I have become concerned about a recurring phenomenon in my life.

In December I received a very nice appointment calendar from my denominational headquarters. “What an attractive calendar,” I thought. “Wonder what I could use it for?”

No answer came to mind, so I gave the calendar to a friend.

“Don’t you need it?” he inquired.

“What for?” I asked, hoping for some constructive suggestion. But without answering the question, my friend thanked me, pocketed the gift, and left.

A few weeks ago I went to the bank to cash a check. At the drive-in window I dropped the check into the drawer and tried to look guileless. (When facing bank-type people, I suddenly feel that I look like a face on the post-office wall.)

The teller picked up the check, returned it to the drawer, and slid it back out to me, all in one unbroken motion. “You’ll have to fill in the date.”

“Fine,” I said with relief. “What is it?”

“The third.”

“The third of what?”

When she saw I was serious, her smile changed to that look of long-suffering which people develop through many years of dealing with the public.

Not long after that I was filling out an insurance form. “Hey, they didn’t leave room to write out the date,” I said to no one in particular.

“Just put the month number,” said a nearby compatriot.

“Good idea,” I replied. “January one, February two, March …”

“What are you doing?”

“Trying to figure out the number of the month.”

“What month?”


“July is the seventh month.”

“Do you know the numbers of all the months?”

“Of course.”


“Good grief,” she said, rolling her eyes toward heaven as though she expected some divine concurrence.

This failure to come to grips with the regular passage of time has disturbing theological ramifications. For one, how can a man so number his days that he can apply his heart to wisdom if he can’t even number the months?

However, one passage of Scripture always brings joy and comfort to my heart. “Jesus, when he began his ministry was about thirty years of age …” Without Luke I would feel alone in this world of calendar captivity.


It was the tone of the hymn beginning “Vitality and zest …” (“Singing the Faith,” News, Feb. 26) that set me thinking: where had I heard this sort of thing before? The solemn celebration of “the sacrament of sex/That recreates our kind” sounded like something familiar as my old shoes. And soon it came. In 1681 a famous poet had published these memorable lines:

In pious times, ere priestcraft did begin,

Before polygamy was made a sin;

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When man on many multiplied his kind,

Ere one to one was cursedly confin’d;

When nature prompted, and no law denied

Promiscuous use of concubine and bride;

Then Israel’s monarch after Heaven’s own heart,

His vigorous warmth did, variously, impart

To wives and slaves; and, wide as his command,

Scattered his Maker’s image thro’ the land.

Michal, of royal blood, the crown did wear,

A soil ungrateful to the tiller’s care:

Not so the rest; for several mothers bore

To godlike David several sons before

[Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel]

The pompous, ringing phrases, the quasi-religious diction, and the common, earthy subject matter recreate almost perfectly the tone and style of post-Restoration satire, but with what a difference! Have our ears grown so dull that we no longer detect the merriment? Or was the writer so unaware of literary genres that he could use one of the best-known ones without being aware of it?…

Sex, as C. S. Lewis often reminded us, is neither so totally depraved nor so solemnly sacramental as we seek to make it. I wonder if the author of the hymn was as keenly aware of this fact as I am, but was banking on its being accepted anyway.

English Instructor

Tarrant County Junior College

Fort Worth, Tex.


I would like to say a few words of praise for the brief article “Data and Dogma as Compatible” by L. J. Crabb (March 12). As a student in the class of the same Dr. Hempel mentioned in the article, and as a member of our academic program of Science in Human Affairs here at Princeton, I have just recently learned to appreciate some of the problems Dr. Crabb touched on.

History and Philosophy of science is a relatively new field, and there is a great need for Christian scholarship there. As Professor Crabb has shown, it can hardly advance without a base of Christian presuppositions. Now is a good time to enter and cross the barrier that too often stands between Christian faith and academic science. Thank you, Dr. Crabb, for a new word of encouragement!

Princeton, N.J.


The article “Are Christian Colleges Worth the Trouble?” (Feb. 12) by C. George Fry was interesting, informative, and persuasive. I would agree that “to affirm the absolute sovereignty of God is the most relevant thing a church college can do!” It is important to remember “the three fundamental affirmations.… The Bible teaches the unity and universality of truth.… The Bible teaches the reliability of sanctified reason.… The Bible teaches the priority of experience.” However, it may also be well to remember something more. There are many ways of teaching, and the Bible also teaches that the most powerful method of teaching is by example.

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One of the most important reasons that a Christian college is worth the trouble is that it forms a Christian community in a secular world and offers the support of a Christian community to scholars.… Our college-age young people, moving away from the support of a Christian family, often need the support of Christian friends and Christian teachers as they learn to have confidence in themselves as maturing adults. The challenge of a secular or atheistic campus is not an easy challenge to resist.… Whether it wants to or not, a college does de facto stand in loco parentis. Most of our secular colleges have adopted a policy of irresponsibility, as have many secular parents these days. On the other hand, a Christian college, whatever its rules and regulations, must surely have a climate of loving care and an awareness of Christ that are worth all the trouble of maintaining them as continuing institutions.

Princeton, N.J.


Gerald C. Tiffin in his article “Education: The Good Old Days That Never Were” (Feb. 12) proved himself a very gifted and persuasive writer. However, while he did express himself most eloquently, I personally feel he wasted over two pages saying nothing other than what we’ve had to listen to over the past few years.

Mr. Tiffin states, “It is important, and possibly even comforting, to note that the focus of modern collegiate rebellion has shifted beyond the kitchen to more cosmic issues.” The collegiate rebels, however, have moved only a short distance away—the dean’s office. There is no comparing unrest on Oxford University and Harvard University campuses which occurred over two hundred years ago. Unlike two hundred years ago, these are not just thrill-seeking students rioting on today’s college campuses (some are not even students). Research centers have been bombed, ROTC buildings burned, police attacked, community property damaged or destroyed, persons injured who were, unfortunately, in the wrong place at the wrong time.…

It is not accurate, either, to say that a generation is accusing another generation of going to the dogs. An entire generation is not running to drugs and free love, just the ones who do not have the courage to face life and its problems turn to those; nor do all that do turn to drugs and free love come from unsavory or unsatisfactory homes.

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I realize it is common today to base opinions on generalities. It is never fair to lump everyone into one group. Even in fruit, the good and bad must be separated to get a clear picture.

Columbus, Ohio


Thank you for “Our Puritan Heritage” (The Minister’s Workshop, Feb. 26), although one point of clarification may be in order. This is that while the Puritans could be construed as pressing “for personal decisions with a persuasive appeal couched in simple, direct, and often compelling language,” their one dominant aim was more for the glorification of God than for “eliciting individual response.” This entailed preaching such biblical yet hard-to-swallow doctrines as man’s total depravity and particular redemption, while refraining from such unbiblical methods as the invitation system, altar calls, and emotive tactics so characteristic of some modern evangelism.

Cambridge, Mass.


The letter “Biblical Evidence for Economics” (March 12) indulges some rather sophomoric condemnation of what, for the most part, was a well written and reasoned editorial, “Capitalism vs. Communism” (Feb. 12).

“Incredible!,” “errs grossly,” “by no honest stretch of the imagination,” “most amazing pieces of exegesis,” “patently ridiculous,” “amusing.” (Actually, did Joan read the editorial through? She says, “In capitalism at least as much as communism, the economic decision-makers represent a very tiny self-perpetuating minority.” This is almost exactly what the editorial stated.)

The critique of this letter sounds like a series of cliche slogans, such as can be picked up in many university lecture rooms where the lecturer is a second-rate peddler of the prevailing opinion of the hour, and where any derrogation of communism is taboo. Any semblance of approval for capitalism automatically sets off the slogans.

Actually, the freedoms of capitalism are more a result of Christianity than being per se Christian. Such freedoms society through its governmental voice can only permit, where the popularly observed standards of behavior are prevailingly Christian. If right conduct is not voluntarily and freely observed societies must dictate.

First Reformed Presbyterian Church

Phoenix, Ariz.


It is somewhat encouraging to see you carrying certain articles that at least give a glance of restrained tolerance to Pentecost.

Mr. Merrill (“Who Are Today’s True Prophets?,” March 12) falls to the traditional error of “inferiority” of certain gifts. How can this be if they are at all under divine administration operation, and manifestation as the Scriptures declare in First Corinthians 12? This premise speaks of this supernatural gifts as though they were arts or human skills.…

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The gift of prophecy, as outlined by Paul in First Corinthians 12, [is not] the same as the Old Testament prophetic office. Paul circumscribes New Testament prophecy in First Corinthians 14:3 with three words: exhortation, edification, and comfort. The element of foretelling is not included here. The Old Testament prophecy was predominantly concerned with adventism. Since the second coming of Christ is not a subject of further revelation (Matt. 24:36), the prophetic word is changed.

Every effort in church history to simulate the office of the prophet or the apostle has ended up like Montanus, Irving, or the new prophets at the time of the Reformation and multitudes of later ones. This is not to argue against the prophetic ministry of the Church but to understand it for what it is.

Edwards Street Assembly of God

Alton, Ill.


Many thanks to Vance Havner [for] his article, “Repentance as a Church Priority” (March 12). It comes as a breath of fresh spiritual air in the midst of current jargon.… My thanks also to CHRISTIANITY TODAY for its fine job in presenting truths as well as current thought.


Washington, Mich.

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