A Delusive Quest
As Todd T. W. Daly noted in Christianity Today ["Chasing Methuselah," January], the quest for longevity through medicine ignores a fundamental Christian belief: this world is fallen. Even if we take advantage of whatever the medical community can offer, we have no guarantee that death won't come unexpectedly. "Exercise, technology, and diet" cannot prevent car accidents, falls, and natural disasters.
We might learn from desert father Abba Macarius the Great, who said, "The monk should always live as if he were to die on the morrow but at the same time he should treat his body as if he were to live on with it for many years to come."
CT's interview with Jeff Van Duzer ["The Meaning of Business," January] was very welcome. The Reformation brought a business ethic of creating wealth while serving the common good. Calvin's Geneva, faced with an influx of poor Protestant refugees, needed a growing economy to create employment. But government leaders knew that rapid economic growth could lead to exploitation, so they passed legislation that limited profits in key economic areas. The influx also led to a theological reflection on calling: Calvin once said our work is "our sentry box to the world."
Modern market capitalism is overall not serving the common good because Christian business managers and economists are not doing this theological reflection. The West's latest banking problems have shown our economic model needs reform. Is it right that some CEOs earn 500 times the wage of their lowest-paid employees? Would that meet the Reformers' test of a fair wage?
We need biblically based solutions that address these complexities.
Chair, Business Study Group
London Institute of Contemporary Christianity
Many thanks to CT for profiling Roberta Ahmanson ["Connoisseur for Christ," January]. I had the privilege of seeing both the Caravaggio exhibit in London as well as "The Sacred Made Real" in Washington, D.C. I left each gallery with the same regret I feel leaving church services where the Holy Spirit is moving: grateful for God's presence, yet knowing the departure is a transition to something less holy. I commend the Ahmansons for their vision and look forward to seeing what they will continue to offer disciples of the visual arts.
Concert on a 3 x 5
Until last year, my experience with Scripture memorization was similar to John Wilson's ["Changing Forever How You Think," January]. Then a friend, terminal with cancer, challenged me to memorize an entire chapter. When she died, I downloaded Romans 8, formatted the verses to fit 3x5 cards, and kept them with me at all times. After a month, I could recite it, and from there I went on to other chapters.
I have tried to pinpoint why this process is so satisfying, and believe it's because that "melodious concert of his Word" has begun to echo within me, and I want more.
St. Paul, Minnesota
If all Jim Spiegel is trying to say in "Unreasonable Doubt" [January] is that many atheists are unbelievers for reasons other than rational objections, he should be greeted with a yawn. Christian apologists are just as plagued by non-rational belief motivators as atheists.
But maybe he is insinuating that we don't have to take atheists seriously because we can explain atheism in terms of their moral rebellion or lack of childhood nurturing. If so, he offers dangerous counsel. Few things would serve the church less at this moment than suggesting that we can explain away the reasons people disagree with us.
Let's stop psychoanalyzing to dismiss, and, in the spirit of Christ, begin listening in love. The atheists may just have a point, and we may just miss it.
I have spent much time trying to convince skeptics of the truth. My arguments seem to fall on the deaf ears of otherwise intelligent people. In August, Rob Moll's "Saved by an Atheist" showed that atheist arguments are not always "against God's existence, but rather … against how God and especially his followers act."
Now, we learn that "major atheists of the modern period" had broken relationships with their fathers, while many prominent theists had healthy ones. Since divorce has become commonplace and single motherhood has been exalted as brave, it's no wonder the New Atheism has grown as well.
Stephen J. Padilla
San Antonio, Texas
Regarding how Christians should respond to street people [Village Green, January], I have worked with homeless populations for years and see that money given to street people is almost always misused for drugs or alcohol. Before deciding that a homeless person is helpless, think of the toughness it takes to survive on the streets. These guys are already fighters by default. They just need to change their target and learn to fight for themselves instead of using time and energy to overcome their impossible living conditions. Hope, not cash, is the greatest gift we can give.
I'm surprised Ron Sider is the Village Green writer proposing not to give to those who ask. I agree that it's better to start a relationship than hand out money, but many needy people have been judged harshly by us "rich Christians" and are reluctant to go anywhere with people they don't know. In a Christian culture where food is sometimes offered only after the homeless listen to a sermon, they have reason to be suspicious. Will we be there after the meal?
Further, about one-third of the U.S. homeless population has mental health issues and may not be able to respond to an invitation to friendship.
Editor's Note: CT's top 10 news stories of 2010 [Briefing, January] included Bruce Waltke's resignation from Reformed Theological Seminary. Waltke resigned due to debate over theistic evolution, and he affirms the existence of a historical Adam.
What got the most comments in January's CT
23% Cracks in the Crystal Cathedral by CT Editorial
15% Unreasonable Doubt by Jim Spiegel
13% Changing Forever How You Think by John Wilson
Readers' take on "Cracks in the Crystal Cathedral"
"Sharing a church facility with Muslims communicates a weak faith. Why? Because Muslims believe in sacred space. Just try asking to use a mosque for worship."
Mark Hausfeld, on why renting church buildings out to Muslim groups backfires.
Theology in the News: "Muslims in Evangelical Churches"," by Jason B. Hood
"We are in the middle of spiritual warfare—not just on the field of battle against the culture of death, but also within our own hearts."
Chris C., on how the Enemy tempts pro-life activists into infighting and petty divisions.
"Pro-life Challenges, from a Former Planned Parenthood Director's View," by Paige Winfield Cunningham
"Splitting hairs on the modesty of a two- or one-piece swimsuit is pointless. The question is, why would Jesus want you to participate in a competition that says pretty people are better?"
Elizabeth, on the counter-biblical assumptions of modern beauty pageants.
Her.meneutics: "Miss America and the Bikini Question," by Katelyn Beaty
"There is a Yiddish saying: 'Old age, to the unlearned, is winter; to the learned, it is harvest time.' We need dedicated 'wisdom keepers' to share their stories in our churches."
J. B. Watson Jr., on the mighty contributions of elderly church members.
Q&A: "Billy Graham on Aging, Regrets, and Evangelicals," interview by Sarah Pulliam Bailey
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The January issue is available on our website.
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