‘DE TROUBLE I’VE SEEN’
Most of us have about as much involvement in the troubles of our times as those people riding in the fourth car in a funeral procession. They make nice, comforting, clucking sounds and keep a serious mien on the way to the funeral; then, having performed the rites of a good American in an unobtrusive Christian way, they go home and take a nice shower and, I suppose, wash the whole thing “right out of their hair.”
We had a next-door neighbor one time who could sum up about any subject under discussion with the touching words, “Well, I just don’t want no trouble.” He was an easy man for a next-door neighbor as long as you never took the trouble to discuss anything serious with him. One day he asked me to lower my voice because I was talking to him about his union down at the factory. He apparently was a member in good standing in a democracy called the United States of America, and one of the “rank and file” in his very own union. But he was plenty scared about his own union leaders (elected to office, of course), so he told me to quiet down a little. “I don’t want no trouble,” he said. Freedoms are lost by default more often than by choice.
What do you think about the woman who was stabbed to death while a whole block of people shut their windows on her because they “didn’t want no trouble.” I remember a feeling of great relief in Steubenville, Ohio, one time when I was tied up in traffic just about three cars down the street, too far to help a woman who was being beaten and dragged up a staircase. “Maybe she had it coming to her,” I thought hopefully—and anyway that other time when I did try to protect a woman she and the man both turned on me.
It suddenly occurred to me last week (a little late, you say) that the big thing about the Good Samaritan was not only the time he took, which was more than the money he spent, but the fact that, with his money and his own beast, when he stopped to help the man along the roadside he too could have been conked. He “didn’t want no trouble” but he took the trouble, and I also think that is what made him good.
THE BIBLE AND THE CHURCH
Since the Apostles established no principles and purposes that need to be “restored,” it seems rather ridiculous and beside the point for the Directors of CHRISTIANITY TODAY to expect “to accomplish this objective,” by any reaffirmation of a “belief that the Bible is the very Word of God”.…
THOMAS D. HERSEY
The Methodist Church
What a delight it brought to read “The Mission of the Church” in the July 17 issue.… The main source of delight to me was to read the statement “that the Bible is the very Word of God, inspired and infallible, and inerrant as God gave it.…”
In a day when we are hearing or reading much about infallibility and that inerrancy is not a tenable position, I trust that God will greatly use this statement to help and enrich the lives of all who read it.
ROBERT A. CRESSY
The Blue Church
It is excellent. I have made a number of copies thereof for dispatch to my relatives and friends.
LAWRENCE W. WAGLE
St. Petersburg, Fla.
It is encouraging to read a strong statement like this in a magazine of national circulation and influence.…
GEORGE L. WILLIAMS
Church of the Brethren
Myrtle Point, Ore.
I hope you are not advocating that the Church “hold her tongue” and never give an opinion in light of the love of God and the Christian message. Christians must not be relegated to a position of working beneath the issues at all times. It is true that the heart of man needs changing; but even changed hearts wreak havoc in society without continued salvation that can come only by the voice and action of enlightenment.
PAUL C. COLLINS
The Methodist Church
With the world and the Church going in opposite directions already, I wonder how you are able to justify your position of “religious isolation.”
Whaley Memorial Methodist Church
Of course we believe that the Church must manifest and conduct herself in no other manner than that shown by Christ and taught by Scripture. But where in Scripture do you find that unholy dichotomy of “spiritual” and “secular”?…
DONALD K. BLACKIE
Calvary Reformed Church
Grand Rapids, Mich.
With real joy and a heart full of thanks I read [your] statement.…
I must congratulate CHRISTIANITY TODAY on its pronouncement.… It is superb.
There are in the Protestant church today many who aspire to the image of the “executive.” They think it evangelism to locate the regional office of the church down the hall from the regional office of Mass Space, Inc. But have you noticed how fast the toga market changes today? If the Protestant church is to cross the Rubicon, it should be done in the light of day and not at night. We will conquer few tribes by merely wearing knee-length black socks. Lately there have been few triumphal marches into the capital city.
The Church is the Word in the world. It is the Word becoming flesh. If we cross the Rubicon let us not go unarmed. Let us fly our true colors—the white of the law and the red of the Gospel. And let us not be ashamed of that old two-edged sword that has served our fathers so well.…
WILLIAM A. EUBANKS
Your editorial “Religious Liberty and the Armed Forces Sunday Schools” (July 17 issue) struck a responsive chord. My most memorable joust with the … Office [of the Chief of Air Force Chaplains] stemmed from the thermofaxed letter inclosed. You will note that I was critical of content [of the Unified Curriculum]. The reply to the letter did not give much hope and need not be a part of this letter.
However, memories are long.… A group of civilian “specialists” on the Unified Curriculum with a military representative from the Chief’s Office came out to Japan for the purpose of “plugging” the Unified Curriculum. In the course of the meeting, I asked the Chaplain Representative from the Chief’s Office (who was also in charge of the Unified Curriculum) to what degree and extent the Unified Curriculum was “official” and “approved” material.… part of the answer which he gave me was this: “If you don’t like it, you don’t have to stay in the Air Force!” …
We need a stronger voice to tackle this problem. Quite frankly, a single chaplain can do no more than get it “off his chest” and then wait for the wrath of those in official position to descend upon him.
I send you this to let you know that there are those who object—although futilely.…
A PROTESTANT CHAPLAIN ON ACTIVE DUTY
• Seldom do we print letters without signatures. We do so in this case because of the nature of the letter and the author’s concern about reprisal. The author of the letter is known to us.—ED.
Do you not see the incongruity of citing Engel v. Vitale and Abington School District v. Schempp in support of your argument? Certainly both of these cases concerned situations in which attendance was completely voluntary. Did you think that we marched the troops to Sunday school in the Air Force? Nobody has to go if he doesn’t want to, and we have no Sunday school truant officers. You have made some good points in your editorial, but the reference to these two cases does not strengthen your position.…
Have you thought of the consequences if we were, as you suggest, to use the International Sunday School Lessons with “unhampered liberty of substitution”? Would you be happy with a Christian Scientist chaplain introducing his materials for the whole Sunday school? He certainly might exercise his “unhampered liberty” to do this. And a Christian Scientist chaplain is at present in charge of religious education at the second largest Air Force base in the country! Or have you not seen commentaries on the International Lessons published by denominations far to the left and far to the right?… Only those of us who tried to run Air Force Sunday schools before the days of UPSSC will remember with a shudder what a jungle we had when “the use of specific materials” was wholly voluntary, and the supplementing or substituting of materials did “not require official permission.”
FRANK M. ARNOLD, JR.
Ass’t. Command Chaplain
Headquarters, Continental Air Command
Robins Air Force Base, Ga.
• It does not seem to us incongruous to cite Engel v. Vitale and Abington School District v. Schempp in support of the argument. In our June 19 issue we had a long editorial on the Becker amendment. It makes clear that the Supreme Court ruled against government-sponsored promotion of prayer and Bible reading. This is the link between the decisions and the situation in military Sunday schools. We do not think that a chaplain, such as the Christian Scientist whom Chaplain Arnold mentions, should have the right of imposing just his own denominational literature. But regardless of administrative difficulties, the issue of religious liberty seems to us paramount.—ED.
GENERALLY LEFT UNDONE
I was pleased with the article by Robert N. Meyers in the July 17 issue on “The Christian Service Corps”.…
Such a program as Brother Meyers suggests seems to me a reasonable and desirable method for the churches in general to begin to do something in this line that has been generally left undone.
It seems to me that Mr. Meyers has forgotten that God has a program in his Word for reaching the unreached. Have we forgotten that Christ founded, purchased, instructed, and empowered the Church to do his work? An organization is already set up to do his work—why need we establish any other?…
It seems to me that we have now such a multiplicity of organizations in the field of religion that to add one more is to confound the confusion and to further obscure the divine program of God’s Word. I can see all kinds of problems involved in attempting to get evangelicals to cooperate with liberals, Arminians to join hands with Calvinists, legalists to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who believe in salvation by grace plus nothing.
NORMAN I. EDWARDS
LAW OF THE LAND
Re the [editorial] “Christian Responsibility and the Law” in the July 17 issue: I, too, think that Christians have a definite obligation to the laws of the land according to the Scripture. Ordinarily, I think that this obligation has been accepted and followed by the majority of Christians and Christian leaders. Yet, in this very area flagrant violation of law has been the rule by many of those who have been advocating further “civil rights.” Religious leaders have followed the lead of the NAACP and CORE in deliberately opposing established law in particular areas while at the same time the whole nation was struggling with the matter of a new law to give what was asked.…
CHARLES M. EMBREE
You say, “For Christians, the principle of obedience to law is mandatory,” and quote Paul from Romans to substantiate your statement.
Isn’t it a fact that Peter and Paul, not to mention others, were constantly in trouble with the law, both ecclesiastical and political? Paul spent a great deal of time in prisons to be a law-abiding citizen. And Peter openly said one must obey God rather than man.
If you take Paul literally, without regard to the circumstances under which he wrote, then Martin Niemöller should have obeyed Hitler; and we should obey an officer if he were to forbid us to worship our God.
Man-made laws must be measured by the criterion of God’s teaching as portrayed in Christ’s life and teaching. It isn’t what law we like or dislike; it is whether the law is in harmony with God’s law.
J. HOOPER WISE
• In Romans 13 Paul gives the norm for law-abiding Christian citizenship. It is true that when the state prohibits worship and witness to Christ or requires disobedience to God’s commandments, God rather than man must be obeyed. We consider the civil rights act within the norm of Christian citizenship and believe that obedience to it is mandatory even while its constitutionality is being debated.—ED.
INTERLAKEN, BUT NO JUNGFRAU
I have just read your article on our association meeting in the July 17 issue (News).… It is very well written.
There is one inaccuracy which crept in through a misunderstanding. The competition in which some of the young people had participated previously was in Interlaken, Michigan, not Switzerland. I wish, for their sake, that it had been Switzerland, for it is one of the most beautiful spots I have seen in the earth!
PAUL R. JACKSON
General Association of Regular Baptist Churches
JEFFERSON AND THE BIBLE
Thomas Jefferson is justly honored as the author of the Declaration of Independence and as President of the United States. But this does not justify taking a phrase from one of his personal letters, namely a wall of separation, and making this figure of speech into a legal maxim.
Likewise is Jefferson recognized by the theologians as a Deist who did not accept the miracles of the Gospels. But this fact ought not to be used to array him against the usage of the Lord’s Prayer. As a matter of fact Jefferson’s Morals of Jesus as published by the Government Printing Office in 1904 gives the Lord’s Prayer both in its longer form from Matthew and in its abbreviated form in Luke. And since this book gives the Greek, Latin, French, and English in parallel columns it may be said to have the Lord’s Prayer presented eight times.
Incidentally, this book shows Jefferson’s study of the Bible and indicates that he, like many Deists, was really more indebted to the biblical revelation for his concept of God than Deism admits.
WM. C. ROBINSON
Re: “Shakespeare and Christianity” (July 17 issue): Dr. Frye in his fine essay states, “But Shakespeare has left us no account of his own innermost convictions.”
A significant statement from the will of Shakespeare, which seems to say a good deal about the great man’s religious faith, is quoted by Augustus Strong in his Systematic Theology, as follows:
First, I commend my soul into the hands of God, my Creator, hoping and assuredly believing, through the only merits of Jesus Christ my Saviour, to be made partaker of life everlasting [p. 751, 11th edition, 1947].
ALBERT V. JOHNSON
Wheelock Parkway Baptist Church
St. Paul, Minn.
• Dr. Frye is correct in his statement. Impressive as the language of Shakespeare’s will is, scholars recognize that it is simply the formal legal language used generally by Anglicans of Shakespeare’s time in making their wills. Therefore it is not necessarily to be considered a statement of personal faith, as a statement of this kind might be taken to be in a will drawn today.—ED.
THE NEW BIRTH
It was like a breath of fresh air to read “How To Be Born Anew” in the July 3 issue. It incisively presented the imperative of the new birth experience in a magazine that seems too frequently to bog down in the doctrines and differences of biblical Christianity.
But … after masterfully demonstrating the why of the new birth the author proceeds to the titular purpose of the article—how to be born anew. Most of John 3, the central New Testament passage on the new birth, is devoted to an explanation of how to be born anew. Jesus made it crystal clear in his discussion with Nicodemus that the new birth is an act of God the Holy Spirit when the sinner believes on the Lord Jesus as his personal Saviour. Yet the author never even alludes to Christ’s own explanation but gives in its place an elaborate description of what sounds more like a doctrine of confession rather than the way to be born again. The author does not use the word “believe” once in his explanation. Jesus used the word five times in dealing with Nicodemus.
Isn’t it high time that we all returned to the “simple believism” of Jesus (John 3:15, 16) and Paul (Acts 16:31), particularly in sermons that are supposed to be evangelistic? Detroit Bible College
ROBERT F. RAMEY
Director of Admissions
• This “filler” was ineptly titled and represents only a portion of the sermon from which it was taken. It would be unfair to the memory of the late Dr. Shoemaker to infer on the basis of this brief excerpt that he did not understand the nature of the new birth. As Reader Ramey states, the new birth is “an act of God the Holy Spirit when the sinner believes on the Lord Jesus as his personal Saviour.”—ED.
WITNESS TO TRANSFORMING POWER
Re July 3 issue, “The Mission of the Church,” by J. Howard Pew:
As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, serving in the United Presbyterian denomination, I feel that Mr. Pew’s statements bring a warning to a wandering and confused church. There are many Presbyterians who are unhappy with the way in which our denominational leaders have replaced the primacy of evangelism with the materialistic, socio-economic needs of the individual.…
Only as individual Christians become active witnesses to the transforming power of the Gospel of love will our nation realize … equality among men.…
I would like to see copies of Mr. Pew’s article made available, and if you decide to reprint it I can use 1,000 copies for distribution to our congregation.
ROBERT C. ROVELL
Mount Holly. N. J.
• Reprints of Mr. Pew’s essay are available from CHRISTIANITY TODAY on request.—ED.
The “mission of the Church” is to announce the Gospel and call for social justice. The “Gospel” is the good news of God having acted for us in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and that we repent and participate in the new life in Christ; the “call for social justice” is the people of God expressing God’s (by the nature of his being) interest in justice for all men (Rom. 13; Mic. 6; Amos 5).
The Church should avoid seeking its own institutional ends, seeking sectarian advantage. This is perhaps where the Church of the Middle Ages erred. However, the people of God speaking as individuals or through institutional structures must express their concern when anybody is denied justice. We must try to be appropriate; in one setting we speak, on another we “put our body where our mouth has been” and act.…
GEORGE V. ERICKSON
Minister of Christian Education
Calvary Presbyterian Church
South Pasadena, Calif.
J. Howard Pew … uses Calvin in Geneva to help bolster his thesis. But there was surely more interplay between the Small Council of Geneva and the ministers and the Consistory than he is willing to grant.
In addition to the well-known fact that the Consistory often had the Council punish with the civil arm those convicted by the religious, one has only to open the Annales of Calvin in Volume XXI of the Calvini Opera to find numerous instances of church and state embracing in a most revealing manner. Turn, for example, to March and April of 1549 and read with growing embarrassment of “Calvin and the other ministers of Geneva against Philippe de Ecclesia,” as the former pastors go before the city council and charge a fellow pastor with false doctrine and usury. Then imagine the annoyance of the magistrates as they charge all the ministers to “have accord with each other,” and “to bring the matter to a conclusion so that they can live in peace as good brothers and ministers of the Word of God.”
Or, in a better light, turn to January 12, 1562, and read how Calvin goes before the secular authorities to complain about bad printing done in the city, the ease with which bad printers get licenses, and the faulty books that are thereby produced. So moving is Calvin’s plea that one printer, Jean Anastaise, has his license taken away, and is later accused of making too much profit on his bad books and tossed in jail. Here Calvin not only takes ecclesiastical matters to the civil authorities, but interferes in a man’s business!
The latter, of course, was necessary if Bibles, psalters, and commentaries (Anastaise printed the latter) were to be free from errors and present the gospel message clearly. This is why I say that this shows Calvin in a better light. But it also shows how difficult it is to separate the Gospel and civil affairs.
May it not be that just as bad printing made the gospel message short-circuit in 1562, just so “pockets of poverty” and other vicious social sins today have the same effect, and that the Presbyterian Church, like Calvin, is compelled to speak out?
Despite my disagreement with Mr. Pew, I cannot help admire a busy businessman’s knowledge of our history.
W. FRED GRAHAM
Department of Religion
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Mich.
As Mr. Pew so ably points out, ministers are not that well acquainted with the ramifications of such things as transportation, the everyday economics of the everyday lives of all of us that they should set themselves up as some sort of experts in such matters, or as judges, or as inquisitors. But rather, as the Apostle Paul taught and practiced, they should exhort men to good works.…
F. J. GAHAN
Since Mr. Pew is a member of the United Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., and holds the high position as president of the Board of Trustees of the United Presbyterian Foundation, I would like to recommend him as a candidate for moderator of the next General Assembly meeting of our church.…
A SAVING OF $3.25
In the July 3 issue … one of the books listed (Books in Review) is Bruce Metzger’s An Introduction to the Apocrypha. The price is given there as $7.00, whereas the correct price of the book is $3.75.…
FON W. BOARDMAN, JR.
Advertising and Publicity Manager
Oxford University Press
New York, N. Y.
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