Having this uncontrollable urge to witness, I had armed myself well with prayer and paraphernalia. I had selected some subtle nuances at the Christian bookstore from among John 3:16 ballpoints, Philippians 1:6 Frisbees, and John 10:20 compact mirrors, and certain power-endowed novelties manufactured by corporate zealots out to change men’s destinies with cleverisms. All bases were covered. I felt confident as I finished lunch, pushed back my chair, and approached a restaurant cashier. It seemed I could hear the restless angels preparing to rejoice. I would be subtle, but so powerful.
Drawing near, I leaned forward across the counter. I did it left lapel first; my gold fishhook glinted in the cashier’s eye. She appeared not to notice. I could tell the way my right lapel wrinkled that she would not even see my “Try God” pin. It was becoming tarnished anyway—I had left it on my suit a couple of times when it went to the cleaners, and the lady who gave me the cleaning hadn’t even asked me what it meant; it was clearly ineffective.
“That will be $4.85,” said the cashier.
As I reached in my wallet for the bills, I drew out my “Make Christ Your Master-Card.” She took the bills, apparently not noticing the card. When I reached for the change I needed, I drew out my “Cross-in-the-Pocket.” She looked past it and took the change.
I turned to walk away, wishing I’d worn my Matthew 4:19 T-shirt, when suddenly I turned and decided to be direct. I gave her my tip along with a tract called “A Tip for Living.” She threw it in the trash as she pocketed the money. “Next,” she said, turning to someone else and taking his check.
I heard her say, “$3.37, sir,” to the next customer. And I realized there were days when people just weren’t open to God.
NAE and the Moral Majority
In your article on the Washington office of the National Association of Evangelicals [Oct. 8], your unidentified correspondent makes this statement: “In past years the liberal establishment was the only voice heard. Recently the communications media have focused almost exclusively on extreme positions of the New Religious Right.” You state the NAE is changing that and that they represent “mainstream” evangelicalism.
May I ask what CHRISTIANITY TODAY views as “extreme”? The NAE is opposed to abortion on demand. So are we. The NAE opposes special rights for homosexuals. So do we. The NAE favors voluntary prayer in public schools, opposes illegal drugs, and supports Israel’s right to exist. So do we. Why, then, is the so-called New Religious Right extreme and the NAE mainstream?
The Moral Majority, Inc.
Greenhouse of Growing Ideas
It’s more than I can handle! Your last two issues have been real greenhouses of all kinds of growing ideas! I’ve felt punched, pricked, encouraged, chagrined and motivated by the articles. Thanks for being salt, and stinging and healing.
Process Theology Pitfalls
Harold B. Kuhn’s warning to the evangelical community of the pitfalls of process theology [“The Process Theology Word Game,” Oct. 8] begs the question. Evangelicals are just as much a part of the “antimetaphysical morass” as are “bankrupt liberals.” And, like it or not, “biblical faith” as evidenced by Kuhn’s article offers no solution to that morass.
For many of us evangelicals, it is simply insufficient to stand by demanding purity of doctrinal language while increasing numbers of thinking men and women are lost to the faith. Process theology does offer a way out. It offers a way to speak metaphysically of the deeps of the Christian faith, which makes a lot more sense than anything else that’s come down the pike recently. The exciting thing for us is that as we live both with Scripture and process thought, we find deep convergences that often seem lost in orthodoxy’s silence. That can be a richly spiritual and satisfying experience.
REV. BRIAN J. WITWER
Saint Andrew Church
West Lafayette, Ind.
I read with great interest “Religion in the USSR: How Much Freedom Is Enough?” [Oct. 8]. In the interest of accuracy it should be reported that Dr. Denton Lotz served as a missionary with the American Baptist Convention in eastern Western Europe for 15 years, not the Southern Baptist Convention.
LOUIS G. NELSON
Indiana Baptist Convention
CTregrets the error.—Eds.
I was greatly distressed at the fuzzy thinking displayed in “Killing ERA Didn’t Cure the Patient” [Sept. 17].
It is unfair to identify the mainstream of ERA supporters (and even feminists) with the anarchistic views of a small but highly vocal minority. That would be akin to accusing ERA opponents of misogyny and a desire to perpetuate wife beating. Even worse, to imply that opposition to ERA was the only “biblically instructed viewpoint” is to insult many evangelical supporters and confuse temporal cultural mores and particular political views with God’s Word.
Far too many opponents reacted to ERA out of “gut feelings” (or irrational fears and prejudice) instead of a willingness to examine the truth by a thorough investigation of the facts and clear logic.
REV. PHILIP KOUSE
Magnolia United Methodist Church
The defeat of the ERA gives Christians new opportunities to “stand in the gap” and meet people where they are. Women both outside and inside evangelical Christianity need to see responsible, sacrificial, joyous Christian freedom for both men and women according to the clear mandates of Scripture. Ambassadors don’t close up shop and go home after the war is over!
I hope that in our quest for more leadership in both church and society, Christian women will consider the example of Deborah (Judges 4). Second to no one in spiritual or civil leadership, she used her power unselfishly to serve both God and nation. We must oppose all civil laws and church traditions that tell us we are the Lord’s second choice. On the other hand, we must hold before us the vision of what godly leadership is all about.
ELIZABETH W. HODGES
Walter Wangerin’s story “The Making of a Minister” [Sept. 17] caught my attention. I read it a second and third time to be sure I didn’t miss anything. The biblical teaching came through loud and clear—“a simple glass of water … you ought to wash one another’s feet … if you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
Is something lacking here? Where is the social action committee cleaning that dirty, foul-smelling room? Who sprayed the cockroaches? Walls painted? Where were the brooms, mops, vacuum cleaners? Weren’t there any meals on wheels?
Yes, “blessed are you if you do them.”
BYRON S. LAMSON
I feel compelled to write and express my appreciation for Mr. Wangerin’s stirring narrative. His honesty in sharing his initial revulsion at being called upon to serve such an ulcerous and unlovable person as Arthur heightens the drama of Wangerin’s ultimate deep love for his “teacher,” “father,” and, perhaps, friend. Wangerin learned the essence of servanthood in a more poignant, personal way than he could ever have done had he chosen to forgo visiting Arthur in favor of spending more time reading spiritual tomes on servanthood in his study. And he captured and expressed the ordeal and its effect on his life with such heart-stirring prose that, even after reading through the article a second time, I was still deeply touched. May we all realize with renewed humility what Christ’s condescension to serve humanity truly involved, and be spurred into pouring out our lives in servant love to whomever Christ would bring our way.
KATHLEEN SEARS ROCHELLE
Falls Church, Va.
I am concerned about your film reviews. Your reviewer of Garp [Sept. 17] states, “The language and sexual encounters will mar the film for Christians, but …” I felt she was putting Christians down and suggesting there were enough good qualities to enable mature, sophisticated Christians to overlook the sin and come out blessed. Whatever happened to Philippians 4:8 and Colossians 3:2?
I am a youth pastor, but if I worked with adults I would still have the same philosophy, which is the one taught and lived by Paul and stated succinctly in 1 Corinthians 4:16: “Be imitators of me.” I have difficulty justifying this philosophy with the statement of your reviewer of Blade Runner [Sept. 3] who said, “This isn’t a family film, and it’s not for the squeamish. But … by all means see this.”
REV. KEN S. WILLIAMS
Calvary Baptist Church
“Bravo!” for Leith Anderson, who pleads for “Excellence in Preaching” [Sept. 17]. Here is an article that gets us beyond the “skyscraper preaching” (one story after another) and the superficial religious “slush” being passed out from many of the religious emporiums of our day. He aims high. May we aim high with him.
REV. RALPH W. MARKS JR.
Congregational Bible Church
Howard Snyder has pinpointed the primary problem of the church today—a deficiency of koinonia—but his solution misses the boat [“Holding a Mirror to the Contemporary Church,” Sept. 17]. Like the church-growth movement, the ecumenical movement, the liturgical renewal movement, and otѨѥѲs, he worries about wineskins and forgets the wine.
It is highly unrealistic to impose an ecclesiological model best suited to Christian communities in a hostile Greco-Roman world, an isolated medieval European or rural American hamlet, a Communist or other country that persecutes, or even an urban ethnic community, on the majority of Christians in a well-educated, industrialized society. Most Christians in the West today feel uncomfortable with the level of intimacy built into Snyder’s system of cells. Furthermore, to occur on a wide scale, the proposed network would have to be initiated by fiat, for if it were merely a matter of “start[ing] with one or two cells and let[ting] the network grow,” this kind of koinonia would have been taking place naturally all along—as indeed it has in history at those occasional times and places when and where circumstances engendered that kind of structure. The Scriptures do not mandate a particular ecclesiology, so why should we?
Rather than ask what is community, let us ask what produces community. The answer is the gospel. When God’s Word is preached, and the Holy Spirit moves individuals to faith, koinonia exists. It is spiritual by virtue of the rebirth, and it is sacramental by virtue of the Holy Supper, but it is ecclesiological in any one of a number of forms.
MICHAEL T. VAHLE
Ethics versus Christianity
Thanks for “Ghostwriting: A Borderline Deceit?” [Sept. 17]. It reminds us that business ethics and evangelical Christianity are not always identical. And when faced with hard choices, money often wins out over morals.
WILLIAM P. COOKE
I would like to speak to the practical side of concealed ghostwriting. For several years I made my living as a writer. About the only way an author can advertise his business is with his by-line. I would never spend the incredible amount of time it takes to write a significant book and then give away the opportunity to advertise my business without my name somewhere on the cover to show that I collaborated in the writing. I’m not after honors, just bread and butter. The writer who lets his name be kept off the cover is fooling the public, but most of all, he’s fooling himself.
Biased or Not?
Congratulations on an outstanding cover story, “Planned Parenthood Advocates Permissive Sex” [Sept. 3]. Many Bible-believing Christians have unfortunately swallowed the “myth of neutrality,” which states that “in a pluralistic free society all points of view are tolerated.” This is a myth precisely because all points of view are not tolerated. Planned Parenthood’s one-sided and secularist approach to sex, abortion, and related areas, and the religious aggressiveness with which they propagate their point of view, can hardly be called neutral. On the other hand, many religious groups are barred from similar proselytizing activities within junior high and high schools on the basis of being “religiously biased.”
It is time the Christian community lines up solidly behind our right to be heard on these issues and presents the humane and life-giving Christian tradition as an alternative to the sterile and ugly alternatives offered by those such as Planned Parenthood.
Los Gatos, Calif.
I am the director of counseling and education for Planned Parenthood of Kansas, and the person most involved in the development of educational programs. As an affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation, we are under strict guidelines when providing medical services, but have the flexibility to determine our education objectives. Planned Parenthood of Kansas develops programs based on community need.
The article was biased in that it lumped all Planned Parenthoods together, and many quotations were taken out of context. We have never “deemphasized the importance of ethical standards in guiding individual choice.” In contrast, we emphasize the importance of making decisions based on moral, religious, and family values.
Planned Parenthood’s programs are not and have never been based on the assumption that adolescent intercourse is “an important but individual aspect of each adolescent’s growth and development.” What is assumed is that we are all sexual human beings who are normally curious and interested in ourselves and our relationships with others.
Every decision-making class involves exploration of how our individual decisions affect those around us and our family, and our community and society as a whole. We do not, and should not, teach religious values. This is the responsibility of the family and the church. What we can do is validate values expressed in the groups to which we speak.
Planned Parenthood of Kansas
With the publication of “Planned Parenthood Advocates Permissive Sex” your journal has become the National Inquirer of theological journals! The author plays hard and fast with texts she obviously used out of context, and communicates her own bias explicitly.
Planned Parenthood in my lifetime (56 years), has always advocated responsible sexual activity. The value system of individuals is theirs to formulate and follow. Responsible sexual activity is a desirable and utterly essential universal principle, regardless of one’s religious preference and value system.
REV. MILTON C. MANN
Saint Mark Lutheran Church
Congratulations on your fine article on Planned Parenthood. We appreciate the courage and conviction you have shown in your willingness to expose this ungodly organization for what it is. I have had firsthand exposure to Planned Parenthood and their materials. I have interviewed a director of one of their clinics and taken a tour of their facilities. Everything the author said is true and more.
WILLIAM E. PRICE
Bible Fellowships Inc.
A Real Mission Field
“Why Some Parents Go to School with the Kids” [Sept. 3] was a real encouragement. Public schools are a mission field possibly due to all the Christian schools. With so many Christian witnesses hiding in Christian schools, no wonder the public school system is pagan! Let’s close down all Christian schools and force Christian involvement on a secular educational level. A lot of fighting among Christians could be channeled into changing the public school system. Maybe with more parents going to school with their kids, we can reach some on this mission field.
DAVID J. VOHAR
Public education has served us all long and well. What it deserves now is the support not only of those whose children are its benefactors, but of us all. Our public schools are not a panacea for our nation’s ills. They are a reflection of those ills. Like our government, our public schools are what we make them. They are ill-served especially by the abdication of Christian parental influence. Christ did not attempt to create a separate system. His goal was the creation of a body of believers intent on reforming the society around them. Our goal can be nothing less than that of Christ himself, however imperfect our attempts might be.
PAMELA J. LEONARD
Religion has a place in public schools that no constitutional amendment can give it. If we want to see an evangelical Christian influence in the schools we need to teach our children to say grace at meals; to share their faith with friends at recess or lunch; to organize a miss-a-meal for world hunger. Adults can also use votes wisely when electing school boards, and we too should share faith with teachers, administrators, and other parents. We simply need to be the salt and light Christ has called us to be, and our Constitution as it now reads doesn’t stop that. In fact, 2,000 years of history has proved there is none that can.
REV. TERRY COSBY
Phillips Memorial Baptist Church
Big Spring, Tex.
Current Church Music
I’m delighted to see Richard Dinwiddie dealing with current Christian music from a minister’s viewpoint [“Music Is a Contemporary Citizen” Sept. 3]. We need to shield ourselves from slick marketing, spiritual jargon, and manufactured music and cling to church music that points people past a performer to the Great Producer.
Dinwiddie is right that we all need to grow in our appreciation of great hymns and sacred compositions. But it is a mistake to think that contemporary music wants to set up amplifiers in the sanctuary and drown out the rich musical heritage of the past. Gospel rockers don’t want to take over the church; they only want, like any Christian, to make over the world.
Regarding “The Abortion Mess in Los Angeles” [Sept. 17], James Dobson, with good credentials as being prolife as well as profamily, is “sickened” by the exposure of 17,000 aborted fetuses in Los Angeles. I have a historical precedent: General Eisenhower, who apparently had a pretty good idea of what was going on in the Third Reich, was nonetheless also sickened when he set foot in Dachau after our troops liberated it.
WILLIAM R. BRECKENKAMP
Yosemite National Park, Calif.
It Made My Day!
Thank you for publishing the cartoon, “Why I Believe in Inerancy” [Sept. 3]. It made my day—and part of the next.
If the distressed dominie would detect the error so early and act so quickly to correct it, is it reasonable to believe (from only a literary standpoint) that the author of Chronicles would have allowed discrepancies between his manuscript and the already existing Book of Kings to go undetected and uncorrected throughout the balance of his lifetime if indeed the errors were in the original manuscript?
REV. J. W. JEPSON
Assembly of God
Oregon City, Oreg.
After reading “The Most Fearsome Judgment” [Aug. 6], a certain question became deliciously tantalizing: Is it possible that, just as Carl Henry burst from the media world and sparked the evangelical community to live respectably in academia, God has given us Charles Colson to blend the best of Niebuhr and Buswell to provide the theologian with an ingenious methodology of scriptural insight?
New Hyde Park, N.Y.
Charles Colson struck a clear note when he postulated that God’s judgment (of an interim variety) is already upon us. Sin is often self-reinforcing; when individuals and societies are caught up in the sins of immorality, apathy, greed, and pride, they are often caught in a circle of enslavement. Sin begets more sin. Whether the result is the murder of the unborn, spiritual deception, chronic debt, or denominationalism, these “secondary sins” are evidence of judgment and smack of God’s wrath—albeit restrained.
I agree with Colson’s biblical solution of radical repentance and the deepest hunger for God’s justice and righteousness. However, the question remains of who will bring the message to the comfortable church.
NORMAN A. KEITH
Toronto, Ont., Canada
It was refreshing to read Bill Durbin’s interviews, “A Scientist Caught Between Two Faiths” and “The Two Faiths Tied Together” [Aug. 6]. More heat than light is often generated by the ongoing creationist-evolutionist debate. But the forthright, honest, and objective expressions of these two experts were truly illuminating.
Both theology and science can help us sort out the meaning of life on this universe, whose one true God knows all its stars by name (Isa. 40:26).
The two titles disturbed me. They created a dangerous mind set, biasing reader interpretation of the thoughts that followed. They gave the impression that belief in atheistic/agnostic evolution is a legitimate faith alternative. Scripture gives no such quarter to unbelief. The titles attempted to do the impossible—to unite light with darkness.
Statement required by the act of August 12, 1970, section 3685, Title 39, United States Code, showing ownership, management, and circulation of
Published 20 times per year at 465 Gundersen Drive, Carol Stream. Illinois 60187.
The names and adresses of the publisher and editor are: Publisher: Harold L. Myra, 465 Gundersen Drive, Carol Stream, Illinois 60187; Editor: V. Gilbert Beers, 465 Gundersen Drive, Carol Stream, Illinois 60187.
The owner is CHRISTIANITY TODAY Inc., 465 Gundersen Drive. Carol Stream, Illinois 60187.
The known bondholders, mortgagees, and other security holders owning or holding one per cent or more of total amounts of bonds, mortgages, or other securities are: None.
I certify that the statements made by me above are correct and complete.
Harold L. Myra
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.