Dear Spectators of the Satirical Scene:

The satirist is involved in a tricky business. As an angry but optimistic reformer, he must gingerly avoid the traps of vulgarity and tedious cuteness as he uses incongruity, exaggeration, wit, and gentle ridicule to put down his foe. A fine example of effective theological satire is Anthony Towne’s “obituary of God” that appeared in the wake of the “God-is-dead” craze. It began: “God, creator of the universe, principal deity of the world’s Jews, ultimate reality of Christians, and most eminent of all divinities, died late yesterday during surgery undertaken to correct a massive, diminishing influence.”

The heady wine of acclaim for his “obituary” bit made Towne realize that the theme of a deceased deity should not remain buried. So he has exhumed and recently released Excerpts from the Diaries of the Late God (Harper & Row, $2.25). These diary entries are the work of a cool deity who wants every church building to have a blinking neon sign: “GOD IS HUMAN, TOO!” Towne’s human God has apparently been molded from that undulating mass without form and void: the new theologian-bon vivant-professional liberal. Possibly he has been made in the image of Towne himself.

“The late God” is a likable chap but oh so predictable. He has kind words for Bishop Pike, Adam Clayton Powell, William Stringfellow, the Christian Century, and Edward Albee. And whom does he take pot shots at? You guessed it: Norman Vincent Peale, Lady Bird, Thomas Aquinas, and, inevitably, Billy Graham. The latter, he twice inscribes, “has halitosis of the soul.” (Apparently Towne here has adapted Harold Ickes’ vituperative gem, “halitosis of the intellect.”)

An omnipotent God who is “omnibored,” he develops “hypostatic schizophrenia” after being told he is three persons. Another problem: His secretary always removes the centerfold from his Playboy. He yearns to stump the panel on “What’s My Line?” At stag sessions he converses with eight “steadies”: the H.G., J.C./or King David, Paul, Socrates, Freud, Marx (Karl, not Groucho), Adlai Stevenson, and Pope John XXIII. His one regular woman discussant: Eleanor Roosevelt—who else?

Despite his decision to create his own death, “the late God” is no grave person. But as the omniboring liberal that Towne has made him, he belongs six feet under.

Rest in peace,



Congratulations on the archaeology issue (June 21). It is excellent.


Baltimore, Md.

Dr. Albright’s article on “Archaeological Discovery and the Scriptures” contains an excellent summation of the positive contributions of twentieth-century excavation to biblical scholarship.…

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One of the most stimulating features is his attitude of openness to the impact of new evidence upon the hallowed structures of orthodox Wellhausianism. He shows a willingness to modify or even to abandon cherished elements in the documentary hypothesis (in which he was originally reared, and to which he remains basically committed), even though such concessions to the demonstrated accuracy of the Hebrew Scriptures erode the foundations of the entire JEDP theory. His frequent emphasis on “the astonishing accuracy of ancient Hebrew oral tradition” (as finally embodied in the late written form finally achieved in Ezra’s time) furnishes a firm basis for his frank avowal of the “substantially Mosaic origin” of the Pentateuch as a whole.

What Dr. Albright does not take into account, apparently, is the fatal damage such insights and concessions administer to the very foundations of the documentary hypothesis, which after all was erected upon the supposed demonstration of the astonishing inaccuracy of the Hebrew record—inaccuracies which could only be accounted for by a lapse of many centuries between the events themselves and the written records which narrated them. But if it turns out that the alleged anachronisms which Graf, Kuenen, and Wellhausen used to demonstrate late composition of the Pentateuchal books were actually not anachronisms at all but were accurate to the second-millennium period to which they related (as subsequent archaeological discovery has consistently shown), then the whole case for late authorship falls to the ground. All that is left to prop it on is a set of undemonstrable philosophical premises, such as the evolutionary origin and development of Israel’s religion (a theory quite indefensible in the light of the concrete data of comparative religions), and the assumed impossibility of genuine prophecy of future events (which on a completely doctrinaire basis leads to the postdating of every successful prediction to a time after its fulfillment). Dr. Albright’s training and background inhibit him from seeing how circular and subjective this type of reasoning is upon which the JEDP theory was originally erected. But at least he continues to serve up the ammunition with which the shaky structure of the Wellhausen hypothesis may be still further undermined and exposed for the self-contradictory monstrosity which conservative scholars have always recognized it to be.

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Chairman, Div. of Old Testament

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Deerfield, Ill.


Fred C. Kuehner’s comments on “Heaven or Hell?” (Fundamentals of the Faith, June 21) came as a welcome reminder of the neglected segment of the whole counsel of God.


Assistant to the President

John Brown University

Siloam Springs, Ark.

What a dismal failure he makes out God’s effort to save a lost world to be! Just a small minority, the “born-again,” out of all the myriads of souls who have died out of Christ in the centuries past and present and future, are to be saved. All others are to be separated from God forever and ever in a lake of fire.… Of course there is a hell, an awful hell, but it is remedial, not merely punitive.


Pittsburgh, Pa.

Those of us who have been privileged to sit under Dr. Kuehner’s teaching in seminary expected the penetrating, scholarly presentation of his ideas along with the impassioned appeal of a great evangelical preacher.…

I feel in good company with Edwards and Spurgeon in believing that the fires of hell are literal.


Philadelphia, Pa.


Your editorial, “Fiasco at Resurrection City” (June 21), is an excellent expression of our philosophy.



The Milwaukee Lutheran

Milwaukee, Wis.

Your editorial displayed the typical lack of Christian love and empathy which pervades most of our country’s churches today. It is true that there have been incidents of questionable tactics utilized by small groups, but we must learn to educate ourselves to the questionable tactics that have been used by our country to keep the black man and the poor man down and breed the frustration which cannot help but flare into violence occasionally.


Urbana, Ill.


The “religious establishment” continues to alienate students in thoughtless and unconscious ways. A recent example is a sentence from your editorial, “Where is America Going?” (June 21): “Students must be shown that only Christ, not utopian dreams for hedonistic pleasures, makes life joyful and purposeful.” Such a statement reveals its author to possess less than a knowledgeable acquaintance with any large numbers of students. If such was the case he would know that few students harbor “utopian dreams for hedonistic pleasures,” and that even fewer believe such pleasures make life joyful and purposeful.

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Those of us who minister to students find enough built-in obstacles and, needless to say, do not need such irresponsible statements to add to the confusion.


Baptist Chaplain

University of Missouri

Kansas City, Mo.

• CHRISTIANITY TODAY regrets the slip (read “or” for “for”) that contributed to Chaplain Peckham’s distress.—ED.


The generosity of your attention to my becoming editor of the Christian Century (News, June 21) is unhappily compromised by a number of distortions and misrepresentations. I regret very much that you did not fulfill my oral and written requests to review the accuracy of views attributed to me following our telephone interview.

It is true that I am not a traditional pacifist, but the Century’s commitment to the struggle for world peace over six decades is most important to me. Arguments among pacifists and nonpacifists in the 1940s are not very relevant to the present quest for peace.

I did not single out World Council of Churches pronouncements for the criticism you attribute to me in connection with my friend Paul Ramsey’s attack on the council in Who Speaks for the Church? I do agree with some of Ramsey’s criticisms as applied to many church pronouncements—but the WCC has done better than most church bodies in bringing informed international judgments to bear upon political and social issues.

My 1963 book Piety and Politics did not, contrary to your report, urge the “establishment of a cadre of church experts in Washington to advise the government on foreign policy.” What I did propose was that seminaries in Washington and other cities make the most of their opportunities to “foster a genuine dialogue between theologians and political scientists, between pastors and policy-makers.”

Regarding Viet Nam, I have been opposed to the bombing of the North from the very beginning as a counterproductive and politically disastrous policy. It is not a matter of proposing “more cuts or an end to bombing if the Paris talks break down.” The bombing should stop now. It never should have started.

Finally, while I disavowed any original contribution to the “new morality” in terms of sex ethics, I have not forsaken my interests in Christian ethics “in recent years.” I am a member of the board of directors of the American Society of Christian Ethics and chairman of its one active task force. I look forward to the strengthening of the Christian Century as an organ of ethical reconstruction in a post-Niebuhrian age.

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The Christian Century

Chicago, Ill.

• CHRISTIANITY TODAY news policy disallows submitting for approval to those involved an advance copy of an article.

Dr. Geyer’s specific proposal of a Washington cadre, with emphasis on “military and arms-control doctrine,” appears in the January 31, 1968, Christian Century, not the book. We regret this error.—ED.


Your report on the Reformed Presbyterian and Orthodox Presbyterian Churches (“Alliterative Issues,” News, June 21) said, “During the thirties both churches left what is now the United Presbyterian Church because of theological liberalism in that denomination.” This is not strictly true. There was one church which left the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. in 1936. That church is now the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The McIntire movement broke away from it, in 1937. The Evangelical Presbyterian Church broke with McIntire in 1958, and more recently united with the Reformed Presbyterian Church.

The reason for the break with the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. in 1936 was not “theological liberalism.” There had been plenty of that before 1936. But it was when liberalism compelled the Presbyterian members to support liberal agencies or face the consequences, that we faced the consequences.


Garden Grove Orthodox Presbyterian Church

Garden Grove, Calif.


The words of the Rev. Ralph Chandler, secretary of international affairs for the United Presbyterian Church (“The Church for Guerrillas?,” News, June 21) certainly deserve further comment.

In an age of violence he would encourage missionaries to support guerrilla movements in which killings of a peculiarly vicious kind would take place. Guerrilla warfare has no place among the established ways in which human life may be taken, namely, necessary defense of human life, lawful war, and public justice.…

Are your readers aware that the Rev. Richard Shaull, a member of the faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary, has openly expressed great sympathy for guerrilla warfare? In the midst of the breast-beating and finger-pointing as to the blame for the assassinations of important persons and the rising crime rate, we ought to take a good look at ministers of the Gospel who would encourage men to act in unlawful violence against their fellow men.


Chester, Pa.


I appreciated the tone and restraint with which Dr. Culbertson wrote regarding Arab-Israeli tensions (June 7). It is a good deal different from the elation expressed by many American Christians about Israel’s victory of a year ago. Christ’s death was a fulfillment of prophecy, but there are not many who would praise the Israel of that day for fulfilling prophecy. Culbertson is surely correct in separating the possible relation to prophecy of the events in Palestine and the moral quality of Israel’s deeds. We who live and work in Arab countries would make the separation even more emphatic.

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Kelso’s article helps to bring into focus some important historical facts that Americans generally do not know. It also helps to demonstrate the terrible complexity of the Middle East problem. Some viable approach must be found; the present impasse can only breed continuing bitterness and conflict.


Dept. of Religion and Philosophy

Beirut College for Women

Beirut, Lebanon

The article by Dr. Kelso is the most lucid statement I have seen anywhere on the subject.


New Haven, Conn.

I would like to point out what I consider to be an erroneous military conclusion in Dr. Kelso’s article.… He says, “She [Israel] could never have caught the Arab planes on their airfields if the Arabs had been intending to strike first.” This statement is not consistent with military experience or reasoning.

Whether or not the Arabs, particularly Egypt, intended to attack Israel is a fact probably known only to the Arab high command. The previous oft-repeated loud public threats of the Arab intent to destroy Israel utterly are well known. The great numerical superiority of the Arabs, armed with Soviet weapons and equipment; the closing of the Strait of Tiran to Israel shipping, itself an act of war; and the massing of Arab forces on the Israeli frontier could only mean to Israel that the moment of decision had come. The Israeli government had to consider two principal Arab capabilities. The first was that they might launch their vastly greater forces simultaneously against Israel on all its frontiers. Second, they might try to strangle Israel economically, by blocking the Strait of Tiran. The latter action would almost certainly lead ultimately to military invasion by the Arabs, after Israel had been weakened.

For Israel it had become a matter of life or death. To wait until the Arabs, particularly Egypt, were ready to start the conflict might have been fatal. Following proved military principles, the Israeli sought to save their lives and their national existence by seizing the initiative and launching their own attack while the Arabs were still not ready. The first necessity was to destroy the Egyptian air force, and the best way to do this was to strike it while it was helpless on the ground. This they did.

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Any reasonably competent Egyptian military commander and staff should have been aware that Israel might act so, and this in spite of whatever might have been the Arabs’ own intentions. Therefore every precaution should have been taken to avoid allowing the planes to be caught on the ground. Instead the Egyptian command was caught militarily sound asleep.


U.S. Army (RET.)

Largo, Fla.

The article by James L. Kelso is excellent. I’m distressed that other Christians have done so little for Arab Christian refugees. To whom do we look for leadership (person or organization) to remedy this error?


McPherson, Kan.

As a Hebrew Christian, and a survivor of the Jewish community in Poland, I rejoice in the measure of deliverance which God has provided for Jewish people in Israel. I was thrilled at the deliverance from what surely would have been a genocide last June, and over the newly won free access to the Wailing Wall. But I stand in mourning and penitence because this reprieve has come through the sword of Israel and her Western allies lifted against people whose frustrations and angers are not entirely out of proportion to their wounds.…

Culbertson gave us a lesson on prophecy and Kelso gave us a lesson on history. But the question remains, What are the demands of agape love in the light of either Culbertson’s prophecy or Kelso’s history?


Professor of Bible

Lenoir Rhyne College

Hickory, N.C.


I am shocked and grieved! “ ‘Why’ and ‘Way’ for EPA” (News, June 7) contains the ugly words “hell” and “damn.” I know that it has become common for professors of religion to use such words in conversation and even in supposedly religious writings, but I had expected something better from CHRISTIANITY TODAY. I can see no justification for the use of such words even in quotations. They were once banned even in secular papers.


Church of the Nazarene

Danville, Ill.


If good reporting is supposed to be objective, why is it necessary to use words such as “gimmick” and “free-lance revivalist” about Ronald Coyne (Personalia, June 7) and to place the word “reads” in quotation marks as if he were not reading?

I am acquainted with him and part of his family.… He lost an eye and was prayed for and received the unusual ability of seeing with or without his plastic eye and with his good eye covered. It is a fact, not a gimmick!

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Tulsa, Okla.


“Canadian Growing Pains” (News, April 26) has been a source of very grievous embarrassment to the Rev. Hector MacRury and to his many friends, including, of course, both his session and congregation. For it to be said that he left the meeting after my own name had been placed in nomination is a grotesque caricature of what actually happened. My friend left the meeting only in order to ensure that there would be complete freedom of discussion by all present, and in this I feel he acted with very great magnanimity.


Knox Presbyterian Church

Toronto, Ont.


Edward B. Fiske may be right (“Supreme Court Weighs Churches’ Stand,” July 5) in pointing to the Walnut Street case as the most important legal precedent. The fact remains, however, that Walnut Street was not a congregation of the Presbyterian Church U. S., and the case was based on the constitution of the Presbyterian Church U. S. A. (of which it was a member).

The constitutions of the two denominations are different at the point of congregational property.… Despite the repetitious claims of some that slavery was the issue back in 1861 when the PCUS was formed, slavery, per se, was not. One of the issues was property, and the constitution of our church reflects this.

Let me refer you to Para. 6–3 in our Book of Church Order: “If a church is dissolved by the Presbytery, or otherwise ceases to exist, and no disposition has been made of its property, those who hold title to the property shall deliver, convey and transfer to the Presbytery of which the church was a member, or to the authorized agents of the Presbytery, all property of the church.…” This clearly leaves the property in the hands of the congregation. The constitution only provides for its disposition if the congregation does not otherwise dispose of it.

On the other hand, the UPUSA constitution has no such provisions. It clearly states (in the 65–66 edition, for instance, at 32–8, 32–11, and 32–12) that a congregation cannot move in any direction on the property issue without presbytery’s permission and that the presbytery has the last word on the use of property. The 1968 UPUSA Assembly reinforced this in the decision on the Blackstone (Palm Springs) case when it said that churches “must use the property for the benefit of the denomination.” The decision also said, “It is neither legally nor factually accurate to assume … that the property in question was given by people who intended to limit the use of their property forever to any particular theological emphasis.”

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Asst. Editor

The Presbyterian Journal

Asheville, N. C.


I think that CHRISTIANITY TODAY has been especially appreciated among evangelical missionaries who are far from homelands and need guidance and understanding in what is going on among our Christian circles. Not only has it proven to be helpful in keeping us abreast with these things, but the greatest contribution it has made has been in the field of spiritual guidance. Certainly no other magazine is looked forward to as much.


The Evangelical Alliance Mission

Kobe, Japan

Please do not renew my subscription … It is one of the closest things to “hate literature” that I have ever seen. It is filled with nothing but condemnation of the ecumenical movement, and hardly ever is there a positive note or theme.


Salmon Arm, British Columbia

I have found many wonderful articles in CHRISTIANITY TODAY. As an editor of our quarterly periodical Kristitty (which means “The Christian”), I wonder if we could translate some articles into Finnish and publish them in our magazine.


Helsinki, Finland

CHRISTIANITY TODAY is one of the most valuable pieces of literature that comes into my home. I enjoy its clarity, its forthrightness, and its honesty, and it is a continual stimulus.



St. Paul’s Church of England

Harris Park, N.S.W., Australia

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