For sprightly and refreshing reading pick up Bishop Gerald Kennedy’s For Preachers and Other Sinners. He is my kind of man, and this is my kind of book. In it he gives the back of his hand to discussion groups, symposia, and panelists:
… the worst thing about the whole process is the assumption that any subject can be treated profitably by a panel. I heard one on atomic power by people who knew no more about it than I do. Seven times zero is still zero.
This reminds me of something the late, great Hal Luccock of Yale wrote on the same subject. Describing the scene where the Philippian jailor comes to Paul crying out, “What must I do to be saved?,” he pictures Paul as answering, “Well, what do you think?”
From those kindergartens where they graduate little students in caps and gowns all the way up through college, there is a kind of style in education in which teachers think they are teaching when they have a “talk-it-over session.” This is often the emergency exit for an unprepared professor. Having run out of material, he says to the class, “Well, now, what do you think about all this?” It is pretty hard for a student to think “about” something when he doesn’t know anything. What does it matter “what he thinks” if he has never done any thinking?
A girl wrote a paper recently about the judgment of God. “He chooses the good people or God’s concept of good people.…” She has her opinion of good people, you have your opinion of good people, I have my opinion of good people. So, luckily, does God.
A young fellow teaching history of civilization in an Eastern college came upon Calvin, and immediately the class was involved in the moot question of predestination. After considerable argument one freshman girl summed it all up: “Well, it is my opinion that Calvin didn’t think this through very well!”
THE NEW CONFESSION
Some of us, while disagreeing with your general theological position, have been interested and encouraged to see your attempts to open a way for fundamentalists out of the morass of theological puerilities and anarchic individualism (e.g. McIntire) into which the movement was sinking in the first half of this century. You and your associates have made real progress in spite of your inability to get free of seventeenth-century orthodoxy’s blind alley of an in fallible text of Scripture and recover a doctrine of Scripture more in line with the Reformers and the Scriptures themselves. It was a disappointment, therefore, to see you fall back into an all-too-familiar earlier fundamentalist tactic in your articles on the Presbyterian statement of faith (Oct. 23 issue)—a disregard of Christian ethics where you think you see a chance to create confusion in what you consider an enemy camp.…
Great concern about theological correctness, with a seventeenth-century criterion, combined with an ethical unconcern have only too often been a trademark of fundamentalism. It is sad to see you letting yourself slip back into this corrupt pattern.
Union Theological Seminary
New York, N.Y.
• In the ecumenical era the public’s right to know assumes increasing importance. If the public is confused, we merely reported the facts; we did not create them. The committee has spent six years shaping a tentative document subject to still further revision.—ED.
As a United Presbyterian layman, I believe that I am in a position to appreciate some of the questions you raised.… The current weakness and inability to adhere to the nominal, doctrinal standards undoubtedly characterizes a large number of United Presbyterian churches.
Upon joining a large United Presbyterian congregation in a southern California city last year, I happened to ask the senior minister at the final orientation session for a copy of the Westminster Confession and related doctrinal standards of the United Presbyterian Church. This minister thereupon answered me with some amazement that in all his years of service at that church no new member had ever made such a request! He said that he still had a copy “somewhere” in his study, however, and that if I wanted it I could have it. This same minister further displayed a singular lack of interest to discuss the contents of our confessional standards.…
Having widely traveled throughout the United States and having attended many United Presbyterian services in different cities, I believe that far too many of our church’s ministers are hopelessly confusing and obscuring by oratorical flourish the glory of God with the glory of man.…
Corona del Mar, Calif.
THE EARLY HISTORY
Re your article “The Anonymous Congregation” (News, Oct. 23 issue): The first practical electronic secretary was developed in Milwaukee, and it was so good that the Bell Telephone System bought out the company. When this instrument first hit the market, it was offered to one of my parishioners, a man in the heating and air conditioning business, as a telephone secretary. God inspired this man, Harold J. Groeschel, to see the possibilities of using it in the work of God. He purchased a machine and had it installed at Warner Memorial Chapel. The Men’s Brotherhood took on the monthly charges due to the telephone company. I recorded a brief message of inspiration, challenge, and invitation to salvation, allowing time for the caller to leave his name, address, and telephone number if he wished to be contacted. We changed these recordings each week. While there were many pranksters and foul-mouthed callers, there were many sincere people who were helped. The calls came in at the peak, just as fast as the telephone would take them, averaging over 1,000 calls per day. We were written up in the newspapers, and we have clippings from as far away as Australia showing that this was the very first use of this type of ministry. This was late in 1952.
We later abandoned this effort for lack of time to make the contacts with the people desiring help, feeling it was wrong to promise to call them when we were too overburdened to be able to continue it. Many people were saved, and returned to their own churches. Frankly, we did not get one person into our own congregation from this effort. It was purely an effort to help people find the Lord. The service was advertised by one-inch ads in the newspapers and by cards reading, “If you’re feeling rather low, call Hopkins 6-2150.”
Warner Memorial Chapel
(Church of God)
• Our apologies to Warner Memorial Chapel. The American Telephone and Telegraph Company reports that its answering device, developed by Bell, was being delivered as early as May, 1952.—ED.
The writers of the articles (“The Case For Infant Baptism” and “The Case Against Infant Baptism,” Oct. 9 issue) … consider baptism as primarily a sign of something God has already done. Lutherans and Roman Catholics among other Christians consider baptism as primarily God coming and acting in the sacrament itself.…
Ebenezer Lutheran Church
G. R. Beasley-Murray wrote as though the Baptists were the only survivors of the Anabaptist movement.…
Church of the Brethren
Dr. Bromiley’s article … is an excellent piece of theological reasoning, which is, unfortunately, its principal fault. Dr. Beasley-Murray’s more direct appeal “to the law and to the testimony” is more convincing for those who would speak “as it were the oracles of God.”
Does the New Testament really teach that baptism is a “sign of the covenant” in the same unmistakable words in which the Old Testament describes circumcision as a “token of the covenant”? Indeed, is baptism ever described in the New Testament as a “sign” of anything?…
Gemeente van Christus
There was no need in the early Church to specify that the privileges of the infant seed of those under the new covenant were to be retained, any more than it was necessary to indicate that they must still worship the true God. It is beyond all reason to suppose that the New Testament writers would offer no word of apology or explanation for such a tremendous change had it been made. Our Baptist friends must produce a direct warrant for the great and sudden change they allege took place. It will not be sufficient for them to say that in regard to positive instructions no inferential reasoning can be admitted, for they themselves give the Lord’s supper to women and there is no direct and positive warrant for that.
It seems that someone should note that the concept of circumcision’s being replaced or supplanted by baptism appears not to have been known by the apostles at the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15). Their knotty problem might have been easily resolved by the simple statement that baptism now took the place of circumcision, and therefore circumcision is no longer needed.…
Barboursville, W. Va.
In the primitive Church, converts who received the sacrament were, obviously, adults who were capable of the response of faith. But as time wore on, infants born in Christian families became the major source for church membership. In the Western church, at least, the problem was resolved by the separation of the single initiatory rite into what developed into two sacraments: holy baptism by water and holy confirmation by the laying on of hands.…
Holy confirmation makes it possible for the person of the age of reason to “ratify and confirm the promises made for him at his Baptism,” and the second initiatory rite seals the baptism and bestows upon the recipient the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit, to make effectual the work begun by baptism.… ROBERTS E. EHRGOTT The Church of the Nativity (Episcopal) Indianapolis. Ind.
If infant baptism requires all the explanation which Dr. Bromiley … gives …, there must be something wrong with it.…
PRAYERS FOR THE DEAD
In regard to your editor’s note to the letter from Father du Bois regarding Anglican belief concerning prayers for the dead (Oct. 9 issue), you appear to be unaware that in the American Prayer Book, there are direct prayers for the dead in five places—the Prayer for the Church in the Communion Office, the Collect for the Eucharist at a burial, the Office for the Visitation of the Sick, twice in the Burial Office.…
Diocese of Tennessee Lay Reader
• The reference of this correspondence and our comment was to the situation in England. The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, which in all essentials is the book of 1552, is entirely free from prayers for the dead, since these were seen by Archbishop Cranmer and his colleagues to be not only unscriptural but also indicative of a serious misunderstanding of the Gospel. The inclusion of such prayers in the American Prayer Book is regrettable for the same reasons.—ED.
My favorite Anglican theologian (C. B. Moss in The Christian Faith, p. 440) writes: “The practice of prayer for the dead does not depend upon belief in Purgatory. There is no certain case of it in Scripture, except 2 Maccabees 12:44, in the Apocrypha; 2 Timothy 1:18 is probably, but not certainly, a prayer for the dead. It cannot therefore be regarded as a dogma necessary to salvation, but it has been practised, in every part of the Church, and in every age.… If Purgatory exists at all, its purpose must be to reform the sinner, to free him from evil habits, and to make him fit for Heaven. It is not an extension of our probation.”
The reason I find myself compelled to pray for the dead is because I believe in the communion of saints—that you and I continue to have a close spiritual relationship with those who have passed through the gateway of death and are beyond the grave. I believe that this spiritual relationship includes praying for them. Our Book of Common Prayer in the Liturgy (pp. 74.75) is specific: “And we also bless thy holy Name for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear; beseeching thee to grant them continual growth in thy love and service.…”
Anglicans believe in an Intermediate State, which we prefer to call Paradise after the words of our Lord to the penitent thief: “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Diocese of West Missouri Bishop
Kansas City, Mo.
Of the three prayers numbered “32” in “Occasional Prayer,” two include petitions for the dead. In the Office of the Burial of the Dead there are three prayers for the departed. If it be objected that these are 1928 insertions, then the answer is that the 1928 Book is the one authorized by the Church of England, even if not by the (predominantly non-Anglican) Parliament of Great Britain.…
All Saints Church
I was distressed to read … that, according to Charles du Bois, “prayers for the dead (as well as belief in purgatory) are part and parcel of Anglican eschatology.” As a member of the Church of England (and therefore, I suppose, an Anglican) I am bound by the formularies to which I gave assent at my ordination. In the Thirty-nine Articles the doctrine of purgatory is expressly rejected (Article XXII), and Article VI assures me that I am not required to believe as an article of faith anything which cannot be proved by Holy Scripture.
It follows from this that in the Church of England a belief in purgatory or in prayers for the dead is a departure from orthodoxy. To be sure, there are many unorthodox people in our denomination (and amongst them in this respect was C. S. Lewis); but whilst these formularies remain it is at least possible in our country to determine what is and what is not orthodox Anglicanism.
St. Barnabas’ Vicarage
EVOLUTION AND EVANGELICALS
Re comments toward H. M. Morris’s recent book, The Twilight of Evolution (Current Religious Thought, Sept. 25 issue): As a paleontologist who is also an evangelical Christian, I wish to point out … that this book contains a number of mistakes.…
For example, the book presents serious misunderstandings of the concept of uniformitarianism (pp. 59–64), the use of fossils in dating rock strata (pp. 49–52), instances of fossils and rock formations which are stratigraphically out of order (pp. 53, 54), and the present-day formation of fossils (pp. 62, 63). Moreover, there is no significant discussion of the numerous transitional fossils (“missing links”) which clearly indicate that particular groups of organisms were the actual ancestors of other groups.
In spite of Morris’s assertions to the contrary, an evangelical Christian can quite reasonably incorporate into his own world-life view an attitude which regards evolution as God’s proximate means of creating organisms; Morris’s book seems like an attempt to revive a traditional position which many Christians today believe not to be the only biblically acceptable attitude toward the subject of evolution. It is indeed tragic that such a book is highly recommended by some evangelical Christians, for such actions complicate effective witness to scientists involved in paleontologic matters; in addition, an unfortunate effect of the book’s publicity among evangelicals is the possibility that its statements (pp. 27, 28) will deter Christian students from entering paleontology, geology, and biology, fields in which Christian witness, made effective partly by the demonstrated scientific competence of the Christian, is desperately needed today.
Dept. of Geology
The article highlights an important and persistent problem in the area of science and faith. The topics of evolution and evolutionism deserve careful attention on the part of evangelical scholars, both in the biological sciences and in theology. Profitable discussion, in fact, will require a clear distinction between the different meanings of these two terms.
I attended the Darwin Centennial Celebration at the University of Chicago in 1959 and heard Sir Julian Huxley deliver his address entitled “The Evolutionary Vision.” It was quite obvious to me at the time that this was not a scientific lecture but a sermon expounding his personal religious beliefs. Such an extrapolation from science to a comprehensive world view should be labeled evolutionism. Other scientists soon afterward criticized this address for its disregard of accepted principles for interpreting scientific data. Huxley’s position can also be justly criticized for its view of the nature of man as well as its view of God.
The term evolution, on the other hand, can be used to describe that aspect of biology which studies processes of change. When a biologist speaks of evolution (as science) he includes topics such as genetic equilibrium, relative fitness, reproductive isolation, and polymorphism. We can confidently expect that future research will bring considerable modification in evolutionary theory. In fact, it is my obligation as a geneticist to look for inadequacies and inconsistencies in current theory and to collect data that may permit new interpretations. An unqualified global denial of evolution by a Christian, however, will be interpreted by many scientists as a failure or refusal to understand what biologists are talking about.
The distinction between evolution and evolutionism should be helpful because a similar distinction between science and scientism is already widely accepted. As a science teacher I try to help students understand the creative use of scientific investigation and the thrill of discovery. But they must also realize that scientific explanations are never final or ultimate, and that science can never explore all of reality. The results of science do, of course, affect my daily life and my ideas, but science is not a sole and sufficient guide.
I doubt that Sir Julian Huxley would accept a distinction between evolution and evolutionism, for he holds to a straight-line relationship between matters of science and matters of belief. One’s ideas of purpose and values must be brought wholly into line with one’s understanding of science. But it is possible that an unqualified denial of evolution in the name of Christ is also based upon Huxley’s premise, although in reverse direction. In my opinion, both of these positions represent a gross misunderstanding of the meaning of scientific investigation and of faith in God.
I am grateful to Dr. Hughes for his article that prompted these comments and hope that they will aid further discussion rather than hinder it.
University of Minnesota St. Paul, Minn.
I appreciated very much your article entitled “Beauty and Holiness” (News, Oct. 9 issue).…
Vonda’s boy friend, Duane Kapp, is a member of the First Free Methodist Church of Phoenix, rather than the Wesleyan Methodist as you suggest. Both Vonda and Duane have been dedicated Christians. We are proud of her and also him.
It is our hope and prayer that this unusual experience of being Miss America will be a wonderful opportunity to witness for Christ.
First Free Methodist Church
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