Dear Friends of Israel:
Rabbis, claims author Bill Adler, need “the patience of Job, the humor of Harry Golden, the tenacity of Charles DeGaulle, the oratorical splendor of Adlai Stevenson, the charm of Douglas Fairbanks, the financial acumen of Bernard Baruch, the tenderness of an angel, and the strength of Hercules.”
In a non-book for nebbishes, Dear Rabbi (Morrow, $2), Reformed Jew Adler presents some pungent demands and delightful moments that crowd rabbis’ lives. Children write:
• “Can a cheater and a liar go to heaven? I am writing for my brother Freddy.”
• “Class 4 needs all the information you have on God in a hurry.”
• “If we are all made in God’s image, why is it some of us are pretty and some of us are ugly?”
• “Please answer this question for me. I would like an honest answer. Is it fun to be Jewish?”
• “I keep praying and praying and nothing good ever happens to me.”
• “Jesus was my favorite Jew.”
The Dear Rabbi letters from grown-ups include these:
• “Do you think I should tell my fiancé that I had a nose job before or after the wedding?”
• “For your next sermon would you preach on infidelity and look straight at my husband?”
• “Thank you … for your wonderful words at Robert’s funeral. You said such nice things about him that for a few minutes I wasn’t sure you were talking about Robert.”
• “My boyfriend and I would like to find out if Reform Jews believe in trial marriages.”
• “Could you please make sure our wedding ceremony doesn’t take longer than thirty minutes, as my financé and I are anxious to leave right away on our honeymoon?”
Of his many published collections of letters and wit, Adler considers this his most enjoyable. It shows that for rabbis—and all other clergymen—a sense of humor is indispensable.
BLESSING FROM HEAVEN
“How To Be Good—And Mad” (July 19) was almost a direct blessing from heaven. I recently became a grandmother and though one is supposed to mellow with age, I seem to be going in the other direction. I shall try to follow the three points and will pass [the article] on to others. I am sincerely appreciative to finally hear concern can be a Christian attitude.
JANICE M. KAMPERSCEL
The subject of anger and hostility and what to do with it is generally shunned by Christians. I have had many people in therapy who believed the most spiritual Christian was the one who always smiled, was always cheerful, and never became angry. The result, in most cases, has been that the anger becomes repressed but is still present, and the person feels guilty over the anger and often becomes depressed.
Dr. Hope has many good points, especially his third … However, I disagree with his first two premises.… His basis for [the first] rests, not on any positive statements of Christ, but rather on the absence of any statement as to how Christ was feeling in a given situation. Scripture simply does not tell us if he was mad at certain individuals because of their mistreatment of him, and it doesn’t tell us he was glad either. To build a premise upon absent statements is dangerous.… His second premise—that anger should be directed against deeds, institutions, and so on, but never against the person—can often apply, but I do not think it always does by any means. I have met many people in life whom I do not really like. I am still concerned about them, and interested in their welfare, but I don’t like them. And when Christ states we should love everyone, I believe he is talking about being concerned for them, not necessarily liking them.
JOHN D. GEISLER. M.D.
Excellent article.… Long overdue. It is my judgment that he missed a vital point in not directing anger against our true foes, the “principalities and powers” and so on of Ephesians 6:12. Campbell, Calif.
O. H. BUBLAT
“Sex in a Theological Perspective” (July 19) is like a breath of fresh air on a sultry day. A copy should be in the hands of every Christian preacher of the Gospel, and certainly it should be important for the liberal clergymen, laymen, and teachers in colleges and seminaries to read this fine article.
WILLIAM J. DEIN
Snyder, N. Y.
“Theology at the Vulture Peak” by Don Neiswender (July 19) was excellent. Having been to this peak on many occasions, I found that all the arguments were very familiar. But rarely have I seen them better portrayed in a single short article. Both the sides—liberal vs. conservative or humanistic vs. fundamental—were there and both were adequately covered. It was almost as if I were involved—again—in one of the numerous debates that I have had.
C. A. SWANSON
“Theology at the Vulture Peak” was for the birds. First, it is difficult to follow any train of thought (taking it for granted that there was one). Secondly, to say that it is the plan of salvation that repels modern pagans (referring to liberals) is pure polemic. Thirdly, the author seems to define verbal inspiration as historical and scientific accuracy in terms of twentieth-century knowledge, leaving out the human element in Scriptures. This latter view is all right if you want to hide in your own little nest.
St. Paul Lutheran Church
San Antonio, Tex.
Kenneth W. Linsley, in “First Aid for Spiritual Corpses” (July 19) writes refreshingly like a New Testament Christian. Despite the insistence of those who press the social gospel as a panacea to cure the ills of the world, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is still God’s power to all who believe.…
Mr. Linsley’s advocacy of greater dependence on the word of God in pursuing the work and worship of the Lord’s church is admirable.
J. EDWARD MEIXNER
JOY FOR GUILT
I was pleased that among the many incisive articles in the July 19 issue the editorial on “The Power of Joy” was followed by “The Removal of Guilt” (Minister’s Workshop). Too often, we Christians are guilt-burdened because we fail to realize that in Christ there is now for us full redemption—not only wisdom and righteousness, but also sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30). The result: Lamentation instead of jubilation!
PAUL DE KOEKKOEK
Having read and enjoyed Norman Hope’s fine article on “How To Be Good—And Mad,” I got a chance to use it a couple of pages further on!
One section of Willard Harley’s otherwise fine article (“The Removal of Guilt”) deeply disturbed me. Such statements as “God also pronounces the man in Christ righteous apart from his behavior” (including present and future behavior in context) and, “The good news of the Gospel is that man can be perfect in God’s sight without being good” are all right in their place, but that place is Hell, not in the writings of a man of God!…
I strongly protest also the “fact” that a conscious desire to please God “may be used to help him realize that his heart is right with God.” Unfortunately the Bible does not sanction man’s acceptance with God on his desires to please God. I have worked with narcotic addicts, alcoholics, gang fighters, prostitutes, and young killers as well as church people. Not one I have talked with did really hate himself for the things he did wrong.… Sinners may approve righteousness in others, and even desire it themselves, without actually choosing it.… Any sinner strongly presented with the claims of the Gospel and the love of Christ may “feel” strongly like doing right. But unless that desire is translated into right action through choice from selfishness to the Lord Jesus, he will still go to Hell.… Removal of true guilt is the way of confession, repentance and saving faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice.
Training Youth for Discipleship
It was with great joy that I read the review of The Situation Ethics Debate (July 19). It was gratifying to see the Rev. Dr. Joseph Fletcher’s erroneous and specious theories taken apart by capable men in the field of … ethics.
Some twenty-seven years ago this summer I sat under Dr. Fletcher at the (Episcopal) Graduate School for Applied Religion in Cincinnati. In those days he was a basically sound Christian churchman and a great inspiration to those of us seminarists who studied under him. But certainly something has happened to the poor man since those early days!
GERALD L. CLAUDIUS
St. John’s Episcopal Church
Kansas City, Mo.
ISSUES AND FRIENDSHIPS
Your news article, “Religion and the ’68 Candidates” (July 19), was at best irrelevant and at worst very misleading. A man’s friendship with Billy Graham and some chance comments he may have made about religion are a poor basis for making judgments about his spiritual fitness to be president of the United States. Certainly your article did not say that such judgments should be made, but for what other purpose could the average reader use the facts you cited?
We have seen a great deal of “guilt by association.” Now we have the potential for “sanctification by association.”
GEORGE VAN ALSTINE
Evangelical Baptist Church
I think this report is unfortunate in its implication that the primary religious factors, and seemingly, then, the most important factors for Christians to consider in the ’68 political scene, are:
Prayer in the public schools;
Divorce status of a candidate;
A strong stance on Viet Nam;
Whether a candidate knows Billy Graham or not.
I should think that what Christians, especially, should look for in a candidate are his abilities to cope with the national and international problems facing the nation, such as the war in Viet Nam; the inner-city situation, including the whole problem of the black community; foreign aid; welfare programs, including help for the aged and poverty programs; crime; and the defense budget. The issues described in the article do not seem to be related to the ability of a candidate to suggest programs to deal with these problems. I can’t believe that we ought to honor a candidate who is not Roman Catholic, not divorced, and supports prayer in the public schools while neglecting the weightier matters of the law.
ROBERT B. IVES
Minister to Students
Park Street Church
Somebody “goofed”.… May I invite you to turn on your television …; read the AP press write-ups in your daily papers; pick up any recent copy of U. S. News and World Report—and you are in for a surprise! Since you obviously haven’t been tuned in during the past three months, may I remind you that there is another candidate running for the presidency of the United States—his name is George Wallace, and he is a member of St. Marks Methodist Church, Montgomery, Alabama.
Bethel Baptist Church
Missing … is all reference to George Wallace. Oversight? Or underestimate?
FRANK C. MORGRET, JR.
RACE, DOCTRINE, DOLLAR
James Daane’s report on the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church (News, July 19) is marred by a number of misleading expressions and inaccuracies that can hardly go uncorrected.
In the first place, the report states that the matter of race relations was brought before the Synod because of “the exclusion of Negro Christian children by a CRC school in Chicago.” There is no “CRC school in Chicago,” except Sunday schools. The school referred to is owned and operated by a society of Christian parents.… The school is not under church control.…
Secondly, the report asserts that the delegates to Synod “unanimously rejected the attempt to reopen the 1967 case” in the doctrinal question involving certain published views on the love of God and the atonement. The unanimous action came in the adoption of a clarifying declaration which stipulated that the decision of 1967, whose vaguely inconclusive language brought six protests to Synod 1968, should not be interpreted in any way as to allow for deviation from or compromise of basic Reformed principles.…
Thirdly, the report says that the CRC had not officially participated in the Theological College of Northern Nigeria because of “fear that the Africans would not be ‘soundly Reformed.’ ” This is quite incorrect. The reason for the unwillingness of the CRC to participate was that the school involved is a “union” school with the teaching of theological viewpoints other than those which the CRC can in loyalty to its creeds support.…
Finally, the report says that “the synod reduced its budget for Calvin College—by one dollar.” The facts are these. In the current year Calvin College and Seminary receive a quota allotment of $24.60 per family. They asked for $27 per family for 1969. They got $26 per family.
The Bradenton Christian Reformed Church
COCU AND THE GIANT
I am simply elated with … America’s foremost evangelical magazine.…
I especially appreciate the issue of July 5.… “There’s a Better Way Than COCU” by Mr. Conn was especially good in these days of avid ecumenicity. How much simpler things would be to learn once again the fine art of “Holy Spirit dependence.” “Can We Awaken the Sleeping Giant?” by Mr. Spargur is most timely in a time when we seemingly have forgotten the real message of the Church. The Church’s weakest link can truly be strengthened when men show an interest in their fellow-men by sharing with them the redemptive Gospel.
PAUL H. CLEMONS
Spring Hill United Presbyterian Church
Spring Hill, Fla.
My congratulations on … Ronn Spargur’s excellent and timely article.…
I have been an expository preacher for thirty years, but last Sunday I departed from my usual approach to read this article in its entirety to a congregation of about 400. The response was excellent. People expressed concern and a desire for the leadership to do more toward directing them into areas of personal service. I received many volunteers [for] a new youth rescue camp we are about to begin.
ROY F. OSBORNE
Church of Christ
San Leandro, Calif.
I find the use of derogatory expressions in so much of today’s religious literature, and I believe it sells Christianity short.
I have no complaint about your editorial (“Hope in a Time of Despair,” July 5); it is good. My objection is over the use of the word “despair”; and in the following editorial, the word “plight.” Webster uses these definitions: “grief and hopelessness” “a condition or state now usually qualified as bad,” “abandon all hope, give up, yield to despair”.…
“Hope in Our Time” might have been a more appropriate theme for your editorial. Hope is an everlasting attribute of the true believer, not only at any particular time when the road is rough.
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” No “despair” or “plight” here.
H. B. COLLIER
South Pasadena, Calif.
“Plight of the Evangelicals” was greatly appreciated. How many times I have expressed the same thoughts to my friends in the ministry here in Chicago. As an organization we are attempting to move in the direction suggested.
DAVID R. MAINS
Evangelical Ministers Association of Greater Chicago
For some time now I have been wanting to convey my thanks for CHRISTIANITY TODAY and its provocative articles. I must confess to being a theological liberal, but I have been deeply concerned over some of the things which have been happening within the Church, not the least of which has been the seeming complete abandonment (on the part of some) of even the most basic foundations on which the Christian faith has been built and on which it has stood through the centuries.
GERALD R. ACKERMAN
Saint Andrew’s Methodist Church
Just a few words to tell you how grateful am I for the ministry that CHRISTIANITY TODAY is fulfilling.…
I am a Methodist minister leading a local congregation and a student center in a university of 10,000 students. Radical theology has helped us to understand many issues of today’s world, but at the same time we need a serious reflection of the Christian theology that can pay attention to the biblical standards of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ. I believe that the theological approach of CHRISTIANITY TODAY does justice to both the new situation in a changing world and the requirements of the Christian revelation.
VICENTE J. TRIPPUTI
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