Big Questions

How does it feel to be in high school? If you have to give a commencement address you might like to find out. I have been tempted to write my own memoirs—I was a teen-age Philadelphian. But that was before television or teaching machines. In fact, the New Deal was first dealt while I was walking to high school.

To discover how today’s teens feel, I secured a fine new book by David Mallery: High School Students Speak Out. By a determined effort I cleared my study. Sue reluctantly relinquished the phone, and Charles left my desk where he had been studying solid geometry from a sports car magazine. I used to be suspicious of such material, but with the new math curriculum and auto-instruction, you never can tell.

As I say, I cleared my study and concentrated without distraction on what high school students are saying. First, what do they say about values?

“People wouldn’t be caught dead talking about that stuff!” confessed one high school girl. She had just confided in Mr. Mallery regarding her religious views. “I don’t think other people think about these things much. Maybe it’s just me.”

The next student to be interviewed told the questioner practically the same thing. Said another, “You plunge into trivialities and try to avoid the big questions.… Parents are no help. You start talking with them and they ask you if you have all your homework done or they make some big deal about what you’re going to wear.”

Rather disconcerting. Mr. Mallery wonders how a high-school curriculum can be taught without discussing the “big questions.” Yet he found high schools that seemed to manage it. Obvious pressures restrain public school teachers from expressing religious conviction. But do we give our teens a hearing on the big questions? Christian homes, schools, even churches can make “big deals” of the trivial. Teens must learn to help the Martha Circle serve, but they must see that we are ready, like the Master, to talk with Mary.

I called to Charles, but he had gone to bed. Sue was busy with German.

EUTYCHUS

Corson: Complacency’S Foe

Bishop Corson’s experience in both home and world affairs makes his writing (“Facing the Communist Menace,” Apr. 27 issue) even more meaningful. If more Americans could grasp the significance of the facts here presented there should be less complacency regarding this menace.…

HAMMELL P. SHIPPS

Medford, N. J.

Your article is one of the finest writings I have seen anywhere pointing out plainly and realistically “the Communist menace.” In a time when we see the radical right such as the Birchites with their self-styled heresy hunters and the radical left such as some church and state leaders with their hedging in their analysis of atheistic communism, I salute you for this sane article.…

ELMER B. FANT

Aldersgate Methodist Church

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The article … is especially valuable.… I think it would be a great help to freedom-loving ministers and workers if it could be printed separately and distributed widely.

MEL HOOKER

Carthage, Mo.

The articles exposing the nature and objectives of communism are very timely and will, I trust, be given wide circulation by your readers. My copy will be circulated among my church officials.

ROBERT EARLS

St. Andrew’s Church

Cobden, Ont.

The Old Princeton

In your Princeton Seminary story (News, Apr. 27 issue) it is understandable that attention should be focused upon the history of the chair of Apologetics because of the present interest in the Hick case. You are correct, of course, in singling out the failure of the General Assembly of 1926 to confirm the election of J. Gresham Machen to this chair as a significant detail in the struggle which resulted in the reorganization of Princeton in 1929. It is unfortunate, however, that the broader and deeper aspects of the basic issue are largely if not wholly overlooked in your account.

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As not only Machen but also a large majority of the Princeton Faculty and of the Board of Directors believed, the issue was whether the historic position of the Seminary with regard to the authority of the Bible and the Westminster Standards was to be maintained without compromise or whether a more inclusivist policy should be adopted. The Presbyterian Church as a whole was a broadening church. And it was perhaps inevitable that an official seminary would sooner or later be compelled to conform to this broader viewpoint. But one of the most illuminating—and for many observers most heartbreaking—phases of modern church history is that in which a herculean effort was made for a period of well over a decade to arrest this current and to preserve the old Princeton. The reorganization, at any rate, soon showed that the broader view had prevailed. And in a current official Princeton publication this assessment is virtually admitted. For it is stated that Barth’s welcome to Princeton is not to be regarded as “actuated by nostalgia for the ‘Princeton theology’ which was taught by its great pre-exilic prophets.…”

NED B. STONEHOUSE

Dean of the Faculty

Westminster Theological Seminary

Philadelphia, Pa.

Thunder On The Right

The NCC does not now employ, nor has it ever employed at any time, “a full-time staff member for answering right-wingers, but not left-wingers” (Editorial, Apr. 13 issue).… Who was the source for this canard? Somebody like Fulton Lewis, Jr.?

FLETCHER COATES

Office of Information

National Council of Churches

New York, N. Y.

If this statement is founded on fact, all these circumstances (including the employee’s name) should be reported.…

JOHN R. CAMPBELL

Christ Episcopal Church

Pulaski, Va.

• NCC Office of Information has nobody permanently assigned to answering the right wing. The office collates attacks on NCC for efficiency and assigns these to a given staff member. One key worker has given “somewhat less than half-time” on an overall basis to rebuttal of the right wing, but at their peak, answering right-wing criticisms has required virtually full time. Asked to what extent left wingers assail NCC, the organization’s spokesman said “every now and then” some left-wing group finds the NCC “too conservative,” but the main source of attack (and hence the main direction of rebuttal) is the right wing.—ED.

Challenge And Response

I am not sure I understand all that Mr. Shafer is trying to say (“Come Back, O Church, Come Back,” Apr. 13 issue).… I take it [he] longs for the good old days when preachers preached and lots of laymen listened.

Although I resist the style of this article—the turned phrase, the nimble adjective and the sweeping imperative—I am more antagonized by the emotional tone.… This piece is reeking with hostility. Notice the sadistic trend of the words: “abandon … pull from under … drive them … rock them … blow them … force them.…”

Mr. Shafer is right in calling for unity in the church, but this will not come by imperial pastoral decree, no matter how “voluble, vociferous and violent,” to use his words. I think I’ll stick with William P. Merrill’s “Rise Up, O Men of God.” At least Merrill leaves me with a feeling that we are called to look forward in love, and not as Mr. Shafer, to look backward in anger.

ALBERT L. MEIBURG

North Carolina Baptist Hospitals, Inc.

Winston-Salem, N. C.

It is one of the most intelligent and challenging articles to God’s people I have had the privilege to read in a long time. It is refreshing in these days of the “soft sell” to read something fraught with deep and vital conviction.…

CLINTON H. GOODWIN

Superintendent

Union Rescue Mission

Los Angeles, Calif.

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Private Interpretation!

Baptists believe in the right of the individual to interpret Scripture as God gives him to see and understand. What a blessing it was for me to walk up front in a Baptist church, to be baptized as Jesus was, and to know that Christianity can never be contained in a creed.

I feel no need or desire to believe in the historic actuality of the Virgin Birth.… I am positive the story was not intended to be taken literally. It is symbolic.… The obvious symbolism is that Jew and Gentile have at last been united to create something new—Christendom.

HELEN H. COLBERT

Alexandria, Va.

Damascus And Moscow

The little article concerning Nikita Khrushchev (“Still Munching Candy,” p. 55, Apr. 13 issue) has been read and reread with great interest. I read it to the members of my ladies’ Sunday School class—they could hardly believe it.…

We as a class are breathing instantaneous prayers for him each morning at 9 A.M. Someone has said that if all Christians would pray for Mr. Khrushchev, his conversion could be as dramatic as that of Paul. We are praying to that end. MRS. N. WILBUR SCHROCK Orrville, Ohio

Plaudits For Workshop

I am glad to see the improvement in the magazine that has come with the institution of “The Minister’s Workshop.”

ROBERT A. HELSTROM

Irons Memorial United Presbyterian

McDonald, Pa.

I am indeed delighted to know what you are doing to stir our preachers to do exegetical and expository preaching. More power to you.…

KYLE M. YATES

Dept. of Religion

Baylor University

Waco, Texas

Carnell On Scripture

In your May 11 issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY you had a special report entitled “Encountering Barth in Chicago,” … written by Dr. Gordon Haddon Clark, Professor of Philosophy at Butler University. In his report Dr. Clark made two observations which require clarification.

Basically the questions raised are two in number: (1) whether Professor Edward Carnell failed to pursue adequately with Dr. Barth the question of an infallible Scripture; and (2) Dr. Clark apparently was left with the impression that Dr. Carnell does not himself believe in an inerrant Scripture.

On Tuesday, May 15, Dr. Carnell made a report to the Fuller Seminary faculty and student body and questions were asked from the floor. In response to the question raised by Dr. Clark, Dr. Carnell said that he did not pursue the question of an inerrant Scripture with Dr. Barth any further simply because the time factor, in terms of his arrangements with the University, would have meant taking the time of the person on the panel who had but 30 minutes to listen to Dr. Barth’s answers to his questions.

In connection with Dr. Carnell’s own convictions concerning the Scripture, the following is the statement he made at Fuller Seminary Chapel:

“First, I grant that I have problems. If any of you have looked at the Case book, the chapter under “Perils” is devoted to problems and I envy any of you who is so fortunate as to transcend problems. I draw a very sharp distinction, however, between the admission of difficulties and what I believe as a doctrine and I want to make it as clear as the English language can put it, that I now believe and always have believed plenary inspiration of Scripture and the inerrancy of Scripture. I sign the Seminary creed with full commitment each year and if anybody in any part of the country is interested in what I believe, I hope he will be man enough to write and ask me.”

HAROLD LINDSELL

Vice-President

Fuller Seminary

Pasadena, Calif.

For Open Windows

G. C. Berkouwer’s “Review of Current Religious Thought” (Apr. 13 issue) breathes the air of an open window on God and on the best in current Roman Catholic piety.

The spiritual unity of God’s church depends upon our common amazement before him and a common humility about our apprehensions of him.

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An open window on God in devotion and an open window on the world in witness and service will mean an open window on each other in the Body of Christ and a reduction of our internecine warfare with its intellectualistic and non-theological armaments. May you contribute to this desired end and not to that smug, box-like biblicist intellectualisin of which your critics accuse you.

WILLIS E. ELLIOTT

Literature Secy.

Office of Evangelism

The United Church of Christ

Cleveland, Ohio

I along with many of my liberal friends read your magazine with great appreciation. In my judgment it is the most constructive theological voice to appear on the American scene in a generation.

CHARLES M. PRESTWOOD, JR.

The Methodist Church

Eutaw, Ala.

Your theology is atrocious. It was acceptable in an earlier day but belongs to relics of the days of witchcraft and the like.…

The dogmas and creeds to which so many have been taught to cling are the forms in which men expressed spiritual values some centuries ago. The values remain, but many spiritual-minded men of a later day have found other expressions of those same values, and have turned from the old forms. These later expressions are more in harmony with present-day understanding in life and insight into its meaning.…

EUGENE POCOCK

Cleveland, Ohio

One year ago I first subscribed to CHRISTIANITY TODAY. I am so happy with it that I am enclosing $8 for a two-year renewal. I will send my copies on to my son who is starting his ministry.

I come out of a liberal tradition, but I have been steadily moving to the right through the years. I like the intellectually sound approach to the study of Christianity. I like the fair but fearless manner in which Christian movements are evaluated. I like the way it stimulates my thinking and brings me back to the basic and fundamental facts of the Gospel. May God continue to bless and use CHRISTIANITY TODAY as it helps us to see the need of putting on the whole armor of God.

GILBERT H. ROGERS

Community Methodist Church

Springfield, Minn.

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