A License To Share

In an age of sterling silver “Try God” lapel pins and helium balloons displaying Bible verses, never has the future looked brighter for the creative evangelism industry.

“We’ve a slogan to tell to the nations,” said Ernest A. Peale, president of Catchy Ways to Catch a Soul, Inc. He’s most excited about the group’s new drive: Gospel License Plates.

Most “vanity” plates have such esoteric communiques as B MY BABE or ED N SUE, but Gospel Plates allow you to evangelize every car you pass. Peale reports some of the best of the Christian licenses are: SAVED R U, BORN 2X, and 4 GIVEN (already sported on some California cars). Fundamentalists love TRN OR BRN.

The possibilities are limitless. Imagine the impact if Baptists started sporting IMMRSED plates. Of course, Presbyterians could counter with ALLWET. You could even teach Trinitarian doctrine with HE IS 3 N 1.

As if all these are not advantages enough, Ernest expects a revival—among the prison inmates who make the plates.


Interpreting Feminism

Perfectly predictable: a man identifying with godliness and “beginning from above” [“Does God Really Want to Be Called ‘Father’?” by James Edwards, Feb. 21]. Such a view overlooks a whole dimension of God.

It is perfectly legitimate in the midst of a struggle for justice for theological reflection to take place. Men really have a hard time interpreting feminism, but try we must! It is more important to try to hear what feminists are saying than to try to explain it away. Edwards does not help us understand much of the feminist view.


Sioux Falls, S.D.

Sleepless Nights?

Kenneth Kantzer’s “Do You Believe in Hell?” [Feb. 21] is right on target. We often carelessly use the phrase “believe in” when what we really mean is, “believe to exist.” More significantly, he points us again to the massive scriptural testimony to hell’s reality.

Someone once said to one of my seminary professors: “If you really believed in hell you wouldn’t be able to sleep nights.” I do sleep nights, but sometimes I wonder why. If I knew that in the house next door even one person were undergoing unutterable torture, that would weigh upon my mind with relentless pressure. Yet hell for my unsaved, deceased neighbor is only concealed from my present view. Why should I not be depressed?


First Reformed Church

Alexander, Iowa

I applaud Kantzer’s stand on the reality of hell over against modern theology that would explain away God’s wrath as mere metaphor or anthropomorphism. After all, if all are destined for eventual salvation, what did Christ die to save them from? However, have you ever considered the scriptural (not to mention philosophical) support for the position that the destruction of the wicked is terminal?

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I believe the problem is caused in part by certain metaphorical expressions in Scripture. Writers in any language often use figures of speech that are not meant to be taken literally. To be specific, the Hebrew and Greek words for “forever,” “eternal,” and “everlasting” do not always imply, as in English, something that never ends.


Ellijay, Ga.

Good Taste In Worship

As a highbrow Episcopalian, I nevertheless share a certain sympathy with Franklin Pyles’s warm espousal of evangelical worship practices [“What’s Right with Evangelical Worship,” Feb. 21]. The whole subject of good taste in worship is a difficult one. Obviously, some form of artistic expression occurs in every Christian’s worship, no matter what tradition he belongs to. In my experience it is the high church Christian who is often put on the spiritual defensive here—his musical tastes are seen as cultural intrusions into the “pure spirituality” of New Testament worship, while less formal artistic expressions are somehow considered to be more inherently spiritual. Therefore, since I do not begrudge my Baptist friends their musical gratification in the tune “Wonderful Grace of Jesus,” I expect a similar indulgence when I experience ecstasies over Bach’s Mass in B Minor.

Pyles also focuses on the sermon as that which makes the incarnate Christ most immediately accessible. Without denying the powerful spiritual effect of great preaching, I would nevertheless point out that when one hears a sermon, one necessarily receives biblical truth indirectly—that is, as perceived and interpreted by a fallible human being(however godly he may be).


Newton, Mass.

A Scary Cover

The cover of your February 21 issue was downright scary. I saw that guy’s picture during WW II and he wasn’t a Christian evangelist (looks like Tojo). McGavran’s photo would have been better on the cover than the ugly thing given two exposures too many.


The Chapel By the Sea

Ft. Myers Beach, Fla.

Your caricature of Donald McGavran looks like the Devil; your photo of Donahue looks like an angel. Where’s your perspective?


Farmington Hills, Mich.

Economic Realities And Day Care

I was disappointed with “Breaking the Tie that Binds” [Feb. 21], because the author reinforces a misconception about two-income families. I do not, nor want to, live in a $2,500–3,500 per month neighborhood, drive a Mercedes, or have a live-in nanny. My husband and I are both well educated, work for Christian companies, and do not have entry-level positions. But neither salary is enough to live on alone, even extremely frugally.

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Does the author think we should wait longer [for children] until my husband’s company pays him more? (We have also been married for over eight years.) Outside child care will be our option, and we will pray that this care will meet our children’s needs while we are unable to be with them.

I find the author’s lack of sensitivity for the economic realities of working couples disturbing. Couples like us may be turned away from the church because of this insensitivity and judgmental attitude.


Wheaton, Ill.

Seminaries And Chinese Youth

I found the article “Can Seminaries Adapt to the Students of the ’80s?” [Feb. 7] enlightening and encouraging. However, in one section I believe the information is incorrect. Hubbard states that “Chinese evangelical churches are losing about 90 percent of their young people. Such a statement is not true of Chinese churches in the New York City area, nor in any other area of North American Chinese church ministry of which I am aware. Could he have meant that Chinese churches reach only about 10 percent of the whole Chinese youth population in North America?

In general, the Chinese churches of which I have personal knowledge are full of young people. Is there room for improvement? Yes! But losing 90 percent of their youth? Not by a long shot!


Chinese Evangel Mission

New York, N.Y.

I feel the men missed the point. The problem is epitomized by George Fuller’s statement in reference to age differences: “We can hardly tell the men from the boys.” Maybe he meant nothing by this, but it is this superior attitude that will destroy the seminaries’ effectiveness if it is not caught and dealt with. Many of today’s students have had far more experience in life than teachers who have closeted themselves behind their podiums, books, and office doors.


Raleigh, N.C.

Stretched Roots

In the interview [“Can Conservatives Find a Home in the National Council of Churches?” Feb. 7], Arie Brouwer apparently denies the inerrancy and historicity of the Scriptures, impugns the pious but vibrant Calvinism of C. Hodge and B. B. Warfield, balks at condemning (Eastern) religions that deny Christ’s divinity, reduces the central gospel message to socio-political renewal, and boasts of freedom from any “pattern of theology.” Surely, then, he is not earnest in describing himself as being “classically Reformed.” Brouwer acknowledges stretching his roots “a long, long way”; perhaps he should admit to breaking with them altogether.

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South Holland, Ill.

The real question here seems to be, “Can a wolf in sheep’s clothing be given a platform in CHRISTIANITY TODAY?” Of course he can! Without fear of contradiction!


Baywood Park, Calif.

I almost fell off my chair in hysterical laughter when I read Brouwer’s statement that “members of the NCC come together on a Trinitarian confession of Christ.” I would say that at least one NCC member denomination—the United Church of Christ—has all but become Unitarian in its theology and its own confession of faith. John M. Morris wrote in The Unitarian Register: “Although we properly distrust such ‘creeds’ on principle, liberals will find the new statement more Unitarian than any theological pronouncement yet to come from an ‘orthodox’ denomination.… The trinity is not mentioned, Jesus is not called God or Savior, but he is called Lord. God is an Infinite Spirit who is Jesus’ father, but he is also the father of all men. Jesus is called a man. The Bible is not mentioned. In short, aside from the Madison Avenue language of the thing, there is nothing to roil the liberal Christians and much to annoy the conservative Christians in the United Church. It might, in fact, have been adopted by any Unitarian church of a century ago.…”


Arlington, Va.

God Is Worthy To Be Feared

William Eisenhower’s article “Fearing God” (Feb. 7) was interesting. However, he seems to fall into a common misunderstanding regarding the fear of God. He tries to forge a middle ground somewhere between Jonathan Edwards and Terry Cole-Whittaker—which is admirable. Yet Eisenhower still comes across as thinking there is a separation between the love for God and illustration in Scripture that unifies the two. When Jesus said we could relate to God as “Abba” Father, that was all we ever needed to hear and know about how we should fear and love him. The Father’s love for us, with its boundless and rich inheritance, cannot be divorced from his disciplining hand; they are one in the same.

Yet society and much of the church have produced such poor examples of fathers that it is difficult for many to understand, let alone relate to, God as Father. Hence, many have either lost the love for him, or the fear of him.

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World Relief

Washington, D.C.

C. S. Lewis knew our only hope lies in facing the awful truth. And that is no doubt why Christians still find comfort in Psalm 90.


New York, N.Y.

“The Fear of God, who is impassible, is free to disquietude. For it is not God that one dreads, but the falling away from God. He who dreads this, dreads falling into what is evil, and dreads what is evil. And he that fears a fall wishes himself to be immortal and passionless” (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, W. B. Eerdmans, 1983).


Alexandria, Egypt

Doing Business With South Africa

I was upset to see no consideration for the South African government’s reason for its laws [“Churches Take Action Against Firms Doing Business with South Africa,” Feb. 7]. This one-sided attack unjustly makes the government appear as a terrible villain. I feel many of its actions are justified and do not deserve such adverse criticisms and punishments.

The treatment blacks are receiving in South Africa is sad, and in no way right. But this process cannot be rushed or it will lead to disaster. I don’t agree with many South African policies, but I do have sympathy for a people who fear they will lose everything they have. Americans have no room to speak, considering their history; individuals should be a little more sympathetic before condemning.


Collegedale, Tenn.

I deplore the horrible system of apartheid, but I find it repulsive that so many “rich” churches are feeling so righteous about their divestment in South Africa. Do they not realize that having nearly 10 billion dollars to divest is a condemnation of themselves?


Trinity Church of the Nazarene

St. Louis, Mo.

Inhibiting Response

The recent article, “Genetic Engineering: Promise and Threat” [Feb. 7], was a serious effort to improve our understanding of an important issue. Yet the situation was misinterpreted at significant points, and the general tone of fear and hopelessness may inhibit the needed response.

Current applications of recombinant DNA methods do not include changing the DNA code in every cell or passing the trait on to succeeding generations. Early attempts at human gene therapy will involve removing cells from the patient’s bone marrow, treating them outside the body, and reintroducing the changed cells into the patient.

The suggestion that genetic engineering could be used “to create a human being in any desired image” is terribly misleading and can seriously limit the credibility of a Christian witness. Most of the fanciful speculations would simply fail to survive embrvological development. Superior intelligence and resistance to disease involve many different genes, which are poorly understood, and which would have to be modified simultaneously. The conditions currently under study are serious single-gene defects resulting from the lack of an essential enzyme.

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Finally, to say “the genetic engineering debate may well be irreconcilable” overshadows the author’s comments about Christian response. There are plenty of opportunities for fruitful discussion with those actually engaged in biotechnology. In many of the research programs and companies there are Christians and others with a deep concern for ethical issues.


University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minn.

Man is said to be made up of soul, spirit, and body. The soul is immaterial and immortal, but subject to genetic cloning. The spirit, an activity of mind, is expressed in man’s freedom of choice. Cloning a more perfect body with increased intellectual capability may result in a super race of mortals, but will include super-citizens and super-criminals, which should afford an ample field of endeavor for super-apostles of Christ.

Don’t panic; God reigns.


Worcester, Mass.

The article was flawed by two aspects of what is said about the relationship between genetic engineering and race. Genetic screening has, indeed, been used in “what amounts to high-tech racism.” However, genetic screening does not fit most definitions of genetic engineering. More substantially, it is race, but this does not mean “we could copy nature and create a horrible genocide.” It merely means members of a particular race group are descended from an ancestral stock that had, by chance or because of selection, a higher frequency of the genes for that genetic disease than the ancestors of other racial groups.


Liberty, S.C.

Taking A Stand Against Pornography

Sincere thanks to Kenneth Kantzer for his editoral “The Power of Porn” [Feb. 7]. Just prior to that issue there appeared in a local newspaper a letter denouncing a pastor who had been identified in a story as taking a stand against pornography and its sale. I also wrote to the editor of that newspaper, and the information in your editorial was especially helpful.


Zionsville, Penn.

When it is suggested that we boycott those places that promote pornography, how far do we take it? Kantzer’s editorial: “According to N.F.D. Journal, the following important companies or their subsidiaries are among those with a sizeable interest in pornographic material: CBS, RCA, Coca-Cola, 7-Eleven stores, and Time Inc.” Do we boycott only Coke or 7-Eleven? Do we not buy Time or RCA recordings or watch the CBS “Evening News”?

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Praise Gathering of Believers

Sister Bay, Wis.

J. Edgar Hoover righly discerned a correlation between pornography and sex crimes. Certainly if books can educate, enlighten, and inspire, they also can corrupt by glamorizing and encouraging harmful ideas and behavior. Ideas do have consequences.


Arlington Heights, Ill.

Who Needs The Protection?

Dennis Kinlaw’s friend in “God Becomes Vulnerable” [Feb. 7] missed the whole point of the “safety equipment.” It is used to protect the AIDS patient, who is the vulnerable one—extremely so—entirely without resistance to infection.


Olympic View Community Church

Seattle, Wash.

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