Maybe It’S The Power Of Negative Thinking

My counselor has finally forced me to face the fact that I am a failure in my ministry. Permit me to list my evangelical demerits.

1. I have never been to the Holy Land. I mean, not even as a visitor, let alone as a tour guide. I wince whenever I see a “Go to the Holy Land!” ad in a religious magazine. My wife has even stopped buying kosher wieners because they make me feel convicted. It’s terrible.

2. Every program I’ve started has failed. Our “Evangelism Explosion” didn’t explode: it gave an embarrassed “pop” and rolled over and died. Finis. Kaput. I attended a “Church Growth Seminar,” and while I was gone, six families left the church. No explanation—they just up and disappeared.

3. The refugee family we tried to sponsor refused to come. The last I heard, they were seeking asylum in a Chinese restaurant in Saint Louis.

4. Whenever I try “Dial-a-Prayer,” I get a wrong number, and it’s usually a funeral home or a chicken carry-out place. I tried “Dial-a-Meditation” the other day, and the tape broke after the first sentence, which was: “So things aren’t going well today?” It’s frightening.

5. Board meetings. You should attend them—because nobody else does. And I get the wildest excuses: “The dog was sick,” or “I had to change the light bulb in the garage,” or “My wife needed both cars.” I always mimeograph agendas but nobody is there to use them. My wife uses them for grocery lists.

6. Our church teams never win any games. Baseball, basketball, volleyball, shuffleboard—you name it and we’ve lost it. The town Little League champs challenged us and won.

I am thinking of sharing all of this with our denominational leaders but they are never around when I phone, and all their letters to me are addressed to “Occupant.” I have been told that failure could be the back door to success, but the door seems to be locked and I can’t find a key. Any suggestions?



We commend you for the excellent article by King, “Climbing the Mountain” [Feb. 6]. The interesting irony of the article is that it presents a biblical doctrine of sanctification largely via an extrabiblical source. Since CT prides itself upon support for biblical authority, our question is why CT does not publish more articles on the subject from a biblical base?



Kankakee, Ill.

Amazing! Your February 6 issue gives four pages to a literary analysis of Dante’s ideas on sanctification, then follows immediately with Tom Minnery’s plea for acceptance toward homosexuals! Offhand, I can’t think of anything more calculated to justify straight Christians in intolerance and bigotry than the perfectionism of King’s “Climbing the Mountain.”

Article continues below

It cannot be argued that good results are not to be expected from the Christian’s surrender to God’s infinite love. I think, however, that we learn of that love better from such things as Christ’s parable of the Prodigal Son, who was accepted home with all his rags and dirt, than from the paganistic concepts of deity found in the writings of a medieval Roman Catholic bound to superstitious tradition.

I submit that the only people attracted to “climbing” theology are those who believe God’s love must and can be deserved, and who imagine themselves deserving by reason of self-evaluated status or progress in sanctification. Such people win nobody; they are the most difficult Christians to be around, because of their insufferable self-righteousness.


Seattle, Wash.

Too Little Evidence

Concerning the article on the Shroud of Turin [News, Feb. 20]: never has so much continued to be made out of so little evidence since evolutionists foisted upon us the Piltdown Man on the basis of later admitted barnyard animal skeletal remains.


Hobart First Christian Church

Hobart, Ind.


The excellent article on homosexuals [Feb. 6] showed an appreciation for clinical insight and experience often ignored by those who deal in abstract, biblical theologizing where subjects treated clearly need existential understanding.

It offered hope of change, but one realistically tempered with the magnitude of that undertaking for homosexuals. And it espoused a strangely neglected emphasis among evangelicals on openness and compassion in keeping with the gospel expressed in Jesus Christ. One theme might have improved the article: that of recognizing the organic nature of the problem in its development and in its treatment.

Hopefully, it will help churches welcome homosexuals into their midst as fellow sinners.


Fairfield, Calif.

Minnery’s comment that “homosexuality is near the top of any evangelical Christian’s list of problems facing the country” is revealing. In a world plagued by war and famine, in a country where the plight of the poor grows more severe as a result of economic adversity and injustice, it is startling to read that gay people hold this spot in the Christian’s consciousness. I suspect this concern of some brothers and sisters in the faith is lamentably at variance with the message of Christ in the gospel.

Article continues below


Lutherans Concerned

Chicago, Ill.

All the ballyhoo of a cover banner, “Homosexuals CAN Change,” the repeating of the all-capital “CAN” in the article, and the empty assertions: “The fact is, many people are experiencing deliverance from homosexuality. The evidence is too great to deny it” cannot obscure the fact that CT nonetheless offers no validated evidence for the claim.

If your reporter would but look again at the Pattison data, he would discover that only two men are said now, “after change,” to have no current intrapsychic homosexuality. The claims of two anonymous men, repeated by the Pattisons on the basis of retrospective data (they were not Pattison’s patients) and in the absence of any description of replicable method, are hardly worthy of the excitement CT seeks to generate. Especially so, in view of the fact that this is a “cure” rate of 2 out of 300 who sought the “ex-gay” solution from the same group. All of this does not add up to CT’s false impression (meant as an imperative): “Homosexuals CAN Change.”


Evangelicals Concerned

New York, N.Y.

I was a practicing homosexual and I came out and found freedom in Jesus. All I have seen and felt from the “church” is rejection and disgust, yet because one Christian once told me he loved me, knowing I was a homosexual at the time, I found Jesus six months later and freedom. It’s not an easy road out and it hurts so much at times, but I would never exchange Jesus for the gay life.


Fargo, N.D.

“Home” Missionary

Mr. Taylor charges [Others Say, Feb. 6] that because of lack of enough financial support, the “evangelical church in America makes its own missionaries hostages. They are held against their will in this great country until they can drum up enough new support. Not only does Mr. Taylor come across as bitter and ungrateful, but a bit confused as well.

The call of a missionary is to minister wherever he may be. Obviously, a missionary with Far Eastern Gospel Crusade wants to spend most of his time ministering in the Far East and rightly so! But, when he comes to America on furlough, does his ministry come to an abrupt halt? I think not. My advice to Mr. Taylor would be to see his time in America as another opportunity to minister to people—people who support his ministry in the Far East by the way. Isn’t this a much more biblical view than seeing himself as a “hostage” or “held against his will?”


Article continues below

Quail Valley Community Church

Missouri City, Tex.

Women In Ministry

While I enjoyed the articles on the issue of the ordination of women [Feb. 20] and am aware of the controversy involved, I feel the issue would be greatly defused if someone bothered to define what ordination is all about. Since the traditional practice of ordination is more ecclesiastical than biblical, why not ordain women? The issue then becomes to what roles we ordain them. A slight distinction perhaps, but I would like to see you deal with the clergy/laity distinctions for both men and women in the functioning local body. This would be more useful.


Lake Zurich, Ill.

The issue comes into focus when you ask one question: Where is the clear, unambiguous evidence for a woman apostle, elder, or pastor in the New Testament? There is none. That’s why the church has held to male leadership for 2,000 years.


Redeemer Covenant Church

Downey, Calif.

Discussions of headship nearly always assume that in a relationship, one person must be a final authority. My husband and I have not found that to be the case. Through experience, we’ve learned that if either of us makes a decision without the other’s full support, we will reap unpleasant consequences later. When we cannot agree, we wait and pray and open ourselves to the work of God’s Spirit in our lives. We believe it is wrong for either one of us to coerce the other or to move ahead without full agreement. God has loved us with an infinitely patient love that respects our wills, and we must love each other in the same way.


Portland, Oreg.

Knight [“Ordination of Women: No”] states: “A careful examination of every case will make it plain that no example sets aside the prohibition of women from a leadership role in the church.” He further states more than once that women can teach other women, but not men.

I am not an ardent advocate of the kind of “women’s liberation” that has invaded the church from Gloria Steinem and her kin, but I believe that the above statements are not accurate.

Acts 18:26 reads, “He [Apollos] began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.” All of the translations that I consulted mentioned that it was “they” who instructed Apollos. Further, though it is perhaps not determinative, it is interesting that it is Priscilla who is mentioned first—and chivalry was not yet in fashion.

Article continues below


Zion Covenant Church

Ellsworth, Wis.

I am weary of hearing “what the apostle intended” from people whose obvious interest is not the apostle’s intention, but their own preconceived conclusions. Forcing 1 Timothy 2:11–12 into an unbiblical chronological context is impertinent arrogance. The Bible specifically states that a woman may not teach or hold authority over a man. Where does it specifically state that she may? The simple answer is that it does not, and it is unbelievable that so many would take obscure and unclear passages to deny a clear and direct command. Hermeneutical gymnastics have no place in evangelical Christianity.


Denver, Colo.

In 1 Timothy 2:11–14, Stouffer [“Ordination of Women: Yes”] adduces that “Adam’s sin was worse [than Eve’s] because he sinned with his eyes wide open,” while Eve’s sin was less serious because she acted in ignorance. Paul is not citing this information in order to establish the degree of culpability between them as Stouffer alleges. Rather, he is showing why women are not allowed to hold teaching positions in the assembly, that is, he is backing up his statement in 1 Timothy 2:11–12. Women are not allowed to hold teaching positions in the assembly because women are more susceptible to errors in understanding doctrinal truth. Paul sees the details of the Fall in the Garden as illustrating this principal, not as contentless events.


Pendleton, Oreg.

Why does the right to ordain women have to be seen in the context of the modern women’s liberation movement? I would hope that objective, open-minded Christians would make their decision about “women’s ordination” solely on the basis of scriptural emphasis on the equality of all people in the eyes of God.


Setauket United Methodist Church

East Setauket, N.Y.

The point is made [Editorial, Feb. 20] that 1 Corinthians 14:34 should be understood in the light of 1 Corinthians 11:5. Wouldn’t it be more correct to switch that around?

Paul desires that women be silent in the churches, even realizing that this may be hard for them to accept (1 Cor. 14:37). However, each time he speaks of it (1 Cor. 14 and 1 Tim. 2), he states clearly that the reason for this is God’s Word. Paul is clearly not giving advice for a temporary situation when he calls on what God has spoken before to back him up.

“We must not try to draw the full doctrine of women in the church from a single passage.” Therefore, 1 Corinthians 11 should be understood in the light of 1 Corinthians 14; 1 Timothy 2, and above all, Genesis 2 and 3.

Article continues below

I glory in the fact that the Lord has made both sexes equal in his sight. However, please recognize that he has given his equally redeemed females and males different (not greater or lesser) roles in his church and also the family.


Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church

El Paso, Tex.

As a couple preparing to enter God’s service as “professional” pastors, we were greatly encouraged by CT’s editorial stand for women’s ordination. We feel that your handling of the issues was balanced and fair.

As committed United Presbyterians, we struggle deeply with our denomination’s exclusion of candidates for ministry on the basis of their conviction that women should not be ordained to the teaching ministry. We think that at this point in time our denomination has erred in its handling of the issues, preferring legislation over education. However, the UPC has not raised this issue as a test for orthodoxy, as uncertain as tests for orthodoxy may be today. Rather, the denomination, with its own polity structure that places jurisdiction for ordination in the hands of the presbyteries, has chosen a stand which reflects the general direction of the UPC. We strongly agree with our church’s affirmation of women in ministry. However, the question in legislating such a mandate always is “how” and “when.”


Beverly, Mass.

An Imposition

I appreciate Keith Green’s “Making the Gospel Free” [Feb. 6]. I think he errs, though, in trying to impose his conviction on others. This is the point at which legalism begins. When it comes to an area where the Scriptures do not speak specifically, Paul writes, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?”


Portland, Oreg.

Money Matters

I agree with Mr. Rumford [“What to Expect of a Seminary Graduate,” Feb. 6] that the purpose is to “… lay a foundation for a lifetime of ministry.” However, one minor priority got left out of his article: that of affording the schooling in the first place. Among fellow students at Talbot Seminary, I have noted that the majority are working their way through school at secular occupations of one sort or another, and some of these indeed are working nearly full-time while taking heavy course loads. The added responsibilities of continuing to work within one’s own church take time, and if the student also is married and has children, they get whatever time is left over. This situation is not the best for laying a good foundation for ministry, except perhaps in that it gives a good foretaste of the life of an overworked minister.

Article continues below

The problem is that many, if not most, seminary students do not have the financial backing necessary to allow them to fully apply themselves to the already difficult task of preparing for a lifetime ministry. We must realize that unless we are a lot more generous monetarily with our seminaries and seminarians, we are impeding the development of tomorrow’s church leaders.


Fullerton, Calif.

A Wider Perspective

Thank you for your printing of the Gothard article in the February 6 issue. Perhaps it will stimulate alumni to reevaluate the degree of influence the IBYC has on their lives. It is difficult but necessary to “stand alone” as did Dr. Schultz and other former staff. As a former staff wife, I applaud you for expanding the issues beyond the primary moral focus. Those of us who left have already experienced misunderstanding from alumni, staff replacements, and the board. What they do not realize is that those who were closest knew Bill best. If alumni would examine the attitudes in the core which precipitated the disintegration, they would begin to see the wider perspective of what really happened, and why.


Vancouver, Wash.

China Strategy

Regarding Lyall’s “Call for a Unified China Strategy” [Jan. 23]: The resolutions he suggests point out errors to be avoided and attitudes to be maintained. Would they not be better expressed as cautions rather than binding regulations? Is the possibility of causing embarrassment, even more, the final and compelling reason for refraining from witnessing? Since the representative body in China would have to be government approved, what would be the response to evangelicals asking permission to carry out some activity? There are still some denominational distinctives in China, without labels. Can others preserve the unity without the labels? Would the complexity of such a system and the publicity of it create greater problems?

The eight positive suggestions for “future action” are valuable. They are also very similar to the requests that are coming out of China and the UN for those outside China to help in many fields of activity. To the Chinese Christians all over the world, well equipped in academic, scientific, medical, and other areas, as well as theological, belongs the responsibility of Christian witness in China.


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.