Pomp And Circumstance
Nothing strikes terror to my heart more than the sober strains of “Pomp and Circumstance”; for when I hear that, I know that very shortly I shall have to make a commencement address to a high school or college audience. I can’t remember ever having marched in to the beat of “Pomp and Circumstance,” since the speakers usually enter from the wings; but it must be the perfect number for marching—everybody is doing it.
If you haven’t done so recently, attend three or four high school graduations (I have just spoken at five) and ponder the American Way of Life. Better than that, ponder the American “Religion.”
The whole graduation affair, wherever it is held, has the characteristics of a true religion. In the first place, it catches the whole community. On this one occasion the speaker has an audience that extends almost from the cradle almost to the grave, and many of the listeners haven’t heard a speech since last commencement time. Everybody is conditioned to feel comforting and comforted. Here, at least, in the high school gymnasium, a man just knows that his basic belief that education solves everything is going to have its hour of reassurance. The basic belief that differences among religions do not make a whole lot of difference is supported by the other belief that our educational system, at least, believes in “values”; and everybody believes also that values can hang out in the air unrelated to other basic commitments.
The sobriety of the occasion is almost unnerving. The students march in with a broken step (one of the worst inventions I can think of) and refuse to smile from the time they come in until they walk out again. They seem to be almost paralyzed by the importance of the occasion and their part in it. Then it is enlightening to observe what constitute the “honors” of the class, and to listen carefully to what is said.
The superintendent of schools will be bound to say something that includes “each and every one.” And I’ll never forget that school superintendent who closed the evening by turning to the seniors and saying, “And now, God bless you and good luck.” Something for everybody!
Point And Counterpoint
I have just had occasion to read with some interest and edification your issue (June 10) on the inner city.…
I have been moved to write, however, on a matter of personal sensitivity.… I refer to the stereotype comment in the threshold essay which uses the sentence, “For every East Harlem Protestant Parish experiment conducted on the supposition that men must be socially and economically uplifted before they can recognize the relevance of and their need for the Gospel.…” I would be most interested in knowing how, in anything that the East Harlem Protestant Parish staff has done or written, one could come to the conclusion that they make this kind of unfortunate and unbiblical distinction about the task of Christian witness and service in the inner city, or any place else. It is my firm conviction that the function of the Church in the inner city is focused on its calling to witness and service in the name of Jesus Christ. I do not believe it is biblically sound or pragmatically possible to make some separation of men as material and spiritual, and then attempt to deal with them in these two segments.…
I have some feeling that in your essay you are precisely concerned to enter into parochialism and defensiveness, if not to say unveiling a limited amount of animosity.
G. W. WEBBER
Metropolitan Urban Service
New York, N. Y.
• The observations were based on a statement from My People Is the Enemy, by William Stringfellow, who wrote after his personal experience in the East Harlem Parish: “Before the Gospel could be preached and received by the people of the slums, the way for the Word had to be prepared by improving the education of the people, renovating their housing, finding jobs for them, clearing the streets of garbage.…” Upon accepting a post with Metropolitan Urban Service Training Facility, Mr. Webber is reported as saying that the project is moving “from saving people to serving the world.”—ED.
The Confession Of ’67
Re the revised “Confession of 1967”: Your news report (June 10 issue) indicates a bias, failing to report the conservative feeling held by a minority of commissioners. Although the voice vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the proposal, many commissioners were disheartened by the change of procedure which prevented them from speaking against the revised confession as a whole.
The revised confession as presented by the “Committee of Fifteen” preserved the integrity of the original proposed confession and therefore is unacceptable to many evangelicals. The 178th General Assembly has rejected the infallibility of the Bible and has gone on record as believing that there is no system of doctrine taught in the Scriptures.… It rejected the truth that the Bible is the final authority in matters of faith and practice.
I believe that if the average member in the United Presbyterian Church is aware of the content of the revised confession, he will oppose it.
Great Valley Presbyterian
As a commissioner to the General Assembly in Boston, I was interested in your comments on the changes in our confession.
My views evidently are in a minority position, even among the conservatives, but I think they are worthy of consideration. We are not just adding a new confession, we are changing our whole position; and this should be opposed in presbyteries as a matter of principle.
United Presbyterian Church
Paterson, N. J.
I should like to express my deepest appreciation for the very accurate … report dealing with my statement on the floor of the UPUSA’s General Assembly at Boston concerning “The Confession of 1967.” Often my words have been quoted out of context so that they do not convey my thoughts. Your reporting did not do that.
However, I feel compelled to elaborate upon my statement because such a few words leave the door open for possible misunderstanding of my theological position. My particular position is not important. However, since I represent the campus ministry and this segment of our church is often thought of as the “Young Turks of a most liberal bend” by the rest of the church, let me make my point clear. The paradox of the situation is that my particular position regarding the words “are received and obeyed as the word of God written” as contained in the confession is conservative, I hold that it opens up our basis of faith for the widest possible range of liberal interpretations. I object to the wording for this reason. In short, my “liberal” position is far more conservative than the so-called conservative position. On the other hand, it can be construed to mean biblical literalism, which is a dead issue on campus. Such vague and general statements should no longer be tolerated in our day and age.…
C. WILLIAM HASSLER
UCCF University Pastor
University of Montana
Missouri Lutherans And The Ncc
In the April 25, 1966, issue of U. S. News and World Report, Billy Graham quotes CHRISTIANITY TODAY as saying … “Another great denomination that’s not in the NCC is the Missouri Synod (Lutheran).” …
We are members of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and know that this church body is affiliated with the NCC in home missions, foreign missions, social welfare, and the like.
In the Lutheran Witness (our publication) dated November 14, 1961, we read, “Voting membership no longer possible says Synod’s Board.” It was due to pressure that the Synod’s Board decided to “continue relationships with the NCC on informal levels.”
Missouri Synod has rejected all efforts by its membership to sever all connections with the NCC at the 1961 conference and again in the 1965 convention in Detroit.…
MR. AND MRS. PERCY WRIGHT
Santa Rosa, Calif.
I was delighted [with] your editorial “Honesty and the Offering Plate” (May 27 issue). It is indeed very timely. I have had similar experiences, with the offering minus the expense, and then not a dime left for the guest speaker.
We are only a young and small church, but we give the speaker $25.00 with no special offering. At least then he does not go away empty-handed nor with a dishonest offering.
PETER F. WALL
Faith Community Church
The ethics of the representative who “put twenty-five dollars in small bills in the offering plate as an experiment” may be compared to those of the congregation which kept back part of the price.
Your editorial must have been written without too much thought.
Baptist Youth Fellowship
Saint John, New Brunswick
Your editorial (“Evangelicals in a Corner?,” May 27 issue) contains a question addressed to the World Council of Churches, referring to “the recent exodus” of “the Pentecostals of Chile from the conciliar movement.”
Pastor Enrique Chavez Campos, leader of the Pentecostal Church of Chile, who is the president of the Council of Evangelical Churches of Chile, told me in my home on the night of May 16, 1966, and has made the same statement repeatedly and publicly in the United States, that he has no intention of his church leaving the World Council of Churches. Neither has there been any indication that the Pentecostal Mission Church of Chile, under the leadership of the Rev. Victor Pavez Ortiz, is considering any change in its membership in the World Council of Churches.
EUGENE L. SMITH
World Council of Churches
New York, N. Y.
• Our information is that of some 1,200,000 Pentecostals in Chile, two groups—one numbering 10,000 and another numbering 60,000—are now identified with the World Council.… Our comment was based on reports that the latter group had decided to withdraw from the WCC. Further inquiry indicates that the matter of its withdrawal or non-withdrawal is scheduled for discussion in August. We are glad to publish Dr. Smith’s comment on our erroneous phrase, “recent exodus.”—ED.
Dialogue: Doves And Hawks
The moral cynicism of your editorial on what the clergy should say to Viet Nam-bound youth shocked me.… Your advice … sounded like that given to Austrian clergy in World War II. They were urged to say nothing that would raise doubts in parishioners’ minds about the rightness of Hitler’s war, no matter what their personal convictions were. They too were urged to tell their parishioners “what they want to hear,” namely, that government orders for them to kill in battle repealed the Scripture command, “Thou shalt not kill.” …
Your motto would seem to be “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God whatever Caesar allows you to render.”
MARCIUS E. TABER
It bothers me to hear people quoting from the “Ten Commandments” when the commandment does not apply to the Viet Nam war.…
Command after command is found in Deuteronomy justifying conditions for war. See 13:15: “Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly …”; and 13:9: “But thou shall surely kill him.…” We must remember that these commands were official and not personal grudge.…
I see no reason to believe that the sixth commandment can apply to our condition in this war. It is evident from Matthew 5:18 that the moral law is still in effect and will be as long as man will be on this earth. The ceremonial and the judicial will change as Jesus taught.
The editorial brought up the question of the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” I feel our servicemen could be taught they may also be in combat to help a defenseless neighbor, and to help save his life and the lives of his family. This neighbor may not even know he needs defending. This neighbor may also be 10,000 miles away.
Office of the Chaplain
Weapons Training Battalion
Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Never have I seen in my life such outright and seemingly willful ignorance in the quotation of the injunction “Thou shalt not kill.” If we take the commandment in its generalized sense as it appears in the English translations, then we would have no right to kill anyone or anything. We would not be able to kill animals for food.…
The Christian is subject to the edicts of his government if he is a citizen of that government. He is obligated to take up arms if his government calls upon him to do so, unless of course he be a conscientious objector and feels that the government’s edict is contrary to the will of God. The responsibility for the killing that the soldier or the policeman might do falls to the government who has issued him the authority and the gun. This is killing but not murder.
Yes, I think that we should take literally and seriously the Old Testament commandment “Thou shalt not murder.”
ERNEST T. HARPER
United States Army
Asbury Park, N. J.
The Winds Are Blowing
The excellence of your May 27 issue has caused me to overcome my distaste for letter-writing. Dr. Berkouwer (“What Conservative Evangelicals Can Learn from the Ecumenical Movement”) spoke, I think, to the deepest instincts of the Christian soul, and no pious evasion can suffice to cloud the true issue. The Holy Spirit will no longer tolerate our rationalizations for our lovelessness and pride. May the winds of the Spirit continue to blow over the Church, and may we turn our face toward that wind.
J. R. MITCHELL
Pennsylvania-New Jersey District
The Pilgrim Holiness Church
Good’S Not God’S
You noted, of course, the unfortunate error in my book review on page 40 (May 27 issue), right column. The mistake was not mine. Correct “God’s” with “Good’s” (E. M. Good, Stanford).…
CLARK H. PINNOCK
New Testament Department
New Orleans Baptist Theol. Seminary
New Orleans, La.
Just A Cover-Up
More and more I am convinced that all the publicity about ecumenism and about social action is just a cover-up for our failure to take Christ at his word and to preach the full Gospel [particularly healing] of his ministry. It takes guts to lay the chips on the line, to suffer the looks of scorn and the loneliness of silence, but I guess that is what Christ warned us of. The churches that do preach this Gospel are vital and growing while we mainliners are slipping each year. There is restlessness and discontent among most of our churches today. Perhaps that restlessness grows out of an unconscious realization that we are hearing only part of the story—that Christ to be relevant must be relevant to all our needs and not just a beautiful hope for the future.
ROBERT F. GALBREATH, JR.
New Wilmington, Pa.
Sex Appeal Or Heart Appeal?
In this day of the “new morality,” or, as so appropriately suggested by Billy Graham in World Aflame, the old immorality or paganism revived, we use all kinds of gimmicks supposedly to reach people for Christ. I wonder if our leaders are making a proper analysis of the types of appeals that are being made.…
My reason for this grave concern results from my first-hand knowledge of a recent revival effort in which a youth rally was planned.… I insisted that my teen-age daughter attend for the spiritual benefit I felt would result from such an effort. To my amazement the program began with a “rock ’n’ roll” number in which the rhythms of this sexy fad were displayed by those who presented it. The first three or four numbers consisted of this type of music. Later an effort was made to lead the same group in singing “Amazing Grace” and other spiritual hymns. As would be expected the transition could not be made. This particular meeting was a dead one. I was broken-hearted and somewhat angry.
I analyzed prayerfully the defenses of those responsible.… I settled with this answer: “Rock ’n’ roll” and music of this sort is purely sex appeal and that is its sole appeal.… This is not what we need to reach our youth. There is already a vast over-emphasis on this in almost every walk of life. If we reach our young people it must be with a heart appeal.… The appeal of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit with song, testimony, preaching, teaching, and good Christian humor presented by an enthusiastic and dedicated Christian offers the strongest appeal that one can use.… I do not believe that anyone has ever been won to Jesus Christ through sex stimulation (as holy and sacred as this can be in its proper place—marriage).
J. S. BROWN
Pepperton Baptist Church
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