“If you want to know what it’s like to be a pastor, put on a deerskin shirt and take a walk through the woods on the first day of hunting season.”

I don’t know who said it (just that he was an older pastor in New England), but I think he was on target.

Another pastor—this one a Presbyterian from Seattle—said something similar: “People expect the minister, his wife, and children to be perfect. But you know they don’t really think this, or they wouldn’t be so quick to criticize.”

Criticism can help us examine ourselves, help us grow. “Critics are the unpaid guardians of my soul” was the mature reaction of E. Stanley Jones to those who caviled or found fault with his work or writings.

But criticism can also be destructive. It is my opinion that more than a few children of the manse and of Christian organizations turn aside from faith and church because of treatment their parents received at the mouths of those they served. Parents may learn humility through the criticism; children may learn to despise the work of the Lord for hurts inflicted on the mother and father they love.

The law of kindness should determine our thoughts and words about our leaders. Bishop Stephen Neill has the last word, and it is an encouraging one: “Criticism is the manure in which the servants of the Lord grow best.”


Word Choice

In the Sept. 22 issue (News, “Catholic Charismatics: An Evangelical Thrust”), the Catholic charismatics are spoken of with the use of the word “evangelical.” But in my conversations with such people, I have discovered that in spite of their refreshing enthusiasm, they will not admit to any alteration of the Roman Catholic position. In other words, a full and free salvation is not yet theirs to proclaim. That being the case, the word “evangelical” is not yet the word. I hope some day it will be.


The Garden Grove Orthodox

Presbyterian Church

Garden Grove, Calif.

Reid and Intuition

It was very good to see Thomas Reid receive long overdue recognition in the recent article by Michael L. Peterson (“Reid Debates Hume: Christian Versus Skeptic,” Sept. 22). Reid’s epistemological critique of Hume and, more particularly, of the Lockean conception of perception is certainly a valuable tool for modern evangelical apologetics. It is, however, somewhat disturbing to see Reid’s reliance on intuition and the common sense of mankind proposed as a royal way to Christian truth. Speaking as an individual, and presumably part of common humanity, I do not intuit the kind of human freedom which was so clear and distinct to Reid and his successors. Nor from my Reformed perspective do I see Jeremiah (Jer. 17:9), the Apostle Paul (Rom. 9:19–21), or our Lord himself (John 6:37) intuiting that which for Reid was merely common sense about human freedom. Speaking as a historian, recent studies (Bozeman, Protestants in an Age of Science; Meyer, The Instructed Conscience) have shown all too clearly how easy it has been for American followers of Reid to make his common sense realism anything but an ally of scriptural Christianity. In taking nationalistic, anthropocentric, and individualistic convictions to be the common intuitions of mankind, they bequeathed elements of a sub-biblical faith to modern evangelicals who need to rely far less on the instability of intuition and far more on the realities of revelation.

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Mundelein, Ill.

Perfect Balance

My thanks for the fine article by John Montgomery, “Luther, Anti-Semitism, and Zionism” (Current Religious Thought, Sept. 8). Though I usually approach Montgomery’s articles with a rather negative enthusiasm, I found his vindication of Luther and his brief spiritual analysis of Zionism to be both insightful and helpful. The article intrinsically set forth a good balance between anti-Semitism on the one hand and an uncritical support of Israel on the other. Well done!


Denver, Colo.

Christian Affirmation

Mark Marchak’s article “Painting as Propaganda” (Refiner’s Fire, Sept. 22) was an interesting, informed, and truly stimulating and thought-provoking piece of writing. His parallels between art in the Soviet Union and in the church are very much to the point. CHRISTIANITY TODAY deserves to be commended for publishing articles like Mark Marchak’s. By doing so, you affirm that Christians can be sensitive, perceptive, and can have good taste in art.


Minot, N.Dak.

Dirty Smear

In the past CHRISTIANITY TODAY has kept fairly clean of the ideological knife-and-twist wars between “left” and “right.” It is with deep anguish that I see the ugly smear against conservatives show up in your pages. In the Thomas Tarrants interview (“Terrorism Today,” Sept. 22) the smear starts with the deceptive use of the term “right-wing,” listing as examples: Nietzsche, Fascist, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic, anti-Negro, anti-Communist, and fundamentalist. Then comes the switch from the term “right-wing” to “conservative” when Tarrants is quoted as saying, “There is entirely too much of an affinity between conservative politics and evangelical Christianity.…” American conservatives have nothing in common with the KKK, the National States’ Rights Party, etc., except for anticommunism, and even there we reject their Zionist superconspiracy theory. American conservatism is also at opposite political poles from socialistic dictatorships such as Fascism or Nazism. Therefore, the honest journalist ought to avoid the term “right-wing” altogether. A serious rift has, for some time, been growing between evangelical liberals and conservatives, which, if not healed, will rend the evangelical camp irreparably in two. CHRISTIANITY TODAY, with its large readership from both camps, is uniquely positioned to bring the two camps together. But this won’t be accomplished by publishing false caricatures of God’s people. Please open your pages to conservative writers for balance.

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New Albany, Ohio

Promise Of God

Thanks abundantly for the recent article, “Parents and Prodigals” by Virginia Stem Owens (June 23). While it may “leave the taste of sawdust” (see Eutychus, Aug. 18) in the mouths of some, I believe she said something that for too long has been unsaid.… Parents cannot save their children from sin; neither can they somehow infuse the Holy Spirit into them. What God does promise parents is an endless, inexhaustible supply of agape love, accepting, unconditional, and true, love that takes over where our love ends. This is the love we can pour out on our children abundantly in any circumstance.…


Penn Valley, Calif.

Highest Calling

I heartily endorse Paul Benjamin’s article, “The Urgency of the Equipping Ministry” (Sept. 22). This article is another reminder of the gap between the New Testament understanding of pastoral ministry and the superstar mentality that has infected the majority of our churches today. The New Testament puts emphasis on plural leadership in the local congregation, ministry through God’s equipping graces, and leadership growing out of discipleship—all under the unique headship of Jesus Christ and empowered by the Spirit. There is no higher calling than the shepherding ministry in which God uses men and women not only to feed the flock but also to equip it so that all believers truly are ministers. If pastors can be trained to be equippers (both in seminary, where this ministry is often neglected, and on the job), this will go a long way toward renewing the church and revolutionizing its impact in society.


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Light and Life Men International

Winona Lake, Ind.

Double Standard

Your news story “Stormy Weather at the W.C.C.” (Sept. 8) evoked the following (irreverant? irrelevant?) response in me. Isn’t it a notable curiosity that American Christians, living in a country that was “born in a revolution,” are so critical of the turn toward violence which has been taken by many people aspiring for independence in Rhodesia and South Africa? Is it because the oppression experienced by the blacks of Rhodesia and South Africa is so minor as compared with the disgraces inflicted upon the longsuffering American colonists that people laud the American uprising and condemn the Africa one? As a Christian who believes that the way of the cross means the way of nonviolence, always, I do nevertheless believe that selective objection to war and violence is better than no objection at all. However, a selective process which prefers the violence of the rich and the powerful to that of the poor and oppressed does not have much to commend itself to biblical people. Perhaps the time is right in the church for an agonizing reappraisal of the whole question of violence.


Mennonite Central Committee

Akron, Pa.

Unusual Accord

Although I am not accustomed to finding myself agreeing totally with any article or editorial in CHRISTIANITY TODAY, I find that I am in total accord with the editorial “Selling in God’s Name” (Aug. 18). Having worked in bookstores of evangelical conviction for over five years, I agree with both the editorial’s much-needed criticism of the “junk food” books and gospel “trinkets” as well as the well-balanced appraisal of our wealth in books and music of quality. CHRISTIANITY TODAY is to be congratulated for its boldness and sensitivity. Thank you for finally publishing what I have been thinking for some time.


Portland, Oreg.

Dare to Be Biblical

As an anthropologist who has been directly involved in missions for a quarter of a century, I was most interested in the dialogue between Peter Wagner and Ray Stedman (“The Melting Pot,” Aug. 18). As Wagner points out, the homogenous unit principle is based on empirical evidence drawn from sociological theory. In many cases churches do grow that way today. But, as Stedman indicates, is this the kind of church the New Testament speaks about?—where racial, economic, social, and political barriers were all broken down through the cross. Certainly, no church has ever grown more—quantitatively as well as qualitatively—as the church of the first century, but that growth was not along homogenously discreet ethnic or class lines. I’ve often wondered what would happen if the church of today would dare to live out its message as the New Testament describes.


Columbia, S.C.

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