For Toastmasters

This is the banquet season. A former college admissions officer admitted to me that it was unnecessary for him to have anything home on the range from January till March. Sometimes he attended two dinners and a banquet in one evening.

Since dumping the farm surpluss abroad might dislocate world markets, there seems to be only one remaining disposition of the excess: the expanding frontiers of the American waistlands. The motto at banquets, dinners, luncheons, brunches, and potlucks is: Spread America First with Seconds. Hearty trenchermen aim to reverse the myth of the vanishing American.

A dedicated band of gastronauts fearlessly leads this attack on inner space. Automation has not yet reached the toastmaster. He must get up alone when the chops are down. He must be unfloppable. His jokes may be duds; he may forget the name of the speaker, and plant his elbow in his cottage cheese salad. But how does he respond? In just this situation a missile engineer made a quick sketch in his pocket memo and announced, “I’ve got the picture now. It’s called, ‘The missileman on his pad—after launch.’ ”

When you are asked to serve as master of ceremonies for the Men’s Fellowship banquet, remember that you stand in a long tradition. Toastmaster-General M. C. Megabohr tells us, in an intriguing study of “The Emcee Beecee,” that Samson’s riddles reveal an emcee craft that was centuries old when the Israelite judge first attended a Philistine banquet. Who could count the dinners that have been seasoned with the wit of Solomon’s aphorisms?

If you lack Solomon’s wisdom and Samson’s wit, don’t despair. Announce seconds on pie à la mode. If all else fails, turn to paper-folding. Have the guests make missiles from the banquet programs. Award first prize to the one whose programmed guidance system first lands on target in the speaker’s water glass.

Or announce a buzz session. In a four-minute conference each table must choose a speaker to present his favorite quotation. (If only stock-market quotations are offered, announce a prize for the best-dressed olive.)

Is there a chance that the organization of the Ecclesiastical American Toastmasters could lead the way to second thoughts about banquets as well as second helpings? Jesus attended many dinners, often to the disgust of his critics, but his after-dinner remarks were anything but traditional. Suppose we remembered what he said, not only about seating arrangements, but about inviting the hungry and the wicked (Luke 14:1–24; 15:1, 2, 22–32)? If our banquets were patterned more on heaven’s, they would cease to be boring.

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Disputed Generalization

I am interested in the assertion (Editorial, Dec. 7 issue) that there was a time when the American people quite generally knew what was right and what was wrong. Could you give me a specific date for that?

My area of concentration in graduate school was British and American history, so I am very eager to learn just when that situation prevailed. In the most religious section of the country, the South, Negro slavery was quite generally considered right and worth fighting for, and thousands of ministers were proving it from the Bible.…

And if there was such a time, do you mean to imply that men lived up to what they knew was right?

Pardon me if for some reason there comes to mind a quotation from Flaubert: “Our ignorance of history causes us to slander the present.”

Los Angeles, Calif.

• We hope the editorial on page 26 of the January 4 issue cast light on the question.—ED.

Joy In The Bleachers

In reading … “Plastic Gods and Robot Men” (Editorial, Dec. 7 issue) one can only say that of all the many writings and sermons one has ever heard and read from all the sects in Christendom [the editorial] is the most prophetic utterance of all times.

Philadelphia, Pa.

I wish this editorial could be read by every citizen of our entire country. A Christian cannot but fully agree.… The god of pleasure and sport seems to dominate our entire land. An hour of formal worship is painfully spent in the house of God, while four and even more hours are joyfully spent on the bleachers of the athletic stadium—even up till midnight.…

Minneapolis, Minn.

Ecumenical Fellowship

“Joseph … a fruitful bough … whose branches run over the wall” (Gen. 49:22).

The division walls of our Protestant denominations, built by their founders, were … so tall that members on each side … could not view the beauty and symmetry, nor smell the fragrance of each other’s garden. Secluded from one another they became so nearsighted, or narrowminded, that some hyperdenomi-nationalists nurtured the belief that the sun of righteousness shone only on their particular garden, while dark clouds of ignorance covered the neighbor-gardens of faith.

Communications media have contributed to tearing down of denominational barriers as the pollen from the tree of knowledge has blown freely and the fruit from the tree of life been shared in interdenominational fellowship. Crusades, such as those held by the Billy Graham Team, have nurtured this fellowship between Christians of all evangelical faiths.

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Emerging from seclusion we have begun to see not only the good of other denominations but also our own defects in clearer light.

The theological wall of Calvinism vs. Arminianism, for centuries … an invisible “iron curtain” of ill will between Christians, is now beginning to crumble. Theologians today are more and more unified in the concept that God’s sovereign will is not limited by man’s free will to accomplish His purpose, neither is God’s sovereign will responsible for the fate of man’s disobedience in his free will.…

Differences of temperaments amongst Christians tend toward separation and is also one contributory cause of the rise of denominations.… Casting out our evangelism net “on the right side” of our boat, in obedience to the Lord’s command, will give us the kind of fish destined to be ours in our particular church. Specialists for reaching different social strata of unsaved mankind are necessary in the King’s business.…

If that tasty fruit of the Spirit called “longsuffering, gentleness, … meekness” could be grown on a denominational branch so high that it would reach over the wall into other groups of denominational faiths we should see the miracle of a Christian “common market” with a spiritual prosperity in our Protestant communities never seen before.…

A warmer climate of mutual understanding has come to the Christian church on the interdenominational level in these latter days. Now is the time to cultivate that vine on which the fruit of God’s Spirit grows. May it grow so high and extend its branches so wide that it reaches the other side of the wall where “goodness” can be shared with men of every true evangelical faith, while the fruit of “faithfulness” be not neglected on the inside.

Our common Saviour, Lord and Chief Shepherd of “one fold,” is “the true vine” who is planted on each side of the denominational wall. If or when that wall crumbles into dust, this vine still stands, but not as a wall of division but as “the tree of life” who gives us all life, “in whom we live and have our being.” Let this divine Denominator become the Solver of all our interdenominational problems, the Crucified One who when “lifted up” will draw “all men” to himself into the mystic union of true ecumenical fellowship.

The Evangelical Alliance Mission

Brooklyn, N. Y.

The First Amendment

Could you not use the following from Christian Economics, October 30, 1962, titled “Free Exercise of Religion”: “The First Amendment reads: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’

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“Congress has made no such law, and there was nothing on that subject on which the Supreme Court could properly rule.

“The Supreme Court ruling against the saying of a simple, non-sectarian prayer in the schools of New York was an act ‘prohibiting the free exercise (of religion)’ and is therefore a flagrant violation of the Constitution.

“The New York teachers and the pupils had not violated the Constitution in saying the prayer, but the Supreme Court in ruling that they had no right to do so did flagrantly violate that great document which it is their supreme duty to uphold.”

Thank God there is the Supreme Judge to judge and reward the judges!

Pittsburgh, Pa.

Note For Divinity Halls

“Can We Weather the Storm” (Editorial, Nov. 23 issue) is the most forthright that I have seen. I would comment that the use of terms of the theological school weakens it for both ministers and laymen. Such terms do not register dynamically.

Emeritus Professor, History of Religion

Drew University

Madison, N.J.

Report From The Echo Canyon

Strange, but I hear the same echo from opposite directions. “Why did not the World Council speak out forthrightly against Russia’s offensive buildup in Cuba?” (Editorial, Nov. 23 issue). “If the World Council expects its judgments to be taken seriously, it should deal as sternly with Soviet duplicity as it has with an American response to such duplicity” (The Christian Century, Nov. 14, p. 1377).

Assembly of God

Grafton, Ill.

A Flag Of Green

I am writing concerning the use of professional fund raisers by our churches. I have been a minister for more than 17 years; in that time I have seen three charges come out of dire financial straits into positions of financial strength. I … have seen my own denomination go through three great attempts to raise million-dollar funds. I know something about the matter of fund-raising.

There is no doubt about it, the professional who knows his business can come into a congregation and raise huge funds. Only rarely can the local pastor match his efforts.…

Money is certainly needed—but sheer money, the funds, the budget, the bookkeeping, such things must always be kept in their rightful places. Ours is a greater task. Yet the concepts of … money-raising are built around the central idea that money is our goal.… The professional’s sole emphasis is that of raising money; he has no other purpose.…

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Even the services of divine worship must be geared to the professional’s methods. While he is present, everything about the church is branded with a dollar sign.

First, membership lists are made up—grouped according to income! Leaders are chosen for their ability to lead others into giving.… We do not actually replace the cross upon the altar, but honesty might suggest a flag of green, waving over a pile of silver. Thirty pieces would be about right!

… Sermons are preached on the joys of giving, and literature is passed out at the door. Laymen speak on the blessings of tithing, as if tithing would settle every financial problem. The pastor finds his flock boasting of pledges made, or … received.… Progress charts are posted on the walls. The Almighty Dollar reigns supreme!

… Techniques … demand the choosing of the more wealthy members as committee chairmen.… Soon we are duped into promoting the idea that the greatest in the Kingdom … are those whose possessions are great. The widow of 2,000 years ago, with only two mites to give, could have no part in our campaign. But then—Jesus Christ might not fit very well into the pattern of our ministry, either.

Now, I must admit that the church needs money. Our program would die without it. But money is a means, not the final end of our program. We raise funds in order to serve; we do not serve our fellow man that we might have an excuse for raising funds! In the words of an old poem, there are “ways and ways, and a Way,” but when we choose the professional, we have chosen the wrong way. In the words of a preacher much greater than I, “you cannot serve God and mammon.”

The Methodist Church

Hillsdale, Ill.

At Nicaea, No Mystery?

If by “soft on trinitarianism” (Editorial, Nov. 23 issue) you mean we Southern Baptists don’t harp on that time-worn cliché “God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost,” then the answer is a resounding yes! But if you mean we don’t believe in the Trinity, then the answer is a resounding no! It’s just that we prefer the biblical mystery rather than the Council of Nicaea’s “elucidation” (?).…

I believe that God, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are one, yet with distinct personalities and manifestations. How? I don’t know. It’s a mystery which I can’t explain and won’t try to, but even though it is a mystery, I’d rather accept it by faith than abandon my intellectual integrity and deny it.

Columbus, Ohio

Room For The Needy

“Go Away!” (A Layman and his Faith, Dec. 7 issue) vividly describes the true situation of the whole society of the world today. If Christendom begins right here as you mentioned in your article to give room to those needy ones, Communism would not be a problem to us.…

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Chinese Executive Secretary

The Reformation Translation Fellowship

Los Angeles, Calif.

In Windows, Use Caution

What is the significance of the use of the name of “Eutychus” in the heading of your section giving excerpts from letters?

Until I learn, I shall continue to wonder if your said use of the name … indicates that you think that the writers of the letters need to be awakened lest they be harmed by their attitudes.

Long Beach, Calif.

• The title “Eutychus and His Kin” is employed for letters to the Editor because Eutychus is an apostolic symbol for one made drowsy under the long exhortation of others, or providentially awakened to new opportunities. Except in the case of Eutychus, whose identity is already established (cf. Acts 20:9), communications must be accompanied by the name and address of the writer.—ED.

Glad Reunion

I have been without CHRISTIANITY TODAY for over a year and have greatly missed it. I have found myself especially lonely for your news and book review sections. In fact, I feel I have been a less informed, less adequately prepared pastor for not having had your excellent evangelical journal on hand.

First Baptist

Grand Marias, Minn.

Things are better now that your magazine is on the scene, but I still pray for a periodical which is broader in outlook. There are evangelical scholars who are trying to wrestle with new ideas.…

Seattle Pacific College

Seattle, Wash.

I am going to be moving to San Jose, Costa Rica, the latter part of December where I will be engaged in the work of the Oriental Missionary Society.…

I subscribed to your magazine while in seminary and the pastorate and I feel that some of its articles and missionary emphasis have helped lead us to the foreign field.…

The Oriental Missionary Society

Los Angeles, Calif.

Straw In A Hurricane

Your editorial “Hope in a ‘Post-Christian’ Era” (Aug. 3 issue) set me thinking.… The Christian Church is supposed to be a fellowship of believers. But most of us know that it is also a fellowship of status seekers, custom followers, and unenlightened, confused sheep.…

The number of believers in the church whose lives have been radically changed by the acceptance of Christ and who walk daily in his presence must be shockingly and heartbreakingly small. They will be a straw in the hurricane of secularism and materialism. They will be laughed at, ridiculed and constantly persecuted.…

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But why should we be so surprised? The Bible says, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Many are called but few are chosen. Christian belief, then, along with the joy it brings, often brings pain, too.…

Leesville, S.C.

To Say Howdy

I am a theologian, a member of the Anglican church.… I am a “shut-in” so most of my work is done by letter or (now it’s easier) by tape recording.

I would like to have as many correspondents as would be kind enough to write me or as many tapespondents as would like to reciprocatingly exchange views by this exciting new medium. I have a CSR 1 and take spools up to 7” (3¾ and 7½ speeds). I am a Jewish convert to Christianity and so if you … know of any other converts who would like to say howdy, I’d be grateful.…

Wellington, New Zealand

• Mr. Rodman’s address: 67 Pirie St., Wellington C.4., New Zealand.—ED.

No Time For Its Giver

And it came to pass that a certain man appeared before the Lord of Life and said, “I come from mankind, who are Thy creatures, Thy servants, and Thy children, to present this request: Thy law states that we shall labor six days, but that the seventh day shall be set apart for rest and for communion with Thee. But, O Lord, life has changed radically down on earth. When life was simple and the pace was slow, the law of the seventh day was indeed a fair law. But now we find a whole day for rest and communion with Thee too much.”

Now the Lord of Life was gracious and said, “I would not have my laws be an unnecessary burden to mankind. Would you be willing to set aside one hour a week?”

The representative of mankind was elated. “That’s more like it! One hour a week we shall gladly give Thee.”

But, lo, before the moon had waxed and waned, man was back again, and said, “O Lord of Life, we find that our lives are busier than we dreamed. One hour a week for rest and communion with Thee is too much. It is a burden.”

And the Lord of Life said, “I would not burden those I love. Would you be willing to set aside five minutes a week?”

Man cried out, “Five minutes! There is no one who cannot honor Thee with five minutes a week!” And with great rejoicing, man returned to tell his fellows of the great concession he had won.

But, behold, before the silver sickle of the moon had become a golden disk, man was back again, and said, “O Lord of Life, we find that even five minutes a week in our busy time is a long time, far more than we can spare for communion with Thee for spiritual rest.”

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And the Lord of Life replied, “I see your predicament clearly. You want all time for yourself. Then, perhaps the best thing I can do for you is to give you all time, to do with as you will.”

Man leaped for joy and shouted, “That is what we need, all of time! We praise Thee! We glorify Thee! We shall never be back again.”

And in his hurry to get back to his fellow men with the good news, he did not hear the Lord of Life say, “You will be back.”

And, behold, it was so. Before the moon had marked another phase of time, man was back again, saying, “O Lord of Life, Most High, Thou hast been most considerate of our needs. Thou hast not only granted us six days for our own use, but Thou hast given us seven days, and every hour and every minute of those seven days. But, O Lord, we have decided that what we really need is an eight-day week.…”

It was then that somewhere someone touched a button. There was a worldwide explosion. Time ceased to be.

The Presbyterian Church

Wabash, Ind.

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