“Once Upon A Midnight Dreary …”

Many years ago, I read about a philosopher who woke up in the middle of the night with a profound insight into the nature of the universe. With trembling hands he reached for his notebook and, without even turning on a light, wrote down his profound insight so that he might develop it the next morning. Imagine his chagrin when he read: “Everything in the world is a manifestation of turpentine.”

Okay—his insights weren’t so good; but the idea of writing down ideas has stuck with me. Just recently I discovered an old file of midnight memos, and I thought I ought to share some of them with you. Perhaps some enterprising reader can run with one of these ideas and help change the world.

1. Get Sunday school kids to collect soft drink cans and build an organ out of them. It will help save aluminum and promote the cause of good music. (Come to think of it, an organ made of soft drink cans might be better for pop music.)

2. Start a ministry for people who are too busy. Schedule meetings for them that you plan to cancel. Maybe it could be a clearing house for pastors who invite each other to preach and then cancel the invitation, thereby giving them a week at home when their church officers think they are away. That’s a good name—Cancellation Clearing House. Our motto: “We have hands on your time.”

3. Idea for a doctoral thesis in church history: King James (of the Bible translation of the same name) introduced golf into England. Could this be the reason most fundamentalist preachers who use the KJV are rabid golfers? What is the actual correlation between Bible translations and golfing?

4. Write a song for the ecumenical crowd: “On Hearing the First COCU in Spring.”

5. Over seven million aspirin tablets are swallowed annually in the United States. Think of the witness we could give if there were Bible verses on each box or bottle. Possible name: “Gos-pill Witness.”

I’ve been sleeping very soundly lately, so I haven’t written down any exciting ideas. But I’m going to start taking my notebook to church with me. Our pastor is in his third year of a series on Job, and I sometimes get rather sleepy …


Priceless Training

“What to Expect of a Seminary Graduate” [Feb. 6] encouraged me. Having spent seven months candidating after seminary graduation, I have become sick and tired of comments such as “Oh, he just graduated from seminary,” or “He doesn’t know anything just out of seminary.” One church treated me worse as a recent graduate than if I had been living in adultery for the last four years. But it was not adultery, only study of the Word of God.

Seminary training has been priceless in personal spiritual development.


Dallas, Tex.

Don’T Rush Them

Your stand [Eutychus, Jan. 23] is one which must be heard. The far right must soon realize: not all fun is of Satan. There are far too many “good Christians” who would do away with fairy tales, the tooth fairy, Snoopy, and anything else they say cannot be found in Scripture. Did the children in the day of Jesus sit around with the elders and talk of the latest doctrinal dispute? Nothing good can come from imposing a 60-year-old mind on a 5-year-old child. The wisdom of the elder comes through years of fun, joy, experience, trouble. The trouble will come soon enough. We must not rush it by taking away the fun and joy.

God protect the fun and joy of my children from those who would destroy it.


Middletown. Pa.

Natural Or Supernatural?

Your editorial on life manipulators [Jan. 23] is a little disturbing. If “life” can be totally explained by reference to natural materials and processes, why will morality be jettisoned? The author seems to think that religion is a prerequisite for morality, when in fact many atheists and materialists lead very moral lives. And why should the same explanation render life less special or sacred? When God uses an earthquake to fell Jericho, does it follow that God did not do it at all? Do we require that all of God’s actions be devoid of natural materials and processes? Surely not. If we did, we would have no Bible. Only if our Christianity is founded solely on special revelation to the exclusion of any natural revelation will a natural explanation from science militate against the sovereignty of God.

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Champaign, Ill.

Personal Application

Perhaps the most valuable lessons from Bill Gothard’s experience [News, Feb. 6] are, first, that all of us honored to be full-time Christian leaders should begin insisting that our gross annual salaries should regularly and voluntarily and often be made known to one and all, especially to the people whose contributions make our salaries possible. And, second, that people who are members of boards who run churches, denominations, and organizations begin insisting on the same. What apparently happened to Gothard could happen to any of us.


Bethel Baptist Church

Janesville, Wis.

Making Progress

I appreciate so much the article “Homosexuals Can Change” by Tom Minnery [Feb. 6]. I am a closet homosexual—a minister in a very conservative denomination. Only God knows the pain, suffering, guilt, and self-condemnation I’ve gone through. If the “powers that be” knew, I’d get my credentials taken so fast, they wouldn’t even care to pray with or for me. I am making progress and pray that in time before the Lord calls me I’ll get complete victory.



Part of the problem with Ray Bohlin’s article, “Sociobiology: Cloned from the Gene Cult” [Jan. 23], is that there are really two sociobiologies. The first is an area of scientific research, that is, the relationship between evolutionary pressures and behavior. That genetic differences affect behavior is a proposition I hope you will not deny. The difference in behavior between a man and an ant is not entirely due to nurture. The real question is in what ways and to what extent. This question can only be answered empirically. The most theoretical research can do is suggest new avenues for investigation.

The second sociobiology is a theory of ethics, which does indeed recommend such things as deception, hypocrisy, abortion, and euthanasia. A better name for it would be ethical egoism. Furthermore, to derive ethical egoism from sociobiology of the first sort is nothing less than an example of the naturalistic fallacy. (Going from is to ought.)

That the second sociobiology is based on a fallacy should be cold comfort to you. Bohlin and the rest of you are guilty of worse. He admits that most of religion is false. What isn’t false is so wrapped in slippery words as to be impossible to pin down, and thus meaningless. And yet he is still religious. Do you value honesty so little? You are guilty of the inverse of the sociobiologist’s sin: believing something is true because you think it ought to be. At least show the honesty of doubt!


Houghton, Mich.

Misdirected Surgery

The “contemporary community standards” scalpel lifted by Christenson to “Excise the Pornographic Cancer” [Jan. 2] is the only tool now provided by the Supreme Court for such surgery, but constitutionally it is more dangerous than a “Saturday night special.” If it succeeds in killing pornography, that will be its second victim. The first was the First Amendment itself.

While we Christians attempt to save ourselves and our children by attacking pornography as violative of community standards, let it not escape our notice that our “constitutional right” to freedom of speech has become a privilege conferred by democratic vote. The “community” decides what its “contemporary” standards permit. As times and neighborhoods change, morality and law also change, thus amending the Constitution by public opinion polls.

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The third victim to fall under the knife will be religion. Having created a First Amendment doctrine that permits regulation of speech according to its content against a standard of popular morality, the “public nuisance” laws now identified with sex in the cinema will be redefined to encompass politics in the church.


Santa Ana, Calif.

Additional Tributes

I know that there are many such as myself who will remember John R. Rice’s exhortation to be soul winners [News, Jan 23]. We will remember his dynamics of prayer, which he proved over and over again in his own life. But most of all, we will remember his compassion. He never preached a sermon without a tear in his voice. He never witnessed his faith without a mighty compassion for the lost soul.


Immanuel Baptist Church Kenosha, Wis.

In your January 23 issue you wrote some extremely nice words about Walter Bennett. As one who was intimately involved in the “Hour of Decision” maneuverings in 1950, I can appreciate the accolades you heaped upon Walter, and can affirm that he was eminently entitled to everything you said about him. I did feel it was a bit out of balance to refer only to what he did for Billy Graham. He was equally important to Walter Maier and the “Lutheran Hour,” and to Myron Boyd and the “Light and Life Hour.”


Phoenixville, Pa.

Wrong Composer

The editorial commenting on John Lennon’s murder is typical of CT’s unfortunate propensity for appropriating “the world” and fecklessly stashing it wherever possible in CT’s evangelical stance.

First, “Let It Be” was sung and composed by Paul McCartney, not Lennon, and the song’s references to Mother Mary are quasi-religious at best.

Second, to claim that Lennon’s “Help” constitutes “a strong apologetic for conversion” and “describes the condition of fallen man” is tantamount to suggesting that “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree with Anyone Else But Me” has something to say about original sin.


Telford, Pa.

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