For Men Only
All right, you guys, don’t say you didn’t have fair warning. St. Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Get ready to remember the women in your life.
One of the quaint Valentine’s Day customs I recall from my childhood—shortly before the French and Indian Wars—is that of “stamping” Valentines.
Under the cover of darkness one would drop a card on the porch, stamp his foot, and then vault over the rail to watch from the bushes as the young lady came forth to open the card and begin to puzzle out the name of the giver.
You didn’t just sign the card. You hid your name in a code, like using the numerical equivalent of your first and last initials—something that made it a little more exciting but was simple enough to assure your discovery.
The cost of my affection was rather small in those days. About half a cent for small cards printed on one side only, as I recall.
Not only has inflation gotten to the price of cards; affluence has increased the expectation. A card is no longer enough.
Historians can chatter all they wish about the Roman lovers’ festival of Lupercalia as the origin of Valentine’s Day; it’s perfectly obvious that the celebration was invented by a greeting-card manufacturer and is perpetuated by an international cabal of florist and candy manufacturers. You know that and I know it, but, gentlemen, the women of the world don’t care. They expect cards, flowers, and candy.
We might try pointing out that the the emphasis on romantic love is a relatively modern notion and that marriages in the past were based on something more lasting, like the conception of women as chattel. We could mention the general absence of romantic love in the Scriptures. “Can you envision,” we could ask, “the Apostle Paul interrupting his dictation to put his personal flourish on a Valentine?” We could try but we’d better not.
And on the other hand, it isn’t hard to conceive of Boaz, in that great love story of the Old Testament, sending both flowers and candy to Ruth. So, gentlemen, I give you a Valentine’s Day toast: May our womenfolk be like Ruth, who so decisively chose the God of Israel, and may we be as gallant as Boaz.
I just want to tell you I appreciate beyond words the deep inspiration and enlightenment I’ve received through the years from CHRISTIANITY TODAY. Hardly an issue comes that I don’t gain a new insight or perspective. One tends to take this for granted when it is so consistent. Yet I often think what truly good friends I’ve found in the pages of your magazine, and I do thank God for all of you. MRS. ROBERT MUSTAIN Los Angeles, Calif.
J. Edwin Orr (“The Agony of Ulster,” Nov. 10) correctly diagnoses the need for revival. However, in the Ulster context this is too often conceived of in pietistic terms. In other words, personal religion is separated from the larger questions of social justice.… The article says the Irish are preoccupied with history; yes, and that is why we are not easily swayed by arguments purely pragmatic. Further, to argue that Ireland is economically backward, a questionable assumption, is to forget that partition separated the industrial North from the agricultural South. Naturally, without British aid our development in the South has been slower.…
When the Westminster government divided the country in 1922, they made provision for North and South to discuss the future unification of the country by establishing a Council of Ireland.… [But] Ireland North and South turned their backs on each other.… The original troubles  began not so much to bring about a united Ireland but to gain civil rights for the Catholic minority.… In the article the term “IRA” is used indiscriminately.… In 1964 the IRA had adopted a Marxist platform and had given up its idea of unity by means of physical violence, and it now has the name “Official IRA”.… Later, in 1970, the “Provisional IRA” was born. They gained the most support, as they defended the Catholic areas. [The Provisional IRA] believes in the use of force to obtain a united Ireland. They are Catholic nationalists and are totally opposed to Marxism.…
I have lived in Ulster now for two years, and I can identify with the province’s sufferings. I can only see an extenuation of this violence unless the accumulated facts of history are faced and resolved.
J. Gordon Melton’s review of a variety of books on occult or psychic phenomena in the December 8 issue raises the question of what would constitute proper objectivity in such studies. Three possible varieties of “objectivity” are readily distinguishable among the works reviewed and in the review itself. The first variety is the naïve, reportorial objectivity of Knight’s Weird World of the Occult, which led him to disregard the scriptural prohibitions against spiritism in order to do firsthand research at a séance. The obvious result of this approach is a book that participates in the occult so heavily as to become a potential instrument for the spread of occult influence. The second possible variety is the academic objectivity adopted by the reviewer himself and attributed by him to such writers as Neff. While vastly more sophisticated than Knight’s attitude in its historical dimension, this attitude shares the skepticism for the scriptural prohibitions upon experience of the “secret things” beyond the realm of biblical revelation. Finally, there is the objectivity of the surgeon seeking to excise every vestige of malignancy, exemplified in Kurt Koch’s Christian Counselling. Koch’s Christian ministry of deliverance, in contrast to the other approaches, has led him to a rigorous observance of biblical norms such as those of Deuteronomy 18. And while Koch does grant the possibility of a narrow range of naturally occurring psychic ability in man, he urges Christians to strictly avoid cultivating such abilities because of the very real danger of tapping into the demonic-psychic or “mediumistic.” Confession of the exercise of psychic powers as sin and a complete renunciation of them in the name of Jesus Christ is his characteristic recommendation.
Knowledge of the hidden things is gained at a profound personal cost even in the context of a ministry of deliverance. More Christians should be willing to pay that price for the sake of the oppressed, but only within the bounds set by biblical norms. True objectivity, after all, becomes a possibility in a given area of study only on the basis of a prior submission to the norms of the Word of God for that area.
Melton does do a real service by bringing up for discussion Koch’s view that the healing powers of Oral Roberts are “mediumistic” in character. The existence of such an oppression in the life of this evangelist would help to explain why his ministry often tends to glorify Oral Roberts rather than the Lord Jesus Christ.
“The Other Spiritual Revival,” the topic of your review of books on the psychical, is just that—the manifestations and effects of other spirits, those not of God. Your reviewer’s softness on witchcraft is extremely questionable in view of biblical injunctions against the practice. It is totally incorrect to in any way equate the Pentecostal-charismatic experience with psychic-occult phenomena, and ludicrous to lump the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International together with the Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship. There are indeed two spiritual worlds. Satan’s counterfeits are coming to the forefront today in opposition to the movement of the Holy Spirit.
This is just a note in appreciation of the “What If …” cartoons. There is a place for holy cynicism, and Lawing has the right idea as well as the insight. Praise God for his sense of humor.
JOHN D. BENNETT
Don’t even think of eliminating “What If.…” In fact, I want to encourage you to publish a book of the cartoons. You may send me a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for this wonderful idea. You might even consider making some of the better cartoons into posters and offering them to your readers. I thank God for a sense of humor—for I assume he gave it to me.
MARIE K. WIENS
After reading Jon R. Kennedy’s review of The Cross and the Flag in your December 22 issue, I could not help but wonder what his qualifications were to review such a book, especially in light of some of his rather peculiar remarks about politics and Christianity in the United States and elsewhere. Those who have read the volume and/or know the authors will find it difficult to believe that Kennedy speaks as an authority on the subject.
Among several, there are at least two points worth special consideration. First, the language of The Cross and the Flag is much more conciliatory in tone than is Kennedy’s review.… Second, the implication that the book assumes some kind of doctrinaire non-Christian liberal stance rather than attempting to relate directly to evangelical Christians today is patently false, as the introduction carefully points out.
My advice: read the book for yourself and then measure it against Kennedy’s review.
DALLAS M. ROARK
A SWING BETWEEN
Thank God that my relationship to the Father does not depend on history, which Dr. Scaer in “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus” (Dec. 22) has purported. Quick to condemn a list of “existentially oriented exegetical scholars” for faith only without history, the author himself swings to an almost humanistic Jesus.
One can become so involved in the “actuals” of the history of Jesus that one forgets God’s purpose of the incarnation of his Son, that he would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Christians and non-Christians can have a factual knowledge of the birth of this Jesus in Bethlehem. King Herod and his advisors knew of the time and place of Jesus’ birth as proclaimed by the ancient prophets. But what good is knowledge unless there is faith granted by the Holy Spirit to believe that Jesus was born to be the Saviour of the world?
Gabriel Hebert in the title of a little book, The Christ of Faith and the Jesus of History, may well tell us about the old cliché—not either/or but both/and.
Grace Lutheran Church
INTO THE TRAP
Too bad that an otherwise fine essay had to be tainted by the author’s falling headlong into a pedagogical trap: that of treating a four-year-old as if he were a forty-year-old—in miniature (A Layman and His Faith, “The Golden Years,” Dec. 22).
Thus the author conveniently lumps all children from ages one to five into the same general category of “little children.” Are we to teach the two-year-old the same Bible story that we teach the five-year-old? Does not the two-year-old’s more limited perception of the world preclude some stories and concepts that the five-year-old could easily handle?…
Children, like other growing things, need to be nurtured most carefully if they are to become healthy, adult specimens. They must learn to crawl before they attempt to walk. To treat them like miniature adults, capable of overlooking violence and appreciating advanced theological concepts, is to tarnish the golden years unnecessarily. Teach a two-year-old that Jesus loves him; teach him to pray … of course! To wait until he is six is to wait too long. But feed little lambs with the milk they can digest, not with the stout grass of later years!
Bible Way Curriculum
Board of Publications of the Christian Reformed Church
Grand Rapids, Mich.
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