Rum, Romanism, And Rebellion

For several decades following the War between the States, Republicans rallied support by denouncing the Democrats as the party of “rum, Romanism, and rebellion.” (In those days rum and rebellion were not highly thought of.) Democrats now outnumber Republicans in the United States by a ratio of roughly 3:2 (pre-Watergate), but this is not to suggest that the slogan was entirely without merit.

As a result of the increasing popularity of rum and rebellion, thoughtful demagogues seeking rhetorical thunder have been forced to leave off attacking them and confine themselves as a last resort to anti-Romanism. Ever since John F. Kennedy, the striking power of anti-Romanist rhetoric has been markedly reduced as well. No Democrat, for example, has thought it worthwhile mentioning that the Watergate complex (of buildings) was financed and in part owned by the Vatican. But recently two issues have surfaced, and there seems to be some utility in the old bombast. Of course it is seldom called “Romanism” today: usually some circumlocution is used, such as “the attempt by one church to enforce its particular beliefs on everyone.” This line has been used with some success on the issues of abortion (pro) and parochiaid (contra). Since the Roman church is on record as being opposed to murder, robbery, slander, and other similar pursuits, it would appear that laws forbidding them violate the traditional principle of separation of church and state. On the other hand, inasmuch as Roman theologians, including the great Thomas Aquinas, taught the legitimacy of taxes, military service, and monogamous marriage, it would appear that the public laws promoting them likewise violate church-state separation. Here some really breathtaking vistas emerge.

For those unfamiliar with Roman Catholic teaching on basic ethical and social issues, a fairly reliable guide to whether a particular law or position violates the traditional separation of church and state is found by comparing it with the Ten Commandments and other biblical teaching. With some notable exceptions (cf. M. Luther, J. Calvin, et al.), Romanist ethical teachings are derived from the Bible. Whatever is taught about ethics in the Bible is fairly likely to be reflected in the teachings of Catholicism, or if not of Catholicism, then at the very least of some other particular church. Hence, it automatically will be fair target for expungement from American law. The possibilities are endless. With careful work, we may eventually be able to abolish all public laws that reflect the convictions of a particular religious group. It may not be easy: even formally atheistic countries such as the U. S. S. R. still retain a number of public laws paralleling one or more of the biblical commandments. But the Russians were always Orthodox. Their feeling for the dangers of Romanist-inspired legislation may yet be undeveloped.

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Pulling Together

Just a note to congratulate CHRISTIANITY TODAY on the March 1 book issue. Dr. Donald Tinder and [the other] reviewers did a superb job of pulling together much of the vast “literature” which poured from the presses during the year. The article on church history was especially broad in its coverage.



The Review of Books and Religion

Belmont, Vt.

I have had to tear myself away from the March 1 book issue. This—and everything CHRISTIANITY TODAY does in book reviews, whether special editions or regular coverage—is the finest and of a help which is almost unbelievable. The astounding thing is that you have been able to cover so much so well. I consider CHRISTIANITY TODAY to be the best single source for bibliographic help on current releases in all areas of study. Some specialized journals do a more thorough job in their particular areas and some periodicals at least list more books than you do. But no one has been able to touch upon so much and yet give significant help.


Wheaton, Ill.

Numbers Only?

Your editorial of March 15 on “Mission Retrenchment” apparently measures the “evangelization of the world” by the number of missionaries sent by Western churches. That may be one measurement, but it discounts the evangelization being done by indigenous Christians. That those people are products of the work of Western missionaries in the past may be indisputable, but they are independent now. At least, this seems to be true of the Anglican Communion in such areas as East Africa, where Christian growth is phenomenal.

The Episcopal Church has fewer missionaries overseas, as your graph shows, but that does not mean it has less commitment. Most of its overseas bishops are indigenous, elected by their dioceses. They receive lump-sum support from the Episcopal Church budget and are free to spend it on particular needs, including American missionary salaries. But in most cases the American missionaries work under or side-by-side with local clergy, no longer in the top leadership positions, which is as it should be.


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New York, N. Y.

The item indicated that among other National Council churches American Baptists have fewer missionaries now than was the case in 1958. Nothing was said about the underlying differences of the theology of missions that brought about these differences. American Baptist missionary work for years has had a policy of training indigenous personnel to do the work. The decrease in the number of American Baptist missionaries does not represent defeat but success. The administration of almost all Baptist institutions and conventions is today in the hands of well-trained nationals. This represents in a large measure one of the objectives laid down by Adoniram Judson as long ago as the early 1800s. While American Baptist missionary personnel is down from 354 in 1953 to 265 in 1973, or 25 per cent less, the number of national church workers has increased from 3,867 to 6,308, or 63 per cent. Church membership has increased by 82 per cent over the same period. When this background and purpose of mission is taken into account we probably have far more “missionaries” than we would have had by another theology of missions that failed to develop national leadership.



American Baptist Educational Ministries

Valley Forge, Pa.

Use Of Time

Basic to Rusk’s theory of a Thursday crucifixion is that the phrase “three days and three nights” must approximate seventy-two hours (“The Day He Died,” March 29). As the Jews counted the day on which something happened as the first day, the phrase simply means the day after the next or the day before yesterday. The Hebrew parallelism in Hosea 6:2 makes this clear. “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up.” The third day is for the Jews two days later. Night and day simply mean without interruption as it does in Esther 4:16–5:1. Since it is part of the earliest proclamation that Jesus rose “on the third day” (1 Cor. 15:4) and the Gospels call this day the first day of the week, the only choice is to stick to a Friday date for crucifixion and take another look at that computer’s moon calculations. Maybe it was moonstruck. Anyone knowing Hebrew use of time would not say that the three days and nights were between 11:59 P.M. Friday and 12:01 A.M. Sunday, but 5:59 P.M. Friday and 6:01 P.M. Saturday, the time when the first day of the week began. Easter dawn services might have to be replaced by Saturday sunset services, but there are obvious advantages.


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Concordia Theological Seminary

Springfield, Ill.

Through A Maze

Thank you for the concise and informing news report on the Abilene Christian College Bible Lectureship (“Churches of Christ: Holding the Line,” March 15). Ron Durham has done quite a detailed task to supply your readers with some of the ecclesiastical and social background of the Churches of Christ, and perhaps it is this very detail which evoked such responses as that by brother Norman (“Eutychus and His Kin,” “Objections,” April 12). The only bias I could see in the original report was the normal evangelical “slant” for which CHRISTIANITY TODAY stands. However, in a religious group wary of anything called “theology,” and currently in the process of agonizing our way through a maze not unlike that of the more visible Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, any reference to the symbol of self-criticism (Mission Journal, one of four such critical periodicals within the “brotherhood”) without “equal time” to the older, more conservative journals, naturally draws sharp criticism.


Church of Christ

Monroeville, Pa.

I would like to express my gratitude for the news article. Since I am a member of the Church of Christ I would like to see CHRISTIANITY TODAY give more attention to the news and issues in the Churches of Christ. For too long we have been isolationists. Ron Durham’s article is a step in the right direction. The very fact that one of us writes you in such a heated manner proves that there are some significant boilings going on which other evangelicals are unaware of. You can help us be more honest with ourselves by looking at us critically.… We, too, are going through our trying times, just as everyone else.


Assistant Professor of English

Oklahoma Christian College

Oklahoma City, Okla.

Wedding Concept

The article “Whatever Happened to Church Discipline?” by J. Robertson McQuilkin (March 29) was great. It is biblical, has balance, and is badly needed in the church today. The wedding of unity with purity is a beautiful concept.


Free Methodist Church

Moses Lake, Wash.

McQuilken’s insistence on limiting discipline to those guilty of “moral delinquency” and “teaching heresy” is too narrow. The Christians at Thessalonica were told to note the man who “refuses to obey what we say in this letter,” and have nothing to do with him (2 Thess. 3:14). While it is true that the immediate context deals with idleness, would not the principle be established that one’s “refusal to obey” apostolic commands is grounds for discipline? Such behavior may result in immorality, heresy, willful stumbling blocks, calloused indifference toward the church, or a number of other things. Is not any public sin for which one refuses to repent a reflection upon the people of God and the name of Jesus Christ, and will not deliberate sin cause one to be lost? It seems to me that the key to discipline lies in one’s attitude toward the Word of God, and his refusal to obey the apostles’ teaching, rather than merely in the two specific areas suggested by Mr. McQuilkin.

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Church of Christ

Danbury, Conn.

A Question

In “The Messianic Jew” [Feb. 1] Louis Goldberg states:

A group of people in the State of Israel today call themselves ‘Messianic Jews’.… Their faith and hope is centered in Jesus as the Messiah, but they identify with Jewish people and claim that they are still Jewish.… God has a purpose to preserve this nation for the day when the fullness of the Messianic kingdom will be instituted and all within the nation will know the Messiah. The people Israel are a witness people to the covenants and promises of God. Out of this people have come the distinctives of the oneness of God, the oracles of God, and the Messiah of God.

One of the covenants which God gave the twelve tribes of Israel in the Sinai desert was the “Sabbath Covenant” of Exodus 31:12–17. The racial Jew is still today a witness to this “perpetual covenant.” The Apostle Peter shows that the Messianic reign of Jesus Christ is the sabbatical millennium of a week of 7,000 years (2 Pet. 3:8). Does the Messianic Jew observe the “Sabbath Covenant” as a witness to the world like the racial Jew does? If the Messianic Jew observes the “Sabbath Covenant,” what is his New Testament authority, since the observance of Sunday is supposedly in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ at sunrise Sunday morning?


Beaumont, Tex.

On Deaf Ears

With regard to Paul L. Maier’s article on anti-Semitism (“Who Was Responsible For the Trial and Death of Jesus?,” April 12):

Certain contemporary Jewish leaders would be quite pleased to be able to say that the New Testament teaches anti-Semitism. On one hand they plead for brotherhood and understanding, but on the other hand they are grasping for straws to prove that Christianity is inimical to Judaism. If it weren’t for the tragic fact that anti-Semites used the charge of deicide throughout the ages, the whole thing would be quite silly. What court would ever convict a person of murder when the murdered man was alive? Whatever role certain Jews might have had in the humiliation of the Saviour, the concept of racial guilt is simply not allowed by Scripture. However, Dr. Maier’s arguments are liable to fall on deaf ears so far as the Jewish community goes. There are leaders who find it too convenient a defense to believe that there is something intrinsically anti-Jewish in gospel Christianity.

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Corte Madera, Calif.


Because of a production mix-up some of the copies of the April 26 issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY were published with two photos in reverse position. The photo of the Louisville seminary hall and of the Reverend Eusebius Stephanou should have appeared with their respective stories on pages 39 and 44. We regret the error.

Kenneth Hechler’s name was misspelled in the April 12 news story “Stalled on the Hill.” Also, he is not a member of the judiciary committee as mentioned but of other House committees, including science and astronautics.

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