Forward … Back

The recent Southern Baptist Convention reaffirmed man’s headship in home and church, a move decried and lamented by some as “backward looking.” At the moment I don’t really care about the merits or demerits of the resolution. What really interests me is the use of the phrase “backward looking.”

Frightened liberals fear that we may look back, catch a glimpse of our carefree ancestors swinging by their caudal appendages, and be filled with envy.

It’s a fear that we may look at the past and like what we see. To such people, the past only is full of mistakes, while the future holds only promise.

I hereby reserve for myself the right to look backward, forward, or anywhere else to find truth and value.

I reserve the right to prefer the mandolin to the Moog, high button shoes to Hush Puppies, pocket watches with long fobs to digital wristwatches, Paul’s 2,000-year-old view of marriage to that of the O’Neills, and Moses to Joseph Fletcher.

Many years ago one of my fellow newspaper reporters commented: “You were born in the wrong generation.” Nonsense! If it comes to that, I was born in the wrong century. Of course, I am also willing to entertain the possibility that the whole century is out of step.

The fact that, in the providence of God, I was born in the twentieth century does not put any burden on me to prefer the follies of my own age to the wisdom of some other age.

Someone has commented that all it takes to make a man a conservative is for him to find something worth conserving. Surely even the most updated liberal can imagine a 1984 scene of total government domination when he might take a longing backward look to some past time of personal freedom.

So straighten up the line there, friends. Heads up! With a spit polish on our high button shoes, our bowlers firmly on our heads, watch fobs swinging in the breeze, eyes set firmly backward let us march rearingly into the sunrise. All together now—Hup, two three four.…



I thought that your article on the Catholic Charismatic Conference (“Memo From Notre Dame: The Spirit Is Moving,” June 22) was generally objective but there was one thing that you said that really bothered me. You implied in your article that Christ is not really central in the lives of those Catholics who pray the rosary. I think that is a misunderstanding. The purpose of a devotion to Mary is to bring one closer to Christ. The Mysteries of the Rosary consist of several events in Christ’s life that one mediates on while he is saying the rosary. I think that the statement you made is unfair to those Catholics within and without the Catholic charismatic movement who say the rosary.

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Ann Arbor, Mich.

As Christians we need to be aware that while the Holy Spirit is operating powerfully to lead us into all truth (John 16:13), the archenemy of Christ and of blood-bought souls is boldly parading his counterfeit operations “to deceive if possible the very elect” (Matt. 24:24). And when the counterfeit closely resembles the genuine, one must really know the truth—the Word of God (John 17:17) in order to detect error.… In these perilous and confusing times, we can not overemphasize the importance of the admonition in 1 John 4:1, “… try the spirits whether they are of God …” If any man is willing to do God’s will he shall know if the doctrine is from God (John 7:17). The charismatic movement may effect a unity of many people in many churches, but is this movement really based on the truth of the Bible or is it a counterfeit? The immortal words of Oliver Wendell Holmes ring down through the decades, “There is no substitute for truth.”


Lake Orion, Mich.

Ed Plowman’s news story on the Catholic charismatics at Notre Dame was enough to warm the heart of any evangelical Protestant. However, it so happens that on the same day that CHRISTIANITY TODAY arrived in our home, so did Michigan Catholic—both carrying lead stories on Notre Dame. What Plowman didn’t report and Michigan Catholic did was the response of these 20,000 Catholic charismatics to specific statements made by their hierarchy.

Let me quote: “Father Cohen … got another [standing ovation] when he asked Pope Paul to give consolation and support to the charismatic movement. ‘We want your discernment. We are founded on this rock, and on this rock we stand,’ he said.

“The only other time that the stadium was rocked by such applause was when Cardinal Leo Suenens of Malines-Brussels, Belgium, giving the homily at the closing Mass, declared that the secret to achieving ‘unity with the Holy Spirit in the best way is our unity with Mary, the mother of God.’ ”

Michigan Catholic concludes its article by stating, “and from the response of the people in the stands, it was obvious he represented the mind of the conference.”

If these were the statements which received the greatest response, I can’t help wondering if Plowman’s assessment isn’t a bit starry-eyed.


Detroit, Mich.


A refiner’s fire will warm things up. It has for CHRISTIANITY TODAY. And Nancy Tischler’s June 8 treatment of literature had just that effect on me. It was excellent! But her fire went cold when she touched on “the narratives of the apostles” which she sees—except for the fourth gospel—as “simple catalogues of events with minimal stylistic interference.” An unfortunate statement! Thinking especially of Luke, I find Miss Tischler’s position disturbingly close to the usual fractured manner in which this gospel is all too often treated. When the third gospel is taken—unconsciously or not—as an awkward cataloging of miscellany extrapolated from our Lord’s ministry and fails to catch any of Luke’s careful thematic development, I cringe! Here, if anywhere, we needed some refining, but alas! Luke’s deeply personal approach which commends Christ to us all with such intensity is lofty (heavenly?) styling, a styling forged from a burning heart (24:32).

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La Couture-Boussey



It is unfortunate that Barrie Doyle did not do his homework sufficiently when he wrote “Bury My Tithe at Wounded Knee” (News, June 8).

The comment regarding the National Council of Churches keeping the insurgents supplied with food is blatantly misleading. I suggest that Mr. Doyle check with those who were at Wounded Knee such as the Reverend Wesley Hunter of the South Dakota Association of Churches and Mr. George Sturgen of Huron, South Dakota, for the facts. No mention was made in the article that the primary concern regarding the food supplies was distribution to the refugees. ARLEY FADNESS

Grace Lutheran Church

Lake Benton, Minn.


Harold O. J. Brown’s article, “Fantasy, Idolatry, and Evil” (The Refiner’s Fire, July 6), should be printed in every metropolitan newspaper in the United States. For once, we have it “told like it us.” I am tired of the many Christian reviewers of movies who strain to find good and “cultural understanding” in movie screen pornography and non-representational art. Let us have more courageous, honest-to-God Christian reviewers. MRS. GLADYS S. BURTON Pomona, Calif.

Associate Editor Harold O. J. Brown’s comments are typical of the knee-jerk responses of much of conservative Christianity to serious art containing explicit sex and violence. To equate a film like Clockwork Orange with peep-show pornography or even with the more “sophisticated,” but nonetheless exploitative, Oh! Calcutta is to betray a serious critical naïveté. And how can anyone take seriously a statement so logically irrelevant as Brown’s comment on Clockwork and Last Tango: “one is not merely degrading oneself but is in effect paying the wages of prostitutes and their promoters” by attending these performances? No doubt there is a point that the Christian critic may make against these films, but editor Brown is miles away from it.

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The fact is that, regardless of what one personally thinks of their handling of sex and violence, films like Clockwork Orange present moral and even theological problems that they cannot answer—and which Christians like Brown are unwilling even to face.… There is clearly a moral problem in the extensive use of sex and violence in the contemporary cinema (though one wonders why editor Brown does not also list John Wayne and certain Walt Disney adventures as failing to measure up to Philippians 4:8 and Ephesians 4:29; indeed these films are not only violent, but portray a kind of naturalistic, survival-of-the-fittest philosophy that is most unbiblical and, for me, thoroughly reprehensible). But the sex and violence, which I personally found objectionable, were used in Clockwork to underline and to bring home to the hearts of the viewers some important observations about our society. Indeed, one wonders whether the film would have made these points so effectively had the filmmakers not used sex and violence. Never has a preacher convinced me so clearly of my susceptibility to even the basest of passions and of my need, and of the need of the entire American society, for salvation as did Clockwork Orange. The film fairly cries out for an answer to the question, How can mankind be saved from social controls of individual evil that violate our moral integrity on a scale unprecedented in history? And when the film cries out for the bread of truth, editor Brown responds with the stone of moral censoriousness.… It is only right that a religious journal like CHRISTIANITY TODAY should pay attention to the moral and religious implications of popular culture in this secular age, but if you wish to do more than reinforce the preconceived prejudices of your less thoughtful readers you are going to have to show more penetrating critiques than Brown’s.


Loma Linda University

Riverside, Calif.


That the Greek Orthodox Church in Greece is going through a deep crisis, there is no question. However, what I question is the way the writer sees the causes and the reasons of the conflict (News, “The Greek Church: Unruly or Unruled?,” July 6). It is, to say the least, superficial and one-sided. Although I do not condone many of Ieronymos’s tactics, yet I can’t see how a Western observer would find any merit in the views of the majority of the archbishop’s opposition. What most of the hierarchy want is a stagnated Church where they can rule as despots.

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There are also a couple of inaccuracies in the note: it is not true that Ieronymos didn’t qualify to become an archbishop because he wasn’t a bishop. There are many similar instances recorded in the history of the Orthodox Church. Second, in the dispute of the Greek Church with the Ecumenical Patriarchate at Istanbul the name of Athenagoras is mentioned. Although involved in the conflict, Athengoras passed away more than a year ago. Presently the patriarchal throne is occupied by his Holiness Demetrius.


Saint George Greek Orthodox Church

Rock Island, Ill.

• Athenagoras’s name crept in during the editing process.—ED.


I noticed in your June 8 issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY (News, “World Scene”) the statement concerning the Central American Mission’s seminary. I would like to supply the following information relative to institute training under the Central American Mission.…

Theological training at the Bible institute level within the Central American Mission will continue at the Guatemala Bible Institute in Chimaltenango and the Nicaragua Bible Institute in Managua when instruction at the institute level ceases to be offered at the Central American Theological Seminary in Guatemala City.


Associate General Secretary

Central American Mission

Dallas, Tex.

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