With some distress I report that two people from England have written to Eutychus reflecting a little distress of their own. Some time ago in one of my columns I used the word “blast,” and used it in a normal all-American manner. The text and context in which the word was used apparently set off my English brethren, and they wrote in high dudgeon. They really were serious; one even went so far as to suggest that if CHRISTIANITY TODAY is to succeed in any Christian fashion, such language must be eliminated at the earliest possible date.

I really didn’t know what to do about it but finally had a chance to talk to a British member of the Billy Graham team. He straightened me out, not only on the word “blast,” but also on the word “bloody.” After that enlightening conversation, I know how offended my British readers must have been, and I herewith apologize.

From the American point of view it would be hard to know why an apology was called for, because these words are ordinary coin of the realm with none of the overtones that they carry in Great Britain. My British friend told of a couple of words he had used in front of an American audience which, he said, could easily have been used by the Queen of England or the Archbishop of Canterbury; when I heard the words he had used and the reaction of his audience, I went into a mild shock myself.

I think we have a particular problem between the Americans and the British because we think we talk the same language. As a matter of fact, we highly irritate each other by that assumption. When we are both using the “King’s English” according to Shakespeare or the King James Version, we are not too far apart; but in ordinary speech we give each other fits (in case that is a suitable word). What’s the difference between being level-headed and being flatheaded? How would you like it if I said my wife is a vision and yours is a sight?

All kinds of things divide this weary world. It’s a pity that when we reach out with the best speech we know, we don’t always find each other.


Please accept my very best thanks and high appreciation of your December 18 issue. It was the “richest” in theological nourishment and spiritual meditation that I can remember, although almost all issues are very good. Having been brought up among “Plymouth” Brethren of the strictest (exclusives) sect and being now a convinced Anglo-Catholic, I feel that I can give a very balanced appraisal.

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Trinity Cathedral

Easton, Md.

Canon Emeritus


I want to commend you for publishing the article, “The Jews and the Crucifixion,” by George H. Stevens (Dec. 18 issue).

You have done a great service to Christendom as well as to the Jewish people by it. I wish that all news media would copy it and thus help repudiate an old libel which is contrary to Bible truth and historic facts.

To the convincing arguments of said article I wish to add that Jesus himself had refuted that libel by his prediction as to who would kill him; according to Matthew 20:18, 19; Mark 10:33, 34; Luke 18:31–34, Christ predicted that the Gentiles would kill him. He did not mention “the Jews,” but only their rulers (whom the Jews disliked) who would deliver him to the Gentiles. His testimony cannot be controverted. Another point: “The Jews” (with few exceptions) were fast asleep when the trial and execution of Christ took place. Had they known what was going on there at Calvary they would have immediately come to his rescue, as they had always shielded him against his few adversaries.


International Board of Jewish Missions, Inc. Atlanta, Ga.


I would like to express my appreciation for the timely publication of the Adler Planetarium article, “What Was the Star of Bethlehem?” (Dec. 18 issue).

Readers who are interested in pursuing the subject further can consult Jack Finegan’s Handbook of Biblical Chronology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1964, pp. 215–59). Professor Finegan’s detailed and documented discussion is basically in agreement with the Adler article.

The article, however, said that there was no record of a comet between 11 B.C. and 4 B.C. From John Williams’s Observation of Comets from B.C. 611 to A.D. 1640 Extracted from the Chinese Accounts Finegan cites one comet, No. 52, which appeared in this period. It appeared in the constellation Capricorn in March of 5 B.C. and was visible for more than seventy days. The comet of 4 B.C. appeared in the constellation Aquila in April of that year.

The first comet is called a hui hsing or “sweeping star.” Knut Lundmark (“The Messianic Ideas and Their Astronomical Background,” in Actes du VIIe Congrès International d’Histoire des Sciences [August 4–12, 1953], pp. 436–39, cited by Finegan) believes that this may have been a nova.

The second comet is called a po hsing or “tailless comet,” i.e., a comet in line with the earth and sun so that its tail is not visible. With more justification than in the former case, we may entertain the possibility that this was a nova.

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Finegan agrees with the Adler article that the conjunction of planets would have directed the attention of the Magi to Palestine in 7–6 B.C. But on the basis of the above evidence he then concludes: “The comets (or novae) of 5 and 4 B.C. could be the astronomical phenomenon back of the account of the Star of Bethlehem. The comet of March of 5 B.C. could have started the Magi on their journey. They must have reached Judea before the death of Herod which fell between Mar. 12 and Apr. 11. 4 B.C. The comet of April of 4 B.C. could have been shining at that time.… Perhaps a date for the birth of Jesus sometime in the winter of 5/4 B.C. best satisfies all the available evidence.”

History Dept.

Rutgers—The State University

New Brunswick, N. J.

Any planet, planets, or comet remaining at their millions of miles distance, even if they could move, could not do so in relation to that short six miles. Certainly it could not be said that they “stood over the house where the young child was”!…

This “star,” small enough and close enough to do the directing job, could still have been a “sign” in the east.…

Why can’t we be consistent with the rest of the Scriptures? Why exclude the well-known “Shekinah” which variously appears as “a fire,” “a cloud,” “a bright cloud,” “pillar of cloud,” “glory of the Lord,” “bright light,” and so on?

Church of Christ

Wellington, Ohio


It is good to see evangelical scholarship coming to grips with the issues raised by Mr. Morton’s application of the digital computer to appraise the style of Paul’s letters (Dec. 4 issue). The article … raises good objections to Morton’s conclusions. Such a priori considerations should open the door for a hearing of the evangelical viewpoint. Our next step is to show that these grounds are a valid model of reality; and this can be done by further application of the computer in the hands of evangelical scholars.

The powerful machines of modern industry supplement human muscles by manipulating things with great speed, power, and precision. Similarly, digital computers supplement human minds by manipulating symbols with great speed, patience, and precision. That is why digital computers, properly programmed, can perform mathematical, logical, and linguistic operations. Such a vast field of potential applications indicates that the digital computer can be applied profitably to studies which are relevant to theology. Several examples come to mind.

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A promising use of the computer in the analysis of the syntactical structure of the New Testament would be to provide the statistics for a new type of grammar of New Testament Greek. Dr. Henry R. Moeller describes the need for such a grammar, whose presentation would be modified by structural statistics. (See his “An Approach to the Greek Reading Problem Based on Structural Statistics” in the Bulletin of the Evangelical Theological Society, Vol. 3. No. 2, pp. 45–51.)

A more familiar application of the digital computer is the making of concordances. This use of the computer made possible the prompt publication of a concordance to the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. A concordance for the works of Thomas Aquinas will soon be completed. Concordances to the writings of Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, and Karl Barth would be valuable aids to theological studies; and they could be produced by digital computers. The computer can rapidly examine a manuscript and evaluate its correlation to a standard text, thereby accelerating the study of the textual families which underlie the text of Scripture.

The language-handling abilities of computer programs may soon advance to the point where they can aid the Christian missionary who is reducing a tribal language to writing. Word frequency counts and structural statistics would provide the basis for a pedagogically sound method of teaching the language. The computer may become able to expedite the translation of large portions of Scripture, by rapidly producing tentative translations for the missionary to improve until they are ready for publication.…

More mundane uses of computers consist of scheduling classes and examinations to minimize conflicts, and to record and update administrative records. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association uses a computer to update its extensive mailing list; about 50,000 address changes per month are made.

Many of our seminaries are located near computing centers, or at least near universities which have computers. Time on these machines can be purchased at rates which are nominal for the vast amount of work that is done. I hope that evangelical scholars will make good use of these facilities, and show the secular world that the computer can be used for the glory of God.

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Liverpool, N. Y.


I trust you are not overly disturbed over some criticism of your much needed reporting concerning “Presbyterians Draft New Confession” (Oct. 23 issue).…

While I have serious doubts that protests will do more than temporarily hold up a formal statement, you have done a brave and conscientious bit of reporting, letting the chips fall where they may. It is a shame that the rank and file of this denomination are not readers of CHRISTIANITY TODAY. Few are aware of what is going on behind the scene, and they are not being told by their pastors.…

Be encouraged for your stand, and let no ecclesiastical power turn you for a moment from the truth as you know it.…

Havertown, Pa.

I think you owe the United Presbyterian Church, in general, and Professor Dowey, in particular, a sincere apology. Otherwise, I must conclude that CHRISTIANITY TODAY ranks with those minor smear journals to whom one dares not comment in any fashion for fear the truth will be deliberately distorted.…

First Presbyterian

Poughkeepsie, N. Y.


John Lawing’s poignant cartoon, What If … (Eutychus, Nov. 20 issue), was reminiscent of those pleasant moments together with him in seminary when during the course of a lecture his spontaneous cartoons would surreptitiously float around the classroom to sharpen up a delicate point of theology being discussed by the lecturer. I cannot say that comprehension necessarily excelled as the result of his cutting wit, but there was never any question that classroom morale always soared to new heights! For my part, Eutychus could do well to adopt a worthy brother into his clan. Rockford, Ill.

• CHRISTIANITY TODAY is pleased to announce that John Lawing’s cartoons will continue to appear as a regular feature of the magazine.—ED.



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Presbyterian Church in Canada

Thorndale, Ont.


Bishop Gerald Kennedy has a point about panels and Hal Luccock about a need for direct answers to urgent questions, but what does Eutychus II (Dec. 4 issue) think about Jesus’ question, “And who do you say that I am?” (The form of my question is intentional.) Has Eutychus II noticed how many times Jesus asked questions of those who questioned him? “What do you read in the law?” “Which was neighbor to the man?” Teachers do not always ask the opinion of their students because they have run out of material. They ask questions to try to start a process of thought, to arouse the desire to know, or to awaken the knowledge of need.…

In our zeal for the Gospel of Christ we sometimes give the answers without our hearers having ever asked any questions.

Rockville, Md.

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