SOME DANGEROUS DETAILS
Just this week a boy in our community was killed in an automobile accident, and the only thing the newspaper considered worth discussing was whether he died immediately from the accident or was burned to death. With 40,000 people being killed in car accidents every year and many thousands more being maimed for life, there isn’t much news about another high school boy turning his car over while going full speed.
This particular boy had had some other troubles, and people weren’t surprised that he might have been traveling 100 miles an hour. “Just like him,” they said—but I wasn’t quite ready for the dear good Christian woman who said to me, “Well, that was a good thing. He got what he deserved.” With that remark I have been living restlessly ever since.
If I understand anything about our most Holy Faith, it is that it rests on one absolute and clear doctrine: that we are saved by grace. This idea of grace, as I get it, is that it is the unmerited favor of God. We are the objects of God’s love and his patience, not because of what we are but in spite of what we are. As I review my own life and think about drowning or crashing in an airplane or wrapping my car around a pole, about the only thing my religion teaches me is that I have some hope, because the one thing I will not get in this world or the next is what I deserve. My religion has nothing for me except the belief that He will not deal with us “after our sins or reward us according to our iniquities.” Who are the people who go around announcing to the rest of the world that all those other people got just what was coming to them?
And the other side of all this is those demanding ones who keep telling me they are going to get what is coming to them—that is, get their share. I think they should look out. Maby they will get what’s coming to them if that’s the deal they would really like to have.
CHRISTIANITY AND THE ARTS
Recently someone sent me a gift subscription to CHRISTIANITY TODAY. While I was pleased, my general reaction was, “Here’s another periodical to try to find time for.”
That was before … picking up the latest issue (Jan. 31) to “glance through” it. Four articles later, I found I was still standing up and the “glancing” had been more like “devouring” what Elmore, Cooper, and Reynard had been saying about the relationship of the arts and Christianity.…
Berrien Springs, Mich.
The January 31 issue … has given me the courage I need to express my genuine appreciation for two articles. One of these is the article by John C. Cooper, “Reading and the Faith.” Professor Cooper has stated succinctly the sentiments of many of us who are engaged in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and he has done so without mincing any words. We are only too aware that we fall short of preaching what we should be preaching.… How much of the printed page is totally wasted in attempting to wend our ways back to the historical Jesus rather than seeking the Jesus of faith. There is a definite place for biblical scholarship, but not the pulpit on Sunday morning. Our people need to be reminded that God gave us a perfect world, that we have distorted it into what it is today, and that in spite of all this God still loves mankind and offers him full salvation through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Christian writers could be such a tremendous help in this—if they would but try. We need books which point out to us our own failures and inadequacies—not literary criticism!
The second article which pleased me immensely was that of Robert Elmore, “The Place of Music in Christian Life.” I am pleased to know that at least one competent church musician has the courage to say publically what so many of us feel and have been hesitant to say. Great music is one of the important aspects of our Christian heritage; yet we persist in mouthing any and all kinds of sentimental hogwash in our worship services. I feel rather sure that God gets very tired of the same superficial wordiness Sunday after Sunday, and the same sickly-sweet “masterpieces” so many of our church musicians pass off as good music.
KENNETH G. HENDRIX
Westboro Congregational Church
Robert Elmore … fails to reckon adequately with the fact that many people are capable of appreciating only the “third-rate” music. To these good laymen, such music is not “ashes.” The true test of the worth of any music is the same as for a sermon: Does it communicate, does it “get across” to the people? If it does not, then its value is to be questioned, even if one of the three B’s did write it.…
His suggestions on how to increase music appreciation are splendid.
W. THOMAS LEE
First Church of God
Explains with such perfect insight the meaning and necessity of good sacred music in the life of a Christian. Music has always been and still is a very integral part of our form of worship, and to abuse it is to detract from the value and meaning of our worship—both public and private.
Bravo and thank you for the splendid article by Grant Reynard. More!
ROBERT L. SMITH
First Baptist Church
Pine Bluff, Ark.
The January 31 issue is excellent—the articles are so relevant to Christian living today.…
JOHN E. ELIASON
Siler City, N. C.
Please, Mr. Cooper. You raise some questions, but you fail to give us answers. A postive solution more adequately spelled out would be helpful.
St. Paul, Minn.
The article … will catch the eye of many fellow bookstore-haunters. At last a fellow must-sniffer has come out and admitted it. Give me more men and articles like Cooper.
Minister of Education
The First Baptist Church
Twin Falls, Idaho
RETARDED … AND NEGLECTED
I read … the article by Mrs. Hampton, “Retarded Children and Christian Concern” (Jan. 31 issue).…
I am sponsoring a minister’s orientation conference for local clergymen.… I would like to reproduce … about thirty-five copies of this article for distribution on that day.…
Mrs. Hampton conveys well a parent’s feelings concerning the Church’s opportunity to serve the retarded child and his parents. For this reason, I recognize in this article a contribution I desire to share with my fellow clergymen.
V. RONALD SIMPSON
Frankfort State Hospital and School
Thank you … for taking the time and the space to include an article on the mentally retarded. Only one who lives close to the problem could write in the way that Mrs. Dorothy Hampton did. However I disagree with her on one statement—“Loving the Unlovely.” I have yet to meet a mentally retarded child who is unlovely.
Letchworth Village is a state institution caring for 4,500 patients. All are retarded. I have been the full-time Protestant chaplain for six years.… The Protestant churches have a “head in the sand” philosophy—what we do not see does not exist—but mental retardation does exist, and its area of concern should be as important to the churches as African and Asiatic missions. In six years I have yet to receive a dollar from any church to be used for my retarded children. Our children do not want much—they just want to be remembered!
CARL J. ROTE
Theills, N. Y.
A TIME TO DISMOUNT
You will never know how much Mr. Ross Coggins’s article, “Missions and Prejudice” (Jan. 17 issue), meant to me, or how deeply touched I was when he said, “In a day when Marxists are calling every man comrade, let us not refuse to call any man brother.”
I am a recent seminary graduate with plans to serve on a Latin American mission field. I thought that while serving a church here I would be wise to remain silent on the racial issue, as so many churchmen want us to do. If I did, I would be joining the crowd of those who are making Christianity the laughing-stock of the whole world by attempting to reconcile missions abroad and racial segregation at home. So, if I give silent assent to discrimination while I am here, conscience would certainly make a coward of me on the foreign field.
My conclusion is that we American churchmen are sick—sick with a deadly sin called pride. Our pride creates second-class humans. Our pride relegates the Negro to “his place.” Our spiritual and racial pride makes a shambles of our Christian witness, being “… not of the Father, but … of the world” (1 John 2:16). Before it is too late we must get down from our ecclesiastical high horses and repent and turn to God!
Thank you again for this and several other plain-spoken articles on this subject.
St. Paul Presbyterian
At last! You finally passed through the period of “theory and perhaps” in the question of race relations and the Church.
Ross Coggins gets down to the facts of trying to live with a race-divided Christianity.
Our thanks to Ross Coggins for showing us that our church business here at home must be Christian if his missionary business is to succeed.
Our apologies to him for being so willing to pretend that what happens in our community is no one’s business but our own.
JOHN M. COLLINS
Franklin, Spring Grove, Laurel Methodist Churches
New Richmond, Ohio
Your article by a Southern minister is most heartening—though some of his Southern brethren may accuse him of having been duped by Communist propaganda. His article reminds me of [the] defense Peter made of his radical step of regarding Gentile Cornelius and family as full Christian brethren. Peter asked how he could resist God. Ross Coggins really is asking us the same question—how dare we resist God with our racial prejudices?
MARCIUS E. TABER
Centenary Methodist Church
No honest person will deny that America’s sins are great. Our national departure from the Son of God and his Word is apparent to all. However, Mr. Coggins apparently has failed to realize that he has taken up the seed of Communism and the line that is trumpeted from Moscow to Peiping.
When the colored folks in America have a national income greater than any other people of any race in any country, when barriers are falling, we need spiritual leaders who will lead with the truth and not get so upset by the international socialistic lie. It was not surprising to find in the article that he got his information from a Moscow agent.
Oak Hill Baptist Church
Was a special blessing to me.…
CLAUDE W. JACKS, JR.
I could not concur more heartily with this Southern Baptist minister’s statement of the case and his conclusions.
TED W. ENGSTROM
World Vision, Inc.
CHRISTIANITY TODAY is to be commended for publishing … the forthright statement by Ross Coggins.
If a few more articles like this are published, the idea that evangelical Christians are afraid of social issues will have to be carefully re-examined.
FRED R. MANTHEY, JR.
Emanuel United Church of Christ
I have known the embarrassment that Ross Coggins mentioned.… My patriotic feelings toward my country, the United States, are as fierce and loyal as the nationalistic devotion that my Mexican co-laborers have for their country. I don’t think they would understand me or respect me if it wasn’t so. It really hurts when one of them brings up the race situation in the United States.… One can only acknowledge a black eye that is so obvious.
Of course the Latin countries have some black eyes, too.… In Bolivia one hears the shout, “Camba!” and the retort, “Colla!” The Indian highlander and the white lowlander are at it again. Much blood has been spilled over the situation through the years. It seldom is billed as race rioting, but it is. Similar situations exist in some other Latin countries.…
JAMES H. MUMME
Mexican Evangelistic Mission
Most excellent.… However “… Tuan to others as we would have them Tuan to us” … oh, brother!
One way American mission boards can help is to utilize the great unused resources of Negro and Latin evangelicals who have been conspicuous by their absence on foreign fields. Some countries are already closed to all other American missionaries but would be open to these persons if we would only send them.
Lee Heights Community Church
Woe is me! I have the unenviable, yet exalted privilege of belonging to one of your so-called “cults.” Unenviable, because no true-hearted soul enjoys being at odds with his fellows. Exalted, because Jesus would doubtless have been called a cultist had that unsavory word been in the vocabulary of his contemporary theologians.
Harold Lindsell, book reviewer of The Four Major Cults, should be brought up to date. The Brinsmead brothers have now been repudiated by the Sanctuary Awakening Fellowship. They were repudiated probably for no greater crime than that practiced by Author Hoekema—distortion of truth.
Also in [the] same issue, I was happy to observe that Seventh-day Adventists have a proven, practical approach to the problem of cigarettes, a Five Day Plan to Stop Smoking. A rather unique and laudable contribution from your cultist friends!
E. A. CRANE
WELL, IT’S SIMPLY POIMENOGENIC
I am amused by the manner in which Dr. Ben Mohr Herbster and Dr. William McCorkle (News, Jan. 31 issue) attempt to say that cigarette smoking is not a moral problem—only a health problem. This implies that the moral law was given not out of our health needs but by the arbitrary whim of some pleasure-hating god, surely not the God of our Lord Jesus Christ.…
Moral issues and health issues should never be separated in my view for I know only too well in my work as a mental hospital chaplain, that the patient worsens when you do this. In such a case we might speak of the illness as poimenogenic, i.e., brought about by the illness in the pastor.
Princeton, N. J.
In your editorial in the issue of November 8 in regard to “Cigarettes and the Stewardship of the Body,” and in the letters (Eutychus, Dec. 20 issue) commenting on your editorial I have not noticed … emphasis on … the tendency of a smoker to be inconsiderate. How seldom do we hear, “Do you mind if I smoke?” As soon as a smoker has finished his (or her) meal in a public restaurant he lights his cigarette (or cigar or pipe), never pausing to think that the smell of tobacco smoke dampens the taste of food for others. To my mind, consideration of others should be one of the notable characteristics of a clergyman.
Inlet, N. Y.
C. S. LEWIS
As one of the “Everymen” for whom C. S. Lewis was theologian I want to commend you on Mr. Kilby’s splendid article about Mr. Lewis (Jan. 3 issue). Any theologian who can look at much that is put forward today as Christianity, under whatever scholarly label, and call it “patronizing nonsense,” has a strong appeal to “Everyman.”
It is my belief that this paragraph from Mere Christianity is worth memorizing: “ ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things that Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a mad man or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him or kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.”
JOHN S. BECK
Summit, N. J.
Would an American writer who (1) rejected the doctrine of total depravity (Jan. 3 issue), (2) opposed the substitutionary and penal theory of the Atonement, and (3) taught that one could reason oneself into Christianity (Dec. 20 issue), be considered as the “theologian of any conservative man”?
One book omitted from Dr. Kilby’s article is the most unique (and some say uninteresting) autobiography ever written—Surprised by Joy.
My thinking about C. S. Lewis closely parallels his on George McDonald. He pointed me to a real Christ and essential Christianity.
Professor of Philosophy
Spring Arbor College
Spring Arbor, Mich.
Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones’s quoted contention (Dec. 20 issue) that C. S. Lewis taught and believed a man could reason himself into Christianity does not square with the facts. Even the most cursory examination of Professor Lewis’s Surprised by Joy reveals his consistent contention that God saves in various ways that are never entirely analyzable to anyone, least of all the “new man.” What Professor Lewis continually fought was the attempt of any person or denomination to lay out a clear pattern of things to be believed or schemes of procedure to insure salvation. Obedience was always more than a matter of reason, for him. On the other hand, Professor Lewis clearly believed that God was capable of using a man’s loyalty to reasoned thought as one of the means of bringing him into the Kingdom, a view which some evangelicals have difficulty in accepting.
EDWARD T. DELL, JR.
Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones of Westminster Chapel in London is quoted thus: “Lewis was an opponent of the substitionary and penal theory of the Atonement.”
Certainly, many of your readers will be shocked by this revelation, even as I am. How can a man rightly lay claim to fame as a friend of Christianity, when he is an opponent of that which is the very “heart of our Faith”?
ERNEST A. HOOK
Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church
Might it not be that the apparent incongruity arising in the late C. S. Lewis’s view on the total depravity of man could be resolved by distinguishing between the fact that it is only regenerate man who is in a position to assess his state of moral bankruptcy before a holy God, whereas unregenerate man can never so designate himself? The belief in man’s total depravity is not the outcome of the unregenerate mind of man, but rather the outcome of the regenerate man’s acquiescence to the penetrating Light of Scripture.
Surely the fact that “man has the idea of good” in no way detracts from what we call total depravity, but is rather a proof of our having been made in the image of God. True, that image has been marred in the Fall, our likeness to Him lost thereby; but thank God not entirely has his divine image been obliterated, else there would be no ground of alliance between us.
Sincere thanks to Clyde S. Kilby for a most interesting analysis.
M. P. FARMERY
Salisbury, New Brunswick
Since his death the conservative press in America has joyously claimed C. S. Lewis as “our man.” I am personally delighted that conservatism and fundamentalism have widened [the] door sufficiently to admit such an unclassifiable person as the great Oxford-Cambridge don. I am a little amused at this; Lewis would be hilarious.
C. S. Lewis, though having great love and respect for the Bible, would never embrace the fundamentalist (literal-infallible) view of the Bible.
He would accept no theory of the “total depravity of man.”
He rejected the “substitutionary theory” of the Atonement.
In the social order he leaned a little more to the left than to the right.
He believed that all economic systems, built on the foundation of interest and usury, were illogical, untenable, and corrupt.
He was a beer drinker, and I have it on good authority that he was a heavy beer drinker (noon and evening).
He was strongly addicted to the weed and was never seen without his pipe.
He … married a divorced woman; the conditions of her divorce were not above criticism.
So if conservatism and fundamentalism joyously accept C. S. Lewis, perhaps some of the rest of us have a chance.
W. WESLEY SHRADER
First Baptist Church
OUR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
Dr. Mikolaski’s article (“Revelation and Truth,” Jan. 3 issue) was most interesting and thought-provoking.… It seems to me that a better question to have asked than “Can we have the knowledge of God without the knowledge about God?” would have been …: Can we articulate the knowledge of God without the knowledge about God? When the verbal representation (structural or logical arrangements of knowledge) is accepted as the real, then reality is proscribed and stands in relation to truth as an image stands in relation to the living God. There is no communication without the knowledge about God. There is no reality without knowledge of God. Knowledge about God never quite reveals what is true about God, just as knowledge about a person is never as complete as knowledge of that person as an intimate friend.…
WALTER B. THOMPSON
Barth Memorial Methodist Church
One of the finest and most intellectually stimulating articles on the matter that I have seen.
Calvary-Asbury Methodist Church
Ukrainian Protestants in the United States have observed and acknowledged for quite some time the intelligently expressed evangelical thought printed on the pages of CHRISTIANITY TODAY.
Our admiration for you has increased greatly in recent weeks, because of the editorial “A Memorial to Shevchenko” (Jan. 3 issue) which openly opposes the opinions of the Washington Post obviously instigated by those who are against freedom and independence of the Ukrainian nation.
Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Convention in U. S. A., which unites many churches and through its Missionary and Bible Society reaches thousands of Ukrainian Protestants in all the world, wishes to express sincere thanks to CHRISTIANITY TODAY for its stand concerning the Shevchenko monument in Washington, D. C.
We believe that through this, love and admiration to America and Americans will increase among the Ukrainians.
Ukrainian Protestants support the erection of the Shevchenko monument, not only because he was a champion of freedom, not only because in his writings he praised George Washington, but because he was the one that inspired the first translation of the Bible into Ukrainian … thus giving impetus to the evangelical movement in the Ukraine.
The Ukrainian Missionary and Bible Society
BALANCE OF PROBABILITIES
Your correspondent … E. P. Schulze (Jan. 3 issue) is right to question the almost superstitious reverence paid by Tischendorf, Westcott, Hort, and Weiss to the three oldest codices of the New Testament; but need he resurrect the absurdities of Dean Burgon’s pathetic defense of the Textus Receptus, which did not clearly emerge until the fifth century? If we accept the fifth century’s revision of the text, why not also its views on the papacy and the invocation of saints?
Surely it is time to realize that both the third-century “Alexandrine” text and the fifth-century “Received” text were the products of deliberate revisions, the former too much inclined to omission, the latter to inclusion, and that the true text is only to be found from a variety of sources by a balance of probabilities.…
J. M. Ross
YES AND NO
The appearance of the article, “The Melody Man of Gospel Music” (News, Dec. 20 issue), prompted concern on my part and I hope on the part of many evangelical musicians throughout the country.…
Why, I ask, cannot numerous and previous articles have been devoted to men whose lives are being spent in an attempt to do in evangelical musical circles what you have, at least editorially, attempted to do in theology? Is CHRISTIANITY TODAY a magazine of such narrowed aims as to cry for integrity and fervor in but one arm of the Church’s ministry?…
Who, may I ask, is your choice for every-man’s theologian, everyman’s exegete? About whom would you objectively report whose theological, exegetical, pastoral policies and practices parallel those of John Peterson? I would be embarassed to name them and ashamed to read of them in a journal with the platform you wish to project. How long must the evangelical church try to succeed in a worship structure composed of odd, contrasting, inconsistent, flatulent wisps of anybody’s ideas, while the enlightened and tragically specialized pulpiteer knows and cares all about his pulpit and nothing about his fellow workers?
HAROLD M. BEST
Asst. Prof. of Organ and Music Theory
Nyack Missionary College
Nyack, N. Y.
Regarding the rank criticism of John W. Peterson’s gospel music by John Richard De Witt (Jan. 31 issue), I wonder if he has heard Mr. Peterson’s masterpieces sung by a fine choir, and under the direction of a great chorister.
John W. Peterson’s cantatas, such as “Night of Miracles,” “No Greater Love,” and, perhaps the greatest missionary cantata ever written, “The Greatest Story Yet Untold,” are all the most complete Bible-based musical messages, with Scripture rightly divided, this pastor has heard at any time ever.
OTHA B. HOLCOMB
First Baptist Church
Great Falls, Mont.
Singing psalms is mentioned in the Bible, as are spiritual songs and hymns of praise.
I have had the opportunity to serve as minister of music in a few evangelical churches in the past fifteen years, and have directed such compositions as The Messiah, Seven Last Words, Hear My Prayer, [and] The Crucifixion, which were written by men of the past with outstanding respect in music [though] very little is actually known about their spiritual fervor.…
I have had the privilege of directing three of Mr. John Peterson’s cantatas. It is true that Mr. Peterson does not write as did Handel. We should not forget, too, that neither did Bach write as Beethoven, nor did Beethoven as Mendelssohn.
I know Mr. Peterson through his relationship with WMBI. I also know of his testimony.… His chords may be modern which “tingle” the ear; however, his testimony rings of his fellowship in Christ.
We in church work are out to reach men for Christ, first. Mr. Peterson’s music, I have found, has been most welcomed in even the “starchiest” situations.…
Opposite to Mr. John Richard De Witt’s ending, let’s have more of this.
JOHN A. KOOISTRA
Metropolitan Baptist Church
Washington, D. C.
I was disappointed with the review you gave Dr. Tweedie’s recent book, The Christian and the Couch (Jan. 3 issue). It seems to me that the message of the book centers on the author’s discussion of the etiology of mental illness. On page 109 Dr. Tweedie states, “… at the root of every [psychogenic mental illness] lies a significant amount of sinful action.” It is this concept that lends integration and a degree of credibility to this development of a “Christian logotherapy.” Whether or not Dr. Tweedie has leaned too heavily on O. H. Mowrer may be debated. It would seem, however, that such a critical point in the development of a leading Christian psychologist’s philosophy of mental illness ought, at least, to be discussed.
ROBERT W. FERRIS
SHAKESPEARE, BUT NOT SOLOMON
There is an excellent article … under “Current Religious Thought” (Dec. 20 issue) regarding the impact of secularism upon the school children.…
I have heard it reported that the reading of wisdom from such as Shakespeare or some of the philosophers may be used as an opening day meditation, while passages from the greatest of all wisdom books must be omitted. This makes no sense at all to me. If ever we needed to reflect upon words of wisdom, it is in this, our generation, and the crying need is for a greater reading of and reflection upon the Bible [message] than has ever been given it in the past in the public schools, homes, churches, and elsewhere. This, in turn, will lead to sincere, inner heart prayer. (I cannot read the Bible without praying.) The banning of the reading of the Bible in the public schools, to me, completes the picture of a twisted, warped, and degenerate generation.
I would like to see copies of the articles about the Bible which are in the November 22 issue … go to anyone who seeks to delete the Bible readings from our public schools.
NORMAN H. SANDERS
Fort Worth, Tex.
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