Is The Press Then Perditionable?

For Kierkegaard I used to have that wary esteem normally directed toward those I imperfectly understand. Then he dropped several points when I encountered something of his that I understood too well. “The lowest depth to which people can sink before God,” he declared, “is defined by the word ‘journalist.’ ” If his daughter were brought to dishonor he would not despair, but hope for her salvation. “But,” went on the redoubtable Dane, “if I had a son who became a journalist, and continued to be one for five years, I would give him up.”

As one on the scribal periphery I took this pretty hard, but I perked up on the discovery today that, courtesy of the ecumenical movement, we pen-pushers may well have a saint rooting for us. It happened thus. As I sat down to write this column about something totally different, a page in my heterodox diary informed me that it was the feast day of St. Francis of Sales—a circumstance that any robust Protestant would have pointedly ignored. Disloyally I looked him up. My grasp of his vital statistics was shaky, and I am always on the lookout for some ammunition against my local priest, who is suspiciously friendly.

Not only, I found, was Francis a leader of the Counter Reformation: he was audacious enough to engage Calvinists on their own home field. Thereafter this irrepressible bishop had everything going for him: beatified, canonized, and doctored in less than two and a half centuries—a record that will stretch even Hans Küng to emulate. Some will consider, however, that Francis’s Big Moment arrived in 1923, when he was patronized by the Catholic press.

It may be that he owed his adoption by writers, and his inevitable popularity with editors, to five deathless words: “Never drag out your sentences.” In the manner of true Roman tolerance in the face of human weakness, those five words might be considered modified by seven more spoken on a different occasion, and here shamelessly wrested out of context: “Always plan more than you can undertake” (I wondered where Browning had got that line of thought).

But what really endeared the said Francis to me was a piece of profundity uttered after he had begun his risky and unenviable campaign to win the erring Swiss back to the old religion. “Love alone,” he stated, “will shake the walls of Geneva.” Without dragging out my sentences, I pass this on without comment as something not devoid of wider implications for the Church Militant.


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Waking Up Sane

I would like to put in my word of appreciation for “Law and Order” (Jan. 30). Truly that is the most sane and scriptural article on the subject I have read for many a day.… Maybe some Christian people will wake up to the true Bible teaching on such a subject.


Pawhuska, Okla.

I regret that you saw fit to change the title of my article. I believe my original title, “The Kingdoms of This World and the Kingdom of God,” sounds better and more accurately describes the content and purpose of the article. I particularly regret that you chose a title which, by its connotation to some of our citizens, turns many people off. They are just the ones I would like to speak to.


Professor of Old Testament

Fuller Theological Seminary

Pasadena, Calif.

Did Professor LaSor title his article? I note the expression “law and order” does not appear in his text, but he does speak of “law and justice.” It is a classic example of the lack of communication where the establishment is supporting “law and order,” while the poor ask first for “justice”.…

The question is not as to the rightness of the law, but rather, “To whom is it applied?” The Bible teaches that mercy dictates the law be applied less stringently to the poor, the weak, the ignorant.…

As a white Protestant minister I know the law handles me with preference. And I don’t feel good about it. A close friend in law practice has told me, “The only way you can get justice today is to buy it.”


Executive Secretary

Mid-Atlantic Baptist Conference

Meridan, Conn.

If the duty a Christian owes to God and the state was so neatly differentiated as William Sanford LaSor suggests, Christians would indeed have an easy moral life.…

Unfortunately, the Christian is an anarchist, at least in terms of the state. He owes his first allegiance to God, and that duty does not end just because it is in conflict with the civil rulers.

The Old Testament prophets would have enjoyed a peaceful life had they followed Dr. LaSor’s course. So would Jesus—who was, after all, executed—and so would the German Christians who opposed Hitler and suffered the consequences.

Apparently, Dr. LaSor feels that the Christian duty to uphold God rather than man ended with the reign of Nero.


Madison, Wis.

When Sex Goes To School

How thankful I am for “Sex, SIECUS, and the Schools” (Jan. 30). As a first-grade teacher who teaches family life in the course of the year, I realize how controversial this topic is. I have long been aware of the facts you brought out concerning the organizers and promoters of SIECUS. It is clear that they are anti-Christian. True, they don’t represent all the sex-education backers, but too often they’re contacted when a school district is planning their program. Our only hope is that Christian parents and educators see to it that material presented is not contrary to Christian teaching.

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Bloomington, Minn.

One fact usually overlooked is that SIECUS was not formed with the schools in mind at all; the schools came to SIECUS. Over and over again we have stated the truth, that we have absolutely no curriculum guide, nor have we ever produced materials for use in schools, only background materials for professionals.…

I heartily agree with your sentence, “If SIECUS were to disband tomorrow, sex-education programs would continue.” They would indeed; the evidence is clear in our files that the great majority of clergymen, physicians, and educators, as well as parents of this country, want them to continue and will see that they do so. Our only goal is to help them achieve what they—not what we—want, because we have never been presumptuous enough to claim to know what is best for other people. I believe that this is the reason for the acceptance of SIECUS by the highest professional groups in the country, which have recognized the truth about SIECUS and have not been impressed by the untruths which many innocent people, including, I believe, yourself, have been led to believe.


Executive Director


New York, N.Y.

Isadore Rubin and Sexology have been made much of because of the pictures on the magazine, which, like large numbers of displays in theatre foyers, were designed to attract people who have over the years been trained to respond to sex by sensational pictures. But in terms of educational enlightenment Sexology has at least equalled the theatre. Recently Dr. Rubin and I developed a book, Sex Education of the Adolescents, published by Association Press, with all articles taken from Sexology. This has been a widely and favorably reviewed book.…

Sexology has been trying to work directly with low educational level people who have been assiduously miseducated by our mass media, and so have actually to be approached this way.


Portland, Ore.

The major fault found with Rubin’s magazine Sexology is that it is factual, professional, and “amoral.” To condemn any periodical, person, or action because it does not expound one’s own particular biblical views is the height of provincial narrowmindedness [and] an approach alien to Christianity.…

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When dealing specifically (finally!) with actual material used in sex education programs (which are almost universally not solely sex education, but rather are family-life-in-society studies, contrary to the implications in the article) misrepresentations and myths again predominate. The graphic presentation of the sex act in man and animals is correlated with the higher moral aspects of the act and does not suggest solely animal appetites. This material has been presented on educational television (late at night), and careful listeners could find very little objectionable material present. In addition, to argue that some facts of sex education should be reserved until after high school ignores the fact that unfortunately this information is often received in back alleys and dark corners.…

In conclusion, there are legitimate reservations that the Christian may have about sex education. It is certainly a difficult task that the schools face in attempting to present this material while maintaining the separation of specific religious morality from the facts of sex. However, the schools are not forbidden from presenting a basic moral approach to sex. This is justified since our schools are the legitimate avenues of passing on our cultural heritage and traditional values to the youth of the nation. The heritage of our nation is certainly based on acceptable moral values for most Americans and most Christians.


Psychology Dept.

State University College

Oswego, N.Y.

This Christian Country

I enjoyed Dr. J. W. Montgomery’s article, “God’s Country?” (Current Religious Thought, Jan. 30). May I suggest you put this out in a tract or pamphlet form, perchance, with a “patriotic” type of title page (red, white, and blue colors or an American flag or eagle) to catch the eye. I would enjoy handing out such a tract to well-meaning but mistaken ultra-conservatives who identify patriotism with biblical Christianity. As a result, when one does not support some of their extreme plans or accept their sweeping statements as gospel truth, they at times are rather quick in questioning the orthodoxy of your Christianity. In fact, one or two have even wondered whether I was a “pinko” underneath my cloak of religious conservatism.


Grace Lutheran Church

South Everett, Wash.

As a student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, I wish to voice my disgust at the article, “God’s Country?” At the outset, without derogatory comment, Montgomery cites “Laugh-In” as a source of information. Docs he not know that this show—to which he lends legitimacy by his citation—is a veritable cesspool of the television screen?

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He then proceeds to state that he can stand invitations to the Playboy Club more than so-called “right-wing” literature which claims that America is Christian. I reply to this by asking: How can a Christian theologian stoop so low as to tolerate an invitation to cavort with harlots, while simultaneously renouncing Christian literature which idealistically—and admittedly naïvely—sets forth a picture of America which is totally in harmony with the Word of God? Now, nobody is claiming that the America of today is in any real sense Christian. Furthermore, Christian patriots such as Dr. McIntire and Dr. Hargis are certainly aware that the Founding Fathers were not all Christians. What they do assert is that Christian principles were inherent in the governmental structures formulated by our forefathers. And Montgomery admits that this is true!

Let it also be said that great churchmen like Dr. McIntire are doing more to oppose those anti-Christian elements (e.g., Communists, anarchists, and civil-rightists) which are eroding our moral fiber than Montgomery has ever done!


Deerfield, Ill.

Renewal And Revelation

I had about decided to send in my check for continuing my subscription.… I have decided against this, and am asking that you remove my name from your list for the following reason.

I did not at all care for the final paragraph in “Mormons and Blacks” (Jan. 30). The business about blacks will be taken care of according to revelation. When our Heavenly Father leads us to give the priesthood to blacks we shall do so. Otherwise we hold no superior attitudes about blacks and, indeed, they are most welcome in the church as members or visitors, and are regarded as his children even as we are.


Atlanta, Ga.

Since I’ve lived among the Mormons for more than thirty years, I read your comments carefully.… I have found the Mormons more liberal minded, more tolerant to all others, including blacks, more helpful, more honest to deal with, and much more Christlike than all those who in their hypocritical ways find fault with them.…

Tell me, sir, was your God discriminating when he gave his priesthood to Aaron of the tribe of Levi and refused to let other nations or even the other tribes of Israel have it?… Perhaps you would be kind enough to point out to me where Jesus Christ chose one colored apostle.…

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The more I read hate-creating articles of so-called Christians, the more I feel like saying “almost thou persuadest me” to be a Mormon.


Salt Lake City, Utah

Tipping The Top

I was amused by your tongue-in-cheek (certainly it must have been that) inclusion (“Deans List Top Ten,” News, Jan. 30) of the results of a “survey” of the “top ten Christian liberal-arts colleges” in America. Not having at my disposal the vast quantity of statistical evidence doubtlessly employed in the survey by Biola College’s Dean Craig E. Seaton, I was overwhelmed to note that such academic strongholds as those listed left no room for the likes of St. Olaf College, Pacific Lutheran University, and Calvin College.

Could it be that we at Calvin College are not regarded as a college with a “long established reputation for all-around excellence”? In this regard, it may interest your readers to know that we have more Ph.D.’s (or the equivalent thereof) on our faculty as well as more books in our library than the combined totals of those of the two colleges topping the list. While other evidence would reveal similar comparisons, such “ratings” would do little more than divide us as Christians more than we already are.


Assistant Professor of History

Calvin College

Grand Rapids, Mich.

If anyone really wants to know which are the top ten Christian liberal-arts colleges, perhaps he should first essay some definition of which colleges are to be so labeled. “Christian”? Who says so?

And for some objective selections, rather than eighteen very personal opinions, one might turn to some factual evidence.… Doctorate Production in United States Universities, 1920–1962, with Baccalaureate Origins of Doctorates in Science, Arts, and Professions gives some fascinating information.…

Precisely one Biola alumnus had received an earned doctorate during the years studied. Precisely one.

(Yes, of course, I had looked first at the Greenville College record. Ninety-nine doctorates. I repeat, ninety-nine.)

The scoreboard for the other colleges:

Of course there are many aspects of excellence other than a record of doctorates among alumni. Of course the colleges listed are not all of the same size and are not coequal in seniority. But if CHRISTIANITY TODAY is to cite comparisons, shouldn’t it find comparisons based on a more scholarly (or more journalistically sound) foundation?

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Probably by now the alumni and friends of dozens of colleges across the nation have joined in a chorus of pain and wrath and perplexity. If so CHRISTIANITY TODAY has served a worthy purpose, anyway, in stimulating loyalties and in causing some valuable questions to be asked about the nature of excellence, after all, in a Christian liberal-arts collgee. For which, we must all thank you—even through our wryly pursed lips.


Greenville College

Greenville, Ill.

Applying Caution

“College Consumers: Rocking the Boat” (Jan. 30) did an unintentional disservice to Bethel College and Seminary in St. Paul, stating that “Bethel, on the other hand, allows both movies and dancing.” This is not the actual situation at Bethel.…

The policy statement in the admissions material sent to all incoming students calls for a distinctiveness in social practice. The section on life style emphasizes eight basic principles for guiding student conduct. It then concludes: “Hopefully, legalism and negativism is avoided as much as possible in order to place primary stress upon personal, vital relationship to Jesus Christ as Lord. At the same time, certain cautions have been highlighted in … universal Biblical principles.… The application of these principles has led to the identification of certain social practices which are detrimental to the common good at Bethel.… Students are expected to exercise discretion in all of their entertainment and recreation. Social dancing, indiscriminate attendance at the theatre, and the use of euchre card games is discouraged. It is expected that students will order their behavior both on and off campus in the light of these guidelines.”



Bethel College and Seminary

Saint Paul, Minn.

Sticking Up For Truth

I recently saw the cartoon and article about myself (“No Stickups Allowed,” News, Dec. 19), and I must say it made me physically sick to think that you would make fun of a man getting baptized, be he in prison or wherever the solemn occasion might occur.

I’d also like to point out a glaring error on your part.… There is no such thing as a Church of Christ newspaper. The Christian Chronicle is a periodical for the Churches of Christ but not an official church newspaper.…

I dare you to print this letter. I’m sure you won’t as it tells it like it is and that’s something your organization can’t stand, the truth.


Arizona State Prison

Florence, Ariz.

Hebrew In The Gospels

An unfortunate mistake was made in “Biblical Scholarship: ‘30 Years Closer to Jesus’ ” (News, Dec. 5).…

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While it is true that my observations have led me to conclude that Mark used Luke and a proto-narrative and that Matthew has used Mark, I do not hold that Matthew has used Luke.…

The new element in my analysis is only what I view as a correction of one of the longstanding defects of the Markan hypothesis, namely the failure of Markan Priorists to treat seriously the evidence that Matthew and Luke know another document than Mark in their Markan contexts.

This does not mean that it is not of the greatest importance that Luke can be shown to be our first Gospel. Not only are the strange repetitious stereotypes and redundancies of Mark (one need only recall the frequent “and immediately” as an example) shown by this kind of observation to be due to the fascinating targumist method of our Aramaic-minded Mark, but the remarkably Hebraic materials of Luke can no longer be explained as the result of Luke’s “improvement” on Mark. They appear to be excellent and early literary sources which give every sign of having descended from a written Hebrew document or documents.

The same methods indicate that Matthew’s Gospel, where not dependent on Mark, shows dependence on the same kind of remarkable Hebraic-Greek materials we see in Luke.


Jerusalem. Israel

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