Personally Opposed …

As observant readers of this column may occasionally have noted, the current Eutychus has a deep interest in the ethical and political significance of the abortion controversy. This is not unusual in a Christian theologian; indeed, he shares this interest with acknowledged luminaries such as Tertullian, Augustine, and John Calvin, as well as with modern figures in epistemological, existentialist, or revolutionary theological inquiry such as Heinrich v. Schlunk, T. V. Set, and Enrique Cabeza de Vaca.

In the course of his ethical, socio-political, and epistemological inquiries, Eutychus VI has noted a number of factors often (although not universally) observed among persons of prominence questioned about their stand on abortion. Although this particular Fragenkomplex may not loom so large in the eyes of all faithful readers of this column, it is not inappropriate to comment on these common factors, inasmuch as they may be observed not only in connection with the admittedly thorny abortion issue but also whenever the high and mighty of Church and State are asked to take a stand that requires both a certain ethical discrimination and more than a modest measure of moral courage.

The most common politician’s answer on the abortion question is: “Of course, I am personally opposed, but I would never think of imposing my moral convictions upon others.” (Unfortunate that the same politicians frequently and effectively think of imposing upon us their convictions with regard to taxes, busing, compulsory military service, and a host of other matters—or are we to consider all such questions amoral, if not positively immoral, and hence perfectly proper areas for the imposition of opinions?)

But the most interesting development of the “personally opposed” syndrome was provided by a noted politician of fervent Lutheran convictions, who, on query, announced that he was opposed to abortion on philosophical and religious grounds and also that he found Roe v. Wade (the 1973 Supreme Court decision establishing a wide freedom of abortion in America) a bad decision. However, he continued, he was uneasy about a constitutional amendment to change the situation because he is also “personally opposed” to amending the Constitution.

Instead of finding fault with all those moral leaders who seem unable to combine the most heartfelt “personal opposition” to a particular practice with any constructive action to limit it, let us think positively about the merits of this approach. It certainly could prove useful in other perplexing situations. For example, “Of course I am personally opposed to the invasion of Canada, but I would not want to impose my views on the President.” Or: “Of course, I am personally opposed to the assassination of presidents, but I would not want to impose my views on friends of Charles Manson.” Even: “Of course, I am personally opposed to the collection of confiscatory inheritance taxes, but I would not wish to impose my views on the IRS.” And finally, “Of course, I am personally opposed to the carrying of loaded guns, but I would not wish to impose my views …” To which the only appropriate answer, no doubt, is: “Bang! You’re dead.”

EUTYCHUS VI

Thank You

For the past two years I have had a deep appreciation for CHRISTIANITY TODAYS news reporting and current, hardhitting articles. Your news section affords a comprehensive view (not limited to North America) of the activity in evangelical Christianity. Often the featured articles deal with issues which face today’s concerned Christian, and those on controversial subjects are presented in a gracious manner. Thank you for an evangelical periodical which is committed to professional journalism and a universal scope.

MARK D. CAMPBELL

Wheaton, Ill.

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Analyzing Anabaptists

Being a modern Anabaptist, I read with interest Lester Dekoster’s article, “Anabaptism at 450: A Challenge, A Warning” (Oct. 24). It seems to me that Dekoster came to the wrong conclusion when he wrote, “… that pacifist communities survive to this day is but testimony to the value of the legitimate exercise of force by the state.” That wars continue and have not been able to bring us a lasting peace should remind us, rather, that what an Israeli carpenter said nearly 2,000 years ago is still true, “They that live by the sword shall perish by it” (Matt. 26:52).

LAVERNAE J. DICK

Dallas, Ore.

Is Calvin’s oft-quoted stereotyping fair to the Anabaptists? Did Mr. DeKoster in his study go to the sources and actually read the testimonies of the Anabaptists? Now after 450 years it is time that contemporary critics of the Anabaptists begin to listen to the Grebels, Sattlers, and Mennos and stop getting their cues from sixteenth-century opponents of the movement who may have had a way of distorting the beliefs of Anabaptists in order to put them down.

ROBERT KREIDER

Mennonite Library and Archives

North Newton, Kans.

For Physical Activity

It was refreshing for me to read the article by David Kucharsky entitled, “It’s Time to Think Seriously About Sports. (Nov. 7).” In an age when athletics have, in many circumstances, become tainted, I definitely feel that the Christian institutions of higher learning should promote a well balanced program of physical activity and athletic competition integrating many phases of the academic curriculum. With the increased amount of leisure time becoming available in our society, physical activity should be an integral part of our educational experience.

PAUL R. FRYKHOLM

Assistant Professor of Physical Education

Trinity College

Deerfield, Ill.

Kucharsky does not sufficiently distinguish between intercollegiate athletics (essentially an activity for limited numbers of participants) and physical education which emphasizes the development of lifetime physical skills. Christian colleges have long been concerned about the physical development of all students, although they have indeed moved reluctantly into full-scale intercollegiate athletics. The discussion of the role of sports takes on different dimensions when it shifts from the former to the latter topic.… Although he offers several rationales for Christian-college involvement in intercollegiate sports, Kucharsky does not observe that such involvement is first of all educational, both for professional preparation of students (e.g., for physical education, coaching, recreational leadership, etc.) and for the avocational preparation of persons who will continue these interests while working in some other career. Certainly sports provide publicity, but for the same amount of money a college could buy a lot of good publicity. Clearly, sports provide an occasion for Christian witness; but we should be witnessing, through diligence and excellence and integrity, in all we do. Sports are neither an exception to nor a more significant application of this general rule. In other words, in my view a Christian college should see both the physical development of all its students and the participation of some in intercollegiate sports as elements of its educational mission. No other rationale will serve satisfactorily.

GERALD G. WINKLEMAN

Dean

Huntington College,

Huntington, Ind.

Cover Thanks

Thanks for the cover of the November 7 issue on “rock ’em sock ’em football for Jesus.” Analytical. Incisive. Indicting. Tremendous.

I had a similar observation. We overdo the procedure of finding glamorous athletes, beauty queens, and other people of worldly note to appear on our programs and speak a word for “poor little Jesus.”

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FRANKLIN OWEN

Executive Secretary-Treasurer

Kentucky Baptist Convention

Middletown, Ky.

Raised Brows

The news that the Grand Rapids chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State had filed suit in Michigan to enjoin two school districts from purchasing and distributing Bibles to graduating seniors (Religion in Transit, Oct. 24) caused a few eyebrows to be raised. It should be noted that the plaintiff in the case is a clergyman, Jay Wabeke, and that the suit is intended to bar government intrusion into religious affairs and excessive entanglements between church and state. God does not need, and the church should not need, Caesar’s help or gold. And, of course, the public schools are quite free to have Bibles in their libraries and to offer suitably objective and neutral instruction about the scriptures of all faiths.

EDD DOERR

Educational Relations Director

Americans United For Separation of Church and State

Silver Spring, Md.

ERRATUM

Dr. Richard Phillips was incorrectly identified in the November 21 news story, “Return of the Captives,” as a medical doctor. His doctorate is in linguistics.

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