A Man For All Seasons
If you know anything about the Book of Job, you know that he went through times of troubles, and in J.B., Archibald Macleish creates a character you might not think about in the Book of Job—the man who keeps running onto the stage telling about all the troubles. I must confess that I resisted this character all the way through the play, but after the play was over I had to agree that somebody has to report in with all the troubles and it might as well be the same man; at least this was Macleish’s solution.
In A Man for All Seasons we have the creation of a more fulsome character; he is the sort of a man who is always there. Before the play is over he is pretty close to being the most important character on the stage and is beginning to look deadly familiar—like some of my friends or even my friend me. At one time he is a kind of general stagehand; at another time he is a jailor or a headsman (a man who chops off heads), a butler or a valet, and in and around everything he does he is a kind of endless gossip. Chief among his gifts is his ability to evade decisions, especially those which might put him “in the middle.” He is a great hand-wringer over the dismal conditions which surround him, but he never quite puts his hand to resolving any. He looks a little like the women on the road to Golgotha who threw dust into the air and beat on their breasts and probably thought it was a pity that such a nice man was being crucified. He also looks a little like the men who nailed Jesus to the cross: it Wasn’t their business to inquire into the niceties of the legalisms around the crucifixion. There was always someone else to blame for their dirty work.
I think the character in J.B. is really outclassed by that wonderful “common man” in A Man for All Seasons. That “common man” gets most of us where We can hurt. Too many of us are “viewers with alarm” or “thunderers of judgment” or “exhorters of righteousness”; we have lots of insight about the troubles of the world and not much lift. You preachers can name a lot of people in your congregation who fit the pattern—but maybe you are the pattern.
God And The Universities
Occasionally an issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY towers above the other peaks of your publications. The recent one devoted to “God and the Universities” (Feb. 15 issue) was one of these. I had just returned from Religious Emphasis Week at Oregon State when my issue arrived. It captured a great many of my impressions and helped to fortify me for another appointment at Colorado State College.… The article “The Peril of the Plausible” was particularly striking.…
Asst. Prof. of Church History
Conservative Baptist Seminary
In Charles H. Troutman’s article on “The Gospel and the Collegiate Mind,” I am afraid he has confused the Gospel with the “gospel according to Inter-Varsity.”
He says, first of all, that “the message which we proclaim is the message of the Bible” and “as a consequence, it carries unmistakable authority.” I have yet to meet a group of thinking college students who would accept the authority of anything merely because the Bible is supposed to have said so! And furthermore, I question whether [it] “is the message of the Bible” or whether it is a “neo-conservative” (!) interpretation of certain over-emphasized portions of the biblical message.
Secondly, we are told that the person Inter-Varsity preaches is “Jesus Christ, very God of very God.” But searching college students today are looking for a God who is so relevant to the struggles of our life in this world that he is very Man of very Man … who lived and sweated and suffered and struggled as men do in this world.
The third thrust declares “the core of the Gospel” to be “Christ’s sacrificial and atoning death for us” which is an expression of “God’s love in response to human need by his free provision of his Son, the Redeemer”.… My argument is against the over-simplification and lopsidedness of a “gospel” which cannot see the atoning death of Christ in its proper perspective: as the extremely significant culmination of a life that is the core of the Gospel.…
The fourth and final thrust is “the demand of Christ” for “commitment to total personal relationship with the triune God through the abiding presence and reality of the Holy Spirit.” If college students find Christ at all demanding today, I doubt if it will be in terms of a narrowly personal relationship with a third-century theological explanation of the nature of God. The reality of the Holy Spirit in the midst of life will demand the commitment of their lives (and ours!) to serve man in every area of human need, and to do so as a part of the people of God, who are more concerned about the realities of this world and its needs than about perpetuating an interpretation of God and his good news which is inadequate for the restless and seeking young generation of today.
Minister of Christian Education
The Packanack Community Church
Wayne, N. J.
The university number was especially appreciated.… I am convinced that penetration of the modern campus by students with an extracurricular passion to personally share Christ is the most effective plan of assault upon our educational fortresses.
Here at South Dakota State College the frontal attack of religious emphasis week is as nothing in comparison with the effectiveness of a single ex-Marine football player whose principal “elective” consists in belonging to other students for Christ’s sake.
Bethel Baptist Church
Brookings, S. Dak.
One issue did it!… The February 15 issue stressing Christian education in the universities was such an outstanding contribution and challenge to an awakening spirit of scholarly conservatism that I want to subscribe for three years.…
Department of Education
Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
I thank God for the wonderful issue … dealing with testimonies for Christ at the university level. To me these spoke the greatest message I have ever received in CHRISTIANITY TODAY.…
May I suggest more such issues …? The very fact that these testimonies came from professors and university students alike will give greater emphasis. How about an issue giving testimonies from business people, then one from professional people, and so on?
St. Mark-Oak Hill Methodist Charge
The service you have done in dealing with Christianity and higher education today is most difficult to praise adequately. This is the finest thing of its kind that I have ever seen.…
East Glenville Church
Scotia, N. Y.
I would encourage more good articles and critiques of this problem facing today’s youth in our institutions of higher learning.…
Mennonite Central Committee
I want you to know that I was profoundly impressed by the testimony of the “cloud of witnesses” presented in the … issue.
Skaalen Sunset Home
Re “The Task of Educated Leadership”: … Were we not born, like Thoreau, in the very nick of time to be part of this resurgence? The day has returned, it seems, when we evangelicals are willing again to allow the intellectual community to hear the Message too, and in its own language! We had done as much long since for the African and the Auca.…
I made a very pleasant discovery today. Our one-year-old has found that it tastes delicious and is a most satisfying means of littering the living room. This solves a question which has been bothering me for several years, namely, what earthly use the thing could be.
New York East Annual Conference of The Methodist Church
Bayville, N. Y.
This issue is by far the top point as yet. The article by Professor Blaiklock on “The Task of Educated Leadership” is a masterpiece and alone worth a year’s subscription.… It is indeed encouraging to read the sane and balanced testimonies of so many people whom God has led to Christian service on the campuses throughout our country.…
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
West Virginia University
Morgantown, W. Va.
I think CHRISTIANITY TODAY is the most important religious publication today. I believe it is having a significant influence in bridging the gap between the spiritual and intellectual worlds. This most recent issue devoted to Christian education and religion on the campuses has been most helpful and enlightening.…
Professor of Bible
Oklahoma Baptist University
I found the image of the collegian to be true to life. How is it to be counteracted? I tried a year at the Nation’s “neoevangelical” seminary and came out where I went in—unconvinced, “bugged.” Get your experts to answer the second question and a significant contribution will be made.
Los Angeles State College
Los Angeles, Calif.
As a graduate student in a secular university, I wish to express my appreciation.… It is encouraging to know of the growing network of academic, evangelical witness.
Alpha Kappa Delta
University of Kentucky
Peppermint And Calvinism
On “Knowing When to Quit” (Editorial, Jan. 18 issue): Sharp biting peppermints are still being used in the Netherlands! As a child, my mother would give us our “church money” with two peppermints. While in Holland again last summer we were treated with strong peppermints in church, and when we made a remark about it a church member said: “The sharper the peppermint, the stronger the Calvinism.”
Thank you for the editorial.… I can vouch for the effectiveness of the peppermints.
It brought back memories of my early childhood … in a Holland Reformed Church in New Jersey.… To fall asleep in church was a disgrace, and we had to devise ways and means to stay awake during a sermon which lasted at least an hour and a half, all of this in the Holland language which was difficult for us to understand! Counting the pipes in the organ, studying the stories depicted in the stained glass windows, and perhaps following the flight of a fly on a hot summer afternoon helped, but the strong peppermints, passed to us rather surreptitiously by an indulgent grandmother, really did the trick.…
East Northfield, Mass.
The Ecumenical Road
“A Layman and His Faith” (Jan. 18 issue) mapped out the ecumenical road along spiritual lines as distinct as could be tolerated by this wayward generation. We hope that Dr. Bell will be prospered in his (seeming) endeavor to remind the clergy of their necessary identification with the laity—the whole assembly of believers being one in Jesus Christ.…
Vancouver, B. C.
In spite of even many conservative notions for the dating of the Gospel of John, I have felt strongly for some time, on purely critical grounds, that the book betrays an immediacy that precludes any late and retrospective authorship. Also may I say that the new Albright (Jan. 18 issue) is a far cry from the Albright of the 1940s whose interpretations annoyed me considerably back in my University of Chicago days when I was working on the problem of the Exodus.
The Exodus problem, of course, involved a good deal of delving into the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties of Egypt and the consequent problem of dating the whole complex of elements from the Amarna letters to the uproar at Jericho triggered by Garstang. At that time Dr. Libby was working on Carbon 14 at Chicago and Dr. Wilson (then head of the Oriental Institute and the professor under whom I did some of my work) ventured the opinion that the new technique would mark the first real breakthrough in the area of archaeological dating. His own reservation was that the calibration of the “yardstick” would be a ticklish problem, and that a reliable scale of dating might be very difficult to develop.
Having fallen heir to this initial skepticism I find that in my own mind the attitude has not diminished over the intervening years. The basic assumption on which the dating system rests is that the assay of Carbon 14 has been uniform for the past 20,000 to 30,000 years. This seems to be an entirely gratuitous assumption; and, increasingly, continued research in paleomagnetism and geophysics is bearing out a suspicion that was turned up in archaeology over 60 years ago, that the constancy of the earth’s magnetic field (upon which the uniformity of Carbon 14 depends), even in recent historic times, is anything but an established fact.
A Carbon 14 dating for the eighteenth dynasty that was published in the early fifties was so far at variance with the known astronomically based calendar dating that the whole system will remain seriously discredited until the problem can be cleared up. (Further tests on eighteenth dynasty material have not been forthcoming in spite of an appeal from the late Dr. Einstein.)
Dr. Albright’s skepticism of Carbon 14 (or, for that matter, any other system of isotope dating) could very well be based on the problem of the eighteenth dynasty. However, it is refreshing to note that he simply concurs with Dr. Libby in the latter’s initial statement in 1955 (Radiocarbon Dating, W. F. Libby, University of Chicago Press): “We have had no experience with bone, as such, and believe that it is a very poor prospect for two reasons: the carbon content of bone is extremely low, being largely inorganic; and it is … in its porous structure likely to have suffered alteration. It is barely conceivable that measurements on bone might reveal that some reliability could be obtained. However, because the quantities required are so large, and there usually are other acceptable materials associated with a find of bone, it does not seem to be an urgent matter to pursue.” One wishes that the myriad of enthusiastic paleontologists would be as scholarly in their approach to the dating problem in which this technique is limited in application, and where the variables are still far from being reconciled.
Sacramento State College
From The Wrong Column
You state that the Protestant Episcopal Church showed a net loss in membership for 1961 (News, Jan. 4 issue). I realize that you are quoting the 1963 Yearbook of American Churches, published by the National Council of Churches, but I would like to point out that there is a statistical error here. Evidently someone copied figures from the wrong column. The first figure in question gave the Episcopal Church membership including our churches beyond the continental limit of the United States, and the second figure used the membership figures for the congregations within the 50 states. In the period under discussion, the church increased its membership from 3,200,763 to 3,269,325 within the 50 states. This is a gain of a little over 2.1 per cent.…
General Division of Research and The Field Study
Protestant Episcopal Church
“Vatican Council: End of the First Phase” (News, Jan. 18 issue) … is the type of report that makes me feel that I am getting a bargain as a contributing subscriber. Your journal carries a high tradition of alert reporting and incisive comment.…
Assoc. Prof. of History and Religion
Brigham Young University
What Does The Law Say?
As an attorney, and a Christian, I am simply amazed at the incredible letter by Professor Gordon H. Clark of Butler University in the December 21 issue (Eutychus).
He refers to Chief Justice Warren as one “who favors homosexuality on the same day he opposes prayer,” and also notes the Chief Justice’s “perverted moral opinions.”
The truth is, of course, as any high-school civics student should know, that neither the Chief Justice nor any other member of the United States judiciary is supposed to use his own moral standards in deciding what the law is or should be. The judicial oath is to faithfully interpret the Constitution and the laws as enacted by the legislature. There is simply no question for the judiciary as to whether prayer is “right” or homosexuality “wrong”; the question is: What does the law say on these subjects?
Professor Clark’s letter is tantamount to calling every defense attorney, every juror who votes for acquittal, and every judge who sustains a defense objection, “in favor” of crime and “opposed” to keeping the law!
San Diego, Calif.
‘Logic’ Of A Sort
In a recent book review (“Barth in the Balances,” Dec. 21 issue) editor Dr. Carl Henry takes exception to the rigid “either or” of his good friend the author of the book under consideration. The author holds that either one takes Christ from the Bible as infallible revelation, or “one has to project his Christ from his own self-sufficient self-consciousness.” Dr. Henry points out that there have been men who have accepted Christ, while not being convinced of the infallibility of the Bible.
Dr. Henry is right, though, as he says, such men “thereby sacrifice an objective, authoritative theology.” But “the surviving biblical elements in their thought should be recognized for what they are, and should be welcomed and reinforced in the light of scriptural truth.”
Now the sad part of the story: The editor of the Christian Beacon, after quoting from Dr. Henry the very words quoted above, charges that one who thus speaks “is not making the Scriptures his only infallible rule of faith and practice. He has abandoned that platform.”
This is “logic” of a sort! If I recognize that Luther believed in Christ, but did not see the infallibility of the Epistle of James, I am accused of abandoning my stand for the infallibility of the Bible!
Personally, I take second place to no one in defending the doctrine of the inerrancy of the Bible, but this attack on the editor of CHRISTIANITY TODAY is a plain violation of the ninth commandment.
Dean of Graduate Faculty
Covenant College and Seminary
St. Louis, Mo.
The First And Fourteenth
Mr. Wagner seems to run far afield as rejoinder to my [letter] on action of the Supreme Court in banning prayer (Eutychus, Dec. 7 issue)—accusing me of misleading my readers in the following statement, “Even this does not in the least debar individual states from doing it.”
He should have known this statement was part of the First Amendment. In justification for his remarks he vainly resorts to the Fourteenth Amendment, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
This, I must protest, does no violence to the First Amendment, neither does it make provision for the action of the Supreme Court on the subject of prayer, but was instituted only because of a racial crisis.
The law is good, but the misuse of it is where the danger lies.
Free Will Baptist Temple
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.