The Last Gasp
The finest journal in its field is the Journal of the National Association of Women Deans and Counselors—professional, contemporary, lively, and instructive. All the more impressive, therefore, is the table of contents for the January issue. I wonder if the titles even need comment:
“The Role of the Counselor in Sex Behavior and Standards.”
“College Youth and Sexual Confusion.”
“Premarital Sex Norms in America and Scandinavia.”
“The Variety and Meaning of Premarital Heterosexual Experiences for the College Student.”
“Premarital Pregnancies and Their Outcome.”
“Sex and the College Student: A Bibliography of New Findings and Insights.”
From what I can find out, this table of contents is the result of pressures among deans of women that their journal give them help in what has become a very serious problem on every college campus. We have passed through an era when we were just a little pleased with ourselves because we could speak freely on matters of sex. We are entering an era when we shall, perhaps, begin to discuss this subject with a note of desperation. Sometimes we dig up more snakes than we can kill; and as against the wisdom of our forebearers, we will have turned loose in the name of freedom what shall now destroy us by license.
I don’t know who Stevie Smith is, but he surely got off a good one once: “I was much farther out than you thought and not waving but drowning.”
In this “far out” day of ours, things may not be quite as gay as they look.
Tribunal In Jerusalem
It is gratifying to see your publication take such a sympathetic and well-informed interest in the position of the Hebrew Christian in Israel. For some strange reason the evangelical press of this country has thus far paid scant attention to this matter which is of profound significance to the mutual relationship between Christians and Jews. The recent decision of the Jerusalem Supreme Court in my humble opinion surpasses in historical significance anything that has happened since the emergence of the State of Israel. The article by Dr. Jocz, “A Test of Tolerance” (Mar. 29 issue), was superb.
The Friends of Israel
The words of Jesus (Matt. 12:30) testify against Father Daniel’s right to be an Israeli citizen.… How can a priest (or a Christian minister) accept and preach the guilt of Jews and be a good Jewish citizen? How, Doctor Jocz?
The American Council for Judaism also has misgivings about this case, but offers a different set of reasons.… We felt that the Brother Daniel case was part of a series of incidents in the State of Israel which purposely aim to link Jews outside of Israel with the policies and actions of that State itself. The Law of Return is based on the Zionist theory that every Jew, no matter in which country he is a citizen, has automatic nationality rights in the State of Israel. This claim is made on the basis of common religion shared by Jews the world over. The Council denies that there is a “Jewish” nationality (which Zionism advances). We therefore reject any claim on the part of the Israeli judicial, executive, or legislative branches to represent or speak for Americans of Jewish faith.
American Council for Judaism
New York, N. Y.
Soviet Churchmen And Ncc
To some readers of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, particularly those who have followed the comments of Fulton Lewis, Jr. and Dr. Carl McIntire on the recent visit of Soviet clergymen to this country, your account (“Soviet Church Leaders Visit America,” Mar. 29 issue) may seem a bit on the “Mister Milquetoast” order, and the same judgment might be passed on the statement of the Denver Association of Evangelicals as you report it, though that statement does indeed point a finger of scorn at the preposterous claim that these men actually represent Christian believers or true Christian churches.
But I always try to find things to commend and I want you to know that I am truly delighted that you quoted Nikodim in his reference to the 32 Siberian “refugees” as “fanatics.” Surely no reader can fail to question, what kind of a Christian is a man who, claiming to be the beneficiary of a rule of freedom of religion, excuses persecution of other Christians on the ground that they are “fanatics”?
American Council President of Christian Laymen
Why do the NCC spokesmen blame McIntire? He did not invite the Soviet churchmen to the United States. I am quite familiar with Dr. McIntire’s part in the visit. In many ways I thoroughly disapprove of his work but in this phase I feel that he is doing something that needs to be done.
Dr. McIntire will probably not be able to convince NCC officialdom of anything. Sometimes I am convinced that church officials are more arrogant than any others. Where Dr. McIntire helps is to undercut support for the NCC at the grassroots. I used to be proud of the fact that the congregations of which I had charge made yearly contributions to the support of NCC and WCC. However, since about 1955 I have not requested such contributions of any congregation. It didn’t take Dr. McIntire to convince me, but I give him credit for letting people know how poorly we have been led by the “ruling oligarchy” of the two organizations.
Incidentally, the “ruling oligarchy” of the NCC and WCC is quite comparable to similar groups that get control of departments of the National Council of my own Episcopal Church. A few years ago when I was in charge (under the Bishop of Honolulu) of the Taiwan Mission of our church I tangled with leaders of our Overseas Department over their “playing footsie with the Reds” policies. I really cooked my goose. The officials remain or retire with great honor. Only those who call to question their policies suffer. We “underlings” are supposed to take the same attitude as the soldiers in the “Light Brigade.” Those who “play footsie” with the Communists are always right. Those who call to question such policies are always wrong.
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
Your reporting on the Russians now visiting under the auspices of the NCC was about the most objective view I’ve seen. It will therefore be criticized probably by both sides on this issue.
One comment by a man identified as an “NCC aide” said, “It’s the most reprehensible thing McIntire has ever done. He’s playing with human lives and he may end up with blood on his hands.”
The curious thing about this statement is that it gives the impression that some of these Russians may be in danger from the Soviet government when they get back home because of either real or alleged statements made in this country.
If this is what the aide implies, it appears that, like it or not, he is in substantial agreement with Dr. McIntire, who claims that the clergy is under control of the secret police and terror is still being used today.
Finally, if this is so, why is the NCC so intent on building a united front and trying to sell American Christians on peaceful coexistence?
Luther And James
I would like to make the following comment on Dr. J. Oliver Buswell’s reference to Martin Luther (Eutychus, Mar. 29 issue): Luther, like some other men of the Reformation period, doubted whether the Epistle of James rightly should belong to the New Testament canon. His so-called free utterances on this epistle [thus] have nothing to do with the infallibility of the Scriptures.
A number of able scholars, among them W. Walther, in his Erbe der Reformation, have proved that Luther believed in the verbal inspiration. Again and again he declared the canonical books on the Bible to be inerrant. I only would refer to the evidence given by Francis Pieper in his Christian Dogmatics, part I, pp. 276 ff.
As is well known, Luther’s doubts concerning the canonicity of the Epistle of James were not shared by later Lutheran theologians.
Faith Theological Seminary
Elkins Park, Pa.
Jesus And Paul
Such articles as “Paul on the Birth of Jesus” (Mar. 15 issue) play directly into the hands of the enemies of my Lord and of his program. Completely ignoring Paul (in Rom. 8:29) “in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren,” Dr. Robinson distorts the writings of Paul to make it appear that Paul teaches a Jesus who embodied God because of a unique birth. Such a unique birth is not God’s way of getting himself embodied in human kind.
Enclosed is an additional word … to strengthen the case I sought to make:
One ought to visualize Paul in the context of his life situation in order to understand his references to the birth of Jesus. Galatians 1:18, 19 may be paraphrased thus: Three years after my conversion I went up to Jerusalem to visit Peter for the purpose of inquiring into the things of Jesus Christ. I stayed with him for some fifteen days, including in my historical investigations conferences with James the brother of the Lord.
According to the Muratorium Fragment and the Lukan Prologue, acting on Paul’s authority, Luke his companion and physician with the careful research of a “legal expert” prepared the “authentic knowledge” of the Christian origins as Paul’s defence before his Excellency, Judge Theophilus (Fragment of Muratori, cited J. Stevenson, A New Eusebius, pp. 144, 145; Luke 1:1–4; Acts 1:1; J. Knox, The New Testament, 1963, p. 19).
Thus the Apostle Paul would not have been ignorant of the miracles of the Incarnation, and his epistolary references to the birth of Jesus are best interpreted as written on the basis of his acceptance of an account given by James and recorded later by Luke.
Mr. Stanley Lowell objects to having all accredited American schools (independent as well as state) receive their proportionate share of educational taxes (Eutychus, Mar. 1 issue). One reason he gives is: “I myself am a Protestant minister but would object to paying taxes for Mr. Vanden Berg’s school [a Christian one].” May I say that it may come as a shock to Mr. Lowell (to use his own terms), but there are also “any number of American citizens who do not care to pay taxes for the particular kind” of secularistic, God-ignoring religion of Mr. Lowell’s state schools. It is just because our country is not a monolithic structure of God-less, “neutral” secularism but rather a pluralism that Citizens for Educational Freedom advocate that taxes which are taken from all should not be given exclusively to one type of religious schools, namely, the state schools, but to all schools without regard to race, color or creed.
A fair solution to the problem would be a system modeled after the recently-instituted N. Y. Scholar Incentive Program or the N. Y. Regents Scholarships or the G.I. Bill of Rights. Under these laws educational taxes are given to students to use in any accredited college of their choice.… Each segment of the American pluralistic society pays for its own type of education.… This proposed aid-to-the-student plan would also solve the insoluble dilemma of whether Bible reading, the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, and similar religious exercises or instruction should be included or abolished in the state schools.…
Instructor in Systematic Theology
Yes, There Is
I have been preaching for 50 years, and in all that time I’ve never seen such a beautiful and magnificent piece of writing as “Jesus and His Kingdom” by James Hyslop (Mar. 1 issue).… I’ll treasure this article for my remaining days for it will add sparkle to my last sermons. Is there a way of letting Hyslop know how he lifted a veteran’s spirits?
The article … is brilliant for a layman.…
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
The Unspecified Specified
The “ancient saying (source unspecified)” heading the article “British Ecumenism: Anglican-Methodist Merger?” (News, Mar. 15 issue) is from the Mishnah, Tractate Pirke Abot-M. Abot 2.21. See R. Travers Herford, ed., Pirke Aboth: The Tractate ‘Fathers’ from the Mishnah (New York, 1945), p. 62.
Prof. of Judaic Studies
Madison, N. J.
• The saying, appended to the Anglican-Methodist merger plan released in February: “It is not given to thee to finish the task but neither art thou free to desist therefrom.”—ED.
Nose Of A Camel
In the March 1 issue you editorialize on the question “Is the Supreme Court on Trial?” … The Supreme Court is not on trial, believe me; the Church and the home are on trial! If our youth are not taught to pray and to read their Bibles at home and in the Church, their being forced to do so in school might even be repulsive to them.
Let’s examine our Christian institutions instead of secular institutions. Our refusal to do so will leave the legal doors ajar for the camel of Romanism to inch its way inside.
The Manasseh Cutler Church
Four In A Row
My personal thanks to George Christian Anderson for his timely, “Who Is Ministering to Ministers?” and to you for the entire January 18 issue.
The “desire to preserve the church’s reputation” reaches lamentable proportions in some of our smaller evangelical denominations where ministers outnumber the churches. I am acquainted with a church situation where four pastors in succession had either very unpleasant or violent pastoral terminations with the church, resulting in unpleasant estrangements from the church apparently for the rest of their lives.…
Nebraska Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home
Grand Island, Neb.
Dignity Of The Body
It would be heartening to see the churches catch up with government researchers in areas of physical, social, and spiritual concern. Churches that once identified the cause of Christianity with abstinence or temperance are hardly complimented by the fact that Alcoholics Anonymous is a basically secular movement, or by the fact that in many communities the agencies now promoting break-the-smoking-habit seminars are non-religious. If the churches want to get into social action, they have a wide open field right in the areas of alcoholism and cigarette addiction.—Editorial, CHRISTIANITY TODAY, March 15, 1963.
Six months ago that kind of editorial comment would have made me feel uncomfortable and more than somewhat ashamed. Why? For the simple reason that, while recognizing the incontrovertible truth of it, I could have done nothing about it, in view of the fact that I myself was a tobacco addict. Approving the theory intellectually, I could have done nothing about it in practice because I was bound by the very chains which it seems quite imperative to break.
Mind you, I should have strenuously denied my addiction to the weed. For thirty years, off and on, I had been a confirmed cigarette smoker, regarding it as a pleasant habit which could be defended on many grounds. (Hadn’t Spurgeon himself enjoyed his cigar? And in any case wasn’t this one of those questions of personal ethics upon which no general law could be formulated? You know the arguments.)
I confess that I was badly shaken by the publication exactly a year ago of the Royal College of Physicians’ report “Smoking and Health.” Shaken, you understand, not by the scientifically proved connection between smoking and lung cancer in so far as it affected myself. Most smokers have an infinite capacity for rationalizing, and obscuring the medical facts in a cloud of smoke. We all think, in other words, that we’ll be one of those who escape. But what about those who don’t escape? What about the young people just beginning to smoke? If the medical facts are true—and what sane and unbiased man can dispute them?—what about the moral responsibility of the minister to show the right kind of example?
All this might have remained in the realm of academic theological discussion if I hadn’t been put on the spot by the medical authorities themselves. I was approached to see whether I would be prepared to take some active part in the first experimental anti-smoking clinic in Scotland and to provide, if possible, a group of volunteers from my own Congregation for the clinic. This was a challenge which could not be avoided; and indeed I was glad of it, for it compelled me to look straight at a problem round whose edges I had skirted for years.
The upshot was that I began with a little group of ten people four months ago. At first we met every week. We all knew one another intimately as members of the same Church. We had expert medical advice on hand through the doctor in charge of us. And we set out with considerable trepidation on what we knew would be a rough and uphill road.
We used the well-worn methods of group dynamics in our meeting, sharing—in frank and honest discussion—our problems, experiences, and victories, such as they were. It was soon obvious to us that for the Christian there are certain strong reasons for not smoking. We all found a kind of profound relief in being able to acknowledge these after years of self-delusion.
First, there are the medical facts. They are too well-known to need repetition. It would seem that the connection between cigarette smoking and lung cancer (to say nothing of chronic bronchitis and heart disease) has been firmly and irrefutably established. If we believe that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost it is surely wrong to subject it to this kind of damage, denying its dignity.
Second, there are the economic facts. In Scotland it costs something like the equivalent of 250 dollars a year to smoke twenty cigarettes a day. If every smoker who is a Church member gave that amount of money to the work of the Lord, the Scottish Kirk would at least have all its financial problems solved—whatever others remained. Very few of us in the Clinic were giving as much to the cause of the Kingdom as we were blowing away in clouds of smoke.
Third, and not to bandy words about, there is the plain fact that we were all drug addicts. Most of us in the clinic were heavy smokers. Of course, as I’ve said, we would have been reluctant to classify ourselves as addicts. We would probably have called ourselves “controlled smokers”—you know the kind of thing: “I could give it up easily if I wanted to.” Like Mark Twain we might have said it was easy to stop smoking; we had done it hundreds of times. Below the indispensable self-deception, we were a bunch of very uneasy Christians—realizing as we did, in moments of illumination, that our addiction was no less an addiction though its immediate results are not as deadly nor as obvious as drink or drugs. Here was an idol that had to be dealt with.
One thing we agreed about at our first meeting—that it was absolutely imperative to stop smoking completely and at once rather than attempt to cut it down gradually. So the experiment began.
Four months later there are certain things that can be reported. The original group has grown from ten to over thirty, demonstrating that there are a great many people desperately anxious to break the tobacco habit and who are waiting for help and encouragement. This provides a major opportunity for the Church.
Success there has been. About 90 per cent of the group have given up smoking completely; a few have cut it down to almost nothing; one or two have fallen by the wayside and retired from the battle.
It is still too early to make any kind of final estimate. Those of us who know the subtle power of the tobacco habit would hesitate to say that we are cured. I haven’t, at the time of writing, smoked a cigarette for four months; and I trust that this will be a permanent victory. But the furthest I would go at the moment is to say that I haven’t smoked today. One or two of our group have had to fight the problem of alcoholism, and they agree that it was easier to stop drinking after their conversion than it has been to stop smoking. Let no man who has never been a smoker sit in judgment on those who have been through this particular abyss.
What can be said without any shadow of doubt is that this Anti-Smoking Clinic has been perhaps the most exciting experience of Christian community in my ministry. For many years, in the course of my parochial work, I have been concerned with the creation of small groups or cells of lay people who understand their call to the apostolate, and who are prepared to submit themselves to the discipline of prayer, study, and fellowship, thus becoming trained and equipped for the task of witness. I have been fortunate, in two Parishes, to see something of the power of these lay groups in action and to learn something about the fellowship of the Spirit—the koinonia—which we ought to have in our Churches. But I have never experienced such a depth and reality of koinonia as we have in our “Smokeless Union.”
How to account for this? Surely it is not difficult. The basic and necessary conditions of true koinonia—from the human point of view—are present: a sense of our absolute helplessness and our total dependence upon the grace of God. We share a common need—our bondage to a habit which must be broken; and we share a common conviction—the knowledge that by ourselves we cannot break the habit. We know precisely what Paul meant in Romans 7; and we have come to know also in quite a new way what it means to cry exultantly: “Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“If the churches want to get into social action, they have a wide field right in the areas of alcoholism and cigarette addiction.” Do not for one minute doubt the truth of that. And if there is any minister reading this who, like myself, knows the power of the tobacco habit and the greater power of the Risen Christ, I would cordially advise you to form a Smokeless Union in your Church—with you as a founder-member.
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