A recent publication for young people reported on a prayer in which the man praying informed God, or perhaps informed the audience, about the new theological discoveries of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in which that great and devout Christian, who has done so much to stir young people to greater commitment, was making his usual plea for the relevance of Christianity to the affairs of this world. What made the prayer bothersome, besides its general air of smartiness, was that our young bright pray-er was so insistent on one part of Bonhoeffer that he lost the main point.

The big thing now apparently is to get our young people to break away from “religion.” The smart thing now, even according to this clever pray-er, is to walk away from everything the ages have clung to regarding our holy faith, and to walk away from any organization that might appear “religious,” and to lose oneself in the world as it is; for everybody knows that the world is where Christ is really at work and that one is being most religious when he is most worldly. We are to act as if God doesn’t exist, they tell us. In my opinion this is a pretty fancy way to get at this Christian business; but this is the way it goes now, and anyone who is anyone these days just has to work away at this idea.

Far be it from me to urge irrelevancy in Christian matters, but it seems to me that when God made himself most relevant by way of the incarnation he did so within the whole list of controls, such as having Jesus come in the fullness of time. I recall that “not one jot nor one tittle” of the law was to pass away. It is true, is it not, that the rich young ruler was allowed to turn away sorrowfully? Doesn’t the Sermon on the Mount conclude by urging us to hear the words and do them as if the words really mattered, and so on? Christianity is relevant to the world only if the world asks the right question, namely, “What must I do to be saved?”—not “How can I do as I please?” Part of the assignment of our holy faith is to teach the right questions to which Christianity has the right answers.

Otherwise we are casting our pearls before swine, and one does not have to be “judgmental” to tell the difference between pearls and swine.


I would like to express my appreciation for your periodical and for the interesting article, “Ruins of the Seven Churches,” by Thomas Cosmades (Dec. 4 issue).

Two minor points call for comment. The writer says, “The name ‘Croesus,’ that of the last Lydian king, was adopted for the Greek word, ‘gold.’ ” It is not possible to derive the word for gold, khrusos, from the name Croesus, Kroisos, the Lydian king of the sixth century B.C. The words for gold, kuruso, and for golden, kurusoyo, were already in use in the fourteenth century B.C. in the Mycenaean Greek (Linear B) tablets from Pylos. It was undoubtedly a Semitic loan word; the Akkadian word for gold is khuratsu and the Hebrew word, kharuts.

Article continues below

The writer is quite justified in saying, “Sardis was probably the first city to use coined money.…” The invention of coinage is usually attributed to Gyges of Lydia (c. 687–652 B.C.), and our earliest coins to date are from Lydia. There is a literary tradition, however, that Midas, the king of Phrygia, had struck coins even earlier. It is of interest to note that Midas exchanged emissaries with Sargon (722–06), the king of Assyria. Sargon’s successor, Sennacherib (705–682), in referring to the casting of huge bronze lions and bulls by the cire perdue or “melted clay” process (known from the early third millennium in Mesopotamia), wrote: “I built a form of clay and poured bronze into it, as in making half-shekel pieces.…” Pieces of silver, stamped with the head of Shamash, were used in the time of Hammurabi (eighteenth century B.C.). The derivation of the terms for the Greek coins, siglos and mna, from the Mesopotamian weights, shekel and mina, also points to the priority of Mesopotamia in development of coins.

Assistant Professor of History

Rutgers—The State University

New Brunswick, N. J.


Re the challenging editorial, “How to Compute a Minister’s Salary” (Dec. 4 issue): More preachers should preach, at periodic and strategic intervals, on the text: “Even so did the Lord ordain that they that proclaim the Gospel should live of the Gospel”.… Most of the church-goers never hear anything about pastoral support except when the preacher, goaded to desperation with unpaid bills, hurls an acrimonious diatribe at the parishioners’ heads because his salary is in arrears.…

Port Charlotte, Fla.


“The Ecumenical Movement Threatens Protestantism,” by Henry A. Buchanan and Bob W. Brown (Nov. 20 issue), presents a very mistaken caricature of the ecumenical movement and a very unedifying interpretation of Protestantism.…

St. Paul’s Methodist Church

Idaho Falls, Idaho

The legacy of the Reformation was not that there should be the variety of churches and sects that exist in our world today, but only that there should be freedom to express diversity. While there is indeed a great need for this freedom and difference of opinions, it still remains that the divided Church, splintered into so many fragmented pieces so that the voice of Christ in the world has become muffled, is a sin.…

Article continues below

Pacific Ave. Methodist Church

Glendale, Calif.

When your authors say, “When the Roman Catholic Church talks about religious liberty, it is talking about the right to preach and practice Catholicism in Communist countries such as Poland,” it is obvious that they don’t even read the newspapers, where they could have learned that the Vatican Council is talking about religious liberty in the same sense the “Baptists” are talking about it.…

Dept, of Bible and Philosophy

Westminster College

New Wilmington, Pa.

One of the tragedies of such a line of thought … is that [the authors] and others may close their minds to the unlimited possibilities for various denominations in dialogue as they together explore the Scriptures and seek to know God’s will. Whether or not the Roman Catholic Church will learn from the Protestant ecumenical movement (just as it seems now to be learning from the Protestant Reformation) that a united church may have diversity of expressions along with a core of conviction will, of course, be their decision.…

First Christian Church

Winterset, Iowa

There was a time when for all practical purposes (if we ignore the Hussite and Waldensian movements) there was one ecumenical Church, and that was in the period just before Luther upset the applecart through his Reformation movement. I believe historians often refer to the period before the Reformation as the “Dark Ages.” I wonder if there’s any connection between what this name implies and that there was but one Church at the time.

Grace Lutheran Church

Everett, Wash.


The [editorial] “Are the Churches Coddling Atheists?” (Nov. 20 issue) reflects sloppy analysis: The statement [said] that 1 per cent of the Congregationalists were atheists, and then proceeded to use membership figures for the United Church of Christ. This discrepancy would amount to some 8,000 atheists.

St. John’s United Church of Christ Chicago, Ill.

Atheism is a relative term—relative to the concept of God being rejected. In terms of your concept or some of the “orthodox” (whatever that means) groups which you name, I might well be classified as an atheist, being unable to believe in your concept of God. It strikes me that Jesus was accused of the same thing by the self-styled orthodox of his day. Was this not the significance of the term so liberally applied to him—“blasphemer”?…

Article continues below

The United Church of Christ Rapid City, S. D.


In the November 20 issue Eutychus II quotes Robert Frost a bit carelessly. Home isn’t where they “have to let you in,” but rather “have to take you in.”

More serious than this error is the fact that Frost does not seem to consider the words lifted by Eutychus II to be the best definition of home. Frost has Warren’s definition immediately altered by his wife: “I should have called it: Something you somehow haven’t to deserve.” This second definition is much more effective in view of Eutychus’s reference to the parable of the prodigal son.

Wesleyan College

Macon, Ga.

Assoc. Prof. of Religion


Clyde C. Hall … has given all the answers (“But Where Is the Substance?,” Nov. 6 issue)—now to form a perfect Church.

Last Sunday, the bishop of the diocese met the board of management of the local church. One of our experienced laymen let the bishop know that a large percentage of his clergy could not run a successful lunch counter. The bishop made the significant remark, “We have only the laity to recruit from for the fulltime work of the Church.”

Mr. Hall’s article is extremely cynical, and is short in proclaiming the love of God. “Why don’t they exclude from the church’s fellowship anyone who does not pledge to respond immediately to their call for help?” This Sons of Thunder attitude would not impress our people, and the Man of Galilee might give the same answer which he gave to the Sons of Thunder.… The fellowship of the living Son of God is not “exclusive” but “inclusive,” and the cement is the power of the Holy Spirit. It is so hard to fit in these qualities, the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—with the imperative of Mr. Hall: exclude!

Trinity Church

(Anglican Church of Canada)

Simcoe, Ont.

His article gives evidence that he still dwells in the musty reaches of self-righteousness—that he is not aware of the awe and wonder, the joy and satisfaction that come from sharing Christ. My reaction was—how sad, how very sad that Mr. Hall, for all of his dedication to outward activity, not to have had the thrill of being found of Christ in the beauty of worship, of being filled with Christ in the wonder of the Eucharist, of being involved with Christ in his healing activity in the life of his body the Church. How sad!

I do not know Mr. Hall’s pastor, but I am certain that if he is like most of the honest, diligent, expectant, and concerned men of all denominations that I meet in my ministry, he is Christ’s ambassador in Mr. Hall’s community. Mr. Hall’s criticism of the “edifice complex” gives seeming blessing to the penny-pinching, worship-barren attitudes of many so-called evangelicals. The Church does not need fewer or less beautiful places of public worship. She needs more and finer houses where men can be refurbished to creatively meet the changing world in the power of Jesus Christ.…

Article continues below

Trinity Lutheran Church

Evanston, Ill.

As one who has, for a few years at least, been observing the widespread superficiality of the American Protestant church, I find myself in complete accord with Mr. Hall’s perspective.…

Over the past four years two verses of Scripture have become etched upon my heart and mind as those which epitomize the judgment which the Word of God extends over this lack of “substance” within the Church. Though both were written to Christian brethren of other times and circumstances, they speak, I believe, to the Church today in its widespread failure to understand and accept the full implications of the Gospel. In the first Paul reminds us that we “have been granted the privilege not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for him” (Phil. 1:29, NEB). In the second, Paul admonishes us (and particularly Americans, I would think) to seek true understanding concerning the nature of freedom: “You were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another” (Gal. 5:13, RSV). May God’s Spirit speak to our hearts in this generation to the end that we are led to see through his Word that without the willingness to suffer for his sake the joy of full commitment will never be known, and without the willingness to become servants for him the Christian can never be truly free.

Beverly Heights United Presbyterian

Pittsburgh, Pa.

Why are so many of our Baptist pastors afraid to fill their pulpits with supplies either on a par with or of greater stature than themselves? Too long have many of our Baptist congregations suffered at the hands of either incompetent or inexperienced preachers, while our own pastor is on vacation or filling another pulpit during a revival.…

Could it be that these preachers are afraid to have one better than themselves fill their pulpits for fear of losing them or [having] their congregations discover that they have been feeding on husks?…

Article continues below

New Orleans, La.


In reading the Protestant-Catholic dialogue articles (Oct. 23 issue) I felt the same incompleteness as I feel here in some of our discussions (excluding the very meaningful Protestant-Catholic dialogue we have monthly). We are talking about the “other side,” but only to ourselves and not with “them.” Missing was an article or two from some leading Roman Catholic theologians presenting their views.…

Even better would be a verbatim dialogue between … leading [Protestant and] Roman Catholic thinkers, much like you have had in previous issues.

Cardinal Cushing’s open and fearless support of Billy Graham in Boston is certainly an example for us to follow if we dare.

Fort Knox, Ky.

Chaplain, USAR

May I express my appreciation for the whole issue and for “Return to Regensburg” … in particular.…

The section on dialogue was especially welcome to me because it expressed certain currents of thought on the subject that I had not heard before. Catholic theology students get fair exposure to the Reformation fathers, liberal Protestantism, and neo-orthodoxy, but little enough is heard about current conservative Protestant thought.…

Dr. Singer is surely mistaken when he calls the traditional Thomists Gilson and Maritain the leaders of the “so-called Christian existentialism” which he fears. I share his uneasiness, but these Catholic avant-garde march under the banners of Marcel, Heidegger, and Fromm, not of Gilson or Maritain, regardless of the prominence these later give esse in their metaphysics. Singer seems unduly pessimistic about the emergence of Catholic ecumenical theology as a threat to evangelical Protestantism. Rather, liberal Protestantism is threatened. The recent increase of Orthodox participation and the entrance of Rome into the ecumenical dialogue threatens to take the leadership from the hands of the liberals. On the basic issues of Christian faith and theology—the Trinity, Christology, the inspiration of Scripture, gratuitous salvation by the grace of Christ, and so on—the liberals will face a fairly tight consensus held by Orthodox, Catholics, and fundamentalist, conservative, and many neo-orthodox Protestants.

May I suggest that Charles Bolton’s article strikes the Catholic as a preposterous nightmare.

Saint Mary’s College

St. Mary’s, Kan.

I am moved to one thought about ecumenical relations. As long as the dialogue and relationships remain on the upper echelons only, I wonder if they are of any real value or significance?

Article continues below

Recently the conference minister of our denomination was invited, along with the executives of other leading denominations in the state, to the installation of the new president of the synod of another church group. This marked the first time this had happened, and all were treated with the utmost courtesy. But in the meantime the clergy of this particular denomination, apart from no cooperation on the local level even to writing meditations in the local paper, do not even give the civilities of daily living to ministers of other denominations. The Roman Catholic priest, however, is not only willing to speak to us but courteous and cooperative.

First Congregational Church

Weeping Water, Neb.

The current ecumenical dialogue could not help but profit by observing closely the way the word “church” is being handled. When we speak of the Roman Catholic Church, … the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, the Church of God (Anderson, Ind., or Cleveland, Tenn.), the Christian Church (Disciples or non-cooperative), we are talking about an entity which cannot possibly be identified with the ekklesia of first-century Greece.

Our modern denominations and sects, no matter how ancient and august or how new and unrespectable, do not deserve the title church. If we reserved the word for local congregations and for the universal body of Christ, we might reap two benefits. First, we might be humbled enough to realize that our “churches” are nothing but schisms in the one Church. Second, we might realize that two sects plus a denomination do not necessarily equal the Church. The sum may simply be a bigger denomination.…

Prof. of Philosophy and Religion

Southeastern Christian College

Winchester, Ky.

Did not somebody … foul up Sasse’s article in the passage where he speaks about Loisy? It is not true that Loisy’s “language … remained strictly within the limits of Catholic dogma.” But Révérend Père M.-J. Lagrange’s language did, and even his faith (cf. his M. Loisy et le modernisme, 1932; etc.); Lagrange of Jerusalem, of course. Alger, Algeria

• Yes.—ED.

So far as I know, yours is the only magazine rendering such a needed service on the Protestant-Catholic dialogue.…

The Methodist Church

Lakeland, Fla. Ret. Bishop


With tense interest I have read your two surveys (Sept. 11 and 25 issues) of the European theological scene. I was amazed how much up to the point and in what lively manner your characterization of the development was written.

University of Hamburg

Article continues below

Hamburg, Germany

I really don’t understand the thinking processes of some of these “theologians.” Theology becomes a process of setting up a theory of Christianity that is swallowed for awhile, but along comes another and takes its place and so on, and so on. Meanwhile, people who are called “conservatives” or “evangelicals” or “fundamentalists” and who believe the Bible … go right on getting peoples’ lives changed from doing evil things to doing good things. Is not the proof of the pudding, in the pudding?

St. Elmo Presbyterian

Chattanooga, Tenn.

The “renewal” Protestantism so desperately needs is not confined to any one segment. It must penetrate each denomination and each local congregation.

Norman, Okla.

Let me hear more about American preachers who have kept the church alive and less about the “Holy B’s”—Barth, Brunner, and Bultmann. Dig up some theologians who can answer a simple question with simple language.

Calvary Baptist Church

Chester, Pa.

As interesting as were the comments regarding the Bultmann-Barth-Tillich religio-philosophical arguments, my only reaction was, “What futility!” …

Chicago, Ill.

This helped put things in perspective. Since studying some of Bultmann’s writings this past year as part of my work toward my master’s degree, I have been concerned with his influence. No one I have studied has bothered me more than Bultmann. He certainly doesn’t write about the same Lord I worship and serve.…

Decatur, Ga.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.