In response to many requests that we provide Book of the Fortnight Club specials for summer reading, I have spent the last month perusing detective stories. This, I understand, is a leading variety of escape literature, although why anyone would choose this way out, I don’t know. Real life must be frightful.

A student of the genre has concluded that the detective story is modern man’s passion play. Evil is met and conquered—often by the brilliant reasoning of the “little gray cells,” or by the omnipresent power of Scotland Yard. Sometimes sheer intuition shames the more methodical bloodhounds. More often, the emphasis is on the face-smashing vengeance of the private eye. The reader is supposed to identify himself with the gumshoe of his choice for a vicarious triumph.

Perhaps all this accounts for my difficulty in finding suitably edifying sleuths. No Pastor Brown has emerged to provide a Protestant peer for Chesterton’s redoubtable priest. Of course the choice is narrowed a little by the Fortnight Club policy of distributing only author-subsidized editions absolutely free to those who do not request them.

The two selections reviewed below I finally wrote myself to exploit the need for summer diversion. At least two groups of readers can now identify themselves with a congenial Sherlock.

Murder at the Organ, by Georges Sanglant

Sophisticated existential fiction. This is not a whodunit, but a whydunit. Inspector Migraine achieves such rapport with the criminal that the ambivalency of his motives becomes unequivocal. Migraine is easily the most non-judgmental detective in the business. The plot frays beautifully as he unravels it.

The Case of the Missing Xylophone, by Rex Stone

Another first in Sunday School fiction; this paperback introduces Mike Angelo, chalk artist and amateur detective. When Patty Pond’s xylophone disappears from the stage during the youth rally, suspicion points to magician Burt Berenski, an ex-convict. Who used the musical saw to cut a trap-door in the platform? Who recorded a talking horse on the background music tape?

Unless fellow readers can suggest an antidote I shall soon begin Pastor Brown in Berlin.


Allow me to commend CHRISTIANITY TODAY and the Rev. James DeForest Murch on the objective analysis of the “United Church of Christ” (May 25 issue). Such an expose of the high-handed methods of some top Congregational officials in promoting this new denomination should cause some of our wavering brethren to sit up and take notice of what is happening to the freedom under which they took their Congregational ordination vows.

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Leaders of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, having been forthright themselves throughout the controversy as to their merger aims, are still being hoodwinked by General Council assertions that “all churches and all ministers” of our fellowship will participate in the “United Church.” A growing number are showing their disagreement with this position by uniting as member churches with the National Association; and many more are realizing at last that a national constitution, however “congregational” it may seem at first, can always be amended to force overhead control on those who cherish individual freedom and local church autonomy. In the minds of far too many Christians today, Patrick Henry’s espousal of liberty is hushed up almost to the vanishing point; but those of us who fight against power-hungry officials for the continuation of liberty under God can still sing “Let freedom ring!”

First Congregational Church

Tarentum, Pa.

May I call attention to … misstatements: The General Synod of the United Church of Christ meeting in Oberlin July 5–8 will not “adopt” a Constitution as Mr. Murch states in his article. Rather a draft of a proposed Constitution will be considered by the delegates to the General Synod. If this draft is approved by the 700 delegates, it will be referred to the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Synods for ratification. This process is carefully spelled out in the Basis of Union.…

The Eastern Indiana Association of Congregational Christian Churches is in full fellowship with the Indiana Conference. Some churches did withdraw from the Association over differences among some leaders which existed prior to the merger discussion and were aggravated by it. One of these churches has returned to the Association. Some hopeful indications have been made that others might also return.

The Indiana Conference of Congregational and Christian Churches

Muncie, Ind.

I wish this might be required reading for all Protestants!… It is indeed refreshing and encouraging to see a publication like yours print a factual report free of the insinuations and omissions generally given the press to convince Christendom that “the Holy Spirit has accomplished a great work.” The philosophy that “the end justifies the means” has, I believe, prompted much of the development of “The ‘United Church’ of Christ”, and for those who cannot accept that philosophy, the answer has been advanced that the “means” is actually the Holy Spirit, making it blasphemous to question the means further.…

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I hope the article has served to remind many Protestants of the dangers involved in any Super Church, and that such is not necessary for the “spiritual unity whereby we are members one of another” and are “one” in the mood of the Master’s prayer in John 17.

Arbor Grove Congregational Church

Jackson, Mich.

A brilliant condensation of the issues involved in the proposed merger.… Kudos to Dr. Murch for a lucid statement of a murky matter.

I was a witness in the Cadman Case, am a party plaintiff in the case now before the Federal Court of Southern New York, and for the past two years have been the chairman of the executive committee of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches. In all these years of concern, debate and litigation I have not seen a simplification of the case so free from distortion.

Congregational Church of the Messiah

Los Angeles, Calif.

To many Congregationalists the principle “we hold sacred the freedom of the individual soul and the right of private judgment; we stand for the autonomy of the local church and its independence of ecclesiastical control”—expressive of a spiritual ideal attained only after centuries of struggle and which used to be carried in the preamble to the constitution of the General Council itself—still retains its historic dignity and paramount importance.

Chicago, Ill.

Out of the welter of words and name-scalling which have hit Congregationalism since the war, Dr. Murch draws the basic lines as some depart from the churches of the Pilgrims for the presbyterian United Church, a departure under Drs. Douglas Horton and Truman Douglas as devious as the Unitarian departure under Channing and Theodore Parker in the previous century was deliberate. A national constitution of any sort destroys the freedom of a Congregational church that signs it because it displaces the covenant which that church has made with its Head. Even a constitution guaranteeing autonomy to each constituent local church in perpetuity cannot guarantee reversal by a court that knows not Congregationalism (Exodus 1:8). The sure way for a Congregational Christian church to keep and spread its faith is to join the National Association, 176 W. Wisconsin, Milwaukee 3, Wisc. It will meet in Los Angeles’ First Congregational Church, June 30 to July 2.

Grace Congregational Christian Church

St. Johnsville, N. Y.

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Fair-minded article.… Once again the question must be faced. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” Either Congregational principles are valid or they are not. There is no middle ground.


The Congregationalist

Milwaukee, Wisc.

Mr. Murch is so largely overwhelmed by the copious and irresponsible writings of the anti-merger factions that he devotes considerable copy, for example, to the reviewing of the percentage of churches voting, and how they voted upon the issue, overlooking the moral right of the General Council to vote to proceed, as it did at Cleveland in February, 1949. Church union of this character is a much greater event, Mr. Murch, than the trivial legalism of whether there were or were not 75% of the churches approving.…

The article is noteworthy for what it omits, such as … the three votes of the General Council upon this question, each one stronger than the last, until the final vote at Omaha was 1310 to 179! And, I would commend the opposition to Mr. Murch as an interesting study for it has become rather apparent that they are a group opposed to the vigorous expression of the Gospel in any sphere. Generally, they are those who read the Gospel in individual terms, and one of their spokesmen was quoted in their printed booklet for the Omaha Council, “All we need are the simple teachings of Jesus.” Such theological bankruptcy is compounded with poor scholarship if we accept Mr. Murch’s “Simplicity of the New Testament Church”!… I am informed that the New Testament Church was not simple, nor was it peaceful!

All Souls Church, Congregational

Bangor, Me.

You have the gist of the matter in pointing out that the General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches, after repeated failure to secure the stipulated 75% vote, went ahead “without again referring the matter to the churches,” and “transferred the decision on the merger (with the E. & R. Church) from the local churches to the General Council.” which of course cannot speak for the churches without their authorization.

I would point out the error on p. 12: “It (the merger) has been voted by both denominations.” This was perhaps an inadvertent slip in view of your apparently extensive studies. It is only the E. & R. denomination that has voted the merger. On the Congregational side, it is only the General Council that has voted the merger. But the Council cannot commit the churches.

Committee for the Continuation of Cong. Christian Churches of the

U. S. Chicago, Ill.

Your rabble-rousing attack on the United Church of Christ, with all its sneaky innuendos and rotten insinuations is typical of your biased form of journalism.… As the Lord God took Calvinistic and Lutheran churches, binding them into the Evangelical and Reformed Church despite ignorant man’s theological differences, into one body, so do we trust that in his omnipotence he shall overcome differences in polity and forms as it is joined with Congregational Christian churches, and raise up for himself a greater and humbler servant in the United Church of Christ.

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As a man and wife love deeply, though they may not always agree, so does this same type of love abide in this holy fellowship. As in marriage we have joined hands in good faith and trust in one another, and sought God’s sanctification, we are determined that man shall not put it asunder.… His Holy Spirit will make it so, a United Church of Christ!

St. John’s United Church of Christ (Evangelical and Reformed)

Saint Clair, Pa.

Thank you for pointing out the failure of the General Council to honor the Claremont Resolution which, in addition to the provisions you mentioned, contained a stipulation that a constitution should be prepared and presented first before the merger. This directive also went out the window when the Congregational Christian Executive Committee bowed to the E. & R. demands for a merger first without a constitution.

The merger has been manipulated by a group of determined men in defiance of the Claremont Resolution and contrary to the wishes of the Churches expressed at Claremont and reaffirmed two years later at New Haven.

Congregational Christian Laymen’s Group

Glen Ellyn, Ill.

With gratification I note the article The ‘United Church’ of Christ. It is well done. I am pleased at the lengths you allowed the writer in reciting the all-important frustrations and frictions which have attended this outrageous attempt at ‘unity’ (ah, and bravo for wisely putting the single-quote-marks around the name ‘United Church’).

It is absolutely imperative to further “the fears of dyed-in-the-wool Congregationalists” and to alert your readers to the fact that the “ecumenical vision” looming “beyond” this development is repulsive!

I feel, however, that you shouldn’t have let the writer mention the “wide divergence of theological conviction” among opponents of the ‘United Church.’ This blundering phrase may sow seeds of doubt among your theology-sensitive readers, many of whom would be needlessly offended if they suspected what Doctors Conn and Fifield think about tenets dear to the creed of Dr. Ockenga. Please don’t err in this way when you write up this ‘subject’ next.

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This letter was postmarked Wichita, Kansas, June 7. What kind of a day was it in Wichita?—ED.

An amazingly successful synthesis of an intricate mass of facts. His brief reference to the League might well have included our concern about any departure from Congregational principles both in spiritual and organizational matters as well as in financial. It should have said also that the League is not itself a party to the action at law against the Evangelical and Reformed Church, et al., but is aiding morally and financially the plaintiff Congregational Churches in their own legal efforts.

League to Uphold Secretary Congregational Principles (Box 628)

Hartford, Conn.

One of the oddities of our Congregational Christian fellowship is the “conspiracy of silence” concerning the vital matters of the proposed union. Our now-deceased periodical Advance closed its pages years ago to all facts or opinions except those officially approved. Officers of our General Council, Boards and Conferences have consistently refused to appear on the same platform with leaders of the pro-Congregational group. You are certain to be severely criticized for presenting both sides of this important question.

At no time has any business session of our General Council ever debated the chief issues, which you pinpoint, viz., (1) the attempt to re-define the nature of Congregationalism so that the General Council is ‘autonomous in its own sphere;’ (2) the attempt to write an over-all connexional constitution for a voluntary fellowship of free Churches; (3) the attempt to write a statement of faith into a national-to-local over-all constitution; (4) the flagrant disregard of the negative votes of over 1100 churches; (5) the morally questionable method by which a 72.2% vote was deemed acceptable in place of the 75% announced as the majority needed (with over 1000 churches casting no vote at all); (6) the discarding of the ‘Claremont resolution’ which called for a national-level-only constitution with 95% voting approval; (7) the intransigent refusal to change even one word of the Basis of Union which has been a constant stumbling block; (8) the lack of plain, honest declaration of the goal of our extremist ecumenists, namely, “one big church;” (9) the failure to face biblical truth concerning the nature of the church universal as the committed fellowship of those who have accepted Christ as Lord, or of the particular church as the covenanted fellowship of committed Christians; (10) the avoidance of debate on the question of whether or not a church body (such as the ‘Council of Social Action’ or a ‘Conference’) can “speak for” the churches on political, economic, social, or religious matters; (11) the incredible way in which letterheads, publications, a handful of church names, the releases of the ‘Office of Communications,’ and the work of some of our agencies has been in fact ‘United Church of Christ’ while our Churches are not members of, and have not yet even voted on the constitution of the proposed ‘United Church;’ and (12) the pitiful attitude of prounionists who speak of those who believe in the sole Lordship of Jesus Christ as only ‘a tiny dissident minority’ or worse.

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To me, the tragic element in the proposed ‘United Church’ is that it has proven to be the most divisive influence in our fellowship in at least a century. Further, it has brought about cruel rebuffs in friendship, and church after church faces the likelihood of division in its own membership. The whole thing seems more like a power-centered political movement than a devout, spiritually motivated call for united witness and work ‘in Christ! How can men invoke “the blessing of the Holy Spirit” on acts which have yielded the fruits of bitterness, broken friendships and discarded promises?

Maybe the truth is that our leaders no longer trust our people, else, long since, they surely would have welcomed the oft-refused request to re-submit the issue to the churches.

The ‘merger controversy’ has terribly crippled the witness of our churches for over a decade. Personally, it has been and continues to be a sad and harrowing experience.


National Association of Congregational Christian Churches

Second Congregational Church

Hartford, Conn.


I am greatly disturbed by certain statements in the article “Religious Trends in the United States,” by Richard C. Wolf which appears in your April 27 issue. I shall quote only one, namely, “Baptists are heavily conservative in doctrine, save for the American Baptist Convention which is considered predominantly liberal with a strong conservative element.”

I do not know where the author obtained his information, but I very vehemently protest such a statement, which is certainly not based on fact. I have been an active pastor in and member of the American Baptist Convention for approximately thirty-three years. During these years, I have never missed an opportunity of having guest missionaries in my home. In all of these years, I have talked with only one whose faith has seemed to me to be unsound.… The student enrollment in our seminaries that are unequivocally conservative outnumber the total enrolled in liberal or “borderline” seminaries two to one.… The American Baptist Convention is not “predominantly liberal with a strong conservative element.” Rather, it is predominantly conservative, with a moderate liberal element.

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Los Angeles, Calif.

In the absence of official doctrinal statements by the Convention, and in the presence of the divided state of doctrinal position within the Convention, I found the task of trying to arrive at a satisfactory estimate of the relative strengths of the conservative and liberal elements of the Convention exceedingly difficult. After careful, prolonged and objective study, what I finally offered was … an unbiased conclusion, but a conclusion to which even now I am not prepared to give unqualified acceptance. This will be apparent to the careful reader who will note that nowhere is it stated that the American Baptist Convention is “predominantly liberal with a strong conservative element.” The verb used, “considered” was selected purposefully and with deliberation. That the conclusion offered is definitive is not even intimated. In fact I do not see how anyone can make such a definitive finding about the doctrinal situation within the American Baptist Convention.

Whatever the ultimate decisions on this debatable point, the burden of the argument of the article remains unimpaired. The relative liberalism of the American Baptist Convention, regardless of disagreement as to the degree of that liberalism, in contrast to the virtually unanimous (mark that adverb “virtually”) conservatism of the Southern Baptist Convention remains, and consequently the common denominator employed is not invalidated.

The Graduate School of Theology

Oberlin College

Oberlin, Ohio.


Authority, all authority, is rooted in God and basically begins to find expression in man and marriage. The home is particularly important as it sets the stamp on all of life in the exercise of authority and submission.

To fail to point out that upon the husband in marriage is laid the heavy responsibility of representing Christ is misrepresenting Scripture by very neglect. The simple vow required of the man to love his wife is not scriptural. It is a specific and peculiar kind of love God requires, namely, to love her “as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it” (Eph. 5:25). This and nothing short of it should be required in the face of “obey” or we have a double standard. This point has woefully been neglected—almost shunted—in Christian marriage ceremony and writings. Yet this neglect is at the bottom of woman’s revolt generally and has done much to stunt women spiritually and cripple man as well, for no man can be at his best for God and his fellow man who is standing on a lopsided foundation.

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Why not face up to the responsibility honestly and unafraid that the world may know that Christ alone has the right to rule. To suffer for this cause is the first calling and privilege of the male. Submission in women then becomes an expression of oneness of will like unto that of the Church toward Christ and of Christ toward the Father. This gives poise and dignity to its function and submission becomes a divine attribute revealing in woman that which also belongs to the nature of Christ.

Chicago, Ill.


Your editorial “Churches and Hidden Persuaders” (May 25 issue) seemed so important that I read it twice.… A “problem of communication” that was overlooked: … “Faith cometh by hearing.” … In building our churches … less attention is given to acoustical properties than to architecture, and … many preachers … slur and muddle up their words.…

Santa Barbara, Calif.


During my own 60 years of service as a Presbyterian minister, some of my most important labors took place in penitentiaries with men who were there because of the “elder brothers” who did not believe in total abstinence, and despised the “weak brothers” who, as we were unctuously told, … failed to learn “how much they could carry.” It was the families of such victims that came to my attention, when as the field representative of the Department of Delinquency of the Presbyterian Board of Temperance and Moral Welfare I sought to learn how the church could help its own weak brothers.… The six evils mentioned in Mr. Murray’s letter (May 11 issue) have always been associated with the liquor traffic, and with the use of alcohol.…

To set up Jesus as a defense of a social practice which is today Christianity’s most stubborn problem in casuistry gone mad.… Alcohol is a poison chemically, but when chemistry and theological casuistry are combined, then alcohol becomes something that poisons our entire social fabric until it serves only as an embalming agent.

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Washington, D. C.

There seems … an implied attitude on the part of some correspondents concerning … alcoholic drinks, that since we have not been successful in promoting a “dry” country, let’s make it known that it isn’t so bad to drink a little after all. In other words, since we haven’t defeated them, let’s join them. I wonder if those who are so sure that Jesus used alcoholic wine have ever read Ernest Gordon’s scholarly booklet on “Christ, the Apostles, and Wine.”

Calvary Baptist Church

Portland, Ore.

It is distressing … to find so many religionists who give support to the forces of evil. Our children and young people are subjected to an ever increasing barrage of appeals to “moderation” in drinking. If such appeals are seconded by teachers in theological seminaries, what defense do parents have?

Loma Linda, Calif.


Let me commend you for the article “Fake Degrees in the Pulpit” (May 11 issue). While I believe that there is a place for the recognition of devoted Christian leaders by the awarding of honorary degrees, it is all too seldom that so frank and valuable a statement of the abuses of “honorary degrees” appears publicly.

Pittsburgh Baptist Assoc. Ex. Sec.

Pittsburgh, Pa.

Hats off to Dr. Enock C. Dyrness.… It certainly is not to the credit of an accredited institution, nor to the recipient, to bestow the D.D. degree on a man whose scholastic standing in the seminary did not even qualify him for the B.D. degree and who has pursued no postgraduate studies, nor submitted any thesis. If institutions feel obligated to honor board members, officials, etc., for special service rendered, then let them do it in some other way which will not cheapen the sacred degree of Doctor of Divinity.

St. Paul’s Lutheran

Jasper, Ind.


Dr. LaSor’s [statement] is fine (“We Quote,” May 11 issue), but I seriously doubt that there are any “correct ways” of using “Reverend” … if “correct” means scriptural. The only place in the Bible the term … appears is in Psalm 111:9.… It … applies to God. The Roman Catholic church started the use of “Reverend” as applying to the clergy, but for hundreds of years evangelicals did not use the term.… From the standpoint of grammatical usage the term is incorrect. The word means “veneration, adoration, or worthy of worship”.… No term is so apt and descriptive as “Pastor.” If the ordained minister has no doctorate and is not a pastor, just call him “Mister.” It was good enough for Finney, Moody, Wesley, Spurgeon, and a host of others.

First Baptist

Rock Hill, S. C.

Many people wish to address ministers in some way other than merely as “Mr.” It is not that they wish to idolize him, which would be sinful, but rather they wish to honor his “high calling.” It seems there is no word which rightly expresses this purpose.

Crozer Theological Seminary

Chester, Pa.

It is amusing to me that men who do not believe in … the deity of Christ … are “Doctors of Divinity.”

Grace Church

Albuquerque, N. Mex.

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