What Makes You Say That?

G. K. Chesterton liked to tell how one of his grandfather’s friends used to go for walks on Sunday carrying a prayer book, without the slightest intention of going to church. He calmly defended the practice by saying with uplifted hand: “I do it, Chessie, as an example to others.” Some of us refrain from doing things pour décourager les autres, or so as not to offend the weaker brethren (perhaps an indication that we don’t want to do them all that badly).

The Chestertonian anecdote came to mind recently when a lady in the next county had an interesting experience. While in her local town one day she thought she recognized a man who was carrying a banner with the words, “REPENT, FOR THE END IS NIGH.” On her way home she was finally able to identify him as the one who some weeks before had taken her cottage on a seven-year lease.

That man may have been the soul of sincerity, but in any case such vague and laconic warnings tend to stir risible reaction in me. This particular inscription for some reason brings recollection of a vivid passage in The Wind in the Willows, a piece of spiritual uplift I read periodically for my soul’s good. “The Badger strode heavily into the room, and stood looking at the two animals with an expression full of seriousness.… ‘The hour has come!’ said the Badger at last with great solemnity. ‘What hour?’ asked the Rat uneasily, glancing at the clock on the mantelpiece.”

Strangely enough, more precision on the subject has come from a source not normally given to sounding strong eschatological notes. A WCC committee report at Uppsala stated: “More and more scientists … are warning that technology’s second revolution may turn out to be its last, that human life as we know it may very soon become impossible, and that homo sapiens may be rushing headlong to its own extinction.” Quoting the above, a recent release from Ecumenical Press Service adds the comment: “Suddenly, the New Testament’s warnings about the end of the world being at hand sound incredibly relevant.”

For those who think there is never anything new out of Geneva, this is worth a ponder or two, particularly when it is remembered that “incredible” means surpassing belief. Just as incredible is the surprise expressed that the New Testament might be on to something after all (we are grateful to the scientists for putting the idea into their heads). Nonetheless, the very lack of sophistication in that utterance suggests that someone in Geneva has the root of the matter in him.

Article continues below


Speaking For Youth

David R. Knighton’s “A Student’s Open Letter to God” (June 5) is magnificent!! He has put into words what scores of disenchanted young people feel today. Our young people want to get involved, but for reasons he states, they really can’t in the Church the way it is. Paul’s prayer for the church in Colossæ ought to be our prayer for the Church today: “We are asking God that you may see things as it were from His point of view by being given spiritual insight and understanding” (Col. 1:9, Phillips).


Youth Director

Evangelical Free Church

Felton, Calif.

Seeds Of Activism

David Bryant’s analysis (June 5) of the conditions leading to the slaying of the Kent-4 has not penetrated deeply enough into present realities.… It is true that permissiveness in the home is a determining factor in preparing students to be activists in politics on and off campus.… It is true that many activists are motivated by a shallow humanism, shallow because it is not predicated upon the God of Scripture. But even that shallow humanism is more sensitive and compassionate than that of Christians who do not demand a frontal attack upon the immorality of our government and society.… And as to the work of Satan—it is not clear who was on his side in the Kent situation. But the senselessness of the deaths gives a rather strong hint that the diabolical forces at work were those which have created a social climate in which young guardsmen can get the idea that an indiscriminate fusillade into a group of students will receive approval.

Finally, it is true that in the wind of the Spirit we have a force that the campus needs. But it, alone, is not enough, and praying for students away at school is not enough support for those of us who spend our lives on campus. You see, the whirlwind we are reaping came from sowing the wind of a violence-prone and racist history, of law and order without justice, of selfish economic acquisitiveness.


Lawrence, Kan.

Embryo Welfare

Dr. John Warwick Montgomery’s “capsule scriptural survey” on abortion quoted in your recent editorial “The War on the Womb” (June 5) not only includes a questionable inductive definition of the Greek term brephos but conveniently ignores Exodus 21:22, 23, which shows that God’s law is primarily concerned with the welfare of pregnant women rather than embryos, the latter being treated in the same manner as property.


Associate College Minister

Park Street Church

Article continues below

Boston, Mass.

As the mother of seven children, four of whom are adopted, I am made to reflect that all of them were at one time “nonviable fetuses.” I admit this is hard to believe when I view (and cope with) their energy and zest for life.…

The question keeps reverberating in my mind. If the over-population prophets of doom are successful in their campaign to influence couples to limit the number of natural-born children and adopt, who is going to produce these adoptable babies? After all, we are legalizing abortion so that unwed mothers can be spared the pain of pregnancy.…

I like mothering. In fact, I deem it the most fascinating as well as the most contributive of careers. Isn’t it a shame that motherhood is being phased out?


Lubbock, Tex.


CHRISTIANITY TODAY is an appreciated and significant source and interpreter of events, activities, and movements related to the Christian enterprise in our day. Usually it can be trusted to report with dignity and respect, and to stand on issues with forthrightness and fairness.

But when Mr. James Adams, reporting on the controversy on baptism in the American Baptist Convention (June 5), refers to it as a “water fight,” he has stooped to a smart-aleck vocabulary that is better left to Time and Newsweek.


Vice President and Publisher

Standard Publishing

Cincinnati, Ohio

A Heartful Hit

My thanks to Sherwood E. Wirt for “Moving Upon the Mass Media” (May 22). He said a heartful …

The slant of the average religious publication seems to be, “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world,” and we know that’s only a half-truth. Or, “Pie in the sky in the sweet bye and bye,” when many of our youth and adults live in the immediacy of the moment. Such writing can produce a type of cut-rate Christianity and a search for bargain-basement salvation. They just don’t exist. Mr. Wirt scores a direct hit on that type of journalism.


Hilton Head Island, S. C.

“Moving Upon the Mass Media” is overfull of lofty but blind idealism.…

Much communications research indicates that the mass media have little effect on most readers and hearers. What we need, therefore, is not blind idealism but a realistic strategy based on a hard examination of the facts. No advertiser sinks time and money into the media without first examining what effect his effort will have. Nor should we. The printed page is not magic.


St. Paul, Minn.

This provocative article must have caused thousands to think and think again. It seems as if with prophetic accuracy Editor Wirt has touched a chord that should resound today: “There is no limit to the outreach, influence, or effectiveness of the Christion journalist.…” And would not Christ, if he were here today, have sent his messengers along the same highways thronged with the masses of humanity?

Article continues below


College Place, Wash.

Best of all, Wirt issued a ringing challenge to all those in the Church to rise and shine.


Glendale, Calif.

May it move the media and have mass exposure.


Trinity Church

Frankfort, Ind.

Answers For Students

My thanks to Barry M. Kelley for his timely answers for the poor, disillusioned Jesus-creators who seem to abound in my generation. Young people who serve the Lord Jesus Christ need these kinds of answers to pass along as words in season to some of the sincere young “individuals” we meet.


Long Beach, Calif.

How did that piece get past the editor’s scissors?…

Mr. Kelley seems not to be aware that the civil institutions, political structures, and social customs were identical with religious institutions, religious structures, and religious customs in Jesus’ day and that the Bible knows nothing of a separation of life into “secular” and “sacred” categories.

If Jesus kept the law to the letter, then Mr. Kelley needs to explain why he got into so much trouble over not keeping it.…

Jesus a conformist? Wow!

It is interesting that the apostles who spread the Gospel without instigating marches or fomenting strife should have been the ones of whom it was said, “They that have turned the world upside down, have come hither also.”

When Christian individuality doesn’t work to destroy such American institutions as “racism,” then it is time to find a more authentically biblical motif.


Aldersgate United Methodist Church Durham, N. C.

I must take exception to Barry M. Kelley’s article as too one-sided in its appraisal of Jesus in his own culture. The question as to whether Jesus wore his hair long as a symbolic gesture of non-conformity is a moot one, especially since we have no earthly idea as to whether Jesus’ hair was long or not. But it is surely obvious that Jesus performed certain acts which were at variance with the customs and laws of his locale, and that these were remembered by the early Church as at least non-conformist in nature. Among the examples could be cited Jesus’ table-fellowship with tax-collectors and sinners, his non-conformist way of observing the Sabbath, and his disruptive activity in the Temple. Nor is it beside the point to remember that Rome chose to execute him.

Article continues below

The problem is that when revolutionary movements succeed, the heirs of that movement in later generations can no longer recognize the revolutionary character of the original actions. In this case, Christians—very understandably—agree with the rightness of the actions of Jesus. Christians support (theoretically, at least) eating with tax-collectors and sinners, doing good works on the Sabbath, and chasing money-changers out of the Temple. But in Jesus’ day these acts were clearly non-conformist if not also disruptive in character. And prior to the Emperor Constantine, the opponents of the Christian movement were quick to recognize this.




Oxford, Ohio

Christ was definitely a revolutionary. But could you imagine him leading a protest march against Rome’s invasion of Britain, or even her occupation of Palestine?… Christ’s kingdom “is not of this world”.…

And personally, I seriously question the quoted statement of Joe Namath that Jesus “wore long hair and a beard.” The beard, probably; the long hair very doubtful. “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” (1 Cor. 11:14). Paul and Jesus were contemporary. If the above statement was true in Paul’s day, I seriously doubt that Jesus wore his hair long, notwithstanding the fact that many artists (who never saw Jesus) so depict him.


Malta, Mont.

Fire Power For Israel

I am a little alarmed at your editorial “Cambodia and Israel” (May 22). It is not clear whether you are advocating U. S. intervention in Cambodia, Israel, or both.

What is clear is that you are worried about the fate of Israel if we don’t help them militarily.…

From the divine viewpoint, however, I think we have little to worry about. It seems clear from prophecy (Ezekiel 38 and 39, for instance) that any military power attempting to overcome Israel is in for it from God.…

World powers beware! To pick a fight with Israel is to pick a fight with God, and his firepower is awesome.


Chicago, Ill.

One can understand a position that rejects all modern wars as immoral. One can also understand those who believe that Communism must be resisted—terrible as the cost may prove to be. Neither of these groups, however, seems to represent the thinking of those who help form public opinion. It should be apparent that those voices generally referred to as liberal have done more than any other group in this nation during the last few years to sabotage this nation’s efforts to fight Communism in the Far East. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that this group, traditionally blind in the left eye, sees Communism as a danger only where Israel is involved. Soon, I rather expect, they will have American youth blithely sporting both peace symbols and Moshe Dayan eye patches.…

Article continues below

We do not serve our country when we close our eyes to this strange species that can transmute from dove into hawk as it suits them.


Carmel, N. Y.

I was deeply disturbed by the last paragraph and in particular the last sentence.… Did Mr. Nixon address himself to … God or did he not? Can we judge?


Pella, Iowa

Living Encouragement

I was greatly encouraged by the report “Evangelical Students: Alive and Well” (May 22). The statement of faith adopted by the Evangelical Student Congress is inspiring. These students commit themselves unequivocally to Jesus Christ and his Word; they recognize the Scriptures as “the unique divinely inspired and authoritative revelation of God to man”; and then they see that this means Christians must be “responsible for a Christ-centered, social, and totally integrated application of the Gospel of Christ.” This is an encouragement to an organization such as the Christian Labour Association of Canada.



Christian Labour Association of Canada

Rexdale, Ont.

Ages Replaced

Please be advised that “United Church Observer: No Trees for Forrest” (News, May 22) inaccurately reports that Dr. Arnold Ages is a member of the Classics Department of Waterloo Lutheran University.

Dr. Ages is not at present, nor has he been in the past ten years, a member of the faculty of Waterloo Lutheran University.


Director of Placement

Waterloo Lutheran University

Waterloo, Ont.

He is rather the professor of classics at Waterloo University. I have no excuse in making that error, and can only blame it on a defective typewriter! Terribly sorry about it. LESLIE K. TARR Central Baptist Seminary Toronto, Ont.

Immersing Episcopalians

My good Baptist heart was warmed to hear of the installation of an immersion tank at Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Castaner, Puerto Rico (World Scene, May 22). The claim that this is a first must, however, be disallowed in favor of the Anglican Cathedral in Melbourne, Australia. I can still vividly recall the enthusiasm with which I was shown this spacious marble pool set in the floor when I admitted being a Baptist. At this time (1966), the baptistry had already long been a fixture; its installation being ascribed to “a former bishop who strongly believed in immersion.”

Article continues below


Washington, D. C.

In Rappahannock County, Virginia, we attended a convocation meeting at the Plains. A pool had been installed there in Grace Church before 1922.…

There is also a pool in St. Andrews, Richmond, Virginia, that is used frequently.

(The Rev.) FRANK COX

Ocean City, N. J.

One was installed in 1905 (made of marble) in the Collegiate Church of St. George the Martyr in Jerusalem, Israel.


Beverly Hills, Calif.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.