At this joyous Christmas season, the entire editorial staff of CHRISTIANITY TODAY extends to you warmest greetings, and wishes you God’s very best as we celebrate together the birth of the Savior. In him we find the one still point in the universe around which all creation revolves. “Peace on earth, good will toward men” are the familiar words of the angels’ song. Our prayer is that we may experience his peace in the midst of this maddening world. We trust the pages of CHRISTIANITY TODAY will reflect not only the turbulent restlessness of contemporary society, but also the quiet inner calm of soul that comes from peace with God.

Read the moving story of his father’s death at Christmastime that is told by Thomas Oden of Drew University. Some years ago when my own father died, a friend warned me, “No matter how old you are, you will grow another inch when your father dies.” And so it was. His death moved me out to the very edge of eternity. In Tom Oden’s case, the death of his earthly father, whom he dearly loved, helped him to understand better the nature of his heavenly father, whom he also dearly loves.

The article by Robert Frykenberg will try your soul when you realize how difficult it is, even with the best will in the world, to succor the helpless and downtrodden in a world impregnated with evil. By ignoring the evil structures of society and the selfishness of mankind, we may salve our consciences through furious, but misguided, social action. The result is only frustration and a wasteful stewardship of the resources at our disposal.

Too often, unfortunately, the evangelical alternative is to sit on our hands and do nothing. But surely this represents a wholesale repudiation of the fruit of “pure religion” as defined by the Bible: “to look after orphans and widows in their distress.” The only valid evangelical option must be obedience to the biblical command to love our neighbor and to minister to all who are in need. But our help must be informed by an intelligent and planned application of biblical, personal, and social concerns, appropriately balanced, and motivated by discerning love.

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