Lives Sublime

Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time.


Occasions like Columbus Day often bring on me a recurrence of the “footprints in the sands of time” syndrome.

“What,” I ask myself, “have I done or am I likely to do to cause my name to be remembered by posterity?”

Will my accomplishments result in towering monuments reflecting the sun with more than Oriental splendor and having Eutychus V boldly graven on the base? Will Eutychus V Day give the workers of America a welcome day of respite from their labors?

Probably not.

I’m not sure what sort of men Longfellow had in mind in the “Psalm of Life,” but it’s hard to say what the lives of some “great” men remind us of.

If one is to believe the historical records, Columbus himself displayed arrogance, avarice, deceit, cruelty, and dishonesty.

Having been promised unprecedented honors, titles, and shares of the trade by the Queen of Spain, Columbus nevertheless claimed for himself the prize offered to the first seaman to spot land, defrauding the poor sailor who had actually done so. Yet he is piously enshrined in our history books.

On the coast of Massachusetts there’s a small beach known as “Singing Beach” because the sand is so fine that as you walk it collapses into your footprints with a musical sound. I suspect the sands of time are very much like Singing Beach.

The lives of most truly great men probably don’t remind us of anything. They were too busy doing God’s bidding to worry about leaving indelible footprints.

The Israelites had a better system. They erected their monuments to God, who had given them the victory or led them across a dangerous way. Their great holidays commemorated no leader but rather the mighty acts of God.

It’s better to leave our leaders and ourselves to the judgment of God and to join the Psalmist in saying:

Sing to the Lord and bless his name,

Proclaim his triumph day by day.

His Marvelous deeds among all peoples.

Remember, his “Well done, good and faithful servant” is worth ten thousand monuments reflecting the sun with more than Oriental splendor.



That was an excellent article on Dr. Trumbull by my friend Bernard De-Remer (“Henry Clay Trumbull: A Profile of Involvement,” Aug. 10). It may be that your readers would be interested in a characteristic anecdote which was told to me by the person I am about to mention.

When Trumbull began the publication of the Sunday School Times in 1875, he asked Philip E. Howard to be his business manager. Howard was then a very young man, and he told Trumbull he would not be the cause of the paper’s ultimately folding up due to poor business management. Trumbull replied, “I had rather have you working with me and failing, than to be a success without you.” The choice, of course, was wholly justified in the years ahead when the Sunday School Times became the most important Sunday-school paper in the English world. Though the life of Dr. Trumbull was written by Howard himself, the anecdote I have just related is not mentioned in these pages. Let me repeat, this was told to me by Howard himself.

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Professor Emeritus

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

San Marino, Calif.

The Right To Lie

Thanks for including “the lying reports about U. S. bombings in Cambodia” among the “immoral actions that must be condemned” in your editorial “Watergate and Religion” (August 31). I wonder whether you would include the bombings themselves among the immoral actions that must be condemned. Or are we to understand that the bombing was moral, but the lying about the bombing was immoral?

A similar question is raised by your quotation from Billy Graham, “Lying, cheating, stealing, fornication, and adultery are always wrong. They are a breach of God’s law no matter who does them.” Are we to understand that killing human beings is not always wrong? Is it wrong only when it is murder, that is, when the society in which one lives declares it to be wrong? If the society determines when killing human beings is wrong and when it is right, can it not also determine when lying, etc. are wrong and when right?

Can we Christians expect the world to take us seriously when we say that lying is always wrong, while at the same time we let the world decide for us when killing is right and when it is wrong? When we as Christians delegate to a few national leaders the responsibility to decide for us when it is right to kill human beings, can we blame them if they also assume the right to decide when it is right to lie?


Dillsburg, Pa.

In Remembrance

What a delight to see that those who gave their lives for what they believed to be a service to God and country have not been forgotten (News, “Sixteen Men,” Aug. 31). Chaplain Don L. Bartley was a dear friend and companion of mine who was on his way to visit me when his truck ran over a land mine, killing him and five others on assignment to make a film record of chaplain activities in Viet Nam. Chaplain Bartley was an outstanding chaplain (on the promotion list ahead of his contemporaries), a faithful proclaimer of the Word of God, and a sweet and loving Christain who attracted many to Christ by his life. May God grant we have many more examples like Don Bartley to follow. Thank you for remembering them.

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Chaplain (LTC), United States Army

Fort Hood, Tex.


Please note that under “Diabetic Deaths” (News, Sept. 14) you say [that the tragedy occurred] in Bakersfield, California. It was Barstow, not Bakersfield.


Minister of Parish Life

First Presbyterian Church

Bakersfield, Calif.

‘Gospel’ Or Bible?

I deeply resented your editorial, “Missouri Synod: The Conservative Victory” (Aug. 10), particularly the implication that Southern Baptist seminaries are becoming increasingly unorthodox. Frankly, I think you are misinformed. However, if by unorthodox you mean placing primary emphasis on “the Gospel” rather than beginning with the Bible (one of the conflicts between “liberals” and “conservatives” in the Synod, according to your news article), then perhaps your remark has some basis. For it is true that many professors (and others as well) feel that a person will usually first come to faith in Christ and will then realize the authority of the Bible for his life. This is as it should be. Which came first, the Bible or the living Word (John 1:1)? The Bible is primarily a sword to be used, not a book to be defended. If this is unorthodox, then you should categorize many traditionally evangelical groups as unorthodox—Campus Crusade and Inter-Varsity, for instance. If not, then I see little justification for your statement.

It is interesting that you bemoan the “liberal drift” away from the “orthodox theology of the founding fathers,” yet in the Synod’s case it is not adherence to the historic Lutheran creeds that is at issue. Rather, Tietjen and others are apparently to be vanquished for their non-adherence to President Preus’s personal statement of doctrinal principles. I am glad that Southern Baptists have not come to the point of pitched battle over different theological interpretations. If the growing “unorthodoxy” of SBC seminaries has been harmful, it isn’t evident in the area of evangelism. A record number of baptisms, about 450,000, was reported for this past year. Perhaps diversity can even be an asset!


Eugene, Oreg.

It is most unfortunate that such a statement as “the theologically orthodox who are increasingly being crowded out of Southern Baptist seminaries” should appear in print. Southern Baptists are due a retraction and apology for this statement as it is unfounded and out of place. More and more your magazine is becoming a “witch hunter’s guide” for those who confuse orthodoxy by self-definition with Christianity. You were bred of better stock and would that you return to same.

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The First Baptist Church

Goliad, Tex.

In your editorial commendation of Dr. Preus for his conservative victory, it is interesting that you noted only his courage and perseverance. Sadly missed is a recognition of the man’s love—perhaps, and tragically, because that mark of a New Testament man has not been one of our president’s strong attributes. I lost my respect for him as my spiritual leader when one of my letters of concern to him was answered in part by him thus: “… you had impressed yourself upon me as a cruel, insolent and loveless individual.” Others who have written to him out of their genuine concerns have received similar responses or been attacked with biting sarcasm.


Saint Timothy Lutheran Church

Hyde Park, N. Y.

Fine Balance

I appreciate the quality of the articles in CHRISTIANITY TODAY. The fine scholarship and balance can be seen quite clearly in Clark Pinnock’s article “The New Pentecostalism: Reflections by a Well Wisher” (Sept. 14). I hope both “sides” listen well to it, especially the sentence, “Let us not permit Satan to use the occasion of the new Pentecostal revival to drive evangelical believers from one another as he has used eschatology, social practices, and the sovereignty of God in the past.”


First Baptist Church

Hampton, N. H.

Thank you for the excellent article. With concise clarity and an economy of words yet with deep understanding Pinnock has reflected many of the hopes and fears elicited by this movement. Please, if it is possible, make this available in reprint form.


Gaffney, S. C.

I have just finished reading the September 14 issue of your magazine, and was especially pleased to read the article on the new Pentecostalism. CHRISTIANITY TODAY has not always been as conciliatory when it treated this subject. It seems to me that Dr. Pinnock has raised some legitimate questions that require a reply. I for one would like to see replies to this article by charismatic theologians from Protestant and Catholic branches of the Church.

Pinnock mentions Rodman Williams, a Presbyterian charismatic theologian. Dr. Williams has done some [thinking] on these problems, and might be persuaded to make a reply. Also, he is currently in talks with Catholic theologians in this country and in Europe, and might suggest one of them to make a reply as well. I firmly believe one of the ways CHRISTIANITY TODAY can open up a new offensive to make evangelicalism more creditable is by assisting in an effort to draw these two movements closer together. The differences in views and goals between charismatics and non-charismatic evangelicals is not a great one.

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First Presbyterian Church

Dadeville, Ala.

Dr. Pinnock’s otherwise penetrating article answers his own question on why many evangelicals reject the so-called charismatic movement. (With him, I believe the church is charismatic.) The genius of both the new and old Pentecostalism, which he does touch on, is the authority of experience, which bows to nothing else, including revelation. Pinnock’s helpful suggestions to the charismatics, mild as they may seem (and biblical as they are), would absolutely vitiate the movement. Twisted Scripture can never produce straight theology. Subjectivism will remain that, no matter what our purported spiritual objectives.

Surely we cry out for a greater fullness of the Holy Spirit, but he will not arrive at the cheap command of babbling. (See “Speaking in Tongues” by Stanley D. Walker, Youth in Action, May, 1964, for syllabic instructions on speaking in tongues.) His presence and power is available now just exactly on the same basis it always has been. “… the Holy Spirit … God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:32, RSV). The cost of the life in the Spirit remains the same as when Jesus promised to send the Comforter—the cross of complete submission.


Seventh-day Adventist Churches of the Rio Grande Valley

Weslaco, Tex.

Clark Pinnock’s reflections are a healing balm on an old wound in the body of Christ. An important omitted fact is that the growing number of Christians who believe in spiritual gifts but not in a post-conversion baptism in the Holy Spirit overwhelmingly do not exercise these gifts. This doesn’t prove a “second blessing,” but points to the general need for bringing experience and biblical understanding into alignment.


Arlington, Va.

Thank you very much for the most incisive and compassionate article on this most sensitive subject that I’ve read in a long while. As a pentecostal, evangelical, Episcopal priest (sic?), I felt Dr. Pinnock speaking spirit to spirit in the Holy Spirit. While I agree with most everything he had to say, I would offer this one reason for the apparent insistence upon the gift of tongues as normative if not necessary:

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1. The Christian is to have the mind of Christ and do the works (even greater!) Christ did. This, obviously, can be only by his grace as we are totally yielded to the Spirit within us.

2. The yieldedness (as the branch to the vine) issues forth in the fruits of the Spirit, or the character of Jesus. James reminds us that our tongue is the last to be tamed of all our members, and is not subject to human control. He is not arguing for the gift of tongues (Jas. 3:1–12), but his truth is [obviously] self evident.

3. Therefore, we might say that the gift of tongues (glossolalia) is self-edifying in that it is a sign-gift from God of our more complete yielding. Somewhat like uncorking a bottle, the Spirit is then manifested in many other ways in the life of the believer. The overflowing seems to begin for many with this step of trust. Remember, speaking (more correctly “praying”—for it is to the Father) in tongues requires a walking-on-water kind of faith. Walking comes naturally, as does normal speaking; but as Peter’s faith in stepping out of the boat preceded the Lord’s evident provision, so must we open our mouths and pray, trusting him to provide the actual vowels and consonants which constitute the “tongue” or language he gives us.


St. Martin’s Church

Daly City, Calif.

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