To The Uttermost Ends Of The Earth …

Recently a government official in the nation’s capital was criticized for having taken (at government expense) a costly trip to attend a traffic conference held in Hawaii. (Think about most cities’ traffic planning for a moment, and the logic of choosing Honolulu for the site of a U. S. traffic planners’ convention will immediately strike you.) As the affronted public servant indignantly replied, “There would have been no question about the necessity of attending the conference had it been held in Baltimore.” Probably not.

But it is not only public servants who travel far, wide, and sometimes handsome in their efforts to render ever new and more useful services. Where the state leads, surely the church cannot be far behind. We all know that Jesus said that he came “not to be served, but to serve.” And everyone knows that service is badly needed almost everywhere. As a result, almost every week we can read of prelates, ecclesiasts, and sometimes even just plain, ordinary religious officials who range the globe attending assemblies, conferences, colloquia, strategy meetings, executive committee meetings, and all the various other gatherings that call them away from the humdrum life at the home base. Mindful of the prophetic words of Amos (“They shall wander from sea to sea, from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro.…,” Amos 8:12), myriad religious leaders, from the prestigious World Council of Churches itself but also from lesser international, national, ecumenical, denominational, and miscellaneous agencies of all kinds, roam the world seeking, in a manner reminiscent of Alexander of old, new fields to serve.

Even though the vast majority of the world’s Christians live in Europe and the Americas, with the Protestants even more concentrated, mostly in North America and northern Europe, ecumenical agencies show a penchant for gathering-places with more exotic names, such as Djarkta, Pago Pago, and Timbuktu. It gives religious leaders the opportunity to inspect at first hand first-class facilities in the underdeveloped countries, and we can be sure that a significant portion of the expense involved flows into the coffers of those nations. For example, if a mere two hundred ecumenical dignitaries (a paltry number, by the standards of WCC conclaves) gather in Nairobi, whither the majority must fly, either from Western Europe or North America, not to mention more distant places, we can calculate on at least $160,000 in air fares alone. (From this we can deduct the saving in air-mail postage achieved by letting the participants meet face to face.) And we should not forget food and lodging. Even if much of the travel money is soaked up by international airlines, the food and lodging payment must be expended on location. (It has come to Eutychus’ attention that one publicity-seeking group, a workshop on evangelical social concern, allegedly puts participants up in a YMCA. If that kind of thing spreads, it could ruin the whole game!)

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In an earlier era, when a missionary “went to the field,” his departure was a long time in preparation. The trip might consume weeks or even months, and normally he stayed for years before returning, sometimes even for an entire lifetime. Thanks to modern transportation, modern church figures do not need to limit themselves to the sluggish displacements of olden times. All up-to-date ecclesiastical figures can go almost anywhere on earth and return within a matter of a few days. It is true that the money used to finance such trips might also be expanded more slowly on other projects. Training an Indian Christian scholar in Britain for a year, for example, costs about as much as sending a North American delegate to Delhi for a week. It’s simply a question of priorities.

Christians At Death

“Grandmother: Dying” (Dec. 6) was one of the finest pieces of poetry I’ve read in your magazine.… It expresses what many of us working around the dying have noted. As I worked in a Christian retirement home, one of the most reliable sounds in the infirmary was an elderly lady reciting the Lord’s Prayer at the top of her voice, or singsonging the words of some old hymn. It was a little nerve-wracking until I remembered the shouted obscenities, vilifications, and paranoia of those dying outside of Christ at a community hospital. Those who think Christianity morbid and repressive would do well to notice the peace of Christians and their families when facing death.

Dallas, Tex.

Women On Women

Carl F. H. Henry’s “Reflections on Women’s Lib” (Footnotes, Jan. 3) were sensitively, albeit cautiously, expressed. In fact, they could be seen to be noncommittal. He twice listed careers now open to women as needing, and suitable for, “evangelical” women, but in neither list was the professional ministry mentioned—unless one accepts “child evangelism” as the one level on which an “evangelical” can safely and biblically serve in professional ministry. I think I understand the not so subtle distinction implied in his use of “evangelical.” Not too many years ago I began an evangelical church (Emmanuel Baptist, Norfolk, Mass.) in our home. This is now a thriving church which takes a dim view of my new career. Why should women be good enough for the rigors of the mission field, but not for the pulpits and the counseling rooms of our parishes? Their devotion to God has certainly met the test.

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Concord, N. H.

It seems to me that Henry is moving away from biblical directives for mothers. Titus 2:4 and 5 teaches that the young mother’s responsibility is to (1) her husband and (2) her children—and that she is to be “domestic” (“keeper at home”). To do it differently, Paul says, is to bring discredit to the Word of God. Or doesn’t that matter?

Pragmatic tests may support it, but I cannot find anything in Scripture which recommends that young mothers separate themselves from their children to advance their careers. God’s way is that the older women should train (not just “teach”) the younger women of their fellowship to walk in obedience in their roles as wives and mothers (Titus 2:3–5). What a pity that children, who did not ask to be born, should be viewed by their mothers as hindrances to their own personal career goals. Are there not later years, after the family is grown, to devote to outside careers?

I believe that if “motherhood diverts many evangelical women from their fullest creative possibilities” it is only because the potential in motherhood is not understood. How can we older mothers help the younger ones see the high calling, the extraordinary opportunities, the satisfactions and joys in following the scriptural pattern regarding motherhood—not to mention the blessing, as always, in obedience?

Midland Park, N. J.

Your schizophrenically ambivalent attitude toward women was again reflected graphically in the January 3 issue. Carl Henry’s “Reflections on Women’s Lib” was a very sensitive attempt to grapple with the issues which women are raising today. He offers some helpful correctives to the prevailing Protestant idea that woman’s primary function is to be wife and mother. I agree with him that we need a new theology of marriage which incorporates both parenthood and full use of both partners’ other talents as well. His suggestion that the wider community of believers take corporate responsibility for our children rather than putting all the burden on individual couples is a good one—good for children, parents, and church. This would enable more women to heed his call to responsibly use all the talents God has given them.

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Perhaps you could arrange for Dr. Henry to share some of his sensitivity with Eutychus VI (“Myths of Our Mothers”). The use of language which excludes women is driving many women either from the church or at least from any meaningful participation in worship. Some women are simply refusing to sing the more blatantly sexist hymns; many others continue to mouth the words while feeling ever more alienated and angry. Why shouldn’t we remember and be inspired by the “Faith of Our Mothers” just as much as by the “Faith of Our Fathers”? And why shouldn’t we challenge our children to “Dare to Be a Deborah” or a Mary or a Phoebe? Are we sure that we want anyone to be soldiers and go forth to war or do we prefer to be peacemakers? Scripture attributes to hymns and spiritual songs a very important teaching function. Our hymns are perhaps more important than sermons in shaping our theology. I believe theology should include both women and men and our hymns should reflect that understanding.

Chicago, Ill

Toward 2000

I rejoice that the “first call for the big celebration” (“The Bimillennial—A

Great Year Coming,” Jan. 3) comes from the pen of an evangelical author. The call is a valid one. It is imperative that we begin immediately to map a strategy for the year 2000. Other futurists have written on the year 2000. Most of the literature so far has highlighted the technical problems and possibilities of the next twenty-five years. There have been scenarios of doom as well as utopias. Your call is a fresh idea—one we need to pursue in an active way.

Stone United Presbyterian Church

Wheeling, W. Va.

Here I thought I was the only one turned on by the fact that our generation will have the privilege of seeing it: one chance in thirty for the average human being since the last millennium.

Western Michigan University

Kalamazoo, Mich.

David Kucharsky makes a good point about the Christian’s responsibility to “watch and be sober”.… I found parts of the article distressing, however, such as the quotation of Philip Schaff that “… Christendom awoke with a sigh of relief on the first day of the year 1001.” Does Mr. Kucharsky think such would be the attitude of true Christians at year 2000? On the contrary, if I expected Christ to return that particular year and he did not come, my sigh would be one of deepest disappointment, not relief.… If the recent increase in anticipation of the Lord’s soon return is merely another historical period of “eschatological mania,” as Kucharsky implies, then it follows that I am an eschatological maniac.… I find it difficult to get too excited about an event I know won’t occur for another twenty-five years, but easy to be enthused about something which might happen any day. Is this madness? A practical application of Christ’s teachings and a fervent attempt to reach others for him because our time may be short will do more to help us out of our own dark age than will a subconscious anticipation of the year 2000.

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Milwaukie, Oreg.

More In The World

Your November 22 issue had an error worth about two million—two million people, that is. In News, “Religion in Transit,” you state “Delegates to the Annual Council of the 449,000-member Seventh-day Adventist Church.…” That is our membership in North America. Our world membership is about 2.5 million.

Seventh-day Adventist Church

Huntington Station, N. Y.

On Celluloid Images

I do not know [who] we have to thank for the marvelous editorial on Donald Drew’s Images of Man (“Through a Glass Lightly,” Jan. 17). But thanks indeed! And the saints preserve all beings whose acumen is so acute.


InterVarsity Press

Downers Grove, Ill

Aaron’S Age

Your “What If …” cartoon in the January 17 issue seems to perpetuate a common falsehood. Moses is represented by a gray, tired, bearded figure while Aaron is youthful in appearance; but, in fact, Aaron was three years Moses’ senior (Exod. 7:7). God evidently chose Moses for leadership because of his, God’s, plan and purpose and most certainly not because of older age or birthright, for the latter qualifications were Aaron’s.

Irvington Baptist Church

Irvington, Ky.

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