‘She’S Another Kathryn Kuhlman’

Kathryn Kuhlman, well-known American evangelist and healer, died on February 20. According to her close friend, Reverend Ralph Wilkerson, pastor of the Melodyland Christian Center in Anaheim, California, some poeple are already hustling to become the “second Kathryn Kuhlman.”

In the Los Angeles Times, Ralph was quoted as saying, “A famous lady evangelist is already saying, ‘I’ve got her (Kuhlman’s) mantle.’ It’s ridiculous.”

Ralph’s right. It is ridiculous. But it’s not unusual. There’s an evangelist running around today whose publicist (who was Philip’s publicist?) calls him “the new Billy Graham.” They’ve taken Billy’s mantle and he’s not even dead.

And I’m sure there are “little Oral Robertses,” “young Bill Gothards,” “new Norman Vincent Peales,” and freshly squeezed Anita Bryants dotting the landscape. It’s ridiculous, but it’s not new.

In the church at Ephesus, I’m convinced there were young aggressive go-getters who saw themselves as “new Pauls.” And throughout history there have been those (deranged and otherwise) who have considered themselves the Messiah.

I wonder when we’ll learn to be ourselves in the Body of Christ. Just us. Not another Peale or Paul. Not another Calvin or Kuhlman. Just the real Arnold Pepper. Or the authentic Nancy Justice.

And I wonder when we’ll accept people as they are instead of saying, “He’s just like Somebody” or “She’s the new Whatchamacallit.”

But then who am I to talk. I can’t even be me. I’ve got to be “another Eutychus.” Where is Ralph Wilkerson when I need him?


Sexism Dispelled

I was the co-ordinator of the Christian Arts Festival at Westminster Seminary and am writing on behalf of the Arts Committee to remark on Miss Forbes’s report, “Affirming the Arts (The Refiner’s Fire, Feb. 13)”. We were disturbed by her comments on our “sexism in action.” Her criticism simply had no grounds. If she had done more careful research she would have learned [that] there were in fact two seminars led by women, drama and poetry (Miss Forbes cites only one). We invited the dramatist and we welcomed the poet the moment she made herself known to us. There was a third woman who assisted in the film/ discussion workshop. Another woman, a lecturer at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, declined our invitation to give a major lecture in her field. Two women accepted our invitation to do Japanese flower arrangement for the Festival. By far the majority of those who displayed in our gallery were women. And finally, if we exclude the Westminster Choir, half of our evening performers (of whom Miss Forbes was one) were women. Rockledge, Pa.


Focus Extended

I have just this day discovered the January 30 issue and wish to express my appreciation for the series on the Black Church. I am aware that this is not the first mention of the Black Church in the magazine but the particular focus of this series seems to extend the perspectives considerably.… Congratulations on this special issue. I trust that this is but the beginning of a more representative perspective of the Spirit’s work.…


Fuller Theological Seminary

Pasadena, Calif.

Graceless About Grace

Since I do not regularly read your magazine, I am indebted to one of my students, who previously was one of John Warwick Montgomery’s students, for calling my attention to Montgomery’s account of our nine month old conversation in your issue of January 30, somewhat grandiosely entitled “Encounter in Florence” (Current Religious Thought). I could ignore it, just as I had almost forgotten the original conversation, if Montgomery hadn’t used his account as an occasion not only to ridicule me (though he allows me to remain anonymous), but also to suggest the theological incompetence of the entire Garrett-Evangelical faculty.…

As I recall the occasion, my daughter and I had gone to the only sitting room in our pensione to read, because my younger children were retiring in our rooms. Shortly thereafter Montgomery assembled his travel group in the same room and announced his lecture. He invited all who didn’t wish to hear it to leave. Since there was no other place to go, we remained, and were rewarded with a well-spoken description of Savanarola and some questionable interpretations of Luther. I listened with one ear as I continued to read, making no attempt to dissimulate either activity, as Dr. Montgomery suggests.… I had not known that I had caught that much of his attention. Following his presentation, when we could go back to our own concerns, my daughter and I were conversing quietly about some of our reactions to what he had said. [He] overheard part of our conversation, introduced himself into it, conversed for about five minutes, and then left. We did not “all exit,” as he suggests, unless he considers himself “omnes.” He exited and I went back to my reading, almost forgetful of the conversation until your January 30th issue.

At no time did Montgomery inquire what the purpose of my sabbatical study was. If he had been sufficiently interested, he might have been saved from having to caricature me in his version of one of a “perennial band of sabbatical Fulbright professors.” But what is more dismaying is his willingness to quote a retired colleague from my faculty in order to insinuate that the entire faculty of which I am a part is theologically untutored and evangelical only by “pretension.” I am not sure of the context out of which Professor Philip Watson’s reported comment was ripped, but I must presume he was as incompletely quoted as was my part of the “dialogue” in Montgomery’s version of our meeting. I have observed politicians who debate with “empty chairs,” but I had not known Montgomery was a candidate for any office. In any case, his legalistic understanding of grace, and his graceless account of our conversation about grace, do not seem to qualify him very well under the Lutheran criteria he cites for the office of “theologian.” Maybe it is just as well he is such a good tour group leader.

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Professor of Systematic Theology


Theological Seminary

Evanston, Ill..


A news item in the February 13 “World Scene” column should have stated that the West German church tax amounts to between 8 and 9 per cent of one’s income tax, not income.

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