Robert E. Fitch has a review in the New York Times, late January, of John Gardner’s book Self Renewal. I hope that by the time these comments of mine get into print I have found a way to get to that book. Fitch says that the impact of the book is downright converting. The book is not on religion, I judge, except insofar as religion has all kinds of things to do with the renovation of society.

There is this statement, for example: “Once it was the skeptic, the critic of the status quo who had to make a great effort. Today the skeptic is the status quo. The one who must make the effort is the man who seeks to create a new moral order” (italics mine). This says something that has needed saying. I never knew before quite how to express my suspicion of the hardened conformity of non-conformity in our day; my suspicion of the condition of the heart of a man who is endlessly skeptical, whose negative, sometimes called “radical” approach can so easily be sophomoric. All kinds of people know all kinds of things that are wrong; anybody can break an egg, but who will put Humpty Dumpty together again?

The best-known verse in Scripture is John 3:16. One of the least known is John 3:17: “It was not to judge the world that God sent his Son into the world, but that through him the world might be saved.” The world is already under judgment. The plot of the Bible is that something went wrong very early in the game and that the problem even for God Almighty is how to get the wrong righted. It took a Cross, and it will never take less.

Preachers have a wonderful habit of viewing our world with alarm, of looking off into the far corner of the sanctuary and trying to look burdened, telling us that they have read Camus and Tennessee Williams and that these writers are probably neo-something. They hardly help the human heart. Anyone knows what’s wrong. Who will pay the price to right it?



Norman V. Hope quotes Karl Adam (“The New Look’ in Roman Catholic-Protestant Relations,” Feb. 28 issue) as saying that if Martin Luther had lent all of his “magnificent qualities to the removal of the abuses of the time …, had he remained a faithful member of his Church …, then indeed we should today be his grateful debtors.” Dr. Hope calls Adam’s words an example of an “increasingly sympathetic” appraisal of the Protestant Reformation by Roman Catholics.

Has not Dr. Adam ignored the fact that Luther did not separate from Rome, but Rome from Luther? The Reformer’s consistent attitude was that “the worse things are going on within it [Roman Catholic Church], the more should we cling to it; for it is not by separation that we shall make it better” (History of the Reformation, D’Aubigne, II, 23).

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Perhaps Dr. Hope has forgotten that the Roman church highly esteemed Luther’s qualities at the very time that they excommunicated him and called for his death. We should at least be hesitant about accepting the word of a church which has traditionally allowed her end to justify her means.…


Wilmore, Ky.

Dr. Norman V. Hope, the distinguished professor of church history at Princeton Theological Seminary, seems to be totally unaware that his argument … is an extended example of begging the question.

The official doctrinal standards of Princeton Seminary say, “such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, Papists, or other idolaters.” The same standards also say, “The Lord Jesus Christ is the only head of the Church, and the claim of any man to be the vicar of Christ and the head of the Church, is unscriptural, without warrant in fact, and is a usurpation dishonoring to Christ.”

The original standards, still held by denominations of greater doctrinal fidelity, slate clearly, “There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that anti-christ, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God.”

Dr. Hope’s article simply assumes, without giving any evidence, that the Roman Catholic organization is a Christian church. But the Apostle Paul argues that a profession of faith in Christ is absolutely useless, if the person trusts in circumcision, the treasury of the saints, prayers to Mary, and the bowing down before idols.

What the eminent professor describes as a decided turn for the better in the relations between “two branches of the Christian faith,” is not to be explained, as he does, by the policies of Hitler and Stalin, but by the decline of “the true reformed religion” to a point at which Romanism can be regarded as a branch of the Christian faith.


Professor of Philosophy

Butler University

Indianapolis, Ind.

Norman V. Hope is to be commended for his astute analysis.… A happy by-product of his article might be the development of greater understanding among conservative Protestants. As one standing in the Wesleyan tradition, I would find it difficult to improve upon his statement of Protestant principle: “Protestants believe in justification by grace through faith, which means that in Christian salvation all is of God, and that the only thing man can do is gratefully and humbly accept the salvation that God freely offers in Jesus Christ.”

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Evangelical Congregational School of Theology

Myerstown, Pa.


How appropriate (or, perhaps, fortuitous!) that on pages 4 and 5 (Feb. 28 issue) the reader is stirred as author Bower writes: “An educational ‘climate’ must be created within the church.… The pastor and other church leaders [must] give the educational task the time and consideration it deserves.… The educational program makes [a] God-given contribution to the total evangelistic effort of the church in a very significant manner” (Amen!); and on page 27 the reader then must attempt to escape from under the gloomy pall which has quickly settled over him as a result of being abruptly confronted with the shudderingly relevant facts soberly set forth under the incredible heading: “Church Schools: Symptoms of Decline” (Alas!).

Can it possibly be that our Sunday schools have outgrown programs, presents, promotions, parades, and picnics? Perhaps, here and there, can be found some who are actually awaiting a national re-emphasis upon the Sunday school as the reaching, winning, training, and teaching arm of the church.


Acting Administrator

National Sunday School Association

Chicago, Ill.


I have been concerned about the substance of the paragraphs under the heading “Too High a Price” (Editorials, Feb. 14 issue). You view with alarm the language of the report on “Witness” of the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism of the WCC issuing from their recent meeting in Mexico City.

I feel that the language quoted in your paragraphs, particularly the italics “is offered continually for and to the world … its redeeming reality” is suggestive of the Mass. On the other hand, at Montreal last summer the Faith and Order Commission in its report or Consensus On the Eucharist seems firmly to have stood on good Protestant ground when it said, “What God did in the incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, He does not do again. The events are unique; they cannot be repeated or extended or continued.…” It may be the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism is out of its field in this particular view and that it needs to examine the Consensus of the Commission on Faith and Order.

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First Corinthians 11:17–19 has something to suggest to us in this Protestant-Catholic debate, namely, that “heresy” has its place in the Church (it is not inherently evil but may be essential to the Church), but heresy should not lead to schism! It is becoming more and more wrong to divide the body of Christ into a no-crossover schism; but the Church must be brought to the place where it recognizes the value of heresy and does not anathematize and excommunicate in schism, however difficult the maintenance of fellowship may be.

In this year of the Vatican Council II (it is Loo late for their Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy already promulgated, with its language in Chapter II, paragraph 47, “a paschal banquet at which Christ is eaten”) it would seem that Protestants must continue to draw the attention of Catholics to some undeniable religious facts, (1) that the Jews had a long-standing tabu against eating blood (Lev. 17) which the First Council of Jerusalem confirmed (Acts 15); (2) the realism of John 6:53 is modified significantly by the realism of John 6:63; (3) that the frequent use of the metaphor, “the cup” for the contents, in the critical passages suggests the sensitivities of Jesus and the apostles to the Levitical tabu (1 Cor. 11:23–34); (4) the undeniable fact that after the Words of Institution, according to the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus referred to the “cup” (blood) by use of the phrase, with the specificity of the demonstrative pronoun-adjective, “this,” “I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine …” (ek toutou tou genematos tes ampelou) (Matt. 26:29); and (5) Peter is on the side of the Protestants in his first letter, when he said, “Christ also died once for all” (Latin semel does not mean iterum et iterum) (3:5).

Which is to say that while the manner of the Supper or Eucharist is variously understood and stated by Protestants and Catholics, the substance, namely, that God in Christ through the Spirit communicates with the communicant in the Supper, is the same, and the unity of Christians lies in the substance not in the form. Further, none of us can or may say that God is limited in the manner of his self-giving nor that the believer is limited in the manner of his self-surrender and receiving God’s self-giving. While I incline to the views above spelled out, I would be the last one to deny the reality of the God-self-giving or of the receiving of Catholics any more than I would deny the reality of the God-selfgiving and the receiving of Protestants, of which I am one.

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I have my reservations regarding the appropriateness of the “sacrifice of the Mass” for almost any and all occasions conceivable to the Church, in view of their interpretation that in reality Christ is both Priest and victim at the Mass. Their practice seems to dictate the time, places, occasions, when Christ shall sacrifice himself in the Mass! Making the sacrifice on the Cross central and inclusive is good enough, but this Mass business seems to me to be almost profane.


Danville, Ill.


Professor John C. Cooper in “Reading and the Faith” (Jan. 31 issue) seems to have missed an essential point with reference to modern or recent literature. Does he expect each author to grind an axe for Christian polemics? Awareness of an author’s intention is indispensable to an understanding of his book.

Tennessee Williams has accurately delineated the pseudo-evangelical who “slips away” from the stark reality of alienation, separation, and nothingness. These representatives of the Gospel, like the Lutheran pastor in John Updike’s Rabbit Run, just do not perceive the need for reconciliation amidst the brokenness of the tragic human situation.

We should not expect non-Christian authors to see the Christian dimension in the Gospel, because they stand outside of it. Nevertheless they are the real “nabi” of our time. The Church bears full responsibility for alienating these prophets. Many of them are altogether too perceptive about the “Reverend Tookers.” James Baldwin disrobes such evangelism in Go Tell it on the Mountain. Whereas Lorraine Hansberry, who has suffered just as deeply from being a Negro, does speak to us of reconciliation, restoration, and love in her Raisin in the Sun. Here the Gospel is truly preached and truly practiced! Just as effectively as in the New Testament, no doubt!

Albert Camus’s The Fall tells the story of man’s willful separation from God as effectively as the myths of Genesis. In Franz Kafka’s The Trial the theme is Judgment; William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, the theme is Suffering or the Cross; Graham Greene’s The Heart of the Matter, the theme is Love; James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the theme is Vocation; and Ignazio Silone’s A Handful of Blackberries, the theme is the Remnant. Truly these are Christian themes and highly biblical, even if cast as negative witness after the manner of Amos, Hosea, and Jeremiah.…

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If Christianity is being spit out rather than chewed and swallowed it is because we lack the sensitivity to see judgment nailed to the door of the Church, where it must begin first.…


Chairman, Department of Religion

Norwich University

Northfield, Vt.

Impressed was I, by Mr. Cooper’s brilliant display of wide reading. Depressed however, by his shallow thinking and over-generalized conclusions.

The ancient sport of taking pot-shots at the Church is a tempting game. But it is at best, a sad game. It is difficult to sing a song about “why Christianity is being spit out.”

If the contemporary Christian scene must be castigated, Mr. Cooper’s choice of ammunition leaves me cold. Has the Church completely failed in its witness, because it is “laughed off” in Lolita? Are we justified in writing off Christian compassion using Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as resource material? Are we to feel distress because modern drama ignores Christianity? There have been other ages besides ours in which the world hasn’t exactly been a friend of grace, notably the first century.

I am a little troubled that “today’s prophets,” “churchmanship,” and “mainstream denominations” should be named as the guilty culprits for the world not embracing Christianity. I wonder why the world of a few years ago “spit out” the Christ?


Church of the Nazarene

Santa Maria, Calif.


I was very glad and also uplifted to read “The Place of Music in the Christian Life” (Jan. 31 issue). Actually I was a bit surprised too. From your article praising Composer John W. Peterson (“Hallelujah, What a Savior”; “Over the Sunset Mountain”; “It Took a Miracle”) and your music advertisements, I had assumed that your editorial policy toward music favored the so-called gospel hymn. This “gospel” hymn (music and words) is offensive to my musical taste. As a Lutheran I take tremendous pride in the German chorale which was given impetus by the settings of the Lutheran composer and theologian Johann Sebastian Bach. The theology of these chorales has more gospel message (Christ-centered) than the “gospel” hymn (man, emotion-centered). The ecumenical movement also recognizes the excellence of the German chorale. The leaders have asked the Lutheran Church to make a contribution of their powerful chorale tunes. Thanks to author Elmore, who speaks of the place of the gospel tune, but also “the profound utterances of … Johann Sebastian Bach, who expressed out of his heart the deep things of God.”

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Our Savior Lutheran Church of Satellite Beach

Eau Gallie, Fla.


A well-deserved “thank you” for the excellent, thought-provoking reading material contained in [the January 31 issue].

My “preacher-pastor-minister” husband has limited time to read all the religious periodicals that come to him, completely and thoroughly, so whenever we are in the car together, I generally take along CHRISTIANITY TODAY or our own denominational magazine United Church Herald and read to him the various articles of interest to both of us. Your January 31 issue is excellent, and I read every essay, article, news item to him, pausing briefly to comment on the authors’ presentations or ideas.

My husband is a devout advocate of proper use of leisure time, being an ardent bow-hunter and archer. He loves God’s woods, hills, streams and is an earnest supporter of Christian stewardship of the land, the waters, the wildlife, as well as of the body and mind. He is also an artist and in the “hectivity” of today’s living, particularly among the clergy, he finds great peace of mind and soul through his paintbrushes. He has done much to encourage appreciation of the arts among the youth as well as adults, and is at present teaching oil painting to a class of adults in the state-sponsored adult education school on Tuesday evenings. We love good music and in the church here, we have started a good library of audio-visual aid filmstrips, records and books.…

The article “Retarded Children and Christian Concern” was well written … and should be in other magazines for many others to read who do not subscribe to your magazine.…


Potter, Wis.

I thought the article by Dorothy L. Hampton was very good and wish every parent of a retardate could read it. I am the mother of an older retarded daughter and am thankful that my husband and I were able to face and accept this years ago because we had the Christian faith. Mrs. Hampton’s article can be a help and blessing to many distraught parents.


Denver, Colo.

Concerning the Robert Elmore article—how about giving us a practical article on music some day, written by someone who is doing something with music in a church (I wonder what Mr. Elmore does besides play the organ in Bethlehem).


First Baptist Church

Bend, Ore.

• Dr. Elmore is not lacking in practical experience. At the Central Moravian Church of Bethlehem he directs a choir every Sunday. For seventeen years he conducted a cantata or oratorio each week at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. He was also in charge of all choral groups at the University of Pennsylvania.—ED.

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My letter is prompted by Dr. Harold Lind-sell’s recent remarks in his review of [Hoekema’s The Four Major Cults] (Jan. 31 issue).…

I have been a continual subscriber since the first issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY.… I enjoy the strong evangelical emphasis and the fair treatment given to most controversial issues. It disturbs me, however, to see that the attitude of the editors toward Seventh-day Adventists remains as yet unchanged. I feel that with a careful examination of Adventist writings a change of attitude would result. A careful perusal of the writings of Mrs. Ellen G. White helped me to understand the Seventh-day Adventist emphasis as a continuing witness to the evangelical tradition with substantial help in the area of eschatology. Considered in the light of all the existing evidence, I truly believe Adventists stand with the strongest evangelical witnesses of our day.

This conclusion I was forced to make a few years ago when I studied at the feet of evangelical scholars at [a non-Seventh-day Adventist] seminary. During those three years I came to see that the differences between Adventist teaching and basic evangelical theology were almost entirely of an eschatological nature. On the basic doctrines concerning the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, his sinlessness, the authority of the Word of God, salvation by grace alone, the Second Advent, to name only a few points of our common body of truth, we are in essential agreement.

Our differences lie in the realm of eschatology, the investigative judgment, the millennium, the realization of conscious immortality at the final resurrection, the Sabbath, etc.

The name-tag “cult” I have noticed is never applied to other evangelicals with definite eschatological teachings. Often a spirit of charity and open-mindedness is cherished here, even though scholars may take opposite sides on certain questions. Why should Adventists be classified as cultists because of their eschatology?…

I earnestly believe that God is at work today to prepare his people in Christendom for his imminent return. We must continue to pray that we may be divinely led into all truth.



Pacific Union College

Angwin, Calif.


I write … to commend especially the increased serviceability of your annual index (Sept. 27 issue) which is far superior in its depth or breadth of entries over the … indices of earlier years.


First Presbyterian Church

Portville, N. Y.

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