Bovine Blessings

I see that the horse lobby has galloped into action. These folks are disturbed about the increasing use of horse meat at the dinner table.

According to news reports, a group of equestrians recently descended on the nation’s capital bearing signs that read: “Horses are for riding not eating.”

Their cause is supported by no less than Senator Schweiker, who has introduced into Congress a bill to make the use of horse meat for human consumption illegal.

I can sympathize with this group. They love horses and feel that because of their beauty and recreational contribution to mankind they should be delivered from the slaughterer’s axe.

On the other hand, who speaks for the lowly cow? Where is the cow lobby?

While the horse brings to some a certain amount of exercise and visual pleasure, the cow is our foster mother. We were brought up on her milk. As children we would hear mom say whenever we reached for the Kool-Aid, “Milk would be better for you!”

Think of how many important decisions we’ve made mulling over a bowl of cereal and milk in the wee hours of the morning.

Perhaps the human race might be even less pacific were it not for the effect of cow’s milk. Look at Romulus and Remus. They were suckled on wolfs milk and founded the city that became the great persecutor of the church.

Even our language and literature owe a debt to sis cow. What kind of elocution lesson would it be to recite: “How now brown horse, grazing in the green, green grass”? Jack would have had no story to entertain the children of the world if he hadn’t had a cow to trade for the five magic beans. Think of how udderly preposterous it would be to have a horse jumping over the moon. And don’t forget the immortalized nonexistent purple cow.

Even in the Scriptures the milk cow had a brief moment of glory. The Philistines wanted to return the captured ark of the Lord and thus remove the curse that had fallen on them. To show their peaceful intent they hitched two milk cows to the cart and sent the ark back to Israel.

And look how we’ve repaid our debt to sister cow. We run her through the slaughter house in increasing numbers to try to satisfy the human demand for meat.

Think of how many cows have gone that way as sacrifices to the golden arches of McDonald’s.

The Lord tells us that “all the beasts of the forest are mine and the cattle in thousands on my hills.”

We need to remember that we are God’s stewards with responsibilities for all his creatures, not just those for whom we have a sentimental attachment as fanciers or pet owners.

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Edward E. Plowman’s news article in the May 25 issue, “Bill Gothard’s Institute,” was fair as well as enlightening. However, as an alumnus of one of Mr. Gothard’s institutes I would take exception to your use of the title “guru.” Even in the general connotation in which it was used it is so out of character to the personality of Gothard himself and to the emphasis he seeks to make on what he is presenting. San Francisco, as you well know, is overrun today with Eastern mysticism in many forms, and the “guru” title leaves a highly colored connotation in my mind. Gothard’s institute is one of the few things I find that I can recommend to people wholeheartedly without a lot of reservations. We need all of the help we can get today in the evangelical world, and the abandonment to the person and authority of Christ that is called for by Gothard’s presentation is, without equivocation, our greatest need.

I enjoy reading CHRISTIANITY TODAY again, after some years’ absence from it, and I rely heavily on the news section to keep me abreast of current happenings.


Temple Baptist Church

San Francisco, Calif.

It seems to me it would have been a very simple thing to register for the institute and at least know what he was talking about before he wrote about it. Most critics at least read the book, see the movie, the show, or whatever it is before they write about it. They do not go by hearsay.

I could list quite a few things I learned when I attended the institute, but I think the most important thing was that Bill Gothard did not take any of the credit for this great work; he gives all the glory to God. The most important thing I learned was that to find the answer to any particular problem I could read, meditate, and search the Scriptures myself and find the answer. The Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts shows what some of these problems might be and how the Bible says we should handle them.

Hillsboro, Ore.


It seems a shame that a ministry that is being so used by God today—such that numbers up to 17,000 and 20,000 would attend for an entire week—should be the subject of such a poor reporting job by an evangelical magazine like CHRISTIANITY TODAY. AS one who has attended two seminars so far I would like to express my utter amazement at the caliber and spirit of your report.

It seems strange that every criticism we have heard regarding the institute thus far has come from individuals—such as Plowman—who have not even attended. It is true that you cannot make a fair and objective appraisal of the institute until you have attended one in its entirety. We concur entirely with Gothard that a partial exposure to the institute or its material will probably result only in taking “content out of context” and making it appear in a bad light.

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What alarms us most, however, is the fact that an evangelical publication like CHRISTIANITY TODAY is undercutting another evangelical work that is being so used of God in transforming lives, without even taking the time and effort to hear firsthand what is being taught. This can only serve to hurt the cause of Christ.


Departure Bay Baptist Church

Nanaimo, British Columbia

Your article both pleased and disturbed me. Controversy concerning a leader is nothing new. Disagreement with a leader’s teaching and methods is an accepted fact in our sadly divided Christian fellowship. Ridicule is quite another thing. I was shocked to see Bill Gothard’s picture with the caption “Guru Gothard.” I would expect to see that in Time or Newsweek, but not in CHRISTIANITY TODAY. I am sure you would never permit a picture of Billy Graham with the caption “Guru Graham.” Why do it with Bill Gothard, or any other Christian teacher? Surely you can be critical without violating the rules of Christian courtesy and good taste. It may be frustrating to a reporter not to be able to get an interview, but ridicule does not seem to be an appropriate Christian means of changing that.


Trinity Baptist Church

Portland, Ore.

Bill Gothard will be criticized, but I didn’t expect it to come from CHRISTIANITY TODAY. Each time I have heard the institute criticized it was from someone who had not attended. The article inferred that Mr. Plowman also has not attended. The attitude of the article was very much the same as the attitude I had before I went to one of the Institutes. I don’t know a better word for it than jealousy.

Newberg, Ore.


I was very surprised that a Christian publication the caliber of CHRISTIANITY TODAY would allow an article based on secondhand evidence to be published. If Mr. Plowman would take the time to attend a seminar, he would discover that Bill Gothard does not demand that his material be kept secret but rather that the material not be taught verbatim. The material should become a part of one’s life message and thereby it will be impossible for it to remain secret. After four years of Bible college and three years at seminary, it was refreshing to find out the pure and simple method of application of Scripture that is the basis for the institute.

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Assistant Pastor

First Baptist Church

Suffolk, Va.

Mr. Plowman has used secondary sources for his information instead of a primary source, for it is clear from his closing sentence that he himself has not attended the institute. This is akin to the non-Christian assessing the validity of the claims of Christ by going only to Christians and to other non-Christians rather than taking the time and trouble to read the Bible.

I feel that a thoughtful article concerning Bill Gothard’s institute would be most appropriate in your magazine and a very contemporary help to your readers. But someone has said—and I think it fits this occasion nicely—“If you haven’t seen it, don’t knock it.”

Baltimore, Md.


For several years those of us here in the church have been discussing Bill Gothard’s institute. We agree that it is time for an open discussion of his program. The article by Edward Plowman was a good description of the institute. We feel there are some fundamental issues that need to be discussed.

The evangelical Christian community cannot afford to harbor teachers among its members that offer exclusivist or esoteric programs—esoteric, meaning “intended only for the select few which have a special knowledge or interest, private or confidential.” The confidential manner of the institute, which is aimed at discouraging its listeners from sharing the contents of the lectures and notebook, gives some of the listeners the impression that they are the recipients of some spiritual secrets like Hannah W. Smith and Hudson Taylor talked about. However, the “secrets” they and others discussed were published years ago and discussed openly. The Gothard institute is not open. It is his right to charge a fee. Anyone attending a seminar, college, or seminary has some right to know what he is paying for. Does the institute’s brochure realistically outline the content and methods of the institute?… The Gothard institute is attempting to accomplish something new in Christianity. That is to present a formula for Christian maturity to thousands simultaneously. This cannot be done. According to Charles Ryrie of Dallas Seminary, Christian maturity is chiefly the result of two things: the work of the Holy Spirit and time. As we study the Scriptures and learn the doctrines of our faith the Holy Spirit teaches us and directs us to develop our spiritual gifts, to fellowship with others, and grow toward maturity. There is perhaps a minimum of five to ten years as we earnestly mature in our relationship to the Holy Spirit. We still continue to grow after this period and of course are never perfect; but we have a sound basis upon which to build. This building is only done on an individual basis.… Each Christian is unique, he has needs only the Lord knows of and only the Lord knows how to meet.

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Long Beach, Calif.


It was so refreshing to read the good words you had for Christians serving in the military (Editor’s Note, May 11). My congratulations to you for publicly recognizing that Christians can zealously serve their God and their country. We can sleep in peace tonight because there are Christians doing their duty in the armed services. Thank God! Kanehoe, Hawaii



Russell Chandler (“The Word This Summer: Write On,” June 8) stated, “Christian writers’ schools at … Green Lake have since faded away.…” Our Green Lake Writers’ Conference will be held July 7–14. It is too late for any readers who might want to take advantage of this opportunity, but we hope you will correct the error.


Editorial Library

American Baptist Board of Education and Publication

Valley Forge, Pa.


I was very disappointed in the inadequate treatment given to the Convocation of Sessions of Southern Presbyterian Churches in Atlanta (News, “Continuing Presbyterians,” June 8). You quoted at length reasons why one Southern Presbyterian conservative disagrees with the decision of his brethren to form a continuing Presbyterian Church in 1973. However, you gave no indication of what reasons there might be in favor of the overwhelming decision.


McIlwain Memorial Presbyterian Church

Pensacola, Fla.

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