The (Beeping) Reverend

I recently saw an advertisement of an electronics firm bragging that they were the “beeper people.” When they unearth our society in future years, they will find the microelectronic signal boxes clamped around the hurried corpses of twentieth-century skeletons.

Let us pray our era will not be dubbed by future anthropologists as the age of the beeper people. Nothing annoys me quite as much as those offensive electronic gadgets that—while individually owned—disrupt whole audiences of people. Beeping and buzzing are offensive in church. Who has not been offended during the awesome silence before the final hallelujah of the “Hallelujah” chorus to find that in the three-beat rest a cheap watch in the tenor section is vigorously playing “The Yellow Rose of Texas”—not just the chorus, mind you, but the entire computerized piece.

Here, in the very house of God, beeps and buzzers are reigning over every silent moment, calling us in the joy of our worship lest we forget Texas Instruments Incorporated. Remember back when you had to ask, “Is there a doctor in the house?” Never again! Now, for every doctor present we hear a beep and a 10-word electronically nasal message asking them to call somebody, somewhere. Ten doctors in a church service is complete sermonic destruction. In fact, 10 doctors and 15 real estate men will make every worship service sound like the dashboard of the starship Enterprise.

But it is not physicians who most annoy me. I am most offended by “beeping reverends”—“hot-wired” shepherds who wear their electronic gadgets during the service. Preachers, long offended by beeping physicians and real estate salesman, should doff their beepers and join the race of those who are not so important that they must be able to be notified at all times. Most preachers will not disrupt their own services by wearing a beeper, yet they will wear them to movies, rotary meetings, and even solemn community affairs, Communions and weddings. If it is an electronic grudge, it is a fruitless vendetta that plunges all meaningful human intercourse into a world of beeping mockery. Consider what beeping reverends have done to the great sacred moments:

“Do you, Jenny [beep, beep], take John to be your lawful wedded husband [call 555–7865] … say ‘I do.’ ”

“Those of you who wish to know Christ as your Saviour should [beep, beep—John could you pick up milk and bread for dinner on your way home?] come forward and receive him as Lord.”

“Are there any [beep, beep] prayer requests?”

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“Tonight the pastor’s sermon will be on the “Destructive Sexual Revolution” [beep, beep].

To every beeping pastor who has been so offended, I beg of you, help silence the electronic din. If you need a text to stand on, try Psalm 46:10. Discard your beepers and set an example of creative silence.


Hurry, Hurry, But Go Slowly

Eutychus, you’ve done it again! With the expertise of a homing pigeon you pivot precisely on our appraisal of “The New Abridged Supercondensed Bible” [July 15]. Why? Are we moving so fast that we need to cut a “whit here” and “slice there” so we can polish off our Bible reading “at computer-like” speed?


Dallas, Tex.

Central America Problem

I could hardly believe my eyes as I read the July 15 editorial, “The Central American Powder Keg: How Can Christians Keep It from Exploding?” Congratulations on daring to say that the problem is not merely a sinister Communist plot but a struggle for justice and economic survival. And thanks for the observations regarding the economic oppression of the Somoza regime and the positive statements regarding the Sandinistas. I am grateful for your telling us how Central Americans view the United States because of its continuing support given the Somoza followers. Let us pray that our President and his advisers read this splendid editorial and act on it!


Oakland, Calif.

When it comes to foreign policy, many evangelicals are extremists. Usually, on either end of the spectrum, the information and “facts” are often grossly distorted, the terminology typically ambiguous, and the positions presented erroneous. Such was the case of your editorial.

When Hitler rose to power, the evangelical community, by and large, slept. As Stalin began his reforms and murdered millions of Russians, hardly a cry was heard from the church. The threat of communism, expressed in this day in many languages and cultures, is as much a threat to the evangelical viewpoint as it is to a clear concept of personal freedom. It is an error to excuse the Sandinistas and a greater one to encourage them. Perhaps the greatest error is the inability of evangelicals to gather data and then evaluate it within a biblical framework.


Kernersville, N.C.

Abortion—A Solution?

Smedes had an interesting idea. Unfortunately, the arguments he gave are not “in favor of abortion” nearly so much as they are opposed to using the law to control it. What was needed was either a discussion of the morality of abortion itself or a discussion of the morality of controlling it by legislation.

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Many actions are considered evil by evangelicals without an immediate need being felt to control them by legal means. I suggest that the groups concerned about abortion should be working to produce educated and informed choices and to provide alternatives (such as adoption) to women who do not want the child (for whatever reason).


Fort Riley, Kans.

To Sing Or Not To Sing

I realize that Dinwiddie was speaking primarily to Christian music artists and music ministers in his article “The God Who Sings” [July 15]. While music is an important part of a church service, we must not let the music minister or artist do all of our singing for us. Yes, we should fight mediocrity wherever it appears, and this is not intended to say that we less-talented folks should be allowed to do special numbers whenever we feel like it. But we sould sing out in corporate and private worship, unafraid and unashamed, aware that our Father not only appreciates “good music,” but that he also enjoys the simply sung “I love you” of every one of his children—even if it is a trifle off pitch.


Indianapolis, Ind.


Dr. Myers’s suggestion [“ESP and the Paranormal,” July 15], popular in current theology, that there is no nonmaterial essence in human nature surviving us at death, marks a departure from historic Christian understanding—both Roman Catholic and Protestant—and runs loggerheads against massive Scriptural testimony. Christian writers need not appeal to ESP as proof of the existence of such an essence, commonly referred to as the soul; all they have to do is read their Bibles.

To be sure, the blessed hope presented to us in Scripture is the resurrection. But resurrection need not cancel out the lesser and intermediate but nonetheless bright and scripturally based hope of the believer for a conscious entrance into heaven. When death comes to our Christian families we can still tell our children, “Grandpa has gone to be with Jesus.”


First Reformed Church of Alexander

Alexander, Iowa

I agree that this is a realm that is not provable scientifically. It is not a scientific realm. I agree it is not consistent in performance, yet Myers sidesteps some major facts. “Fortune tellers” operate three ways: (1) power of suggestion; (2) deceit and lies; and (3) genuine foresight. The first two are by far the largest realm. It is true that suggestion, deceit, and lies are “human power,” but “foresight” is not. Demon power operates here and is not totally reliable. If I read correctly, Myers seems to think all ESP is human power.

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I know of no occult practices that cannot be brought to a halt by genuine Christians praying and commanding the demon powers verbally in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of the act.


Nappanee, Ind.

Christian Or Satanic?

Thank you for the review of Return of the Jedi [July 15]. Star Wars is not a Christian drama. But its salute to the noble and lovely should delight us. We can help thrilled viewers to realize that their heart excitement springs not from fantasy but from Reality: we really are invited into a life more vibrant and large than that on the screen—to a battle eternal in its importance, and to a love communion unspeakably deeper than Yoda’s link to the “Force.”


Raleigh, N.C.

It is my hope that, for some reason, Mr. Cheney missed the significant point of the film’s message rather than to have to conclude that by its omission he intended to endorse Satan’s universal lie. In these days, when one can discover a new theology being expounded at every turn, had Harry Cheney’s review been found in a secular publication, it very likely would have been passed off as just another example of pollyannish morality, a theology intended to support the humanistic claim that “good” can be found in everything. However, it remains my prayer that those reading the review in CHRISTIANITY TODAY will not come to the conclusion that the message of the Return of the Jedi may properly be accepted as just another way of understanding God’s truth concerning “good” and “evil” in the world of reality.


Brockton, Mass.

Declaration—Not Of Independence?

“Did America’s Founding Fathers Stand on the Word of God?” [June 17] encourages some common fallacies concerning the Declaration of July 4, 1776. That Declaration was not of independence. It was a Declaration concerning the establishment of an international state under “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” Independence had been established on July 2, when Lee’s resolution was adopted. Jefferson was the author of the draft of the Declaration, which he prepared as a member of the drafting comittee. It received many changes before its enactment. A principal one was to assure that this charter of a new international political society had in mind the personal God of Galileo, Grotius, Newton, Locke, and Blackstone, who “gave man two books—nature and the Bible—” not a deist God. The Congress even changed the draft’s language to correspond with Lee’s resolution of independence, which it had previously adopted.

The Declaration was also the customary assertion of inalienable human rights, and of the purposes of government.


Institute of Jurisprudence

Washington, D.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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