The Looming Menace of 1997

Gather around me, children, and I will explain why 1997, not 1984, is the critical year for world history. Oh, I know all about 1984 and Big Brother and all that. But 1997 is a real date and not something conjured up by a novelist. I mean, 1997 is a real part of history.

“What,” you may ask, “is so all-fired important about 1997?”

I will tell you, my child.

It is the year the lease runs out for the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong. That’s what.

1 well know that there may be serious repercussions on the international scene: China may want all her property back; Russia may interfere. For all the prophetic implications, phone Salem Kirban. His “Prophetic Hot Line” is always open, and you can use your VISA card to pay.

But it is not politics or prophecy that I’m concerned about. My burning question is: When Hong Kong loses its lease, what will happen to the clothing industry? For years, missionaries and other foreign travelers have depended on Hong Kong tailors to get them through. The seasoned traveler knows that the bargains are in Hong Kong. In fact, you don’t have to arrive to have a suit or dress tailored for you: your airplane pilot will be happy to wire your measurements ahead, and you can select fabrics and styles from catalogs in the seat pocket. As soon as you clear customs, there stands your friendly tailor, waiting to help you into your new garments. What could be simpler?

I repeat: What will happen to all of this? Must missionaries come home without new clothes? Will they have to wear American or British clothing and have no loose threads to pull (“Oh, well, I didn’t need that left sleeve!”) or odd styles to explain? How will our missionaries evoke pity and thus increase their offerings?

Oh, my children, the situation is serious, and we have only 15 years to plan our attack. Talk to your pastor. Write your senator. Write the United Nations. But please don’t write to


Appalling Cover

I was appalled by the cover on your December 11 issue. Although you had a good point to make, I feel the cover was in bad taste and showed poor judgment.


Dallas, Tex.

May I commend you for the courage it took to make such a strong visual statement. These types of visual editorials are so visceral in their impact that the need to thoughtfully reflect on what you were trying to say is lost in their “shock value.” I believe Christians should seriously question the place “Saint Nick” has usurped from Christ Jesus. Although many articles on the subject have been written in recent years, the hard decisions faced by parents raising children in our secular society are summed up perfectly in your cover. Who is Lord at Christmas? The one who came to die, or the one who is a lie?

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Springfield, Va.

“The Secular Grinch”?

Your recent spoof of Santa by Eutychus, “Christmas Without Santa” [Dec. 11], is found offensive. I do not believe Santa Claus should be part of any Christian observance of the Incarnation, yet your Eutychus evidently would portray me as some “religious nut.” I find this portrayal of people opposed to Santa an open invitation to allow anything at the stable. Perhaps we ought to make sure that Rudolph is there to guide the wise men!


Kingsborough Presbyterian Church

Gloversville, N.Y.

Superb Article

“Christmas Grinches: Thieves of Joy” [Dec. 11] by Win Couchman was superb. I too had been struggling with the “Spiritual Grinch.” Mrs. Couchman’s article helped me to reaffirm my desire to help my family enjoy our Savior during this season.


Manna Fellowship Church

Rocky Mount, N.C.

Nazarene Aloofness

One comment concerning the so-called aloofness of the Church of the Nazarene to the NAE and the NCC [“Sampling the Spirit of the Smaller Denominations,” Dec. 11].

The Church of the Nazarene is fundamental as opposed to fundamentalist. It is cooperative as opposed to ecumenical. And it carries these perceptions in the earthen vessel of a cognizant distinctness. Nazarenes love their brothers and sisters in all branches of Christ’s church, while at the same time, understanding that the very nature of our mission (“… to spread doctrinal holiness, to get people into the experience of entire santification”) implies several very real theological differences.

Our articles of faith incorporate the broad themes of historic biblical theology while avoiding the narrow constraints of later tradition—for example, speculative eschatology.


Linwood Church of the Nazarene

Wichita, Kans.

Nicene Confession

It was a pleasure to read of your belief in a 1,600-year-old faith [“I Believe: A 1,600-Year-Old Confession of Faith” Dec. 11]. As for me, I am trying to believe what the Bible itself says. It tells me the Father is God—so is Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit appears to me as the essential power of God and Christ to perform their purposes.

However, let us for a moment go to literality—as the Nicene Confession demands. The Holy Spirit is a real “he.” This makes him a real personality. But John also says he looks like a dove. You know what the Nicene Confession has done? It has made the Holy Spirit a personality coequal with the Father and Christ. You have created a God who looks like a bird. If you choose to make the Holy Spirit a personality (rather than the power of God), you have created a bird-god.

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I wish you success with your philosophical concept as formed at Nicea. As for me, I find the whole thing irrational and unbiblical.


Foundation for Biblical Research

Pasadena, Calif.

Delight to Disappointment

My delight in discovering Robert Frykenberg’s article, “World Hunger: Food Is Not the Answer” [Dec. 11], turned into disappointment before I finished reading it.

Food is the answer for the world’s hungry. But neither “giveaway” food nor better food distribution systems alone will solve the problem. There is far more being done by Christian relief and development ministries to help people become self-sufficient in food production than the writer’s research uncovered. The information is available to those whose conclusions are not already drawn.


World Concern

Seattle, Wash.

This is a very timely article for us laymen who are consistently barraged by a steady flow of letters soliciting our aid for the starving people of the world. We need more such articles. Perhaps in that way the solution can be found.


Newell, S. Dak.

Sanity in the Prophecy Gristmill

I am grateful for the injection of sanity into the prophecy gristmill provided by Samuel Creed [“The Profitable Proliferation of Hot-line Prophecy,” Dec. 11].

Not only does he reject the heresies of dispensationalism concerning the “parenthesis” of the church (God’s Plan B!), but he is very perceptive concerning the borderline blasphemy of any system that overturns the progressive nature of revelation and reverts to Old Testament Israel’s religious system. Such would overturn the work and person of Jesus Christ, the act of which Scripture declares to be apostacy and blasphemy against God.


Akron, Ohio

Interesting Anomaly

The Reformed tradition is conspicuously ignored by Bruce L. Shelley in “Sampling the Spirit of the Smaller Denominations” [Dec. 11]. The Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, would have been a good representative. On the other hand, an essential Reformed tenet was propounded (unwittingly?) in the helpful article, “The Profitable Proliferation of Hot-Line Prophecy” [Dec. 11]: the church is not a parenthesis, and the salvation of none will involve a reversion to the Old Testament dispensation. I feel half pleased.

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Zondervan Publishing House

Grand Rapids, Mich.

Slight Alteration

It is not the Southern Baptist Church that is planning the television network [“Congregational Video: A Viable Ministry,” Nov. 20]. Rather, it is the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Radio-Television Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.


Olivet Baptist Church

Lancaster, Calif.


The title of Richard C. Hutcheson, Jr.’s book, from which “Where Have All the Young Folks Gone?” was taken [Nov. 6], is Mainline Churches and the Evangelicals, published last year by John Knox Press.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published. Since all are subject to condensation, those of 100 to 150 words are preferred. Address letters to Eutychus and His Kin, CHRISTIANITY TODAY, 465 Gundersen Drive, Carol Stream, Illinois 60187.

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