New Clerical Types
In an early essay in this space, Eutychus I categorized four types of midcentury Protestant ecclesiastics. His work was a significant new departure in the budding field of ecclesiasticology (sometimes called cleriosophy). At the time that Eutychus I did his pioneering work, CHRISTIANITY TODAY was still in its infancy. The ecumenical movement was just beginning to move full steam ahead; the American religious “revival” embraced everything generally religious; and the “mainline” denominations and their fashionable clergy still cut a smart figure in the media.
But now, almost twenty years later, liberal and ecumenical Protestantism is on the retreat. The types of clerics that Eutychus I noted are hardly to be found today—or, if they show themselves, are apt to be hounded from the spot with cries of ridicule. A “new breed” has come on the scene. Below we list a few of the species now in evidence, not necessarily the most prominent by their frequency, but always impressive wherever they appear.
Rhetor bombasticocombativus. Previously confined to the so-called Bible belt of the South and Midwest and to a few scattered locations on both coasts, but now seen throughout the country. Noted for his ability to gather a crowd of supporters and opponents on any occasion and for the infrequency with which he mentions God’s forgiveness and Christian charity.
Criticus aestheticus discriminans. A rare bird (so to speak), but can usually be identified by the fact that, professing orthodoxy, he evinces an interest in worldly thought, entertainment, and power structures that is altogether comparable to that of P. ecumenicus, the well-known ecumenical prelate of the 1950s and 1960s.
Stereopticus futurividens. Sometimes called S. futurividens Lindsaeus; a self-assured, clairvoyant creature, usually well-off, capable of wresting the ball (crystal) from secular prognosticators and futurologists and casting it forcefully into the midst of post-and a-millennialists, often made up of members of the species.
Censor puritanicus redivivus (or legalisticus). A melancholy, hardworking, generally dour type convinced that it is possible and desirable to make every one do what’s good for him whether he likes it or not. C. puritanicus r. (or 1.) is often found in alliance with
Juvenipugnans basicus, an extremely well-disciplined expert in personal problems. Has a place for everyone and puts everyone in his place. Noted for the use of overhead projectors and for long lists (points, characteristics, techniques, problems, etc.). Both C. puritanicus l. and J. basicus are often found in conflict with the very numerous
Christianus pietisticus passivus, characterized by a very clear (and pessimistic) understanding of present conditions. Always takes comfort in the conviction that if only we sit by and do nothing, things will get even worse.
Merely identifying representatives of the above species will not, of course, solve the problem they pose, but it will doubtless give the reader a certain satisfaction in an otherwise ungratifying era.
Your two articles on the charismatic phenomenon in the Feb. 28 issue are timely and balanced. Inherent in both is the need for sound pastoral care. The Holy Spirit is creating unity among believers on a vastly different level than any of us has ever experienced, and no one can ignore the fact that there is no place in Christ’s body for superiority complexes and sensation-seekers. When they are confronted they need to be dealt with, and pastors are responsible for such a ministry. On the other hand, we cannot judge the whole charismatic movement by the inconsistencies of some.
For six years I have pastored a charismatic fellowship.… I say praise God for J. Grant Swank, Jr., and “A Plea to Some Who Speak in Tongues.” This … needs to be used by all pastors and leaders in charismatic circles to help the laity grow in grace.
The Rev. BOB ULRICH
I could not agree more with the editorial note that “tongues without love make the believer a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” However, don’t you believe your bias is showing? To print an article judging a group of people numbering in the thousands—even millions—by a writer who has based his conclusions on the basis of meeting “about a dozen” of the group seems to be very poor logic. This hasty generalization is the same old fallacy of logic that if one Texan is a wealthy oilman, then all Texans are wealthy oilmen. I am disappointed that Swank has allowed his prejudice to cloud his good thinking process, and I am disappointed as well that such an highly esteemed magazine as CHRISTIANITY TODAY would print it.
University Assembly of God Church
The most elementary application of behavioral research methodology would indicate that [Swank’s] sample is insufficient to infer findings to a larger group. Theologians too often write an excellent paper only to have it lessen in impact or rendered meaningless when they try to apply their position to observed behavior. As a behavioral scientist … I call for a joint effort that will bring theologians and behavioral scientists together to study doctrinal positions and subsequent life-styles.
North Central Bible College
Reading the sarcastic undertones of his article, I have doubts whether Swank is as open and generous as he would want the reader to believe. Although some of his remarks merit honest consideration, the article in general comes over as a big “put-down.” I hope he has read the article by J. Rodman Williams (Feb. 28) for a broader approach to the entire subject of the charismatic renewal. My experience with “those who speak in tongues” and who are involved in the movement of the Holy Spirit today is pleasing and encouraging.… For every abuse by tongue-speakers that Swank has experienced, we give testimony to the positive use and living of the Spirit-filled life.
Woodinville United Methodist Church
It appears that the magazine in an attempt to not be partial is always presenting the same material, from both sides of the issue, repeatedly. The arguments from both sides are stereotyped; the pros say charismatics are very orthodox and those opposed say the charismatics are divisive. I would like to call upon CHRISTIANITY TODAY to publish new and creative material about the charismatic movement from both sides of the issue.
West County Assembly of God
Carol McFadden missed the whole point of The Total Woman in her review (“Significant Books of 1974: Ethics and Discipline,” March 14). Being creative and making your marriage fun, exciting, and interesting is not “bowing before the great god sex.” She did not even mention the other subjects covered in the book: increased time efficiency, communication, accepting your husband, improving your relationship with your husband and your children. Putting others ahead of one’s self is definitely a biblical principle. Bringing sunshine into the lives of those around you gives great joy and contentment.
Savannah Christian School
It is with much concern that I read in the pages of CHRISTIANITY TODAY the advocating of military intervention to protect the Church and thereby promote the Gospel! Such is the implicit (if not explicit!) message in “Candles in Cambodia: Will They Go Out?” (March 14).
However sad it is to consider that the Cambodian churches may be faced with persecution, it is infinitely more saddening to hear Christians thereby justifying the promotion of warfare in hopes of defending and perpetuating the Gospel.
The Rev. FREDERIC MILLER
• Mr. Miller has misread us. The story was neither an explicit nor implicit call to arms, but rather a call to prayer.—ED.
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