Where There Is No Vision
Ah, what practical vision abounds in over-the-counter Christian Bookstores. Across the bookstore from Kittel’s Theological where the “John 3:16 Frisbees” lie gleaming in the counter in redemption blue plastic, has at last come a Spiritual answer for Christians in the North: the “Jesus Ice Scraper.”
I could hardly look upon them without feeling cheap and worldly because I have used only a secular “Firestone Ice Scraper” for most of my long winters. (But then what kind of life-depth can you expect from one who has also used only a “Pepsi beats Coke Frisbee” instead of a Scripture Frisbee?)
What made me feel even worse is that I had overlooked the potential power of the “Jesus Ice Scraper.” Perhaps the efficacy of such a scraper could be merely waved over light frost on a February windshield while ice is rebuked in the name of consecrated celluloid.
Gazing down into a pail filled with the scrapers, I realized the vast power now available to Christians in the North. Vision—blessed sight—making travel and light possible to all those blinded by frost. Oh how true the blest injunction “Open my eyes that I may see …” but with the “Jesus Ice Scraper,” there is not only vision, but interstate travel.
As l gazed downward, a divine voice broke in the air around me and I heard the ancient words again: “What wilt thou?”
“Oh, plastic joy,” I cried, “that I might receive my sight.”
“Then crucify thyself,” cried a voice rising from the pail of scrapers, “if thou wouldst see, and take unto thee this 89-cent purchase and come from darkness to marvelous sight.”
“Still,” I cried, “I see through this glass darkly. I see only little Hondas as trees driving.”
And at the word, I scraped again and saw every Honda clearly.
I had been healed.
As I gazed into the bucket of scrapers, joy fell upon me in wholeness. Scriptures in new translations flew at me:
“See ye, indeed, but perceive not.”
“Without a vision, there are 13 car pile-ups!”
“Whether the 89-cent Jesus Ice Scraper is divine I know not, one thing I know, whereas I once was blind, I now see.”
In ecstasy and joy I did buy, and lo, I did scrape and my vision came again to me as of the vision of a little child.
Not To Be Ignored
Constance Cumbey and her book Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow [News, Sept. 2] should not be dismissed without a hearing. Granted, she could not argue her case in a court of law and win. “The Plan,” however, will be presented to the court of World Opinion and the Bible has something to say about the outcome.
I do not hesitate to affirm that Cumbey’s thesis is correct: the Man of Sin is alive today, he is about to be brought forward as the Christ of the New Age and it will shortly be our responsibility to identify him as Antichrist even if it means, God forbid, being labeled “Fundamentalists.”
This article raises questions anew in my mind as to why discussions on providence, evil, and the will of God almost always center in Genesis 3 and never consider Romans 8, particularly from verse 17 onward. Paul suggests that our creaturely imperfections and the incompleteness of this world may have to do, not with Adamic perverseness, but with some design of the Creator himself who intended that his creation be incomplete and thus forced to turn to him for strength and fulfillment. The possibility that he intended for evil to coexist in this world with good as a necessary foil or point of contrast for his divine goodness ought to be explored. Romans 8 would enable us to break out of the old dogmatic ruts of original sin and human depravity, and put the discussion on a more wholesome plane.
REV. EDWARD A. JOHNSON
Trinity Lutheran Church
I want to express my deep appreciation for “Schooling at Mother’s Knee: Can It Compete?” [Sept. 2]. It was refreshing and very balanced.
I would like to add something regarding the consideration of the pros and cons. In reference to the idea that “family closeness is gained at the expense of the varied experiences of school.” I would like to propose that this may be a faulty assumption. In actuality, the school environment is often very “artificial” with its same-age grouping of children in the classroom with one adult role-model. I would suggest that home schooling affords the opportunity for greater exposure to the real world (if one takes it) and more time for meaningful relationships with people of all ages.
SHARON R. GRIFFITH
Rewarding And Refreshing
Reading Virginia Stem Owens’ “Seeing Christianity in Red & Green as Well as Black & White” [Sept. 2] was as rewarding and refreshing as seeing a 3-D film with stereophonic sound after a photo album of black and white candids. It takes courage to call Christians to be “whole brains.” or at least to balance out the dominant left brain in evangelicalism with healthy right brain activity. That kind of courage is not always appreciated.
The sad thing in the Christian hierarchy is not that the theologians have a secure niche of authority and respectability near the peak of the mountain, but that the artists and musicians and actors and imaginative writers cannot share the view from the top but have been sentenced to wander homeless in the foothills below.
Creative Christians deserve a chance to show their stuff, to be taken seriously, to affect the patterns of thought and life in the Christian community. The Word needs to become flesh again; Christ speaks through the arts if we will only hear him.
Loss of liberty pointed out bv Kenneth Kantzer’s article “The Bob Jones Decision: A Dangerous Precedent” [Sept. 2], alarms anyone who values his right to speak the truth, no matter how unpopular. I, for one, never considered my position as a pastor to be one of the leaders of a “government subsidized” organization. Were Americans to accept this Supreme Court idea there would soon be another cabinet-level department at the White House to control both our pulpits and our actions.
REV. BARRY NEALY
Westside Baptist Church
Where is it written that religious institutions have an inalienable right to tax exemption at all? Perhaps the church’s biggest mistake was allowing the government to put this burden on us in the first place. The decision that tax exemption constitutes government subsidy was correct to at least one extent: it can be and is being used to wield control over the churches.
Many Christian institutions which have bragged for years about their refusal to accept government aid must now realize that they have actually been doing so all along, and now stand in grave danger of government control through threats to their tax exemption status.
Since there is no command of God that says we are entitled to such privileges and the government is morally obligated to give them to us, perhaps the best thing we could do is surrender such status, pay the taxes, and teach our people biblical giving habits to cover the cost. Only then could we genuinely be free of secular control.
JAMES F. SENNETT
College-Career Christian Fellowship
In regard to Martin E. Marty’s article “Baptistification Takes Over” [Sept. 2], if Baptistification is the “most dramatic shift in the Christian world,” God help us; Christendom is far worse off than I thought it was. I find the identification highly offensive. It must be a stench in the nostrils of God. Why not title the article for what it is—Babelfication?
Thank you for the outstanding article by Martin Marty on Baptistification. I appreciate his fresh honesty and humor in dealing with a most basic question of how one becomes a Christian in the 20th century. As Marty states, in baptism “there is power and promise” and being “born from above” is a daily experience of dying to sin and rising to new life in Christ. Amen.
REV. RICHARD T. PEARSON
DeSoto-Freeman Lutheran Parish
I Second The Motion
Dr. Waltke has answered correctly the question “Is It Right to Read the New Testament into the Old?” [Sept. 2]. I second his motion that we put into practice the church’s traditional view of the priority of the New Testament in the interpretation of the Old.
I also agree that in the hands of the New Testament writers the “literal fulfillment” of the prophetic Scriptures frequently received a spiritual, or nonphysical, form. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews might justly be accused of “spiritualizing” the Old Testament when he insists that Israel’s people, land, city, temple, and highpriest are no longer earthly or political, but eternal and heavenly in nature. Yet, it is this climax of revelation that explains the purpose of Israel’s nationhood and religious ceremonies. The Spirit-guided writer of Hebrews not only clarifies the meaning of the Old Testament, he completes our Lord’s own teaching about the nature of the kingdom of God which was taken away from the physical seed of Abraham and “given to a nation producing the fruit of it” (Matthew 21:43).
Both the unity of Scripture and the finality of Jesus Christ are at stake in this issue. If the Messiah’s rule is indeed the fulfillment of the “Law and the Prophets,” as well as the culmination of all creation and history, then we as Christian interpreters must allow him to have the last word.
St. Paul, Minn.
Kushner Theology Heresy?
Philip Yancey’s hesitancy to condemn Kushner’s Theology as heresy, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” [Aug. 5] is further evidence of a widespread reluctance in evangelical circles to take God’s sovereignty and man’s inability seriously. Job was able to say, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” And yet in saying “all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” (Job 1:22). It would seem that wrongdoing lay instead at the door of all who refuse to have their view of suffering informed by the strange, but ultimately comforting fact, that God “doeth all things well.”
REV. LARRY ALLEN
Presbyterian Church of the Covenant
I’ve been profoundly influenced by the writers of two articles on the subjects of past and future in your Aug. 5 issue: “Future Shock & Christian Hope,” and “Yesterday: The Key That Unlocks Today.” Lovelace and Hatch shone beacon lamps into the heart of the issues of history, faith, and future.
REV. HOWARD VRANKIN
St. Olaf Lutheran Church
Fort Dodge, Iowa
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