From Deepwell Heights to Cloverleaf Vista the pulpits of this part of Exurbia have all viewed sputnik on the horizon. Comments on the world’s little red fellow traveler range from the political to the allegorical. The rector of All Souls’ was in splendid form, relating sputnik to Atoms for Peace, the prophets, the geophysical year, Zionism, and integration. It made you shiver just to hear him launch the word spooot-neek. The visiting speaker at the Village Gospel Tabernacle favored the pronunciation sputnick, and discussed the prophetic implications of the red moon.
Old Dr. Van Dyke, the emeritus pastor at Second Church, preached for Dr. Jones who was down with the flu. Surprisingly, he mentioned sputnik, too. He always chooses a text, and was preaching on the Tower of Babel passage in Genesis 11. (He insisted that it was not just a tower but a city.) It was a moving sermon. He pictured the race for the conquest of space as manifesting man’s pride and pretension. The motive that thrust sputnik soaring into orbit is the same that built the tower: “Let us make us a name …” As the patriarchal preacher described God’s sovereignty over human rebellion, he seemed to be looking down at our globe from a perspective more remote than a satellite could achieve. He was speaking as from eternity, proclaiming the Word of God.
Most memorable was his contrast between the pride of Babel and the worship of the chosen seed (Genesis 4:26): making a name for ourselves, or calling on the name of the Lord.
It was a little surprising that Dr. Van Dyke began with the sputnik. His conclusion was not novel, however. His sermon ended at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ, as all his sermons have done for half a century.
WORDS OF GOD AND MEN
It seems to me that the objective authority must ever be the self-revealing Spirit of God dealing with the individual soul. A good illustration … is a note in Bruce Metzger’s article on the Apocrypha, where he says, “John Bunyan … received help … from the text … he could not at first locate.… When at length he found it in the Apocrypha (Ecclus. 2:10), he was honest enough to confess that ‘though it was not in those Texts that we call Holy and Canonical, yet for as much as this sentence was the sum and substance … of the Promises, it was my duty to take the comfort of it; and I bless God for that word, for it was of God to me.” … My experience is that Bunyan’s principle is the principle which is followed by all Christians.…
Publication of the Bible with the Apocrypha … can result too much in the average Bible reader’s mistaking the apocryphal writings from the written Word of God, and to distraction from the sacred text.… I take serious issue, in kindness, with Dr. Metzger’s use of Bunyan’s experience of relief from despondency through the use of the Apocrypha. It seems to me that Dr. Metzger is unintentionally being irreverent of the potentialities of the Holy Scriptures when he suggests that Bunyan might never have overcome his spiritual despondency if he had not been familiar with the Apocrypha. Certainly, Holy Writ itself … contains promises of an efficient enough nature to have relieved Bunyan.…
Pine St. Baptist Church
… Dr. Smith (“Christianity and the Pagan World,” Sept. 16 issue) mentions the motto which has virtually become synonymous with his name.… “Why should anyone hear the Gospel twice before everyone has heard it once?” Now this motto is very effective in creating missionary interest, and no doubt … is asked out of genuine Christian concern.… Nevertheless I submit that this motto is a purely human invention … blatantly contrary to the Holy Scriptures. There is no support … either in precept or by example. Indeed … Paul could wish himself anathema, if possible, for the salvation of his kinsmen.… This, however, does not justify Dr. Smith’s motto.… On his first Journey Paul visited the Asia Minor cities twice.… Shall we accuse Paul of not having a proper missionary spirit? Not only so, but Paul also visited these cities on his second journey and also on the third. Furthermore, Paul did not cover as much ground as possible, but rather spent considerable time in several places.… My purpose … is not to minimize Dr. Smith’s worthy emphasis on mission work, but rather to defend the Word of God which Dr. Smith himself loves.…
JUDGMENT AND REWARD
You may go jump in the lake anytime, as far as I’m concerned.
The very title CHRISTIANITY TODAY indicates that you believe real Christianity is changing.… Evangelist ED NELSON Aurora, Colo.
The thing that impresses me most about your journal is that it is criticized both by liberals and fundamentalists. Any magazine able to boast of such an accomplishment must stand in a fairly sound position. I personally disagree with a good percentage of what I read there; but occasionally I find an article which is reward enough for the wading.…
I especially like the scholarly presentations relating Biblical Christianity to our cultural and everyday life.…
Please be congratulated for CHRISTIANITY TODAY; what it does for Christian apologetics and dialectic is sorely needed for evangelical missionary intelligence.…
Your magazine is top-notch, thoroughly sound, theologically incisive, intellectually respectable and vital.…
Third Presbyterian Church
North Tonawanda, N. Y.
I’m only a housewife, but your magazine gives me much joy … as I read the sound, scriptural articles.…
Asheville, N. C.
I would judge … that it is not designed as a popular magazine, but rather for those of a specifically theological type of mind. For such I believe you are rendering splendid service.…
Cottage City, N. Y.
I’m a retired minister, but am not retired from good literature. So I’m enclosing a check.…
Mocksville, N. C.
I enjoy CHRISTIANITY TODAY and commend you for fulfilling an important need in the Christian publications field.
Secretary of State
I don’t know of another publication doing the same job, a job that needs to be done.…
Athis-Mons, Seine-et-Oise, France
In the June 24th issue I read with interest the reported accounts of both the Southern and American Baptist Convention sessions. Without any malice or ill-will, permit me to make public a comment which I believe the article will justify. It is difficult for some of us American Baptists—even those from the South such as I—to accept and reconcile the statement quoted from Southern Baptist president, C. C. Warren’s opening address that, “it is not the policy of Southern Baptists to go as invaders anywhere.” But as a matter of fact, they do—anywhere! Members of other denominations of my acquaintance have also voiced concern not because of fear or jealousy or competition but on the basis of Christian ethics and mutual respect.… If present trends persist, the only hope of the Baptists of the North is to give the victory to the South they lost almost 100 years ago and “jine ’em!”
Gilbert Memorial First Baptist Church
Mount Clemens, Michigan
GOD AND SEGREGATION
Race Relations is by no means the most important problem agitating Christian consciousness today. The real problem is the inability of scholars to accept God’s universal morality and a frightening ability to project with scintillating astuteness their own rationalizations. It is the chronic failure to acquaint revelation with fact. I want to point out several half truths employed by Dr. Ellis (“Segregation and the Kingdom of God,” March 18 issue) so common in the type of presentation made in his article. As I do so I want to stress that writers in religious journals should be aware that nonbelievers read their articles as well as believers. I am sure that the non-believer is strengthened in his non-belief by this featherlike thinking.…
The basic assumption of Dr. Ellis is that the white man in the North and South has been, is, will be, and ought to be the dispenser of morality and freedom. Thus when he (the white man) speaks from European culture or southern tradition all other men “ought” to condescend. With this anthropomorphic morality Dr. Ellis calls Paul, Barnabas and Jesus together for a Divine premise to his “ought”. Dr. Ellis’s procedure is not intellectually honest. He poses the weakest argument of the integrationists and addresses it to the strongest argument of the segregationists. He says for instance, “Only a naive appraisal can reduce the problem of race to one of skin color.” He does this, implying unfairly, that the integrationists base their entire defense upon this immature judgment. He then suggests the privilege of the white South’s “right” to preserve its European and racial and cultural heritage. Not a word is mentioned of the right of the Negro. It is assumed that the desires of the white man are axiomatically right and that the desires of the Negro are prohibitive. It must be pointed out that while Dr. Ellis employs the word “right” for the white South he should really use “desire” of the white South as I have indicated the desire of the Negro. Desires of various groups may clash, but Divine rights of one group can never clash with the Divine rights of another. A more accurate statement could have been made by Dr. Ellis had he said that the white South holds it to be a right to preserve their advantage rather than their heritage! The modern world holds little brief for heritage or tradition—production is the theme everywhere except in race relations.
In discussing the rights of the South Dr. Ellis says that the most important point is that the people who must live in the situation are convinced for reasons sufficient to them that integration will be detrimental to society. Dr. Ellis should have said that the white people are convinced that integration is an evil. There is a veneration here of a closed mind—“sufficient to them.” How dangerous it is when justice is based on reason sufficient to a few interested in preserving their own culture at any price! The man who robs a store may do so for reasons sufficient to him. Does this make it right? How unfair it is to the millions of personalities which are innocently tom by the penalty of segregation. Of course, Dr. Ellis, this is a problem greater than “skin color.” This has a tremendous effect on the souls of young children who are forced by law and custom to think less of themselves than they ought to think in the North and South.
Dr. Ellis said segregation should be a fence, not a wall. On my father’s farm there were chicken wire fences with many openings. The chickens were kept in place just as if it had been a wall. The assumption behind much of this thinking is that Negroes have nothing to contribute. Furthermore, the openings to which Dr. Ellis alludes are generally one way streets or safety devices whereby the builder of the fence can keep a watchful eye on those whom he wishes to keep out. There is, as Dr. Ellis well knows as a Virginian, freedom of a white man to visit a Negro church at his discretion. But a Negro visit to a white church must be prearranged. This is not New Testament ethics, sir.
Race relations is good according to Dr. Ellis in six suburban type communities which were built with a segregated approach. Here is real subterfuge. First it is projected that the Negro contractor is right because he apparently agrees with Dr. Ellis. This in the South is called a “smart Negro.” Actually it should be clear to Dr. Ellis that race relations in such a community are not good—they are nil.
All Christian integrationists are not headed for a socialistic state. This perhaps is the greatest half-truth employed by Dr. Ellis, and borders on being malicious. For that matter all integrationists are not Christians, nor are they wrong because of that. Dr. Ellis falls prey to that which he accuses the integrationists. He becomes emotional and calls all integrationists socialists and anarchists. He omits Paul’s great contributions and his ethical demands of Christian love. Rather he puts forth Paul’s weakness and short-sightedness as biblical evidence in support of a social philosophy of separate but equal facility. Shall we take Paul at his worse or at his best? Paul and Barnabas had vital differences, but their human traits must not be the basis of our social or racial philosophy or for the premise for moral law. If Dr. Ellis would escape from the ivory towers he would find that our churches would be quite silent if the ladies did not speak. Certainly the mores of the Pauline Community cannot be used as a basis for social philosophy today.
Finally I want to say that the substitution of legislation for natural law in Western civilization, and especially in America, is working a havoc with our moral system. Originally the role of the civil law was conceived as one to interpret the will of God in the affairs of men. This was a high noble concept. The judge, the advocate and the priest were true apostles. They were “sent forth” to proclaim and elucidate the will of God. Today right and wrong are legislated. If I hate a man’s color I simply develop a plurality in the legislature against him. Therefore, I legally justify my hateful actions against him. Thus, we have witnessed on the American scene the rise of a devastating relativism in moral conduct. With this relativism nothing is clear and precise. We have become ambiguous and indefinite. Look for instance at the range of words used in this short article by Dr. Ellis … “socialism, communism, world government, integration, forced integration, modus vivendi, unity in diversity and ecclesiastical integration.” What a wide range of indefinite words, and how increased the area of ambiguity when we add to these terms their emotional connotations. Certainly if we are to clarify and put at ease the Christian conscience on the matter of race we shall have to accept the unequivocable cosmic morality of one God. His truths must not be deflected by the limited ability of men to love their brother.
Trinity Methodist Church, Bronx, N. Y.
DEED AND INTENT
The statement … of CHRISTIANITY TODAY (Sept. 16 issue) was that the ‘president of a Christian college forbade students on his campus to pray publicly for success of the meetings.’ As a matter of fact, neither the founder or the president forbade the students to have a public prayer meeting for the success of the Billy Graham campaign. Had such a request been made, we would have forbidden it because we do not believe in mocking God, and to pray for God to bless that which in His Word He positively forbids is to mock God.
Bob Jones University
• CHRISTIANITY TODAY regrets that it confused intention with deed. The report was based upon a letter in which Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., chairman of the Board of Trustees of Bob Jones University, stated: “If any group of Bob Jones students wanted to have a prayer meeting to ask God to bless the evangelistic movement which Billy Graham is heading up in New York, we would not permit it. If we did permit it, it would be a repudiation of the purpose for which Bob Jones University was founded.”—ED.
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