With These Friends, Who Needs Enemies?

I want to issue a warning to all young college and seminary graduates: when you have been out of school 15 or 20 years, you will face a problem that defies any solution. If you will come with me to my kitchen table, and sit down with me and my wife, you will understand whereof I speak. We have before us the appeal letters that arrived in our humble mailbox the previous month. We are deciding whether or not any of them deserves our support.

“Well!” she exclaims. “Phil Freeman is now director of Gospel Witness to Inner-city Elevator Operators. I didn’t know that!” “Better send them a gift,” I reply. “Phil helped me get through Greek exegesis. Say, look at this letter! Sylvia Hohenstopher is now working with Hem of His Garment Ministries.”

Let’s send them a gift,” advises my wife. “Sylvia worked in the sweet shop at Bible school and always gave me lots of ice cream and syrup. Now, here is a real problem: do we want to support POPUS?

“What’s POPUS?” I innocently ask.

“Protect Our Pets in the U.S. Don’t you remember that rubber albatross that came last month? We were supposed to wear it around our necks an hour each day to remind us to be kind to dumb animals. A fellow named Mike Simonson runs POPUS.” “Mike Simonson!” I explode. “I wouldn’t send him a used postage stamp! He lived next to me in the dorm and played country music on his stereo all night.”

“But aren’t we supposed to do good to those who have abused us?” asks my wife, suddenly getting spiritual. “After all, he did send us a rubber albatross.”

“Oh, send him 10 dollars. It’s for the good of the pets anyway.”

So on we go, through the pile of letters and return envelopes. It is amazing how many of our friends and former classmates have risen to places of leadership. Imagine, those youngsters managing ministries with huge budgets! We can’t support all of them, of course; so what are we to do?

I should have made more enemies when I was in seminary.

EUTYCHUS X

Three Cheers, Eutychus X!

I do believe Eutychus X’s column has been consistently the best anonymous satire written in a major evangelical periodical in this decade [see Sept. 18, p. 8]. Seriously, thanks for the many laughs! Keep ’em coming!

MR. and MRS. STEVEN J. COLE

Cedarpines Park, Calif.

The “Party Line”

The fine reporting of James Hefly, “Former Southern Baptist Sunday School Board Officer Wins Settlement” [Oct. 2], is much appreciated. Some of us long ago realized that Baptist Press coverage of events within our convention is biased and we must look elsewhere for coverage of anything of a controversial nature: that which would be contrary to the “party line,” or show up any of our higher echelon denominational servants in a less than favorable light.

REV. WORTH C. GRANT

Temple Baptist Church

Washington, D.C.

Challenge To All

Harold Lindsell’s article, “The Major Denominations Are Jumping Ship” [Sept. 18], is a challenge to us all. His restricted use of the term “missionary” is somewhat offset by Mooneyham’s article that follows. In feeling unworthy of the title, vast numbers of fine evangelicals have gone into the fields afar without daring to witness. There are a vast number of potential witnesses—tourists, businessmen, teachers, students, servicemen—who have thus been cut off from the source of vision and outreach. I speak from long experience in several of these categories—carrying the gospel to many parts of the world.

The American Scripture Gift Mission and other agencies can provide literature in most languages. In our own country there are several hundred thousand foreign leaders, students, diplomats, business people, and others who are also being largely neglected by Christians. Through the postal service and prayerful imagination one can become a true foreign missionary without leaving the home town.

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HARVEY L. SPERRY

Retired Army Chaplain

Greenwood, S.C.

This article rightly points out that mainline denominations have retrenched from previous numbers of overseas mission workers. In the case of my own denomination (United Presbyterian), part of that retrenchment has been for economic reasons (loss of members nationwide, inflation, reduced giving to the national church). But another factor, glossed over by Dr. Lindsell, is that our efforts in many parts of the world have finally borne fruit, and indigenous churches are taking over more and more of the responsibilities in their areas of the world.

This has led to a major shift in strategy for Presbyterians, at least, from sending missionaries from here to “there” to assisting Christians in their own areas with specific areas of need and expertise. We even have overseas churches sending us missionaries to assist our work here in the United States! I’d like to suggest that for United Presbyterians, at least, it would be more fair to use the image of turning the helm over to our brothers and sisters in Christ in their own lands than that of jumping ship.

REV. STEVEN R. FLEMING

United Presbyterian Church

Shippensburg, Pa.

I am well aware that the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) has in the recent past retreated from the missionary zeal it once had. This is an unfortunate accident. At the same time, I am saddened that Dr. Lindsell would generalize to say, “It is apparent that declines in both missionary outreach abroad and evangelism at home can be attributed, in part, to the infiltration of theological liberalism.” In this same text, Dr. Lindsell states this to be part of the reason for the declines in the LCA.

I found this article insensitive to the many growing conservative churches like ours. Simply put, don’t generalize. In Christ, we are all one.

REV. DONALD P. EDWARDS

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church

McAlisterville, Pa.

Complex Organization

In that my name appeared in “A Wolf Appears at the Door of Ralph Winter’s Mission Center” [Sept. 18], I felt I should state my reason for coming to the center and the William Carey International University.

I did not come to the university for security reasons. The future, as recorded in the CT article is shaky, risky. But that situation is part of the challenge to my faith, creativity, and commitment. After all, if an examination of church history is made, there are not many movements we acclaim as “hinge of history” events that did not start in weakness and predictable failure. Strange to say, the Baptist leaders said William Carey was a scatterbrain when he proposed to the ministers at Nottingham in 1792 that they should “Expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.”

VIRGIL A. OLSON

President-elect

William Carey International University

A periodical with CT’s history and perspective should be careful to give thorough and accurate coverage of a project like the U.S. Center for World Mission (USCWM). The USCWM is a complex yet bone-thin organization with a remarkable outreach and influence. Those of us who have followed the center since its earliest days know this grand effort is not Dr. Winter’s, but God’s. The project has always moved ahead step by step as God has led, a fact that reflects the attitudes of daily dependence upon God among the USCWM staff. It is a testimony to God’s faithfulness that against human odds the center has come to be what it is today. The devotion of the USCWM staff is a model for Christians everywhere. These people, all volunteers, have a God-inspired vision that cannot be discredited. God has set into motion something new, yet as old as God’s promise to Abraham that all nations would be blessed. Through this instrument of research, education, information, facilitation, and encouragement on a worldwide scale, God is seeking to plant a gospel witness in every forgotten culture.

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MATTHEW and ALICE BALDWIN

Malvern, Pa.

Bias-Filled Bias

Your editorial, “Bias Beyond Understanding” [Sept. 18], has a certain irony to it. It is full of its own bias. You are angered by this history professor who “pronounced sentence on Christians who do not abide by his personal version of Christ’s principles.” Yet you do the same. You equate “true Christian principles” with fundamentalism and creationism. This is your privilege. You vigorously attack so-called liberal Christians without any attempt at being fair or impartial. This, too, is your privilege. But you cannot, at the same time, “expect fair, impartial coverage” from those to whom you refuse to give it.

REV. ROBERT LARIVIERE

Worcester, Mass.

Profound Appreciation

Just a note to express profound appreciation on behalf of all involved in the European initiative to free the Siberian Seven, and for your recent coverage of their plight [“After Three Years: Glimmers of Movement in ‘Siberian Seven’ Impasse,” Sept. 18]. Your splendid coverage will be a great boost to the worldwide effort and enormous encouragement to the Vashchenko and Chmykhalov families.

We are becoming increasingly convinced that only a miracle will break the international deadlock that holds them trapped. At the same time, their situation demands the prayer and energy of all their Christian brothers and sisters who enjoy the freedom to worship.

PETER MEADOWS

Committee to Free the Siberian Seven

London, England

For some time I’ve been deeply concerned about the plight of Soviet Christians and so was very gratified to read Kent Hill’s report.

ROGER W. MING

Ithaca, N.Y.

Irresponsible Position

That “teetotalers” are the ones who “try to take their moral responsibility seriously” and that total abstinence is “the only truly responsible position” [“A Sickness Too Common to Cure?” Sept. 18], is to those who feel they are able to use beverage alcohol with biblical moderation an unfair statement. Essentially, you have said that such people do not take moral responsibility seriously and have taken a truly irresponsible position. The editorial appears to resemble the Pharisaical practice of “fencing the law.”

The real issue here is not really my “right” to drink beverage alcohol, but the lordship of Christ over the believer’s conscience. Christ alone, through the Scriptures, rules the believer’s conscience. If we begin to adopt the attitude that we will forbid and abandon whichever of God’s good gifts the world abuses, where will we stop?

ROBERT E. LYNN

Philadelphia, Pa.

I am truly surprised at your paragraph that quotes the Christian Science Monitor, stating you agree with the position that abstinence is the only responsible position a Christian can take. To say abstinence is the only position to take on this issue is to assume subtly that alcohol is in and of itself evil. That is what the Christian Science position would be.

Alcoholism is a severe problem in our land. It is one more symptom of man’s rebellion against God, a rebellion that will continue at a fevered pitch as the end times draw near. The church must work, preach, and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. The alcoholic, the rapist, the murderer, the Christian who cheats on his income tax … are all sinners. Indeed, we all need the only hope of the grace of Jesus. Our mandate as Christians is to lay down our lives to help this problem of alcoholism.

MRS. JOHN PESKE

Vista, Ca.

Disease Theory

I was disappointed in Russ Pulliam’s article, “Alcoholism: Sin or Sickness?” [Sept. 18]. The debate about whether alcoholism is a sin or sickness (disease) is purely academic in nature and has little to offer the reader. Alcoholism characterized as a disease is a functional definition, meaning it works! The disease theory short-circuits imaginary guilt about things beyond the alcoholic’s control, but does not relieve him/her from the personal responsibility, with God’s help, to recover.

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REV. BILL BRANHAM

First United Presbyterian Church

Reinbeck, Iowa

I am a Christian convert and a priest of the Episcopal church who stalled this year in the same parish church (18 years) as a recovered alcoholic. I underwent treatment in a medical center for the disease of alcoholism and, by the grace of God, have experienced my second basic conversion and newness of life.

Understanding alcoholism as a disease is one of the most important, urgent tasks of education in the field today. Utter misunderstanding of the disease concept and acceptance of the myth that the concept is not a scientific achievement, along with other myths held by so-called experts, sets back the clock and is an obstacle to the hope of recovery through treatment for alcoholics who are still suffering.

REV. EDWARD E. MURPHY

Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church

Merced, Calif.

Too Long Tongue-Tied

This letter is to commend your very excellent articles on the issue of beverage alcohol. This is a subject on which the mainline churches have all too long been tongue-tied, and usually by their silence have gone along with surrender to the traffic in liquor. We are helpless on this issue only because we have been content to be helpless.

Your dealing with the alcohol issue sets a pace that should prove an inspiration to preachers who have contracted lockjaw on this subject, and cause more of us to speak out clearly. The limited influence of the churches in this matter is related to the limited performance in our pulpits. This is the point at which we should make prompt and effective improvement.

ELMER L. BROOKS

Hutchinson, Kans.

Inaccuracies

Your article, “Members Send a Message by Electing a New Bishop” [Sept. 18], was flawed by several inaccuracies and incredible statements.

The newsletters mentioned in the article as being mailed to all U.S. Pentecostal Holiness pastors came from my local church and were edited by me. The newsletters never once questioned Synan’s motives or character. They dealt with an issue and the consequences of Synan’s position on and involvement with this issue.

Your statement, “Following what was assumed to be Williams’s lead, newsletters were sent …,” there was no lead by Williams or anyone else. We acted exclusively upon the proding of our own consciences and hearts and what we understood as our scriptural duty.

REV. HUEY A. MILLS

Trinity Pentecostal Holiness Church

Lancaster, S.C.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published. Since all are subject to condensation, those of 100 to 150 words are preferred. Address letters to Eutychus and His Kin,CHRISTIANITY TODAY, 465 Gundersen Drive, Carol Stream, Illinois 60187.

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