Who's Friendly to Elders?
Warning: If you are a senior citizen, the gambling industry is tar get ing you. ("Gambling Away the Golden Years," May 24). Too bad many of today's churches can't be accused similarly. In stead, "up-to-date" churches are be coming increasingly inhospitable to older people as they target those younger. They are eliminating much that is meaningful, familiar, and loved by older people—hymnals, choirs, organs, and so on. Meanwhile, the casinos are concentrating on being elder friendly (and parting elders from their money in the process).
Blue Springs, Miss.
* Casting social problems as moral issues requires more than pontificating. The former requires changes in public policy; the latter must start with theological reflection. One would think that Mr. Kennedy could come up with even one Scripture reference to support his views.
Dr. Charles C. Moody
Readers wanting CT's theological argument against gambling should consult "Feeding the Monster Called More," by David Neff and Thomas Giles (CT, Nov. 25, 1991, p. 18).
The reported inaction of Christian churches to the incredible spread of legalized gambling is appalling. I am a highly satisfied resident of John Knox Village in Lee's Summit, Missouri, and while I personally consider facilitated trips to casinos unfortunate and undesirable, I must take issue with Michael Maudlin's reference ("Inside CT") about John Knox Village running buses to casinos "three times weekly." The number is more like two buses monthly. The bus rides are neither free nor "run" by the village. With approximately 1,500 independent residents, the situation is not as shocking as implied in CT.
Harriet A. Buttry
Lee's Summit, Miss.
God's Good Grace
* James Van Tholen's sermon "Surprised by Death" [May 24] is among the most powerful and moving I have ever heard or read. Thank you for printing what will become, for me, a classic. My eyes are filled with tears each time I read it, be cause sickness and death are so awful—and because God's grace is so good.
Rev. Gary Wall
* I too (as a pastor retired after 50-plus years) live with a "cancer on vacation." My experience is that my life of faith and love (for God, the church, and my wife) has deepened unbelievably. One thing that concerns me is Van Tholen's constant use of the word grace. I have found that the public, and even the majority of Christians, do not have a clear concept of what the word means. Someone has said, "Never use the word grace in the pulpit unless it is thoroughly explained." Since grace is a Latin word, how does Van Tholen put some "English" meaning into it to help him find help in his remaining years?
Pastor Ted Hegg
Federal Way, Wash.
* I am a 45-year-old pastor who has just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. While Van Tholen knows his time is short, my prognosis with the stage of my disease, is uncertainty. But my prayer is that my people will see in me the same courage and confidence that this pastor has displayed.
Pastor Kevin D. Zuber
"Tragic Moral Choice"
We do have trouble with defining "lying" and "truth telling" ["Is Lying Always Wrong?" Directions, May 24]. And we should. In one sense, every rebellion against God is a lie in that it denies his sovereignty, but there are those times when we are faced with what ethicist John Carnell called a Tragic Moral Choice—for example, the intruder who holds a gun to your baby's head and says, "If you don't let me rape your wife, I'll kill your baby."
Carnell helps me by emphasizing that it is a choice, one of many choices Christians have to make every day. No matter how simple the situation, it may be a choice between two evils, and I do well to realize what I am saying/doing at that moment. When my hostess asks if I enjoyed what I considered a deadly boring evening, I can respond, "It was wonderful!" or "I'm so sorry, I really didn't enjoy it." Most of us will respond with the first. Let's just be aware we do it.
Newport Beach, Calif.
* Why are only two options offered: breaking covenant and lying? Are silence, partial information, unrelated facts, godly rebuke, or even blessing not considered as viable choices? Even God approved (and ordered) partial information that was not a lie (1 Sam. 16:2). Why is it assumed that lying is sometimes necessary to preserve a life, and how does one know that one of the third-option categories would not also deliver the person? Speaking what is clearly untrue when the speaker knows it is untrue, for the purpose of deception, violates the Christian virtue of trustworthiness in life and speech. Not everyone should be given complete information, but no one should be addressed falsely, especially by a person indwelled by the God of truth.
Prof. Robert V. Rakestraw
Bethel Theological Seminary
St. Paul, Minn.
The problem with Verhey's theological position on lying is that he, like many others, does not let God be God. Augustine and Calvin knew what Verhey seems to miss, namely, that when our logic fails to give account of things, we must dispose of our reasoning and rest in God's.
Scripture's silence on Rahab's lie is not endorsing it. When taken against the plethora of verses condemning deceit and falsehood, this example of Rahab is one of the weakest one could use to validate that the end ever justifies the means.
The ancient church fathers were right when they said fides precedit intellectium ("faith precedes intelligence"). When ethical decisions are required, we must in faith always trust God's unchanging instructions for our life. Lying is always a sin—unless, of course, God was lying.
Prof. Elden Stielstra
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Could another answer to the question be: Rahab was faced with what seemed to her a choice between a greater and a lesser evil—to share in the responsibility of the death of two men whom she believed to be messengers of God, or to tell a lie and save them? To a Christian, a lie can never be justified, but to a person like Rahab, light comes but gradually. "The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent." God accepts what is sincerely and honestly intended, even though there be a mixture of frailty and ignorance in it. Rahab's faith was tested and it rang true. God accepts us where we are, but we must "grow in grace."
Carroll V. Brauer
Toms Brook, Va.
What We Need Is Gender Unity
Thank you for your Conversations piece on "Re-Imagining Women" [May 24]. Janice Shaw Crouse rightly identifies the dangers of the radical feminist ideology. I, too, am an ordained woman who upholds biblical orthodoxy, which for many constitutes an oxymoron. I also believe we must respond with biblical and intellectual integrity regarding these issues. At the same time, I believe we must get past the "us vs. them" mentality that separates the two genders. Instead of calling only women to unite, are we not all called to unity? Until we get it through our minds and hearts that we are all, women and men, partnering in the ministry of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, we will continue to foster a spirit of divisiveness and impede the spread of the gospel.
Rev. Lisa L. Vander Wal
Christians for Biblical Equality was mentioned in the article as being "at war" with those that do not support the equality of women in the church and home.
Actually, CBE has little time or interest in warfare. The biblical and historical material is profuse; egalitarian writers and scholars are rapidly producing much rich material. CBE devotes itself to making these resources available through our book service, conferences, and local chapters in this country and around the world. CBE's mission is better described as education and celebrating the gospel of Jesus Christ. For more information see our Web site (www.cbeinternational.org).
Mimi Haddad, Director of CBE
Glenn Tinder and Christian Science
Glenn Tinder provides a moving account of his religious life-journey in "Birth of a Troubled Conscience" [April 26]. While we would not presume to dispute Tinder's memories of his youth, we can say that his portrayal of Christian Science teachings and practice is not representative of either. I'll highlight a few specifics:
To assert that Christian Science denies evil and teaches individuals to "ignore your own sinful impulses" and the need to "seek redemption" is in stark contrast to the religious tenets of Christian Science. In fact, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, written by the founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, has over 950 references to evil and sin. (This book, together with the Bible, is the pastor of our church.) Science and Health states clearly that sin cannot be ignored but must be confronted and overcome through Christian repentance and regeneration of thought and action. For Christian Scientists, the timeless relevance of the Savior's crucifixion and resurrection is the promise of redemption and salvation through God's eternal love.
Healing sickness through understanding the grace of God is also vital to Christian Science practice—not to achieve health for its own sake but rather to be obedient to the Savior's command to "heal the sick" (Matt. 10:8). Likewise, Tinder's claim that Christian Scientists ignore those who are suffering is certainly not true in my experience. Sympathy, tenderness, patience, and encouragement are essential to effective care for those in need. (See, for example, pages 36667 in Science and Health.)
To disagree with Christian Science is Tinder's prerogative. But we would have hoped that his scholarly acumen and Christian charity would have led him to weigh memories of his youth against the correct statement of Christian Science found in Science and Health. To have done so would be true to that Christianity which he so accurately describes as "not a part of life" but "simply life itself."
Gary A. Jones, Manager
Christian Science Committees on Publication
Don't Distort Pakistan Picture
Thank you for calling attention to the plight of Pakistani's Christians ["The Untouchables' Church," April 26]. My concern is that media focus and emphasis on the "bad" things will obscure the good, and the impression will be created that Christians for the most part live in fear and anxiety among a majority population that continually oppresses and despises them.
I believe two or three things in your Special News Report might have distorted the picture for some people. Saying that "most" Pakistani Christians are street-sweepers and referring to them as "untouchables" obscures the fact that there are also many Christians who till the land, and large numbers in nursing, teaching, and other professions. Discrimination and poverty are national, not just Christian problems.
The threat of violence against Christians is always there, and incidents involving Salamat Masih, Ayub Masih, and others are deplorable. But in recent years there has been far more violence between political antagonists (as in Karachi) or religious sects (e.g., Sunni-Shiah clashes and murders) than against Christians.
The best news is that increasing numbers—Muslims, Hindu tribals, as well as Christians—are hearing the message of God's love in Christ and seeing it demonstrated.
Past Action Rregretted
Four years ago Christianity Today ran a news article regarding a dispute of copyright infringement between AMG publishers and Moody Press. I was the individual who contacted CT with this information [CT, June 19, 1995, p. 42].
I am writing now to express my deepest regret for having taken that action. Although my motives were clear to me and utterly without malice, in retrospect I realize that I caused unnecessary injury to the president of AMG, Spiros Zodhiates. I acted as his judge and implicated him in a way that was unfair and unchristian.
I am glad to say that Dr. and Mrs. Zodhiates have kindly allowed me to visit them at their home, where I sought and received their unqualified forgiveness. Their love for Christ and service to him have been a blessing to many, and now most especially to me, their erring brother.
Timothy A. Rake
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