Recovery For Acoas

Thank you for the great article on adult children of alcoholics [“Sins of the Fathers (and Mothers),” Sept. 10]. Charles Sell’s information was informative, correct, and timely. It is important to remember that not all people in ACOA programs come from families with an active alcoholic. Children of alcoholics and dysfunctional families learn that coping tool of denial so well that sometimes individuals who could be helped think the program isn’t for them because there wasn’t an active alcoholic in their family.

I believe Christ is an active participant in these programs, and the hope of recovery is available in all—in denial, out of denial, angry, sad or abandoned.

Mary A.

Redlands, Calif.

It is a shame that churches are hopping on the latest psycho-fad bandwagon promoted in Sell’s article. Labeling believers as adult children of alcoholics and funneling them into support groups directs their focus and attention to themselves and their problems. This is to be expected from the world’s self-absorbed multitudes. But Christians need to look upward, not inward. Sell is wrong when he says the greatest need is love from the church. The greatest need is love for the Lord.

Bob Franck

Colorado Springs, Colo.

Pelikan An Example

Thanks for Mark Noll’s [profile of] Jarsolav Pelikan [Sept. 10]. Those of us pursuing academic vocations in history can look to the example of Pelikan for excellence and inspiration.

Pelikan also brings up an issue that should receive more attention—namely, the lack of academic freedom that Christian scholars often experience in Christian institutions. The notion that “most churches and seminaries remain fundamentally ambiguous about scholarship” lends further credence to the historic failure of evangelicals in rising to the occasion in its pursuit of scholarly excellence and honesty. Please continue to run more of this kind of article!

David L. Russell

William Tyndale College

Farmington Hills, Mich.

I think Professor Pelikan’s remark that we are not entitled to the beliefs we cherish apart from the theologians who “worked this out” for us is for the birds. Where is the credit for the work of the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth?

Robert E. Fishback

Tulsa, Okla.

Sometimes They Actually Sing

I don’t know about you, but one of my pet peeves is singers who talk too much. Maybe you’ve had them at your church: They show up with a van and a trailer full of electrical stuff, spend all day setting it up, kick off the concert with a rousing number complete with a light show and sometimes even a little billowing smoke, then shut everything down for what seems like a couple of hours while they “share.”

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They share their dark and dreadful “before-conversion” stories (pretty neat stories, actually). They share their concern for believers in communist nations. They share their plans to visit those countries someday, if only they could raise enough money from records and tapes for sale in the back of the church (which they don’t share). They share their indignation at the way Christians shoot their wounded. They even share little winks with the junior-high girls in the front row. Why can’t they just share their music?

I used to think they did all this sharing because they only knew two or three songs. But then I bought one of their tapes and discovered at least one group knew six (not bad for an eight-song tape). And there wasn’t one word of talk on the tape!

Once we had this guy who wore a turquoise tux, sat at the piano, and occasionally ran through some chord progressions, then forgot the words—to his talk.

Maybe these singers are just slow rappers.

Anyway, I think we’ve just been too nice. If our pastor sang instead of preached on Sunday morning, we’d either hoot him out of there or not show up next Sunday. So I propose we come up with a nice, but not-too-subtle way to let those singers know we want music, not talk. Catcalls or rotten fruit might be too nasty. Raising your hand would be kinder, but it might encourage them to keep going.

I wonder what would happen if someone would just shout “Sing!” in a crowded auditorium?


The Health-Care Dilemma

As a recently retired hospital chief executive officer, I would like to compliment you on your excellent series of articles on what I would refer to as “the American health-care dilemma” [CT Institute: “Emergency,” Sept. 10]. I agree that the American public would never tolerate the overt and covert rationing and lack of availability of new technology that exists under both systems. The solution lies in two areas.

First, we must develop a national health policy that will include a basic package of health-care benefits administered through both the public and private sectors. Second, we must move, on a phased-in basis, from our present “model” of health care, which concentrates the vast majority of its financing on “making sick people well” to one that increasingly concentrates on “keeping people well.”

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Herman A. Kohlman

Otwell, Ind.

I may have missed it, but in all your articles on the church’s role in health care, I did not see one word on Scripture’s specific directive in this area: James 5:14–16 says that when someone is sick, he is to call for the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil; and in that context of prayer and confession of sin, “the Lord will raise him up.”

Carol H. Blair

Hinsdale, III.

The Christian body has this primary witness to the medical profession: any real skill and ability for healing that it has ultimately is God’s gift and intended by him to mercifully bless the suffering. Yet, the modern American medical establishment is a notorious example of an institution taking in its clients for high fees—clients who often are miserable enough already. The medical profession must be called to face up to its godlessness and its greed—ironically, therein lie both its pride and its limitations.

John Schwane

Broken Arrow, Okla.

The articles on the subject of the health-care crisis show an amazing absence of discussion of the one problem of gigantic proportions that has caused more health-care crises than anything else. You can’t kill 1.5 unborn babies every year and get away with it.

J. W. Jackson III

Clearwater, Fla.

The article by G. Timothy Johnson displays how far down the slippery slope we have slid when a Christian minister can call nourishment treatment. I think most of us feel there is justification for discontinuing or not starting medicines or medical procedures and letting “nature take its course” for terminally ill patients; but the withholding of food goes to the roots of our religion. We must face the fact that such a decision really means we are doing something to people in the name of doing it for them.

George-Ann Castel

Kalamazoo, Mich.

Dr. Johnson’s principles for guiding medical decisions (especially “quality vs. quantity of life” and “limits on medical tech”) made so much sense to me. On the other hand, his mention of not rescuing preemies with a poor prognosis reminded me how wrong we can be in assuming a case is hopeless.

Four years ago my amniotic sac ruptured and never resealed. I was encouraged to abort and continually reminded of the birth defects the child would probably have if he survived. At 30 weeks his sudden delivery and underdeveloped lungs prompted doctors to tell me he had little chance to survive. Over the succeeding four days I watched my gracious Lord perform a miracle. Seven weeks later, thanks to God and an excellent medical staff, I took Joel home. Today he’s a normal, healthy boy.

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Joy Berends

Galveston, Tex.

Caring About Robin

Ronald Enroth would have your readers believe that the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) does not care about Robin George and her mother (Speaking Out, Sept. 10). He is wrong. We care deeply. (Incidently, the California appellate court flatly rejected Robin’s claims that she was kidnaped, brainwashed, and falsely imprisoned, observing that she was an intelligent, mature 15-year-old when she ran away to join the International Society of Krishna Consciousness [ISKCON] and was free to leave at any time.)

Enroth has also accused us of giving “indirect aid and comfort to enemies of the gospel” because we filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court. Although we respect his right to such an opinion, we believe a dispassionate, objective examination of the facts will reveal he is wrong. NAE filed a friend of the court, not friend of ISKCON, brief.

He fails to acknowledge the critical religious-liberty issue associated with this case. If the courts can act against unpopular religions in ways that attack religious freedom and we remain silent, the time will come when those devastating precedents will be used to deprive us of our religious freedom.

The importance of our action was underscored recently by Michael J. Woodruff, past executive director of the Christian Legal Society, who wrote: “The George case does raise an important and difficult legal issue about punitive damages. I respect NAE for joining with others and providing the court with the benefit of an amicus argument that considers this question from the broader perspective of the religious community.”

NAE will not stand idly by while religious freedom erodes. Our freedom to spread the gospel is at stake.

Billy A. Melvin, Executive Director

National Association of Evangelicals

Carol Stream, III.

Cheers to Ron Enroth for pointing out the folly of legitimate Christian organizations that are so concerned about “free exercise of religion” that they file friends of the court briefs in support of destructive cults.

Legitimate faith will thrive with or without the help of the Supreme Court. But we end up aiding the enemy when Christian leaders forget where our security lies and seek religious liberty at the expense of truth and sound doctrine. They should be ashamed for being so narrowly focused and short-sighted.

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Jim Heugel, Campus Pastor

University Christian Fellowship

Seattle, Wash.


Real Patriots Learn Real History

American conservatives, including religious conservatives, frequently argue that our students need to know more about our nation’s heritage, that young people need to be better schooled in the stories that make Americans proud. If students learn such pride in their country, the argument runs, they will better withstand the corrosive influences of the radical partisans or media celebrities who threaten traditional values.

There is some truth in such arguments, and if the patriotic impulse leads to greater emphasis on American history, I can only applaud. Young people need to know about those facets of the American experience that make us all grateful to live in the U.S.

But that is not enough. Students also need to know enough about our failures and dark moments. They need a balanced picture to help them avoid the kind of nationalistic arrogance that forgets that ultimate loyalty belongs to God, not the state.

The Hebrew prophets, we should remember, did not flinch from pointing out Israel’s sins, even when they spoke of God’s great works on Israel’s behalf. And biblical accounts such as 1 and 2 Chronicles are replete with the shortcomings of Israel’s leaders, not just the triumphs. As Christians, we should adopt the same spirit in evaluating our own country’s historical experience.

On the one hand, then, students certainly should know about our Constitution—the source of our democratic freedoms. They should hear about the fortitude of our pioneers, about the steadiness and continuing democratic commitment of our people to live during the Great Depression. They should know of the courage of those who endured the horrors of wars they did not start, and about the flowering of the democratic spirit as women and blacks finally won equal standing before the law. We should inform them that we devised and carried out the Marshall Plan, promoted the Peace Corps, and voluntarily yielded control over the Panama Canal to a tiny nation that lacked the military power to press its claim of ownership. And we have helped starving people around the world when the need arose. The stories of Roger Williams, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Jane Addams, Louis Brandeis, Will Rogers, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., and a host of others should also not be forgotten.

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But to keep things in balance, students need to know about our lamentable treatment of Native Americans, our equally disgraceful treatment of blacks, our frequent indifference to environmental hazards, the shame of the Nisei concentration camps during World War II, the scandals of the Grant, Harding, and Nixon administrations, and the support Sen. Joseph McCarthy got from those who should have known better. And while America entered Vietnam for honorable reasons, continuing the war when its folly became apparent, and devastating that hapless land with bombs and shell fire, was hardly America’s finest hour. The cowardice of presidents and Congresses alike when confronting clamorous and selfish special-interest groups can hardly be a source of satisfaction. (Alas, we the people punish them if they behave otherwise.)

Such a balanced view will help our children realize that America’s historical experiences contain the same mixture of good and bad as do our personal lives—with much to respect and much to regret. And while we claim that the U.S. is one nation under God, it is not the only nation under God, and we do our students no favor by implying otherwise. Whatever our appreciation for our country, no nation—our own included—is worthy of ultimate loyalty. That allegiance is to be given to God, who transcends all boundaries of nation, race, and culture.

By Reo M. Christenson, adjunct professor of political science at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

Speaking Out offers responsible Christians a forum for their views on contemporary issues. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of CHRISTIANITY TODAY.

Reach Neighbors, Not The Unborn!

In response to your article “Time to Face the Consequences” [News, Sept. 10], the Scriptures do not mandate “civil disobedience,” but do mandate that we be obedient to servanthood—that is, to help the needy, the sick, the homeless, the lost, and the brokenhearted—first, within the church, and second, outside of the church.

I am against abortion, but abortion is a moral, not a legal matter. We waste much of God’s time and money fighting legal battles on this and other issues when, in fact, the only way to change the abortion issue is to change the heart of the individual. This will not be accomplished in the courts. It seems we are more concerned with trying to save a child than we are trying to save our neighbors.

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John Rhinehart

Matthews, N.C.

Groups like Operation Rescue should look beyond the “killing mentality” they perpetuate as the only reason women have abortions. I have heard many individuals ask those in the prolife movement why they don’t do something about the children who are living and suffering from poverty, abuse (physical and mental), and lack of proper medical attention.

Surely, out of all the thousands who protest against abortion, a couple hundred would find the desire to really “save a child.”

Robert Durler

Las Vegas, Nev.

Forget The Name Calling

Having just read your interview with Operation Rescue’s Randall Terry [Sept. 10], as well as some literature from the Christian Defense Coalition, I am very disturbed by their apparent lack of compassion for their “enemies” in the judicial system. While I agree that Christian rescuers have received outrageously severe sentences, Terry’s name calling will only serve to further alienate those who desperately need to hear Christ’s message of love for this dying world.

Cindy Osborne

Santa Cruz, Calif.

Dropped From The Canon?

I can only imagine how tough it is to translate the Bible into the language of the Navajo Indians [North American Scene, Sept. 10]. But I would think that counting the number of books in the New Testament is much easier. My several copies all have 27 books—have I added one, or have your editors eliminated one?

Rev. Robert R. Collins

First Presbyterian Church

Mexico, Mo.


Fight The Good Fight

I greatly agree with the editorial by John Stapert [Sept. 10] regarding the proposed postal-rate increases. It is ridiculous that nonprofit publications must bear the brunt of this increase, while trash mail reaps the benefits. I truly hope the Postal Rate Commission will reconsider. I fear, however, that our efforts may be in vain. But I do feel it is necessary to fight, regardless of the outcome. Enclosed you will find a copy of a letter I wrote the Postal Rate Commission as suggested by Stapert.

Bonnie Robbins

Greensburg, Ind.

Thanks to many readers who have written the Postal Rate Commission.—Eds.

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