Since I am just recently back from a vacation situation in which there was a professional song leader and gamester who tried to get me to “participate” and to enjoy just lots of “togetherness,” I am unhappily reminded afresh of all the people who have tried so hard to entertain me or, even worse, to get me to entertain myself. I don’t blame these leaders of fun, mind you. I just report that they never lead me into much fun.

I used to tease my youngsters. After breakfast, say on a bright Saturday morning, I would say to them, “Where are you going?,” and they would say, “Out to play.” And I would say, “Play what?” “Well, just play,” they would say, which is exactly what they did. If you have play in you, it shouldn’t be very hard to go out to play. Something is bound to turn up; but if you don’t have play in you, someone else can’t put it into you. Out of the heart are the issues of life, and a merry heart does good like a medicine.

A recent writer has suggested that we do our own brand of whistling in the dark these days by “inventing imperatives.” We tell each other brave things like “don’t worry.” As far as I can tell I have never worried on purpose; but, on the other hand, I have never been able to quit worrying by telling myself that I just won’t worry. My worries arise from deeps some of which I can’t analyze. Then they tell me that a great many things would be different if I would “just start the day happily.” Or maybe “have sunshine in your heart.” I am tempted to a loud guffaw over such advice. Not having the good things in me I try to produce them synthetically, and it never quite comes off. When people tell me to count to ten before I lose my temper, they don’t seem to understand me. If I have really lost my temper, I can’t count!

The plain fact is that the kind of person I really am keeps pumping up to the surface in spite of everything. The question then is how do I get at the sources? “Renew a right spirit within me.” I don’t think I can touch the well-springs of my own life, but He can. Anything less is a superficial fake.



For an antidote to Professor Seerveld’s ill-founded polemic (“What Makes a College Christian?,” Aug. 30 issue), let me simply direct your readers’ attention to such constructive works as Faith and Knowledge by John Hick, Language and Christian Belief by John Wilson, and even to my own Language, Logic and God and (with Kent Bendall) Exploring the Logic of Faith.


Chairman, Philosophy and Religion Dept.

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Dickinson College

Carlisle, Pa.

Mr. Seerveld (“An American Bathtub”) has been intemperate in trying to indict philosophy on the basis of charges that are too general.

Canoga Park, Calif.


I am so greatly pleased with the first issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY since becoming a subscriber that I cannot resist the impulse to tell you so.

Calvin Seerveld’s two articles in particular deserve appreciation for the clarity and good sense of the answer to the question as to what makes a college Christian. They strongly appeal to me because it was my privilege to “sit on the same log” with a great teacher who used to say that it is the duty of a college to “make my boy discriminating,” e.g., as to the difference between right and wrong.


Kennebunkport, Me.


I agree with almost every assertion made in your profound editorial statement, “Religion in the Public Schools” (Aug. 30 issue).

The point of disagreement is that I do not believe that voluntary religion will wither in a secular climate of public affairs. Quite the contrary, a secular state where the government maintains an official neutrality toward all religion is the surest guarantee of religious freedom and vitality. Religion will, and should, enter the public life through the public performance of religiously informed persons rather than through superficial, rote, public manifestations of religiosity. There is a danger, in fact, that when a religious rite becomes incorporated into the state machinery, it loses its religious significance and becomes part of the secularized state religion.

On the other hand, I agree with you that state neutrality toward religion must be “wholesome neutrality.” Neutrality should not be defined in such a way that it becomes hostility to religion. Thus, for example, I would agree that an intensified effort ought now be made to assure a public school curriculum: that will inform all children regarding that aspect of religious truth which is part of our heritage in Western civilization; that will also clarify, for our young, the values, choices, and sanctions that are available to them in our society and challenge them to make ethical decisions in accordance with their profoundest ideals.

Certainly, at the minimum, the theistic affirmations that are part of the historic documents of American political life should be understood by all citizens whether they accept these affirmations or reject them.

In a word, I am saying that the public school, as a state agency, ought not to pray. The state can, however, through its public schools, inform and challenge the heart and the mind. This function properly belongs to the school.

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The National Conference of Christians and Jews, Inc.

New York, N. Y.


Had “Some Comments on Bible Teaching” by Lucile Long Strayer (Aug. 30 issue) appeared in The Christian Century, we should have rejoiced. But if addressing evangelicals, she shows a lamentable ignorance of current Sunday school literature in the evangelical orientation. Our preschool children, for instance, not only hear the story of the fall of Jericho, but are urged to play it with noise and movement. The trend to more “meat” in content both in the secular and in the liberal religious fields today finds evangelical literature right where it has been all along, offering solid Bible study to all ages.…

Who are these adults who know so little about the Bible? Has anyone compared information among adults from liberal and from evangelical Sunday school backgrounds? True, the ignorant ones may be evangelicals; if so, surely other factors than curricula are at fault. As long as evangelicals consent to the necessity of public school teachers having many hours of educational method and content, while a teacher of the Bible needs nothing but an hour on Saturday night to teach a Book which comes from a different culture, and which is not written at a child’s level, we can hardly expect biblically literate products from our Sunday schools.


Prof. of Christian Education

Wheaton College

Wheaton, Ill.


I read the article “Give Me Back My Child” (Aug. 30 issue) with interest, but I was disappointed with the conclusion. The distressing situation which the author described is certainly true and calls for action. However, it seems to me that the writer is guilty of two errors. The first is that he acknowledges the biblical principle of parental responsibility in educating a child but he is not ready to return to that principle in educating his own child. The second error is that he seeks to defend the public school as not being “Godless.” I admire his loyalty to the position of his denomination but I fail to see how he can uphold that stand especially in the light of what he has written himself in the article. The public school system in the main is not Christian, it is not neutral, but it is anti-Christian. It is the expression of the spirit of the world. Therefore, it seems to me that the only logical conclusion to the matter is the private Christian day school which as an extension of the home can impart the faith of the home. Then the author will have his child back and in one piece also.

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Volga Christian Reformed Church

Volga, S. D.


Your article “The Fourth ‘R’ ” by Dr. Joseph M. Hopkins (Aug. 30 issue) is one of the finest I have ever read by any Protestant on present-day trends in religion. I wish every Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox would read it, especially leaders in government and public and state education. Dr. Hopkins’ suggestions should be given thoughtful and serious study.


Kingston Parish (Episcopal)

Mathews, Va.

If public schools are to teach religion as the fourth “R,” what religion is it to be—Catholic, Protestant, Jewish?… No, religious instruction can only be the province of the home and the church.

Pasadena, Calif.


We are at an impasse: the kind of education our children should have is exactly what the state cannot legitimately provide. Why do we hesitate to come to the logical conclusion, that it is our responsibility to provide the kind of schools that can dispense a spiritually founded education?

As one who has fought the battle, I am aware of the arguments con. There is first the rallying cry of our obligation to defend the public schools. At the risk of being branded a bolshevik, an anarchist, or a lunatic, I ask: Whose obligation? The appeal is often made to Matthew 22:21, where Jesus told the Pharisees to “Render … unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” Overlooking for the moment the dubious applicability of this verse on exegetical grounds to our problem, is there anything in Scripture or in theology which hints that education is one of things “which are Caesar’s”? The claim that education is a function of the state came entirely from the side of the state, and that quite recently. But we have been so brainwashed by the notion that we accept it as of the order of nature. The state may have sound arguments, from a secular point of view, to support its claims to the right to maintain schools. But wherein are we permitted to suppose that these … take priority over the God-given responsibility of parents?

Then there is the argument of cost. Of course it costs money to build and operate schools. But I do not find any warrant in Scripture for the idea that we can fulfill any of our spiritual and moral duties at little cost, least of all such a crucially important one as that of educating our children. Obedience to God in any sphere costs—and more than mere money. Obedience that costs less than my all is incomplete obedience.

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Finally, there is the argument that goes like this: “What will happen to children in the public schools without the witness of the Christian children? And what will happen to the Christian child if he is sheltered from the reality of a world hostile to his God?” On the basis of my experience with three children who are at least as interested in evangelism as the average Christian child, I can testify that the opportunity to witness in school is much less than is supposed, while the opportunity to witness out of school is much greater than is supposed. When our children were in a Christian school, their witness was just as vital and effective as it is now that they are in a public school, if not more so. And as for the “hothouse” argument, I accept it. I purposely and designedly would provide for my children a measure of protection, until they are of age to exercise a greater measure of discernment, discretion, and judgment than they are at present capable of. We are not facing the facts if we exaggerate the capacity of our children to discriminate in assimilating what is taught in school, including what is taught implicitly, which is not inconsiderable, and when we minimize the impact of a secular approach to the universe upon an impressionable child.

Hartford, Conn.



I want to heartily endorse the article “The Non-Conformists” by James J. Short (Aug. 2 issue).

This article should be published in Editor and Publisher, it should appear as “Speaking Out” in the Saturday Evening Post, it should be in the trade journals of the movie and television industries. It should appear as pungent letters to the editors in our metropolitan papers, and magazines with national coverage. It should be sent to the professors of literature in our great universities and colleges. It should be in the publications of our education associations. It should be delivered as a speech after dinner to the half-drunk crowd attending various professional or business organizations.



United Presbyterian Center

Frenchburg, Ky.

James J. Short … is correct in his suggestion that there remains in society an uncelebrated core of morally upright people. Several of his comments or observations seem to be rather extreme, however. For example, he observes that Sinclair Lewis in Elmer Gantry “personifies gospel evangelists by … a religious charlatan who profits from his preaching and fornicates from his profits.” Is it not possible that Lewis was not also attacking the gullibility of certain kinds of congregations as well as the morals of his preacher? Furthermore, is Lewis really saying that all evangelists are like this, or is he simply telling the story of one such charlatan? Mr. Short also mentions that Dickens was “religiously oriented and did not attack people in this regard” (for holding high moral principles). Any biography of Dickens’ life will suggest that the novelist himself had his favorites among the women.

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While it is true that people who like to think of themselves as part of the core of non-conformists Mr. Short describes may find certain aspects of modern literature decadent, they should continue to read it, not only to understand better modern man’s needs of redemption, but also for the insights books like Ulysses, Sons and Lovers, and A Farewell to Arms give us into human behavior.


Ashbourne Presbyterian Church

Elkins Park, Pa.


Addison H. Leitch’s postscript to your August 30 issue reminds me of an incident that took place several years ago in our seminary. As seminarians we liked to discourse learnedly (we thought) for hours on end about such high-sounding terms as “existentialism,” “ontological shock,” “points of contact,” “ideological encounter,” and other wordy terms vaguely defined. In our midst that year was a Canadian Lutheran pastor, fresh from the wilds of Saskatchewan, who was writing the thesis for his S.T.M. degree. One day he listened to one of our lengthy learned debates, saying nothing until we paused for collective theological breath. Then he quietly asked:

“How does it happen?—there are scores of pastors in our parishes today who have never heard about existentialism and ontology, and who couldn’t care less if someone told them. How, then, have they survived as effective pastors? Yet that’s exactly what they have all been for twenty, thirty, or even forty years.”


St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Community Church

Hay Springs, Neb.

The writer is a firm believer in a well-trained ministry, but since graduating from theological school thirty years ago he has had time to do a considerable amount of reading as well as attending theological discussions and listening to the “wise men from the East.” However, the theologian seems to be engaged in a lost cause.

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On Continental Europe and the British Isles the minister must have four or five degrees or he is regarded as an ignoramus. Does this fact account for the poor church attendance and the little or no influence of the Church in the life of the people?

A few years ago the writer attended the meeting of the Baptist World Alliance. One of the speakers spoke on “Jesus Christ: Our High Priest.” A person with only an eighth-grade education could have understood every word which he spoke. His name: George Truett.

Eagle, Idaho



As a student of Dr. Stagg, and having read both his books closely, I feel that Dr. Tenney did not read the latest book [New Testament Theology] closely enough (Book Reviews, May 24 issue).

In my opinion, Dr. Stagg is more neo-orthodox than conservative. As Dr. Tenney points out, Dr. Stagg is ambiguous in discussing inspiration. I believe that he is purposely ambiguous about a number of things. He teaches a Pelagian doctrine of sin. Compare chapter 2 with pages 334 and 335 on this. He teaches the wholistic view of man. He suggests a modalistic Trinity on page 39, which is in fact what he teaches.

In chapters 4 and 5 he makes even more serious errors. A careful study of his teaching on the Atonement will reveal that it is wholly subjective. There is no objective Atonement to be found in his teaching. There is a total lack of what Leonard Hodgson describes as “something accomplished, something done.” He rejects the substitutionary death of Christ.


New Zion Baptist

Monticello, Miss.


It is a small thing to add two letters of the alphabet to one’s personal and business correspondence and to have one’s children, as an act of devotion and commemoration, place upon their school papers on the dateline the letters A.D. (Anno Domini, the year of our Lord). This is but a renewal of the proper form. Thus we daily publish and commemorate the birth of our Redeemer, Saviour, and Lord.

With the days of the week named and still called by the names of pagan gods and the months honoring Janus, a two-faced god, and Mars, the god of war, and others—where … is the Prince of Peace?

Let us recall the words of Kipling:

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet;

Lest we forget, lest we forget.

As Dr. Rene de Visme Williamson, professor of government at Louisiana State University, writes in CHRISTIANITY TODAY (Feb. 15 issue): “Even the pagan world must reckon all history as before or after Christ. So must each individual reckon his own personal life as before or after Christ’s birth in his own life.”

Jacksonville, Fla.


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