Hymns Of The Future

Astute observers of the publishing scene have noted that among non-fiction books, runaway best-sellers often fall into one of three categories: (1) guides to self-acceptance or psychological health (e.g., I’m OK, You’re OK); (2) frightening and yet somehow reassuring visions of the future (e.g., Future Shock); (3) occult and fringe religious phenomena (The Exorcist). Orthodox Christian publishers, of course, have scruples about producing for the occult/fringe market (3), and so naturally their efforts tend to center on categories (1) and (2)—for example, The Kink and I and The Late Great Planet Earth.

For decades there has been very little creative innovation in the field that long was the second bread-and-butter item for Christian publishers (after Bibles), namely, hymnbooks. Some would claim that nothing really new has been done in the hymnbook field since the extremely successful Kirchliches Gesangbuch (Cologne) of 1787. Music-publishing is always expensive, and new projects are always risky. The obvious solution is for a hymnbook to combine the two categories already so successful in religious publishing, (1) and (2) above.

The first creatively new venture of this type is soon to be released by Van der Zon (Grand Rapids): Future Hymns of Planet Earth. An example of the way in which imaginative new lyrics creatively combine personal psychological comfort with eschatological curiosity and reassurance about the unknown future is evident in a hymn chosen at random from the book’s hundreds of new selections, “Clock of Ages”:


Clock of ages, wound for me,

Let me time myself by thee.

May the frenzy and the fright

That disturb my sleep by night

Be dispelled by Scofield’s art,

We from Lindsey’s lore take heart.


Not the doctrines of the creed,

Can appease our psychic need;

Though our faith be firm as rock,

There would still be future shock.

We to prophecies must flee,

Analyzed ingeniously.


Harris’ plaintive, “I’m OK,”

Might have helped just yesterday;

But again our spirit fails,

Which promotes Zondervan’s sales.

Clock of ages, wound for me,

Let me time mself by thee.

In addition to the soon-to-be-beloved Future Hymns of Planet Earth, Van der Zon has announced its intention to offer new comfort to secularists too in the continuing political crisis with an all-purpose anthology of civil religious songs, Songs of the State. Details will be released as soon as available.


Catching The Spirit

I would like to express appreciation for the excellent news article by David Kucharsky, “Americans United: Parting Shots” (Mar. 1). It spoke eloquently to both the challenge of taking advantage of the affirmation of church-state separation which is now coming from the court system and the contribution Americans United for Separation of Church and State has made to creating that climate. The leadership of Glenn L. Archer has been unusual. The gathering in Orlando was both the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. The task of finding the right executive leadership for this cause is a challenging one.

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Those of us who serve on the board of the organization are committed to continuing a vigilant posture concerning our liberties and a rejection of bigotry as a base for our defense for liberty. Your article caught that spirit very well.



Americans United for Separation of Church and State

San Antonio, Tex.

Holding Back

In your editorial of the March 1 issue you call “Bible smugglers” deceivers. By your admonition to Christians to obey first and foremost all of Caesar’s laws you touched on an interesting subject. In the Nuremberg trials people were condemned to death for obeying Caesar’s law; they had not listened to their conscience nor to God’s commandments. No doubt, you agree that there is a limit to our obedience to Caesar, namely, when it is contrary to God’s commandments. Where this limit lies is up to the individual’s conscience and not to rules set by Caesar or some denominational bureaucrat. “Go ye into all the world …!” is one of God’s most urgent commandments. In Paul’s time the only way to preach was by word of mouth. I wonder if he would have held back with Bibles and tracts.


Issaquah, Wash.

Smugglers may be deceivers, but seemingly the end justified the means for Rahab the harlot. She hid the spies (Josh. 2:4) and gave inaccurate information to their pursuers to the glory of God. Her name is on the honor roll of the faithful (Heb. 11:31).


Dayton, Ohio

When the Lord Jesus Christ said, “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations …” he did not add the qualification, “If the government officials permit.” The church had not been in existence many days when the rulers of the temple, the priests, the captain of the temple, the elders, and the scribes sought to prevent them from preaching in the name of Jesus, and ordered them to discontinue. Of course they refused. And from that beginning to our present time, the Word and true worship of God have both been unpopular in various parts of the world to the extent of extreme brutality to the believers as well as death itself.… You speak of taking the Bible into Communist lands legally, and I do not believe this is either possible or actually going on.

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Van Nuys, Calif.

Your recent editorial shows ignorance and misinformation concerning Soviet policy with regard to religious freedom. The Communist countries constitutionally guarantee religious freedom to their subjects including the right to own religious material, especially Bibles. When customs agents confiscate Bibles at borders or declare them contraband, it is they who are breaking the letter and spirit of their law. It is unfortunate that clandestine transfer of Bibles into Communist countries has been termed “smuggling,” a term implying breaking of a law when such is not the case at all. If we were to follow your argument to its logical conclusion, members of the underground church in Communist countries should be called deceivers and rebels for disobeying a clearly stated (but, incidentally, not written) injunction prohibiting Christians from gathering together for study or worship outside a state-designated building, and at state-designated hours!

From first-hand experience (having carried Bibles into Soviet Armenia myself) I also happen to know that so-called legally sent Bibles into the Soviet Union seldom, if ever, get into the right hands. You may be interested to know that Soviet countries are finding the printing of Bibles within the Soviet borders a lucrative business, not because they sell them to their Bible-starved citizens, but they export them for valuable foreign currency exchange.


Albuquerque, N. Mex.

Multiples Boom

Douglas Stave struck at the core of one of the greatest crises in the local church today in his article “Coming Boom: Paraministry” (Minister’s Workshop, March 15). In fact, the boom is already here. I have been a minister of Christian education in the local church for eighteen years, and a week rarely passes in which I do not have a contact from one or more churches as to where they might obtain a director of Christian education, youth director, children’s director, and so on. I trust that the seminaries, Christian liberal arts colleges, and Bible colleges will heed his admonition. If not, I fear that the local church is going to suffer severely in coming years from a lack of trained ministers to carry on a multiple ministry through the local church.


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Minister of Education

First Baptist Church of Lakewood

Long Beach, Calif.

As an involved layman, I found “Coming Boom: Paraministry” very interesting in its concept. However, Mr. Stave appears to suffer from a serious case of short-sightedness with regard to abilities or the interests of the layperson within the church. He states, “The associate … agrees that teaching and preaching from the pulpit are of tremendous importance, but he knows that administering and organizing other activities in the church are very important too.” His implication is that the pastor and his professional associates have as their innate gifts the gift of preaching, teaching, or administrating, when in fact, God may have endowed one or more of the laypersons in the congregation with some of those gifts. Never before in the history of the church have laypersons been presented with the tools with which to minister to other persons. Two examples are: first, Regent College in Vancouver, B. C., whose curriculum is geared especially towards training the layperson; and, second, the use of students (who are not college or seminary graduates) within the Inter-Varsity movement on college campuses. Such people would be rather discouraged ministering in the tasks that are left over after the professionals take those that Mr. Stave suggests.


Seattle, Wash.

A Day S Difference

I read “The Day He Died” with interest (March 29). The new publication mentioned by Roger Rusk entitled New and Full Moons by Herman H. Goldstine is a welcome tool. However, I disagree with Mr. Rusk’s conclusion that the crucifixion occurred on Thursday, April 6, A.D. 30. [Instead] I believe the crucifixion was on a Friday for the following two basic reasons. First, all the Gospels state that the day following crucifixion was the Sabbath (Matt. 28:1; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:56; John 19:31). Second, the Gospels indicate that the visit of the women to the tomb was on the day after the Sabbath—the first day of the week, namely, Sunday (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). I feel that Rusk’s theory is unacceptable on three grounds. First, he builds his theory on the basis of one verse that is troublesome to the Friday view, namely, Matthew 12:40: “The Son of Man shall be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.” Let alone the Jewish custom to count parts of days as whole days, Rusk leaves out the other important Scriptures, namely (1) 1 Corinthians 15:4, where He rose on the third and not the fourth day; (2) John 2:19–22, where Jesus spoke of the temple being destroyed and raised up in three days, not on the fourth day; (3) although the Pharisees stated that Jesus said that he would rise in three days (Matt. 27:63), Pilate granted the Pharisees’ request by securing the sepulcher until the third day, not the fourth day. Thus a Friday crucifixion fits better with the evidence. Second, Rusk needs to give an unnatural meaning to the phrase “day of preparation” as being the preparation for the Passover, but if one looks in Mark 15:42 it states: “And when the evening had come, because it was the day of preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath.” Other Scriptures would point to the day of preparation as being Friday (Matt. 27:62; Luke 23:54; John 19:14, 31, 42) as well as Josephus (Ant. xvi. 6. 2 [163]). Third, to conclude, as Rusk does, that since Nisan 15 was considered a day of convocation and hence a Sabbath is to beg the question. There is no evidence that Nisan 15 was called a Sabbath. Furthermore, to assume that since Nisan 15 was a Sabbath which occurred on Friday in A.D. 30, and hence there were two Sabbaths back to back (Friday Passover Sabbath and Saturday, the regular Sabbath) is substantiated by the plural use of Sabbath in the Greek in Matthew 28:1 is fallacious reasoning. The term Sabbath is frequently (one-third of all of its New Testament occurrences) in the plural form in the New Testament when only one day is in view (cf. Matt. 12:1–12 where both the singular and the plural forms are used—especially v. 8).

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Associate Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis

Dallas Theological Seminary

Dallas, Tex.


In a March 15 news story, “William Barclay: Making It Interesting,” we incorrectly reported that the American Summer Institute in St. Andrews (Scotland) was sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. It is independent.

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