Apparently most who read the April 3 issue found something in it to evoke a response. The flood of letters showed by a four-to-one ratio, for example, that computer online correspondents are enthusiastic about the new technology described in the News article "Cybershock." Nick B. Nicholaou, a ministry consultant, tells clients and audiences "the next ministry wave will be ridden by those offering communication services via one of the cyber networks." But some cautioned via e-mail about spiritual issues: "I can easily be caught up in the desire for more and better computers," says Mike Gagnon, "faster processors, bigger hard drives, cooler software … what the Bible calls greed."

Meanwhile, conventional letter writers ask if we can imagine Jesus communicating the gospel on the Internet or touching the afflicted while "hiding behind a computer screen." Henry Broadbent asks: "Suppose the shape of the Net becomes something we Christians find problematic?" Suggesting it may be a modern Babel, he adds, "This time, not bricks, but electronic machines; not mortar, but computer software."

A more sensitive nerve was touched in the articles about adulterous pastors. Writers of the dozens of letters received are almost equally divided over whether fallen leaders might be restored to ministry. One, writing from personal experience of grace and healing, says Jesus "did not treat sexual sin as a 'greater sin.' He was more concerned about the heart." Yet Vialo Weiss writes, "Adulterous pastors should not be restored to pastoral ministry. Adultery reveals a significant character flaw."

The accompanying excerpted letters reveal CT readers as articulate, insightful-and holding a variety of opinions.


* Reading the article ["Why Adulterous Pastors Should Not Be Restored," April 3], by Kent Hughes and John Armstrong, I was struck by two thoughts. The first was how timely, how correct, and yet how rare a statement this was-reiterating what has been the historic Protestant position on a now-controversial issue. The second was that such a view is almost certain to be treated as if it were denying the obvious-since so many ministers have fallen and been restored, it goes without saying that it is the right thing to do. Give a new view ten years of practice in our culture, and it will be assumed to be correct. Unlike the Bereans in the Book of Acts, most American Christians would rather appeal to what has been done than to what has been written.

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- Craig Miller

Santa Clarita, Calif.

To all my friends who were hurt by the article, I say, "Keep on preaching anyway." Remember that grace means that you get what legalists say you do not deserve-another chance. Mount up, you broken-hearted brothers and sisters, lay aside the sin that once beset you, and again soar like eagles.

- Tony Campolo

St. Davids, Pa.

During several decades of traveling ministry, I personally dealt with over 40 ministers caught in adultery. The shocking truth was that in almost all cases, it was not the first time, but a continuing pattern. I concluded early that there is a great difference between a man being overtaken in a fault, repenting, and making restitution and the man who continues in an arrogant, planned program of sinning, which totally compromises, if not destroys, all the elements of integrity.

What I saw mostly were tears of remorse over being caught and exposed, without a willingness for the discipline to rebuild the qualities necessary for effective ministry.

- J. Allan Peterson

Morrison, Colo.

I trust that, in the spirit of good will, friends can disagree. However, the following concerns come out of the article: (1) Grading transgressions is always tricky. The article does not escape this time-honored difficulty. (2) Appeals to church history are interesting and descriptive. They are neither normative nor contextualized, however. (3) The repentance-to-restoration continuum is a worthy motivation to repent. The alternative is to keep more secrets buried-exactly what the church does not need. (4) Public notoriety as an issue is suspect. The assumption may be drawn that quiet corruption is okay while public notoriety is the death blow. Similarly, although the authors avow they do not advocate churches punishing pastors, the article comes off as if, in fact, they do. (5) What about the vital issue: whether the moral failure was an episode or pattern? Along with this, what is the judgment of the spouse, and what place has the spouse played in repentance and restoration?

Let us keep the conversation going. If this is all to be said on the matter, hope of restoration and liberation from secrecy may become victims.

- Arthur Evans Gay

Winfield, Ill.

In a cheap-grace age, it isn't easy to buck the tide of opinion about moral defection in high places and restoration of leaders. Those who rush to restore often place competency over character (i.e., "What a shame to lose this talent for God!"). Where are the bleeding hearts for the victims?

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Evangelicals face a massive credibility gap with the public when ministers and Christian leaders are caught in adultery. To rush to restore invites further skepticism and cynicism. Who can be sure the confession is real or if it is merely contrition over being caught? I have yet to hear of an adultery case involving a Christian leader when the person admits it without being exposed.

Leadership is earned; it is not a divine right.

- Edward L. Hayes, President

Denver Seminary

Denver, Colo.

What is the statute of limitations on this sin? Can the sexual sinner ever be "blameless" again? Apparently not to the authors: "Covenant breaking of this type places a lasting reproach on the fallen minister, and this will have long-term consequences." How long? What quantity of grief and demonstrated repentance is required? Who judges the quality of "restoration"? The authors offer no clues and cite no positive examples.

- Name withheld by request

There have been more church splits, with all their related pain and shame, as a result of arrogance and pride through the ages than splits over adultery. Question: Should all pastors who have sinned due to pride be removed? Maybe the answer is yes. Then let's move on to sin number three in typical evangelical fashion. The only thing I ask is you stop when you reach my sin.

I am deeply disappointed. I brag about this magazine, but I am left feeling as though you have reduced yourself to a free wheeling BBS where unchallenged or unbalanced views can be printed.

- Rev. Dave W. Moore

First Free Methodist Church

Moose Jaw, Sask., Canada

It is true that adultery is a great sin. But isn't it just as great for myself as it is for my clergy? Having been a member and employee of a church where a senior pastor resigned because of sexual misconduct, I was able to hear and feel the anger and pain felt by other members of the congregation. It troubled me, however, because they talked about the incident as though the pastor was held up to a different set of standards than they personally were. I realize what 1 Timothy 3 says about the overseer of the church, but shouldn't that apply to all of us in the church? Aren't we all overseers of God's church? Isn't it about time we place ourselves on the same pedestal that we place our ministers, so that we may be stronger images of the Truth?

- Bryan T. Muecke

McGregor, Minn.


* Thank you for your excellent article "Cybershock" in the April 3 issue. I commend you for raising this issue.

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I have been an Internet user for about four years. I have three e-mail addresses, and my daily routine generally includes my quiet time, reading to my children, and visiting at least one new site on the World Wide Web.

Of course, Christians need to engage cyberculture. We need to use technology wisely for the cause of Christ. But we also need to engage our critical intellects when assessing the value of the Internet; it is, as you quote Curt Byers, stunningly glorious and wonderful and terrifying. I found the article weak on the terrifying aspect. I've been around the Internet long enough for the glorious and wonderful parts to wear off a bit and the terrifying parts to intrude. It's not all good, you know. Pornography is rampant, information mined is often unreliable and unverifiable, enormous amounts of time can be wasted doing nothing even remotely redeemable in terms of Christian stewardship.

American Christianity is all too much the fit body with fat minds. The Internet is not an environment suited to uncritical approaches. We must critically engage the culture at every opportunity and I think "Cybershock" could have been more balanced by being more aware about the very broad dark side of the Internet.

- David Mash

* I have one small addition to make to this article: "But they have had to overcome barriers both from their believing allies, who have yet to see the potential of the wired world, and from nonbelievers, who resist the expression of cyberfaith" (p. 79). One more barrier, at least (although you referred to it elsewhere): believers who are connected to the Internet but see it as their own personal podium for triumphantly judging others. For those who are seeking to reach out in dialogue, this too can be a barrier-it gives us a bad name.

- James Squire

St. Charles, Mo.


* I was tremendously encouraged to read the recent article about Dietrich Bonhoeffer ["Following Jesus to the Gallows," April 3]. Because of recent political debates and arguments, I started a short research into the rise of Nazi thought and the failure of the church effectively to resist that heresy. Bonhoeffer's name came up several times as one of a small handful of churchmen who continually fought the Nazi freight train. I wish there were more like him today. Thanks for the reminder of the true cost of following Jesus.

- Richard Gitschlag

Tillamook, Oreg.

Thank you for your fine article on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I was disappointed, however, that you did not mention the word "Lutheran" in the article. This would seem to be an oversight when you consider that Bonhoeffer was thoroughly in the Lutheran tradition, and that he consciously patterned his theology on Martin Luther's Theology of the Cross.

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- Pastor John Petty

Zion Lutheran Church

Montrose, Colo.

[Bonhoeffer's story] is an example of how we could get disconnected from the teachings of our Lord Jesus and try to fight evil with our own very limited resources. By agreeing to plot the death of Adolf Hitler, Dietrich Bonhoeffer disregarded that those individuals who believe in Jesus need to have him living in their hearts, minds, and lives.

- Felix Florimon

Yonkers, N.Y.

I agree that "when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die," but the question of what he dies for is at least as important as for what he lived.

I'm sorry that Dietrich Bonhoeffer's death was and is meaningless. His life could have meant much more. In comparing what's "better" with what's "worse," it is better to suffer for doing good than doing evil, according to the Spirit through Peter.

- Rev. Bill Click

Middletown, Ohio

* As I read the account of Bonhoeffer's agonizing and courageous decision to return to Germany to suffer with the believers of his nation, I wondered why Hollywood hasn't told this story. What could be more riveting to an audience and demonstrative of human (and Christian) values than the example of this radically brave man?

- Tom D. Hall, Jr.

Euless, Tex.


I recently read Betty Eadie's book, "Embraced by the Light," and I felt within my spirit that it wasn't biblically sound. But still I wondered if there was a chance of truth in it. I finished the book on Monday night, and it left me uneasy and full of questions. The next day my April 3 issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY arrived with an article on the book. Most all of my questions were answered, and I know that there was no validity in it.

- Mary Ellen Marion

Toronto, Ohio

* Your article on Betty Eadie once again confirms my contention that even Christians have made personal experience (rather than God's Word) the criterion for judging truth. Why are Christians buying her book? Because they lack a commitment to biblical discernment. Thank you for an article that challenges us back to God's Word!

- DebbieLynne Simmons

San Rafael, Calif.


After living most of my life around "evangelicals" who believe that the "true faith" revealed by God needs humans who are eager to defend the faith, I found Donald McCullough's statement [From the Senior Editors, April 3, "Serving a Wild, Free God"] a delightful evocation of what we evangelicals ought to feel about God's mysterious ways. We spend so much time adjusting the filter through which we try to observe God's grace in action that I fear we miss much of the real action. Instead of rejoicing in God's grace, we waste our time in trying to prove that God couldn't love someone without the proper credentials as much as he does us. Talk about spiritual pride!

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- Charles H. Kamp

Ridgeville, Ohio

McCullough's use of the terms "wild" and "free" appear to dismiss two other enduring attributes of God-"holy" and "immutable." Is he less holy today, and has he changed his position on sinful behavior?

If McCullough were president of a university, I would be unconcerned, but a theological seminary is serious business. I dare say an in-the-closet or out-of-the-closet heterosexual adulterer could also exhibit "devotional discipline," as can a lesbian. However, if sinful behavior were known, either the presence of the student or the teaching by a faculty member would not be permitted in most Christian seminaries. Moral behavior is still a prerequisite for leadership.

- Helen Louis Herndon

St. Louis, Mo.


Let me get this straight: Donald Bloesch's review of Wolfhart Pannenberg's Systematic Theology, Vol. 2 [Books, April 3] tells me Pannenberg "will not accept the historicity of the virgin birth of Christ," "rejects a historical Adam and Eve," "is remarkably open to the theory of evolution," thinks that physical death "is a product of finitude, not of sin," puts the infancy narratives in the Gospels "in the genre of legend," and does not view Christ's death "as a propitiation of a holy and wrathful God." Then Bloesch concludes that "Pannenberg's work is to be viewed as a valiant attempt to reaffirm historical Christian faith."

This is not "historical Christian faith." Why does CT think it right to heap praise on such destructive teaching? Is this the kind of doctrine we want our pastors to preach?

- Wayne Grudem

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Deerfield, Ill.

Dr. Bloesch responds: Pannenberg's object is to reclaim the historic Christian faith for our present age, surely a commendable goal. That I believe he falls short of achieving this goal is apparent when I critique him for muting the supernatural claims of the faith. Pannenberg can be faulted but should not be summarily dismissed. One can appreciate some of his stands (such as his defense of traditional God-language) without buying into his reductionism.


Brief letters are welcome. They may be edited for space and clarity, and must include the writer's name and address. Send to Eutychus, Christianity Today, 465 Gundersen Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188; fax: 708/260-0114. E-mail: Letters preceded by * were received online.


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