Open season on God-slayers

Know Your Ropes

Do you know what Harvey Cox says about Rudolph Bultmann in The Secular City: “He fails to reach the man of today because he translates the Bible from mythical language into metaphysical rather than into today’s post-metaphysical lexicon” (page 252). How would you like to get off a sentence like that? It sort of gets you.

It also reminds me of something Bishop J. A. T. Robinson wrote in the Listener for February 21, 1963: “… the besetting sin of the radical is self-righteousness as complacency is of the conformist, and ruthlessness of the revolutionary.” I think that is a pretty fine sentence, and the more I think of it the more correct it seems to be; but it leaves something out, namely, the self-assurance of some of the things Cox says in The Secular City, and a whole lot more of the same self-assurance that I keep finding in the new theology and new morality writers. How do these men know so much? How can they be so sure? Wouldn’t it be awful if they found themselves classified as conformists when Bishop Robinson himself defines the “complacency of the conformist”?

Two days ago I was looking up something in our unabridged dictionary and fell into the usual trap of being caught by illustrations and definitions of all sorts of words that I had had no intention of reading about. I stumbled on a whole page on ships, and to my amazement I discovered that there were 167 parts on a sailing ship. Being an able-bodied seaman apparently demanded a whole lot more than I ever thought it did. It might take years for a young fellow to learn the ropes, and not many people around him would be safe until he had or until somebody else had. If you don’t like sailing ships, look up the word “apple”; it will take you a week just to learn the names of the different kinds of apples, let alone any skill in growing them.

So what do we have today? Barth is wrong for Bultmann. Bultmann doesn’t come up to Bonhoeffer. Robinson from “up there” looks down in judgment on all three of them. And so we get all kinds of complacent news on heaven, hell, society, judgment, sex, and God, just as if everyone knew what he was talking about. “Thou, therefore, which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?” “The Word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.”


God And Nietzsche

I have read the December 17 issue (“The God-Is-Dead Stir”).… Last October 15 and 16 I went to Berkeley, California, to observe and photograph the anti-Viet Nam demonstrations.… There was a ray of encouragement. A Christian group on campus erected a booth right in the middle of the accumulation of left-wing booths. I enclose a picture showing their attack on the atheism of Marxism-Leninism.

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You can see in the picture:

God is dead—Nietzsche

Nietzsche is dead—God

How true it is. Nietzsche is dead and gone, but God lives forever.


Monrovia, Calif.

If “God is dead” and may have been dead for some time, we Presbyterians are going to be hit harder than the rest of the church members, for we depend so much on predestination. If the One who does the predestinating is dead, what shall we Presbyterians do?

If God is dead, then the sovereignty of God has come to an end. If the Potter is dead, what shall become of the clay? We can no longer say,

Mould me and make me after thy will.

While I am waiting, yielded and still.


Scottsdale, Ariz.

Mark Twain, reading a report of his death in the paper, chuckled that the report was highly exaggerated. “He that sitteth in the heavens” must chuckle at the present furor of reports that God is dead.…


Barboursville Baptist

Barboursville, W. Va.

I pray that those who read and write the articles in CHRISTIANITY TODAY will not be so naïve as to believe that the current “God-is-dead” revival is not logically and organically connected with the theological existentialism founded on Kant, developed by Kierkegaard, and finding expression today in Barth, Brunner, and in the late Dr. Tillich.… It is nothing more or less than a consistent understanding of the Kantian disjunction between the phenomena and the noumena.


Malverne, N. Y.

Do you suppose that all of the publicity that is being given to those whom God’s Word classifies as fools … could be doing more harm than good?… It seems that Mr. Altizer is enjoying the publicity.… Lovejoy Baptist Church


Lovejoy. Ga.

Normally I do not read your magazine because I find it a little too “Protestant” for my part. But I read and reread your latest one because of the “God-is-dead” articles and must extend my heartiest congratulations. I am sick and tired of hearing these so-called preachers of the Gospel give forth with their nickel knowledge and proclaim to the world that they believe this and they believe that and we poor know-nothings must accept it.…


All Souls Episcopal

East McKeesport, Pa.

Will our hymns survive? “Spirit of the dead God, Fall kerplunk on me.…”


Westminster Methodist Church

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Harrod, Ohio

You have shown wisdom, all of you, in dealing with the latest bid for attention by the “God-is-dead” thinkers as you have—not making a cause célèbre of it, but regarding it as indicative only of the end-product of a “death of faith” which must inevitably follow two generations of “liberal” attack upon the foundations of our faith.…


Cambridge, Mass.

Who is dead? God or the “God-is-dead” advocates?…


Silver Bay Baptist

Silver Bay, Minn.

Thank you for the good work you are doing in answering the “God-is-dead” commotion. May I suggest a way in which this may be met in our regular worship?

It has become common to use the Apostles’ Creed in the Sunday morning worship. Now this statement is gloriously objective. It magnifies the mighty acts of God and encourages us to put all our trust in him and what he has done, is doing, and will do for us in Christ.

But there has also developed the custom of introducing this great affirmation with a subjectivizing phrase. The minister usually begins, “Let us confess our faith.…” Now the “death-of-God” philosophers would have no objection to admitting that the creed expresses our subjective faith. Then, of course, they would dismiss the same as theologizing myth. For us it summarizes the revelation which the true God has made of himself.

In the face of their challenge, why not rethink our introduction and use some terminology which will make it unmistakably clear that for us this is not a mere mystical myth? I suggest something like the following: “Using the Apostles’ Creed, let us confess together The Living God in his great and gracious acts for us and for our salvation: I believe in God the Father Almighty, etc.…”

And that leads me to dare mention another matter in connection with the use of the creed. One notes that the creed is used in differing places in the service, and no doubt something may be said for each usage.… One of our attractive ministers in this state uses the creed at the conclusion of the sermon. That is, the minister has proclaimed the Gospel as adequately as he can. Now he asks the congregation to add to his their proclamation as a united or corporate testimony in this comprehensive affirmation of the living God as our almighty Father, our loving Saviour, and our holy Comforter.


Columbia Theological Seminary

Decatur, Ga.

Digging In At Da Nang

Re your article, “Is the Chaplaincy a Quasi-religious Business?” (Dec. 17 issue): I cannot imagine why anyone would wish to disparage the work of military chaplains.… Only this morning I had a letter from a young man with the Marines at Da Nang—not particularly active when in his home church—who wrote, “The chaplain here is really digging in. He has erected a nativity scene in front of his tent and has loudspeakers playing Christmas carols. So much can be said for our chaplains here. They are working earnestly in the civic action programs, providing spiritual guidance for the troops, and pitching in, with sleeves rolled up, wherever help is needed. They are all wonderful men.…”

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First Congregational Church

Weeping Water, Neb.

Making Marriage Stick

Would it be possible to get the article “What Has Gone Wrong with Marriage?” by Chaplain W. Norman MacFarlane in the December 17 issue … in tract form? That is one of the best of its kind that I have read for a long, long time.…


Kenyon, Minn.

• Permission to reprint can be secured by writing to CHRISTIANITY TODAY.—ED.

This is the best presentation on the subject which I have ever read. Are reprint copies available?… I would like to have copies to use in counseling with students and parents.…



Pasadena City Schools

Pasadena, Calif.

MacFarlane’s [article] puzzles me. How can marriage be a “union for life” when it can be sundered, especially by evangelicals? Expositors may have declared that “unfaithfulness is the Bible ground for a marriage divorce,” but did Jesus? Was he not referring to espousal divorce? Jewish practice required contracts for both betrothal and marriage, and it also required divorce decrees to break cither of these. Jesus could never violate the marriage union, which is based on physical union and is for life, but he could certainly allow for an espousal divorce since there had been no physical union (and therefore no marriage) except in the case of the offender. Matthew alone gives us this “exception,” and he also is the only one who gives the illustration for this, in chapter one. Also nowhere is remarriage after divorce countenanced. It is forbidden, for death alone dissolves the marriage union.

I have no difficulty in counseling folk from the Bible. The only difficulty I have is with expositors.


Christian and Missionary Alliance

San Bernardino, Calif.

As to the wearing qualities of marriage, Mr. MacFarlane’s quoting a divorce lawyer, that “he was absolutely convinced that any two people who had made the wrong marriage could be reasonably happy if they had enough maturity really to try,” shot close to the mark. It was a bull’s-eye for realists.…

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Bloomsburg, Pa.

Equal Time Wanted

I am just a voice and I can’t be heard very far away; but I think someone with a bigger voice like CHRISTIANITY TODAY, Billy Graham, the National Council of Churches, or the National Association of Evangelicals, or maybe all of us together, ought to demand equal time of all the major TV and radio networks. The Pope and his followers had plenty of free time. Church of the Nazarene


Durand, Mich.

Tell It On The Mountains

Speaking only for my own denomination, I would hope that a copy of Cordon Clark’s essay, “Revealed Religion” (Dec. 17 issue), could be distributed to every student in a Southern Baptist seminary.…


Associate Professor of Philosophy

Western Kentucky Stale College

Bowling Green, Ky.

Clark’s “Revealed Religion” is superb!


Minneapolis, Minn.

I must say it was worthwhile reading, but nevertheless disappointing. When I first began the article, I had strong hopes that Dr. Clark would produce some new evidence to support his stand on verbal, plenary inspiration. And yet, his only conclusion is that the multitude of biblical references to inspiration must be taken to mean verbal, plenary inspiration. I am forced to disagree.…


Annisquam, Mass.

Civil Rights And Southern Wrongs

You attack many sinful things. This you should do. But why when you write concerning such things as civil rights do you try to make it appear that the people of the South are all wrong and we of the North arc always right? Since much of your relationship is in the North, you know better than others the sins we have up here. Why do you not cry out against us? Why do you and the other writers always “slur” the Christians of the South. When will we let the Civil War end?…

I applaud your zeal for truth. But I am dismayed at the way you take to defend it.…


First Church of God

Erie, Pa.


Though every copy of CHRISTIANITY TODAY abounds with timely, instructive, and inspiring articles, I am particularly grateful for the December 3 issue.

Relative to the report on “American Baptists: COCU on Ice?” it was refreshing, as an American Baptist pastor, to read it and the splendid articles of John W. Bradbury and Thomas B. McDormand concerning the need for vital witnessing and the danger of modern ecumenism.…


First Baptist Church

Seymour, Ind.

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Pray For Us, Too

In the editorial, “Let’s Not Write Off the Professors” (Dec. 3 issue), you call your readers to pray “for the campus witness of such agencies as Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship.” It seems incongruous to be so supportive of traditional denominations in the former article (“The Overriding Ecumenists and the Restless Laity”) and apparently oblivious to the campus ministries of these denominations in the latter. Or do you feel these ministries to be too hopeless for your readers’ prayers?


University Pastor

The Westminster Foundation at the University of Idaho

Moscow, Idaho

• No. We gladly recommend prayer for these, too.—ED.

Prayer And Pornography

Perhaps the average citizen like myself is not supposed to analyze or understand the actions of the United States Supreme Court. However, our little ones in kindergarten, our teen-agers, our homes, and our entire society cannot escape the practical results of the court’s decisions, whether these decisions come in the form of an unsigned order or a lengthy opinion with several dissenting views.

The United States Supreme Court by a simple majority decides which cases it will or will not hear on appeal from lower courts. Recently it decided to hear the appeal of Ralph Ginzburg, a twice-convicted peddler of the vilest type of pornography. During the time that the court was diligently studying the salacious garbage in the Ginzburg case, it decided not to hear the appeal of fifteen parents of twenty-one children (including Protestants, Roman Catholics. Jews, and Armenian Apostolics) who thought their kindergarten children should be allowed to say voluntarily, “God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food,” before they ate their cookies and milk. I he court seemingly set in bold relief the relative evaluation it places on prayer and pornography. The two cases make an interesting study in contrast.

In November, 1963, U.S. District Judge Ralph C. Body found Ginzburg guilty as charged in a twenty-eight-count indictment, fined him $28,000, and sentenced him to five years in prison. The facts in the case were never in dispute. Ginzburg admits that he put in the U. S. mails certain copies of an obscene publication called Eras, a smutty biweekly entitled Liaison, and an erotic autobiography known as The Housewife’s Handbook on Selective Promiscuity.

The District Court’s opinion is explicit. It notes that Eros was a craftily compiled mixture of obscene material; Liaison was perverse, superficial, prurient, and entirely without restraints of any kind; and the Handbook was “a vivid, explicit and detailed account of a woman’s sexual experience … patently offensive on its face, astounding in its depiction of sexual misbehavior.”

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One (among many) of the exhibits that shocked Judge Body most deeply was a series of photographs giving “a detailed portrayal of the act of sexual intercourse between a completely nude male (Negro) and female (white), leaving nothing to the imagination.” The Third U. S. Circuit Court unanimously affirmed the sentence by the District Court. For reasons not yet clear, the United States Supreme Court decided to hear the appeal of Ginzburg and has had it under consideration for weeks.

If the Supreme Court had not already been involved in the kindergarten prayer case, its decision not to hear the appeal might have been understandable. But it was the court’s previous decisions that set the stage for the controversy which developed in the school room of Public School 184 in Whitestone, Queens, New York, between the school principal, Elihu Oshinsky, and the parents of the pupils. Federal District Judge Walter Bruchhausen ruled in favor of the parents, permitting the little tots to recite together the childhood verse before they ate.

An overwhelming majority of people would never have imagined that the saying of one of the best-loved and internationally known nursery] rhymes would be prohibited in a free country. It is recognized that these children were in a public school, but the simple prayer was being said voluntarily. No one was compelled, coerced, or even encouraged to say it. No part of the school curriculum was changed or affected by it. Neither was anyone offended or complaining about its being said. It was a clear case of free exercise guaranteed by the First Amendment. But the Second U. S. Circuit Court reversed the decision of the District Court to let the children pray together, and the Supreme Court concurred with tacit approval.

No one with any sense of decency could fail to see the criminal act of Ginzburg, its devastating effect on our society, and the potential it has for crippling if not indeed wrecking thousands of lives not directly involved in the act itself. It takes even less ability to see the innocence and beauty of what the kindergarten children wanted to do. Yet the Supreme Court has said in effect that so long as prayer is suppressed it will remain silent, while giving full attention to those cases where an attempt is made to suppress pornography.

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In the prayer case there was a difference of opinion at the functional level and a serious disagreement between the lower courts. In the pornography case there was no question about the law or the facts. Not a single dissenting voice was heard in the lower courts. Yet the court had no time for the prayer case, but the crocodile tears of a twice-convicted criminal demand the attention of the court for weeks on end.

One may well wonder how long the prayer (“God save these United States and this honorable court”) by which each session of the Supreme Court is opened will continue to be answered.


Office of Public Affairs

National Association of Evangelicals

Washington, D. C.

We Can’T Win Them All

CHRISTIANITY TODAY is the most practical, timely, and vital organ for the dissemination of Christian truth available today. No other periodical is written on such a high intellectual plane and at the same time committed to such an unbiased and yet conservative viewpoint.…


Mary Ann Baptist Church

St. Ann, Mo.

I find your magazine very hard to read. In trying to analyze why, I ran across the enclosed article (“Giving Wings to the Page,” Decision, Nov., 1965, issue). I thought you might take some hints from it.


Salisbury, Md.

Thanks For The Help

I especially enjoyed “It Happened at Bethlehem,” by R. E. O. White (Dec. 3 issue). I drew on it heavily, giving appropriate credit, for one article of my pre-Christmas series. At this time my twenty-four-year-old weekly column for newspapers becomes a daily column.



Canadian Free Methodist Herald

Kingston, Ont.

Well Done

Howard Snyder’s parable of the baker (Dec. 3 issue) was a literary masterpiece. His relating “neo-baking” to “neo-orthodoxy” was a terrific depiction of the current theological perversion, which wastes time debating instead of believing and imparting the faith that saves and works.…


Canasawacta Valley Free Methodist

Norwich, N. Y.

Yes, Even Darwin!

Dr. Stob’s fine article “A Firm Foundation for Modern Science” (Oct. 22 issue) does an injustice (probably unwittingly) to the life sciences, it seems to me. By failing to mention any of the great biologists who were believers. Dr. Stob may be implying that biology is the science of infidels.

Linnaeus’s passionate pursuit of order in living things was nourished by Christian motives. Religious convictions prompted Louis Pasteur to disprove the theory of spontaneous generation. Louis Agassiz was a deeply religious man. Even Charles Darwin (forgive me!) had some religious convictions before organized Christianity lined up against him. The list could be a long one.

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Science Editor

J. B. Lippincott Co.

Philadelphia, Pa.

The contention of Stob that the Reformers laid the foundation for modern science, which heathen philosophies can never do, is a contention we have been working to establish in our Bible-science program.…

John Warwick Montgomery in “Cross, Constellation, and Crucible” establishes clearly that the Reformers favored the Copernican theory, were interested in alchemy, which was the chemistry of that day, and truly laid the groundwork for modern science.…

We would like to have permission to quote from the article by Henry Stob in our newsletter.…


Executive Secretary

Bible-Science Association

Caldwell, Idaho

Disappointed Disciple

I am acquainted with it [CHRISTIANITY TODAY] and not only do not appreciate it—I find its content worthless!…


Director of Interpretive Materials

Disciples of Christ

The United Christian Missionary Society

Indianapolis, Ind.

It Applies

Without overstatement I find without exception that the page “A Layman and His Faith” is a rich inspiration in application to our family experience as we try to grow spiritually.…


Director of Music

Mulberry Street Methodist Church

Macon, Ga.

Swept But Unchanged

The actions of the Roman Catholic Church in the Vatican Council are making sweeping changes in the way the public sees that church. It should not be assumed, however, that the Catholics will emerge with a church that is closer or more faithful to the scriptural foundations of Christianity.…


Louisville, Ky.

A Reader Reports

When it comes to religious journalism, yours ranks second to none.…


Clinton, Ill.

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