The New Abridged Supercondensed Bible (For The Very, Very Busy)

Who would ever have thought the world would stand still for the Readers Digest Bible? But is this condensation the last time God will ever say, “Let me be brief”? Deleted and gone in the RDB is one-third of the “not so important” Word of God. How do you edit? What do you cut? One contemporary writer thinks that people who are adept at shortening the Bible should take a crack at income tax forms.

I suppose those who whittle the Word down to size really are qualified to say what has to go if the Bible is to be as widely read as Harlequin novels. How much should we criticize these avant-garde editors? Everybody has to make a living, I guess. But how can even the best editors really be sure they have deleted only those temporal parts of God’s eternal Word? I can even accept their abrupt testimony that “the Word of God is alive and powerful, but a little lengthy.” Surely they are friends of all those who want to get holy in a hurry. And their message seems to be that God talks too much. After all, “Almost all Scripture is given by inspiration of God except that which is marked through in blue pencil.” We can only hope the RDB isn’t the beginning of a trend.

Once you throw out the “begats” and edit Leviticus, the only thing left is to shorten the more strategic passages for the society who may yet want to cut down their Bible reading—after they finish their TV dinners. If the trend in producing shorter Bibles continues, the process may one day finish the NASB-FTVVB in an amazing 32 pages of Cliff notes about the size of a Navigator memory packet.

And what of our favorite verses? Well—

Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd; with stick and staff we graze, laze, drink, and dwell.”

John 3:16: “God loved and gave and saved.”

Of the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension: “He was ridiculed, raised, and revered as he rose.”

There you have it, the gospel in a nutshell—the Word made so short that the impatient and neurotic can get to the meat of things and not waste time. The great Book of books that took 1,800 years to write required only 24 months to edit. Hallelujah! Or shall I just say “Hal” for short?


Complicated Scheme Of Salvation

As a former Roman Catholic priest, I want to voice loving opposition to “Catholics Begin an Evangelism Magazine” [May 20]. The author says the article in the first issue on how to be “saved” would look familiar in a Protestant magazine. Roman Catholicism promotes a complicated scheme of salvation that is not of God, not biblical. A true Protestant church with Scripture as the only objective standard of divine truth rejects salvation by human works.

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Mission to Catholics

International, Inc.

San Diego, Calif.

The Ncc’S Bad Press

Isaac Rottenberg’s article, “Why Did the NCC Get Such Bad Press?” [May 20], borders on the ludicrous if not downright insulting. The writer says (referring to NCC staff personnel), “Never have I caught any of them reading either Marx or Lenin.” Is he saying that if he doesn’t see it, then it ain’t so?

The NCC cannot be reconciled to biblical Christianity because it is ruled by the god of religious liberalism. As J. Gresham Machen said, liberalism is “a return to an unchristian and a subchristian form of the religious life.” There is no reason for evangelicals to try to reform the NCC because the answer lies not in reform but in an individual conversion experience with Jesus Christ.


Arlington, Va.

Perspective On Ríos Montt

Comments on President Efrain Ríos Montt of Guatemala in “Luis Palau: Evangelist to Three Worlds” [May 20] were refreshing, especially after having just read the recent and extremely biased National Council of Churches report on human rights in Guatemala. After only five days in the country, the four-person NCC team produced the standard leftist position on Guatemala (three brief, distorted, and almost apologetic mentions of guerrilla activity in a 14-page, highly politicized report chiefly rebuking Rios Montt’s army and government). Palau’s observations show us that, in spite of the slander, what Ríos Montt is doing by God’s grace is the best thing to happen in Guatemala in a very long time.


Eureka, Calif.

Is Something Wicked Wicked?

I highly applaud your efforts to bring us reviews of movies that are of special interest to CT readers. But as a social scientist who has been studying the impact of frightening mass media on children for three years, I must warn parents to think beyond Harry Cheney’s comments on Something Wicked This Way Comes [May 20]. Adults often have trouble ridding themselves of fear residues engendered by powerful cinematic images that they know depict events that are unreal and could never happen. Consider then the plight of the child, far less cognitively mature, who is told that there is a reality about the images in Something Wicked. I suggest that plight may be a very unhappy one. Rather than cause the child to turn from indifference in later life, this may cause the onset of undue fear and anxiety. Just because Disney movies have told us about the darker side of the universe does not mean that some scenes in some movies have not harmed the psychological health of our children as well.

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Madison, Wis.

C. S. Lewis wrote Christian allegories. Ray Bradbury writes fiction. To say that Ray Bradbury wrote Something Wicked as a Christian allegory would be in error. To sell the film as a Christian allegory is also in error. This comes mighty close to letting the “money changers” into the temple, and I am greatly offended by this.


Minneapolis, Minn.

The Evil Of Abortion

In “Why Prolife Rhetoric Is Not Enough” [May 20], Scott Reed and Paul Fromer effectively point out the fact that simply opposing abortion misses the mark. Our opposition will fall short of our Christian responsibilities if we do not also work to alleviate the real social and spiritual problems that provide ample pressures for women to look to even an abortionist for relief.

Churches need to speak against the evil of abortion and at the same time join financially or organizationally with those prolife organizations who have been active for years in the creation of Emergency Pregnancy Service Centers. Saving the individual lives of unborn children in your community by reaching out to pregnant women in distress will lend credence and compassion to your efforts to restrict the horrors of abortion.


Alternatives to Abortion International

Washington, D.C.

We were both pleased and disappointed with your series of articles “If Not Abortion, What Then?” [May 20]. Certainly there has never been a field more ripe for evangelical action than the one that confronts us in providing alternatives to abortion. However, you failed to give any coverage at all to one of the most valuable alternatives: adoption. Whenever abortion is discussed, adoption should be presented as a positive, loving alternative.


Phoenix, Ariz.

Reed, Fromer, and Clapp were able to illuminate but not condemn, find fault but not depress, and most of all, present the overwhelming challenge and still motivate me to action.


Clovernook Christian Church\

Cincinnati, Ohio

Identification Error

We appreciate your airing the “painful experience” the Commission on Voluntary Service and Action is enduring as a result of questions raised about what you call a “Marxist revolutionary party” [News, Apr. 22]. I regret that it erred in identifying me as “general secretary” of CVSA and therefore credited me with actions I only shared in rather than initiated. I am only secretary of the executive committee.

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Our main concern is that this “party” is so secretive. Our executive committee is not witch hunting but simply trying to be responsible to volunteers.


Commission on Voluntary Service and Action

New York, N.Y.

Once Gay, Always Gay?

It is true that homosexuals encounter many obstacles in overcoming their homosexuality. But the biggest obstacles they face are the skeptical attitudes of Christians who have been affected by the “once gay, always gay” lie, and personal feelings of despair and self-pity that keep them trapped in their old natures [“Homosexuals in the Church,” Apr. 22]. More and more people are discovering that they don’t have to be enslaved by their old natures. It isn’t just behavior that changes. There is also a change that touches the identity, feelings, and desires. Surrender to Christ really is the key. God is not interested in just helping his people refrain from the old, bad things. He wants them to be able to choose a whole new perspective on life, on themselves, and on those around them.


Exodus International

San Rafael, Calif.

As a Christian who previously identified himself as “gay,” I rejoice in my new identity. I’m free in Christ from who I used to be; I no longer center my identity in the temptations I feel—sexual or otherwise. Let’s not be guilty of selling short the life-changing power of Jesus. Our counseling center has dealt with thousands of former gays over the past decade. It is our experience that most individuals who prematurely leave our residential program do so not because they give up hope of change, but rather because God is beginning to change them—and they decide to hold onto their homosexual identity.


Love in Action

San Rafael, Calif.


In North American Scene [Apr. 8], you characterize People For The American Way as “dedicated to blunting the impact of conservative Christianity.” That is not true. Our chairman is John Buchanan, a Southern Baptist minister and a conservative Christian. While other board members are evangelical and conservative Christians, the board and membership reflect the diversity of religious faiths and political viewpoints in America.


People For The American Way

Washington, D.C.

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