Settling For A Woodshed

In Delaware once during student days I met my only authentic hobo. He told me he always quit a job after he’d got the hang of it. He said there was no better reason for quitting, that it freed all that much more potential for crossing trackless sands and uncharted seas. I felt there was a flaw in this somewhere but couldn’t put my finger on it just then.

Ask even a non-hobo what his ambitions are and you get some revealing answers. Not just from the boy who wanted nothing more out of life than to be able to toss an egg into an electric fan; nor from the fellow I know who will reply dreamily that he would like to help redress the balance by hijacking Miami-wards the weekly Cubana flight from Mexico City to Havana. No, Captain Cook was the boy for my money. Listen to this: “I … had ambition not only to go farther than any man had ever been before, but as far as it was possible for a man to go.”

Or take Norman Thomas, who died last December at the age of eighty-four. A Presbyterian pastor who became leader of the Socialist party and six-time presidential candidate, he never won an election, never even received a sizable vote. It must have been a Sisyphean process; yet one of his confessed aims was altogether laudable: “To live to be my age.” That’s something for those who go into a premature crumble, saying farewell to youth and ambition simultaneously, and finding themselves among those middle-aged “drawn with dull consent into insipid misdoing and shabby achievement.”

The percipient Thoreau as usual had a word for it, in his journal for July 14, 1852: “The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or perchance a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length, the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them.” I think it was Hazlitt who illustrated man’s uniqueness in terms of his being concerned with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be. It is not ever thus; the more resourceful of the species has found a way of avoiding painful dilemmas. Said Belinda in Vanbrugh’s The Provoked Wife: “Ay, but you know we must return good for evil.” Replied Lady Brute: “That may be a mistake in the translation.”

Come to think of it, this is a promising line of argument for the scholar who shows an illogical selectivity in his approach to Scripture and its authority. His readers will acclaim him, both because what is radical evidently must these days be true, and because he is helping them toward that “broad religion of humanity” whose claims are of a comfortably undemanding sort in which the things that ought to be are less at odds with the things that are.

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Back In School

As one of the original Abington High School Bible-readers at the time devotional exercises were banned, I for one am glad to see God’s Word back in the school!

Professor Miller’s comments (“Public School Bible Study: Sectarianism in Disguise?,” Aug. 1) are cogent and significant. We do need to make sure that the Bible is interpreted properly, but exposure to God’s Word is over half the battle in evangelism. Over-zealous criticism can shove the Bible back to the shelves of the church library, where today’s teen-ager won’t get the wrong idea—or any idea.


The Salvation Army

Massena, N.Y.

We have already too much paganism in our public schools without further dampening the spirit of teaching the Bible in the public schools. Dr. Miller accuses the teachers of the Bible of not rendering a theological interpretation on the authority of the Bible. There is only one source of authority of the Bible, and that is the Bible itself. Any statements about the Bible, whether they come from supporters of the Graf-Wellhausen theory of the origin and development of the Pentateuch or of those who follow the theology of Archibald Alexander Hodge, are theological statements about the Bible, and they may be based on revelation, or they may not be based on revelation. Revelation does not change.… Religion with revelation is the basis of a good theology and a good religion.

Bethel—St. Matthew United

Methodist Charge

Laban, Va.

Truth Aglow

You read and read and read and you gain a lot, but you have the feeling that you have digested huge quantities from which only a small portion has really been truth. Then along comes an article that speaks so clearly and rings so true that it sets your heart aglow, and you can only bow your head and say, “Oh, thank you, God!” Such an article was the one written by Orville S. Walters (Aug. 1), “Maturity: When?”

Loxley, Ala.

Family Jewel

Your editorial “Entering God’s Family” (Aug. 1) is a real gem. The truth is always like pearls of wisdom in a setting of gold. In a day when clever and pious cliches are used and accepted without regard to any veracity, it was a thrill to read in clear black and white that “it simply isn’t true” that all men are God’s children.…

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The practical implications of your thesis should rejoice the hearts and encourage the work of sincere evangelicals, but will probably sear the consciences and embitter the minds of the ecclesiastical social-gospelers.

Christ Lutheran Church

Lansing, Michigan

One For Now

Certainly “The One True Religion” (Aug. 1) is a most needed essay for today.… If there was ever a time when we all need to stand up and be counted for the One Saviour of the world, it is now.… Publish more like this; our hat’s off to you.


Bonita, La.

Goethe’s Bores

Eutychus IV certainly is entitled to his opinion with regard to the relationship between dogmatism and degrees (Aug. 1). But to conjure up the Geheimbde Rat of Weimar with his unjust and foul tirade against the pietists (truly a sweeping generalization par excellence) and then to mix him together with that quartertruth quip (or is it quirk?) of the truth, the foot, and the stirrup suggests the direction of the hideous hang-up of friend Eutychus.…

Perhaps, if only for truth’s sake, the record should be set straight concerning Goethe’s “terrible bores … exclusively people of moderate understanding.” Professor Philipp Jakob Spener, who taught at Frankfurt, Dresden, and Berlin, and founded the University of Halle, was the father of pietism. A professor of Oriental languages at Halle became the central figure of pietism: August Hermann Francke. And only an ignoramus terribulus would accuse Nikolaus Ludwig Graf von Zinzendorf of being “a terrible bore”.…

But let me assure you—that in spite of the occasional slip-showing, the Eutychus column is generally highly enjoyable and often profitable reading.

Asst. Pastor

Bethany Baptist Church

Vancouver, B.C.

A Refreshing Report

“Missouri Synod Extends a Hand” (Aug. 1) was well done. It was factual, well balanced, free of bias or personal opinion. The author carefully avoided use of those dangerous words by which an individual or an institution is “labeled” or “branded.” The plain, simply stated truth is refreshing because it is so uncommon.

Your editorial on the Missouri Synod convention was one of the sanest pieces of writing to come out of the Denver convention. The article on Dr. J. A. O. Preus was also eminently fair.

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In the last months it seems you have been bringing the Gospel into sharp focus. Your articles have both feet on the Scriptures and you have reached into areas that previously have been avoided in other religious writings. I refer to such editorials as “Judgment at the Lord’s Table” and “Entering God’s Family.”

Salem Lutheran Church

Salem, Ill.

Your designation of Christian News as “ultra-conservative” was outrageous and insulting to loyal Lutherans in the Missouri Synod. I appreciate the fact, however, that Mr. Chandler writes as a member of the United Presbyterian Church—an apostate and ultra-liberal church if there ever was one.

You put words in Dr. Preus’s mouth when you say that he is not concerned with “theological nit-picking but wants to get on with the central teaching of the Bible: the Gospel.” He implied this, you say. I say you implied it. Members of the UPCUSA could hardly be expected to understand Missouri’s distaste for heretics.…

Inaccurate and misleading also is your reference to Dr. Harms as “gentlemanly” and “widely respected by both camps.” Dr. Harms was often rude and bumptious to loyal Missourians who sought to meet and correspond with him concerning the liberal trends in Synod.… But then Synod gave its answer to Dr. Harms in Denver.…

Sad to say, your distorted and disheartening coverage will be the source of much confusion and anxiety within the Synod and the Christian Church as a whole. It did not properly emphasize the great gains made by conservatives. In fact, the reporting would have been more appropriate from a secular religion editor of a liberal newspaper.…

I have noted with increasing alarm the neutralist, bland, middle-of-the-road slant of the entire magazine. The ecumenical slant of the news reporting has been particularly noteworthy. Evangelical events take a second place. Is it just going to go on and on?

Watertown, Mass.

• At a press conference Preus clearly championed preaching the Gospel over splitting theological hairs. As for Harms, Synod’s answer to him included several standing ovations.—ED.

Ver-r-ry interesting, the summation of the Denver convention of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. I would agree on most everything Mr. Chandler said about the tumultuous haggling, except: (I) It is not the “Lutheran World Fellowship”; LWF means “Lutheran World Federation” (editorial slip maybe?). (2) The presence of Fr. Boyd, Episcopal liberal spokesman, did not break “closed communion.” The correct term is “close communion,” meaning that one must first examine himself on the basis of the Word of God before he can scripturally confess he is in closeness, or harmony, with our doctrine. Therefore, the proper term is “close” meaning adherence closely as in unity of the Body of Christ.

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God bless President Jacob A. O. Preus as he assumes his duties in a truly cloudy horizon.

Trinity Ev. Lutheran Church

Woodward, Okla.

Convention Perception

I appreciated reading James Huffman’s report on the North American Christian Convention (News, Aug. 1). His report is perceptive and well written. He did a good job in covering this significant convention.

Clinton, Ill.

Fly Me To The Moon?

God created man in his own image and gave him dominion over everything that moves upon the earth. Remarkable is the progress man has made, even to landing on the moon!

But does man have any right to colonize the moon?… “The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the sons of men” (Ps. 115:15). Perhaps we are trespassing, somewhat like the builders of the Tower of Babel.

Some of our scientific talent and the billions of dollars now being spent on our space program could be invested in supplying food and housing and useful employment for our fellow men in need.

Woodbum, Ore.

Presumably the moon is as old as earth. And some assert that on the earth evolution has produced man and other animals. What has evolution produced on the moon? Interesting rocks?

Memphis, Tenn.

Gluttonous Stuff

How refreshing is Addison H. Leitch’s daring to mention gluttony as one of the “virtues” of some Christians in his article “Heady Stuff” (Current Religious Thought, July 18). Congratulations to him!

Bellflower, Calif.

If he wants something “modern,” why didn’t he pick up D. M. Lloyd-Jones, J. C. Ryle, A. W. Pink, I. H. Murray, or G. Vos? These men uphold the faith. J. I. Packer and F. Schaeffer have defined terminology quite well and this group of men doesn’t contradict itself. Studying Barth, Brunner, Bonhoeffer, Bultmann, Tillich, etc., is a pure waste of time. Anything beyond casual reading of T. S. Eliot, W. F. Graham, C. S. Lewis, O. Roberts, W. Nee, and the like is also a waste of time. These men can express our faith, if they truly believe, but are not qualified to define it.

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Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

Weighted Dice

I feel so sorry for the two groups described in the article by Lon Woodrum, “The Shame of the Game” (July 18).…

What opportunity did the Roman soldiers have to know what they were gambling away? They were the hated heathen with whom God’s chosen people would have nothing to do.… Besides that, the Christ the teachers were to proclaim, they delivered up to be crucified. They betrayed their trust. They weighted the dice.

Americans are also frequently betrayed. When they go to church, instead of hearing that Christ is the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world, they may hear that Christ did not really die, that the story of his resurrection was fabricated by his disciples who wished it were true, that the ten commandments were nailed to the cross, that there is no devil, and so on.… “The Shame of the Game” is that those who should have been teachers leading people to Christ have weighted the dice.

Supervisor of Elem. Education

Columbia Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Takoma Park, Md.

Synodical Stretching

“Black Threats Move United Church of Christ” (July 18) inadvertently gave a misleading impression of the tone, proceedings, and conclusions of General Synod. I might further question whether Mr. Huffman did his homework.

The article suggests that Synod was in the grip of a group of black activists who threatened and bulldozed their way to power. This is somewhat at variance with the facts …

Mr. Huffman failed to report Synod’s reaction to Mr. James Forman’s demands for “reparations” except by alluding to spirited debate. The fact is that Synod rejected those demands completely.…

Mr. Huffman intimates that the “youth” delegates were brushed off. The fact is that, largely at their urging, Synod adopted two major resolutions dealing with the war in Viet Nam. It should be further noted that Synod resolved “youth thirty years and under shall constitute at least 20 per cent of the membership of the next Synod.” …

Of course Synod was a meeting fraught with tension. Only those afraid to meet and engage in the root problems of their times can avoid tension. However, the word means “stretching.” It is when men are stretched that the will of God gets through. The delegates probably didn’t wholly do the will of God. But it can be said that in spite of undoubted mistakes, they tried. Little more could be asked, could it?

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First Congregational Church

Marseilles, Ill.

Of Torture And Tyranny

I have been trying for three years to believe in Billy Graham, G. Aiken Taylor of the Presbyterian Journal, and CHRISTIANITY TODAY and have failed. Just the fact that Christians have been persecuted by Communists and tortured, yet even though it has been going on for fifty years I had to find it out just three years ago in a Catholic paper called the Wanderer, condemns you. Right this minute only one-tenth of 1 per cent of the population know that these things are taking place.

You are guilty, guilty, guilty, and it is time for you to make an about face. It is time for you to start demanding that all Christian churches pray on Sunday for the martyrs and tell their congregations what is going on. They have a right to know.

Covington, La.

You certainly do well in exposing the viciousness of Communism.… But there is one country to which I would like to draw your attention, i.e., the shameful totalitarianism in the cradle of democracy and civilization, which badly hurts the cause of the Gospel, both in Greece and abroad.… We have been waiting for a strong editorial which would expose this inhuman, anti-Christian, anti-Evangelium tyranny, which certainly is no credit to NATO, the United States, or the Western free community.

Sohlbacherstrabe, Germany

High Priority

Christianity Today holds a high place of priority in my reading. By its many constructive provocations and penetrating insights, my ministry has been greatly enhanced. You are doing a remarkable job.

Be assured of my prayers for your vital ministry.

Patterson Park Brethren Church

Dayton, Ohio

Your entire magazine is mentally and spiritually stimulating and enlightening. I am glad you are flexible enough in policy to publish writers whose viewpoints may not be the traditional ones.

Dayton, Tenn.

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