Putting Arkansas In Its Place

When Mr. Nixon last month announced the names of his Cabinet there was one singular omission. Years ago the person in question had publicly offered his services to Washington as a dollar-a-year man. The scheme fell through, perhaps because he stipulated salary in advance, but he did put on record (MGM K30-333-B) his surefire formula for putting the country back on its feet. The essential thesis of James Durante, shorn of characteristic embellishment, is based on one hitherto overlooked fact: The State of Arkansas is in the wrong place. Therein, affirms J.D., lies the root of America’s malaise. Don’t you feel the thudding impact of its utter simplicity?

Dear demonstrative students, when one of your current grievances is put right—when wars shall be no more or the earth is finally pronounced flat—fill the void with this Worthy Cause. It coincides in part with your yen to hasten away the former things, preferably by revolutionary process, and to create a valiant new world (the Genesis version having been, of course, a none-too-successful dry run).

Professors of sundry disciplines such as philosophy, political science, and English literature (remember Birnam Wood and Dunsinane?), here is your opportunity. This is a topic warranted to revive the somnolent who have dropped into class for a rest between campus outcries. Each of your subjects is embraced in Durante’s stirring challenge—which, incidentally, would make a superb exam question. “ ‘You can have a better nation just by changing the location of the State of Arkansas’—Discuss.” Keep in mind the possibility of bonus marks for those embryonic engineers who sneer Phoenix-wards with a telling allusion to London Bridge.

As for you pastors, this is a natural. The more piously inclined can thunder on “Dealing with the Arkansaws in your life.” Others can strafe their congregations (and take a sideswipe at the Administration) with a spell-binder entitled, “If you can’t move a Little Rock, what chance have you with mountains?

Proudly I tried that one for size on an unsuspecting friend. A bleak riposte was my portion; jealousy will out. “A man who could make so vile a pun,” he sniffed, “would not scruple to pick a pocket.” Alas for him, he left out the quotes, and I know my John Dennis. I’d rather be a punner than a plagiarizer.

Political considerations reluctantly forced me to leave out the vilest pun of all (no prizes for spotting it). President Nixon might just have a minor post still vacant, but my expectations are not great from one who spurns a giant like Durante.

The Reach For The Moon

Mr. Kucharsky’s “letter to the astronauts” (Dec. 20) placed me in a position I don’t particularly care to be in; namely, as one who is opposed in principle to space travel.

I see nothing wrong with landings on the moon, although I am unhappy at the thought of using the moon as a base from which to fight our enemies on earth. The adventure of the moon shot itself is certainly exciting and calls for much courage, and I wish them all success.

Interplanetary space travel is something else; and interstellar space travel is ridiculous to contemplate. According to some rough calculations we made in our office, it would take the astronauts one and two-thirds years (based on the time the Mariner took to reach Mars in 1965) to get to the planet Saturn, and seven years to get to Pluto, both in our solar sytem.

Our bodies cannot even travel around the earth in a jetliner without the “human clock” being thrown out of kilter. Just think of physical and psychological problems involved in a fourteen year space flight! God gave us a beautiful planet. Instead of trying to be what we were never intended to be, let’s be good stewards of the earth and seek the fulfillment that God did intend for us, the abundant life he offers in Jesus Christ.

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Decision

Minneapolis, Minn.

Editor

In the rush of preparations for the Apollo 8 launch, I took time out to read Mr. Kucharsky’s very thoughtful and perceptive letter in CHRISTIANITY TODAY.

We thank you for it, and I am sending it to the Apollo 8 astronauts.… I am sure they will enjoy reading it before they lift off for Apollo 8.

Ass’t Administrator for Public Affairs National Aeronautics and Space

Administration

Washington, D. C.

The writer quotes Gordon H. Clark as having said: “God’s first command to Adam contained the injunction to subdue nature. Shooting at the moon, therefore, is a divinely appointed task.” I presume this is referring to Genesis 1:28, where God said: “Replenish the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over … every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Here man is definitely limited to earth. Psalm 115:16 supports this: “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S; but the earth hath he given to the children of men”.…

Man need not go to other planets for the necessities of the natural life, for the Bible says: “The earth is full of thy riches”.… God certainly makes it plain … that our needs will be supplied if we live in his will.

Treasurer

Haug Foreign Mission Inc.

Clarion, Iowa

Redemptive Relevance

Your editorial entitled “Preaching: The Folly of God” (Dec. 20) appeared to be more of an apology to hide behind than a mandate to proclaim the Good News. I concur that the Good News must be preached. But it is altogether too easy a temptation to conclude that we have preached the Good News once we have uttered some of our time-worn and overworked shibboleths. Some of our classic clichés can be (not necessarily “will be”) as devoid of meaning as some of the most avant-garde approaches. Authentic preaching will be redemptive in its result irrespective of its form. And I have an idea that redemptive preaching is terribly relevant in any age.

Princeton, N. J.

The Preacher As Teacher

Every paragraph of R. E. O. White’s article (“Pastor’s Predicament: When to Study?,” Dec. 6) was pertinent.

The poverty of ideas in the evangelical Church belies its insistence on the riches of God’s revelation, and is in itself spiritual deficiency. The dichotomy between the “intellectual life” and the “spiritual life” must not be any longer perpetuated. The truly spiritual man is the man of sound judgment (1 Cor. 2:15). The truly holy man is transformed by the renewal of his mind (Rom. 12:2). The Church is gathered and built up by instruction (see the five columns in Moulton-Geden under didasko and related words). A basic qualification for the minister is that he be skillful in teaching (1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:24).

Dept. of Systematic Theology

Covenant Theological Seminary

St. Louis, Mo.

“Pastor’s Predicament” was a thought-provoking article, and I especially enjoyed the picture on the cover! I would be willing to lend out some hammers! Bellevue, Wash.

MRS. JACK OVERMAN

The Dividing Line

A news item on page 46 of your issue for December 6 reports Episcopal Bishop Harvey Butterfield as saying he was ashamed of the action taken by the Vermont Council of Churches.… I must say that I, as an Episcopalian, am ashamed of Bishop Butterfield.

Is there any conceivable reason why a group of Christians presumably organized to carry on Christian work and activities should not want to have non-Christians associated with them in their work? The Unitarians are certainly as non-Christian as Jews and/or Muslims in that they deny, as an article of their faith, the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that, according to the First Epistle of John, classifies them as anti-Christian.

Tyler, Tex.

Of Tongues And Confusion

I have just finished reading “The Confusion About Tongues” (Dec. 6), and it was refreshing. This is a most timely article and much needed in this time of confusion about glossolalia. It will help clear up some of this confusion. Mobile, Ala.

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After the author so completely belittles a gift of God and those who practice such ecstatic utterence, would it not be unsafe to accept the authority of one who says, “I would that ye all spake with tongues,” or “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all”? If Paul is still so immature or emotionally out of balance as to encourage speaking and praying and singing in tongues, perhaps this is not such a bad condition to live in. Paul seems to be such a trusted authority in any other area of divine revelation.

Church of Emmanuel

Foxboro, Mass.

The “Confusion About Tongues” has hardly been corrected.… Full scriptural consideration has not been given. It is apparent the author was trying to prove his point.… The statement that the speaker in tongues “makes his emotions the basis of his belief and religious experience” is simply not true. The experience is a spiritual one, not an emotional one.

Chadron, Nebr.

We Pentecostalists do not spend as much time talking in tongues as denominationals do talking about tongues. If the writer’s intention was to reduce the confusion, he has miserably failed, in my estimation.

No matter how you slice it, the fact remains that the apostle Paul, the man God used most in writing the New Testament and shaping the Church for all time, “spake with tongues more than they all”.… If the zeal of this learned man of God for high spiritual principle demanded speaking in tongues, that’s good enough for me.

Hill City, Kan.

That article, especially the section on “Paul’s Appraisal of Tongues,” couldn’t be supported against a breath of fresh air.

Brooklyn Park Alliance Church

Osseo, Minn.

He is quite correct that tongues benefit mainly the individual (unless interpreted) and that tongues involve the more emotional areas of a person’s personality in prayer instead of the conscious rational faculties as in praying in one’s own language. That is to say that tongue-speaking is mainly for personal devotional use and to be heard in public only when it can be interpreted. Most mature Pentecostal people have been saying this since Azuza street!!

The important error in Dr. Tuland’s article which further confused the question is when he tries to distinguish the tongues of Acts 2 and First Corinthians as “intelligible speech” and “ecstatic babbling” respectively. It seems clear that the reason the tongues of Acts 2 required no interpreter (or translator, whichever he prefers) is that the visitors to Jerusalem who heard them and understood them used the languages they heard—they were not foreign to them. In the Corinthian congregation, however, one speaking in the language of “Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia” et al. (Acts 2:9 f.) would not be understood; hence, an interpreter (translator) would be needed. In other words the need of a second gift was not the nature of the tongue but the constituency of the hearers.

Associate Pastor

First Assembly of God

Akron, Ohio

An excellent article; one of the best ever written on the subject. So fair to all parties who may differ about glossolalia. The superb feature is the treatment of the Greek verbs. Such Scriptural exposition clears away the “confusion.”

Warren Park

Christian Reformed Church

Cicero, Ill.

As to the author’s distinction between “translator” and “interpreter,” he is doubtless correct. He may be interested to know that some people feel that the gift of speaking in tongues (when it is intended for public use and is to be followed by “interpretation”) is just as much a prayer as is the devotional use of tongues in private. The “interpretation” which follows is the response of God to the prayer of the Spirit (Rom. 8:26, 27). Understood thusly perhaps it would fit into the author’s conception of true “interpretation”.…

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The author struggles valiantly with the text trying to answer other problems that come to his mind. On this he is to be commended. I have found from experience that most of these questions dissolve into the atmosphere when one takes the leap of faith into this new dimension of the Spirit. I highly recommend this way of life to him.

Westminster Presbyterian Church

Natchez, Miss.

I regret that author Tuland did not study his lesson better before reciting!… If he had taken the trouble to candidly expose himself to the wealth of excellent literature that has been published since 1960 about the charismatic movement, he should have discovered that the question is not so much “increasingly controversial” as it is that there remain many who are adamantly critical of the phenomenon in spite of the evidence.

Let it be said at once that I am not a tongues-speaker myself, lest my reply is quickly dismissed as the defensiveness of a practitioner of this spiritual gift.…

As happens so often when so much of the weight of proof for a theological viewpoint is placed upon fine points of linguistics and exegesis, the Sovereign Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17) in Christian experience supersedes and confounds our airtight opinions by giving gifts “as he wills” in ways we sometimes wish he wouldn’t.…

The judgment that tongues-speaking “seems to be highly overrated as a means of making known salvation as a transforming experience” betrays ignorance of the remarkable record that the charismatic movement has in the basic evangelistic task of the Church. Granted that the Christian message must be balanced and that “over-accentuation of any doctrine is a distortion of the Gospel,” I only wish evangelical Christendom would manifest a greater ability on several scores than it does now to preach and to practice the whole counsel of God!

Mennonite Church of Scottdale

Scottdale, Pa.

While I am in fundamental agreement with Dr. Tuland’s thesis that glossolalia is overrated in many groups, I feel that he fails to articulate fully St. Paul’s handling of this difficult question.…

The main issue here is Paul’s approach to the problem of disruptive glossolalia in the Church: it was not suppression and deprecation of the Corinthians’ zeal for the charismata—especially glossolalia, but rather he stressed redirection of that enthusiasm toward more constructive channels, e.g., prophecy and the “higher gifts” (1 Cor. 12:31; 14:1, 39).…

I suspect that the reason this debate becomes so emotionally explosive is because of the hidden (and utterly false) premise that the ability to speak in tongues raises one’s “spirituality rating”.… I gather that the Apostle was not interested in “ratings,” but in mutual love and upbuilding in the Christian faith.…

Rather than making blanket denials of the modern charismata from theological presuppositions, or insisting that a certain spiritual gift is the only entrance into the full Christian life, let each side of this unfortunate debate seek to understand the other in love and compassion, and to judge all acts and attitudes as to how they increase love in the Church and exalt Jesus Christ.

Lincoln, Neb.

He reminds me of Nicodemus in his naïveté of the experience. Millions can refute his conclusions in a number of experiential ways.…

Next time you might ask a Pentecostal devotee to demythologize the confusion which your Ph.D. contributor has created.

Secretary-Editor

Charismatic Communion of

Presbyterian Ministers

El Reno, Okla.

I am ready to concede some excesses, and it seems that Luther was also. There are few if any responsible “Pentecostal” organizations who have failed to maintain a clearly intelligible ministry. If this were not true, they would long ago have floundered. If Dr. Tuland wants an experience without emotional involvement, he will have to base it on some text other than the Bible. The argument is not that “tongues” indicate spiritual maturity, but that they signify spiritual, mental, and emotional commitment to the will of God—that is to say, an immersion in the Spirit of God.

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Church of God

Waynesboro, Va.

It might well be said of the author as a new radio commercial says of a deodorant, “Don’t knock-knock it unless you have tried-tried it.”

First Assembly of God

Winston-Salem, N. C.

I regretfully “take pen in hand” to protest against the article on “tongues.” The Pentecostal—otherwise known as charismatic—movement has been by many hailed as the third great force in Christianity, and to dismiss it in the cavalier manner of that article is deplorable and unworthy of the high standards of your magazine.

Actually, rather than a “third force” (which would imply, perhaps, that it was as opposed to Catholicism and Protestantism as these have been to each other), it is a penetrating force, vivifying both Catholicism and at least the “old line” denominations.

Monument Valley, Utah

With great eagerness I read “The Confusion About Tongues,” hoping to get some relief from the confusion, but it was the same old wearisome reasoning entirely from one side of the fence.

However, it doesn’t seem to make too much difference to God how many reasons scholars discover to downgrade this particular gift. He goes right on blessing and using the charismatic movement to bring new life into churches of all denominations. The spirit of love that flows through this movement across all religious barriers is one of the great ecumenical phenomena of our time.

Milford Congregational Church

Milford, Kan.

His question should be, “Are tongues for today?” …

No, according to God’s word they have ceased. We should go on to completeness found in God’s word, revealed to Paul, as the Holy Spirit told him to write in Romans 16:25.

Phoenix, Ariz.

Christmas Gift

Your Christmas issue was to me a gift as pleasing as some useful item given me by a loved one and wrapped in the most beautiful package. Outstanding in this issue was David T. Evans’s “Christmas Anew!,” which found this reader another “Avery” who found the frustrations of the ministry tempting him several times lately to leave.… Since reading Avery’s experience of perplexity and the renewal, his prayer has been prayed much by this “Avery,” who looks forward to “Christmas Anew!” The editorials of this issue were exceptionally good.

The United Methodist Church

Rector, Pa.

Where The Need Is Greatest

I am really disappointed in your editorial “The Chicago Riot Report” (Dec. 20) for it points up a lack of sensitivity to the great need of the Christian Church today—namely, to practice what it preaches. The Church will never win over a highly secular and materialistic society by simply stating that “man’s first need is the Gospel of Christ” and then leaving it there.…

Christ himself would be found today where the need is the greatest, where the hungry, thirsty, friendless, ill-clothed, sick of mind and body, in prison, are. The average churchgoer is no more concerned about these unfortunates than is any other part of our society—maybe even less.

Faith without works is dead. Preaching the Gospel without action connoting a “born-again” experience and a “works” vitality is a sham.

Colton, Calif.

At The Convention

Your comment on “Balancing Church Power” (Editorial, Dec. 20) is of much concern to me.… I have been a delegate to four state conventions of the Congregational Church—United Church of Christ. You gave a good description of their procedure.… We were handed a stack of mimeographed matter about which we knew little or nothing. We voted on them, after a short discussion. My home church knew nothing about them, so I had to vote without any hint as to how they felt.… Such material should be forwarded to the local churches in time for study and discussion.

Norfolk, Neb.

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