One of the hardest things for a person who is in a parachurch or similar untraditional ministry is to explain what he or she does—especially to parents and siblings. It’s even harder for the Christian worker’s (worker’s?) children.

“What does your father do?” a neighbor asks the child of a Young Life staff member.

Now if he were older and alert to the treacherous trap, the child would probably answer, “He sells Amway products,” or “He blows out sewer lines.”

But being young and forthright he replies, “My daddy hangs around high schools.”

“Really?” And there goes the opportunity to be a Christian witness in the neighborhood.

Church people aren’t much different.

“What does your husband do?” someone asks an Inter-Varsity staff member’s wife.

“He visits college campuses and tries to get students to live and witness for Jesus Christ,” she replies.

“Didn’t he graduate from seminary?”

“Yes, he did.”

“Then when is he going to take a church?”

If the wife is sharp (unfortunately most are kind) she’ll say something like, “Take it where?” or “Now I’ll ask you one: When is the church going to do the job that needs to be done with students on campus?”

But families are the worst problem, possibly because parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and everyone else end up on the mailing list of the organization that employs their relative. Constant appeals for support cause the family to think of how different it would be if the person were a pastor, D.C.E., or something else. Some workers come to hate the word supporter: You never speak of a pastor’s supporters—only a parachurch worker’s, a missionary’s, or a hernia victim’s.

I heard a story recently that sounds so apocryphal it must be true.

Francis Schaeffer’s mother was visiting L’Abri. One day she drew another guest aside and asked, “When do you think Francis is going to stop all this and get a job?”

Ah, Mrs. Schaeffer, you are the archetypal mother of a parachurch worker (worker?).


Refreshing Thoughts

Thank you for including John Warwick Montgomery’s refreshing comments on anti-Semitism (Current Religious Thought, “Luther and Anti-Semitism,” Sept. 8). True tolerance consists of loving acceptance of others as equals while frankly facing our differences. As for Israel’s role in prophecy, a number of nations have served as a focal point of God’s working in human history, but that does not necessarily mean he endorsed their national cause or excused their actions.


Mizpah, Minn.

Spiritual Apartheid

C. Peter Wagner’s “homogeneous unit principle” sounds to me like a subtle form of spiritual apartheid (“Should the Church Be a Melting Pot?,” Aug. 18). I was glad to hear him state that if this principle is not the way New Testament churches developed, then that is sufficient evidence to scrap it (p. 14), but his treatment of the biblical evidence was weak.…

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Cedarpines Park Community Church

Cedarpines Park, Calif.

I greatly appreciate the variety and depth of insight that your fine publication offers the Christian community. I especially want to thank you for the article “Should the Church Be a Melting Pot?” The dialogue between C. Peter Wagner and Ray Stedman clarified much of my thinking on cultural significance.… Churches may grow better when everybody is alike, but since everybody is not alike we may have to sacrifice church growth for Christian growth, which in the long run may be the best way to church growth.


East Point, Ga.

The “homogeneous unit principle” controversy is of very great theological and ethical importance today if the church is to retain (regain?) any credible position of influence in American society. I was glad that CHRISTIANITY TODAY devoted the lead article to a dialogue on the subject, a dialogue which helped sharpen the issue for those of us who feel it is very urgent to address it. I commend Professor Wagner for admitting that the homogeneus unit principle as an ending point would be sub-Christian. I believe the church growth school has given us some valuable starting points, but we must find biblical methods for building beyond them. In our sophistication we dare not confuse science or effectiveness with biblical principles and faithfulness. We have an abiding mandate to be Christ’s agents of reconciliation, and reconciliation must work socially as well as spiritually.


Diamond Street Mennonite Church

Philadelphia, Pa.

Whitewashing The Issue

“Meeting the Moonies on Their Territory” (News, Aug. 18), was a whitewash of the issue and a disservice to the Christian community. Hopkins wrote so objectively on what he saw and heard at Barrytown, New York, that Moon and Salonen must be sitting back rubbing their hands together and saying, “the money we spent to bring the ten evangelical ‘Christians’ here to see what we wanted them to see was well worth the expenses we paid.” When the Parent Teacher Association of the whole state of New York votes to educate the students of the dangers of the Moon cult and of Moon’s desire to destroy family life, I would think a real Christian would look a little deeper into the deceptions. Hopkins did not mention that the Unification Church is suing the New York PTA too. But, Hopkins, you are one that will not be sued, you wrote what they wanted. You played right into their hands. Yes, people like you and Harvey Cox are a real help to the dangerous cults.

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Pittsburgh, Pa.

Although I commend the efforts toward understanding through dialogue represented by the Barrytown encounter, I must take issue with the conclusions reached not only by the non-Unification-Church participants but also apparently by Hopkins and CHRISTIANITY TODAY. I cannot accept as true that Moonies experience and engender “real Christian fellowship.” Fellowship they may have, and real it may be, but Christian it cannot be, not so long as they “believe that Christ failed to achieve full salvation and that a Korean-born messiah—possibly Moon—will complete the task.” That belief alone excludes those who hold it from biblical Christianity, and I fear that to call contact with Moonies, however warm and personable, “real Christian fellowship” and to pray God’s blessing on them all may well violate the principle and command of Second John 9–11. Were there none of the “evangelical” participants who came away with more caution than those whose rather positive reactions were quoted in the article?


Columbia, S. C.

Adopted Child

In addressing myself to John V. Lawing, Jr.’s preview of “The Long Search” (Refiner’s Fire, Aug. 18), I must say that I don’t feel like a beggar. Neither do I feel proud of any inherent goodness in me. Rather, I feel as one who has been adopted into the most respected and influential family in the whole world sharing in all of the benefits, power, and wealth of that family. My beggarly wraps were thrown out when the heavenly father gave me a robe from the closet of his only begotten son. Remembering the depths from which I was drawn by his tremendous love and mercy, it is, nevertheless, from my elevated position as a member of his family that I invite others to come and become followers of Christ and members of our heavenly father’s family.


Los Angeles, Calif.

The Tie That Binds

I read with interest Harold O. J. Brown’s article “Christians and Jews—Bound Together” (Aug. 18). Thank you for the candor regarding Jewish/Christian relations over the centuries. I would take issue with the notion that Justin Martyr’s Dialogue indeed “sets a high level for religious discussion.” There are those who would say that the Jew Trypho was a “straw man,” a sounding board, a straight man for a Christian broadside. It is debatable if it is a dialogue at all. Beyond this, I greatly appreciated the article.

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Shadyside Presbyterian Church

Pittsburgh, Pa.

I wish to compliment Brown and CHRISTIANITY TODAY for presenting both the dark and disagreeable incidents, as well as the constructive efforts and gains, in the Christian-Jew dialogue of around 1900 years.


Chicago, Ill.

As a Jew and a Christian, I would like to thank you for Harold Brown’s article on Christians and Jews. I have found a sad lack of understanding among both Jews and Christians of the historical antagonism between them. I have also found that, although Christians want to win Jews over to belief in Christ, the church has for the most part failed to acknowledge its contribution to and responsibility for bad relations with Jews. Michael Green has an excellent discussion of this in Evangelism in the Early Church, Chapter 4. The church will not win most Jews to Christ until an understanding of how relations deteriorated is reached by both sides, and until Christians understand and are able to admit to Jews that the church has made some terrible mistakes in attitudes toward Jews throughout history.


Denver, Colo.

Look, Listen, And Read

Before defending Ruth Carter Stapleton as being a misunderstood and misquoted evangelical (Editorial, “Don’t Believe Everything You Read,” Aug. 18) … perhaps CHRISTIANITY TODAY should check out her presentation to the Association for Holistic Health (AHH) at its symposium in San Diego, September 2–4, 1977. (See Spiritual Counterfeits Project Journal, August, 1978.) I’m not trying to judge her salvation; that’s in the hands of the Lord Jesus, but she definitely does not present the view of biblical Christianity, so please don’t imply that she might. Her philosophy reeks with undertones of Eastern thought. Read her books and study her claims before you defend her position, please. Diligently strive to keep the Gospel pure. Don’t compromise the truth, even on the smallest point.


Forest Park, Ga.

I must take exception to the editorial “Don’t Believe Everything You Read.” While I agree with the thesis of the editorial, I believe the defense of Mrs. Stapleton is unfortunate. She may profess orthodoxy but any discerning Christian could plainly see that the content of that orthodoxy is open to scrutiny and reproach. Many Christians have seriously doubted Mrs. Stapleton’s Christianity on the basis of her statement to Christian publications and on Christian television media and not merely the secular press releases.… Really, isn’t it about time we begin exposing some of this superficial, counterfeit Christianity exemplified in Mrs. Stapleton who, were it not for her brother, would never get such exposure and thus fool so many people?

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The First Baptist Church

Canton, N. Y.


In our September 22 issue, page 15, the picture should have been of Will Norton, Jr. Instead, a picture of his father, dean of the Wheaton Graduate School, was printed. Will Norton, Jr., has just signed a contract with Doubleday for a book on Thomas Tarrants, which is to be published in 1979.

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