The Reluctant But Thankful Governor Bradford

Full of turkey, and dozing during a football half time, one nameless American who had taken it all for granted had the following dream:

He was in the fall of 1621, dressed in a buckled hat and sitting in the corner of the Bradford cabin.

First Puritan (entering breathlessly with Second Puritan): Your worth, the Indians are outside.

Governor Bradford: Tell them to go home.

FP: I think they’ve come for dinner, sir.

Bradford: I suppose they’re going to freeload again.

FP: Not this meal, sir. They’ve brought buzzards and cob grains.

SP: Those buzzards and cob grains are called turkeys and corn.

Bradford: Turkeys? They eat those things?

FP: I’m afraid so, sir, with cornbread.

Bradford: Haven’t these savages ever heard of brisket, barley, and trifle? Why, back in Bristol [enter Miles Standish] …

Standish: Beggin’ your pardon, Governor, but back in Bristol we couldn’t even hold our own worship services. And if you remember, the new Stuart kings kept us reading those state-supported liturgies. Turkeys aren’t all bad.

Bradford: Bah, Humbug! What’s that smell, Miles?

Standish: Goodie Standish is boiling cranberries, sir. The Indians taught her, sir. They always eat boiled cranberries with their turkeys.

Bradford: Boiled cranberries and baked turkey and corn bread—what will they think of next? Making pies out of pumpkin squash?

Third Puritan (entering with two yellow pies): Sir, the Indians brought dessert and they’re setting up a big dinner over by the log church.

Bradford: Anybody bring beef, barley, and trifle?

TP: I’m afraid not. Squaw Massasoit brought venison and wild apples.

FP (cautiously): Miles, tell him what we decided.

Standish (stiffening with resolve): Sir, you recall how most of us died of sickness on the Mayflower.

Bradford: Yes.

Standish: Well, sir, we’re mighty grateful to God that some of us made it, and we were wondering if you might want to proclaim this day a day of special thanksgiving to God and we could worship him and read the old One Hundredth down at the meetinghouse?

Bradford: Yeah. I guess.

Standish: And we kinda wanted to eat that turkey with Massasoit and the boys.

Bradford: Now, wait a minute. We can be thankful and read the old One Hundredth; but why mess up our spirit of thanksgiving with buzzard and squash pies? And eating with Indians—you know they don’t use forks.

Standish: Yes sir, but it is Thanksgiving and we’re all God’s creatures.

Bradford: Well, all right. Let’s go to church and I’ll proclaim it. Tell Massasoit to pick the turkeys out in the woods—we sure don’t want any feathers in our squash pies.

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Lovelace Apology

I owe CHRISTIANITY TODAY readers an apology for a harsh-sounding statement about dispensational theology in my article on “Future Shock and Christian Hope” [Aug. 5]. Modern dispensationalists may well ask how I can “hope all things, believe all things” about the World Council of Churches, and rule my biblically committed friends at Dallas Seminary out of the ranks of historic orthodoxy.

In its original context (my Renewal newsletter), I meant to refer to imbalances in parts of the original dispensational movement, not to its current forms. While elements in Darby’s eschatology, and especially his outlook on “the ruin of the church,” did profoundly change American evangelicalism’s approach to social issues and church unity for the worse, many other elements in this stream (especially its lay activism) seem to me to be extremely helpful and classically orthodox. And I would be very open to having my misgivings about Darby set straight by those who have studied the primary sources more carefully.


Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

South Hamilton, Mass.

Prayer And The Unsaved

If Curtis Mitchell, in “Don’t Pray for the Unsaved!” [Sept. 16], has a difficult time praying for the unsaved, I can take comfort that Jesus and all the saints in heaven are offering this prayer. What Jesus prayed from his cross—“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”—is a prayer that he has never ceased praying and the Father has never ceased praying, and that the Father has never ceased answering. Without this prayer, neither I nor any other Christian would ever have been converted. For an example of a quickly answered prayer for the “unsaved,” how about Stephen’s, “Lord, do not hold this charge against them” (Acts 7:60)? Shortly thereafter Paul was converted. That’s scarcely one chapter later.


Concordia Theological Seminary

Fort Wayne, Ind.

A Balanced Wcc?

I am disturbed at the lack of balance in your coverage of the WCC Sixth Assembly in Vancouver [Sept 16], Richard Lovelace merits respect as a facile church historian. But when observing contemporary events, his consistent rose-tinted optimism often obscures journalistic objectivity.

Lovelace expresses the hope that the WCC “will recover its original balance and dynamism.” At what point historically did that body possess either of these qualities?


Church of the Savior

Williamsville, N.Y.

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Music And The Law

I agree that the artists and publishers need to make a living [“Hitting Sour Notes: The Clash over Music Copyright,” Sept. 16]. However, if they could make it easier for me to purchase music in my area, I would rejoice. If the Christian radio stations could clue me in to sources for the selections they play, I would jump for joy. If I could buy two copies of a song without spending $25.00 for two huge books, my pocketbook would be thankful.

Many of us work in small churches without a full-or part-time minister of music. We want to produce just as great a sound for the Lord as do the electronic churches. Writers, publishers: please help us.


Westbury, N.Y.

The very people who are crying the loudest against the practice, the publishers, are those who encourage it. With the proliferation of new songs on the market, what is a church supposed to do with its good traditional hymnal?

What the publishers need to do is to reprint the newer, more popular hymns in a form that would be compatible with existing hymnals, and sell them in quantities of 25, 50, 100, and so on, so that churches could purchase the new hymns they want.


Grace Bible Church

Leo, Ind.

Many writers have offered suggestions to help solve the problem, and these are being forwarded to the Church Music Publishers AssociationEd.

Bob Jones Decision, Again

I would like to make some observations regarding “The Bob Jones Decision: A Dangerous Precedent” [Sept. 2]: (1) The “tax break” offered by a government to a religious institution is a holdover from the Middle Ages when church and state worked so closely with one another. (2) Though religious institutions are free to accept such “tax advantages,” they should probably expend as much energy being grateful for the privilege as they do in defending what they view as a right. (3) The nation and the church might be better off if this tax break were eliminated. The nation would collect more taxes toward lowering the budget deficits, and churches would be supported by those who give cheerfully rather than for lower taxation. The Lord will provide for his projects.


Rolla, Mo.

Kenneth Kantzer suggests the possibility that Christians might at some point want to take to the streets in an effort to reclaim the civil rights the courts have stripped from them. This is what Francis Schaeffer recommends in A Christian Manifesto. The history of other movements (civil rights, feminism, etc.) indicate peaceful demonstrations are a good way to focus public opinion on one’s cause. We have sought comfort rather than confrontation with the world, and that is the major reason the world does not respect or listen to us.

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The Moral Majority, Inc.

Washington, D.C.

Right, Left, Or Whole?

Your publication of “Seeing Christianity in Red & Green as Well as Black & White” [Sept. 2] is indeed unfortunate. Anyone who has a more than passing acquaintance with the research and the issues knows that these sharp distinctions cannot be reasonably sustained. The right and left hemispheres [of the brain] are different and distinct in their primary processing styles, but they are highly interactive and interdependent. It is an open question as to what degree each is involved in the various epistemological transactions in which human beings regularly engage.

Contrary to Owens’s assertion, it is highly likely that the inductive portion of the scientific process is heavily dependent on that processing style of the right hemisphere. Aside from the somewhat cavalier summary of the research evidence, Owens relies on two major cultural evidences for “right brain atrophy.” First, according to her, after the sixteenth century, morality was no longer “incarnated.” It was only discussed. Second, Western civilization and Western Christianity have lost the “visual element.” Neither is conclusive as to brain atrophy. The first problem has existed since Eden. The second is more likely the result of a shift in values held by the brain organism rather than loss of particular modal capacities in the organism itself.

I too believe that all of life is worship. I believe that the Christian life is both propositions and performance. But in my opinion, Owens’s thesis regarding the brain is not based in sound thinking and does not reach the level of craftsmanship I associate with your journal. What is worse, it may be used in the scientific community to discredit those who operate within the context of a Christian theistic world view.


Kingston, Wash.

Cumbey And The Antichrist

Regarding “Is the Antichrist in the World Today?” [Sept. 2], I want to emphasize two things. First, the only conspiracy World Concern is involved in is making Jesus Christ known through word and deed. We are concerned with the coming of God’s kingdom even as our Lord instructed us to pray for his coming, and we are seeing his kingdom coming as persons open themselves to all the Father has for us to receive in Jesus Christ.

Second, if Constance Cumbey spent more of her time in honest relationships with those she criticizes rather than in developing her conspiracy theories, we might all express more of the unity in Christ’s body that he called us to seek.


World Concern

Seattle, Wash.

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