Sunday Night Nausea
Here is the church
Here is the steeple
Open the door and …
And … just as I thought. The people are where they usually are on Sunday night. It gets harder and harder to make sound decisions about where we are going to spend Sunday night.
The commandment calls to us: “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.” As for the Sabbath night—it is the night on which the TV superspectaculars beckon us to turn from the church and gaze into the blue glare. But what of Brother Drably’s sermon series and the youth musical?
I remember how for years my children complained that the wicked witch of the West had first died in 1939, and yet 30 years later they had never seen a Munch-kin. Oh, how they begged to stay home from Sunday night church and watch The Wizard of Oz. It seemed a small sacrifice at the time, but now the great serialized movies—Shōgun, Centennial, The Thorn Birds—all come on Sunday night. How can the church ever compete? Tom Sawyer once lamented, “Church ain’t shucks to the circus.” Tom spoke volumes about the lack of enthusiasm that many adults and most children feel, “Church ain’t shucks to Sunday night television, either.” Given a choice between video extravaganza and the droll show study series on “Israel in Nomadic, Precivilization History,” Sunday night church doesn’t stand much of a chance.
Some churches suffer needlessly. They may allow their Sunday P.M. show to degenerate into a kind of unplanned drift into “Singspirations” in which the “sing” never seems to have as much “spiration” in it as we would like, or a lecture film series on the Mark of the Beast and Israel’s return to Sinai. Or the church might spend big bucks to bring in a Schaeffer film series or a Dobson/Landorf film series. Sometimes a concert series is the answer for the church as it opens the doors to wow-wow athletes who can hold the attention of the youth for a love offering plus expenses. In spite of all this, Sunday evening services gradually move from the sanctuary to the little chapel for want of a major crowd. Still, churches hold in guilt the notion that all great churches stay true to the Almighty by keeping the doors open on Sunday night. The one-eyed monster has hypnotized the faithful, and the glitter it offers is more than enough to plague the spastic church torn between making the performance entertaining and the issue of real teaching and worship to the switched-off generation.
Nathan O. Hatch’s “Yesterday, The Key That Unlocks Today” [Aug. 5] tempted me to do the very thing it so ably warns against doing. I found myself picking (by underlining) out of the article’s “tapestry, only those strands that reinforce our [my] own points of view.” It expresses its ideas briefly and much better than anything I’ve read.
REV. O. F. WAGNER
SAINT MICHAEL’S LUTHERAN CHURCH
Two Camps Clearly Presented
Let me compliment you on the journalistic objectivity displayed by James C. Hefley in “The Historic Shift in America’s Largest Protestant Denomination” [Aug. 5]. I was pleased with his attempt to present clearly the opinions of the two camps. I am somewhat concerned, however, about the subtle but dim view that seemed to be expressed about our seminaries. The “moderates” are not the only products of our academic institutions.
Contact with liberal views on the seminary campus is a necessity, otherwise we lock up our orthodoxy in little boxes.
REV. MARK D. COOKE
Northside Baptist Church
West Columbia, S.C.
Your article concerning the Pasadena conference on nuclear war [News, July 15] reported some poor thinking about the just-war theory and its application to the policy of nuclear deterrence. The just-war theory provides criteria for a decision to actually conduct war—when to consciously and deliberately decide to start shooting. The whole purpose and thrust of nuclear deterrence is to prevent nuclear shooting. Therefore the just-war criteria cannot be applied, at least not in the same way.
The question that we must focus on is whether or not nuclear deterrence does a better job of preserving life and freedom than the available alternatives. The complaint that it is immoral to threaten to do what we should not actually do is vacuous. If threatening retaliation prevents actual war, then Christians, in the biblical role of peacemakers, should threaten retaliation. That may sound horrible, but war is actually horrible.
In the nuclear predicament we have a very good balance. On one hand, we have those who have alerted us to the terror of nuclear war, and on the other hand, those who encourage us to be strong and not succumb. The present balance between fear of nuclear war and unwillingness to be overpowered by another’s nuclear tyranny should allow us to move to that time when no nation can economically afford armed conflict.
REV. F. ARLIN NAVE
Mount Tabor Presbyterian Church
More Than Lethal
It was good to see your editorial “Drunken Driving: Are We Angry Enough to Stop It?” [Aug. 5]. I feel it is important that Christians take a stand on such vital issues of public policy and then to let the public know what that stand is.
Twice in the editorial there are references to blood alcohol content percentages: “1 percent blood alcohol” and “a 1.0 percent.” The correct figure is 10 or one tenth of one percent, commonly referred to as “point one oh.”
LARRY L. OLMSTEAD
Biblical World View Lacking
In her article concerning the Bob Jones decision [News, July 15], Beth Spring appears to take a very narrow sampling of commentary upon which to base her analysis. This is evident not only in the title’s use of the words “Ominous Implications,” but most particularly in her closing paragraph giving a passing comment that, although the decision advanced racial equality, the cost was not worth it. I was struck by the apparent lack of biblical world view in most of the commentary quoted.
I firmly believe that Jesus is indeed Lord, and that the Supreme Court acted as his minister (Rom. 13) in striking down racial discrimination and partiality that have no place in the Body of Christ. God will tolerate wickedness for so long, then he judges it, as taught in Revelation as a message for the ages. The existence of wickedness has no bearing on his lordship. As long as Jesus wants it, we will have tax deductions, and when he doesn’t, we will be the better for it.
JOHN A. TEETS
Useless And Antagonistic
In regard to “Those Strange Encounters” [July 15], I am disappointed in CT for publishing such a uselessly antagonistic article. As one who has also experienced that “overwhelming holy presence all around me,” the article leaves me with the feeling that the author is jousting at windmills, trying to examine with the minute human intellect an aspect of God’s glory that simply cannot be so analyzed.
REV. BILL GUERARD
State College, Penn.
Your editorial “The Central American Powder Keg: How Can Christians Keep It from Exploding?” [July 15], written with the assistance of William Taylor, is the most clear and helpful report on U. S. policy in Central America that I have read. Congratulations on the competence, courage, and wisdom with which it was written.
EUGENE L. SMITH
I commend you for speaking out on the matter and for the historical background cited out of which the present problems have emerged. My only problem is that you did not go far enough.
After stating (1) that the United States is hated in Central America because of its past support for the repressive and cruel Somoza regime and that (2) our government supplies arms to the government, wouldn’t it have been appropriate to ask Christians in our country to demand that our government cut off all “covert” aid to those forces that are trying to overthrow the present government? While the CIA has done such things in the past in Central and South America, they are neither moral nor legal according to international law. Furthermore, our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in Nicaragua are pleading with us to ask our government to stop such arms supplies to those forces that are killing their own people. Perhaps then Nicaragua can have a chance to become more economically stable and allow for more democratic free expression.
REV. STEVE MILLER
Community Bible Church
Esp For Christians?
I was angry when I read “ESP and the Paranormal” [July 15]. It seemed to reflect the belief that no miracles have happened since Bible times. Narrowly defined, of course ESP has no value for Christians. But it is not a synonym for spiritism or quackery. Extrasensory phenomena include Christian experiences such as intuitions, premonitions, and the gift of prophecy such as we find in the Bible.
WARD S. MILLER
The article seems most accurate from the scientific view. Yet the world of the Spirit and mystical are basic to most evangelical Christians in their conversion experience and their calling to Christian service. The Old Testament is full of prophecy concerning Christ, and this mystical tie unfolds in the New Testament. So I had some trouble with the spirit of the article, which took away the mystical. God seems to keep certain processes hidden in matters of divine intervention, for if a finite, self-centered man discovered by science the process of communication, he would tamper with and corrupt the signals. If we could understand these processes we would not reach for God or people by faith but by knowledge or ESP. Now, we just pray for others through God in faith, leaving it to the wisdom of God. It is noticeable that the Bible doesn’t give much support for the scientific world or the psychic phenomena. It calls for faith and faithfulness, which is coupled with hope and the greatest motive, love.
REV. DON H. THOMAS
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
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