DEAR EUTYCHUS V:
My Gaelic kin have a unique way of saying goodbye. “Wouldn’t it be the fine thing for us,” they cry, “if it was coming you were instead of going!” Pondering my own farewell to this column, I had to concede that J. Caesar’s mot was juster for the occasion: “This parting was well made.”
When in 1968 the editor offered me this sill, my reaction was icy. Naturally of slothful disposition, I was not eager to yoke myself to an inexorable deadline. My forerunners were giants in the land and doughty dispensers of pawky profundities. I was an alien (not even a resident one) whose grasp of the American scene was patchy and confused, and whose speech and spelling would surely betray him.
The editor persisted. We were in Singapore, and I am not clear to this day whether his prayers had anything to do with it, but I picked up some fell Oriental scourge. Suspiciously he had the right pills on hand. I regained health. He acquired a Eutychus. Readers of this journal, most of whom had never done me any harm, were lumbered with two years of low farce. I am grateful for their forbearance when I got mumpish and muttersome, or descended to amiable idiocies because I had to catch the mail and was utterly devoid of inspiration.
For you, my successor, as I vacate my precarious perch, I have real good wishes, deep sympathy, and an obsessive curiosity about what sort of a hold the editor has over you. I apologize if my display has encouraged the irrefutable argument that no one could possibly do worse, for the whole operation is an invitation to hara-kiri. The monster grows, and you ruefully recall the little girl who, scolded for rudeness, boasted: “Well, Satan may have told me to scratch, but spitting was my own idea.” Emboldened by anonymity, you set about the establishment, the DAR, the Flat Earthers, and the occasional erring archimandrite, with never a Faustian or eschatological thought. (I had the added advantage of being 3,000 miles beyond contradiction.) Having in the process disrupted your own household and worked your brain to the bone (which striking figure I owe to J. Durante), you finally hear your name trumpeted to a hostile world. You have a fleeting vision of the three other Eutychuses-emeritii, with us to this day and behind their electrified fences flourishing as the green bay tree, but it comforts you little. You’ve always known yourself to be a bit of a charlatan, but never more than then.
But keep your equilibrium, not least in words. There are now four of us who know what you are going through.
THE NEED TO SPEAK
I have just read your excellent editorial “Another Look at Abstinence” (Nov. 6) and wish to thank you for the courage and insight expressed.
It may be that we who are abstainers are at least partly responsible for the “conspiracy of silence” about alcohol. We are haunted still by tragic, sad, and faulty images as a “hang-over” from prohibition. More than that, we have made it difficult for people to turn down a drink. To do so has implied that since we do not drink, we are better than those who do. We have legalistically insisted on dividing people into the “wets and drys,” the “drinkers and non-drinkers,” the “bad and the good.” I wonder if the Church of Jesus Christ is willing yet to look at the difference between being “an abstainer” and being “anti-drinker.” The first is a valid position; the second is not. The first can be perpetuated; the second is difficult to sell to anyone.
Abstinence can be sold—but not in a judgmental context! It can be sold as a part of a radiant, relaxed, happy commitment to Jesus Christ.
Oregon Council on Alcohol Problems
The editorial on abstinence was factual, well written, and pertinent in both timeliness and focus.
The facts you cited to give some measure of the enormity of the alcohol problem are certainly not disputed by any responsible source today. In fact, you have understated the situation as regards the tragic traffic toll taken by drinking drivers. Most recent estimates show more than 30,000 traffic deaths due to accidents involving drinking drivers last year, and almost 60 per cent of fatal traffic accidents did involve drinking. Alcoholism is increasing even as efforts to handle it through rehabilitation are stepped up.
Public Relations Manager
Preferred Risk Mutual Insurance Co.
West Des Moines, Iowa
I was quite dumbfounded.… Because of the normally high quality of your articles, I was a little dismayed to find that the editorial staff took this sub-Christian position—this legalistic position—on the perennial issue of alcoholic beverages.
I believe that … abstinence totally violates the spirit of the New Testament.… Jesus not only made wine, but he drank it, and please don’t strain a gnat by using that “they lived in a different culture” cop-out!… I don’t advocate a wholesale turning to alcohol in the name of liberty or anything else. I would discourage such a thing.… The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation. It is a Gospel of the glorious liberty of God’s children, not of a legalistic advocacy of abstinence.
Hurrah for your editorial! It was both gratifying and encouraging to us to find that there are still those in positions of influence who take a definite stand on the use of alcohol and who have the courage to write about this serious social problem.
It does not accomplish much to antagonize people with an overly emotional approach or to make claims which cannot be supported. Although we already agree with your opinion, we were impressed anew with the reasons you give for complete abstinence from the use of alcoholic beverages and feel that they are overwhelmingly convincing.
A GRATEFUL CHURCH
Thank you for the excellent article by Eva Chybova Bock, “The Legacy of John Amos Comenius” (Nov. 6). This is an excellently written article that is historical in its facts and shows a sensitivity to the Christianity of Bishop Comenius. We, of the Moravian Church, are grateful to have the life of this great bishop and educator as a part of the historical tradition of our church.
AN ISSUE OF CONTRADITIONS
I was interested in noting that Howard Snyder’s article, “The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit,” and Harold Kuhn’s article, “Sensitivity Training: Touch and Grow?” appeared in the same issue (Nov. 6). But while Mr. Snyder builds a case for power inhertent in the small-group fellowship and its positive potential for Christian living, Mr. Kuhn tends to put a very negative label on the small group engaged in personal encounter.
It is not clear whether Mr. Kuhn is raising serious questions about the bioenergetic method and the use of nudity therapy, or whether he is panning the whole sensitivity or personal encounter approach. Both of these methods are rather specific and do not characterize the whole of the intensive small-group experience movement.
For participants, the goals of sensitivity training might be summarized as follows: increased self-knowledge and self-insight; understanding conditions which inhibit or facilitate group functioning; understanding interpersonal operations in groups; and development of skills for diagnosing individual, group, and organizational behavior. Increased understanding and growth toward any of these goals would certainly help persons function more effectively in any small group. Unless we study the potential in the sensitivity group carefully, we may get all hung up on the sensational and bizarre aspects and fail to recognize a powerful potential for developing the small-group fellowship at a deeper level of communion which Mr. Snyder suggests ought to become basic structure within the Church.
Our Savior Lutheran Church
West Lafayette, Ind.
Thank you for introducing the subject of sensitivity training as a matter for thought.… I am of the conviction that sensitivity training is a viable option both in evangelism and in Christian education.… Like speech, it is a tool. Don’t knock the tool just because of the way some use it. Why not ask someone who represents NTL to write—someone who has had more experience with sensitivity training than merely reading about it?
First Baptist Church
ZAP—with one journalistic swipe Harold Kuhn has blue-penciled out the entire sensitivity-training movement. And as one who has benefited greatly from a venture into “group,” I must protest against the almost categorical lumping of all such techniques together. Granted Mr. Kuhn’s critique is aimed at the more spectacular and controversial type of group (and is from a Christian standpoint good advice, I think), I question the implication, drawn from the closing paragraph, that the Christian should avoid all such training.…
As the author is certainly aware, there are many other types of group, led by responsible therapists, by born-again Christian psychologists, and by Christian laymen, that certainly do not fit the picture he portrays. I have the feeling that Mr. Kuhn, given more time and space, would agree that the entire sensitivity-training field is not to be suspect, that valuable insights can be gained in some groups, and that some of the experiences gained in such groups would be of great benefit to the Church.
AND MISSIONS, TOO
Many thanks for Mr. Kucharsky’s fine article, “American Ecumenism at the Crossroads” (Nov. 20). What he is writing is not cheerful news, but I am sure it is correct.
We here at the School of Missions are continually realizing that the brand of world missions envisaged by the ecumenical movement is a far cry from the evangelization of the world. It is much closer to Hocking’s idea about the reconception of religions.
The evangelical wing of the Church—so far—has not believed the radical departure which is being put into practice. Most ministers and most missionaries of the older missionary societies are inclined to think that the changes being proposed in no way involve abandonment of the Great Commission. Christianity Today must help make clear that missions stand at a real crossroad.
Dean, School of World Mission
Fuller Theological Seminary
A WOMAN’S ROLE
Thank God for new insights he gives! Rolf E. Aaseng’s article, “Male and Female Created He Them (Nov. 20),” was interesting in its presentation of new thoughts on the importance of men’s and women’s roles in society. It brought to me new understanding of the Christian viewpoint and what my role should be as a Christian woman—a complementary one rather than an entity in itself. We need each other as well as Christ to live complete lives.
MORE THAN BLACK
I want to thank you for giving the kind of publicity you did leading up to our Congress on Evangelism. On behalf of all of those who attended the Congress on Evangelism, thank you.
I would like to refer to an article in your October 9 issue entitled, “Many Whites Attend Black Congress.” I do not recall, nor has any information ever gone out from this office, that we set out to have a “Black Congress on Evangelism.” I am proud of many things, but I am not proud of the present separatist movement.
Those of us who met in New York City and subsequently in Washington, D.C., set out to sponsor a Congress on Evangelism that we felt would meet our particular needs, but at no time did we discuss or even suggest that it would be restricted to Negroes.
I think this point is very important, because your readers, particularly white evangelicals, should understand that for the most part the Negro church is not a part of, nor does it wish to be psychologically included in the so-called black separatist movement.
Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church
Los Angeles, Calif.
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