The X-Rated Pulpit

Sin is passé! Conviction is out of the question! No one should ever be made to feel guilty in church. It is a liberated day. Down with sermons that correct us! Everyone should feel good when they leave church.

Some pastors have been known to persecute their congregations by preaching too directly against sin. Up till now little help has been offered, but now there is an agency especially designed to protect the flock from abusive shepherds. The organization is called FROCC (FReedom Over Cruel Clergy), and can be reached by dialing locally 02B-FREE, or nationally 1-800-IM2-GOOD (the number in Canada is 301-216-OUCH).

Really, FROCC can help!

The next time you are forced to sit through a tirade against anything that makes you feel guilty or ashamed of your current lifestyle, dial the magic number and set yourself free.

We at FROCC believe that sheep should never be sheared or even approached with intent. We’re trying to pass a case to the Supreme Court right now in which a pastor not only preached against sin, but said that commitment to Christ requires that a man “take up his cross” daily. The sermon left many of the sheep feeling intimidated and unworthy.

Sermons should soothe, and FROCC is here to cut the abrasives out of theology, the rasp out of the rector, the grit out of grace. Smile, be at ease in Zion; the offense is gone, the candles of your favorite altar will now beam with golden light, and serious confession will die with any guilt. Enjoy!

We even have a new hymnal in which all those old “worm theology” anthems are upgraded to congratulate human dignity. There is also “FROCC of Ages,” “Oh Safe to the FROCC,” and “He Hideth My Soul in the Cleft of the FROCC.” So the next time you hear a sermon that seems to condemn your lifestyle, call FROCC, the people who have eliminated sin and replaced old-fashioned guilt with new, fun-filled Christianity.



Thanks for “Life in Heaven: Sometimes It Sounds Boring” [Meditation, Apr. 8]. It made me realize more than ever my Christian responsibility and the urgency to get the gospel to the “world out there”! We have too much vagueness about “heaven,” and certainly about “the guy with the red suit and pitchfork” idea of hell-fire. We need Dr. King’s “medication” to put the spurs to us!


Evangel Church

Harrisburg, Pa.

Gandhi—Different Facts

The article “Learning from Gandhi” [Apr. 8] has some misleading statements that isolate Gandhi from his time, making him seem to have developed his techniques for political action independent of his own experience. The facts are quite different. He learned “civil disobedience” as a method of obstructing a democratic society, for example, in the best school available—the streets of London. He also observed that a small, convinced group could hamstring the normal processes of parliamentary government itself: it was done then by both the Irish and the Tory “backwoodsmen.”

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There, in 1910 as a young graduate student, Gandhi read a newspaper article by G. K. Chesterton, and it changed his life. Chesterton commented on Indian nationalism (then alive and well under Indira Gandhi’s grandfather), and he said, “The principal weakness of Indian Nationalism seems to be that it is not very Indian and not very national … it would make more sense if an Indian patriot declared that he wished India had always been free from white men in all their works … Go and leave us with [our sort of spiritual comfort]. But the … patriot says ‘Give me a ballot box. Provide me with a Ministerial dispatch-box. I have a heaven-born claim to introduce a Budget.’ ”


Chicago, Ill.

Peace—What Kind?

The phrase “peace through strength” caught my attention in your news story about the Pasadena conference on “The Church and Peacemaking in the Nuclear Age” [Mar. 18]. Although it was used to characterize “some conservatives,” don’t all Christians seek peace through strength? At present we have a fearful peace based on military strength, on the threat of nuclear annihilation. Another kind of peace is based on spiritual strength, on the courage to say no to killing millions of people perceived as enemies. Or we could use our nuclear strength preemptively. Then, after much of the world’s industry, transportation, and communication had been demolished, and whole populations reduced to piles of rotting corpses, another kind of peace would ensue. Only minor skirmishes over remaining meager resources would take place among radiation-sick survivors.

What kind of peace do we want? Do we have the strength to choose it?


American Scientific Affiliation

Berkeley, Calif.

Life In The Blood

I have followed your series by Brand and Yancey with some concern. They ask, “Can we discover meanings behind the biblical symbolism of blood that fit more naturally within our culture while preserving the essence of the metaphor?” [Mar. 4]. I fear any such divergence will lead us away from the essential biblical notion of blood—as atonement, payment, propitiation, satisfaction for sins against a holy God.

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Fredericksburg, Va.

More Disputes!

As one well acquainted with all the facts of the current controversies within the Seventh-day Adventist church, I was disappointed in your news article [Mar. 18], which distorts the facts and exaggerates the controversy over Desmond Ford.

The report said two of William Miller’s followers, Hiram Edson and Ellen Harmon, “reported having visions of Christ entering ‘the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary.’ ” The truth is, Adventists neither believe nor teach that Hiram Edson had a vision, but feel the Holy Spirit opened to his understanding an aspect of Daniel 8:14 not hitherto understood. But Adventists, like other evangelicals, draw a sharp line between visions given to prophets and Holy Spirit illumination given to earnest Bible students. True, Ellen White later had visions of the heavenly sanctuary, but they followed deep Bible study and were not the basis of Adventist understanding.

The CT story says, “Ford and many other Adventist theologians say the investigative judgment is nonbiblical.” But how many is “many”? Six? Twelve? In a church of four million, would it not be more accurate to say “a few other Adventist theologians”? Similar inaccuracy is evident in Ford’s statement. “I dared say in public what many other Adventist scholars have long been saying in private.” While Ford would like to believe he has many sympathizers among the church’s scholars, the truth is that at Glacier View his own peers repudiated him soundly—which shocked him, for he had insisted they agreed with his views.

Also, the statement, “Adventist history shows a steady parade of defections since the beginning, most over White and the doctrines she delivered to Adventism,” seems strange if the Adventist church is, according to a recent report in CT, one of the fastest-growing conservative churches. Has anyone tried to list the people in this “steady parade”? I can name about a half-dozen prominent church leaders in the past 100 years; a few hundred church members followed them. All the leaders died in obscurity, and their movements dwindled. History tells me that instead of producing schism, Ford will steadily lose support. That defections were over “White and the doctrines she delivered to Adventism” is highly inaccurate. All doctrines were studied out from the Word, as our official statement of beliefs demonstrates. Neither was the material published by Spectrum in 1979 “a long suppressed transcript.” The truth is, it had simply been overlooked.

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Mainline Adventists, not being verbal inspirationalists, have had little problem with the current attacks on Ellen G. White’s writings. As far back as the 1880s, the general conference expressed its understanding of inspiration as being thought and idea rather than words. The church has always held that thought inspiration conforms most nearly to the biblical mode. “Defenders of White” feel no need of “giving ground.”


Ellen G. White Publications

Washington, D.C.

Jesse Helms

When I first came to the Senate in 1979, achievement of the prolife goal of legal protection of all Americans, born and unborn, seemed a distant hope at best. That abortion was even an issue in Congress was largely due to the boundless courage of Sen. Jesse Helms. In your March 4 news article, the unnamed lobbyist who said Helms “hasn’t spent quality time learning the formalities of Senate proceedings” is incorrect. Helms is recognized as one of the top experts on Senate parliamentary and floor procedures.


State of Iowa

Washington, D.C.

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