Whatever Happened To The S.P.C.C.?
When Eutychus V handed over his duties to his successor, he entrusted him not only with an honored tradition of wisdom but also with an honorable name. Other functionaries are not so fortunate. Not only do very few people have the benefit of a classical title (exceptions: senator, actor, janitor); many of them have even been deprived of their good, old, understandable Germanic ranks. Thus, according to the Department of Labor, foremen, whether men or women, are to become “blue collar worker supervisors.” And those whom we innocently called “garbage men” in former days are now “solid waste collectors.”
But even worse is what’s happening to organizations. In the old days, they used to call themselves what they were: the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the Federal Bureau of Investigation. When they abbreviated their names, they put in periods to show that the letters stood for real words: S.P.C.C., W.C.T.U., F.B.I.—all pronounceable only by Czechs or other specially talented elocutionists.
But something happened between World Wars I and II. When Adolph Hitler founded a party, the name was too long: Nationalsozialistische deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers’ Party). Even the abbreviation NSDAP, favored by the party itself, was too long, and they became the Nazis (pronounced Nahtzies). Now no one remembers that those right-wingers thought they were socialist workers. Most people have forgotten also what S.S. stood for in Germany (Schutzstaffel, Defense Squad). The Nahtzies seem to have popularized the idea of trying to pronounce initials: thus the Geheime Staatspolizei, Secret State Police, became not the G.S.P. but the GeStaPo.
Americans resisted this sinister German trend as long as the war was going on, but once the Nahtzies had been put down we could take over not only their rocket experts but also their linguistic habits. The rather belligerently named Departments of War and the Navy were fused into the less threatening-sounding Department of Defense, which in time has been muted down to DOD, somehow rather reminiscent of a rabbit. Now DOD has had to yield its dominance in what might be called QUOTA (quick unloading of taxpayers’ assets) to the more vigorous-sounding HEW and HUD. Lyndon Johnson had a good idea in the War on Poverty, but since its initial letters were not only pronounceable but also, in the view of some, insulting, instead of WOP it became OEO.
Even more promising are the names chosen for how they sound, not what they mean. Thus the Committee of Americans for Remittances Everywhere, or some such thing, was only a rationalization for CARE, and the American Committee to Improve Our Neighborhoods might as well have been the Association Convened to Investigate Old Newspapers; what mattered was ACTION.
Within the church, conservatives have prudently resisted this modernistic trend, for while some acronyms are pronounceable (the rather horsy-sounding NAE for National Association of Evangelicals, BGEA—with difficulty—for Billy Graham Evangelistic Association), they don’t mean anything, and hence people are constantly forced to think about the original organization. Liberals have been less cautious and are paying the price. COCU never had a chance.
Thank you for the Harrison article, “Did Christ Command World Evangelism?” (Nov. 23). In many ways it is very helpful, but one wonders whether the writer has not been overly influenced by the verbalism and media concepts of our day. Harrison equates discipling with verbal instruction. If one looks at the life and work of our Lord along with his words, discipling should go far beyond verbal instruction. It becomes a function of a community of faith, which itself is being discipled. Is this not a more dynamic way to view the discipling process? This does not deny the verbal component, but it is more comprehensive and perhaps more effective. It is certainly more costly.
May I offer my hearty endorsement and a couple items in further support of the article.
Pierre Batiffol, a French scholar, in his L’Eglise Naissante, translated as Primitive Catholicism, also shows that while the foreground of Jesus’ ministry was the lost sheep of the house of Israel, the background of his picture was the Gospel preached unto all nations, and many coming from the north and the south, from the east and the west to recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the feast of the Kingdom. Then in the matter of Eusebius’s citation of the Great Commission, Matthew 28:18–20, there is a conclusive statement in Socrates’ Ecclesiastical History, 1.8. Here Eusebius writes to his church on his acceptance of the creed of the Council of Nicaea. In this formal statement, Eusebius gives the full text of the Great Commission, thus showing that he did accept the command to evangelize the world and the trinitarian baptismal name of God as the Word of the risen Lord.
WILLIAM C. ROBINSON
[This] was the fullest treatment of Matthew 28:18–20 that I have ever read anywhere in any other article of similar length. I was especially appreciative of his dealing with the second item of baptism, which is so often ignored.
Only one thing puzzles me: Why did he not develop in one paragraph his outline, Evangelize, Baptize, and Catechize, in the light of the book of Acts? The fact that all three imperatives are thoroughly carried out would certainly supply strong support for his basic argument: “that behind the Great Commission stands the authority of the person of Jesus and his plain, insistent direction to his Church.”
(The Rev.) GEORGE E. VARTENISIAN Tarentum, Pa.
Although I recognize that the emphasis in this issue was on “foreign” missions, it strikes me as calling for another issue to discuss the question of missions in our North American society. Are the same foreigners to whom we would have ministered as missionaries if they were still residing in their own land, rejected and neglected just because they have immigrated into North America? I honestly see greater opportunities for “foreign” missions among the ethnic people of Montreal than I ever did on the foreign field. In just walking down the street here, I literally rub shoulders with at least ten languages and cultures.
HAZEN C. PARENT
Temple Baptist Center
I was at first incredulous, then shocked, and finally disgusted at the atrocious display of poor taste and bad theology combined in the cartoon you published [in] your November 9 issue. Only a person of ingrained anti-Semitism could fail to see the anti-Semitic thrust of the cartoon. It is also wildly irresponsible if judged by simple standards of secular journalistic honesty, since the humanitarian behavior of Israel as a nation and of its citizens as individuals is well-known in the Middle East and throughout the world. While Israeli soldiers in uniform have been tortured in Arab custody in both Syria and Egypt, Arab terrorists captured in Israel have been treated with extraordinary humanity, even when they have been murderers of children in their beds.… If the political realities justify any cartoon along the lines of the one you published, it would be a cartoon showing an Arab reluctant to see his blood going to help a Jew.
But leaving the political realities to one side, you should be ashamed of publishing the cartoon in either form. For the fact is that a great many Arabs, living peacefully under Israeli administration, willingly contributed blood during the recent war to help wounded Israeli soldiers at the front, and Jews both in Israel and in other parts of the world have contributed heavily to relief efforts benefiting the approximately one million Arab poor who suddenly became part of Israel’s responsibility after the ’67 war.… I cannot say what God is telling you. But I can remind you that we are Abraham’s children by faith, heirs of the promise to Abraham’s seed by faith, and that we who were once afar off have been made nigh by the work of the Son of David. Everything we have in Christ, according to the detailed teaching of the New Testament, was accomplished in fulfillment of promises made to Abraham and his seed. Can we despise the danger to the people into whose promises we have been adopted?
DONALD GREY BARNHOUSE, JR.
Your news survey “An Evangelical Awakening in the Catholic Church?” (Dec. 7) was excellent, thorough, and objective. However, I fail to agree that this is a sign of crumbling authority in the Catholic Church, as the editorial comment (“Roman Catholics—Ready to Hear”) indicated. These evangelical activities, it seems to me, are healthy religious response to the directives of the Second Vatican Council on the Scriptures and ecumenism at the grass roots; surely more in harmony with our Lord’s prayer at the Last Supper, “that they all be one,” and his prayer in Matthew 11:25. I hope CHRISTIANITY TODAY will welcome evangelical Catholics like myself to be among its readers, making the necessary adjustments to a more integral evangelical Christianity.
THE REVEREND THOMAS SULLIVAN
Arlington Heights, Ill.
I appreciate very much the article on our St. Petersburg crusade in the November 23 issue (News, “Skinner’s Strategy”). Unfortunately, some of the facts were missing, and Lois Ottaway points out that many pertinent things in her article were missing. Total attendance during our eight-day crusade was 27,000. The 13,500 was for the final weekend—Saturday and Sunday. The article stated that the black population of St. Petersburg is one-third. The fact of the matter is that the black population is 10 per cent and that one-third of the attendance at our crusade was black, which was overwhelming. We were not at all disappointed with that attendance. I only point this out because I would like CHRISTIANITY TODAY to continue such reporting, but I think it is very important that the editor get the sense of the report. Thank you so much.
Tom Skinner Associates, Inc.
Brooklyn, N. Y.
I have been reading with interest your news coverage of the Episcopal Convention in Louisville, and I want to congratulate you and Miss Forbes for the work you have done. It seems to me that she has very carefully interpreted what went on at the convention and has also continued a fair interpretation, especially with regard to the dismissal or phase-out of the General Convention Special Program staff (News, “The Ax Falleth,” Nov. 23). I believe you have done an honest job of reporting the Episcopal Church and that Miss Forbes has a good grasp of what has been going on.
WILLIAM B. GRAY
Parish of Trinity Church
New York, N. Y.
The excellent report by Cheryl Forbes (News, “A Question of Identity,” Nov. 9) on our Episcopal Convention is marred by one error. There will be no difficulty at all in determining who is and who is not “officially” an Episcopalian. All baptized Christians who join themselves to our church will be called upon to renew their baptismal vows and receive the laying-on of the bishop’s hands in confirmation.
Eau Claire, Wisc.
In Everett F. Harrison’s article, “Did Christ Command World Evangelism?” (Nov. 23), the words “in Acts” were omitted from the sentence, “Critics who are skeptical about allowing as Jesus’ words many of the statements attributed to him in the Gospels and are cautious about accepting some of the data in Acts are quite ready to admit the testimony of Paul contained in his acknowledged letters.”
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more