A Low Blow Against Religious Liberty

Among the less agreeable specters raised by the Watergate incidents are the recurring charges of bribery and attempted bribery leveled at past and present high government officials, including both those now incarcerated and many still at large.

There can be little doubt that many of those connected with Watergate acted unwisely, even improperly. However, when respected institutions such as the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Northern Virginia Sun continually harp upon charges of “bribery,” calling it a crime, it is evident that our time-honored principle of separation between church and state is insidiously threatened. It is true that there are many old federal, state, and local laws against bribery. However, it ought to be evident that the emotional prejudice against bribery is clearly rooted in sectarian (Jewish and Christian) religious attitudes. In consequence, any attempt to enforce an anti-bribe mentality on everyone by the coercive power of public law constitutes an establishment of religion and is clearly unconstitutional.

That the highly charged rhetoric against bribery, found in the pages of the Washington Post, for example, is of sectarian Jewish origin can be readily seen from a reading of the Old Testament Scriptures (cf. 1 Sam. 8:3 and 12:3; Amos 5:12; Job 15:35; Ps. 26:10; Isa. 33:15). It is superfluous to raise an additional issue by pointing out that a number of Post staffers are themselves of Jewish origin, for—as is well-known—the post-Jewish Christians took over the outmoded Jewish view on bribery. Several reputed Christians are known to collaborate with the Post and might be responsible for its unfortunate descent into sectarian religious pressuretactics. (Fortunately, government affirmative-action programs now require the identification of employees’ ethnic, racial, and cultural background, so Eutychus cannot be considered in questionable taste for alluding to such backgrounds, especially in the face of a threat to religious liberty.)

The present laws against bribery, then, must be seen as fundamentally unconstitutional and a deadly threat to the babble of religious, moral, and ethical confusion upon which the United States, if not founded, has come to depend. Constant reference to bribery in the media once again evokes the specter of religious bigotry and oppression. It is true that there will always be some people who will have moral scruples against bribery, and no one is suggesting that they should be compelled to accept bribes. But for the country at large, if we are not to return to the outmoded moral absolutism of the past, an abolition of the archaic Judaeo-Christian prejudice against bribery is essential.

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In due time, we trust, the Supreme Court will remove even this vestige of church-state tyranny from the law. In the meantime, all forward-looking media and opinion-makers must eschew the religious bigotry implicit in the continued use of bribist language and rhetoric.


Young And New

I am honored to be placed in the company of Edward J. Carnell, George Ladd, and Vernon Grounds as exemplars of “the new evangelicalism” in Carl F. H. Henry’s critique of Richard Quebedeaux’s The Young Evangelicals (“Revolt on Evangelical Frontiers,” April 26). I do not appreciate, however, the intimation that this position involves “acceptance of higher criticism,” and a few of the additional implications which readers may gather from the article also are misleading. On most major issues I agree with the values expressed by Henry. (I have not read Quebedeaux’s book, so I cannot evaluate it.) But the suggestion that “young evangelicals” as he (or Quebe-deaux) describes them are fully equivalent to “new evangelicals” is unfortunate. Perhaps they are, rather, neo-new-evangelicals! To my knowledge, the first use of the term “new evangelicalism” was by Harold J. Ockenga in the October–December 1954 issue of the Bulletin of Fuller Theological Seminary. He said,

The new evangelicalism embraces the full orthodoxy of fundamentalism in doctrine but manifests a social consciousness and responsibility which was strangely absent from fundamentalism. The new evangelicalism concerns itself not only with personal salvation, doctrinal truth and an external point of reference but also … believes that orthodox Christians cannot abdicate their responsibility in the social scene.

To whatever extent the young evangelicals depart from that basic description, they are “a new breed.”

Henry’s reference to the Christian World Liberation Front indicates that he lacks first-hand acquaintance with their work in Berkeley. Apparently he does not know about their very effective street evangelism and thinks all they do is engage in “criticism of American policy in domestic and foreign affairs.” Please give him an assignment to visit them and describe their extensive ministries for your readers! Similarly, his reference to the Post-American, stating that our faith should be “supra-American” instead of Post-American, reflects inadequate knowledge of the work of the People’s Christian Coalition. They wish to transcend the narrowly American aspects of our religious institutions in order to be no longer merely “American” but to see the world with the eyes and mind of Christ. That is probably equivalent to the ideal that Henry himself advocates, along with all of us who are “new evangelicals”!

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Professor of Sociology


Marquette University

Milwaukee, Wis.

I was literally overwhelmed by Carl Henry’s long and very fair review of my book. That article represents about ten times more exposure than I expected from your fine—albeit “establishment evangelical”—magazine. Many thanks indeed.

I appreciate Henry’s concession that “evangelicals and non-evangelicals may indeed cooperate for many limited objectives.” Here at UCSB, five prominent campus ministries (Baptist Campus Fellowship, Campus Crusade for Christ, Gaucho Christian Fellowship [IVCF], Lutheran Student Movement, and United Campus Ministry)—three “liberal,” two distinctively evangelical—voted unanimously to observe April 30 as a National Day of Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer together. We took out a full-page ad in the UCSB Daily Nexus reprinting the Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern signed corporately by the participating ministries. We encouraged each member of the groups to fast all day. In the evening, we met together on campus and broke up into small groups for a two-hour prayer service focusing on repentance for our divisions and for our social unconcern and inaction (using the Chicago Declaration to guide our thoughts and prayers). And we raised that day alone over $1,600 for the World Relief Commission of the NAE (yes!) to help alleviate the present mass starvation in Central Africa. The participants in this joint venture, I’m sure, would not term it in any way a “limited objective.” In fact, I feel confident that this cooperative effort will lead to a larger outreach to Christians and non-Christians here at UCSB in the future. There is power in unity.

Let fundamentalists and establishment evangelicals continue to quibble about why they must separate themselves from “unbelieving” liberals. But let them also ask themselves and each other if they don’t have a biblical mandate to somehow love those same liberals despite even serious theological differences. I praise God for the young evangelicals and non-evangelicals I share my life with who are willing to study the Bible, pray, laugh, cry, fellowship and work together—to address each other as “brother” and “sister”—and to demonstrate that Christian love transcends honest theological disagreement. But I also look forward to the day when evangelical and liberal elder statesmen like Carl Henry, Billy Graham, John Coleman Bennett, and Robert McAfee Brown will feel a burden to do the same. “Behold, I make all things new.”

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Interim Program Coordinator

United Campus Ministry

University of California, Santa Barbara

Goleta, Calif.

I was surprised to learn that I am young, since this July I turn sixty. I was also surprised to learn that, together with E. J. Carnell, George Ladd, and David Moberg (what a compliment to be named with such outstanding scholars!), I am advocating theological positions which, in point of fact, I oppose. Thus I was surprised to learn that among other things I advocate (1) “a reinterpretation of biblical authority and inerrancy and acceptance of higher criticism”; and (2) an “acceptance of theistic evolution in some form”.… I flatly deny both assertions. I hold to direct creation and plenary-verbal inspiration. Let me point out that biblical inerrancy is the position of the Evangelical Theological Society which I am serving as secretary-treasurer for the ninth consecutive year. As an inerrantist and a creationist, I strongly protest against being classified in an indefensibly arbitrary and grossly inaccurate category which belies my career-long commitment. The evangelical cause, I fear, is not going to be advanced by a book which depends, as its author ingenuously admits, on impressions and experiences rather than on “documentary evidence” (cf. The Young Evangelicals, p. xi). Scrupulous fairness, one hopes, will always characterize evangelicalism, whether new or old.



Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary

Denver, Colo.

Contradictory Negation

I was sorry to see CHRISTIANITY TODAY give such a big play to Glenn Archer and his pressure group (“The Church-State Wall,” May 10). The sole purpose of his organization is nothing less than the elimination of all religion, including the Christian religion, from public life. We Christians, however, believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all life, and that includes public life. The Supreme Court, aided and abetted by POAU, has misinterpreted the First Amendment by devoting its whole attention to the non-establishment clause and ignoring the free-exercise clause.

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Incidentally, Mr. Archer should know better than to suggest that Jefferson was one of the formers of the Constitution. He was out of the country as minister to France when the Constitution was made. His famous “wall of separation” statement was made years afterwards.

Even the title of Archer’s organization is negative and contradictory: how can Americans be united for separation? One wonders if these Americans would be “united” if there were no Roman Catholics in the United States.


Professor of Political Science

Louisiana State University

Baton Rouge, La.

Judged Effective

With regard to Gordon C. Bennett’s essay on the church and theater (‘The Play’s the Thing—Or Is It?,” The Refiner’s Fire, May 10): Thank you for the statement of the problem with some Christians’ attitudes toward theater. Perhaps also some find it too uncomfortable to view those too much like themselves so blatantly on stage. All the misconceptions about religious drama were revealed by the statement that while many plays by non-Christian playwrights are not renditions of biblical stories, they do deal with problems of human identity and human destiny. I agree that “such questions are religious questions; therefore, while the plays may not talk about God, they are religious drama.” It is good that the Christian world is beginning to recognize theater as a very effective means of communication.


Greenville, Ill.


In the May 10 issue we should have said that the supporting foundation for the Conference on Christianity and Politics (News, “All in the Family”) was the Lilly Endowment, Incorporated, not the Tyndale Foundation.

C. S. Lewis has been called “apostle to the skeptic,” not “apostle to the atheist” as we printed in the May 24 issue (News, “A Home For C. S. Lewis”).

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