Waiting For The Answer

The subject of a television interview program responded with mistaken grace to one question by admitting, “I really don’t know the answer to that.”

Looks of horror swept across the faces of the panel of questioners at this heresy: an expert without an answer!

They immediately began to press him for an answer, any answer—a guess. The expert finally weakened and gave a qualified guess—the accuracy of which could be neither challenged nor corroborated—and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

A question no one could answer once arose in a Bible-study group I was attending. Before the next meeting I researched the question (that’s not to suggest I’m always so diligent). However, at the next session I found that the question was no longer important to anyone.

We are an impatient generation. Like little children we want the answer now. It matters less that the answer be right than that there be an answer.

That’s why we love experts so. They save us the trouble of laborious effort to discover the truth. They have immediate answers. If the answers turn out to be wrong, we simply adjust ourselves and head off in another direction.

It seems to me that the answer “I don’t know” is an honorable one. “I don’t know but I’ll try to find out” is even better. Unfortunately, by the time one has the truth the forum may have disappeared. The newspaper reporter may be long gone by the time the politician has the facts to answer his question. The television interview program will have a new victim next week. Most viewers will hardly remember who was on the program last week, much less want to hear the results of his research. Even the Bible-study group may have a different constituency next week.

He who gives an answer carries the day—even if the answer is wrong.

In Acts Luke comments that the Jews of Berea were more noble than those of Thessalonica simply because they listened to Paul’s preaching and took time daily to examine the Scriptures to see if these things were so.

We need to be like the Berean Jews, seeking not just answers but truth—and willing to wait for it.



The perceptive and prophetic article by Senator Mark Hatfield (“The Vulnerability of Leadership”) in your June 22 issue merits renewal of my subscription. (Such were not my intentions.…) Senator Hatfield has donned the prophet’s mantle at a time when the Church has, for the most part, discarded it, and stands mute in an allegiance to the state that rightfully belongs only to God. [His] warning needs to be taken seriously: “For the more one gains power, whether in business, economics, government, or religion, the greater the temptation to believe that he stands beyond the scope of transcendent judgment.” It has happened before; it is happening now; it can happen again.

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Lutheran Church of Our Savior

Bethany, Okla.

I hasten to commend you for the lead editorial (“The Christian as Patriot”) and for Senator Hatfield’s article. If evangelical Christians had been writing, speaking, and acting out the content of these two articles over the years, their value as total citizens to the nation would have been more evident.


Seattle, Wash.

My personal thanks to you and to Senator Hatfield.… We have been missing this note in our national life far too long and are grateful to you and Senator Hatfield for supplying it. Perhaps we may still be led to repent and it may not be too late.


Elkhart, Ind.

During the present time, leaders seem to be more vulnerable in some respects than in the past. Instant communication of the media makes possible instant reactions of the masses to everyday crises. As a result, the leaders experience pressures unknown in the past. It is imperative, therefore, that they go to the Lord in individual repentance first, as Senator Hatfield suggests, and in corporate repentance using Second Chronicles 7:14 as a guide. CHRISTIANITY TODAY is to be commended for printing this timely and scholarly article.


Maryville, Mo.


I am writing to express my pleasure at your publication of the article “The Text of the New Testament and Modern Translations” by Gordon D. Fee (June 22). It is a mark of the maturity of your faith that an article such as this is published in a magazine founded on the belief that the Bible is the revealed Word of God.… One of the values of Dr. Fee’s article is that it insists upon the relativity of each of the various responsible translations and versions of the Bible, while at the same time maintaining the usefulness of all of them. Too much ink has been spilled in arguments over words, or in esoteric philosophical disputes regarding the accuracy or authenticity of this or that manuscript, version, or translation of the Bible. The important thing, for Christians, must remain the truth John (and his Lord) tried to communicate so many years ago: the ultimate worth of the Scriptures lies not in themselves but in their witness to the living relationship established between God and man through Jesus Christ and the Spirit of Truth.

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Whatever may have been his intentions in writing, I take Dr. Fee’s article to be a helpful contribution, from the conservative evangelical standpoint, to the building of bridges of understanding between evangelicals who believe in biblical inerrancy and some of the rest of us Christians who do not. At the same time, some evangelical readers of his article may be led to temper somewhat their uninformed arrogance in proclaiming the inflexible righteousness of their particular views on doctrine, as these views are derived from particular interpretations of isolated Bible words, phrases, or propositions. A mature understanding of the difficulties of handling fairly the biblical materials will lead an honest student to a healthy humility. This, in turn, may lead to increased mutual sympathy, and ultimately to fuller fellowship between committed Christians of differing views.


United Presbyterian Church

Crookston, Minn.


Thank you for the piece on original sin (Eutychus and His Kin, “There Ain’t No Good in Men,” June 22). I remember the great joy of relief and the praises I sang on that day, not so long ago, when I discovered on my own (at least, my Help was not visible to my eyes) that sweet doctrine!

I had never accepted the bullwhip use of it on my or any other’s back. That is, as being held to accountability for my born state of un- or im-perfection. But because I was an eager and ignorant pagan sincerely seeking a better estate, I was beginning to get a crackle-glaze of psychosomatic tremors (from which I shall likely never wholly recover until I am beyond the Wall of the World) from the combined exhortations (canned and face-to-face) of the Self and Collective Reformists, Christian Scientist, Jehovah’s Witness, Herbert W. Armstrong-ist, Socialist, Communist, and, to say the truth now, most of what goes under the heading of Christianity in these parlous times.

I knew, all too intimately, that I wasn’t good! On the other hand, I had a deep tap root of intuition, a huge distrust of all Reformists. But my makeup is such that I mistrust judging when I don’t know what it is I am judging.

So, self-inflicted by all the going “pernicious nonsense” about “human perfectibility,” you may imagine how, like a bird free of the Pharisees, I sang and danced (literally) for joy of the doctrine—I knew the fact too cruelly well! Me reform that? So now I fly like a bird, but a wounded bird. So thanks to Eutychus for comfort and good sense.

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Arlington, Tex.


There is nothing in our recent history to justify the characterization of Reverend William S. Coffin as the “longtime opponent of the Yale Christian Fellowship” (News, “American Baptists: Piety Revisited,” June 22). In the last few years of significant growth of our fellowship, we have had little but cooperation and encouragement from the Chaplains’ Office. And while I suspect that at times Mr. Coffin has let his “generosity outstrip his judgment” in his dealings with us, there is certainly something to be said for generosity.


Past President

Yale Christian Fellowship

New Haven, Conn.


It was with more than passing interest I read your news item (Religion in Transit, June 8) about the torture murder by Satan worshipers in Daytona Beach. The victim was our oldest son. While we miss him, we do not mourn him, because he had accepted Christ as his Saviour. We are told in Romans 8:35–37, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?… We are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.… In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” We do mourn for the young people who have fallen prey to the wiles of Satan, although we have been warned about this sort of activity in First Timothy 4:1 (“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of dreams”). Who will take to them the good news of First John 1:9—“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”?


Fresno, Calif.


John Warwick Montgomery spent too much spleen on religion reporters (Current Religious Thought, June 8), characterizing those of us reporting church and synagogue in the secular press as a monolithic group delighting in the agonies of a church whose members no longer agree.

First, anyone reading CHRISTIANITY TODAY or other journals on religion would know that the professional group, Religion Newswriters Association, is as heterogeneous as Bill Willoughby of the Washington Star-News and Les Kinsolving of that and other syndicated papers. Second, the Missouri Synod is a good story because some vital, not simply important, issues are involved, as we try to report. Third, church/synagogue conventions do not elicit yawns from either reporters who choose to report them or editors and publishers who pay them to do so. And last, your correspondent is so partisan—in a story where either side is difficult to pin down and report with any balance—that he falls into the trap of executing the bearer of news because it is bad.

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Rather than take the tack he did in his attack on reporters of religion … he might have read more widely and found how many reporters work to describe the LCMS factions beyond the clichés and labels. He uses them with greater facility than we do, while attributing this to others. This is just one of the complex stories many of us will try to report this year and next. It appeals to us because two men of integrity and wit, J. A. O. Preus and John Tietjen, are speaking for historic views and contemporary anxieties.


Religion Reporter

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati, Ohio


With regard to William Kornfield’s article, “The Early-Date Genesis Man” (June 8), it is regrettable that due consideration has not been given to what effects the biblical flood might have had. Given the possible effects of this flood upon the total nature of our world, one must raise the question of why so little, if any, consideration of this flood when trying to bring the Bible and science together. The dating methods themselves may have given the most misleading information presented in this article due to no consideration of the flood.


Sterling Heights, Mich.

Plaudits on William Kornfield’s long-overdue article. As an evangelical and an anthropologist myself, I view it as a healthy sign when such emotionally charged topics as Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon man can be discussed in the forum of a Christian magazine. Skeletal evidence of human remains 50,000 years old in association with cultural artefacts are so numerous that they can’t be swept under the rug.…

Kornfield, however, opens up a real bag of worms. It is no trick in making Adam a Neanderthal (who was a hunter), but the trick is getting Cain and Abel out of the cave to becoming an agriculturist and a shepherd respectively (Genesis 4). Using evidence from Shanidar Cave in Iraq (Solecki, 1963), layer D shows Neanderthal skeletal remains at 44,000 B.C. whereas layer B1 reveals the first signs of animal and plant domestication and is dated at 8600 B.C. In fact, full-fledged farming and herding are more precisely dated at such typesites as Jarmo and Ali Kosh at 7000 B.C. (Braidwood, 1967; Wright, Jr., 1967). If Cain and Abel are the legitimate children of Neanderthal Adam, we have a real problem if our purpose is to reconcile Scripture and scientific theory. Other problems, as severe as this one, abound in many of the accounts recorded in Genesis 4–11 as they are compared with the archeological record. This is no news to anyone who has taken the time to critically study the data, which are now fairly well systematized by archeologists working in the Near East.

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The answer to this perplexing set of problems is obviously not in attempting to reconcile scientific theory with Scripture. Kornfield hints at what many feel to be the key to understanding the early chapters of Genesis: the “mind-set” of those who recorded this primeval history. Using a different literacy genre than ours, and possessing a different linguistic world-view (Whorf, 1941; Hoijer, 1951), it is only to be expected that the account would be written far different than if a modern-day archeologist wrote it. But this in no way makes it any less the revealed Word of God, the Word given by the Holy Spirit, who stands above both ancient and modern versions of science.


Hope Lutheran Church

Upper St. Clair, Pa.


In your article “Demythologizing the Indonesian Revival (March 2) by Ed Plowman, he included a statement Dr. Pearl Englund had made about me, Frank Selan—Mel Tari’s brother-in-law. Dr. Englund made it sound like I disagreed with the story in Mel’s book about Jesus multiplying the food, that Mel had exaggerated the truth. According to her story, Jesus did not miraculously create new food, but merely satisfied us with the little food we have had. Actually these are two different stories, and both are true. The Lord had done this miracle many times in many different ways. I have never met or talked with Dr. Englund; furthermore, I’m in full agreement with everything Mel said in Like A Mighty Wind. I have seen the Holy Spirit do some tremendous things in my life and the lives of many others, like changing water into wine, enabling us to walk safely on the deep river, raising dead people to life, healing thousands of people, especially “the greatest miracle of all,” sinners redeemed and changed daily into the image of Christ. So, I’ll be the last person on earth to discredit the work of the Holy Spirit in my country. I can never go along with the “unbelieving Christians” who try to water down or explain away His precious and wonderful power.


Jayapuna, Irian Jaya, Indonesia


To Dr. Brown, associate editor of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, high commendation for the live spark he strikes in his review of The Dust of Death by Os Guinness (June 8). His position is well taken in referring to the author’s offered cures for evils in modern culture as “a mixture of pious generalizations and trivial illustrations” and in his plea for further followthrough. This special emphasis by our foremost evangelical periodical on the much over-looked need for more practical, in-depth, Christ-centered guidelines for solving today’s problems is indeed heartening. May this tiny spark grow to many blazing torches.

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Santa Barbara, Calif.


The news story “Revival Afterglow” in your May 11 issue was, to say the least, an unfortunate reflection on revival. While I personally am not conversant with all the facts of the Abbotsford church, I do not believe revival was responsible for the split. More careful research will undoubtedly reveal that carnality rather than revival is usually the cause of splits.… Revival is not an afterglow, like the dying embers of a once brightly burning fire; it is a present reality in the life of a believer who is walking in obedience to Jesus Christ his Lord and Master.


Hillsdale Alliance Church

Regina, Saskatchewan


I like the article on the Institute of Basic Youth Conflicts (“Bill Gothard’s Institute,” May 25). I think that Bill Gothard intends to do good, but his approach is so absolutist and authoritative that he ends up doing a great deal of harm.… A professor at Moody Bible Institute told me of two Jewish young people who after attending Gothard’s institute, left Bible college because their Jewish parents could not approve of their attending Moody. What scares me the most is the absolute devotion that the people have who attend the institute. There is something positively gnostic about their attitude.

Corte Madera, Calif.



Under the heading of “News” you cover the event in the British Isles known as SPRE-E ’73 (May 25). However, in this news article, two opinions are expressed in the closing paragraphs.… In each case “one evangelical minister” expresses some negative viewpoint of this event.…

May I suggest that these two paragraphs might equally have been written as follows (with a slight amendment of the budget—for accuracy’s sake!):

As for expenditures, a SPRE-E budget of £348,000 ($870,000) (all but £168,000 of it to come from delegates’ registration and accommodation fees) has raised some eyebrows. “Nevertheless,” says the Reverend David Bubbers, Vicar of Emmanuel Church, Northwood, “the size of the budget should be looked at in the light of the number of participants it is hoped to involve.… The argument that the income of missionary societies will be put at risk assumes that the Christian public is already giving up to the New Testament hilt. Is such an assumption justified?”
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The major complaint heard, however, is that planners have imposed SPRE-E ’73 upon British evangelicals without seeking any consultation or advice outside the Graham organization’s inner circle. Rowlandson answers this complaint by saying that consultation was in fact sought “so far as the limited time allowed.” The Reverend Ronald Goulding, secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, says: “There will be a great number of young people who will respond to this irrespective of whether the clergy do or do not, and I believe that only good can come from it. You can be quite sure that we will do all we can in helping towards the success of this great Christian adventure.”

In rewriting these paragraphs, I have named those who have made the statements alleged to them. I believe that this permits a proper assessment of what they say and, at the same time, allows the reader to assess the credence and the weight “behind the argument.” At the same time, it expresses a positive approach which is, surely, the New Testament approach.


General Director


London, England

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