Who’S On Second?
Last week I saw some very interesting baseball. The ages of the members ranged up to fourteen, and I must report that I was very much impressed by their play. Some other things that impressed me were the markings around home plate, the exact position of the bases, the raised pitcher’s mound, the complete uniforms of all the players and all the substitutes, the array of bats, the dugout, and so on. But to any of you who are what is politely called middle-aged I address the question: What do you think of a ball team, age fourteen and under, that has all the baseballs it needs?
Go back a few years. We really had nothing of what has become an expectation for these leagues today. There was always that business of whether you had a good ball. But there was also the question of where you would play, and whether you could scrape up enough for two teams. Are you old enough to remember how when you didn’t have enough for two teams you played “rounders”?
That game of rounders was a phenomenon of its own. Ligon, the psychologist, says that in undirected boys’ play 64 percent of the time is spent in argument. Beside the endless arguments about how double plays really work and whether the man was out or safe, there was always the basic, original, fundamental argument in the game of rounders of what was the batting order and who played what position. Usually we had three men at bat and everybody else in the field, so there used to be a screaming argument about who was first up, and who got to pitch.
It was right about then that I had my first and only coaching as one of the boy wonders of the sand lot. Some man said to me during that screaming business, “While everybody else is yelling ‘first up’ you start for second base and go out and throw your glove on the base.” So I did, and it was wonderful. When everything else settled down, there I was at second base, not too far from the outfield and not too far from being a batter.
This almost sounds un-American. It lacks the note of leadership. It seems a coward’s way. But you would be surprised how it works. Jesus suggested that you even start with the lowest seat.
Movies And Morals
J. Melville White’s essay, “The Motion Picture: Friend or Foe?” (July 22 issue) is excellent. He unmasks the stupidity or hypocrisy of arguing that because many movies are bad, a Christian should see none, when even the pietists dare not argue that because many magazines are obscene, the Christian should read none.
Note also the falsity of two quoted assertions, to the effect that evangelicals do not attend the movies. The Evangelical Lutherans, the world’s largest evangelical group, have never supported these pietistic restrictions.
Adding to God’s commandments has been a frequent American arrogance. Finney, if I remember correctly, made it a sin to drink tea or coffee; certainly the Mormons inflict this prohibition and also insist that people should eat “very little meat.”
To refuse to go to the movies is to deprive oneself of seeing War and Peace, Hamlet, and, less ponderously, Treasure Island. But what is worse, to refuse on religious grounds to go to the movies is to bring the cause of Christ into ill repute. After reasonable people are told that we should never see a movie, and never read a magazine, they lose all interest in hearing the rest of the gospel.
GORDON H. CLARK
Prof. of Philosophy
As a former dance-band leader who missed very few shows or movies in my unconverted days, may I say I was shocked to find a Christian magazine encouraging youth to attend the movies.… It would seem to me that the world, the flesh and the devil are convincing enough Christians to break through their scriptural lines of separation without CHRISTIANITY TODAY encouraging young people to do the same.…
I noticed the lack of Scripture in the article. In the one verse quoted from the Bible, First Thessalonians 5:21, the emphasis is placed upon the first part of the verse, “Prove all things,” ignoring the balance of this verse, “Hold fast that which is good.” This is treating the subject out of context in light of the whole Scriptures, and certainly, when considered with the very next verse, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
We should have no difficulty in determining the Lord’s will in this matter if we consider even just a few verses of Scripture, such as James 4:4: “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God”; 1 John 2:15: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him”; and Psalm 101:3: “I will set no wicked thing before thine eyes.”
How we need to remind our young people of Psalm 119:9: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word”.…
Word of Life Fellowship, Inc.
Orange, N. J.
In the past fifty years Christianity has tried to destroy and defame the total character of the motion picture. In fact, the library of the Moody Bible Institute contains over two hundreds books on Christian personal ethics, which deal with the major topic of theater attendance. Among this great collection of books, only two contain any favorable material pertaining to the motion picture. These two books are written by Carl F. H. Henry, your own editor.
As a Christian, I have met grave opposition to my stand on the motion picture, which was defended by Mr. White in his article. Also, as a student of a Bible institute which “will accept only those who pledge abstinence from movies,” it has been a hard struggle to defend my position. I do not wish to encourage total attendance to the motion picture, but I do believe in “discrimination” in my theater attendance, just as I discriminate in music, sports, books, and all other forms of entertainment. In all my defense of the motion picture I have always noticed one predominant factor in the minds of Christians, which is “a total lack of knowledge of the motion picture industry.” Christians do not realize the good that is to be found in the motion picture, the great means that it can be to communicate the message of God to man, and the beautiful form of fine art that it is.…
RICHARD M. SMILEY
I must take exception to much of what J. Melville White had to say.… In our home my parents did not allow any of their six children to attend movie theaters … because they felt they were right in protecting their children from anything they considered dangerous.… When we became old enough to seriously question their right to insist on this measure of holiness, they told us frankly they realized we had to live our own lives and that this was actually a personal decision. The reasons why they objected to movie theaters were carefully explained, and they asked us not to attend, but there was never any pressure.…
I decided they must be right (especially when I heard some of my friends describe why they went). And to this day (I am twenty-one) I have not been inside a theater. Not because I feel there is anything inherently evil about 16-millimeter celluloid, but because I question whether a believer needs the same entertainment diet as the unregenerate.…
What I have lost I do not know—but what I have gained I do know; a far more accurate conception of life than can be offered by glamorized Hollywood fables and a morality learned at home and in the local Assembly of God church instead of from Elizabeth Taylor.
KENNETH H. GAMERDINGER
It is a source of constant grief to me that many of our modern church periodicals have become advertising agencies for Hollywood’s moral vomit. It seems in every issue of our own church publications there must be a review of some controversial film, which of course helps to sell the film. It would be refreshing indeed if someone, such as yourself, would take the bold venture of presenting the position of abstaining from the theatre.…
Boyce Methodist Church
East Liverpool, Ohio
Mr. White is to be commended for his objective treatment of a subject so “thorny” for so long. I heartily endorse his conclusions!
North Park Community Church
As a Christian and a pastor, I take a stand against Hollywood movies. If it was wrong in 1938—and it was—movies (Hollywood style) are wrong in 1966. Hollywood movies are getting blasphemously defiant and dirty. For example the new movie Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Mr. White’s reasoning is very good secular (i.e., “worldly or temporal.…,” Webster’s Dictionary) psychology. I was taught the same at Purdue University. I changed my reasoning when I was saved.
RONALD C. PURKEY, SR.
Albuquerque, N. M.
[White] did well in his presentation and analysis; and what is perhaps most important, he gave us some very fine practical steps to follow in dealing with the situation.…
GEORGE A. NYE
Columbia Baptist Church
It is without a doubt the most realistic and thought-through discussion of the subject that I have seen anywhere. It was most gratifying to see Mr. White face the objections and arguments against all motion pictures frontally and objectively. His article represents the direct approach that we must take in helping teen-agers today develop discernment and spiritual maturity in every area of their lives.…
DAVID D. ALLEN, JR.
Minister of Youth
Bethany Bible Church
As a new subscriber … I greatly admire your courage to publish “The Motion Picture: Friend or Foe?” … The most helpful aspect of the article was the positive solutions which were offered. More articles of this kind are needed in every area of Christian ethics.…
Winona Lake, Ind.
No Graven Novel
Re your recent review of Elisabeth Elliot’s No Graven Image (July 8 issue): Mr. Lindsell’s comments were, for the most part, well taken. But his concluding remarks, about the author’s having put the right answers into her heroine’s mouth, but our own uncertainty as to whether the author in fact shares these sentiments, are a departure from the role of reviewer to that of judge.
The novel has begun to arouse a certain amount of confusion in the weeks since it appeared, and the flurry is turning into what amounts to an inquisition against Mrs. Elliot. The idea seems to be that (1) she has attacked the missionary community in this book, and (2) she has betrayed the Christian cause by not having a happy ending, and by failing to have her heroine enunciate some comforting maxims about Romans 8:28 at the end.
This represents a serious confusion, first, as to the nature of fiction, and second, as to the nature of Christian faith.
Concerning the art of fiction, the heavy responsibility of the artist is to record simply and with integrity what he sees of life. He cannot do anything else. He must try to articulate his experience. This, of course, is not to say that novels are not slanted. They are. Every writer writes from his own viewpoint. But we do wrong to read into fiction our own reactions. For instance, Mrs. Elliot has a rather vivid section concerning a missionary conference. Anyone who has ever been to a field conference knows that every word in that description is absolutely true. It is not a flattering picture. But neither is it an untrue picture. And there is not a word of commentary on the author’s part. She does not cluck and tut-tut from the sidelines.
Readers who are put off by this picture must remind themselves that the picture of the missionary effort is not at all a damning one. At least three of the pivotal characters in the missionary community (aside from the heroine herself) are entirely admirable people. Mrs. Elliot has not presented the missionary scene as some non-religious writers and film-makers have done—depicting a sad collection of starry-eyed, misguided, draggled zealots. Her people are human. And if the picture of the conference is not one that glorifies the scene, the thing is not to cry out in offense, but to ask simply, “Is it true?” …
But infinitely more serious than this failure to understand the nature of fiction is the misreading of Mrs. Elliot’s whole idea. It seems clear to me that she has achieved here, not attack on faith, but an agonized vindication of it, and a desperately needed relocation of faith. The novel represents a massive protest against the misplacement of faith in circumstances, and the redirection of it toward God. This is what the heroine learns. Insofar as our religion insists that things have a happy issue, and that we see fortunate results from every calamity, it is a false religion. And insofar as the God we preach is a God whose integrity depends on his either working things out for us or at least bestowing us with the sensible tokens of his comfort, then he is a false God.
What about Gethsemane? There was no happy issue there. The ministering angel did not, as far as we know, bring instant euphoria to the suffering Christ. There was nothing but agony and bloody sweat. If the book is about Margaret Sparhawk’s Gethsemane, we cannot ask that it record more. For, clear and loud, the thing that Margaret learns is that God is God, far above anything that he may seem to be doing or failing to do.…
THOMAS T. HOWARD
New York, N.Y.
I was profoundly disappointed and a bit incensed over the final clause in the review. In this case, is the reviewer judging the craftsmanship and the content of the book or the personal, spiritual life of the author? Is this the true function of a reviewer? And is the reviewer qualified to express this “haunting doubt”? Please don’t misunderstand, my questions are not posed as defense of any particular author. And in this case, I have not met the author. Rather, I find it regrettable that the author of the review deserted his role as literary critic and assumed a less noble role.
FLOYD W. THATCHER
Vice President, Publications
Grand Rapids, Mich.
CHRISTIANITY TODAY is to be commended for its integrity in reporting the recent Wenham conference on biblical inspiration (“Ten Days at Wenham,” News, July 22 issue), though the contents of this report should constitute a matter of grave concern for all evangelicals. In saying, “Some held this [inerrancy] to be an essential biblical doctrine, while others preferred to speak of the Scripture as infallible,” and in quoting the conference report (communiqué) in full, it has made public what some have known for a considerable time, that certain leaders within conservative theological seminaries are no longer willing to affirm the inerrancy of Scripture. Their very reticence testifies to the wisdom of the founders of the Evangelical Theological Society (North America’s fellowship of Bible-believing theologians) in restricting its membership to scholars who support the inerrancy of Scripture’s autographs. But it also warns evangelicalism that it must now gird up its loins to face within its own institutions an apostasy from full biblical authority, such as occurred within Protestantism as a whole half a century ago.
It is strange that the official communiqué of the conference, while representing that “the Scriptures are wholly truthful,” goes on to say that among the areas left for further study was “the concept of inerrancy, whether and in what sense it is a biblical doctrine.” Must evangelicalism now therefore face the unhappy task of having to cross-examine the profession of some of its leaders? The Evangelical Theological Society, as most particularly involved, pledges itself to remove from its membership any whose employment of the English language permits acceptance of the Bible as “wholly truthful” but not “inerrant.”
J. BARTON PAYNE
Evangelical Theological Society
Wheaton Graduate School of Theology
Dollars And The Institute
I am thrilled with the idea of the proposed Institute of Advanced Christian Studies.… I’m going to try and send a dollar when each issue arrives.…
MRS. E. A. KAMMERLING
Melrose Park, Ill.
The issue just arrived here in Saigon. Enclosed is my dollar.…
ARTHUR J. ESTES
Saigon, Viet Nam
One dollar for me, one dollar on behalf of my pastor.
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Surely the Lord is in it; may his people be behind it!
DAVID P. HANEY
Ohio Baptist Pastors Conference
New Lebanon, Ohio
May you hear from a goodly portion of the ten million evangelical magazine readers.
W. EVANS MOORE
A grass-roots contribution from my wife and myself.
A splendid idea … prayerfully hope all 40 million respond.
Valley Forge, Pa.
Enclosing $3—two for ourselves and one for our five children … praying that this may be as effective in its field as is CHRISTIANITY TODAY.…
MRS. PAUL T. EDWARDS
First United Presbyterian Church
Here’s my $4 for the four evangelicals (Southern Baptist) in my family.
A. D. PRICKETT
U. S. Naval Station
FPO New York 09555
• Dollars for the Institute of Advanced Christian Studies, promptly acknowledged by us, are banked in American Security and Trust Co., Washington, D. C., where the total now stands at $385. Evangelical Protestants giving a dollar each could bring the Institute into being almost overnight.—ED.
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