Ahead of His Times
One of the best kept secrets at Oxford University has been the discovery of a manuscript in the wine celler beneath Hampton Court. Written by a forgotten Puritan divine, Decrease Smathers, this manuscript sheds new light on the beloved King James Bible. Smathers proves conclusively that King James I had more in mind than politics and religion when he permitted the new translation now named after him.
James, it seems, held a secret meeting of his leading divines after he had dismissed the Hampton Court Conference.
“Gentlemen, dost thou realize what this new translation will mean to people centuries from now? Why, it will create a whole new industry!”
“Your Majesty,” said one divine, bowing divinely before the throne, “the printing of Bibles is not a new industry with us.”
“Not the printing of Bibles, thou dolt!” shouted the king in authorized kingly fashion. “I’m talking about the publishing and translating industry. Dost thou not realize that one day this new translation will become obsolete?”
“The Word of the Lord endureth forever,” muttered a divine bravely.
“Why must I have such dumb divines?” James lamented. “Of course, God’s Word doth not change—but language changeth. My new translation will put thousands of people to work. Preachers and teachers will have to explain our quaint phrases, and specialists will have to write commentaries to help them. Scholars will one day have to make new translations to replace the old ones. Why, the possibilities are staggering!”
A divine light began to spread across the faces of the divines.
“Your Majesty, thou takest our breath away!” said a junior divine, and immediately he dropped to the floor in a dead faint.
“What doth Your Majesty suggest we do?” asked the leading divine.
“Do what I’m doing—invest in Bible translations. Oh, it will take a few centuries before the dividends will come in, but thy descendants will bless thy names every time they go to the bank. Why, it wouldn’t surprise me if in some future year they don’t update this translation I’ve just approved. They might call it ‘The Modern King James Version.’ All right, men, let’s see your cash!”
Thanks for the timely September 19 issue. I refer particularly to your well-balanced editorial, “Getting God’s Kingdom into Politics,” and the accompanying article by the Evangelicals for Social Action, “Can My Vote Be Biblical?”
Despite voices like Mark Hatfield, Robert Linder, Richard Pierard, and others who have written on this subject in the past, many Christian circles still assume that the “Christian position” must necessarily embrace capitalism, a stronger military, and other conservative ideologies. Thank you for emphasizing that this is not necessarily so.
Santa Rosa, Calif.
I found your September 19 issue somewhat troubling with the emphasis in a number of articles on the need for Christians to be involved in the political process. I expect soon to hear that it is a sin if we are not involved.
There is a moral stench hanging over America but I believe that God has given us the means to heal our land. We must humble ourselves prayerfully. Our country is in its present shape largely because the church has been attempting to use the things of the world to change the world.
Port Ludlow, Wash.
The editorial, “Getting God’s Kingdom into Politics,” seemed based on the assumption that because Christians are diverse in their political inclinations (right, middle, or liberal), God has no one best solution for his people to rally around.
I submit that God’s man will vote “Yes” for morality, whatever the day and age! Even though the issues aren’t black and white, but grey, I am confident that God will answer prayer and guide his concerned, seeking people, especially when high moral stakes are at hand, like the urgently needed repentance of this nation. Like Amos, Elijah, etc., we should focus on the moral issues.
West Columbia, S.C.
In the 25 years that I’ve been reading CHRISTIANITY TODAY, the magazine has been consistently biblical, but often seemed socially conservative and out of step with the times. However, the timing of your well-written and closely reasoned editorial was magnificent for my purposes. The Roundtable’s rally arrives in our town in just ten days. I’ve written to Evangelicals for Social Action for hundreds of reprints of their nine basic biblical principles. Thank the Lord your editorial staff was willing to stand up and be counted in time.
REV. HAROLD R. HOFFMAN
Second Baptist Church
Saint Louis, Mo.
It is most encouraging when Christians become concerned enough about their culture to think about voting biblically. The Evangelicals for Social Action tract begins well enough with the properly pious, standard line that “Jesus Christ is Lord,” exhorting us to weigh the issues “in the light of Scripture.” But Scripture is then abandoned in favor of liberationist rhetoric, lightly topped with religious terminology.
The article supports justice for the poor, clearly a biblical concept—except that, translated into its “dynamic equivalent” in the Evangelicals for Social Action program, it means a socialistic redistribution of wealth. There is a “detailed … economic blueprint in Scripture,” and a good deal of it can be found in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and the Book of Proverbs.
DAVID H. CHILTON
Editor, The Biblical Educator
More Fully Developed
In Ron Wilson’s “Parachurch: Becoming Part of the Body” [Sept. 19], I was quoted as saying: “For years charity has been a matter of ‘I have. You don’t have. Here it is.’ Now we are saying, ‘I have it. You don’t have it. Let’s find a way you can develop it and get it.’ ” However, taken out of the context of the conversation, the quote may be misleading.
Development does not start by assuming that “what I have and perceive as good is therefore good for you, now let’s help you get it.” It starts with listening as the other person expresses what he perceives to be his needs, and then together seeking to solve those problems using his methods, with his resources, at his pace. On this two-way street of trust and benefit, development agencies can only encourage the “with God’s help, I can do it” process that takes place in people.
WESLEY K. STAFFORD
East Lansing, Mich.
While I am aware of the various tensions between denominational church leadership and “parachurch” ministries (I have been teased and stretched by both forces), many lay persons go on building the kingdom of God as participants in both forms of church life. They are oblivious of quasi-theological and pseudo-charitable innuendos. Perhaps these discriminating titles serve only to reinforce theological prejudices more closely associated with ecclesiastical insecurity than with a spirit of New Testament creativity?
DR. LEWIS P. BIRD
Eastern Regional Director
Christian Medical Society
The informative Gallup Poll on the moral views of Americans [“Do the Properly Pious Really Care?” by David O. Moberg, Sept. 19 issue] pointed out that 84 percent of those polled believe that the Ten Commandments are valid today, that 62 percent condemn homosexuality, and that 83 percent disapprove of extramarital sex. The problem is that this kind of study merely reveals external conduct and intellectual assent; it does not and cannot measure genuine holiness.
Being genuinely religious means more than wearing sandals and a beard and singing religious folk songs; more than telling everyone how much you “love” God, country, apple pie and mentally retarded children so you can win an election or a Miss America contest; more than using religion to buttress injustices in the social, economic, and political status quo; more than attending church for the social, economic, and political contacts.
Rather, genuine holiness means we practice in our everyday lives the virtues of faith, hope, courage, and charity.
HAVEN BRADFORD GOW
Arlington Heights, Ill.
In his September 5 article “Sociobiology: Seeing Rats in the Mirror,” Harold B. Kuhn presents the “deterministic naturalism” view—a view of sociology as if it were the view of natural scientists. But sociology has to do with theories—presuppositions—concerning individuals in a society. Its founder, Herbert Spencer, sought to apply “the doctrine of evolution to social development.” Biology, a natural science, is the study of the origin, development, and structure of “living things”—of cellular life, of molecules and atoms, of nuclei and electrons. This is the field of Nobel Prize winner, biologist Szent-Gyorgi, and Max Planck and Einstein. They have no warm words for positivism, secular humanism, or determinism, even when bedecked with Harvardian trappings of sociology.
JOHN W. BRABNER-SMITH
Director, Institute of Jurisprudence,
Foreign and International Law
Good and Bad News
It’s ironic that on the same day I read your story “Troubled South Korea Manages a Very Big Bash for Missions” [Sept. 19], I read in the newspaper that Catholic dissident Kim Dae Jung had been sentenced to death for treason. It is tragic that while the “overwhelmingly nationalistic and anti-Communist Christian movement” is flourishing, a Christian brother is paying the ultimate price for his faithful resistance to an unjust dictatorial regime.
DAVID S. MARTIN
Thank you for keeping news about the Coptic Church of Egypt before your readership. This dedicated Christian minority has upheld the Cross of Christ in a Moslem environment for many centuries. They deserve the interest, support, and prayers of the entire Christian world.
REV. LYLE H. RASCH
Christ Lutheran Church
In Individual Terms
Gary Collins’s “How to Have a Caring Church” [Sept. 19] has admirably portrayed the caring Christian community. However, the unavoidable answer to this question consists in reducing the issue to its basic terms: the individual. Many individuals develop rigid psychological habit patterns, which often lead to their failure to adapt successfully to the inevitable and cumulative tensions of life. The result is emotional (and hence often physiological) imbalance, disorder, and distress. Preoccupation with such unhappiness undermines the emotional/spiritual capacities of God’s people in reaching out and caring for others. In fact, these individuals may actually contribute to, rather than alleviate, the distress of others.
Professional Psychological Consultants
East Lansing, Mich.
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