Yield Not To Temptation …

… for yielding is sin. Temptation itself is not sinful, however. And this leads to two different schools of Christian behavior, which we may label the “flirt” and the “flee.” The flirt school is popular, especially with young, up-to-date Christians confident of their spiritual agility. Its motto seems to be: “If we are not allowed to sin, at least there’s no harm in being tempted.” There are many rationalizations for this school, such as “We need to learn how our non-Christian friends think, to develop understanding, to become better communicators …” Eutychus cannot, in good conscience, recommend this approach.

The flee school is more traditional. Although membership in it may earn one labels numerous highly uncomplimentary (“wet blanket,” “party pooper,” “dull,” “provincial,” “insipid,” to mention but a few), it does have a higher survival rate. The difficulty is that if one flees all the time, one may forget what the danger really looks like.

The worldly person often does a number of things, more or less as a matter of course, that the Bible designates as wrong and that the average hard-line Christian tries, more or less successfully, to avoid. The temptations to engage in such practices are the ones that flee-school adherents almost always are alert enough to shun.

The point of real difficulty comes with those so well disguised that they are not recognized as a danger. And—in line with Thurber’s warning that it is as easy to fall over forwards as backwards—many of us skirt the reefs only to come to grief on an unrecognized drifting mine.

Space limitations prevent Eutychus from furnishing a complete list of such modern temptations. But there are several that almost always claim their victims. Readers who think they have a good record in standing up to them may feel justified in running the risk again, but at the very least they should not expose others to them. Many well-bred intellectual evangelicals who would never think of going out with the bowling team to a skin flick will fall to the challenge to “observe with critical awareness the new depths of depravity to which the film medium has sunk.” And what about the “duty,” in the name of “public-spiritedness” and “integrity,” to “expose in all honesty” the foibles of a Christian leader about whom one would certainly never stoop to gossip? There are Christians, otherwise abstemious in their personal lives and frugal with their resources, towards whom it is an act of malicious cruelty to expose them to a four-color brochure for another “luxury Holy Land pilgrimage.”

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One man’s meat, the proverb says, is another man’s poison. And one Christian’s flirtation is another Christian’s fiasco. “Yield not to temptation” is a command, and “flee temptation” is good advice. Unfortunately, the temptations that are the familiar and classical ones—while not, as well we know, without their dangers—may not be the ones that pose the greatest threat.


Clearing Complexities

This is just a word of appreciation of your forthright editorial in the September 26 issue, “America’s Stake in the Middle East.” I am certain that poignant and informative editorials like yours—including the almost biting one, “Islam’s Bid to Recover Its Glory”—make a substantial contribution to clear thinking and realistic understanding regarding such a complex issue as the Middle East.


Advisor on Church

Relations in North America

Consulate General of Israel in New York

New York, N.Y.

No More “Seems”

“How to Be Properly Poor” by Stanley Lindquist (Sept. 12) was a very weak article in your usually fine magazine. The main problem with it was the lack of an attempt to find out what God’s Word said on the subject, by solid exegesis of the text. The exposition itself consisted of four paragraphs, two of which began with, “it seems to me.” All conclusions were based solely on these shaky premises. No biblical support was given for either the premises, or the conclusions. What a contrast to the superb article of June 20, “Wine Drinking in New Testament Times”! Here we had careful exegesis of the Word of God. Please, give us more of this, and no more “it seems to me.”



Child Evangelism Fellowship of Tarrant County

Fort Worth, Tex.

Pleasure Perspectives

I thoroughly enjoyed Norman Geisler’s treatment of God’s perspective on pleasure in the life of a believer (“The Christian as Pleasure-Seeker,” Sept. 26). His is the only viable conclusion: each pleasure should be enjoyed as a gift from God, who alone is to be enjoyed in himself and for his own sake. Surely the direction toward which we should all be moving is to be able to say, “Lord, whatever else may happen, I still have you.”

However, when it came to the “world,” I detected a common hesitancy in Geisler to let the Bible speak. Surely, evil does lie within the heart. But there is more to be said. When Jesus commanded us not to be “of the world,” he was speaking more concretely. May not “worldliness” (or, worldly pleasures) be produced by the pressures of the world acting upon our indwelling sin? May it not be worthwhile to note these pressures and their results in us, rather than simply to ignore all “external acts and spheres”?

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Minneapolis, Kans.

Geisler’s history is inaccurate in one point. Bentham did not claim that intellectual pleasures are better than physical pleasures. It was J. S. Mill who attempted to make a qualitative distinction among types of pleasure, while inconsistently continuing to maintain that pleasure is the sole good. It was Mill who contended that a dissatisfied man’s life is preferable to that of a satisfied pig (Utilitarianism, ch. II). Bentham was a strict quantitative hedonistic utilitarian, for whom pinball was as good as poetry, provided the quantities of pleasure in each case were equal (Principles of Morals and Legislation, ch. IV).


Marysville, Wash.

Geisler’s article was well written, and the point that the “world,” in its evil sense, emanates from within, is certainly relevant to Christian needs. I do wish, however, that he had stressed more vigorously a point which appears mostly “between the lines” in the article; namely, that some “externals” should be considered inherently evil, because they are outward manifestations of man’s evil nature. While it is undoubtedly true that “nothing is unclean of itself,” Christians all too often do not come up against the “thing itself,” in its pure form, but rather with some snarled, distorted version of it. They must continually attempt to discern between that “external” which has remained relatively unstained by the human heart, and that which has fallen prey to the Adamic nature. By way of example: most Christians would agree that movies, books, and drugs are not evil in themselves; however, some movies, books, and drugs are produced only to cater to the baser elements of man’s nature, or to otherwise be abused. All such externals are natural expressions of man’s fallen nature, and cannot be considered as morally neutral. Insofar as such externals are external images of man’s evil imagination, being shaped in the image of that imagination, I propose that they might as well be called evil, in and of themselves, and be considered part of the “world,” in the evil sense of the word.


Oakland Community College

Farmington, Mich.

Too Much Relish

This is in regard to the article by Robert Cleath, “Pornography: Purulent Infection” (The Refirer’s Fire, Oct. 10). Why is it that whenever I read an article that discusses with some relish the pornography problem, that I wonder which is more perverse, the pornography, or those who go into great detail to tell us how sick it is. The sickness of pornography is obvious. But what seems more relevant is a mature Christian approach, than an article that tells me about all the classic skin flicks of the past decade.

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I’m disappointed.


Abbe Reformed Church

Clymer, N. Y.


George Ketchum was erroneously identified in the October 10 obituary box as the head of a large fund-raising organization, a position held instead by his brother Carlton, a well-known United Presbyterian layman. George Ketchum was the chief executive of a prominent advertising firm.

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