Surveying the Cross

In his compelling article "The Gospel at Ground Zero" [September], Russell D. Moore's view of the Atonement bears an all-too-typical reduction of the Cross to its effects and benefits. As he says, "In the … Cross, God tell us he knows all our traumas, our insurgencies, our secrets—and that he has already executed them at Golgotha."

But Moore failed to subordinate the effects of the Cross to its ontological significance. It is not just my personal secrets that are murdered on the cross. God is murdered on that cross. A powerless, crucified God who has humbled himself is behind the apostle Paul's message of "Christ crucified." Once we know who God is, we can grasp where he was on 9/11

As far as it went, Moore's article challenges the navel contemplation of revivalist-pietistic American evangelicalism. What he left out would have strengthened his argument and needed emphasis on the spiritual combating firefights located in "fighting the right war."

Paul O. Bischoff Rockford, Illinois

Remembering History

I was saddened by Will Willimon's response in "How I Have Changed Since 9/11" [September]. He doesn't understand the Cross at all if he thinks that is the worst day in history. All my life, it has been called Good Friday. This is the second best day in history.

Had Christ not been crucified, he could not have been gloriously resurrected. He died on that cross for our sin as was God's plan. I pray that no one blames all Muslims for 9/11, just as no one should blame the Jewish clergy for Christ's death.

Paula Kuhfus
Radcliffe, Iowa

In "How I have Changed Since 9/11," Philip Yancey wrote, "Imposing democracy on Iraq and Afghanistan has come at a terrible cost to all parties, with no guarantee of long-term success." Anne Graham Lotz added to the anxiety of this present age by listing several recent catastrophes and "the inability to win the war in Afghanistan" as evidence that we are all doomed if we don't repent now.

I was a seminary student when 9/11 happened. This event inspired me to become an Army chaplain, and I have not regretted this decision. When I was deployed to Afghanistan, I saw a lot of dedicated troops exhaust themselves to help this nation. These troops exemplified touching examples of faith in Christ.

Great things have been accomplished in Iraq and Afghanistan. We brought the war away from the cities and towns of our great nation, and we fought the terrorists in their own backyard, which made our country safer. The biggest benefit: There hasn't been an attack since then.

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Dennis Stahlnecker
Newberg, Oregon

Praising the Ordinary

One might think it unlikely to use the image of an evangelical "superstar" to reflect the virtue of things plain and ordinary. Yet Tim Stafford proves John Stott to be a worthy example of the oxymoron ["'A Plain, Ordinary Christian,'" September]. It is always a blessing when gifted leaders maintain humility enough that they do not distract from the True Source of power in ministry.

Ron Ogden
Winona Lake, Indiana

War of the Word

The editorial "Battle for the Bible Translation" [September] was ct at its best: courageously putting forth sane, reasoned, biblical, and wise counsel on a debate in the church that has often fallen short on all four counts. Yes, let us defend the Bible, but also let's make sure it is the Bible and not some other agenda that we are defending.

Michael G. Maudlin
Senior Vice President, HarperOne
New York, New York

I agree with your recent editorial on Bible translation. As a youth pastor, I teach from Today's New International Version (dynamic equivalence). Young people will wonder, "Why is the Bible speaking only to men?" if their Bibles use men and brothers where "all Christians" was intended.

As their biblical literacy grows, formal equivalence translations can only add to students' understanding, but solid dynamic equivalent translations like the 2011 NIV and the TNIV are an important part of their formative discipleship.

Andrew I. Shepardson
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

How to Obey

David Neff's helpful perspective on "Criminalizing Circumcision" [September] calls for clarification on one point. Noting that Christians thought circumcision would "prevent unity among Jesus' followers," Neff describes Paul as "first out of the gate with his letter to the Galatians," specifically, "If you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you" (Gal. 5:2, ESV). But is Paul, the self-described Jew, really seeking to abolish a tenet of the Torah essential to Jewish identity?

The Jerusalem elders clear him of exactly this charge in Acts 21:24. The next verse in Galatians makes Paul's intention clear: "I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law." The only "man" in a position to accept circumcision is a Gentile; Jewish men were already circumcised at eight days old. Paul warns Gentiles away from ritual circumcision, but supports Jewish identity—with this biblical marker—for Jews who follow Jesus.

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As Paul might put it himself: Are Jewish identity and faith in the Jewish Messiah incompatible? By no means!

Russell Resnik
Executive Director
Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations
Albuquerque, New Mexico

What got the most comments in September's CT

22% The Lasting Effects of Your School Spotlight

22% How I Have Changed Since 9/11 CT Forum

19% Battle for the Bible Translation CT Editorial

Readers' Pick

The most praised piece in September's CT

'A Plain, Ordinary Christian'
Tim Stafford

Worth Repeating

Compiled by Elissa Cooper

Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church. What if Christ left us when we became sick and when we forget about him? This happens daily because of our sinful nature, but Jesus is gracious enough to see us through.
Didi, one of many to express disappointment in Pat Robertson's comments regarding Alzheimers.
CT Liveblog: Pat Robertson Says Divorce Okay if Spouse Has Alzheimers, by Tobin Grant

In societies where women in underwear are used to sell everything from toothpaste to tombstones, all of us are victims.
Steve Skeete, noting how ubiquitous sexualized images hurt men and women alike.
Her.meneutics: MIA: Men Who Don't Use Pornography, by Amy Julia Becker

Just because fathers are told to teach their children does not mean others can't help.
Kaye, on the importance of youth groups, especially with kids whose parents are not Christian. A new film claims youth groups harm families and go against Scripture.
CT Entertainment Blog: Are Youth Groups Biblical?, by Todd Hertz

There needs to be more unity within the church and less bickering about who gets the spotlight.
Carl, noting the absence of Christianity at 9/11 10th anniversary events. Many were upset that the Christian faith was underrepresented at national remembrances, or felt that certain denominations were snubbed.
CT Politics: Evangelicals Left Off 9/11 Memorial Events, by Alicia Cohn

Related Elsewhere:

The September issue is available on our website.

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