Money Talks

“It’s only money.” With those remarkable words a bank specializing in foreign-currency transactions began an ad in a big metropolitan newspaper. The cut showed a stack of Swiss 100-franc notes, and the copy argued that while they too are only money, some money is in effect more like real money than the rest.

It is interesting to notice the difference not only in what the franc and the U. S. dollar are worth but also in what they say. The currency of the United States suggests great solidity, building as it were for eternity. Americans enshrine past presidents and certain other leaders on the banknotes rather as the few remaining monarchies do with their reigning monarch. Impressive public buildings grace many of the notes, and the widely circulated but somewhat devalued one-dollar bill testifies to the Pharaonic and Roman elements in America’s spiritual heritage with the pyramid and eagle. The one-dollar bill also bears the legend, under the pyramid, “Novus Ordo Saeculorum” and the date 1776, suggesting, perhaps unwittingly, a comparison between the New Order of the Ages supposedly begun in 1776 and the New Covenant Era that began (approximately) 1776 years earlier.

The franc-notes have a different message. The fifty-franc note shows an old woman, a young woman, and a child amidst a harvest scene, perhaps suggesting that while the money may not be much by itself, it will buy food. The hundred-franc note shows a medieval knight cutting his cloak to share it with a beggar; many Christians will recognize this as an incident from the life of St. Martin, and anyone might see it as a suggestion that if you have a hundred francs ($23.80 in early 1971, and about $42.50 today), you ought to share with others.

It is the 1,000-franc note, though, that really gets personal. A thousand francs is a lot of money in one bill, and if you have one in your hand, you may feel that you really have something. It bears on one edge a picture of a wealthy medieval merchant sitting behind his countingtable, in robes and a fur-trimmed cap; next to him stands a beautiful young girl. At the other edge of the engraving stands the symbolic skeletal figure of Death, bearing a scythe and beckoning to the rich man and the lovely girl. The message is obvious: You may have 1,000 francs, you may even be beautiful, but you can’t take it with you. If the Swiss have a 5,000-and a 10,000-franc note, it would not be surprising to find them bearing images to illustrate such texts as “The love of money is the root of all evil” and “Repent, or ye shall all likewise perish.”

Article continues below

The Swiss are a very hard-headed and practical people, and are materialistic in some ways and to a degree that many Americans are not. But they also seem to know something that we, in our zeal for this-worldly security and a “novus ordo saeculorum,” had better not forget: You can’t take it with you.

Three And One

Three cheers and Amen to Dr. Carl F. H. Henry’s “Reflections on Women’s Lib” (Footnotes, Jan. 3). In preparation for a recent college lecture, I surveyed the current literature on women in religious thought. Books coming from evangelical publishing houses stress the family role of women and tend to ignore other talents (beyond volunteer church work). Remembering that the fellow workers with Paul included Lydia, a seller of purple, as well as Dorcas, who sewed garments for the poor, there is indeed a diversity of gifts! Women who combine Christian family commitments with specialized working talents need to make their voices heard and their examples known.


The Review of Books and Religion

White River Junction, Vt.

Sly Masterpiece

With all due appreciation of prior Eutychuses, it seems to this cover-to-cover reader that contemporary VI (may the Lord long preserve him) is tops. “At E.A.S.E. in Zion” (Jan. 17) is a masterpiece of tongue-in-cheek humor, with sly implications much needed in our day.

First Chinese Church of Christ

Honolulu, Hawaii

Cartoon Capsules

“The What If …” cartoons are both clever and humorous. In capsule form they often contrast biblical and non-biblical viewpoints very effectively. They tend to remain with the reader longer than much of the more seriously presented material.… [But] humor at the expense of truth is a poor bargain.

The January 3 cartoon is a case in point: “Paul, it’s a masterful letter, but could you change ‘The laborer deserves his wages’ to ‘Labor is a negotiable commodity’?” I found this remark witty and certainly worth an appreciative chuckle. However … the quotation from First Timothy 5:18 has been taken out of its context to make quite a different point. In fact, as Paul says, these are not Paul’s own words but those of Jesus found in Matthew 10:10 and Luke 10:7.… [Moreover] the caption implies that the two statements are alternatives and that the first is good while the second is bad. I suggest that both are true and that neither fact exists to the detriment of the other.

Los Angeles, Calif.

Putting In The Screened-Out

I am most happy that a magazine with your reputation among evangelicals has been willing to put in print information screened out by left-leaning mass media in this country (“A Cathedral in Chile,” Jan. 17).…

Article continues below

I was raised and educated in Chile and also spent ten years there as a missionary. I have known the inside story, and for that reason greatly appreciate what you have printed.

I also enjoyed the report on the Jotabeche church. The fact that President Pinochet attended the inauguration is confirmation of the reported esteem which the Army has had for the evangelical church since the September, 1973, change-over. Our mission, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, has reported twice the number of baptisms for 1974 over the average for the six previous years. The traumatic experience of the nation has opened the hearts of many to the Gospel.

Nyack, N. Y.

Law And Christ

An otherwise excellent article, “William Law: A Devout and Holy Life” (Jan. 31), needs to be balanced by John Wesley’s assessment of him. According to Ms. Hess, Law “was as vehement as Kierkegaard about total commitment to Christ.” According to Wesley, Law was not regenerate. In a famous letter Wesley complained that Law had taught him neither the Gospel nor what it means to believe: “Now, Sir, suffer me to ask, how you will justify it to our common Lord that you never gave me this advice [“Believe, and thou shalt be saved”]? Why did I scarcely ever hear you name the name of Christ?—never so as to ground anything upon faith in His blood?… Consider deeply and impartially whether the true cause of your never pressing this upon me was this, that you had it not yourself.” (See J. H. Overton, William Law: Nonjuror and Mystic, pp. 25, 26).

Chairman, Department of Church History

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Deerfield, Ill

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.