Though I Have All Faiths …
Let me recommend a form of words for a perennially misunderstood breed: the radical theologian who overreaches himself in grabbing for the headlines. I quote: “I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” The speaker: Jerry Lewis, while directing a recent film. The idea will be familiar to travelers in Japan, where an interpreter is required not merely for the language but for the meaning behind it.
It made me wonder how the WCC men fared in Beirut last March when they had a dialogue with Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists. Even if the twin barriers of language and meaning were overcome, it couldn’t have been all smooth talk thereafter, for prior publicity involuntarily spilt the beans that the Christian contingent was not of the all-one-body-we category. This monstrous insinuendo (I owe the term to a Finnish friend) should and shall be explained.
According to the WCC’s advance statement, the Beirut meeting proposed to “consider common problems, and participants will question one another about the way in which believers can speak of their faith in the modern world, which is preoccupied with science, technology and secularization.” (Italics mine.) Moreover, said the WCC, “a number of Roman Catholics are taking part in the conference, among whom are Father Vincent Miano of the Vatican Secretariat for Non-Believers.” (More of my italics.) The fundamental confusion begs all sorts of questions. One would like to know, for example, what the WCC means by “believers,” whom the Vatican designates “non-believers,” and what the Sons of the Prophet present thought of both versions.
The hope is expressed that the Beirut dialogue will help foster “mutual respect for each other’s beliefs.” Taken in conjunction with the WCC statement mentioned earlier, there’s a slick speciousness about these sentiments, if you swallow hard and don’t venture to define terms. A hazy picture emerges: all pals together in a broad religion of humanity to combat creeping materialism, supporting the faith of your choice in a faithless world.
In a 1947 book (The Christian Religion in a Non-Christian World) Dr. H. Kraemer warned against a false emphasis on “sharing of experience” stemming from the “haunting dread of all superiority feeling” and the desire to have real human contact on the footing of spiritual give and take.” If the exchanges in Beirut included a firm note about the uniqueness of Christianity, many will be happier about the $20,000 of Christian money put up to sponsor the dialogue.
An Encouraging Wisp
Congratulations on your April 24 issue! I was particularly impressed with Virginia Mollenkott’s two-part series, and the news report by Richard Love on “Seminar ’70.” These form an encouraging wisp of hope for tomorrow’s evangelicals.
Princeton, N. J.
Having attended a leading Bible college and also one of the finest evangelical seminaries, I am fully conscious of the desperate need for a certain element of teachers in Christian higher education to come to grips with the fact that the educational institution is for the student and not for them.…
My only regret is that Dr. Mollenkott did not place more stress on propositional truth and fixed biblical content. The danger in this lack is not that some will be led astray, but rather that too many evangelical teachers will be inclined to use this as a justification for dispensing with her thesis altogether, including those points which they so desperately need to consider.
MICHAEL P. ANDRUS
Lucky, lucky are the students who have her for a teacher. What a wonderful teacher she must be.
MRS. C. A. SHORE
Dr. Mollenkott writes that the belief is widespread that “evangelicals couldn’t care less about the tangible agonies of the twentieth century.” If this opinion is indeed held, then we evangelicals had better concern ourselves with more publicity on what we have accomplished and are still accomplishing. All people—not just “The Students of the Seventies”—should be informed.… Evangelicals’ works of mercy are … not to assuage “social and corporate guilt,” but in obedience to our Lord and for his glory.
MRS. H. ALLAN MITCHELL
Ridgewood, N. J.
Centering Southern Baptists
Thank you for the excellent article “Whither Southern Baptists?” (April 24). Truly the issue of the inerrancy of Scripture is—and will be—always at the center of all of man’s concerns.
JOHN M. BATTEAU
To say that the question is one of biblical infallibility is to poison the liberal well in a most unfair and inaccurate manner. It is much more accurate to state that the overt controversy concerns the question of a literal vs. a figurative or higher critical interpretation of Scripture. The infallibility of Scripture is not at stake; the infallibility of the literal view of Scripture is.
Generations of Baptists in the South have built up some impressive denominational structures. Despite some failings, those structures have fairly well embodied the historic non-creedal view of Baptists that the freedom of every student and every teacher to interpret the Bible is not just a personal privilege, but is a denominational necessity—a necessity because without it we could not remain open to “fresh light breaking from the Word.”
But there are some (not our president) who want to rock us off our Baptist foundations; they want to see our denominational structures commandeered by a constrictive creedalism which has only the most distant and dubious relations to our hard-gained historical understanding of the Bible.
I hope you will take steps to show that your essay was not meant to mobilize these elements into a crusade against our institutions. I hope you will at least let it be noted that such undoubted evangelicals as James Orr rejected complete biblical infallibility precisely because they upheld the authority of the Bible, and that this is an issue over which the evangelical family (to say nothing of the Baptist family) can disagree in harmony.
ROBISON B. JAMES
Assoc. Prof. of Religion
University of Richmond
Have you dealt with Southern Baptists as though we were a creedal denomination? You say “Criswell has the vote of the convention on his side.” You question the right of his opponents to remain in the convention. This is an overstatement of the authority of our statement of faith.…
You also overstate your case by assuming that W. A. Criswell’s interpretation of that statement can be equated with the thinking of the majority of messengers who approved the 1925 and 1963 versions.
I do appreciate your concern for Southern Baptist thinking on biblical authority which prompted the article.
JERRY M. SELF
Austin Heights Baptist Church
Hate Vs. History
Thank you for the refreshingly and Christianly patriotic article, “Another Look at the American Dream,” by Robert J. Lamont (April 24).…
I am tired of hearing so much vicious criticism leveled at our nation and society that, to me, is fired in a continuous volley of destructive hate. And I am alarmed that so much of this malicious tearing-down is enacted in an attitude that says our country has accomplished little, if any, good. I refuse to believe that is the case. History and truth are on my side.
ROBERT LEE BUER
Immanuel Independent Church
Comstock Park, Mich.
Law: Going To Pot?
“Confronting the Drug Peril” (April 24) gives evidence of a certain hesitancy about the legalization of marijuana. You may be interested to know that most European medical opinion seems to be coming down rather heavily against such a policy. In a recent interview given to Le Figaro Littéraire, Dr. P. Olivenstein, director of a Paris hospital dealing with both narcotics and alcohol addiction, has come out strongly against legalization. In his opinion, one of the underlying reasons of the use of marijuana is the desire to violate “the law,” whether this be seen as statute-law, accepted morality, or parental authority. This is a desire which can no longer be fulfilled by engaging in sexual immorality since today apparently “anything goes.” His argument is that if marijuana is legalized, people will resort immediately to those things which are still illegal.
Professor Hugo Solms of Geneva points to drug use as a renunciation of reality which has much in common with certain New Left protest movements and also, I might add, with the rise in occultism.
HAROLD O. J. BROWN
Fighting For C. T.
I was saddened indeed upon reading the news report and the editorial about Dr. Carl McIntire (April 24).…
In spite of what you may say, he is fighting valiantly for your rights and mine, and I honor him for his courage and his firm stand for the faith.
God grant that he may have continued success so that you may have the privilege to continue publishing your generally valuable paper.
Highland Park, Ill.
You neglected to state one point: If the “March for Victory” did nothing else, it showed to the enemy that not all U. S. citizens are gullible or taken in by Communist propaganda.
Those marchers are not looking to Carl McIntire as a “king” but as a spokesman for freedom and victory which our government and churches and Christian magazines should be doing but are not.
Pleasant Ridge, Mich.
Where God Works
I hope all of us will take seriously Tom Skinner’s address at the U. S. Congress on Evangelism.… I am sorry, however, that you did not run the full text (April 10), especially his painfully moving remarks about how the Black Revolution has grown out of 250 years of slavery and 100 years of personal and institutional racism against the black man. I remember especially his remarks about magazine and television advertisements emphasizing the beauty of the white man’s kind of hair, albeit subtly, and as a result Negro women have to spend untold amounts of money to have what the white community considers beauty.
Mr. Skinner’s statement, “Jesus Christ is not a middle-class, Anglo-Saxon white Republican,” has come back to me again and again.
And also I wish you would have seen fit to include in the text his statements to the evangelicals to investigate their mission boards that refuse to send out black missionaries. He also said in his address that evangelical Bible schools and seminaries across the nation have fewer than 100 black students, and he said that from reading evangelical magazines “one gets the impression that God is working only in white communities.”
WESLEY G. PIPPERT
Washington, D. C.
It is very interesting to me to see how Mr. Skinner selects passages of the New Testament and tries to create the kind of a man out of Jesus that he can use to attain his own revolutionary goals. It is too bad that the racial problems are not as simple and easy to solve as he would have us think they are. According to this article, all we need to do in solving the racial problems of the United States is to do everything any black leader would have us do, including the intermarriage of blacks and whites. I find nothing in the New Testament against people marrying within their own race; as a matter of fact the evidence is on the other side. Blacks and whites don’t have to marry to be New Testament brothers.
M. C. GALLOWAY
Drinking For Funds
I was appalled by what was published in the news report “Ellington: ‘Praise God and Dance’ ” (April 10). Christians are stooping very low if they have to have a booze party to raise money for the cause of Christianity. I think we as Christians must realize the gravity [of] the alcohol problem. The type of Christianity which has to use a booze party to raise funds is worse than atheism.
Clearbrook, B. C.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.