The Bumbler And the Fair-haired Boy

Remember when President Ford first took office? The media people loved him. Photojournalists took pictures of the President fixing his own English muffin. (Imagine that!) They covered every detail of his daily swims. The way he removed his terrycloth robe. The height of his dive. (Did they score his diving or record his swimming times? I can’t remember.) They listed his favorite tobacco. They took shots of the way he held his pipe.

Then he pardoned Richard Nixon, and the English muffins were forgotten. Soon Ford became “Gerald the Bumbler.” If a week passed without pictures or reports of Ford bumping his head, or falling down steps, or losing his balance, it really wasn’t a good week.

Now, of course, Ford is pictured not only as a bumbler but as a bumbling plodder soon to be sacrificed on election eve, and Jimmy Carter is the bright young man of the moment. We have pictures of him playing softball. Hugging babies. Standing waist-deep in a pond catfishing. Jimmy Carter in shirtsleeves. He’s the man.

If he wins, give him a few weeks. Then Jimmy will be in the bad graces of the almighty cameramen and will have to yield to some other fair-haired boy or girl.

And when that happens I’ll be able to imagine Gerald Ford chuckling as he fixes his English muffin, puffs on his pipe, and swims his laps alone.


Marrying and Burying At Church

J. Grant Swank’s article “Church Weddings Are Not For Everyone” (Minister’s Workshop, Aug. 27) touches on an issue of vital concern to many clergy. He is certainly correct in expressing joy over fully Christian weddings, and he rightly stresses the biblical injunction against the marriage of a Christian and a non-believer. But he slips in comparing weddings to Communion and baptism. Marriage is a creation ordinance for all humanity under God’s common grace while baptism and the Lord’s Supper have been specifically ordained for Christians. In attempting to strengthen his case for not marrying two non-Christians, I fear that Pastor Swank comes rather close to Roman Catholic theology, which has elevated marriage to sacramental status.


Princeton, N.J.

Better late than never. Pastor Swank should have learned his current policy in the seminary and have followed it all his ministry; that would have saved him a lot of self-recriminations. While he is at it, he might extend the policy also to funerals. Just as not every couple who comes with a marriage license is deserving of a Christian wedding, so not every person who has been pronounced dead is deserving of a Christian burial.

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Ottawa, Ill.

If feeling a sense of spiritual excitement is the criterion of a good marriage, it would follow by a similar sort of protective logic that a Swank funeral should have the same screening. For believers only following six months’ probation.


The Church in the Marketplace

Placentia, Calif.

A hearty “amen” to the Reverend Mr. Swank.… We are allowed to marry, but we are not given a vote on the divorce. So let us be wise stewards regarding our role and our responsibility in preparing people for Christian marriage.


Minister of Evangelism

Harvard Avenue Baptist Church

Tulsa, Okla.

You’ve read the sensational, now read the Scriptural

With so much being written about Israel, and so much confusion over its prophetic significance, Israel: A Biblical View provides a welcome change. Here is a straightforward introduction to the religious meaning of Israel through a careful study of the Scriptures. Beginning by discussing the “servant of the Lord” concept, William LaSor, Professor of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, traces the history of Israel from Abraham to Paul. He looks at the place of Israel in biblical prophecy and the important relationship between Israel and the New Testament church. (“If we want to know what God has been doing all these centuries, if we want to know what he is doing today, we must understand what Israel is.”)

Israel: it’s amazing how clear this emotionally charged subject becomes when it’s stripped of sensational interpretations.

“Professor LaSor’s book is marked by balance, wisdom, and fidelity to biblical teaching.”

—Carl Edwin Armerding Regent College

Did Reid Misread Hume?

Thank you for Ronald Nash’s well-written and timely article on David Hume (Aug. 6). I share his concern over the inroads anti-intellectualism has made in evangelical ranks, and I agree in attributing this problem largely to the legacy of Hume. However, Professor Nash’s claim that Thomas Reid mistook Hume’s “entire enterprise” is open to serious objection.… Reid’s interpretation of Hume was never challenged by Hume himself. Hume was familiar at first hand with Reid’s criticisms and on a number of occasions the two men corresponded. However, as Henry Sidgwick long ago pointed out, it never occurred to Hume that Reid misunderstood him.…

Professor Nash rightly argues that Hume’s divorce of faith from reason has logically led to an attack on the possibility of rational knowledge of the supernatural. The importance of Reid is that he not only understood Hume, but that in opposing Hume he constructed a viable (and enormously influential) philosophical alternative. Reid argued persuasively that the pivotal beliefs of common sense in matters of fact and existence (including ethics and theology) are grounded not in instinct, habit, or sentiment but in reason. For more than a century thinking people found in Reid’s works the conceptual tools for defending the rationality of belief in a supernatural God. It is for this reason that Christians have good cause to welcome the contemporary renewal of interest in and respect for the philosophical writings of Thomas Reid.

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Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Asbury College

Wilmore, KY.

The Plight Of the Farmer

My minister passed on your issue of July 16 to me recently, to read the articles on hunger. I did find them very interesting, but as is usual with such things, with one glaring omission.… No mention whatever was made of the situation the primary producer of food, the farmer, finds himself in.

Here in Canada … the farmer is being squeezed unmercifully between sky-rocketing costs and disastrously low returns.… Farmers must spend twenty, thirty, fifty thousand dollars in seed, fertilizer, herbicides, etc., every spring, with no guarantee whatever that they will get it back. Costs of some items have gone up 400 per cent in only four years—yet the city consumers complain endlessly over the slightest increase in the prices they pay for food. Just now there is a demand that egg prices in Canada go down—yet city wage-earners never take a cut in their income; there would be civil war if anyone ever suggested such a thing.…

It is commendable for the various relief organizations to try to feed the hungry of the world; but shouldn’t they also look “upstream” to see what is happening to the source of supply?… I can’t help but feel that, unless there is a complete reversal of attitude, very soon, our nation will not have food to give away very much longer.


Orvillia, Ontario

Housecleaning Needed

I protest the attitudes expressed by Chandu Ray in the interview given in the August 27 issue. I protest when any Christian leader says “I thank God for Communism.…” We are in a deplorable condition, indeed, when we as Christians have to look to Communism to enable us to rethink our social responsibilities. Even worse is Dr. Ray’s attitude toward Islam. He thanked God for Islam because it brings people to one God.… Islam is one of the greatest enemies of the Gospel of Christ. Someone should do some housecleaning.

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Missionary Crusader, Inc.

Lubbock, Tex.

Enduring The Snipes

As an evangelical pastor who serves God in the United Church of Canada and as a woman at that, I have learned to accept editorial sniping at my church and my sex as necessary evils to be endured while receiving the benefits of reading CHRISTIANITY TODAY. However, Joe Bayly’s totally unjustified slap at our Sunday schools (interview, Aug. 6) is too much. The UCC’s congregations are more than 60 per cent non-metropolitan, and in 1975 our non-metropolitan Sunday-school enrollment increased. In metropolitan areas where enrollment decreased slightly, public-school enrollment has also declined.


Mt. Carmel Zion United Church

Morriston, Ontario

The Contributions Of Ellul

Thank you for David Gill’s article, “Activist and Ethicist, Meet Jacques Ellul” (Sept. 10). Hopefully, its publication will begin to make evangelicals aware of some of the profound contributions made by Ellul to understanding some of the basic issues Christians face in this century.


San Francisco, Calif.

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