One delight of a blistering Philadelphia summer is the concert series of the symphony orchestra in Robin Hood Dell. Some regard mass popularity of these free outdoor concerts as evidence of the high culture of Philadelphia. Having been raised in a Philadelphia row house, I would credit the high humidity. Old residents who used to sit on the front steps now sit on a bench in the park and cool off to music.
Beethoven, Brahms, Strauss, or Stravinsky—it’s all cool music as it comes floating back from the twelve speakers of the orchestra shell. Starlings and sparrows plunge into the sunset through the rising waterfall of melody, while the flag begins to ripple above the violins. Colorful patches of people on the hillside across the Dell compose a Seurat painting in the stillness. As the light fades, they become a misty vision by Monet; at last only cigarette-lighter fireflies punctuate the darkness.
Under the stage lights a pianist is playing, his fingers flying with the blurring beat of insect wings, and escapes the pounce of the brasses. His ecstasy subsides and the clear silence of thousands hangs on two fingers twinkling in an upper octave of the keyboard.
The concluding coda of the full orchestra breaks the spell, and the magic ends in applause. The stadium lights go up. Vendors leap into the aisles: “Who’ll hev ize crim, body-buildin’ ize crim.…” The intermission crush presses a bearded student against a portly woman in a purple dress, purple earrings and a purple pansy hat.
Yet I know that somehow Beethoven has put a religious question, perhaps in spite of himself. Music is more than summer mystique, and it is also more than cooling reverie. It opens meaning for man.
After the intermission the orchestra played Stravinsky: a composition on the Psalms. The choir sang a mournful, “Laudate, alleluia” to the dissonant moan of bass viols throbbing with inconsolable grief. I wondered what our gospel disc-jockey would make of the thousands of students who sat listening.
Pressure On Saturday
I would like to protest the scheduling that allows an issue such as the one received today (June 8) to come to a pastor’s desk on Saturday morning. You know that even though a sermon may be prepared early in the week, it is improved by last-minute polishing, and your cover page featuring “The Pastor and His People” with its fascinating and practical articles found me incapable of waiting until Monday morning.
It would also be helpful if you would put such “special issues” within hard covers, so that the frequent usage which they will receive will not shorten the period of their usefulness.
Aside from these minor evidences of thoughtlessness, you are doing a great job in a great way. Thank you sincerely!
WESLEY P. HUSTAD
Due to the fact that I am a young minister just out of seminary, this issue proved to be one of the most stimulating and helpful I have received. The editorial “The Pastor and His People” was worth the price of a year’s subscription.…
Germantown Christian Church
CHRISTIANITY TODAY.… is truly a pastor’s helper. The … issue was superb.
Tangelo Baptist Church
The Virgin Birth
Helen H. Colbert (Eutychus, June 8 issue) may truthfully believe in private interpretation. However, if she believes this symbolic view of the Virgin Birth … she is being led by something other than the God who led the Gospel writers.…
First Baptist Church
In Praise Of Perception
I rejoiced to read the sound and searching words from the pen and heart of minister Raymond P. Jennings (“Race and Reconciliation: We Reserve the Right”) in your issue of June 8.
The compass-quality comments … pointing to the unchanging poles of Christian freedom and reconciliation … drew my heart to the soul of this perceptive servant of the Lord. His call to selfless and compassionate awareness of other human persons should be passed on from the redeemed men to those who are bound until many shall sense with assurance that God indeed cares for their lives.
Mennonite Central Committee
On The Trinity
Thank you so much for your presentation of … “The Glory of the Eternal Trinity” (May 25 issue). A more concise statement on this essential doctrine of the faith would be most difficult to find.…
I find nothing in the New Testament that would give any indication—however slight—of any recognition of the possibility that there may be an apparent conflict between two roots of New Testament teaching and preaching: (1) belief in the ancient creed of the Jews, which was brought over into the New Testament by our Lord himself, “Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, He is one Lord” …; and (2) belief in “God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth”; “God the Son, Redeemer of the world”; “God the Holy Ghost, Sanctifier of the faithful.” I can find nothing in the New Testament that would resolve these two statements into the glorious proclamation, “O holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, one God” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 54). Actually, it would seem much easier to draw the conclusion that Christianity is a tritheistic religion if we depend solely on the New Testament for our knowledge of the three Persons of the Trinity, because their unity in the Godhead is not made clear. Only when it was realized that careless believers and critics could twist the faith completely out of shape and to destruction, was any attempt made to resolve the apparent conflict between one God and three Persons.
The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not a New Testament doctrine, but it is required to insure the purity of the Gospel proclaimed by the New Testament. It is not an imposition on the New Testament proclamation, but rather it is developed from, and limited to (this is essential) New Testament teaching.
JOHN M. FLANIGEN
Trinity Episcopal Church
Pinopolis, S. C.
The Church’S Arm
After reading the letter from Mr. Hatfield (May 25 issue) …, I got to thinking.…
Why can’t the church make up its budget according to the need to reach all strata of our society? For instance, the church could have a ministry through the missions, among the alcoholics, among the children (like Child Evangelism), among teen-agers (like Young Life, YFC, HiBA), among college students (like IVCF, Campus Crusade for Christ), among foreign students (like International Students, Inc.), among officers in the service (like Officers’ Christian Union), among leaders in the government (like ICL), among businessmen (CBMC) and other groups.
Each of these groups is doing a job for the Lord, and each needs financial help, prayer support, and the interest of the local church. They are the church’s arm and not in competition with the church.
Iowan From Missouri
Concerning your article on Barth in Chicago (News, May 11 issue): Not only Barth, but most of our seminaries are teaching that the Scriptures are “sullied with errors, theological as well as historical.”
Would you or some of your readers please tell me what these errors are? I have studied Greek and Hebrew and read my Bible for a few decades and I have never been able to find these errors.
A young minister recently informed me that he had found 24 mistakes in the Bible. But when I challenged him he could not produce one. In fact, he told me that he did not know his Bible. He had little training in the English Bible.
JOHN R. STEVENSON
United Presbyterian Church
On J. D. Salinger
Re “A New Crisis in Adolescence” by Ronald C. Doll (May 11 issue) …: The attack upon J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye referred to it as “literature” (his quotation marks) with perversions in it, spiced with profane language. The only “perversion” in this book is a confused non-Christian boy searching for meaning in life. He doesn’t find any help, and has a mental breakdown. The book is not “spiced” with profanity; the boy uses monotonous teen-age profanity and slang because Salinger obviously is truthful about the society he is portraying. This society is non-Christian.
Would Mr. Doll smugly refer to Macbeth as “literature” in (quotation marks) because the characters are lost sinners who speak such lines as “Out, damned spot”?
MRS. KATHRYN LINDSKOOG
I felt that the article … was most significant and sobering.
R. C. CHRISTOPHERSON
First Baptist Church
North Las Vegas, Nev.
Where God Is Banished
Thanks for “Scripture in the Schoolroom?” (May 11 issue).… It is one of the ironies of the American government and its people to be fighting atheistic communism within and without national boundaries, while at the same time condoning a secularized educational system that banishes God from the universe he created, and is designed to inculcate into the minds of American youth atheistic beliefs identical with Russian ideology-attended by a laxity of morals and discipline of which the Russians would be ashamed.…
Younger Churches In Need
Theological seminaries and their students in the younger churches in mission lands need books badly. Would retired ministers, teachers and librarians who can share their books or wish to dispose of their libraries gratis toward this purpose please contact the undersigned.
GRAHAM R. HODGES
Emmanuel Congregational Church
Watertown, N. Y.
Might it not be that Calvin makes no allusion whatever to “Adoption” (April 27 issue) because it is not identical to the New Birth, and is not to be confused with it? It seems that the Bible very clearly shows the meaning of the word in the five passages where it is used.… In Galatians 4:1–7, “adoption” pertains to him who is already “heir,” and a “child” born into God’s family. It was desired that such a child should come of age, and enter into his inheritance. The prodigal “son,” when he came to his majority could ask for the portion of goods that fell to him, and did. The passage from Galatians would show that huiothesia applies to the child and heir, and not to bringing a servant into a place of sonship. Israel was a “child” under the Law until Christ redeemed from the Law, and this “adoption” pertained to them (Rom. 9:4).…
WILLIAM G. LOWE
Berlin Bible Church
Narrowsburg, N. Y.
A Different Purpose
Re “A Great Gulf Fixed in Scottish Ecumenism” (Editorial, Apr. 27 issue): I am sure your writer … spoke in sincerity, but perhaps if he had realized the true nature of the incident … he would have been inclined to take a different view. It is not true that Dr. Craig traveled across half a continent to see the Pope. He was in Rome for a very different purpose altogether, and while there paid a courtesy visit on the Pope.
You surely would not advocate Christian men playing such childish games as “I’m not speaking to you” in this day and generation when the whole world is tom by strife and divided by hostility.…
R. A. ELDER
Johore Bahru, Malaya
Call For Counterattack
Practically every sermon preached in churches belonging to the National Council emphasizes the dignity and significance of the individual as a child of God. This is a positive answer to the left-wingers’ socialistic and communistic emphasis. The churches did not get down to naming specific groups until they were attacked by a right-wing group publicly professing to use Communist methods. Don’t you think churches should attack any group practicing Communist methods—or is this, too, something you omit from your philosophy?
FRANCIS A. HOFFMAN
The Overbrook Presbyterian Church
Since much of the subject matter … is of a timeless nature, it does not dismay us … that our copies of the welcome magazine arrive a couple of months after date of issue.
This tardiness explains my failure to write earlier in warm appreciation of your splendid readable issue of March 40 with the subject of missions as its leading feature. Some of the articles were the most penetrating I have yet come across in mission literature.…
Sudan United Mission
N. Nigeria, W. Africa
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