Billy Graham’S Example

Thanks for the exceptional issue on Billy Graham’s ministry [Nov. 18]. Not only has he shaped famous organizations and influential periodicals, he has also been a model of gospel preaching for numbers of nameless men and women. Both my son in England and I owe our gospel ministries in large measure to the example of Billy Graham, for whom we thank the Lord.

Rev. Wayne Detzler

Calvary Baptist Church

Meriden, Conn.

In his editorial [Nov. 18], Kenneth Kantzer tries to refute the charges that Graham was an opportunist in capitalizing on the celebrated “Puff Graham” order given by William Randolph Hearst. However, if such an order was ever issued, it was never really obeyed. Anyone who examines newspaper coverage during his crucial Los Angeles crusade will discover that the Hearst-owned papers gave Graham no greater exposure than the non-Hearst press. Hearst papers in other cities reported little or nothing about Graham until he was drawing huge crowds in New England and the South. The credit (in human terms) for Graham’s rapid rise since 1949 should be given to Graham himself, and to his co-workers.

Lou Shapiro

San Bruno, Calif.

I find Martin E. Marty altogether too shortsighted by limiting Billy Graham to time and space [Nov. 18]. I believe he missed the real genius of the man. Graham has a visioning ability that is rare indeed. It was this that enabled him to inspire others to follow Christ and to implement his farsighted projects.

Rev. Neville Peterson

Wolf Point, Mont.

Change and growth? Martin E. Marty is the one who has really changed and unmistakably grown.

Rev. Mark T. Gorgans

Elberta Alliance Church

Elberta, Ala.

Tangled Facts

Thank you for your coverage of Kathryn Lindskoog’s C. S. Lewis Hoax [News, Nov. 18]; I look forward to your full review. The book raises in a clear way, with carefully marshaled evidence, issues that need to be addressed. I’ve met Paul Ford and have regard for his insights. But I wish he had not dabbled in amateur psychoanalysis. I don’t think it’s fair to reduce the issues to “a struggle to determine who was more important to Lewis.” Lindskoog is to be commended for her commitment in pursuing the tangled facts and for charity in presentation (this is called hoax—as in prank—rather than fraud).

Terri Williams

Portland, Oreg.

Paul Ford has not even read the book. Yet he advised Multnomah and other publishers not to accept Lindskoog’s work for publication. This type of obstructionism will not help clarify controversies surrounding the Lewis estate.

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Lloyd Billingsley

Poway, Calif.

Ford’s false analysis not only insults me, but also insults those luminaries who have believed in the book and encouraged me along the way.

Kathryn Lindskoog

Orange, Calif.

I was dismayed by the omission of a story commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the death of C. S. Lewis. Instead, you ran a story on Lindskoog’s book, which stirs a controversy. I agree with Walter Hooper on one point: This is “a curious way to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Lewis’s death.”

Terrence Neal Brown

Memphis, Tenn.

Prolife Concerns And The Arms Race

Charles Colson in his column “Seamless Garment or Straitjacket?” [Nov. 4] observes that to extend prolife concerns to the arms race is to “worship biological life.” He notes that such an approach “seems plausible” and that “this sweeping definition of the seamless garment leads some, logically indeed, to conclude that deterrence is immoral.” However, some of us evangelicals say there is nothing plausible or logical about striving for a “consistent ethic of life” that opposes abortion, the nuclear arms race, euthanasia, and economic exploitation. In fact, it is plausibility and logic that have brought on the devastation of these social problems. It is, rather, the Scriptures and faith that are the foundation for this approach.

Rev. Wayne North

Harrisonburg Mennonite Church

Harrisonburg, Va.

In spite of Colson’s quoting C. S. Lewis (from 1948—hardly fair in presuming what Lewis would say today), there’s no tradition in Christianity justifying the total annihilation of humanity on the grounds that loss of liberty would be a worse fate. Yet that seems to be what Colson advocates. Isn’t that the worship of liberty? At least Colson’s honest. For nuclear deterrence to work, there must be officials prepared to commit global suicide rather than surrender—if an enemy is willing to risk the same ends for conquest.

Dave Jackson

Evanston, Ill.

True justice is impossible apart from logical consistency—and frankly, the “seamless garment” theory is far more consistent than Colson’s militarism. Neither freedom nor justice would mean much in a postnuclear world fit only for cockroaches.

Mark Pettigrew

Springfield, Mo.

I was disappointed Colson could not accept that people who are trying to be consistently prolife could be an important voice in the Christian community.

William A. Fitzgerald

Kalamazoo, Mich.

One Of Us?

Why try to claim novelist Flannery O’Connor as “one of ours” (i.e., an evangelical; Books, Nov. 4) when she herself doubtless would have shunned such a label? Are we also to claim Mark Twain because he married a staunch Presbyterian before whom he bowed and scraped? O’Connor wrote about people to whom God was an ever-present reality, thus giving all of us a more honest and sharper focus on modern life than do many contemporary novelists. We can and should acclaim her profound insights and skills, as well as her remarkable courage and faith under great suffering, but please, let it rest there.

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James W. Reapsome

Wheaton, Ill.

It’S About Time!

It is about time the largest, most influential Christian magazine in the United States recognized the largest, most influential Christian evangelical denomination in our country [Nov. 4]. Southern Baptists across the years have been a witness for Christ and have repeatedly shown that in spite of tensions, we are a creative, dynamic group of people, not bound either by our southern heritage or geography. I appreciate the clarity with which some of our best spokesmen expressed who we are. We ask you to pray for us as we continue to minister in the “entire United States.”

Dale G. Robinson

The Southern Baptist General

Convention of California

Fresno, Calif.

Dating the beginning of the Baptist church to the Puritans is somewhat obtuse and denies the true beginnings of the Anabaptists, thousands of whom died for their belief in the priesthood of the believer and salvation on faith alone, before and during the Protestant Reformation in Europe.

Donald C. Thompson, M.D.

Morristown, Tenn.

The last paragraph in the sidebar “How the Convention Works” is incorrect in saying: “The president of the SBC appoints the committees that, in turn, appoint the groups that exercise direct control over the mission boards, seminaries, and other convention agencies.”

The president of the SBC appoints the committees that nominate people for the mission boards, etc. These nominees are brought before the convention in session where others may be nominated. Then the boards are elected (or rejected) by the messengers at the convention. This process means that, though influential, the SBC president is hardly “… one of the most powerful ecclesiastical figures in America.”

Royce Ballew

Waco Baptist Church

Waco, N.C.

Missing Detail

An important detail was dropped out of my article, “How Important Is Preaching?” [Oct. 21], during the editorial process. I am distressed that the article appeared as if Bartlett Giamatti’s words are my own. The following should have been enclosed in quotation marks and attributed to Giamatti:

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“Words were units of energy. Through words man could assume forms and aspire to shapes and states otherwise beyond his reach. Words had this immense potency, this virtue, because they were derived from and were images of the Word, the Word of God which made us and which was God. Used properly, words could shape us in His image, and lead us to salvation. Through praise, in its largest sense, our words approach their source in the Word, and, therefore, we approach him.”

Lloyd J. Averill

University of Washington

Seattle, Wash.

Lone Ranger Approach

I want to register our protest in the strongest possible terms for the Church in Action article “Rising Star at the Twirling Tomato” [Oct. 21]. In addition to statistical and geographical errors, the article encourages a “lone ranger” approach to ministry and potentially slights many fine Chrstian congregations in Utah. In fact, Pastor Les Lofquist has sent letters of apology to several area churches! Since the average attendance at Washington Heights Baptist Church (CBA) is almost 400, only by defining fundamental in its narrowest sense could anyone claim that there are only two fundamental churches with a total attendance of 300 in the Ogden area. The offense caused by this implication is magnified by the consideration of the values used to limit the “good” churches in the Salt Lake area to only 15! Perhaps CT could write another article about ministry in Utah.

Rev. James L. Wakefield

Utah Conservative Baptist Association

West Jordan, Utah

Pastor Pollster

Polls played such an important role in the presidential campaign that my church figured there had to be a way to Christianize them. So last fall, while neighboring churches were searching for Sunday school teachers and choir directors, our church hired a pastor pollster. What better way to measure whether our church was “on track”?

There was some resistance to the idea at first, since our planning and growth consultants (Joshua, Caleb, and Associates) pointed out that polls tend to reflect the will of the people more than the will of God. But 10 out of 12 members surveyed disagreed with this report, so we went ahead.

In the past few months, we’ve learned some interesting things. For example, one Sunday our exit poll showed that 45 percent of the congregation felt the pastor spoke too long; 43 percent felt he didn’t speak long enough; and 12 percent said they didn’t know he had spoken at all.

Another poll showed that the pastor’s “approval rating” was higher among inactive members than active members.

Unfortunately, our pastor pollster didn’t last long. He made the mistake last week of suggesting that the congregation, as well as the pastor, be the subject of opinion polls. He wanted to poll the community to determine our church’s approval rating.

A solid 97 percent of the congregation thought that was a bad idea.


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