PLATITUDES, NEW AND OLD
I think it is Look magazine that has part of a page designated “for women only,” which, of course, is the best way in the world to get the men to read it. I am more serious. What follows is for preachers only, and I hope the laymen will turn their heads to one side and maybe drop them just a little in shame.
Let me quote from a very observant dean of women back from a convention. She asked me if I knew Dr. So-and-So, a man of considerable fame across the Church, and I said I did. “It was a funny thing,” she said. “I knew he was in the crowd long before I saw him. Like any great preacher he was laughing louder and just a little bit sooner than everybody else. And he had something to say on every single topic.”
What an awful thing to say—especially since it has so much truth in it. Preachers get so used to having people listen to them that they begin to think everything they say is worth listening to. And if anybody wants to succeed in the profession, he has to try very hard to laugh heartily.
In a restaurant recently I was within earshot of a table filled with ladies and one preacher replete with rosy cheeks and a backwards collar. He was sounding off, primarily on psychology (you can’t make it today if you can’t make the right sounds on psychology). He tickled me with his entering ploy, “I do not pretend to be acquainted in this area,” after which he went on in the area to show how smart he was.
Everyone is picking up the lingo from the operating room now, too—“she had surgery,” “she went into surgery,” and the like. If these words are said with proper mien, a great deal of wisdom accumulates around the speaker. (Did you hear about the doctor who flunked his TV test and had to become a general practitioner?) Everybody has “violent” headaches or is “under” psychiatric care, and soon the effort to be different ends up in the platitudinous.
If you will excuse me now, I have just been co-opted to an ad hoc committee.
LINCOLN CALLED IT BONDAGE
Thank you for the excellent editorial in the April 24 issue entitled “Abstinence Makes Sense,” as indeed it does when presented with the objectivity, simplicity, and candor with which you wrote.
It is sad, by contrast, to find the subject so casually dealt with if not completely ignored by other church publications which profess great concern for human welfare and for the social applications of the Gospel. And there is a bit of grim humor in the fact that the same social actionists who, alluding to alcohol, insist that “You can’t legislate morals!” are in the thick of the fight to legislate racial justice. Personally I think we should, as Christian citizens, be doing just that. It is the inconsistent timorousness about our Christian responsibility in the matter of alcohol which makes one wonder, and mourn.
Perhaps your editorial will help to rid us of our embarrassment and to get us back into the struggle to liberate literally millions of God’s children from what Abraham Lincoln called a bondage worse than (Negro) slavery. It would be a pity if the Church were unable to summon the courage and the common sense to become involved again, until as in the case of cigarettes the medical profession should make our concern “respectable.” The case against alcohol is so much more serious, and obvious, for anyone who will come at it with the frankness which your editorial displays.
JOHN M. GORDON
First Presbyterian Church
With a specious claim that things are different now you ignore the biblical message of temperance and substitute your own of abstinence. Men have been suffering from the ill effects of alcohol since the dawn of recorded history. The scriptural position fully recognizes this evil. Yet the solution is temperance. Man is to enjoy the fruit of the earth. But it is easier to say abstain from all enjoyment thereof than risk excess indulgence. Likewise it is easier to conceive of Jesus as God or as man rather than as “very God and very man.” But it is not scriptural. On the matter of drinking, unwilling to follow Scripture, you ignore it as inadequate and unworkable and seek to impose upon it what you think is an improvement.
Thus your “reasonable and safe solution” “to the glory of God” is not a Christian solution (which would be along the lines of a biblical treatment of temperance) and is unworthy of you and your magazine. North Hills, Pa.
DAVID C. LACHMAN
A very effective presentation of this subject and one which many people should read.…
LEWIS C. BERGER
The Temperance League of Ohio, Inc.
There is one fact … that we should not overlook in dealing with humanity: man has a colossal resistance to the truth. People know better than they do. This is true of all of us.
It seems to be an inborn nature that causes us to put up such a terrific resistance to the entrance of the truth into our minds. You can tell people about the danger of dope and drink and cigarettes, and yet they will keep on using them.
There is plenty of good advice in the world to save the world. There are enough sermons preached each year to convert the whole world. But little heed is often paid to this good advice. If truth is palatable, we swallow it, but if it interferes with our pleasure, we ignore it.… As Abraham Lincoln put it, “Liquor has many defenders, but no defense.” The truth is on the other side.…
ROBERT L. ROBERTS
McKinley Park Presbyterian Church
It is one of the most concise statements of the “drink” question from all angles that I have seen.…
H. L. WOODWARD
Costa Mesa, Calif.
WELL ANYWAY, WE’RE EDUCATED
Ignorance of basic Mormon concepts is not confined to the uneducated. A case in point is your report on the religious exhibits of the World’s Fair (News, Apr. 24 issue), where it is stated that the Latter-day Saint pavilion features a replica “of the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.”
For a church which recently passed the two-million mark, there are thousands of meeting houses, of which the Salt Lake City tabernacle is one. What the pavilion features, however, is the Salt Lake Temple. There are but twelve temples in operation, where special ceremonies, including the scriptural baptism for the dead, take place.
RICHARD L. ANDERSON
Prof. of History and Religion
Brigham Young University
I belong to the “one in seven” that hastens to point out a grievous fault in Roberson’s article (Apr. 24 issue) on the decline of “liberalism.” Never once does he tell us what he is talking about. He does not say whether he means the extreme humanism of Unitarians who refuse to be classed as Christians, or whether he means the eloquent and convincing statements of Harry Emerson Fosdick, minister to all America for a generation. There is all the difference in the world!
Both Roberson’s article and your editorial on it are far too complacent and optimistic about the take-over by “evangelical Christianity,” so-called. I do not get this impression at all. The exceptional response to Bishop Robinson’s Honest to God (whose premises I do not accept) does not warrant your complacent conclusions.
The recent death of John Haynes Holmes reminds us that the religious movement in the past fifty years that has produced great hymns has been the liberal faith—not orthodoxy, neo or otherwise. Whether you can sing your religion or not is a pretty sound test of its validity. The truly great hymns of recent times have not been inspired by evangelical Christianity.…
CLARENCE F. AVEY
The best down-to-earth, pulpit-to-pew analysis of liberalism ever printed—reflective, challenging, short, and thought-provoking.
WM. A. LAWRENCE
El Paso, Tex.
I enjoy your magazine, but I sometimes wonder what would happen to it if there were suddenly no more liberals. The one thing that will continue to give survival to liberals is the sweetness of being able to read their books and articles without any reference to what they are against.
Jesus fought the Pharisees. But today’s liberals hardly fit into their shoes. If the liberals are wrong (and I’m sure they are as we all are in so many places), then let us as conservative Christians go deeper into the Word and truth to satisfy the craving minds of today, rather than throw stones at those who are at least giving an appearance of trying to do this very thing.
First Baptist Church
It is interesting to note that in his comments on Mr. Daane’s article Mr. Lewis (Eutychus, Apr. 24 issue) follows his unbelieving predecessors in fulfilling Scripture while attempting to overthrow the Truth.
He says, “Why a loving God and father should demand such a bloody and cruel sacrifice of his only child, remains to me incomprehensible.”
The Scripture says, “We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock … but he that believeth on him shall not be confounded”.…
It is only the disobedience of unbelief which turns history into “pure fiction” and the love of God into a piece of “incomprehensible” ill logic. But if Mr. Lewis is disposed to solve religious problems by means of unbelieving logic, let him try to understand how the author of a so-called “violent anti-Semitic article” can put his ultimate faith and love in a crucified Jew.
PAUL H. SEELY
WE’RE GLAD TOO
Yesterday my first copy of CHRISTIANITY TODAY arrived, dated April 10. To my way of thinking, if all the pages had been blank except the one on which is found Portia Martin’s poem, “Like As the Hart,” I still would have gotten a good bargain! Poetry of this caliber is not easy to come by.…
Glad, incidentally, that the rest of the pages were not blank!
R. OTIS NICHOLSON
First Baptist Church
I … must write to chide your eager reporter about his write-up of the recent Billy Graham meeting in Birmingham (News, Apr. 24 issue). Or maybe I should compliment the man.
The burr that sticks is his reference to the Negro people being bombed often by their white (Birmingham) neighbors. Does the reporter know for sure that the bombers were (1) white? or (2) residents of Birmingham? If he does, he knows who they are. I have quite a few kin in Birmingham who would not mind at all if the reporter would turn the names over to the local police and to the FBI, who really need the help.
You may have noted that the bomber recently convicted in Florida was not from the South at all; as 1 recall, he was from Indiana.
HAL D. BENNETT
Baptist Bible Institute
A CASE OF IDENTITY
My report on “Open Grave” (News, Apr. 10 issue) referred to a book as The Brook Kidron. The book I really meant was The Brook Kerith, by George Moore.
Comments contained in Chaplain Escobar’s letter (Mar. 27 issue) concerning Dr. Lindsell’s review of The Four Major Cults, by Dr. Hoekema, most certainly call for a rebuttal!
Is it true that Seventh-day Adventist theology is in “essential agreement” with evangelicals on the doctrines as noted by Chaplain Escobar?…
Would evangelicals subscribe to an article appearing in the Review and Herald (May 11, 1961, issue) authored by R. R. Figuhr, president of the General Conference, entitled “God’s Best Gift to His Church Today”—the “Best Gift”? Mrs. Ellen G. White? Is our Lord Jesus Christ dethroned?…
The new birth, SDA-interpretation, is lawkeeping, in the final analysis meaning Sabbath-keeping. “… and they hallow His Sabbath. In this act they identify themselves with God’s power to create and recreate in His likeness” (Dimensions in Salvation, W. R. Beach). From another Review and Herald publication: “… the Sabbath … is God’s own appointed sign of redemption and sanctification … the symbol of the new birth …” (God Speaks to Modern Man, Arthur E. Lickey, p. 419). “… this faith in Christ … the mark of this faith will be a meaningful observance of the seventh-day Sabbath” (“The Mark of God’s True People,” Review and Herald, Aug. 9, 1962).
The Sabbath is even substituted for the Blood! And I quote with the minimum of ellipses, for emphasis;
“But that the Sabbath is inseparable from the sealing work is clear.… A mark is placed upon every one of God’s people just as verily as a mark was placed over the doors of the Hebrew dwellings, to preserve the people from the general ruin. God declares, ‘I gave them my Sabbaths.…’ … what is the seal of the living God, which is placed in the foreheads of His people? It is a mark which angels, but not human eyes, can read; for the destroying angel must see this mark of redemption.… Those who would have the seal of God in their foreheads must keep the Sabbath of the fourth commandment …” (Review and Herald, Aug. 10, 1961, p. 9).
Do SDAs really believe in the authority of God’s Word as evangelicals do? This most surely bears scrutiny. An editorial in the Review and Herald, April 27, 1961, p. 3, admonishes: “Brethren and sisters, God has demonstrated His love for the church by placing in its midst the prophetic gift [Mrs. E. G. White]. If we prize the counsel given, we shall be protected against the wiles of the enemy.… Let us read these inspired writings, walk in the precious light revealed in them, and encourage others to rest their faith on a ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ ” Likewise, it is asked “If we neglect these books [Mrs. White’s testimonies] how can we be saved?” (Review and Herald, Sept. 27, 1962)!
As Dr. Hoekema has stated concerning the cults, they have “a ‘Bible in the left hand’ which actually supersedes the Bible in the right hand” (The Four Major Cults, p. 378). Anyone with even a casual acquaintance with SDA theology is all too aware of the exalted place Mrs. White and her “inspired” (to SDAs) writings hold within the very structure of SDAism. Seventh-day Adventism emphatically states; “No church without this gift [Mrs. E. G. White] could rightly claim to be God’s true church” (Review and Herald, Dec. 10, 1959).
West New York, N. J.
We believe that Jesus Christ is supreme and the “best gift to His church.” Certainly Mrs. White is not made to dethrone the Lord Jesus Christ.…
ARTHUR J. ESCOBAR
Pacific Union College
I can understand how it happened, but your news story headed “Persecution: Twentieth-Century Style” in the April 10 issue rests upon unfounded assumptions. I have no evidence at all, save the press report of a troubled student’s statement to police, that the young people who recently tormented my family were in fact motivated by religious prejudice.
Even if so, it should not be called persecution, for that is a vice reserved for persons in authority. Students cannot “persecute” professors, though some of mine would testify that at examination time, anyhow, it works the other way.
This is a people’s university, a great one, and a free one, open to persons of every religious belief and none. I have not, therefore, ever uttered a word of prayer in classes here. Courtesy would forbid it, even if the law does not.
If Christianity fails to thrive in free institutions, the fault will lie with Christians. I think, not with freedom.
TIMOTHY L. SMITH
Assoc. Prof. of History and Education
University of Minnesota
ENLARGE THE VISION
On the back page of your March 13 issue … another translation of the New Testament in English was introduced. The English-speaking peoples are benefiting greatly from the many Bible scholars who are devoting years of labor to produce readable and understandable translations of God’s Word for this generation.…
As missionary organizations advance into unreached areas, additional unknown languages are found. The many translations in English have contributed greatly to the understanding of God’s message in this generation. They have also been a great help to those who are doing Bible translation in other languages. Now, however, I think it is time that Christian scholarship enlarge its vision and put a missionary emphasis on translation.
Even though it would not be possible for most New Testament scholars to go prepare a translation for one of these linguistic groups, I do believe that some of them could make a valuable contribution to this translation program. They could prepare helps for those doing the translation.
Good commentaries on the books of the New Testament continue to be published, but these commentaries do not answer many of the problems raised when translating the New Testament into non-Indo-European languages. Each language has its own set of grammatical and lexical requirements that demand the translator to render explicit many things which are only implied in the New Testament. These present a real problem.
These scholars could make an invaluable contribution if they would familiarize themselves with the problems associated with this type of Bible translation and then write commentaries directed to these problems. I am sure the benefits would be many. They would not only be contributing to a badly needed field; but their own understanding would be extended since they would be forced to answer questions never before proposed. The layman, pastor, and theologian could also benefit from these publications.
JOHN R. ALSOP
Wycliffe Bible Translators
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