Day Of Infamy
In doing the sort of in-depth research necessary for this column I went to one of the young secretaries in our office.
“Tell me,” I said, “everything you know about December 7.”
She flipped over the leaves of her desk calendar and announced, “It’s a Friday.”
“What else is it?”
“Let’s see,” she said, “the only holiday you know is Global Tree Frog Day but that’s in April. Sorry, there’s nothing on my calendar. You must have the wrong desk.”
“Try thinking history.”
“Oh yes,” she said. “Something happened on December 7. Hiroshima?”
“End of the Second World War.” “Try Pearl Harbor.”
“Of course,” she said, brightening. “The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1947.”
“What do you expect? I wasn’t even born then.”
So much for the day that was going to live in infamy. Not only does the day not live in infamy, but the perpetrator of that infamous act is now our most important ally in the East.
In our state, a Democrat turned Republican has just won the governor’s chair. And in national politics a former Democrat has his eye on a future Republican nomination for President.
The point of all this is that in politics, whether international or local, expediency is the operational principle. Yesterday’s enemy becomes today’s ally. The Chinese are no less enemies of human freedom than they were in the days of the cold war, but their friendship is thought to be necessary in maintaining the international détente.
At one point in my immoderate youth I became a card-carrying conservative, rallying behind the banner of God and Man at Yale and “Human Events.” I even (blush) wrote a fan letter to Barry Goldwater.
My naïveté is so deeply entrenched and resistant to illumination that it took some years for me to realize that only the amateurs in politics operate on the basis of fixed principles. Professional politicians are champions of expediency.
Unfortunately, this principle has come to control a great deal of modern life. It’s easy to see it in operation in business arrangements and sometimes even in personal relationships.
Expediency says, “I’ll do whatever is in my own interest.” What we need to do is to recapture the principles of the radical from Galilee who demands that we do what is right even if it works against our own interests.
An ‘Iffy’ Leadership
Did I ever … thank [Cheryl Forbes] for all of the good press she’s given us? By reporting our activities she has helped us gain acceptance and support from the Christian community, which we need and want. One thing I like about her reporting is that she has the knack for picking up statements we’re making which seem to typify or epitomize the event for us.…
However, in her article on Jesus Christ Superstar (The Refiner’s Fire, “ ‘Superstar’ Brings Us Together—In Protest,” Oct. 12), she used the phrase “Moishe Rosen and his Jews for Jesus. Ordinarily that would be cool. However, I think it would be safe to say that I named the movement, but unlike Adam, our first father, who named the animals, then had dominion over them, the Jews for Jesus movement is mine by participation and influence, not any real authority.
Now here’s where the real problem comes in. The parents of many of these young people, and most of them are in their early twenties, think that I’m some kind of a Svengali who has succeeded in mesmerizing their children, then brainwashing them to do my will.
I’m a spokesman, but I don’t even have a figurehead position of leadership. Jews for Jesus in San Francisco is unofficially organized like a tribe and maybe I’m the tribal leader, but I’m the leader of the tribe by the consent of the others.…
Most of the decisions to demonstrate as we did at Jesus Christ Superstar are shared decisions. We have a staff or council meeting for two hours every Monday afternoon. About twenty-five people attend. The initiative for the Superstar demonstration came from Steffi Geiser. My role is chiefly that of a strategist. Anyone who attends the council meeting has the right to make certain initiatives. Then we follow an adversary procedure to try to find fault with the plan or the project. If there is any disagreement, we call for a vote.… Anyone who votes, even if he votes no, must participate in a group project. Since I’m the only one who is trained as a preacher, I get most of the speaking engagements. However, several of the group are in Bible college and a couple have graduated already. What I’m trying to say is that my leadership of Jews for Jesus is a sometime thing and an iffy thing.
Jews for Jesus
Corte Madera, Calif.
Critics tend to be critical, but ought not always to go uncriticized. Hence this opening dialogue with Cheryl Forbes on her recent review of Superstar.
First, to the point of anti-Semitism. Christianity has had to live with this for a long time. But it occurs to me that for our time, the message is rather that his own people killed him—as you and I would be the first to do were Jesus to venture into 1973 America. Is it not true that the most pious of his time found him most uncomfortable to have around? And would not we? Indeed, do not we?
The tour theme fascinates me, as it did our youth group and confirmation class. It is novel to have a story of Jesus begin with a bus trip. But if Jesus got on that bus at the end, it escaped our eyes. I think that was intentional, and therefore a far stronger statement of the resurrection than the record Superstar was (which ends with a musical interpretation of John 19:41).… You and I long for a more faithful interpretation of the great Story, but we are not likely to be satisfied. Any telling is an interpretation, if only a voice inflection of the telling, or even the reading of the passages as printed.… I do believe that I can learn from even the worst interpreter of that story. At least one of the purposes of the coming of Jesus is that we might be provoked—thought-provoked, that Superstar has been faithful to the intent of God. As the line goes, “This was unexpected. What do I do now?”
JOHN R. MCELDERRY
The Wheat Ridge Congregation of the United Church of Christ
Not By Us
I appreciated Howard Snyder’s needed and balanced treatment of spiritual gifts in (“Misunderstanding Spiritual Gifts,” Oct. 12). However, the exegesis is seriously amiss where he quotes David R. Mains.… Talents are genetic and learned endowments to be offered to God as a living sacrifice, and these natural abilities may be anointed and blessed of God for service. Spiritual gifts, on the other hand, have prior existence in the Godhead and are not brought into existence by our attitude. For example, the gifts of salvation and faith exist in the Godhead independently of any change in human attitudes toward them; so it is with all spiritual gifts.
Wrong Way Of Words
Immediately after mentioning to my wife how helpful it would be for CHRISTIANITY TODAY to publish an article on our speech (conversations), I ran across your excellent article “The Two Ways of Words” (Oct. 12). I commend D. G. Kehl on his work and recommend the publication to youth ministers throughout our nation. Is my speech outdated (at only age twenty-nine), and is it becoming an accepted practice for youth men to use historically taboo words even when preaching? The words I am referring to go even beyond the type wormed at by D. G. Kehl. In my last two years at the National Youth Workers Convention, in keynote addresses the audiences have been subjected to [all the usual “four-letter” words].…
I can fully appreciate the context of these words and the purpose for which they were uttered, but I must totally reject the choice of words themselves. Is this the manner of conversation we are to project to a world which is already confused?
GARY R. WILLIAMS
Community Baptist Church
Manhattan Beach, Calif.
The officers and staff of the American Bible Society are most grateful for the splendid coverage you give the program we have called “Good News for New Readers” (Oct. 12). The endorsement contained in the editorial “Spreading the Word With Impact” is warmly appreciated and should produce new support for the Bible cause from those who love the Lord and wish to see his Word more widely known. The news story by David Kucharsky is thorough and factual, characteristics which we have come to expect from your writers.
LATON E. HOLMGREN
American Bible Society
New York, N. Y.
We have been intrigued by the kindly handling which Salvador Allende has had in some sections of the press. It seems to us that in their solicitude for him, the press reveals its own preference for Marxism over against democracy. In this opinion it seems the only requirement is that Communism come to power by the so-called democratic process. Some people seem to forget that however it comes to power Marxist Communism is still Marxist Communism—the very antithesis of the democratic way of life and the very opposite of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even though honestly elected to power (Allende, by the way, came to power with about one-third or more of the popular vote), the Antichrist would still be the Antichrist.
Your rather strange editorial “Repentance That Leads to Salvation” (Oct. 12) was by no means one of your best. We are sure that your apparent kindliness does not indicate that you join with those who would prefer Marxism over democracy just so Marxism comes to power by the use of what we know as democratic techniques.
THEODORE S. SMYLIE
St. Louis, Mo.
Mark A. Noll’s article “Believer-Priests in the Church” (Oct. 26) opens with the sentence, “Martin Luther, as every school boy knows, challenged the Roman Catholic Church and founded Protestantism.…” Martin Luther did indeed challenge the Roman church and found Protestantism, but not every school boy knows it. I was appalled recently in announcing a showing of the film Martin Luther to discover that not one single young person contacted had ever heard of Martin Luther or the Reformation. All, however, had heard of Martin Luther King! Teachers are complaining that there is too much history to teach anymore, so I suppose there are historical priorities. At the same time many religious leaders are saying, Let’s have unity at the expense of doctrine. I suppose Martin Luther and his Reformation are caught in the squeeze—shall we say, victims of the latest phase-out?
JOHN M. KACHELMYER
Christian Mission to Youth
Belen, N. M.
The Basic Formula
The editorial “New Reformation Aborning?” (Oct. 26) prompted me to make the following remarks.… I feel strongly that the “earlier Reformation allegiance” is exactly the place from which the “new Reformation” will come. This Reformation gave to all mankind a basic spiritual formula [which] … rests upon the assumption that it is the duty and sole function of the Protestant clergy to “preach the Word of God written.” It was the responsibility of the civil body to make and enforce such laws as would organize and control all of the activities of the civil body in accordance with the Law of God as found in the Word written. This is the democratic principle.
The alternative to this principle is, and always has been, the principle of the Oriental religions, and primitive religions, throughout history, viz., that both civil and religious authority and power were held by one man, the headman, by whatever name he might be called. This is the ontocratic principle.… There can be no freedom, either religious or political, as long as the powers of priest and magistrate, or the reverse, remain in the hands of one man, by whatever name he may be known.
This division of powers was the profound gift of God in Jesus Christ.
GEORGE L. TAPPAN
Minister of Pastoral Visitation
First Presbyterian Church
Binghamton, N. Y.
Question … And Answer
Cheryl Forbes’s statement that Bishop John Allin “will become, when consecrated, ‘chief apostle on earth,’ according to church tradition and polity” (News, “Bishop John: The New Chief Apostle,” Oct. 26) is simply untrue.… Ms. Forbes ought to let us know the source for such a bizarre assertion. Moreover, Allin will not be “consecrated”.… He has already been consecrated and ordained a bishop.… A presiding bishop … is of no higher order than his fellow bishops.
KENNETH D. ALDRICH, JR.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
Westville, N. J.
I am an Episcopal parish priest, a former newsman with metropolitan daily experience in Chicago and Washington, and author of a story from the sixty-fourth General Convention of the Episcopal Church [a quote from which] has caused some consternation among your readers.… My error, I believe, was in attempting to describe a vague church doctrine known as “apostolic succession.” A life-long Anglican and a priest for four years, I have been brought up to believe apostolic succession to be a doctrine of the Episcopal Church, albeit a touchy one in this day of ecumenical negotiating. I have understood the doctrine to mean that bishops are successors to the apostles by virtue of the laying on of bands at the time of their consecration. And further, that this line of succession is unbroken from earliest times to today. Likewise, all priests were included in the apostolic succession by the laying on of hands. Thus, I wrote that the presiding bishop is placed in a special relationship to the apostles at the time of his consecration. In other words, he is an apostolic successor.
Secondly, I took a vow at my ordination to “reverently obey … [my] Bishop, and other chief Ministers, who according to the Canons of the Church, may have the charge and government over … [me].” Thus if the bishop is a modern-day successor to the apostles, then the presiding bishop is “chief apostle” among those over whom he has authority.…
I did not intend to create controversy. I thought I was honestly reporting church dogma. My error was in attempting to interpret it. However, I am amazed that I, a life-long Anglican from a family of Anglicans and a priest of the Episcopal Church, could have gotten an idea which many have termed “sheer fantasy.” What this says to me is that it is time the Episcopal Church reviewed the doctrine of apostolic succession and the tradition of the historic episcopacy. I would urge theologians and church historians to write papers on these subjects in hopes of exploring their relationship and perhaps giving some answers to the questions raised by William White in 1789.… If the doctrine of apostolic succession and the tradition of the historic episcopacy are vital to the Christian faith, let us understand what they mean. If we believe either or both of these “dogmas,” let us say so. If we do not, then let us abandon that which we do not believe. For it seems to me that these “dogmas” are very much at the heart of ecumenical discussions as to the validity of holy orders, the nature of ministry, and the authority for ministry.
If my unintended “offense” has caused some in the church to seriously consider these matters, then I am thanksful. And if I am simply one confused priest, then I appreciate the opportunity to be corrected and humbly apologize for sharing my ignorance in an official press release.
JAMES M. CORAM
St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church
High Point, N. C.
Your [news story] “Youth for Christ: Now There Are Two” (Oct. 26) was interesting, but it missed a couple of important points. The reason for the creation of Youth Evangelism Association is to provide a fellowship of men and women who want to help each other without rigid control over direction so long as they meet the high standards of separation and an aggressive evangelistic drive using both mass and personal soul-winning. Each member organization will remain completely autonomous and may do their job using whatever personnel and facilities best fit their local people and situations. A major dynamic of Youth for Christ historically has been the autonomy of local ministries. The departure from this approach is an integral part of the current administration of Youth for Christ, Incorporated—U.S.A. A central control is now the stated goal. The original intent and purpose of Youth for Christ International was service to local rallies. Now this has been reversed, with local entities serving the top-heavy headquarters.… Again, historically, Youth for Christ was known as an aggressive evangelistic outreach … with open, public invitations.… Now a new approach is being taught in what was formerly called the Youth for Christ Director’s School but is now dubbed the Summer Institute of Youth Evangelism. Public commitments to Christ are no longer popular with those promoting the current Campus Life philosophy. The new approach is “Don’t advertise your deal as a Christian event. Don’t use the name Jesus, or Christ, or God in your announcements, or during your initial (image) events such as Burgerbash or Scream-in-the-Dark.” This approach has long been used by another youth organization, but it is a complete departure from the hard-hitting, front-door type of youth evangelism begun by Torrey Johnson, Billy Graham, and Bob Cook, continued for thirty years by Al Metsker, and protracted by many of the largest local Youth for Christ rallies in America. The present regime of Youth, for Christ—U. S. A., by innuendo just short of decree, despairs the mass-rally approach that has been the mainstay of Youth for Christ during its thirty years of existence. The gigantic Billy Graham crusades (with the majority attending being youth), the phenomenon of Explo ’72 in Dallas, the success of the Kansas City Youth for Christ Super Rallies, and the Tristate youth for Christ Faith Festivals … are virtually ignored by the Wheaton-based Youth for Christ people.
The five founders of Youth Evangelism Association have been members of the Youth for Christ Executive Council. All are veterans of more than ten years in the Youth for Christ ministry. Each serves as executive director of a youth outreach that functions from a locally owned (not-for-profit) corporation, youth center complex. The tangible assets (land, buildings, and equipment) total more than $3 million. The combined annual operations budget of these five ministries exceeds $1 million. More than 10 per cent of all high school Youth for Christ clubs in America are connected with these five local ministries. The aggregate Saturday-night rally attendance in the five cities averages more than 3,000 teen-agers. These ministries won more than 6,000 teenagers to Christ during the past twelve months. One founder is the former Eastern Area vice-president of Youth for Christ. One is a former state director. One is director of the largest local youth ministry in the world.
Our [group’s] purpose is to continue the type ministry begun in the midforties, but proven even more effective in the seventies, as the way to reach the maximum number of young people most efficiently and economically with the unchanging Gospel of Jesus Christ.
GEORGE H. DOOMS
Youth Evangelism Association
North Evansville, Ill.
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