World Wide Desecration

Last month was the traditional observance of World Wide Communion. I wasn’t too excited about it this year. But then I’m usually not, because in most churches we desecrate the Lord’s Supper.

Let me give some examples. Recently I served communion at our church, where we believe in doing things “decently and in order.” All the elders were to meet fifteen minutes before the service to pray and prepare. Unfortunately, the service had been moved ahead ten minutes and no one had bothered to tell most of the elders. Instead of fifteen minutes, we had five. We rushed in and we rushed out ready (?) for the worship (?) service.

The notation beside my name on the Communion Roster (can you imagine the Lord with a Last Supper Roster—“Peter, you take the wine to the choir; Andrew, you get the bread to the balcony”) was 2W. That meant two wine trays (actually grape juice—we play it safe). My partner for the day was a retired naval officer. White-haired. Free-spirited. And innovative. At the last minute he decided he wouldn’t be a 1B (one bread) because to him it looked as if there would be plenty of bread for everyone.

After I picked up my 2W, I realized the problem. I stopped. I did everything I could but shout to indicate to the captain that he needed to get the bread or everyone in our section would partake of half a Lord’s Supper. But he went on his merry way. So in desperation, I also picked up his 1B and struggled through the service. People thought I was a juggler. They empathized with me, tried to help, and I made it through. But is that communion? Juggling 2W’s and 1B and “making it through”?

In my former church, no one juggled anything. It was too well organized. The elders marched almost in goose step. I wondered why they didn’t wear uniforms with braids and combat boots. They served the elements so proficiently that visitors and regulars alike were aghast with appreciation. No one cared whether the bread was stale or the wine was Boone’s Farm … or that we were “proclaiming the Lord’s death till he comes.”

But it’s not just the elders in formal churches who murder the sacrament. It happens in the formal, Bible-believing, “not affiliated with the NCC” type, too.

I’ll never forget a church in the Midwest. It had been voted one of the Ten Best Churches by Decision magazine, and out of curiosity I attended on a communion Sunday.

At the conclusion of the totally disorganized service, they served the elements. I got my W and B, but someone evidently didn’t, because in the middle of the sacrament the pastor yelled to a deacon who was in the back, “Fred, bring down some more grape juice!”

Article continues below

“Do this in remembrance of me” Some day I hope we will.


Differing Act

The articles on war by George Knight and Myron Augsburger (Nov. 21), were both worthwhile. The latter provided a good statement of the “vocational pacifism” rooted in Anabaptist theology. However: (1) Knight’s discussion of the “just war” approach made no mention at all of “just intention” and “just means,” which were challenged by Augsburger and are as essential to the concept as is a “just cause”; (2) Augsburger claimed that “just war” arguments are obviously irrelevant today, when in fact they have been extensively and meticulously applied to modern warfare by Paul Ramsey and others.

It is too frequently assumed that the just-war theory attempts to justify war. On the contrary, it is an ethical ideal that brings all war under moral judgment. If the only just cause, for instance, is defense of peace with justice, and everyone observed that rule, then war would never occur. Both pacifism and the just-war theory are therefore ideally concerned to banish war altogether; they differ on how to act in a world where men fail to measure up to such ideals, and they differ for theological reasons.


Chairman, Department of Philosophy

Wheaton College

Wheaton, Ill.

Now Numbered

It has come to my attention that I erred in mentioning the name of Dr. John W. Drakeford in my recent article “The Pulpit and the Couch” (Aug. 29). Dr. Drakeford has had a distinguished writing, speaking, and teaching career. He is an evangelical leader in the field of pastoral psychology and should have been numbered among “the Christian professionals” in my article.


Professor of Psychology

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Deerfield, Ill.

On Language Patterns

I appreciated the editorial “He Meant What He Said: ‘Him, His, He’ ” (Jan. 2). I get very much upset when certain theologians try to bend the language of the Scripture to a feminist’s cause.

In the needs of today there are certain patterns of language which can be brought up to date which can indicate equal opportunity without regard to sex. However when it comes to the gender of words describing God and any of the Members of the Trinity I don’t feel that tampering with these is the right of anyone.… I am myself an ordained pastor of two churches and previously served in India as a missionary for twenty-six years. I do not label myself as a “woman preacher,” but as one called of God—a clergyman serving God in the place he has placed me. I feel that if the sermons and service have to be labeled “by a woman,” then God is not glorified.

Article continues below


Delaware Baptist Church

Fairview, Kans.

I am surprised to find such an emotion covered the women’s issue in a fairly level-headed way in the past. Reasonable theologians. could not deny the masculine imagery in the Bible. What they want to point out is that God is also referred to as “mother” … and this feminine imagery must be taken seriously also. There is nothing wrong with using … Father to talk about God as long as we realize that we are not describing a “super-male in the sky.” God’s being is not limited to “maleness” or “female-ness”.… The language “issue” is a serious one to a substantial number of Christians today. The sooner the Church realizes this and makes an effort to change its speech, the sooner the Church will be recognized as the place where men and women are accorded equal status.


Decatur, Ga.

What’S At The Root?

The news report of the Evangelical Women’s Caucus (“Christian Feminists: ‘We’re on Our Way, Lord,’ ” Dec. 19) made it sound like your average run-of-the-mill Christian conference, clearly skirting the essential doctrines on which the feminist movement is founded—that the difference between men and women is a relatively unimportant physical matter with no metaphysical implications whatever, and that the notion of “equality” is a valid alternative to hierarchy which is merely a hangover from Old Testament patriarchal prejudice. For me the conference was a horrifying experience. Scripture was manipulated, language was drained of its meaning (e.g. the Ephesians 5 passage was said to illustrate egalitarian marriage in which a husband’s submission to his wife is meant to differ not at all from a wife’s to her husband). One workshop dealt with the logical conclusion of feminist thinking: homosexuality, which, it was stated, is not forbidden in Scripture except when it was adulterous—i.e. a lifelong commitment between adults of the same sex is not forbidden. An old hymn was “purged” of its “sexist” language (“Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”) and changed to “Dear Mother/Father of us all,” implying that the revelation of God as Father was an incomplete one, that Jesus’ expression of the Godhead was inadequate.

I am appalled at the casual good humor with which this sort of thing is being accepted in Christian churches, and the failure of Christian magazines to deal with the root issues.


Hamilton, Mass.

Long To Live

I am deeply disappointed in your recent review of Calvin Miller’s prose-poem, The Singer (Books, Nov. 7). Usually I appreciate Cheryl Forbes’s comments on the arts, but here I must disagree with her entirely. I find The Singer a profoundly moving piece of work, and one which I believe will live for a long, long time.… How I wish I could write a work of such vision and calibre!


Willowdale, Ont.

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.