Fumbling Frustrations

If you’ve ever watched a child trying to perform a task slightly beyond his level of coordination you probably know the kind of frustration the fumbling of others can cause.

Because I suffer from this kind of vicarious frustration I could understand the feelings of a football fan in Colorado, sort of. The newspapers report that this true-blue Denver fan tried to commit suicide because “I can’t stand their fumbling any more.” The Broncos fumbled seven times during the game that precipitated his action, losing the ball to the opposition five of the times.

I tried to think of what that news story would be like in other contexts of frustration.

LOUISVILLE, Ky., October 2 (APC)—An Episcopal bishop, despondent over the performance of his peers, tried to kill himself, deputies reported today.

The bishop, whose name was withheld, hanged himself with his stole but was discovered in time.

The county sheriff’s office said that the bishop wrote a note before attempting suicide.

“I have been a member of the house of bishops for fifteen years and I can’t stand their fumbling any more,” the note said.

Or how about:

SANTA MARIA, Calif., October 2 (APC)—A magazine subscriber, despondent over trying to get his address changed, tried to kill himself, deputies reported today.

Francisco Johnson leapt from a thirty-foot-high stack of magazines but was only slightly injured.

Johnson had tried for several months to have his address changed by CHRISTIANITY TODAY magazine. After twelve fruitless letters he suddenly began receiving twelve copies of the magazine every two weeks.

The sheriff’s office reported that Johnson left a note before attempting suicide.

“I’ve been a fan of CHRISTIANITY TODAY since its founding and I just can’t stand their fumbling any more,” the note said.


MESOPOTAMIA, Adar 2 (ZAP)—A devastating flood struck this area today, sweeping away a whole civilization.

For some years a local prophet has been prophesying a great deluge.

There are reports that a voice from heaven was heard at the beginning of the downpour saying, “I just couldn’t stand their fumbling any more.”


Claims, Contentions, And Copernicus

I received my first issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY (a little worse for having traveled within the U. S. postal system) and I was very pleased.… I read R. Laird Harris’s “Copernicus and the Church” (Sept. 14) with great interest and general agreement. However, I would like to fault him with one factual error and one erroneous innuendo.

The error concerns the date when Ptolemy’s Almagest first made its way into European intellectual circles. It is true that the Almagest did not see a Latin translation of the Greek manuscript until the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. But a Latin translation of the ninth-century Arabic translation did exist from the time of Gerard of Chremona (twelfth century).… The innuendo in the last two sentences of Harris’s essay can hardly be believed in the days after Jerome J. Langford’s Galileo, Science, and the Church.… Laying Galileo’s difficulties with the Roman church at the feet of the hoary myth of that church’s general hostility to science is unforgivable. This claim ignores the facts of that conflict to the extent that the entire facts will ever be known, as well as diminishes the importance that any cosmology plays in the average man’s theological thought life.

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Saint Andrew’s Priory

Valyermo, Calif.

For The Whole Family

I am very much encouraged by Clark Pinnock’s article ‘The New Pentecostalism: Reflections by a Well-Wisher” (Sept. 14).…

It would seem to me that our brother has unwittingly revealed to us one of, if not the greatest of, the problems in this whole issue. After clearly arguing that the sole condition for the fullness of the Spirit is that of faith (sola fide), he goes on to say that “there must be an abiding in Christ and a walking in the Spirit.” This he considers to be the precise point that “the new Pentecostals can teach the broader evangelical community”.… Is not this the very same truth that we in the mainstream of the evangelical community already profess to believe? Perhaps he means to say that they can teach us experientially what we already know theologically. In any case, is it not just possible that in this, as well as in many other points, our differences stem from the same terminology used in different ways or, more likely, different terminology used to mean the same thing?…

I, for one, must respond to Dr. Pinnock’s searching question at the conclusion of his article by unequivocally stating that it seems to me impossible that “our professed openness to the fullness of the Spirit be reconciled with our overall negative attitude toward a movement that in its deepest intentions desires nothing else itself and gives abundant evidence of possessing a spiritual fullness that we desperately need in our midst.” May God grant it to his “whole family.”


Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada

It seems to me that there have been too many articles in CHRISTIANITY TODAY which are sympathetic to Pentecostal teachings and none supporting strictly conservative teachings based on what the Bible actually says and means rather than on some people’s “experiences”.… There is no real connection between the babbling tongues of the Pentecostals and the gift of the Spirit given at Pentecost. And these babblings, or ecstatic (emotional) tongues, do nothing to evangelize or edify others.… E. Mansell Pattison in “Behavioral Science Research on the Nature of Glossolalia” (Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, Sept., 1968) concludes that these ecstatic tongues are not a spiritual phenomena, seeing them as being emotional or sometimes pathological. He shows that this type of tongue (which is really a partial form of a language familiar to the speaker) has been spoken since ancient times by people of many different cultures and beliefs (east Indians, Egyptians, Chinese, Mormons, etc.).

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Palos Verdes, Calif.

Surely, Dr. Pinnock, we should be open to “bona fide spiritual gifts God is pouring out on us in these days.” But how can glossolalia be certified as bona fide?

There are those, like Dr. William J. Samarin and Dr. William E. Welmers, who as linguistic experts have listened to countless taped “utterances” without a single discovery of a genuine tongue. Dr. Samarin would allow that the utterance of such syllables may have value. Dr. Welmers would classify them as “non-tongues,” to which the command “Forbid not to speak with tongues” would not apply.…

The confidence in the “baptism” gives to many a neo-Pentecostal a grace in utterance which appears in his life in other ways as well. His spirit is uplifted. We should not begrudge him this. But he should look well to the question of whether it really is bona fide.


The Garden Grove Orthodox Presbyterian Church

Garden Grove, Calif.

Led By The Spirit

The article “Biblical Directives For Worship” by Bernard Schalm (Sept. 14) was very perceptive in its treatment of worship as it was carried out in the early Church and its direction of change down to our present time. However, in one paragraph the question is asked if the church of the twentieth century should “return to the simple, spontaneous worship of the early Church.” The answer, “impossible,” contradicts fact, since groups all around the globe in this, the twentieth century, meet for the four-part worship of Acts 2:42 without benefit of any leader but the spirit of God within the believers gathered together.

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Rochester, N. Y.

Mennonite Music

Eutychus V (September 14) gave a fine review of the album “Be a Christian” as “singable contemporary Christian music.” The album is available through Minority Ministries Council, Box 370, Elkhart, Indiana 46514. Eutychus V, in identifying Mrs. Sowell as the wife of a Mennonite pastor, asks whether there are any black Mennonites. At a recent Mennonite World Conference, we learned that one-third of the Mennonite world population is non-white.


Goshen, Ind.

Aid To Africa

A warm “thank you” for mentioning World Relief Commission as one of the Christian agencies rushing to help people caught in “Africa’s Creeping Calamity” (News, Sept. 14). This tragedy has been in the making for years but the public is just beginning to hear about it. We commend Barrie Doyle on his informative, well-written news article alerting evangelicals to the need.

We are glad to report there has already been some response from your readers. Any contributions received will be put to work immediately, not only to stave off death by starvation but to help resettle those who have been forced from their native areas by drought.…

We appreciate CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S timely emphasis on social concerns. Caring about others is a practical way to show our love for our Lord.


Executive Vice President

World Relief Commission

Valley Forge, Pa.

On Removing Beams

I was sorry to see another Lord-I-thank-thee-that-we-aren’t-like-those-awful-Russians editorial in the September 14 issue (“Unfreedom of Speech in the U. S. S. R.”). I find it difficult to reconcile this sort of practice with all the talk about the authority of Scripture. We do less homage … to the authority of Scripture by defending the unity of Isaiah than we would by taking more seriously our Lord’s admonition to get the beam out of our own eye first.


Department of Philosophy

Yale University

New Haven, Conn.

Scientists Vs. Materialists

I wish to thank Harold O. J. Brown for his report on the recent annual conference of the American Scientific Affiliation (News, “Change and Providence,” Sept. 14). I would like to make just a few comments to help clarify matters for your readers.

The ASA is referred to “as a fellowship of scientists.” This is true, but it is not as relevant as the fact that the ASA is a fellowship of Chrisian men and women of science, who regard themselves to be members of the evangelical brotherhood.

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It would be most unfortunate if the final sentence of the article were taken to represent in any sense the attitude of the members of the ASA. Dr. Brown writes, “Materialists should not be allowed to impose their views on others, but may preserve their own tranquility without being challenged by theists.” It is very much the business of the ASA to challenge materialists [and there is] a continuing stream of articles in the Journal ASA to this effect.



Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation

Stanford, Calif.

Through The Jungle

As a member of the “straight” society, I was disappointed in the recent article “Homosexuals and the Church” (Sept. 28). Even though I agree with the basic premise, this article has no sensitivity or understanding to a human problem. Why quote from the gay society and insert italics and brackets to prejudice the reader? Better not quote lest we are guilty of violating another’s personhood especially when tromping through this psychological jungle.

Please, CHRISTIANITY TODAY, walk gently on the souls of humans, for I, too, am one.


General Manager

Bethel Publishing

Elkhart, Ind.

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