Poolside Follies

The other Saturday I was delegated by my wife to take sandwiches down to the neighborhood pool for my son and Pete, his overnight guest.

When I arrived at the pool, the two of them were sitting against the fence in the spot reserved for those who have been temporarily ejected from the pool for misbehavior.

“What did you do?” I asked.

“We were fooling around on the diving board,” my son responded with appropriate head-hanging and toe-scuffing.

“That was pretty foolish. How long do you have to sit out?”

“An hour.”

“That’s a pretty long penalty.”

“It’s O.K.,” he said. “It’s almost over.”

Like many neighborhood pools, ours has no list of rules or penalties. Each lifeguard has to determine what behavior constitutes a hazard and what the penalty shall be. It probably has to be that way.

G. K. Chesterton reminded his anarchic friends that if men will not have rules they will have rulers. There are, he said, only two kinds of social structure possible—personal government and impersonal government.

All of which brings me (for the first and last time) to Watergate.

There is a sentiment among some people within and without the administration to put the executive branch of our government beyond the law.

I have a running argument with one of my neighbors about this.

“The President is the highest executive officer in the land!” he heatedly maintains. “Therefore he cannot be subject to law enforcement. The police can’t go around arresting themselves.”

With equal heat, I respond, “The humblest policeman in Washington should be able to arrest the President if he has evidence that the President has committed a crime.”

“The President should be unindictable even if he openly commits murder,” he continues. “Otherwise, government is impossible.”

At this point we normally agree to disagree while we are still in each other’s graces.

This sort of absolute view of the second branch of our government may not be widespread, but it seems to me that there is a current tendency to exalt government above the law.

There is a feeling that to protect our rights government has to operate outside the law in a way that removes some of our rights.

I would like to suggest that the President is a man. He puts his pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us and he is subject to the law like the rest of us.

If our form of government puts any branch of government beyond the law, we should change the form.

Abraham, faced with God’s pending destruction of Sodom, was bold enough to charge God with the responsibility of doing right. As members of this republic we should charge our government with the responsibility of doing right, and if officials fail to do so we should expect to see them at the bar of justice.

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It is far better to be governed by rules than by rulers until the Man who made the rules comes to rule.



A heap of blessings on the head of Harold O. J. Brown for his review of Last Tango in Paris and A Clockwork Orange in “The Refiner’s Fire” (July 6). It’s about time someone pointed out how adult Christians can themselves be adversely affected by viewing dirty movies just to “see what the kids are watching these days.” I have some Christian friends who think they have to make every one of the latest smut productions to keep on top of current culture. Such behavior reminds you of the people of Thyatira, who tried to learn about “the deep things of Satan” (Rev. 2:24–28). Unless I’m doing a dissertation on current pornography, I think I’d rather just do without the knowledge. Images from well-made movies have a persistent habit of lingering in the mind longer than you would like.


Pepperdine University

Malibu, Calif.

As editor of a new Christian film review quarterly, I was keenly interested in Harold O. J. Brown’s observations.… I much appreciate the insight he has developed into the problem of Christians being exposed to emotionally explosive and highly influential devices in current films, and his remarks about the role these devices play on lowering the sensitivity of our whole culture to illicit sensuality, violence, and general licentiousness.

I was disappointed, however, that Dr. Brown seemed to see nothing at all redeeming about A Clockwork Orange, and I think he was reacting to the film’s devices rather than the film itself. A Marxist-oriented publication for youth, published in Atlanta, attacked Clockwork shortly after its initial release as a clever and subversive attempt to teach a Christian view of man and evil, a point the author of the book, Anthony Burgess, has since admitted. Such points as these ought to be more important to Christians who allow themselves to be exposed—directly or indirectly—to current films, than the films’ use of obscene language, nudity, or simulated sex acts.

United Artists did not see fit to invite those of us in the minority media to its screenings of Last Tango in Paris, so, like Brown, I have not yet seen it either. I think there is considerable merit in his point about not paying to support films which are shaping an American and Western European cultural revolution. But there has been much publicity of the fact that Tango’s lead actors are engaging in simulated sex scenes and not, as in the case of such blatant pornography as Deep Throat, the real thing. Since that is the case, those who do pay to see such films are paying to see the actors acting and not, as Brown states, to see them engage in prostitution.

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This is not to say that such acting is justified or that it is not going too far, or to suggest that such films are a fine art form and an endangered species, but merely to plead for a more careful sensitivity to the truth in our criticism, as Christians, of what many, I believe genuinely, consider a major contribution to contemporary art and literature. “The Refiner’s Fire” is a much-needed forum for developing a biblical sensitivity to contemporary culture: keep it up!


Current Films Quarterly


Stanford, Calif.


I want to express my appreciation for the article on Kathryn Kuhlman (“Healing in the Spirit,” July 20). It was through her ministry in Joliet, Illinois, that as a young boy I heard the Gospel preached and saw my need of accepting Christ, as Saviour.… For those who frown upon Kathryn Kuhlman because she is a woman and is in an evangelistic ministry, I have often said Christ’s first evangelist was a woman, the woman at the well: “Come see a man which told me all things that ever I did” (John 4:29), and, “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman …” (John 4:39). Kathryn Kuhlman does not claim to be a pastor, only an evangelist, the very same type of ministry that we send women missionaries to foreign countries to fulfill—healing the sick and saving lost souls.


Oglesby Union Church

Oglesby, Ill.

Your interview with Kathryn Kuhlman was enlightening and informative, but it was somewhat unsatisfying in some respects. There were many crucial questions answered unclearly and others were not answered at all. The following areas beg for solid biblical support and clarification:

1. An exegetically based definition of the baptism of the Holy Spirit;

2. A clear statement of the nature, purpose, time, and extent of the gift of tongues;

3. An unambiguous definition of miracles and a statement regarding their purpose in the New Testament;

4. A biblical rationale for the calling of a woman to the public ministry;

5. A pertinent explanation of the New Testament teaching regarding the role of women in the Church; and

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6. A biblical justification for the setting aside of doctrinal matters in order to have and promote ecumenical fellowship.

As one who has “honest and conscientious doubts” about Miss Kuhlman and her ministry I must remain skeptical until these areas are cleared up by a resort to the data of biblical revelation.

Dallas, Ore.


Thank you for your objective handling of the Kathryn Kuhlman interview and for leaving her delightful personality intact in the article. Those of us who have listened often to Miss Kuhlman could just hear her saying, “And it’s just like that,” as we read her answers.… Having been an evangelical Baptist all my life, I feel we can learn much from Miss Kuhlman’s ministry about the Holy Spirit as our source of power in service. How I wish that more of us shared her belief that “everything that happened on the day of Pentecost should be happening in every church in the world in this very hour.”

I appreciate CHRISTIANITY TODAY printing this interview, and giving many an opportunity to judge this ministry on the basis of Miss Kuhlman’s own words rather than on their preconceived ideas about so-called “faith healers.”


Lansing, Mich.


With the three Ph.Ds on your staff, errors in content do still exist. The editorial (“The Infallible Word,” July 20) said that Jesus quotes Isaiah 53:1 in John 12:38. Such work with three Ph.Ds! John did the quoting—not our Lord! Small potatoes, yet important when dealing with the infallible and trustworthy Word of God.


Pella Reformed Church

Adams, Nebr.

Thank you for your incisive and forthright editorial. I am deeply grateful for your positive and courageous affirmation.… This is an issue far larger than one denomination. It is a matter for all men of faith. We need to call for scholars who can cogently defend such faith as we have. There must be a counterattack, not merely to defend but to proclaim unequivocally an inerrant Word.

Among Southern Baptists, we now have a small group of men committed to a defense and a polemical discussion of the Bible as the inerrant, infallible Word of God.


Parkwood Baptist Church

Gastonia, N. C.

The three Ph.D.s on your editorial staff notwithstanding: the Bible may be infallible; however, your logic is not.

Carterville, Ill.



A few Christians in Champaign-Urbana have recently been collecting information about world food needs. It has been our hope that in this way we can better be open to God’s leading us in helping alleviate this problem. Therefore I was interested in your editorial comment (“Feast or Famine?,” July 20) on the crisis resulting from famine in India and West Africa. Praise God for your vigilant concern!

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However, I think your prophetic warning in the last three paragraphs might better be directed explicitly toward the body of Christ in America than toward America as a nation. Affluent followers of Jesus Christ are the brothers and sisters whom we might expect to respond to the needs of the Christians and non-Christians facing starvation in other lands.


Empty Tomb, Inc.


Urbana, Ill.


We were very distressed at the lack of depth in your news story “Solidarity With Cesar” (July 20). You neglected to mention the acts of violence against strikers by Teamsters being paid $67 a day to “protect” workers. This protection has included the following crimes:

May 10—There was a special Mother’s Day prayer service at the park where predominantly women were present. The men went to church. The park was attacked by a caravan of Teamsters. They attacked with belts, bars, and some had guns. Teamsters desecrated the flag of Mexico in front of visiting students from the University of Mexico. (Imagine if you were in Mexico and saw an American flag desecrated.)

May 30–300-pound Teamster Mike Falco, accompanied by thirteen other teamsters, smashed Father John Bank in the face and shattered the priest’s nose. He was having breakfast with Wall Street reporter William Wong in a Coachella restaurant. Waitresses were too terrified to call police. Father Bank had to call the police himself and place Falco under citizen’s arrest.

June 21—Ismael Guajardo was kidnapped, beaten, and stabbed six times with an ice pick by two Teamsters. The two Teamsters have been charged with kidnapping and attempted murder. Guajardo was in very serious condition. Many other incidents like these above have been recorded.…

On April 10, 1973, a mixed body of clergy, labor leaders, and civic leaders went to the Coachella Valley and interviewed one thousand farm workers. They reported that 795 wanted the UFW, 80 wanted the Teamsters, and 78 wanted no union at all. In lettuce, when Teamster contracts were announced (the workers never voted), 7,000 workers went out on strike in support of the UFW. It is time for the nation’s poorest people to gain justice and dignity and to receive the protection of their own union, the United Farm Workers Union.

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Miami Interfaith Committee to Aid Farm Workers

Miami, Fla.

Being a Christian does not mean that one should be for Cesar after becoming informed. The UFWU’s secondary boycotting of a Safeway Store in Oakland is a disgrace. The pickets are young Caucasian agitators (carryovers from the unlawful war) who have never picked a grape or head of lettuce in their life nor have they ever worked on a farm. When Cesar was secondary-boycotting Safeway regarding lettuce, he had Chicanos, who had at one time worked on farms, picketing, and their deportment was commendable. Now, the pickets only anger the public into buying grapes.

To my knowledge the churches involved are not helping secondary boycotting to be “an instrument of peace.” For that matter, how can it ever be an instrument of peace when it actually is unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act? There is no peace when people break laws. What has to happen in this country for all people, including church leaders, to realize that unlawful actions can never be justified and can never bring peace to this country and to this world? (Proverbs 16:7—“When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”)

Oakland, Calif.



Please note an inaccuracy in your report on the UCC General Synod’s resolution on women (News, “The Big Issue: Women on the Move,” July 20). The section calling for translation of the Bible was deleted from the finally passed resolution, regrettably.


United Church Board for Homeland Ministries

Philadelphia, Pa.


Henry Jacobsen is stretching too hard to defend an institution which has no tradition in Scripture (“Sunday School: Alive and—Well …,” July 6). It is in fact accurate to say that the Bible assigns full responsibility to parents for the spiritual instruction of children (Eph. 6:4).

The only scriptural reference Jacobsen uses to show the responsibility of the Church in this regard is Matthew 28:19, 20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.…” Of course, the verse is ill-used here. The word “teaching” is the Greek present participle, which implies that Christian instruction is meant to be a continuous process that cannot be carried out only within the occasional meeting of the congregation.

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Further, this command of our Lord seems to suggest that instruction (which is indeed necessary in the making of disciples) actually precedes the evangelizing of the nations. The earlier Christians were a group attracted to the faith and learned in the faith even before they were directed to a church-group situation. Their learning came out on the street listening to the Christians doing evangelism. If the Church is to attend to the ministry of education today, it should be through instructive evangelism rather than to use the meeting of “the called out ones” for instruction instead of what it was intended for—to remember the Lord in the breaking of bread.

The teaching ministry of the Church should be emphasized daily in the home and not the “Sunday school.”


Highland Park, Ill.


When Jeb Magruder (Editorials, “ ‘Somewhat Inured,’ ” July 6) cited the teaching and example of William Sloane Coffin as his excuse for breaking the law in the Watergate affair, Dr. Coffin quipped (according to report): “Jesus and James Hoffa both broke the law but there was a vast difference.” A neat cover-up except for one thing: so far as is recorded, Jesus never broke the civil laws of the land. That was the point of his teaching in Matthew 22:21: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” The “laws” that Jesus broke were ceremonial laws, the regulations laid down by the scribes and Pharisees, the rules which today we would call the canons of the Church.

Evidently, neither by exhortation, example, and now not by excuse has the distinguished doctor taught his unhappy pupil, Jeb, the need for obeying the laws of the land.


Pastor Emeritus

Oak Hill Presbyterian Church

St. Louis, Mo.


“Trends Among Fundamentalists” by Elmer Towns in your July 6 issue is significant. We in TEAM gladly acknowledge that we are fundamentalist in doctrine and in the matter of separation from direct fellowship with liberals in our ministry.

The article is disturbing, however, because of what it reports of uninformed judgment on “evangelicals” as a whole. Note that whereas a distinction was formerly made between the evangelicals and neo-evangelicals, now all are lumped together and are suspect. The word “evangelical” is a good one. In fact, it has more biblical justification than the word “fundamentalist.” Some of our organizations have had this good name through many years, while holding to our fundamental doctrinal position and principles, and we protest the writing off of that beautiful, biblical word by the simple tactic of equating it with compromise. We want to be fundamentalist and evangelical in the best sense of the words.

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General Director

The Evangelical Alliance Mission

Wheaton, Ill.

I am a new reader of CHRISTIANITY TODAY. I was very pleased with the article by Elmer Towns on fundamentalism. Mr. Towns seems to have a tremendous insight into what is happening among churches in America. I believe the aggressive church movement is having its effect in this country. The conservative element is on the rise and I hope will topple the liberal tower. Give us more news on the “super aggressive church” movement.


Beth Haven Baptist Church

Louisville, Ky.

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