Greetings from OIKOS House. Nestled in an Alpine valley, this most recent experiment in Christian community was founded only two weeks ago by a group of tourists from Texas. Two laymen in the party were acquainted with recent efforts to escape institutionalized, religionized Christianity by organizing religious institutes for laymen. After lunch one day they bought a chalet and OIKOS had its house.
It is a lovely place in a spectacular movieland setting. Some repairs are needed; new plumbing is being installed through the generosity of the founders, but other work will be done by members of the community. We have been most involved in the planning of our chapel. We gather each morning in the ski lounge where the chapel will be located and begin our encounter.
The experience has been utterly devastating. We decided that tame acquiescence in traditional forms would offer no jolt of judgment and therefore no resurgence of renewal. Another way must be found. What piercingly direct, contemporary expression could be found to bring our existence into the present?
Launching out in a disconcerting probe for meaning and identity, we hit upon psychological drama as the ideal medium. Accordingly, we have fixed up the ski room as Psyche Community Room. A screen divides the Chancel of Consciousness from the Unconscious Nave. A trap door to the basement leads to, or rather from, the Crypt of Libido. The Super-Ego-Pulpit is suspended from the beams by a cantilevered arrangement.
I can tell you I was shaken in our first enactment. It was not a performance, you know. There were no spectators, only participants. What involvement! The howling rush up through the trap door, the wild bacchanalian dance, then the stern tones of the Super-Ego, denouncing the revelry … back, back behind the screen in repression. Then the sallies around the barrier—to the left, by the Aisle of Neurosis, to the right, by the Stair of Sublimation.…
Through it all I could feel the mask of my personality being snatched away. This was no bland formalism. It was real. It was rough. Especially the last time they dragged me down the Stair. When I come home my own analysist won’t know me. Well, as we say at OIKOS, I’ll be encounterin’ ya!
TONIC FOR PESSIMISM
I wish to express my appreciation and satisfaction with Dr. Elson’s article (June 5 issue). Its long-range factual soundness, its healthy realism, and definite challenge are a good tonic against a much over-rated pessimism of late years regarding Protestantism.
F. J. MONSCHKE
CALL FOR INSURRECTION
“The Suburban Captivity of the Churches,” by Professor Gibson Winter (Books in Review, May 22 issue) is one of the most vital, scientific and relevant studies of contemporary Protestant churchianity of this generation.
How shockingly superficial, then, is the review by Sherwood E. Wirt, who shrugs off a demonstration of the facts with … typical evangelical platitudes.… I have had opportunity to study several suburban churches with very conservative ministries, and we can be assured that Professor Winter’s analysis fits them as snugly as a new glove. They are as insular, provincial and parochial as liberal suburban churches.
The remedies are complex, and call for (1) a new evaluation of the role of the pastor and a strengthened definition of his authority and prophetic function, (2) a new discovery of the inner city as one of our great mission fields, (3) denominational and interchurch backing for those evangelical ministries that seek to reach all races and economic strata within parish bounds despite the protests of important laymen in control of the church’s life, (4) a translation of the power of the Gospel into terms of evangelism and inclusive social service to all men regardless of their condition, together with a refusal to channel this power into a smug, middle-class individualistic piety.
ROBERT JAMES ST. CLAIR
North Hill United Presbyterian Church
OUR CLAMANT DEEDS
“The Tragic Loss of Our Era” (May 22 issue) enunciated very adequately one of my classroom emphases: the ethical and social results of Christianity fade after Christian beliefs are forgotten, ignored, or denied. However, I have a question: Why doesn’t the “world” realize this danger and dilemma? One reason is, of course, its philosophical bias, and another is the effect of this viewpoint in interpreting the last two millennia of history, especially Christianity’s role in Western culture. But may I add a third? The Church, whether conservative or liberal, Catholic or Protestant, has often lived as if there were no relation between belief and applied ethics. If Christianity has so performed, we can hardly blame the secularists for failing to see this connection. We gave them a dim pattern.
ALBERT E. CRAMER
Associate Prof. of Bible and History
London Bible Institute
Your lead editorial “The Logic of Our Mission” (June 5 issue) represents a misunderstanding of my Convocation address at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary last September, while at the same time it reflects a basic error of its own. Because of the misinterpretation and misquotation, I would urge that your readers secure and read a copy of the full address, available for 25¢ from the Missionary Research Library, 3041 Broadway, New York 27, N. Y.
Your basic error is the assumption that rationalism in the Greek sense is the only valid epistemology, and that we are shut up, in our apprehension of reality, to the dichotomy of “logic vs. illogic,” with the corollary that if something is “logical” it must necessarily be true. Even science today contradicts this presupposition. This leads to a further error, namely, that the biblical revelation is one of propositional statements, whereas that revelation is one of interpersonal relations: the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob; the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ who said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” It leads further to a failure to recognize that man is more than mind, with the consequent deduction that all that is not propositionally statable is necessarily “anti-intellectual” and “nonlogical.”…
The address admittedly breaks new ground, but in a prophetic way, as President Duke McCall said when I concluded delivering it. We trust that creative dialogue will be the consequence, and I know this will be the case from letters received widely from many parts of the world. In no other way can we meet the challenge of our day for the “furtherance of the Gospel”—a challenge thrust upon us, whether we will or not, both by the renascence of non-Christian religions and by the rise of the Christian Church on the soil of all the various cultures of the world.
HERBERT C. JACKSON
Professor of Comparative Religion and Missions
Southern Baptist Seminary
TASK OF THE TRANSLATOR
Mr. Robinson has used theological arguments to justify his contention that “translations [should] … present our Lord and Saviour with pronouns appropriate to faith’s portrayal of him …” (Eutychus, June 5 issue). He ignores the linguistic problems.
What the translator must do is use the resources of the target (or receptor) language in such a way as to convey the message of the source language—no more, no less, an ideal hardly ever, if at all, realized. Sometimes the target language forces him to introduce more information than is conveyed in the original message, but sometimes less.
The task facing the translator is, in this particular instance, to determine what was the function of the Greek pronouns. If any one implied respect or reverence, the translator is compelled to find some linguistic equivalent. But if no such distinction existed, then the translator has no right to introduce one, regardless of theological considerations.
Here we have raised a question that Dr. Rees could have added to his four queries (same issue): What is the role of language in revelation? (In the total context of human behavior—that is, in culture—what role does language play? What, in fact, is language? And as God conveyed his message to man, how much came in linguistic form and how much in nonlinguistic form? If the Scriptures are conceived as the “kernel” of revelation, how does one reconstruct the total message?) Not until Christians address themselves to these questions, using not only theological but also anthropological and linguistic findings as well, will there be satisfying answers.
Such works as Dr. Nida’s Message and Mission (whose bearing on this subject is lost to some of his reviewers) and Dr. Pike’s recent article in CHRISTIANITY TODAY (May 8 issue) provide the kind of stuff out of which the answers will be found.
WILLIAM J. SAMARIN
Dept. of Linguistics
Hartford Seminary Foundation
TWO ANTERIOR DECISIONS
Lloyd Gaston’s letter (June 5 issue) was much appreciated. I think the point he makes is one which the traditionally Reformed thinker should keep carefully in mind. I sincerely hope that many of the “neo-orthodox” camp accept the theological inferences he draws from his etymologically-supported definitions of terms, although Bultmann and his followers could not possibly do so. However, I do not think that that type of theological distinction which his terms necessitate is a healthy one for either theology or historical science.
While Barth differs from Bultmann in many important points, yet, theologically considered, the difference is mainly a matter of emphasis from a theologically orthodox Protestant viewpoint. For while Barth and his group can with justification accuse Bultmann of making an “anterior existential decision” to interpret human existence apart from God, both Barth and Bultmann make the anterior existential decision to interpret human existence apart from propositional revelation of … Scripture, the infallible Word.
Should not the biblically-informed Christian refuse to give in to the non-Christian at this point? Should he not refuse to shut the word-revelation of God out of his “historical” (historisch) thinking, holding as incontrovertible that it is the “historic” (geschichtlich) which is the necessary presupposition of the “historical” (historisch)? Should he not criticize “critical inquiry” at this very point and show that it cannot be truly critical so long as it is narrowly “historical” (historisch)? Should not critical inquiry be able to justify itself? And how can it do so apart from the “historic” (geschichtlich) as presupposed? “Critical inquiry” is treated by neo-orthodoxy as if it were absolutely justifiable in its basic intellectual autonomy as well as in its ultimate intellectual uncertainties.
DONALD D. MORELAND
Sidney, N. Y.
I read your report on the Jerusalem Pentecostal World Conference (May 22 issue).… The very first approach to ecumenical and WCC leaders originated with me personally. “The Spirit bade me go” (Acts 11:12) and witness to these men. The first I talked to was Dr. John A. Mackay of Princeton Seminary. He introduced me to others. Then I was invited to the IMC Meetings at Willingen, as observer. From there on out “conversations” became numerous, with persons and groups in the IMC and WCC and other “ecumenical forces.” Only once has the question of “Pentecostal affiliation” been asked, and rejected. On every other occasion the motive for the discussion was the question of the “experience of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit,” and the consequences of this “experience” within Pentecostal circles. There was no attempt to “woo or to win” Pentecostal movements into the WCC. Since most of the larger Pentecostal societies were affiliated with the International Missionary Council, there was a search in that direction for a better understanding and improved relationships on the mission fields, but that was all. Beyond this, I am convinced, there was merely an honest Christian interest in “what made Pentecostals tick” and “should not the historic churches reconsider their position with regard to a present-day Pentecostal experience?”
DAVID J. DU PLESSIS
NOT EXCLUSIVE TO ROME
Regarding President Kennedy’s Memorial Day proclamation in which he urges the invoking of God’s blessing on those who have died in defense of our country (News, May 22 issue), I would say that praying for the dead is not a Roman Catholic superstition but rather that it is a belief of the Catholic Church, of which the Episcopal Church is a part. The Episcopal Church clearly teaches that praying for those who have departed this life is perfectly proper.…
PARKER F. AUTEN
Swedesboro, N. J.
For your information prayers for the departed are not a superstition, Roman Catholic or otherwise. The Apology to the Augsburg Confession specifically states that prayers for the dead are not forbidden. The Church of Sweden has authorized such prayers. The late Dean of the Roskilde Cathedral (Denmark), Dr. H. Martensen-Larsen, has written an entire volume arguing for the practice.
A. C. M. AHLEN
Dean and Prof. of Philosophy
Northwestern Lutheran Seminary
BACK TO THE SOURCE
The article “How Great Thou Art” by Cliff Barrows (Dec. 5 issue) quotes almost verbatim certain sections of my publication The Story of How Great Thou Art.… Some of the matter quoted in the article … was first published simultaneously by me and in Swedish (in Stockholm) by one who obtained his information in his own personal interview with Boberg, the Swedish composer, and agreed to my publishing the same in English. From the point where the hymn goes from Swedish into Estonian, German, Russian and finally my own account of how I wrote the English lyrics, this story is told for the first time only in my publication … [which] gives photos of the Swedish author and his home, music of the hymn in its original folk-tune form, verses in 15 leading … languages, etc. [The price is 75¢ (mailed—80¢, 4 copies—$3.00)] and usual trade terms to booksellers are available.
STUART K. HINE
“Carpathia,” Brean Road, Berrow
Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, England
Your news item in the May 8 issue was correct in stating that Northern Baptist Theological Seminary considers its Chicago location strategic to the interests of American Baptists. So also you were correct in pointing out that there have been informal discussions participated in by officials of the Board of Education relating to the desirability of reducing the number of seminaries by means of mergers. This may serve to correct your previously published item which may have implied that the 35 member Board of Education had itself taken action on this issue. No action has yet been taken by the Board except to initiate the Committee of Seventeen to study theological education among American Baptists. Therefore, Northern has not “rejected” any Board action since no action has been taken by the Board thus far.
BENJAMIN P. BROWNE
Northern Baptist Seminary
There was a no-doubt-inadvertant implication that the seminaries involved (Northern more than Central, but certainly Central by inclusion) and the Board of Education of the American Baptist Convention had moved ahead to make proposals for merger and/or decisions about new courses of action regardless of the fact that our convention has commissioned a “Committee of Seventeen” to study theological education in the convention and to recommend a denomination-wide program and strategy of theological education. In other words, Central by being included in this article was made to appear as if it was moving ahead of any denomination recommendation or program from this special committee.
While our Board of Directors is completely independent in control, we desire to work in co-operation with our American Baptist Convention. Since many of our constituents saw the implication in the CHRISTIANITY TODAY article, our Board, rather than merely deny that Central had been involved in any precipitous discussions about merger, has chosen to make a definite statement telling our constituency including the whole American Baptist Convention that Central expects to co-operate fully with the Committee of Seventeen, that it looks forward to a denomination-wide program of theological education whether this means discussions of possible merger or not.…
PAUL T. LOSH
Central Baptist Sem.
Kansas City, Kans.
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