Dear Prudes about Nudes:
The style of life in 1968 is pretty well epitomized by the ubiquitous mini-skirt on the maxi-mum. Americans today seem obsessed by the desire to view or reveal as many curved inches of skin as the occasion will allow. In any major city, skin-flicks formerly shown clandestinely at stag parties now are big box office at “art” theaters. Lurid still shots lure customers in to see such epics as The Nudies Meet the Nasties. In countless cabarets, bottomless ecdysiasts now draw the leering lechers formerly titillated by the artistry of strictly topless performers.
In such a culture it is hardly surprising that churchmen who get their inspiration from observing humanity’s endeavors to be truly human should produce a film like Another Pilgrim, a forty-minute experimental feature recently screened at New York’s Judson Memorial Church. Its climax comes when a minister totally disrobes at the close of a service. The Rev. Al Carmines, who produced the film for the World Council of Churches, explained that the disrobing had a symbolic significance. Standing nude before his congregation, the minister in the film, it seems, dramatically demonstrates the need for absolute honesty.
Now I’m not exactly against honesty, and I enthusiastically endorse the human body—especially the female—as God’s greatest work of art. But I must protest the unrestrained exploitation of nudity for any cause—moral or lascivious. When will people learn to leave a good thing alone? To glut the market with nudity is to diminish its mystery and lessen our appreciation of it. Any woman realizes that sexual attraction depends more on charming concealment than blatant exposure. And many men know that after you’ve seen so many, they all look alike. Well, almost. Entrepreneurs of nudity seem to forget that after the bottomless, little can be done for an encore. There’s nothing left to show in such show business.
Far-out churchmen with scatological eschatological doctrine have a penchant for “shocking” all us “prudes” with gimmicks like the disrobing scene. We can be thankful at least that they have not introduced prostitutes into their temples for “religious” purposes. Yet. But then our modern La Dolce Vita has not run its course.
Your observant sexpert,
A THIRD APPROACH
I rejoicingly agree with Dr. Gaebelein (“Toward a Biblical View of Aesthetics,” Aug. 30) that “for a Christian aesthetic the primary source is Scripture.” But there is an approach to the Bible as a basis for a Christian aesthetic other than “references to art” and “biblical doctrine” (cf. Auerbach’s Mimesis). That third approach is via reverent examination of the God-in-spired scriptural literature of narration, history, biography, parable, epistle; of devotion, penitence, comfort, edification, festivity, and adoration—and the sovereign Triune God is the Subject in each genre and tonal expression. These Scriptures are our perfect models as well as (in their totality) the fount of our entire redeemed life by the Holy Spirit in Christ our Lord and King.
Sioux Center, Iowa
SHOULD BE SHOUTED
I have read with deep interest the article entitled “Christ in the Classroom,” by James Kallas (Aug. 30).
As a Roman Catholic, I am anxious to tell you that, in my opinion, the views expressed by Dr. James Kallas are so overwhelmingly sound that his message should be shouted from the housetops. I strongly suspect that the scenes that I witnessed on television … from the streets of Chicago depicted many of the results that come from the false doctrine of no indoctrination of any kind, whether it involves Christianity, good morals, good citizenship, or good manners. Christian education, as explained by Dr. Kallas, leads, as a rule, to self-discipline, which I believe is the key to personal happiness.
C. ELLIS HENICAN
New Orleans, La.
Dr. Kallas’s article implies what is perhaps the best case against Christian education, namely, the ever-present danger of its elevation to a status which is all out of proportion to that given it by our Lord or the Scriptures generally.… Christ said nothing about education; he said a very great deal about piety, if by piety we mean holiness.
RICHARD A. RIESEN
THE BIBLICAL BASIS
One must agree that the proposed creed for the United Chuch of Canada (“A Creed for Canadians?,” editorial, Aug. 30) is lamentably lax. It is a patent “accommodation to the temper of the times”.…
The editorial’s most trenchant criticism came in the closing paragraph: “Where is the biblical basis for a creed that neglects vital factors …?” Indeed! Where is the biblical basis for any human creed?
Church of Christ
El Monte, Calif.
TO BE ONE
“Negative Thoughts About Ecumenism” (Aug. 30) also contained some anti-biblical thoughts about the unity of the Church. If the Bible is to be truly taken as the only guide, then it matters nothing what “we have to give to each other,” but what we are able to find together in Christ.… “To be one,” truly, does not necessitate uniformity in all matters; but to therefore conclude that the present denominational divisions are permissible, even laudable, shows a lack of reading of First Corinthians 1:10–13 and Galatians 5:20. The New Testament Church, God’s Church, was one Church, one body, and no rationalizing can support any improvements on God’s design.
Christ’s Church at Remmel
While Skyline Christian Institute begins a twelve-month countdown before it launches its satellite campus (News, Aug. 30), Messiah College has already launched such a campus in cooperation with Temple University.…
The Messiah College-Temple University program is a bold attempt to provide relevant education for Christian young people through broad curricular opportunities, rich cultural advantages, and direct confrontation with the ghetto problems of urban America. Students will complete two years of work in the suburban setting of the Grantham campus. They may then study at the Temple campus for one or two years. During their study at Temple, all students will engage in a team-taught general-education course. This course on Christianity and culture will examine current problems of our society, including such topics as war and peace, the urban crisis, and racial relations. In studying these present problems, constant attention will be given to such underlying themes as the nature of man, the role of the church, and the nature of the just society.
DANIEL R. CHAMBERLAIN
ANSWER TO ATHEISM
Congratulations to Harold B. Kuhn for his article, “Atheism: The Old and the New” (Current Religious Thought, Aug. 30). He managed to cut through the plethoric body of environmental, psychological, and theological conclusions which gave rise to “Christian atheism” and present a succinct, understandable summary of that “cancer.” Would to God he or someone else could do the same in rebuttal to this newer atheism. Evangelical theology is admirable, desirable, and soul-satisfying, but it seems unable to equal modern theology in satisfying the intellect. Perhaps Mr. Kuhn should expand the last two paragraphs of his article to give us laymen the answers to the problems he identified in the first thirteen. I wonder how many semi-informed evangelical Christians give spiritual assent to their faith but secretly agree with many of the “findings” of the newer atheism?
WISH FOR LAYMEN
As a layman I want to thank you for the very fine article, “Babel or Pentecost?,” by L. Nelson Bell (“A Layman and His Faith,” Aug. 16). I wish that every layman in the country who is concerned about his Church and its message to the world could have an opportunity to read this provocative article calling attention to the causes of a gradual apostasy in the pulpit and in the churches.
TOM F. BURR
You did it! And I can hardly believe it, for most of the time those who write feature articles on the Bible in your magazine have too many hangups. But thanks to Klaas Runia for his accurate and aggressive and encompassing article (Aug. 16). “The Modern Debate Around the Bible.” Let’s have more like it.
DENNIS E. GLAD
South Park Covenant Church
HOPE FOR HARMONY
Acts XXIX (News, Aug. 16) is not the result of a “stormy chapter in the history of Campus Crusade for Christ.” Those of us who left Campus Crusade are still more than convinced that Campus Crusade is an outstanding organization accomplishing a great ministry.… We desire and expect a harmonious relationship with Campus Crusade as well as all churches and groups involved in the work of Christ.
JON E. BRAUN
Acts XXIX Fellowship
Blue Jay, Calif.
IN BOOK FORM
This is to thank you for the “Fundamentals of the Faith” booklets which have been bound in with the several issues of CHRISTIANITY TODAY. Now that the series of thirteen is complete, may I enter a plea, in which others will join, I am sure, that the entire series be bound together in a paperback. It would provide a splendid study book for adult classes looking for elective courses and would, I am sure, find many other uses.
JOHN OLDMAN, JR.
• The essays on “Fundamentals of the Faith” will appear cloth-bound in 1969 in the series of “Contemporary Evangelical Thought” volumes edited by Dr. Carl F. H. Henry.—ED.
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