Judging Divorce

Thank you for your fine coverage of the marriage, divorce, and remarriage issue [CT Institute, Dec. 14]. I especially enjoyed your material on the lack of care for divorced people, because many Christians judge divorced Christians without knowing the facts. In most cases, their misinterpretation of God’s Word has added greatly to the already intense suffering of the divorced.

Some call divorce an evil thing that breaks up marriages. But it is the sin committed prior to the divorce that breaks the marriage bond. While a divorce may be obtained for unbiblical grounds, it is the grounds that are evil, not the divorce. That “divorce” is not an evil in itself is also proved by Jeremiah 3:8 where the Lord put Israel away and gave her “a bill of divorce” because she had backslidden and committed spiritual adultery. Like the Lord, we can “hate divorce” because of what went before without calling divorce evil.

George M. Bowman

Operation Balance

Cambridge, Ont., Canada

I noted that some time was given to discuss whether divorce in some exceptional cases was adultery or not. However, little time was given to nonexceptional cases of divorce and remarriage with the original mate still living and to discuss such important related questions as: (1) Is remarriage in such cases adultery? (2) If it is, does the relationship continue to be adulterous? (3) If this is so, what are the present and final consequences for partners continuing in such a relationship?

Jim Marquardt

Woodlake, Calif.

There is such a thing as moral and scriptural truth, and it is under immense attack. Are there any sexual standards, moral principles, or biblical truths that are timeless and not subject to a discussion by the senior editors or a readers’ survey? Does the fact that “good people” disagree with the historic understanding of the meaning of Scripture render those verses powerless? Do you realize you are stating that your forebears, who were willing to die for things now so smoothly rejected, were totally wrong about sexual morality? What else were they wrong about? Maybe euthanasia and infanticide?

Richard P. and Frances G. Ganzer

Middleburg Heights, Ohio

Can lesbian beliefs be evangelical?

Regarding the citation of Virginia Mollenkott as an “evangelical author” in “Episcopal Adversaries Grudgingly Earn Respect” [News, Dec. 14], and then describing her as a lesbian with monist beliefs in a female God: Am I misreading that sentence, or are you describing a lesbian with monist beliefs in a female God as an evangelical?

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If so, what exactly is an evangelical?

Mark Mullery

Pasadena, Calif.

Although Virginia Ramey Mollenkott has long called herself an evangelical, many CT readers were right to register their cognitive dissonance. Promoting lesbianism, monism, and belief in a female God does not fit with almost anyone’s definition of evangelical, including ours.


One Large Church “To Go”

If there’s a lesson to learn from fast-food restaurants, it’s that an incredible number of people want to be fed without coming inside. One church in our area is trying to apply that lesson with its own version of the drive-up window.

Its building occupies only a fraction of its property. The rest is covered with paved drives leading past “menus” and microphones to quick-service windows and booths.

Without setting foot inside this church, a Fast-Faith Harry (or Harriet) can “pick up” most of its services. At one window, you can get taped sermons in 10-, 20-, and 30-minute versions (“Have It Your Length at First FastChurch”). At another window, you can pick up prerecorded congregational singing—or choose a fully orchestrated accompaniment and provide your own. Automated Communion Dispensers (ACDS) dispense the elements in recyclable containers.

Of course, before you leave this church’s property you drive through what looks like a toll both, where you can drop off your offering. I’m told they’re planning to begin a check-cashing service as well—for your convenience, of course.

Land adjacent to the property has been acquired to build a future “Promised Land Playland” where children can be dropped off while you pick up your custom church service. And next to that will be a modified car wash, to provide drive-thru baptisms (sprinkling or immersion, depending on how long you stay).

During this recent expansion, the only enhancement to the original church building was an observation deck. After all, it’s important that the few “inside” church members who started the whole thing be able to monitor their church’s ministry without leaving the building themselves.


The evangelical electorate

I eagerly began to read the chart in the News section for December 14, “The 1992 Vote, Evangelical Style.” Then I noticed the [first category], “Percentage of voters identifying themselves as white evangelicals.” Are there any black evangelicals in the U.S.? Were their votes and opinions not worth surveying?

Mrs. Winsome Davis

Plevna, Ont.

We, too, would be interested in the voting patterns of African-American evangelicals. Unfortunately, our source did not provide such statistics.

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Shortly after George Bush lost the election I learned that 45 percent of Christians—much to my dismay and disbelief—didn’t vote for Mr. Bush. I keep asking myself why. I don’t understand why a Christian would prefer Bill Clinton over George Bush.

As Mr. Clinton picks his cabinet and other positions, I am not so disturbed by his choice of persons who will deal with fiscal matters, but most of his other choices disturb me greatly. I think the Christian community is going to be filled with deep regret over their choice of Bill Clinton for president.

Mrs. Beverley Browning

Kirkland, Wash.

I am weary of articles and editorials that imply Bush was the Christian candidate. His loss is blamed on a secular culture, and on evangelicals defecting because of the economy.

How can Christians overlook the dominant biblical theme of God’s special concern for the poor? We have had 12 years of tax breaks for the rich and program cuts for the poor. No wonder those making over $100,000 voted for Bush—he’s their man!

It’s sad how so many Christians have become one-issue voters. It is commendable to be concerned about the unborn, but where is the concern for children who have been born? In a field of less-than-ideal candidates, I cast my vote based on biblical principles—and I voted for Clinton.

Bob Vroon

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

A response from The Family

Thank you for a generally fair-minded article about our fellowship [News, Dec. 14]. Nevertheless, we would like to call several inaccuracies to your attention.

[Ed] Priebe and [Daniel] Welsh were never “high-ranking leaders” during any of their tenure in The Family or the Children of God. Although they were involved in editing of some publications (but never the writings of Moses David), both proved too irresponsible to hold any position of leadership.

While some of our interpretations and applications of Scripture are controversial, our foundation is the lordship of Jesus Christ and the infallibility of the written Word of God in the Bible.

We categorically deny that The Family is engaged in “widespread deception of its followers and the public.” We find it ironic that such charges come from Priebe and Welsh, whose “Rambo-style” foray and misguided attempts to deprogram our Manila members resulted in a great deal of pain and anguish, not to mention the disappearance of close to $25,000. They only ceased their deception when they were arrested.

Your article stated Priebe and Welsh “have now moved into the evangelical mainstream.” Is this the kind of behavior mainstream Christianity condones?

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We will no longer acquiesce when our civil and religious rights are violated. Priebe and Welsh are both currently facing criminal charges arising from their actions against us.

John Francis

Spokesman for The Family

Los Angeles, Calif.

A lesson still to be learned

K. L. Billingsley’s points in “Good Ministries, Bad Business” [Speaking Out, Dec. 14] were on target.

A Christian friend of mine in the Midwest was general manager of a chain of community newspapers, and his responsibilities included setting advertising policies. At one point he ordered that advertising clients who used a Christian symbol or Bible verse on business cards or stationery would be required to pay cash in advance. These were his worst-paying accounts.

One lesson that many of us in the faith still need to learn is that our most effective witness—to non-Christians and to fellow believers—is not through what we say, but through what we do.

Robert J. Tamasy

National Director of Publications

Christian Business Men’s Committee

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Billingsley has some relevant things to say about business standards among Christian ministries. Having been in the contracting business for 40 years, I felt prompted at a recent board meeting of a Christian ministry to ask what substantive measures were being taken to retire over $2 million in short-term debt and/or curtail activity. The response, as recorded in the minutes, was: “This is a faith ministry rather than a bank.” I was deeply offended then and continue to be now, and I join Billingsley in crying out against that sort of cavalier attitude.

However, journalists find it difficult to express themselves on these issues with precision. Could it be that it would be better for a businessman to write (or at least consult) on this subject?

Ralph D. Howell, Jr.

Boca Raton, Fla.

Why spiritism?

I commend Marvin Olasky for his excellent article, “The Return of Spiritism,” [Dec. 14]. I must ask, however, what protection from this potentially overwhelming satanic deception does the Christian have who clings to the myth of the immortality of the human soul? Since (as the majority of evangelical Protestantism believes) the soul leaves the body at death and goes “to be with the Lord,” why shouldn’t our dead loved ones make appearances and communicate their superior wisdom and guidance to us?

During many seances of the middle 1800s, loved ones of those attending would appear, claiming to have great spiritual “light”—such as the Bible is not the inspired Word of God, and belief in the atonement of Christ is not necessary. Was the attendee to believe his senses or the Word of God? How can we protect people today from similar delusions?

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As long as we insist on preaching Greek philosophy while ignoring the biblical teaching that the soul sleeps in death until the resurrection, and cannot communicate with us, people will continue to be vulnerable to, and even attracted to, “the return of spiritism.”

Jay Warren

Show Low, Ariz.

Despite reputable theologians frequently informing us that the appendant idea of an immortal soul is inconsistent with Hebraic thought, many evangelicals persistently defend this notion with great passion and thereby contribute unknowingly to the doctrines of demons.

David Godeke

Evansville, Ind.

Sayers’s magnificent work

I greatly appreciated “When the Incarnation Came to the BBC,” by Mary Ellen Ashcroft [Dec. 14].

In war-dark Scotland I listened with rapt attention to a drama of the crucifixion of Jesus being broadcast on the BBC radio. It was not until years later that I discovered the creator of Lord Peter Wimsey had been the author of that broadcast.

William H. Forsyth

New Windsor, Md.

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