Some ideas die hard. In missions some mistaken ideas that have prevailed for the last hundred years have finally met their end. One is that missionary outreach is the white man’s burden. A second is that the ever-present Western missionary must always be in authority over younger churches.

The younger churches have come of age and have called for the end of dominance by foreign missionaries. As a result, missionaries have been withdrawn from areas where churches have become self-governing and self-supporting. But this right idea has led to another wrong idea—that the day for the “foreign” missionary is over.

Some are now saying that there is no need for missionaries to cross geographical, linguistic, cultural, and economic barriers, that the job of evangelism can now be left to churches and Christians who will evangelize in their own localities. This is a tragic error. There are more than two billion people who have not heard of Jesus Christ. They are not located in places where the Gospel is openly, freely, and continually preached. There are no near neighbors who can reach them; they must be reached by missionaries who cross cultural, geographic, and linguistic barriers. To suppose that the existence of churches in India, for instance, means that all Indians can be reached without the crossing of barriers is nonsense. Thousands of large groups of Indian people cannot be reached unless Christians from other areas, whether they be Indian, Chinese, Latin American, American, or something else, learn new languages, move into new geographical areas, and become enmeshed in new cultures. There is no other way.

All the churches of Jesus Christ in all parts of the world are charged with the responsibility of becoming missionary communities that will send their people across the barriers that separate them from the unreached millions. Every church that has matured since it was founded by some missionary activity must now be a sending church instead of a receiving church. We cannot be content to let missionary agencies divide up areas among themselves and assume responsibility for the evangelization of larger numbers of people than they have the manpower to work with. Donald McGavran has estimated that a single missionary family cannot work with a community numbering more than five thousand people. If this is true and if there are at least two billion who have not heard of Christ, then it follows that not thousands or tens of thousands but hundreds of thousands of missionaries are needed to finish the task of world evangelization. And if the population of the world continues to increase at the present rate, then it is likely that seven or eight hundred thousand missionaries will be needed.

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The International Congress on World Evangelization at Lausanne this past summer made it clear that there are thriving Christian churches around the world. It revealed also that these churches have leaders who in spiritual qualifications, intellectual acumen, and commitment are just as able as the missionaries who brought the churches into being. The missionary task is no longer the exclusive responsibility of the West. It belongs to every church everywhere. Missionaries must come from all six continents and go to all six continents if the job is to be done. Missionaries from Latin America and Mexico may need to come north to reach some of the peoples of North America. And it may be easier for some Americans to preach the Gospel to some of the peoples of Africa than it would be for other Africans to do so. It may be easier in some areas for blacks to reach whites and whites to reach blacks than for whites to reach whites and blacks to reach blacks. It may be easier for Latin American Christians to reach Muslims in India than it would be for nearby Hindus who have become Christians to do so. At the Lausanne congress, missionary theoretician Ralph Winter delivered a paper on this subject that may well become a standard treatise of the needs of this new age.

Lausanne’s Continuing Committee, selected according to the guidelines made at the congress, will meet in Mexico City in January. Once it gets organized and gets down to its business—the evangelization of the world—one of the main items on its agenda should be the matter of how to enlist, develop, equip, and send evangelists who will, in the words of Donald McGavran, “cross the cultural, linguistic and geographical barriers, patiently learn that other culture and language, across the decades preach the Gospel by word and deed, and multiply reproductive and responsible Christian churches.”

The Onus On Democrats

In its post-election mood the United States lies somewhere between a parent who has just spanked children for misdeeds and an employer who has replaced an errant office force. The feeling is a mixture of gratification, a release of indignation, and a growing anxiety over what change can now be expected.

Democrats now have a great opportunity to build a strong sense of corporate responsibility in both the House and Senate. They will have little ground for excuse in case of failure.

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Inflation is the most talked-about issue, but perhaps the most important moral question that the new congress will face is abortion. Anti-abortion political strategists hope the Senate will pass a constitutional amendment that will reverse the Supreme Court’s decision.

Christians On The Couch

Sigmund Freud denounced belief in God and declared that religious faith is a form of neurosis. Since then, many psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychotherapists have discouraged patients from piety, and therefore many Christians in need of psychiatric help have hesitated to seek it.

But Christians know that the mind of Christ promotes mental health rather than mental illness—that, in the words of Dr. Rudolph Calabrese, “Christianity and mental health go together.” Dr. Calabrese and his eleven colleagues in the Christian Institute for Psychotherapeutic Studies use traditional methods of psychotherapy—but with a difference. Although they do not try to proselytize, they answer their patients’ questions about the meaning of life directly from a Christian perspective. We hope that other Christians who work in this important area will follow their lead.

Catharsis Or Corruption?

Against the charge that pornography and the depiction of violence tend to produce socially harmful or even criminal behavior, one line of defense is to deny that literature and art have any influence on action. Such an argument is absurd. Leaving aside the value of literature and the other arts in themselves, mankind has cultivated and studied them in large measure for their value in the educational process, i.e., their potential to develop a love of the beautiful and the good. If art, “good” or “bad,” cannot influence, then all education that is not purely pragmatic or technical is based on a delusion. Likewise, advertising is a staggering waste.

A second defense is to claim that the portrayal of reprehensible violence and sexual behavior, instead of encouraging imitation and therefore violation of legal and moral standards, has the effect of purging members of the audience of socially unacceptable impulses and thus making them better and more harmonious members of society. This supposed purgative or purifying function is called by the Greek name catharsis.

The persistent portrayal of violence on screen and television—even when accompanied by a ritual acknowledgment that “crime does not pay”—does not have a cathartic effect on the violent inclinations of viewers, particularly of the young. Instead, it creates and fosters violent tendencies, and it promotes violent imitation in real life.

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Although it is now widely agreed that violence in entertainment does not have a cathartic effect but rather the contrary, some people still maintain that pornography—including the explicit portrayal of depraved and vicious sexuality—can have such an effect. But again the contrary is true. As Professor Victor B. Cline of the University of Utah points out in a recent article in the Los Angeles Times (issue of October 16, 1974), we now have incontrovertible empirical evidence that pornography can and does cause sexual deviancy in a wide range of subjects.

The Christian who desires to follow the biblical pattern for his personal life and in the education of those committed to his care will therefore shun not only gross and debasing displays of violence but also “entertainment” that is pornographic in nature. But is he justified in telling society as a whole, inasmuch as it is not committed to biblical principles, that there are areas in which more than internal self-restraint is called for?

We have been conditioned to think of “censorship” as bad, and indeed much that we understand by the term is clearly unacceptable in a free and democratic society. But there are varieties and degrees of censorship, just as there are varieties and degrees of police protection. About pornography Dr. Cline says, “Society has to set some limits when the possible harm is seen as too great to be tolerated. I think that point has long since been passed.” He is right.

Scholarly Religion

The city of Washington, accustomed to all sorts of visitors, was host to some 2,500 college and seminary teachers of religion at the end of October. What drew them was the annual meetings of five of their professional societies, including the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature. Such meetings, besides serving obvious social purposes, enable people with similar, often lonely interests a chance to read and discuss papers while they are still in preliminary form. This work is usually carried on in relatively small groups; during the Washington gathering there were often more than twenty of these groups meeting simultaneously.

Outsiders need to understand that for most religion scholars their field is related to the personal and institutional practice of a religion somewhat as the field of political science is related to practical politics. Probably the writers of most of the papers, even those who were convinced adherents of some particular theological viewpoint, avoided pronouncing on whether the subject they were discussing was an expression of the will of God. Doubtless the scholar who announced the discovery of a votive mouse in an ancient sanctuary at Ai would not advocate undertaking a vow like that for which the mouse was used, but there was no need for him to voice his feelings on the matter. This position of neutrality, which is confusing to many laymen, is certainly preferable to having the consensus of beliefs of academic religion scholars propounded to students as the only truth!

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Although highly technical papers dealing with old topics were numerous, there was a noteworthy trend toward the scholarly consideration of relevant contemporary matters. Sections on the role of women, the religions of American Indians and other minorities, the study of occultism, and the study of popular, devotional religion of ordinary Americans were interspersed with such traditional sections as archaeology, the arts, ethics, Pauline studies, the history of Christianity, and Asian religions.

Evangelical participation in such conclaves, though proportionately very small when compared to the number of practicing evangelicals in the country, is growing. While the main thrust of evangelical learning ought obviously to be conveyed in a context permitting forthright proclamation of truth, there is nevertheless a vital role for those who are called to serve in situations where much of the time neutrality supposedly holds sway.

The Week Of The Bible

Those who accept the Bible as God’s revelation, authoritative for doctrine and for principles of behavior, do not need a special “week” to remind them of the Bible’s importance. However, publicity surrounding National Bible Week, November 24 through December 1 this year, can be used to alert others to the existence of a source for answers to many fundamental questions. And a lot of people are now realizing for the first time that unaided human learning cannot provide all the answers to these questions.

In accepting honorary chairmanship for the week, President Ford quoted his favorite passage: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5, 6). This does not mean that each of our steps is God-directed just because we make some perfunctory acknowledgment of dependence on him. But if one maintains a proper humility about his ability to perceive and implement God’s directing, these verses are indeed a good introduction to the purpose of Bible Week. God’s Spirit guides men principally through a good and practical knowledge of the Scriptures. Let us be increasingly diligent in making them known.

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The Gratitude Attitude

If there were no Thanksgiving tradition in North America, any attempt to start one now would probably be a fiasco, given the mood of the day. We are not a thankful people. Our observance of Thanksgiving tends to be very perfunctory. Yet we have far more to be thankful for than those early settlers, both in Virginia and in Massachusetts, had.

The more we have the more we want, it seems, and the less likely we are to be thankful.

Mutual Submission

Must wives obey their husbands? What do we mean by “obey”?

Ephesians 5:22, beginning “Wives, submit yourselves …,” is often read as the start of a new section of the Epistle (the modern, evangelical commentators F. F. Bruce, Francis Foulkes, and William Hendriksen, among others, do this). Even if the admonition is then correctly placed in the context of a profound and self-sacrificial love of husbands for their wives, as the commentators mentioned carefully do, this rather abrupt beginning to the table of duties of the Christian life may lead to a misunderstanding of the Christian wife’s duty to submit.

This problem is less acute if one reads as many older commentators do and lets the previous section end naturally with the thanksgiving of 5:20. John Calvin, Charles Hodge, and C. I. Scofield begin the new section at 5:21: “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ.” Calvin points out:

God has bound us so strongly to each other that no man ought to endeavor to avoid subjection; and where love reigns, mutual services will be rendered.… But as nothing is more irksome to the mind of man than this mutual subjection, he directs us to the fear of Christ.

In order to understand what follows, we must understand the significance of mutual submission, also enjoined in First Peter 5:5, Romans 12:10, and Philippians 2:3. Calvin sees the submission as a voluntary humbling of our pride, “that we may not be ashamed of serving our neighbors.” Hodge sees it as reflective of the essential equality of people and of their mutual interdependence.

In an age of near-total independence of other persons and more and more dependence on the impersonal state, attention to this mutual responsibility to one’s fellow Christians is very important. Because Paul goes on to treat specific interpersonal relationships and lay down particular duties, and because those relationships and duties are deprecated as “arbitrary” in the modern world, it is important to see their connection with the more universal relationship and duty. The passage is often understood in a one-sided way. But as Bishop Charles Gore comments on the verse:

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It is indeed absurd to speak as if St. Paul were, in this passage, mainly emphasizing the subjection of the woman, whether this be done from the conservative side, “to keep women in their place”; or from the point of view of those who desire her emancipation, in order to represent St. Paul, and so Christianity as a whole, as giving to women a servile position.… In essential spiritual value men and women are equal.… There is nothing servile in the subordination required of the woman.… Christ even is subordinate.

The subordination or submission required, first of all Christians to one another and then of wives to husbands, is not the same as the obedience required of children (6:1) and servants (6:5). The idea of submission as used here implies voluntary accommodation to the other; where absolute authority is present, there is no exhortation to submission. The “submission” of the Christian wife should not be exaggerated to resemble to the obedience required of a child. And although in one relationship submission is required of one partner in a special way, it also is required of all Christians generally. As Calvin comments on First Corinthians 11:7 (“Man … is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man”), “Both sexes were created in the image of God, and Paul exhorts women no less than men to be formed anew, according to that image.”

With this background clearly in mind, we can understand the wife’s submission to her husband, Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18. It is not to be seen as a servile or oppressive state, for outside this particular relationship it is common to all. It is part of the divine order within which—but not outside which—we can experience freedom and personal affirmation. And a Christian husband who has failed to obey the general command to mutual submission may well expect to experience bondage and personal conflict in his marriage relationship.

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