A More Exceeding Weight

A survey indicates that 14,000 clergymen are overweight (these are round figures, of course). Besides being a bad example to a hungry world, these preachers are endangering their health and, what is even worse, shortening the lifespan of the pulpit furniture. The trustees are concerned.

To encourage ministers not to die of avoirdupoison, we are instituting “The Eutychus X Sermon Contest on Weight in the Bible.” Any overweight minister may submit a sermon manuscript, provided he agrees to accept the prize: a year’s free membership in our new Christian weight-watching program, ELI. (ELI stands for “Evangelicals, lose it!” Our biblical basis is, of course, 1 Samuel 4:18.)

However, there are some stipulations. You must send with your sermon manuscript a letter from your doctor stating that you are indeed overweight. Please do not send photographs! We have a very small office.

Also, there are certain homiletical requirements. Your sermon must be based on solid exegesis. We absolutely will not accept any sermons on such texts as “All the fat is the Lord’s” (Lev. 3:16), or “Why this waste?” (Matt. 26:8, NIV). We have in our files nearly one hundred sermons on Daniel 5:27—“TEKEL: Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting.” Talk about poor exegesis! Also, please do not use “Jacob shall be made thin” (Isa. 17:4). Again, poor exegesis.

Of course, there are always the old standbys: “Let us lay aside every weight” (Heb. 12:1), and 1 Corinthians 9:24–27. But originality enters into the final choice of winners, so perhaps you had better avoid these. Anyway, you’ve probably preached on these before and they didn’t do you much good.

The decision of the judge (myself) is final. All manuscripts become the property of ELI, and some of them may be included in our next volume, Weighty Sermons. I’ll be watching for your manuscript.


Moral Statements

Being a student of the “Kingdom of God” for two or three years and endeavoring to preach “This Gospel of the Kingdom,” I was particularly arrested by the title of your editorial, “Getting God’s Kingdom into Politics” (Sept. 19). My anticipation changed to disappointment when, in your list of the “most important things” in which evangelicals “agree” you omit the greatest theme of Scripture—the kingdom of God.

It seems that the same evil influence, so successful in Eden, is largely successful today in turning evangelical emphasis from earth to heaven, in spite of such clear statements as Psalm 115:16—“the earth hath he given to the sons of men,” the so-called Lord’s Prayer, and an infinite number of others from Genesis to Revelation.

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Golden Gate, Fla.

I would like to add a footnote to your well written, but partially flawed, editorial. The current political zeal demonstrated by such organizations as Moral Majority, which is composed not only of fundamentalist and evangelical Christians but also Jews, Mormons, and others with no religious persuasion at all, is primarily a reaction to what has taken place in America. No preacher or religious organization seeks to win control of our political system. Rather, they seek to create a moral climate in which politicians will find it more easy to govern rightly than wrongly.

You seem to criticize Moral Majority for focusing on a select few issues. No organization can address itself to all issues, just as no missionary can cover the entire world. You don’t criticize a missionary who is serving in South America for not serving in Africa as well. Why criticize those concerned about abortion or favored treatment of homosexuals for zeroing in on those key issues?


Vice President, Communications

Moral Majority

Washington, D.C.

The kingdom of God arrives when individuals with a life-changing relationship with Christ allow him to come into every area of their lives and families. This does not take place by legislating what some consider to be moral issues. Society will not be redeemed by getting prayer back into schools, outlawing pornography, banning homosexuals from the teaching profession, or by censoring TV. We as Christians are to be shining lights in the sea of darkness, not governments, legislatures.


Davenport, Iowa

Gothard: Yea or Nay?

The first piece (Aug. 8) was up to what all of us who cheer hopefully for evangelicalism’s journalistic varsity were wanting to see; but the second, “Gothard’s Fast Comeback …” (Sept. 19), is a breakthrough for evangelical journalism in terms of maintaining the public’s right to ongoing information in this sort of situation.

Most of all, I feel it was of great importance that the story be broken by a publication within the evangelical community. Frankly, while others may have the courage, only CT, in my opinion, has both sufficient resources and courage.


Downers Grove, Ill.

Mr. Gothard is not perfect, nor does he claim to be. He realizes his failures to his family and God and has asked forgiveness. He needs our support, forgiveness, and prayers, not ridicule, gossip, and sneers. I was particularly offended by the “cultish” way both Mr. Gothard and his seminar were presented. Clearly, the author must not have attended one of the IBYC seminars.

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Kenmore, N.Y.

The first article was bad enough, but the second one was totally uncalled for. I have a wise friend who once said “He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.” May God grant you greater wisdom in the future.


Childersburg, Ala.

I write this not to condemn, but to encourage the work you are doing. I’m sure many of us place high expectations on Christians and especially Christian groups such as the IBYC. When we do that we will surely be disappointed. But if we completely trust God and look to him we will find love and forgiveness for our brother who stumbles.


Sunnyvale, Calif.

Unfortunately, the evangelical media are so reticent to offer an inch of positive declamation. Only when there is something negative does there rise that irrepressible “responsibility to report the truth.” And of course, you only do it for the good of the church! Woe unto you if your article keeps just one from entering.


Zeeland, Mich.

Against Abortion

John Stott’s discussion of abortion, “Does Life Begin Before Birth?” (Sept. 5) is an excellent scriptural basis against abortion. As a Christian obstetrician who performed abortions before becoming a Christian, but now realizes that this is a procedure that should not be done, I support well-reasoned attacks against abortion.

Dr. Stott stated that most abortions are performed at 13 weeks of pregnancy; however, most abortions are performed prior to 13 weeks. Second trimester abortions are far less common and are usually performed because the patient has neglected to come to the physician early in her pregnancy.


Oral Roberts University

Tulsa, Okla.

Reviewing the Review

I was surprised to find such an apparently naive review of the cultural phenomenon of the Star Wars trilogy in David Singer’s Refiner’s Fire, “The Empire: A ‘Force’ that Fails to Fill the Void” (Sept. 19). The Force is hardly a “faith element” able to be set “within a biblical frame.”

The force is popular Vedic religion (thus the name Vader). Yoda (Yoga), the guru of the Jedi (Veda) knights, teaches the “truth that leads to liberation”: the individual is identical with the ultimate principle of things (the Force). As in all Eastern mysticism there is a good side and a dark side of this ultimate principle. Luke learns meditation and occult techniques of levitation but is warned to use this “magic” only for defense and for good causes. He is the humanistic ideal, the man with the autonomous choice to use his life for good or evil.

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I agree! The Star Wars trilogy is fun and exciting. But I cannot but weep that an alternate view of reality rather than the Christian view “has all the best tunes.”


Southwestern Baptist

Theological Seminary

Fort Worth, Tex.

Cited for Ticket Traffic

Like T. J. Kleinhans (July 18), we found the Oberammergau Passion Play moving and inspiring. But unlike Mr. Kleinhans, we saw an ugly side as well. Although our tour had been set up two years in advance, we learned to our chagrin upon arrival in Oberammergau that only 20 tickets were in hand for our group of 44. We were feeling quite sorry for ourselves until we heard of a group of 70, none of whom was able to see even a portion of the play. The New York Times has reported that thousands of pilgrims with prepaid reservations were turned away, while others with no prior arrangements purchased tickets at the box office (cancellations and poorer seats) after standing in line for hours on the morning of the performance. Others joined the mad scramble for black market tickets, paying scalpers up to $500 for a single seat.

A drenching rain pelted the Bavarian hills for several weeks during the height of the tourist season. Our bus driver told us the heavens were weeping over the ticket fiasco at Oberammergau. While U.S. and European travel agents blame each other, and both accuse the Passion Play committee, the snafu continues to take its toll of victims—many of them elderly Christians who had been saving their pennies for the experience of a lifetime.


New Wilmington, Pa.

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