That’S All, Folks!

If I had fulfilled my youthful fantasy of being the world’s greatest soft-shoe dancer, this is the point at which the band would belt out the melody with its most rowdy razz-ma-tazz while the drummer pounded out the two-beat rhythm with a cracking rim shot. And I would exit stage left, shaking my straw hat and twirling my cane amidst a crescendo of whistling and applause.

In other words, this is the last of these columns I shall write. The categories of entertainment and sermonizing share a common maxim: If you have a strong beginning and a strong finish you can get away with almost anything in between.

I’m not sure which category this effort belongs in, but I need a strong finish to make you all forget and forgive some of the things that have happened in this space during the past three years.

Someone—I think it was Hemingway—once said that the way to start writing is to sit down and write the truest thing you know. That’s probably the best way to stop writing, too.

So here it is, the truest thing I know: Jesus is Lord.

The second truest thing I know is that Lordship is accepted only through worship.

Evangelicals have always seemed to say that what a man believes determines who and what he is. Not so!

It’s what a man bows his knee to that determines who he is. It’s who or what he acknowledges as Lord that decides it all. That’s why the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other Gods before me,” is not a call to belief but a call to worship.

I’ve worshiped and served Christ poorly, sometimes being dragged into the truth kicking and screaming. But I commend him to you. His yoke is good, his load is light, and his worship is joy.

So with that I pass my straw hat and cane on to my worthy successor, looking forward to his terpsichorean efforts.


Simpler Verse?

Editor-at-Large Calvin D. Linton deserves commendation for his article on C. S. Lewis and his editorial on W. H. Auden (Nov. 9). I feel, however, that he should have identified the concluding poetry quoted from Auden as the final portion (a part of it) of “For the Time Being,” subtitled “A Christmas Oratorio,” and in the light of this larger context, I doubt if this portion would be called some of his “simpler verse.”


First Baptist Church

Grafton, W. Va.

Insight Vs. Insipidity

CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S November 9 issue seems to have been devoted to the sublime and the insipid in the arts. Two excellent articles and a fine editorial gave a proper commemoration to the tenth anniversary of C. S. Lewis’s death. Meanwhile, “The Refiner’s Fire” had an overview of soap operas, which would have been more appropriate in a secular woman’s magazine. “The Refiner’s Fire” has been providing excellent Christian commentary on an important area generally neglected by Christians. I hope that CHRISTIANITY TODAY will continue with an insightful review of the arts.

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Washington, D. C.

Timely Transcendence

This is an expression of special appreciation for the fine article entitled “Transcendent Sexuality as C. S. Lewis Saw It” by Joan Lloyd in the November 9 issue. The time is appropriate for publication and discussion in this area of life which is given such large treatment in many secular disciplines. It is easiest for believers to remain silent or simply negative to any movement that seems to run contrary to the traditional viewpoint as understood from Scripture. Instead, deeper study and real grappling with the issues being raised these days would be more courageous and productive lines of action to take.

Miss Lloyd has distilled from portions of the writings of C. S. Lewis her statement in the sentence “It is in this demand for obedience that the masculine nature is grounded—the feminine is grounded in obedience.” This statement does not seek to deal in any way with the moral nature of the one demanding obedience.… Even when the right to demand obedience may be present, the will to obey is tremendously affected by what perception the person-under-authority has of the character of the authority. Two words sum it up: “Worthy Authority”.… God himself is the unique totally Worthy Authority. And we might say the reason why he is the Worthy Authority begins in the fact that he is unselfish outgoing Love.


South Burlington, Vt.

Thank you so much for focusing on C. S. Lewis. [Ms. Lloyd’s article] is particularly timely and helpful.


Richmond, Va.

I think this is a very timely article and I hope you will do a reprint on it.… With the rebirth of feminism in our day and the extreme confusion on what is the Christian view of sexuality, I think this article should be widely read. The Church is in danger of becoming a matriarchal society within a matriarchal North American society.


Toronto, Ontario

New Vs. Old

I am concerned about the article (News, “For Sale, Quick”) relative to the American Baptist Seminary of the West (Nov. 23). The article is not only highly biased but contains several inaccuracies.

As a new ABSW board member present at the meeting where the recent decision was made—and also an adjunct faculty member—I cannot understand the basis for your reporting, most of all your quoting Dr. Adrian Heaton as saying that faculty members and trustees “will continue to be required to sign an evangelical statement of faith.” Such is not the case. In the recent decision the trustees clearly recognized the historic principle of freedom of individual conscience, long sacred to Baptists and the reason that Baptists almost overwhelmingly reject creedal statements.

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The board of ABSW voted, and the two member boards (Covina and Berkeley) ratified a decision, to have “one school, located at Berkeley, California, the professional school of which will be a confessional school in terms of the doctrinal statement now at the Covina school.” This action was clearly interpreted by a further vote, unanimously approved, which reads (and I quote the minutes of the board):

That it be understood that “confessional school” means that there will be no requirement of the physical signature of that statement for ABSW (although that requirement may be maintained for CBTS) but that the statement shall be periodically reaffirmed, and that the possibility of modification of the statement is present.

Thus, while the possibility of retaining a signed creedal statement for CBTS faculty and trustees is recognized, the requirement does not apply to the American Baptist Seminary itself. Plans also call for full merger of the Covina and Berkeley schools and boards, which leaves the question of how CBTS and Berkeley faculty will be distinguished in the future. It has already been determined that there will be a single faculty for ABSW.

The implication in your article that the Berkeley school has been closed is also misleading. In fact, this year the Berkeley campus graduated more M.Div. students than did the Covina school and at present the Berkeley school has as many M.Div. students enrolled as does CBTS.

Your statement that the Berkeley school experienced “mortal financial wounds, forcing a merger with the Covina school” is also gravely misleading. The financial records of the two schools show that, in fact, it has been the Berkeley assets which have carried the ABSW through the very difficult period of the past five years. Had the schools not federated (they have not yet “merged”) the evidence is that Covina would have folded and Berkeley would still be here.

The recent decision and the anticipated full merger of the two schools marks a new beginning for American Baptist Seminary education on the West Coast. There was no “winner” or “loser” in the action. Both schools made sacrifices and have committed themselves to a new approach to quality theological education for the ABC on the West Coast. Articles such as yours will not help the new spirit of cooperation but will, I fear, keep old differences alive.

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Berkeley First Baptist Church

Berkeley, Calif.

A Bit More

Recently I read an article by Cheryl Forbes in CHRISTIANITY TODAY entitled “Evangelical Episcopalians: United and Moving” (Nov. 9).… As an Anglican (and thus in America an Episcopalian) and as a Catholic priest (which may surprise you, for we are nothing else but and nothing less than and nothing more than that) I am always interested a great deal when our 64-million-member communion gets a bit of publicity in your magazine, which I am told reaches a great many Protestant fundamentalists and their allies. I am interested because first of all I always wonder how we will be treated by those who diametrically disagree with our adherence to orthodox Catholic Christianity which gives equal credence to both tradition and the biblical writings and holds that the cornerstone of our religion is the Christly institution of apostolic order (bishop, priest, and deacon). In short, what I am trying to say is tantamount to this: I don’t think most of you understand much about us at all and so are at a loss to explain why we function in the unique way we do.

I think Miss Forbes’s style is not bad at all and I think that she has a good potential, but I think she should learn quite a bit more about us before she writes for a mass-media publication. I know that there are several Anglican personalities listed on your masthead but somehow I suspect that they are not used very much if at all. In any case three of them are known to me, and I cannot say for example that anything like adherence to the theological positions of the Anglo-Catholic party is held by any of them. I say that on the basis that two out of the three have been instructors of mine along the way.

The “evangelical Episcopalians” are looked upon by many of us as certainly without the mainstream of Reformed Catholicism. It goes without saying that they can have their little conventicles, but they represent a very small minority of people. I received the Holy Ghost at Baptism and was strengthened by that same Spirit on the day I received the Sacrament of Confirmation. I, and the vast majority of Anglicans, just do not need or want to go through the emotional catharsis or whatever it is that these charismatics seem to require. One is reminded of the early demands of the Church for the conversion of Gentiles to Judaism and thus through that vehicle to the Church. The first council ended that. I would suggest frequent reception of the Blessed Sacrament and use of Confession as the means of grace which in the long run will do the most good. If these are not available to others they are available to all Anglicans who will request them.

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Trinity Episcopal Church

San Francisco, Calif.

A Way To Grind

I have just finished reading the review of God, Man and Church Growth, edited by A. R. Tippett (Books in Review, Nov. 23).… You have selected a reviewer with an axe to grind. Professor Ricker faults the church-growth advocates for improper generalizations.… I wish that Ricker had taken the time to support his claim that “McGavran is weakest in those areas in which he has engaged in polemics: namely, his understanding of the concepts of mission, evangelism, salvation, Church, and Gospel.” This is truly a sweeping assertion.… The only real attempt Ricker makes to analyze critically some of the book’s contents is in the contribution by David Barrett. Apparently Ricker has some first-hand knowledge of Nigeria, and he displays this quite forcefully.


Assoc. Prof. of Missions and Anthropology

St. Paul Bible College

St. Paul, Minn.

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