Divine Truth

As long as William Bentley Ball (“Why Can’t We Work Together?” July 16) ignores Rome’s general and heterogeneous admixture of Scripture, tradition, church, general councils, popes, and fathers, he will never understand that Roman Catholicism and biblical Protestantism are opposites when it comes to divine truth as found in the Scriptures alone!

Bartholomew F. Brewer, Ph.D., Director Mission to Catholics International, Inc.

San Diego, Calif.

I was brought up under both Roman Catholic and Protestant parents. When the priest told me the Bible must be interpreted only by the “Church,” I asked why and was told parishioners were not knowledgeable enough to correctly interpret it. This puzzled me because of verses like 2 Timothy 3:15–17. When I was taught that Mary is our intercessor, I rejected that teaching, based on 1 Timothy 2:5. The Bible states that Jesus, not Mary, is the mediator between God and man.

In view of the post-Vatican II beliefs and the fact that Vatican II reaffirms the Council of Trent without reservation, there is no common ground for “working together.” If we accept the Bible as God’s Holy Word, we will have a primary and foremost priority of spreading the gospel of Jesus without compromise.

Ralph E. Zecco

Avon Park, Fla.

Political co-activity is okay as long as we who have Christ do not put our stamp of approval on false religion by acting or seeming to imply that they are brothers in Christ who merely differ on peripheral matters.

Kelland Ingram

Calistoga, Calif.

True Bible believers do not need quantity to empower their cause, whether worldly or spiritual, but rather quality. Just as David was tempted to quantify Israel, to take in its numerical strength, thus displeasing God by lack of real trust, we ought to learn the same painful lesson. Let us dump the advice of false believers and rely on God rather than the power of political-religious systems that attempt to woo us into deals that will destroy us.

Brad Blinstrub

Chicago, Ill.

Why Resort To Fantasy?

When I read “Scientists Discover Hell in Siberia” [July 16], I was reminded of a story I heard in 1985 in church during an Old Testament class. The teacher told us that when NASA scientists were preparing to launch rockets to the moon, they ran a computer program intended to calculate the positions of the sun, moon, and planets for the past several centuries. The program always bombed at the same date B.C. Nothing was wrong with either program or computer. It was a mystery until someone with a Bible read in Joshua that God made the sun stand still for a day.

Article continues below

As an engineer and computer programmer/operator/hacker, I have discovered several bizarre reasons why software can fail—none supernatural. Nor does a failed computer solution prove anything. So I was shocked when the teacher added, “It’s about time science bowed down to God”—and the rest of the class smiled and nodded.

Why do we Christians resort to fantasy to substantiate the truth of God’s Word? Why are we so gullible as to believe whatever we hear? And if we fall for bogus news, is it any wonder that secularists scoff at us for believing the Good News of the gospel? We sometimes may sound as absurd as a New Ager who “explains” psychic phenomena by babbling about vibrational energies, quantum mechanics, and the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox.

Elizabeth Wiethoff

St. Paul, Minn.

Where did Buhler get his facts regarding the Social Security check rumors and the rumors regarding Procter & Gamble and Madalyn Murray O’Hair? The article was interesting, yet vague about references.

Janalyn Robnett

Susie Perales

Pomona, Calif.

Holy Smokes!

I took the advice of a friend who obviously knows a lot more than I do and visited a “liturgical” church. He said if I went with an open mind I would come away with a new appreciation for things like robes and crucifers.

He was right.

The first thing I learned to appreciate was the processional, especially when the thurifer (the guy with the incense pot) moves up the aisle swinging the censer (the pot) in fancy figure-8 patterns. It’s supposed to symbolize the Holy Spirit, but I noticed it also kept worshipers in the aisle seats alert.

A little later in the service, we “passed the peace,” which pretty much amounted to a lot of hugging. The teenagers really got into this one, as did a smallish-looking guy in a leisure suit. Having landed in a pew with two rather manly-looking men, I headed them off with a handshake.

I almost choked during Communion—something they call the Eucharist—not so much because of the real wine they use, but because we all drank it out of the same glass, which really wasn’t a glass but what appeared to be a vase without the flowers.

Overall, I give these folks a pretty high mark. It wasn’t cold and impersonal (contrary to what our pastor has always warned), and when I finally learned how to cross myself (left to right), it really seemed to pull at something deep within (which is a lot more than I can say about our own church’s “give Jesus a hand” ritual after the offering).

Article continues below

But the most pleasant surprise was the sermon: 17 minutes, from beginning to end, and when the rector (their term, not mine) sat down, I didn’t feel like a total failure.

I might have switched over right then and there except I noticed in the bulletin that there was no evening service scheduled for that Sunday. Or for any Sunday, which means they probably don’t have missionaries, either. How could they possibly have a slide show in the morning?


Colson’s Gay Rights

Charles Colson’s July 16 column [“Look Who’s in the Rose Garden”] is a good example of a Christian response that helps to create and strengthen the very “immoral group” he decries. Radical groups exist, in part, because a positive response to their issues has been lacking.

As a starting point, Colson fails to acknowledge the violence and discrimination that prompted the Hate Crimes Statistics Act. Then he writes that there is “no argument” among Christians concerning basic civil rights for homosexuals. Yet, the same issue of CT cites opposition to homosexual civil rights by our country’s largest Protestant denomination [News, p. 41].

As Christians we have frequently treated homosexual persons as dirt and then complained about the consequences. A more redemptive stance would begin with confessing our long-time failure to provide love and support instead of merely prohibiting sin.

Gary Schumaker

Champaign, Ill.

Colson gives civil rights to gays with one hand and takes them away with the other. He demands that his moral creed be forced upon all Americans. A hundred years ago his position on sexuality (birth control, divorce, etc.) would have been judged immoral and a perversion. He would have had trouble getting a marriage license, joining the army, teaching school, or getting protection from police authorities.

If and when his sexual creed becomes questioned by a majority, he may thank God that the President has enough courage to invite him to the rose garden to witness the signing of a law that will help guarantee his basic rights as an American.

Dr. Paul R. Johnson

Pomona, Calif.

“Wasting” Good (Female) Talent?

The current quest among Christians to understand “women in leadership” issues can be compared to the 12 spies trying to assess the Promised Land [“Adam and Eve in America,” “Life After Eden,” July 16]. God has already given us instructions (through Scripture) concerning gender roles, and the church has faithfully followed the spirit (and often the letter) of these instructions for over a thousand years. Today, however, having spied the land, we find that women can be just as good (or better) leaders, teachers, and administrators as men, even “giants” in these fields. Thus, some Christians have gone to great lengths to justify women in leadership, advising the church to end its tradition of male leadership. Other Christians, however, have chosen to follow God’s instructions, even though it doesn’t appear to make sense and seems like a waste of good talent.

Article continues below

Clifford Chu

Honolulu, Hawaii

“Life After Eden” was very well done and much appreciated. I grieve at times that we waste precious years, and emotional and physical energy, debating “the issue.” History bears out clearly that women have been a vital part of the church, and without them, the church would have been severely retarded. Classical information, coming to us even most recently, indicates God’s mystery in choosing both men and women to carry out his gospel.

Life is short, and there’s much to do for the kingdom; let’s just do it together and be obedient, all of us, to Christ’s command!

Lydia M. Sarandan

Minister of Adult Education

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church

Newport Beach, Calif.

I was shocked and offended by the cover of the July 16 issue. Although the painting by Chris Anderson seems to signify Adam and Eve being expelled from the garden of Eden, such “art” borders on the obscene. Such a painting should have no place in an evangelical Christian magazine!

Pastor William Van Hal

Sibley, Iowa

The depiction of Adam and Eve in Anderson’s art is taken from a detail of a classical painting by the Venetian artist Titian.—Eds.

No Quorum, No Resolutions

Randy Frame must have left New Orleans before the Southern Baptist Convention officially adjourned. The resolutions on homosexuality and abortion, which he said were passed [News, July 16], never came to a vote due to the lack of a quorum on the last day of the convention.

James A. Patterson

Bartlett, Tenn.

An Artist’S Life

For the first time in all my Christian reading a Christian magazine has informed Christian readers where the artist Vincent van Gogh fits into Christianity [Arts, “The Not-quite Reverend van Gogh,” July 16].

Article continues below

In the past, van Gogh has been written off by so many noninformed intellectuals as having nothing to say nor having anything of spiritual value to leave the world; but this is where they have made a big mistake. His life has never been viewed by the church adequately because it has basically written van Gogh off as a failure and a way-out artist who didn’t make any sense. The article is an inspiration because it is a starting point to open the eyes of the Christian world that van Gogh had something of spiritual value to leave to the world.

Judy Heikes

Kettering, Ohio

CT readers may be interested to know that a recent report from the Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, has concluded that van Gogh did not suffer from epilepsy, as is commonly believed, but had contracted Meniere’s disease.

When van Gogh cut off part of his left ear two days before Christmas in 1888 he was “assailed by auditory hallucinations,” the doctor who attended him reported. The incident suggests that the tinnitus or ringing in the ear characteristic of Ménière’s had become intolerable, the study said. Had he lived a century later, van Gogh might have been treated and gone on to a full life.

David A. Buckna

Kelowna, B. C., Canada

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.