A Harried Gloria In Excelsis

It’s about time for conferences. Yes, the Christian church, once dedicated to pax in terram, has discovered that the season of the nativity ’tis the season for a conference. So in that very imminent season, on the third day of Christmas, and in the name of him who gave us peace, we will interrupt Epiphany to hurry off to the after-Christmas conferences. Oh well, you can’t hang around the Christmas tree playing with the electric train forever. Besides, the work of the kingdom must go on. For Dad, there’s a Conference for the Godly Man in Atlanta. Mom can go to the Praying Women Convention in Phoenix. For Junior, there is a Ski-Jesus Retreat in Banff, and for the collegian, there is Mission You in San Diego.

Of course, we know that Christmas is the only time we have when we could possibly squeeze another meeting onto the Christian calendar—so why not? Time together to enjoy each other is not nearly so important as the meeting that replaces it. When Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world,” it must have been just after Christmas. If you need other prooftexts, try these:

“So the wise men departed another way …”

No reason to leave their adoration of the infant unless there was a “Growing Wise” conference in Nineveh.

“Mary and Joseph took the child and departed into Egypt.

Did they or did they not leave to attend the Infancy-to-Adolescence Conference in Cairo?

“There was no room in the inn.”

What could they expect? It was Christmas and time for the December Symposium on the Incarnation.

“Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude …”

They should have registered early.

The birth of Christ was a big event, but American believers are too big on meetings to stop for very long. Let’s all sing “O Come, Let Us Adore Him” so we can hurry up and go someplace.


Help Or Hindrance?

It is a pity that such a fine group of Christian educators [News, Sept. 16] should join in the time-honored practice of praise of Marxist governments by church leaders. Armando Valladares, himself once a supporter of Castro and later imprisoned for over 20 years, said “every time a clergyman would write an article in support of Fidel Castro’s dictatorship, a translation would reach us, and that was worse for the Christian political prisoners than the beatings or the hunger” (Catholicism in Crisis, Sept. 1983). While in Nicaragua to film a CBS documentary this spring, William Urschel, Jr., took the time to talk to people away from the official tours. Although he once sided with the Sandinistas, Urschel concludes: “What has happened to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua reminds one of Cuba” (Princeton Alumni Weekly, Sept. 7, 1983). May God help Christian leaders to help our brothers in Christ in Marxist countries.

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Princeton Junction, N.J.

Christian Administration?

I was dismayed at seeing “Rating Reagan” [Oct. 7], Surely being Christian involves a concern for righteousness. And righteousness would seem to be contrary to so much that the Reagan administration has done. How people associated with this kind of administration can be called “Christian” defies understanding. They certainly can be referred to as those who say, “Lord, Lord.” But to call them “Christian” is to stretch that term so far that it ceases to mean anything. Far from making people more morally and religiously aware, I think the protestations of Christian commitment on the part of Reagan officials can serve only to cheapen the words through which Christian faith is proclaimed.

Christianity, as I understand it, stands for service to the poor and oppressed and against nationalistic idolatries. On both counts, I think the Christian has to regard the Reagan administration with profound skepticism.


Lafayette, La.

Thank You!

Please convey to Elisabeth Elliot the sincere appreciation and heartfelt gratitude of one among countless numbers, I am sure, for retelling the life story of “Amma” in living and moving words of feeling of one who shared but is unable to articulate them [“The Person Who Influenced Me Most,” Oct. 7],


Bibles for the World

Wheaton, Ill.

From Left To Right

Richard Lovelace’s article “Are There Winds of Change at the World Council?” [Sept. 16] seemed to indicate a step to the right by a group that has been in left field for some time. The WCC and the NCC have been under severe fire not only from conservatives, but even from the liberal secular press. Was this assembly in Vancouver reflective of a true change, even down to the day-to-day money spending agencies of the WCC, or did they carefully orchestrate a conservative show in order to “get the heat off” and prevent further deterioration of their sources of money?


Garland, Tex.

It was one of the most exciting and inspiring articles I have ever read in your magazine.


Langley Presbyterian Church

Langley, B.C.

Breath Of Life!

Philip Yancey makes an excellent point: God is present in our lives, hence his guidance is also present, however subtle or invisible it may usually be [“Finding the Will of God,” Sept. 16].

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God’s great longing is to give us wisdom and discernment for trials of faith. He does not promise wisdom for the “trials” we create in attempting to select the “best” choices from among the unparalleled number of amoral opportunities available to us (Jas. 1:2–11). As the Father’s intimacy permeates our living, his priority is on the blossoming forth of Jesus through us as we freely live. Our Father offers us not a “plan” for our life, but his very Breath, working creatively with us, within us.


Berkeley, Calif.

I could not help but feel a little uneasy at the end of Yancey’s article. In a close relationship we desire communication from the other person, and that is found in God’s Word. Why Yancey left this out I don’t know, especially since he discovered the very premise for his position in the Psalms.


Albuquerque, N.M.

Thanks for Philip Yancey’s article, refocusing the spotlight in decision making on the primacy of our relationship to God rather than on a set of techniques. In our “mega-trending” society, the tendency is to seek the “high tech” of innovation and technique rather than the “high touch” of God’s presence in a relationship of trusting dependence.

I have found that when I properly understand the place and limits of the rational resources that are available to me by God’s sovereign grace, only then do I recognize anew my dependency on the mysterious intimacy of my relationship with my Wonderful Counselor and Helper. This holistic balance is one Friesen’s book brings to the entire discussion of Decision Making and the Will of God and one that would further enhance Yancey’s otherwise helpful discussion.


Seattle Pacific University

Seattle, Wash.

Wrong Title?

Curtis Mitchell has made many significant contributions to our understanding of prayer in the Scripture through his careful studies. His article, “Don’t Pray for the Unsaved!” [Sept. 16], is of the same quality and touches upon a sorely needed area of clarification. He is right on target when he says, “Prayer relating to evangelism has been more misunderstood and subject to ‘malpractice,’ I believe, than any other.”

If I were going to make any alteration of his article, I would do it in the title and phrase it, “Don’t Pray for the Unregenerate.” The term salvation in Scripture is broader than salvation from the penalty of sin. It includes salvation from the power of sin and salvation from the presence of sin as well. In the case of a regenerate person, he has been saved from the penalty of sin, he is to go on being saved from the power of sin, and he shall one day be saved from the presence of sin altogether.

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If more regenerate people, who have been saved from the penalty of sin, would go on being saved from the power of sin, we might find that more of the lost, or unregenerate, would be saved from the penalty of sin.


Western Conservatives

Baptist Seminary

Portland, Oreg.

A Note Of Praise

Congratulations on the excellent article “Why Charles Colson’s Heart Is Still in Prison” [Sept. 16]. This dedicated man of God has been a tremendous encouragement to many, including those who minister in prisons with God’s Word.

I recall when the publishers of Mr. Colson’s first book sent to Prison Mission Association headquarters a gift package of 1,000 copies of his book Born Again. In so many ways we have been helped by the testimony we see in his work and the outreach of Prison Fellowship. We pray and thank God for the impact being felt in prisons and elsewhere, thanks to his stand for Christ.


Prison Mission Association

Riverside, Calif.

Simple Solution

I was impressed with your balanced article “Hitting Sour Notes: The Clash Over Music Copyright” [Sept. 16]. I have a simple suggestion [for music publishers]: Include with every published work, whether sheet music, recording, lyric sheet, or other medium a simple form to request permission to duplicate the work. Have on the form a complete price list, detailed enough to cover the most likely needs of the probable users of the work. Make prices fair, covering usual royalties and reasonable administrative costs, but recognize the fact that the users will be paying the high costs of physical media. By filling out the form and mailing it with the appropriate fee, a user may immediately make the copies he or she needs.

Those who knowingly steal will not be deterred, but there are many who will welcome the chance to pay for the music they use.


Arlington, Va.

Thank you for your very informative article. The article made such an impression I Xeroxed a copy for my file.


Confidence Affirmed

Regarding the recent news feature on Constance Cumbey [Sept. 2] and her gratuitous assaults on respected evangelical persons and agencies, including the Mustard Seed Conspiracy and its author, Tom Sine, I wish simply to affirm my complete confidence in author Sine and my hearty appreciation of the book. Guided attacks may have value. Misguided attacks are singularly graceless.


Boca Raton, Fla.

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