Christian schools and colleges, they are prominent in the political life of our country. They are involved and becoming increasingly so in many areas of the social life of our nation.
It would indeed be refreshing in the future if in the interests of fair play and objectivity you would print some comments from the many outstanding evangelical leaders across our nation.
ELMER S. MCVETY
The Evangelical Christian
GOOD NEWS ON THE STANDS
“Memo to Missionaries” (Sept. 15) made two significant points. The first was in the first paragraph, where you dealt with the lamentable lack of evangelical material on the nation’s news stands. There are probably two thoughts which come immediately to mind: first, that the quality just isn’t there to merit sale on the stands; and second, that the Billy Graham paperbacks become truly outstanding by comparison. The challenge, of course, is to produce more volumes with the appeal and quality of the Graham books—or even to produce a quality periodical.…
The second point is one very near and dear to my heart. I have tried to persuade pastors of the very thing you were talking about to the missionaries. I wasn’t very successful, and perhaps you won’t be either. But don’t give up!
Palos Verdes, Calif.
It should be appalling to the clergy—certainly it is to me, a lay journalist—that there is not one single evangelical magazine on the newsstands and, furthermore, that there is no liaison between foreign missionaries and foreign correspondents. In a free country such as ours, the clergy and the laymen can blame only themselves.
Such a gap between truly religious people and the secular press seems incredible in an age that is supposedly one of advanced techniques in communication.
I … would like to suggest that religious people “go ye forth” into their own “jungles” to see if they cannot interest the media in broader news coverage. After all, editors are supposed to be fairly, objectively, tolerantly interested in covering news activities in all walks of life, and it would seem to me that a little good news along the way would balance some of the bad.
Why doesn’t CHRISTIANITY TODAY spearhead a project to make up “press kits” for foreign missionaries?… If missionaries know what kind of stories interest editors, they are better able to furnish these stories and act as their own foreign correspondents. They should actually be a veritable storehouse of good stories—after all, the story of Stanley and Livingstone was a great missionary story before it was anything else—and it was made into a movie.
San Marino, Calif.
I am translating the Scriptures for a small tribe of Indians in the Amazon Basin. I want you to know that your magazine is my favorite reading material.…
What do I do when I wonder if it is worthwhile to learn such a different language from Indo-European languages in order to give God’s word to two thousand Indians who run around in rags and survive on manioc and game, who don’t know the days of the week, much less that men are going to the moon soon, who think that Karusakaybü created the world and that he and his son have accomplished just as wonderful feats as anything we tell them about God and Jesus Christ? I read CHRISTIANITY TODAY … and am reminded that God is bringing people in similar circumstances to his Son in a thousand spots around the globe.
Manus, Amazonas, Brazil
For many, many years now I have had to observe the West from the perspective of the East: my missionary work demands this. I fear that whilst the East is imbibing Western customs the West is imbibing Eastern concepts. Our decline of the West is because it is being philosophically devoured by the East. Much in modern theology is more Oriental than biblical in its outlook.…
If the Gospel is to advance, theology must rethink itself; it must apply the famous Ockham razor to the peripherals and get back to the heart of theology: God was in and is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. If you can, please give us more meat.
C. VICTOR BARNARD
Uttar Pradesh, India
BARNUM AND BABEL
Here it is folks, the greatest show on earth since Babel! The church come of age! The church is putting on the greatest side-show since Barnum to cover up the well-known fact that professional “religion” did not work in biblical times, is not “working” now and never will “work” for the church magicians.… Laymen are told that God does not “exist” because existence is the property of mortals.… The next step was obvious: the church could run the whole show if it could get rid of God! But with the proclamation of God’s demise, God’s grave has proved to be the church’s Pandora’s box. Since the disputed funeral the “religious” world has been going to hell! The mediums chirp and the wizards mutter but God is not consulted. Maybe God’s job was bigger than the church bargained for! Maybe in the process of self-election the church accepted too many commissions! Without God the church doesn’t have much of an act going for it. Be still, O churches, and let God put the show on the road!
Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd
BABY FOOD FOR LAYMEN
We enjoy reading CHRISTIANITY TODAY. It is useful in our work. However, it is often necessary to strain it like baby food for the layman’s digestive tract.
LLOYD T. HAYES
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