Two Parables Of Investment

A certain man had $400 to invest. “What shall I do with it?” he asked. “I want to invest it wisely for the greatest return.”

Many voices spoke loudly in reply.

“Give it to me,” said one, “I’ll take $300 for administration and invest $100 for you.”

“No,” said another. “Give it to me. For only $108 in administration costs, I’ll invest the rest for you: $292. And do I have a great project.”

“We are a mutual fund,” said a third. “We’ll only take $32 for administration, and invest $368 for you. Experienced people of sound, proven judgment manage the fund; they spend their time assessing the relative value of a wide variety of investments. You’re probably too busy to keep up with what’s happening in various corporations and on the stock market. Our investment committee keeps abreast of all this for you and maximizes the return on your capital.”

Which option would the prudent investor choose?

Another man had $400 to give. He had a deep concern for sick children and aged adults.

“What shall I do with it?” he asked. “I want to give it wisely, to help the most people.”

“Give it to me.” said government. “I’ll take $300 for administration and pass on $100 to the needy.”

“No, I’ll take your money,” said a private charitable agency. “I’ll take $108 for administration and pass on $292 to the needy.”

Then the man’s church spoke. “We’ll see that almost all your gift goes to needy people. We’ll take only $32 for administration and put the rest, $368, to work. We’re a kind of mutual fund. Experienced people of sound, proven judgment manage our missions and benevolence funds. They spend a lot of time assessing the relative values of a wide variety of Christian organizations and institutions. You’re probably not very well acquainted with them; you don’t know which will use your money wisely and which will not. Our committee keeps abreast of all this for you and maximizes your giving for a future return.”

Which option would the prudent giver choose?

(The figures are from a recent survey by the Association of Life Underwriters. The cost of channeling every dollar through the federal government is $3; through voluntary charitable organizations, 27¢; and through the church, 8¢.)


To Be Or Not to Be

I am appalled that Elisabeth Elliot, author of Let Me Be a Woman (book review, Jan. 7), has some confusion as to why God created two different sexes (“Did God create the two sexes for a reason?”). Perhaps instead of writing a book on liberation and marriage, Ms. Elliot would profit by reading a basic sex manual. Yet the old argument that since God created anatomical differences in the sexes he thereby ordained differences in “nature” or personality between men and women seems foolish. Ms. Elliot implies that if this is not so, God need not have created two sexes.

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The “limitations of womanhood” that women must “learn to accept” are limitations imposed by society alone. A woman is limited only because the same opportunities are not available to her in the job market and fields traditionally reserved for men. Some women allow themselves to become even more limited, thinking that it is their “nature” to be submissive, and their “calling” to be housewives. If submission is the “natural” instinct of women, why must so many books be written and seminars be held to teach us how to submit, and how to gain the freedom that comes only with submission? This is not to argue with the scriptural command for women to submit to their husbands, as it is clearly outlined. My protest is that only women are called to the task. It is just as clearly outlined that all Christians (men and women) are to be submissive to one another in love (Eph. 5:21).

Ms. Elliot pleads by the title, Let MeBe a Woman. My answer is: go ahead—who is stopping you? On the other hand, there are many women pleading, “Let Me Be a Person”—free from the unnecessary, and non-scriptural, limitations that we have been operating under for centuries.


Clarkston, Ga.

A Lift For the Pastors

One good article is always worth the subscription price of any magazine. Such is the case of “The Spiritual Lift No One Is Talking About” by Leith Samuel (Jan. 21). This has to be the very best article dealing with these issues that I have ever read! Mr. Samuel’s presentation … surely should bring light to confused people on the subject of true spirituality. To me it was a “spiritual lift,” and I am talking about it.


East Paris Baptist Church

Paris, Tex.

Pastor Leith Samuel’s article was exactly what I needed for this “blue Monday.” (I think that most pastors will understand the term.) His statement, “We need the Spirit’s power … to have the ability to find some real delight in our weaknesses, for whenever we are weak, then, and then only, are we strong (2 Cor. 10:9–12)” spoke to my point of need today, and I am grateful.


Bethel Evangelical Methodist Church

Ridgefield, Wash.

Missed Distinctions Re ‘The Right to Die’

We need not decide whether the California law misleadingly characterized as a “right to die” statute is wise legislation in order to recognize that John Warwick Montgomery (“Do We Have the Right to Die?,” Jan. 21) is an unreliable interpreter of the issues at stake.

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Lengthy argument is impossible here. A brief listing of some of the most obvious deficiencies in his treatment will have to suffice. (1) He fails to appreciate the distinction between killing and allowing to die. I cannot imagine that any serious ethicist would find the case of People v. Ah Fat a very persuasive counterexample. Some who equate killing and allowing to die do so in order to oppose both; others in order to affirm both. But they are blood brothers, for both miss a distinction of central importance for persons who understand themselves as creatures. (2) He fails to see that care may take on a new meaning for a patient irretrievably in his process of dying. I would have thought Paul Ramsey had made it sufficiently clear that ceasing to provide artificial life support for a dying patient need not mean ceasing to provide care. We stop giving one sort of care (now inappropriate) in order to render another kind of care: being humanly present with the dying one. (3) After equating ceasing to provide artificial life support for the irretrievably dying patient with voluntary euthanasia, he implies that only situationists like Joseph Fletcher would accept the former. The truth, of course, is that Paul Ramsey—Fletcher’s greatest critic—explicitly espouses the former in The Patient as Person.

Enough! More could be said, but it will suffice to note that Montgomery misses most of the distinctions necessary for careful theological reflection about “pulling the plug.”


Dept. of Religious Studies

University of Virginia

Charlottesville, Va.

Not a Translator

Your report on my paper at the recent ETS meeting (“Theology and ‘Gutsy’ Exegesis,” Jan. 21) needs some correcting. First, although I am flattered by the suggestion, the truth is that I am not, nor have I ever been, one of the NIV translators—a point I made very clear to my questioner, lest I appear to be promoting a very good translation from some vested interest. Second, my paper had nothing at all to do with the NIV, or any other translation as such. Although I will stand by my remarks, they were in fact an off-the-cuff response to a question after the paper had been read, and were not a part of the actual presentation as your report implies.


Gordon-Conwell Seminary

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South Hamilton, Mass.

A Reasonable View Of Carter

At last I have read a well-thought-out and reasonable article about the presidency of Jimmy Carter: “The Oval Office: Three Models For a Christian” by Stephen V. Monsma (Jan. 21). So much of what I read in evangelical magazines bordered so closely on the maudlin that I began to wonder if such publications had become propaganda sheets for the peanut man from Plains. It made you wonder if some of the writers knew their history or had forgotten that there have been sincere followers of Christ in the presidency before.… I say “Amen” to Professor Monsma when he states that the Church “must strike a balance that avoids both a cold aloofness and a too close identification with the new president.”


Decatur, Ga.

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