Prisoner For Christ

Christ in the Communist Prisons, by Richard Wurmbrand and Charles Foley (Coward-McCann, 1968, 225 pp., $5), and The Wurmbrand Letters, by Richard Wurmbrand (Cross Publications, 1967, 169 pp., $2.50), are reviewed by David Foster, director, Eurovangelism, Bournemouth, England.

Richard Wurmbrand is likely to become one of the most controversial religious figures ever to emerge from behind the Iron Curtain. A Lutheran pastor, he was first arrested by Rumania’s Communist regime as he was walking home from his church on Sunday, February 29, 1948. This was the prelude to more than fourteen years of “relentless interrogation, attempted brainwashing and physical torture.”

Christ in the Communist Prisons is a well-written autobiographical account of this experience. The author impresses one not only with his ability to withstand unbelievable pressures with quick-witted arguments and answers for his persecutors but also with his ability to remember in detail conversations that took place under acute mental and physical stress as much as twenty years ago.

“What’s Jesus doing tonight?” jeers a bullying interrogator.

“He’s praying for you,” Wurmbrand replies.

Later, as the climax of a long period of sleeplessness and torture, he was threatened: “If you don’t answer properly, we’ll have you stretched on the rack” (a machine last used three hundred years ago for forcing confessions).

His reply: “In St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians it is written that we must strive to reach the measure of Christ’s stature. If you stretch me on the rack, you’ll be helping me to fulfill my purpose.”

It is interesting to see the number of purged Party members, including high officials, who show up as prisoners throughout the story. Sometimes even the torturers become the tortured as the winds of change blow through the regime. Wurmbrand’s first cellmate was Rumania’s minister of justice, a victim of the “justice” he created. Seeing the irony of this, he reminds himself of the Swiss senator who wanted to be navy minister.

“But we have no navy,” said the prime minister.

“What does that matter?” the senator asked. “If Rumania can have a minister of justice, why shouldn’t Switzerland have a minister of the navy?”

Some questions raised have answers that are hard to take. For instance, can a Secret Police torturer continue his hideous task once he becomes a born-again believer in Jesus Christ? Wurmbrand does not give the obvious answer:

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I met other secret believers among the Secret Police, some of whom still go about their duties. Never say that a man cannot torture and pray at the same time. Jesus tells us of a tax-gatherer (whose work in Roman times went hand in hand with extortion and brutality) who prayed for mercy as a sinner and went home ‘justified.’ The Gospel does not say, however, that he immediately abandoned his unpleasant job. God looks into the heart and sees in a good prayer the promise of a new life in the future.

One thing that bothered Wurmbrand was that he had no Bible. But this encouraged him to recall previously memorized Scriptures, such as the words of Jesus: “Blessed are you when men come to hate you, when they exclude you from their company and reproach you and cast out your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy.” He had rejoiced in his adverse circumstances but realized this was only partial obedience to Christ’s command. He writes:

When the guard next peered through the spy hole, he saw me springing about my cell. His orders must have been to distract anyone who showed signs of breakdown, for he padded off and returned with some food from the staff room: a hunk of bread, some cheese and sugar. As I took them, I remembered the conclusion to the verse in St. Luke: “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy—for behold your reward is great.” It was a very large piece of bread; more than a week’s ration.

It is understandable that one who has suffered so much at the hands of Communism has dedicated himself to its overthrow. Wurmbrand’s philosophy is summed up in this statement:

Wishful thinking about Communism is our greatest danger. Men trained in the school of Lenin and Stalin see goodwill as weakness to be exploited, and for their own good, we must work for their defeat. Love is not a universal panacea. Communist rulers are criminals on an international scale, and only when the criminal is defeated does he repent; only then can he be brought to Christ. I was convinced that the fate of the West was either to destroy Communism or be destroyed by it.

His final release was brought about by Christians in the West who paid a ransom said to be “approximately $10,000” in the book and $7,000 on the cover flap. Before he left the country a Secret Police officer told him:

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Your passport is ready. You can go when and where you like, and preach as much as you wish. But don’t speak against us. Keep to the Gospel. Otherwise you’ll be silenced for good. We can hire a gangster who’ll do it for $1,000—or we can bring you back, as we’ve done with other traitors. We can destroy your reputation by staging a scandal over a girl, or money.

Richard Wurmbrand has let that warning go unheeded. Probably more than any other Christian leader from Eastern Europe, he has loudly denounced the regime before U. S. congressmen, British Members of Parliament, and church leaders, and has even planned to speak out in West Berlin’s island of freedom more than one hundred miles behind the Iron Curtain. His actions have raised questions in the West and open protest from Christians in Eastern Europe, who claim he is “putting a noose around our necks.”

The Wurmbrand Letters is an anticlimax. It appears to be a publisher’s attempt to get more mileage out of the same story. The good pastor devoted thirty-three pages to explaining “Why I Write This Book.” Then comes a section of “Drawings from Prison Life”—a set of dry-brush efforts by an American clergyman, captioned with stomach-turning quotations from Wurmbrand. The letters are long communications to various church leaders (mainly in Europe) whose view of the incompatibility of church and Communist state does not entirely match the author’s. Finally, there are sections endorsing the fact that Communists are masters of deceit.

One learns in this book that dedication to a militant anti-Communism ministry can result in distorted views of the mainstream of Christian life and worship. Speaking of church services in America, Wurmbrand describes his “constant impulse when the pastor gives the benediction at the end to shout to him ‘But pastor, you have not yet had the religious service.’ Every religious service at which the martyrs are not even mentioned, in which prayer is not offered that God will strengthen their faith, is a divine service which is not valid before God.” This sweeping claim invalidates a vast number of divine services.

Perhaps the most questionable claim is made in the author’s answer to those who tell him to confine himself to positive gospel preaching:

A pastor should never preach or write something else than the Gospel. The Greek word translated in English “Gospel” means in the original “Good News.” In this book I have also preached the Gospel because I have given you good news. America is not lost yet. There exists a power behind the Iron Curtain which can save America.… Oh, that the spirit of the martyred church behind the Iron Curtain should pass to American Christianity!

Such “good news” may be a gospel, but is it really the Gospel?

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Sermonic Feedback

Partners in Preaching, by Reuel L. Howe (Seabury, 1967, 127 pp., $3.50), is reviewed by Haddon W. Robinson, professor of homiletics, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.

Some wag has undressed preaching as “the noble art of talking in someone else’s sleep.” Even a casual observer can sense that many church members regard the sermon as little more than a poor substitute for golf on a rainy Sunday morning.

Reuel Howe shares this prevalent skepticism about much modern preaching. Drawing upon interviews conducted by the Institute for Advanced Pastoral Studies, he offers taped comments by disgruntled laymen and discouraged pastors as evidence that communication in the Church is both a disabling frustration and a primary need. From his observations and interviews, he concludes that the weakness of preaching comes from “its wordiness and monological character.”

Howe advances a solution for what he sees as the cold war between pulpit and pew: dialogue. Stripped of its theological overtones, what he is asking is that we recognize that there is a man at both ends of the sermon, and that the hearer is as important as the preacher. What makes this book more than a keen insight into the obvious is that the author suggests practical ways by which a congregation can become active in its pastor’s preaching. These include instruction of laymen on how to listen to a sermon, study groups, and continual provision for feedback on preaching. To tie theory to life, a helpful appendix contains an analysis of a taped discussion of an actual sermon by a group of church members.

One question Howe leaves virtually untouched is that of the starting point. He assumes that all preachers have a message from God and that communication is their major problem. For many men, however, the problem is not simply that they do not interact with their people; it is that they have not interacted with God. When a preacher has nothing much to say, dialogue can become a sharing of pious ignorance. For that reason, too, a dialogue can become a fog in the pew.

A Book Like A Camel

How to Search the Scriptures, by Lloyd M. Perry and Robert D. Culver (Baker, 1967, 276 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by Harold W. Fife, minister at large, Far Eastern Gospel Crusade, Detroit, Michigan.

This book has the laudable intention of teaching people how to study the Scriptures and contains some excellent material. But it leaves one perplexed about whether it was written for ministers or for laymen. One finally concludes that it is a collection of lectures to students by three professors. This would explain its camel-like effect—very useful but uneven.

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The introduction deals simply with the compilation of the Bible and includes many helpful scriptural quotations about its use, value, and reliability. It then quotes a number of statements about the Bible by great leaders—a list confined, unfortunately, almost wholly to persons in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The next section touches on the history of our English Bible and gives a useful comparison of the popular translations in current use.

The second chapter is an excellent study of the Christian doctrine of Scripture, written on a wholly different level and requiring of the reader greater study ability. It handles with skill and balance such matters as inspiration, revelation, and illumination, and convincingly comes to the conclusion that “God also … by the undefined, but real, work of inspiration gave men a Bible in which human instruments and divine authorship perfectly met.… This record, as originally written and interpreted according to the Author’s intentions, is without error.”

Chapter three uses the unoriginal device of recording the private Bible-study methods of seventeen people—all middle-class Americans. If this section had brought us insights from Christians in, say, Africa and Latin America, it might well have been rewarding. As it is, we are merely conducted along a well-trodden and unexceptional path, meeting a few familiar faces along the way.

A considerable part of the book consists of practical, detailed descriptions of methods of Bible study; this will surely be of help to groups that feel a need for variety in their study. All in all, this is a useful book for those who want to study the Bible but do not know how. Its basic weakness is, as I suggested before, that it seems too simple for the minister and, in parts, too technical for the average layman.

Reading For Perspective


The Social Conscience of the Evangelical, by Sherwood E. Wirt (Harper & Row, $4.95). Contending that true evangelical faith leads to sensitive social concern, Wirt offers sound biblical perspectives on vital social issues of our day.

Christ in the Communist Prisons, by Richard Wurmbrand (Coward-McCann, $5). A heroic Rumanian minister, fourteen years a prisoner of the Communists, vividly describes the opposition to Christianity behind the Iron Curtain.

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Who Shall Ascend, by Elisabeth Elliot (Harper & Row, $5.95). At the request of the Latin America Mission, a gifted missionary-novelist has written an intimate, probing biography of R. Kenneth Strachan, Costa Rica mission leader who developed “Evangelism-in-Depth.”

Quo Vadis Bonhoeffer?

In Pursuit of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, by William Kuhns (Pflaum Press, 1967, 314 pp., $6.95), is reviewed by Richard K. Morton, professor of sociology and religion, Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, Florida.

Evangelicals may well join Catholics in this careful appraisal of the ideas and aims of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as seen through the new objectivity and catholicity of William Kuhns. While Kuhns, as a Catholic, shows high regard for the sacramental nature of the Church, the monastic traditions, total commitment to the Church’s teachings, and high sensitivity to community, he emphasizes two major points: the incarnation and the lordship of Jesus. Barthian centrality of Jesus is joined, in Bonhoeffer’s views, with a vital and concrete concept of the Church as community and of revelation as being in our world, incarnate. Bonhoeffer clearly stresses, not religion incorporated, but religion incarnate. He sees no wall between church and state; in his view the church should work with and through the state.

Neither Kuhns nor Bonhoeffer himself answers two basic questions: What are the things of God and what are the things of Caesar—how does one tell them apart? And, since Christ has universal sway, what is the function and fate of revelations through other religions? One might add a third also: Since revelation must be incarnate and the Church must involve itself intensely with the world, how can it avoid creating the excessive organizational and doctrinal trappings apparent today?

Bonhoeffer seems inconsistent in urging the fullest worldly involvement in some situations and detachment in others. He does not outline how this incarnate revelation is to be fulfilled in saved human lives. And he does not really satisfy in answering the question, How to reclaim for Christ a world “come of age,” that is, one in which daily recourse to God is considered unnecessary?

Yet whatever the weaknesses of Bonhoeffer’s theological structure or of Kuhn’s partial description of it, this book will stimulate the reader with fresh views of religion, the Church, community, and what it means to be a Christian. Although many may be unwilling to acknowledge “religionless Christianity” as a new form, one that calls for holy worldliness, Christian atheism, and response and social commitment, most will recognize the importance of Bonhoeffer’s teaching that “to be conformed with the Incarnate is to have the right to be the man one really is.” And many also will agree that “the Church … stands in the midst of the world as the community of men who have been restored to wholeness, and who keenly recognize their responsibility to other men.”

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Seeds For Thought

The Church: Design for Survival, by E. Glenn Hinson (Broadman, 1967, 128 pp., $1.95), is reviewed by Walter Russell Bowie, professor emeritus of homiletics, Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, Virginia.

This honest and helpful book grew out of a study of a church in Louisville, Kentucky. But the author reaches out beyond this local reference to deal with difficulties all Christian congregations are now confronting, and gives a constructive outline of the sort of “experimentation and adaptation” the Christian Church must dare in these changing times.

Dr. Hinson begins with what the New Testament makes us realize that the Church ideally is: the body of Christ, the people of God, and the servant of God. Because the Church is the body of Christ and the people of God, there can never be a “religionless Christianity,” if that means getting along without worship and without feeding of our spirits by the living God. But because the Church is also the servant of God, it must find its life not in some pious isolation but in direct involvement in all the needs and risks of our secular world.

The best chapters in the book are “Proclamation and Priesthood” (especially the discussion of the “priesthood” of laymen as the crucial witnesses to a relevant Gospel) and “Pouring Out Life in Service.” Christians must find “the holy in the common,” and Christian churches must sharpen and deepen their response to the problems of these disturbed and challenging times. But Design for Survival does not merely state these things in generalities; it gives specific suggestions for effective things Christian congregations might do.

In his preface Hinson writes: “I pray that the book will offer seeds for thought to many Christian pastors and laymen in all communions.” It does.

Old And New Treatments Of Paul

The Divine Apostle, by Maurice F. Wiles (Cambridge, 1967, 161 pp., $6.50), The Letters of Paul to the Philippians and to the Thessalonians, by Kenneth Grayston (Cambridge, 1967, 116 pp, $1.65), and The Letters of Paul to the Ephesians, to the Colossians, and to Philemon, by G. H. P. Thompson (Cambridge, 1967, 198 pp., $1.65), are reviewed by Richard N. Longenecker, associate professor of New Testament history and theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.

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Taking Clement of Alexandria’s ascription of the Apostle as his title, Maurice F. Wiles has presented us with a significant little book on ante-Nicene interpretation of Paul. Wiles, formerly dean of Clare College and lecturer in patristics at the University of Cambridge, is now professor of theology at the University of London. His work is mainly a descriptive, rather than evaluative, study of the Greek and Latin commentaries of the period on the Pauline letters (exclusive of the pastoral epistles and Hebrews).

With skill of treatment and respect for the exegesis of the Fathers—though, as a Protestant, he does not bow to their authority—Wiles has allowed them to speak for themselves on topics crucial in Pauline thought. He has refrained from trying to modernize them. Underlying the presentation are three theses: (1) that the variations and progressions in the Fathers’ interpretation do not seriously distort the general substance of Paul’s teaching, though new elements of precision and new emphases are introduced (Wiles at one point says “entirely alien” elements and emphases, but his evidence and the general tone of his argument fail to support so strong an assertion); (2) that in large measure the variations evidence genealogical relationships; and (3) that such differences are to be credited to “the exigencies of contemporary debate” wherein the commentators were “thinking primarily in terms of their own situation.”

On the vexing question, “How far did the ante-Nicene Fathers give a true interpretation of Paul?,” Wiles refuses to commit himself. He notes that the very asking of the question presupposes a true, or truer, understanding of Paul today (which he refuses to assert) and tends to ignore the cultural conditioning involved in every interpretation, modern as well as ancient. On a question of greater significance to evangelicals, “How normative is Paul’s message for today?,” he makes no comment.

Wiles is somewhat overconfident that he can be merely descriptive without also being evaluative, for a prioris cannot be kept out of any discussion—his inevitably show through. Nevertheless, judged on its own declared purpose, The Divine Apostle is a gold mine of information and a reliable guide to the patristic understanding of Paul. Especially for the beginning student, it may profitably be used in connection with R. A. Stewart’s Rabbinic Theology and D. E. H. Whiteley’s The Theology of St. Paul. Although there are differences in the quality of treatment, all three are similarly arranged and through their convergence offer the possibility of running the gamut of Pauline theology in its major aspects.

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In 1967, Cambridge University Press also published two more volumes in its “Cambridge Bible Commentary” series: Philippians and Thessalonians, by Kenneth Grayston, and Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, by G. H. P. Thompson. According to the preface, this series is designed to make available to the general reader “the results of modern scholarship” and, in conformity to British standards of commentary writing, seeks only to explicate the text.

The volume by Grayston is disappointing throughout. He treats introductory matters by listing many possible options, often without evaluation. And where he does express judgments, evangelicals will often find them disquieting and critically unfounded. Thus, for example, he sees Philippians as a compilation of three letters and says that the hymn of 2:6–11 stems in form from a Near Eastern myth about a divine-human redeemer figure and must therefore be understood as symbolic poetry rather than substantive theology. In treating the text, he dwells upon the ambiguous and highlights the uncertain. One reads more of what “some scholars think” and the reaction of “many readers” to the Pauline obscurities than of what the Apostle says. And Grayston repeatedly denies that these epistles are relevant to our modern day, since conditions are very different now than they were then and our lives are not so anxiety-ridden. Although it is evident that in studying a commentary one must read both text and comments, here the reader is well advised to conclude with the text and allow the Apostle to clarify the mass of undigested observations and questions posed by Grayston.

Thompson’s commentary, though in the same format, is of a different kind. Although the critical issues here are more crucial and complex, they are treated more adequately, more forthrightly, and more constructively. The author makes telling criticism of the ease with which pseudonymity is often claimed for these letters, and urges caution in the use of hapax legomena, statistical analysis, and matters of style to determine authorship. He also gives prominence to an amanuensis theory in the writing of Paul’s letters. In explicating the text, he offers conclusions on controversial matters and brings much knowledge to the task of explaining the Pauline message. The discussion of each epistle concludes with an organized and pertinent discussion of the “challenge” or “value” of that letter for today. All in all—without, of course, assenting to every point made—I highly recommend Thompson’s book to that audience for which it is intended: pastors, students, and the general Christian public.

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Vital Sidelight On Christology

The Son of Man in Myth and History, by Frederick Houk Borsch (Westminster, 1967, 431 pp., $8.50), is reviewed by Wayne E. Ward, professor of theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.

Books on the “Son of Man” theme have poured from the presses in recent years; they now number in the dozens and have appeared in all the major European languages. These works explore all the canonical writings, together with the additional materials now available from the Dead Sea caves and the Gnostic library Nag-Hamadi.

The reason for this great interest is obvious: According to the Synoptic Gospels, the one title Jesus constantly used to refer to himself and his mission in the world is “Son of Man.” Although many radical critics have attributed this identification almost entirely to the early Church, they are embarrassed by the awkward fact that the term almost disappears in later canonical writings and exerts little influence on early creedal formulation. This indicates that the “Son of Man” sayings were actually in the most primitive Synoptic sources and that the theological developments in the later Church moved away from them.

To this important matter, Professor Borsch has made a tremendous contribution. In a work of such great scope that no one is likely to repeat it, he has traced the heroic-tragic “Son of Man” figure through Greek mythology, the writings of Jewish and Jewish-Christian sects, Iranian literature, the Nag-Hamadi Gnostic library, the whole of the inter-biblical apocryphal and pseudepigraphical works, and the entire Old and New Testaments. The research and documentation are impressive, to say the least. No recent work compares with this one in breadth, and, because some of the sources did not appear until recent years, it is likely to be a standard sourcebook for a long time.

Borsch’s basic conclusion is that the Synoptic “Son of Man” sayings fit quite naturally into the broad background of hope for the coming “Ideal Man,” and that even the tension between the suffering Son of Man and the triumphant figure who comes upon the clouds in apocalyptic glory is understandable against this background of the heroic and tragic “Primal Man.” Borsch may also have discovered why the term fell into disuse in the later Church. The mythological background of the “Ideal Man,” especially the Semitic one, envisioned the elevation of an earthly man to a semi-divine status. This was exactly the reverse of the incarnational concept—the Divine Son becoming a man.

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This unexpected sidelight on Christology may prove to be the most significant part of Borsch’s monumental study. Nowhere in the vast wilderness of ancient mythology, religious writings, or philosophy is there anything quite like the central Christian belief: God became a Man in Jesus Christ. Man never thought of this; it was the precious gift of God himself in his revelation to man. The “Son of Man” came down from above in his first appearance in humility, suffering, and death. He will come from his heavenly throne in his second advent in triumph and judgment. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not the story of a man becoming a “god”; it is the thrilling good news that God has come to men in Jesus Christ to make men what he wants them to be.

Book Briefs

Sign from Outer Space, by Lon Woodrum (Carlon, 1967, 111 pp., $1). A writer-evangelist discusses the Olivet Discourse verse by verse. In language for laymen, he claims Jerusalem belongs to the Jews by God’s will and declares the eschatological necessity for a third temple.

A Time to Dance, by Margaret Fisk Taylor (United Church Press, 1967, 180 pp., $2.95). Subtitled “Symbolic Movement in Worship” and drawing on First Corinthians 6:19, 20, this book traces the history of dance in worship and encourages establishment of church choral movement groups.

Rivers among the Rocks, by E. Margaret Clarkson (Moody, 1967, 95 pp., $1.95). Poetic meditations by the author of the well-liked hymn “So Send I You.”

How Can We Still Speak Responsibly of God?, by Fritz Buri (Fortress, 1968, 84 pp., $2.50). A University of Basel professor calls for a theology of responsibility that emerges from the prayer experience of a “being in Christ.” An abandonment of the biblical basis for theology in favor of the existential.

Center of the Storm: Memoirs of John T. Scopes, by John T. Scopes and James Presley (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967, 278 pp., $5.95). The defendant in the 1925 “Monkey Trial” relives his moment of glory and concludes: “Partially because of the trial I think the day will come when we will not be bothered by Fundamentalists.” That’ll be the day!

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Hebrews: A Commentary, by Lyle O. Bristol (Judson, 1967, 192 pp., $4.95). A good reference work that correlates Hebrews with Old Testament citations and other ancient writings.

Letters from Mesopotamia, by A. Leo Oppenheim (University of Chicago, 1967, 217 pp., $5.95). A fascinating look into the daily life of Mesopotamia from 2300 to 500 B.C. by means of official and private letters on clay. Ranges from overdue bills, demands for police protection, and farming problems to affairs of state and of international relations. Includes a very helpful survey of the structure and development of Mesopotamian civilization.

The Living Story of Jesus (Gospel Light, 1967, 140 pp., $4.95). Children will love this highly readable life of Christ based on the modern-language paraphrasing of Kenneth Taylor’s Living Gospels. Excellent art work, too.

Cross Words, by W. A. Poovey (Augsburg, 1968, 112 pp., $1.95); and And I Look for the Resurrection, by Kay M. Baxter (Abingdon, 1968, 64 pp., $2.25). New brief volumes on Christ’s seven last words.

The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan (Baker, 1967, 408 pp., $4.95). A new facsimile of the beautiful J. D. Watson edition of 1861.

The Mountain that Moved, by Edward England (Eerdmans, 1967, 126 pp., $3.50). An English religion editor touchingly tells the story of the tragedy at Aberfan, Wales, in October, 1966, when a mountain of slag descended on children at school.

Divorce and Remarriage, by Guy Duty (Bethany Fellowship, 1967, 154 pp., $3.50). An examination of scriptural teaching and scholarly Christian opinion on divorce. Mr. Duty contends that divorce based on adultery frees both parties to remarry.

Report From Viet Nam

This commentary was prepared by Dr. Harold John Ockenga, minister of Park Street Church, Boston, after a February trip to South Viet Nam. He talked with the military and chaplains in areas where he preached, had an hour-long interview with United States Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker, and met with evangelical church leaders.

Our departure from Viet Nam [February 19] points up the kind of war we are fighting. The curfew in central Saigon kept the streets empty of traffic from 7 P.M. till 7:30 A.M. Two newsmen had been shot by trigger-happy Vietnamese guards for violating it. Pan Am’s flight 819 to Singapore was to depart at 8 A.M. We left the Caravelle Hotel at 7:30, expecting a flight delay because of the curfew.

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At Tan Son Nhut airport the checkpoint was crowded and surveillance was more strict, but we went through. In the airport lobby, confusion reigned. Benches were overturned and wrecked, glass was scattered about, pools of blood lay on the floor, a great gaping hole opened above the Pan Am counter, and signs were askew. At 6:05 A.M. a mortar shell had landed on the roof of the lobby and penetrated the room in which scores of GI’s were waiting to leave Viet Nam on an early flight. Two were killed, forty-nine wounded. Charlie had scored again.

The airport was closed. No one knew when the next shell would fall. We waited with forlorn hope. Then at noon Air Vietnam brought in a plane, Qantas landed a big jet, and Pan Am announced that 819 would come in and go out. All customs red tape was cut, and by 2:10 we were airborne, headed for Singapore.

Death is common in Viet Nam. Every night mortars, hidden by the Viet Cong, open fire on the airport and on military installations. Two men can carry a mortar gun and shells, hide them in a home or cave, and then use them at will. Areas from which these shells come are then raked by our howitzers or by planes. The visitor in Viet Nam learns to sleep to the rumble and thunder of exploding shells.

Only a small portion of Saigon was destroyed. From a helicopter I viewed the areas of heaviest fighting and was surprised that they were so limited. Electricity, water, food, and traffic moved much as usual. There was no danger that the city would fall or be destroyed. The VC merely used harassing tactics.

The Tet offensive almost succeeded. Several floors of the embassy were penetrated, and the VC reached the runways of Tan Son Nhut airport. They intended to capture the radio station and declare that the people had risen up to overthrow the regime (the tape that was to be used has been captured). But a heroic defense was made by South Vietnamese troops, by airport clerks who took to guns, by the American MP’s in the city, and by the general military. Only the citizens who were forced at gunpoint by threat rose in support of the VC.

The attack was turned back with an enormous loss to the VC: the weapons count, along with the count of bodies, supports the figure of 27,000 to 30,000 dead. Moreover, the whole Communist apparatus in the cities came out in the open and was destroyed.

Now for the first time the indigenous church is hopeful. Two years ago church leaders asked to be moved to another country. Today, encouraged, they wish to stay.

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The VC did many atrocious things. In Mi Tho they entered an orphanage and gunned down the children and superintendent. In Ban Me Thuot they killed six missionaries of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Vietnamese were compelled to feed the VC and then were shot. Wives and children of Vietnamese officers and leaders were sought out and killed where possible.

The great concern expressed here is that the U.S. government will work out a compromise with the VC, bringing them into a coalition government. Then everything for which this people has fought and suffered will be lost. The more our press and our leaders at home talk of negotiation, the weaker the Vietnamese people’s desire to resist will become. Men like John K. Galbraith who prophesy the collapse of the government and the defeat of the American military do a great disservice to a heroic people and a great cause. The Kennedy brothers weaken our cause by their calls for negotiation.

What is the solution to the vexing problem? Three alternatives seem to offer themselves. First, withdraw. Take the defeat. Swallow our pride. Admit we made a mistake. This would be tragic for Viet Nam and for all Southeast Asia. Communism would take over. Even now the Communists are holding large areas of Laos and are infiltrating Thailand.

Second, negotiate. That is, bring the VC into the government of South Viet Nam. As in China, so here this would ultimately mean a Communist takeover.

Third, go for victory. If we have any right to be here at all, we should fight to win, not merely to hold an area. I am convinced that the present strategy will never win this war. The heart of resistance must be struck, not the periphery. This means blockading Haiphong harbor, from where the war supplies come. It means crossing the DMZ. It means destroying the enemy strongholds in Laos and Cambodia. And it means chancing a bigger war and an encounter with Russia and China. With the facts fully before the great powers, there would be a possibility of negotiation and neutralization.

Why should 200,000,000 Americans continue to live as usual while 15,000 Americans die and 100,000 are wounded in Viet Nam? These men have as much right to live as you and I. If we must hazard their lives, we must hazard our security, too.

Let us ask the ultimate questions and give courageous answers. Then let us act upon our conclusions. The carnage can be stopped only by victory or by withdrawal.

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