Where Have All The Pirates Gone?
Last week I rediscovered a poem called “God’s Funeral,” in which Thomas Hardy pictures the passing mourners who
Struck out sick thoughts that could be overheard: …
“How sweet it was in years far hied
To start the wheels of day with trustful prayer,
To lie down liegely at the eventide
And feel a blest assurance he was there!”
An unblest assurance-company agent (forgive the allusion; the point comes later) happened to call that evening. My needs were modest: a policy against fire, flood, burglary, and personal accident. The agent decided that, bless my innocent heart, I had set my sights too low, and with an earnest altruism rare in the knockabout world of commerce threw in other exigencies at no extra charge.
I am now protected against (pass the magnifying glass) thunderbolts and earthquakes, civil commotions and labor disturbances, and much more besides. Included is a splendid and sonorous cover against “Malicious Persons acting on behalf of or in connection with any political organization” (are you thinking what I’m thinking?). Oh yes, and my servants may breathe easily in case of “personal injury, disease or damage to grooms, coachmen and gardeners, but excluding chauffeurs.” A sour note, that—what if my driver is struck down by a wasting pestilence?
Finally, I will lose nothing in the event of “military or usurped power.” It should comfort me, but it makes me vaguely uneasy. Do they know something we don’t? Have they done a deal with the coming junta? And why, I demanded of a dazed agent, was I being given no protection against pirates? Everybody in the old-fashioned policies lived in mortal dread of them.
But more than pirates had been downgraded. Gone too were those explicit references to “Acts of God.” It seemed that my upstart company, having heard testimony from Altizer and Hamilton, had pronounced that no longer was there an Almighty actuarial hazard.
Even Thomas Hardy, anything but a stout believer, was stunned by the thought of a divine demise, and in his poem had bystanders looking on disbelievingly at the cortege, and crying:
… This is a counterfeit of straw,
This requiem mockery! Still he lives to us!
I’m toying with the idea of picketing that insurance company’s headquarters. Any reprisal by its atheistic executives and my burliest grooms and coachmen will cause a civil commotion. May as well make use of that insurance.
Thrills From Frankfurt
I have just now read “The Frankfurt Declaration” (June 19). I am amazed. I am thrilled. I am excited. I am thankful.
I am amazed at the apparent widespread doctrines being refuted in this declaration. While I knew these existed, I had felt they were held by only a few people. I am thrilled because men have taken the stand on world missions advocated here.… I am excited because I feel such a stand as this will increase mission activity all over the world and our Saviour will be glorified as men come into a personal relationship with him. I am excited, moreover, because I had felt that too few people were keeping the Great Commission in perspective, but I see that it is being done here. Finally, I am thankful because God is using men of such influence to take the stand these people have taken. I am thankful because I know that God will use efforts born out of this kind of conception.
Turkey Creek First Baptist Church
Plant City, Fla.
The joy with which I read Dr. McGavran’s introduction to the Frankfurt Declaration was followed by a deep disappointment as I read the text—disappointment that a statement so excellent, so timely, and so necessary for this day was marred by so devastating an error as the proclaiming of baptismal regeneration.…
The fourth [and] … sixth declarations … are explicit in their proclamation of baptism as an essential step in the salvation of an individual. The third and fifth declarations imply the same thing. If these statements referred to the baptism with the Holy Spirit by which we are placed in the body of Christ, they would be entirely proper. However, the context of the fourth declaration makes it obvious that the reference is to baptism with water.
ROBERT H. MILLER
In my judgment this is a very crucial matter. I should like very much to have many of my friends see this article, and I fear they might not have access to it unless it is made available in some fashion.
CLAUDE H. THOMPSON
Candler School of Theology
• It is available from Dr. McGavran at Fuller Theological Seminary, 135 North Oakland Avenue, Pasadena, California 91101.—ED.
Anatomy Of Cure
The editorial “America on Its Knees?” (June 19) is one of the finest I’ve read. The diagnosis is accurate and the cure apparent.
GLEN H. SCHISLER
“America on Its Knees” is a masterpiece.
A. B. MIZELL
Warner Memorial Church of God
North Little Rock, Ark.
Your magazine is rendering a service in calling attention to the growing apostasy in Christendom. It is rendering a disservice in some of your editorial remarks of personal viewpoints that are certainly not representative of most evangelicals. What troubles me is your failure to give a balance on our military posture.
From Eutychus (June 19): “So the honest youngster seeking a career, even if he doesn’t mind killing, must turn sorrowfully away from the armed services.” Is he implying the alleged dishonesty is greater than in our advertising business world, and that killing under constituted authority is wrong? From the editorial, “America’s Young People”: “When they cry out for the ending of the war and the beginning of peace, and label American participation in Southeast Asia immoral, they are doing the cause of evangelical Christianity a service.”
These unfortunate remarks are mistaken, probably unrepresentative, and undoubtedly have the wholehearted approval of atheistic Communism. The Lord himself sanctions our armed forces in Luke 11:21 and 22, and the Apostle Paul enlarges on it in Romans 13. Since when is it “immoral” for the strong to help the weak?
PAUL F. LOIZEAUX
Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired
“Billy Graham in ‘Big Orange Country’ ” (June 19) emphasizes the reason why many of us who once followed and supported Graham with enthusiasm have become almost totally disenchanted with his ministry. Graham has in the past number of years become so closely identified with the American government that he has lost his ability to speak with any prophetic power at all. I cannot conceive of a situation which is more a denial of the Gospel of Christ than to remove the biblical witness of “Thou shalt not kill” and then encourage sympathy and understanding for national leaders who go directly in the face of Scripture.… One wonders if Graham has been blinded to a whole area of biblical truth and in what order he places the priorities of Jesus Christ vs. the American war policy.…
A black evangelist friend of mine recently commented, “It is very dangerous to have Graham and Nixon together, because when they are Nixon becomes an evangelist and Graham becomes a campaigner in support of him, using the Bible to whip support for the President. It makes us wonder if Nixon knows how to be President, and if Graham knows what evangelism is!”
Akron Mennonite Church
Switching The Blade
John Evenson’s review of The Cross and the Switchblade (June 19) both disappointed and disturbed me.
First of all, “New York’s Finest” are neither portrayed as “buffoons,” nor do they run around like Keystone Cops. Their actions and words, to be sure, show a callousness and disdain toward the people of the ghetto and toward anyone who would help them without a police baton in hand but Chaplinesque—never.
Secondly, Mr. Evenson casts a scornful eye on Pat Boone’s representation of Dave Wilkerson. He suggests that Mr. Boone’s clean-cut image is inappropriate and that his lines resort to simplistic formulae. And yet, anyone who has ever seen the real Dave Wilkerson in action knows that the screen’s portrayal of the man corresponds to reality, however disappointing this is to Mr. Evenson.
Thirdly, and certainly most importantly, your critic flatly states that “the film will probably not communicate the reality of God’s love to today’s movie audiences who happen to be young, hip, and at least honest about their unbelief.” He bases his contention on his feeling that the conversion of Nicky Cruz and others like him lacked reality credibility, and attractiveness. But again I must disappoint Mr. Evenson, for the scene was shot the way it happened with Dave Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz looking over the director’s shoulder. To say that it lacks credibility is to say that the Reverend Nicky Cruz—the former gang warlord—is not really an example of the way God transforms lives.
ROBERT D. DOOLING
Sherman Oaks Presbyterian Church
Sherman Oaks, Calif.
My real concern about the piece is the schizophrenia with which CHRISTIANITY TODAY is so obviously plagued. Whoever hires staffers or makes assignments surely ought to brief their people on the official stand which I thought the magazine took as regards the authority and power of the Word. Evenson’s ridicule of “magic words” seems incompatible with much of the content of the editorial pages.…
Mr. Evenson will no doubt be disappointed to learn that Loew’s Theaters has just released a story to the effect that The Cross and the Switchblade finished its first week at Century 21 in Anaheim, California, breaking all records of the four-year-old house with the exception of one set by The Sound of Music. It also outgrossed Hello Dolly, Patton, and Paint Your Wagon at Hollywood first-run houses for the same week.
Furthermore, half the audience is youth right off the boulevard, whose comments about the picture repudiate the conclusion that “the film will not communicate the reality of God’s love to today’s movie audiences.”
Dick Ross & Associates
Bridging A Moat
In “The Inspiration of Scripture” (June 5), it appears that breadth of treatment confused a narrow field of inquiry.…
Since inspiration is wholly on the divine side of the Word, the whole fields of textual criticism, transmission, and translation are extraneous to the subject, as important as they are. God was, and is, surely at work in these fields too, but that work is not inspiration but preservation.
And since on our side of the autograph Scriptures, the extant manuscripts (of the New Testament) peter out around the middle of the first century, we can only bridge the few remaining years by faith. But this is true of every discipline which seeks to know God. Every approach to him comes to a moat with which God has surrounded himself—only to be crossed by faith.
ELDON W. KOCH
Hillcrest Heights, Md.
“A” From Abc
I want you to know that I very much appreciate the careful way in which James Adams has reported our convention (“American Baptists: A Conservative Mood,” June 5). I think that you have given a good interpretation of it.
We are much better off for having had Tom Kilgore for our president for the past year. Roger Fredrikson will be another good president, and we are grateful for him.
R. DEAN GOODWIN
Division of Communication
American Baptist Convention
Valley Forge, Pa.
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