Dear Underground Evangelicals:
From North Hollywood, California, the nation’s leading producer of pornography, comes a new type of underground newspaper. Called The Wittenberg Door, the mimeographed four-pager is edited by two enterprising evangelical youth directors—Paul Sailhamer and Gary Wilburn. Through their brief and breezy articles they hope to prod Christian youth leaders and organizations to more creative Christian witness. Their awareness of what it takes to communicate the Gospel to today’s youth is shown especially in their satire of both worn-out approaches and pseudo-hip practices now in use. Sample their latest issue:
Hollywood Heaven: “Can you remember how long it has been since you sat through the glorious testimony of Freddie Fabulous, the converted nightclub and silver-screen star? And whatever happened to Cynthia Celebritania, the ‘transformed trapeze artist’ and singing sensation who gave up all to put her soul in the hands of that Great Safety Net in the Sky? It appears that the Lord has gone back to his old ways of redeeming just plain everyday sinners.”
Loser of the Month (The Door quotes a new tract): “Christ really socks it to you with some real heavy stuff.… Jesus Christ is truly the cool one.… If Christ is not your bag, then it’s bad news for you because you are on an eternal bummer.… Christ busted right out of the grave nearly 2,000 years ago. Right now he wants to bust into your life and make you hep to his program.”
Christian Village (a promotion honoring “Authentic Remnants of the Faith”): “I thought it strange as I entered through the gates constructed from Mother-of-Pearl, but was amused upon reading a poster: ‘see the last sheaves ever brought in.’ A flyer read, ‘For the first time, SEE a heart being spoken to!’ ”
The response youth directors have given The Door may be seen in a letter from a happy subscriber: “Your paper is irreverent, disrespectful, insulting, crude, and very interesting. Enclosed is my one dollar.” To be the first on your block to open The Wittenberg Door, send a buck to 13273 Cantara Street, North Hollywood, California. But remember, it’s for the young at heart.
Young at Forty,
The academic discussion between Professors Laird Harris and Stanley Hardwick (Sept. 27) was stimulating and informative. But neither of them touched upon one crucial factor: the use of the Bible as an evangelistic weapon.… Evangelism will not wait upon the now protracted search for the perfect, or evangelically acceptable, version.…
Meanwhile, many pastors will continue to be caught in the crossfire between those church members who are incensed if another version than the KJV is used and those who demand that Scripture be immediately intelligible.
Bethany Bible Fellowship Church
When Dr. Hardwick says, “In many ways the RSV is an excellent translation,” I heartily agree. I use it a great deal for my devotional reading as well as for reference and quotation. Yet over and over it slaps my Christian sensibilities in the face. Principal offenders are such texts as Dr. Harris and Dr. Paine have cited.
Dr. Hardwick states that “the New Testament goes beyond the Old Testament.” In the context of his article I understand him to mean that the New Testament superimposes upon the Old its Messianic application. That the statements in the Old Testament have their own immediate setting, I agree; but that they did not carry in themselves a divine impregnation of Messianic truth seems to me to be a denial of Christ’s teaching.
First Baptist Church
Professor Hardwick criticizes my argument that the RSV seems by preference to blunt the Messianic edge of Old Testament passages quoted as Messianic prophecy by New Testament writers. His point has some validity, in that occasionally a NT writer very clearly does ascribe Messianic import to an OT verse where the OT writer quite apparently did not intend such an import. This is specifically admitted in my original article and usually involves passing allusions (e.g. “out of Egypt have I called my son”).
In my view, Professor Hardwick’s criticism is weak in that, with the cases treated here, he adopts the assumption (more characteristic of liberal scholarship) that the OT statements must be considered as relating only to the immediate context. In other words, they were not originally prophetic, and it was the NT writers who made them so by “going beyond the OT.”
He himself admits that the language of the OT passages would lend itself to being translated as the NT writers have done, but this would make them transcend their original context—which he does not allow, but which is exactly what prophecy does.
I am very much surprised to note that television is a gift of God (“Television Airwaves—Evangelism’s Frontier,” Sept. 13).
I do not have it in my home, but I see it when I happen in where it is turned on. I have quite a folder full of clippings to prove that it is of the Devil. For years my wife was interested in working with the children, but today they are TV-educated brats.
I have nothing to say against the person who can get in with a gospel message. More power to him.
Newfield, N. J.
Our generation (seminary ’68) has within its grasp, through mass media and instantaneous communication facilities, the opportunity to provide modern man with the hope of joyful living in Jesus Christ. Yet we who are trained professionally to be God’s “bell-ringers” muffle the tone of God’s love in Jesus Christ by allowing ourselves to become incrusted with the pessimism, criticism, and schismatic responses of our day.…
Thank you for awakening a slumbering and dissenting “bell-ringer” with “Demythologizing the Evangelicals” (Sept. 13).
Stroudwater Baptist Church
I have subscribed to CHRISTIANITY TODAY for five years, and this single article is worth the total subscription cost.…
First Baptist Church
Dr. Henry’s incisive comments will lead many of us to profound introspection … especially in view of the past failures of racist, tabooist fundamentalism.
Unless I completely overlooked this, … I found no expression of faith … in God’s sovereign providence in assuring that the gates of hell will continue not to prevail against the Church of Jesus Christ. In other words, I am suggesting that an optimism warranted from Scripture is lacking in this outgoing essay.
Church of the Covenant
We are deeply grieved by the article “Fundamentalists on the Beach” (News, Sept. 13).… Only three lines say anything favorable.… For your paper to print such an article, and the caricature of Dr. McIntire, is degrading to our Saviour and his cause.
We feel you owe an apology. May God forgive you!
MR. AND MRS. NICK BIEREMA
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Your report of the ICCC Congress rightly stresses the impact made … by Mr. Paisley and his group from the British Isles.… This group represents a fanatic attitude which I have not met in earlier ICCC congresses.
This fanaticism also was demonstrated in … the protest by this group against the WCC at the Uppsala Assembly in July this year. Let me give the following information:
Mr. Paisley and his friends came to Uppsala for this protest without informing me, the representative of the ICCC in Sweden. When they came, I tried to convince them to give up their plan, since such demonstrations are a shame and a scandal in this country. They paid no attention to my objections and had their demonstration. Mr. Paisley walked round outside the WCC meeting hall with the text: “WCC crimes: I was imprisoned for 90 days.” Everybody must understand that this accusation had no basis since the WCC can put nobody in jail. The Swedish Radio asked for my comments on this action, much noted in the press. I had to tell the radio public that I considered the action sheer foolishness. But at the ICCC Congress, the spokesman for this group emphasized this protest as being a great victory!
International Council Vice President of Christian Churches
It seems that Richard N. Ostling is to be numbered with those who delight in continually sniping at men of God like the Rev. Ian Paisley.
I am not a member of Mr. Paisley’s church, nor of the ICCC, and know that we would differ on many points of doctrine. For thirty-five years I lived in Ulster and was acquainted with Rev. Paisley and his ministry, and know him to be a humble man of God.…
Why all the criticism of Mr. Paisley? He takes his stand for Christ and speaks out against error. He preaches the old-fashioned Gospel. He lives in a Protestant province, and desires that it should remain Protestant. He refuses to compromise, and will not have fellowship with the unprofitable works of darkness. We need more men like this.
Reclaiming Art Leadership
Dr. Frank Gaebelein’s article on the arts (Aug. 30) answered brilliantly the schism many Christians feel about the subject. If the church ever reclaims its rightful leadership in the fine arts, it will be because of such influential journals publishing such cogent articles.
I want to congratulate Dr. Lindsell on his new position, and offer my encouragement and prayers that he will continue to keep CHRISTIANITY TODAY blazing the trail for biblical religion. I must say that this magazine has been of great help to me in my Christian walk.
Staatsburg, N. Y.
God has certainly called him to a most strategic opportunity and has wonderfully equipped him to do a good job with it.
Director for North America
Overseas Missionary Fellowship
Smoothing The Eden Path
For a long time, I, a layman, have been reading your magazine, which is obviously intended for ministers. I have noted sometimes with amazement, often with amusement, but always with interest, the problems of the pastors.
One of the problems that seems to keep turning up frequently is the short attendance at church and the lack of interest in the church.… If I interpret correctly the commandment to keep the Sabbath Day holy, God intended that we should lay aside the work of the sweat of the brow and for a little while each week return to Eden and enjoy and glorify him. Some church services make it very difficult to do either. For instance, you come a little early to meditate, and all of a sudden the organist tries to shake the bats out of the pipes with a ninety-decibel blast—not very conducive to meditation.
As to the preaching, I do not doubt that the ministers are very learned. The words they use prove that point. But a great many couldn’t pass a high-school public-speaking course. It seems to me that if they would use tape recorders and polish their sermons and shorten some of [them], everybody would benefit. If a minister wonders if he is one of those who would flunk public speaking, let him record one of his sermons, let it get thirty days stale, then sit down on a wooden box in a room that is too warm and listen. He will know by the end of the sermon if he would pass or not, or his wife would anyway.
One other point is worth considering. The cheapest theater in town has seats that a person could sit in comfortably and give full attention to the show, no matter how horrible. But try to get theater-type seats in a church—my, the howls that you get! They cost money; it would be wasteful; the place wouldn’t look like a church; and other arguments, ad infinitum.… I have long contended that a minister’s chief job is to preach salvation and feed his flock, and if the place did not look exactly like a church, who would care a whole lot? Church furniture, as it exists today, is something right out of the Inquisition, designed by the devil to torture Christians and keep non-Christians away from church.… It is real hard for the mind to absorb more than the seat can endure.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
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