Ode To The Overhead

Turn in the Word and watch the screen

While I expose John Seventeen.

Point one’s begun, behold the Son.

(He’s outlined red.)

He kneels to pray; What does he say?

(It’s outlined blue.)

Here’s my thesisexegesis

Verse four’s my theme.

(It’s outlined green.)

And notice this—no aorist!

Jesus never strides a fence;

His verb here is the perfect tense,

Gesinius, Arminius, and Lenz agree.

Now let’s change slides:

Here I have shown

What leftist theologians think

(Get it? Leftist? Outlined in pink?)

Great scott! The bulb,

It’s blown! You’ll mark

The Holy God grows silent

When the screen is dark.

Miss Jones! Could you go out and get

A d.y.s. Sylvania (projector lamp)

There, in my office cabinet?

Be patient, folks, I’ll change the bulb.

What? What, Miss Jones?

There is no lamp?

Oh woe! No mighty rushing wind

Or tongues of fire!

And having eyes, we cannot see

The great verse three transparency.

Oh, how we long to set men free With lens and light technology.


Capital Punishment

There may be scant New Testament prescription for the death penalty; there is none in either Testament for incarceration [“The Death Penalty: Two Sides of a Growing Issue,” Mar. 2]. God appears to have authorized capital punishment, corporal punishment, involuntary servitude, and restitution as remedies for the sins of humans against one another. Would those who wish to abolish capital punishment be willing to reinstitute corporal punishment and involuntary servitude, or do they totally reject God’s remedies? The typical felon has no ability or means to make restitution aside from involuntary servitude (community service is a form of involuntary servitude that does not benefit the victim).

God deals in justice, mercy, and love in proportions that contribute to his own glory. Any benefit to us is a provident side effect. Theologically speaking, is it possible for an “innocent” person to be executed?


Vashon, Wash.

Tickled Pink

You’ve really done it this time! you’ve succeeded in tickling me pink! Kathryn Lindskoog’s “Did You Hear the One About Cardinal Sin.…” [Mar. 2] was, for obvious reasons, very personal. I had two possible options: I could sue your shirt off, or take it on the chin and grin and bear it. I chose the latter, of course. (Besides, if I had sued you, I might lose my subscription to CHRISTIANITY TODAY!)

Incidentally, my father is a doctor who practices neurology in the L.A. area.


Lincoln, Neb.

Urban Ministries

Barbara Thompson is to be commended for “In the Ghetto, Where Authentic Christianity Lives” [Feb. 17]. It well capsulizes many crucial lessons for those who desire to serve in urban ministry. I appreciated Tom Nees’s humble admission that he learned he could not hold an attitude of personal superiority over those he had come to serve but instead recognized that he was in the ghetto to work out his own salvation and thus “receive as well as give.” Some of the most despairing and defeated people in our society demonstrate a very deep and genuine faith by which I have been touched and blessed.

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Nees’s emphasis on the proper motives for urban service is also essential. People driven by guilt or idealism will not only experience fatigue and frustration but also risk misrepresenting the Christian life as something other than the joy-filled walk that it is. In urban ministry, living the Christian life is surely a struggle. However, it is not merely a struggle against the likes of external sin, evil, indifference, and injustice but also a fight against intrapersonal forces: the old man within that demands both rapid solutions to complex problems and enormous change when the will of God may be that one learns to accept and love an individual or a culture for what it is.


Lincoln, Neb.

Updike: Christian Art?

I was somewhat astonished to read Rodney Clapp’s evaluation of John Updike’s recent collection of essays and criticism, Hugging the Shore, and to find him so ready to leap to the conclusion that Updike’s work is a legitimate and, indeed, exemplary corpus of Christian writing [“The Generous Critic: John Updike” Mar. 2]. It seems to me that one would have to have an awfully broad understanding of the term “Christian art” to include the fiction of John Updike within this category.

Updike’s major works, rather than celebrate the glory of man made in the image of God and the central place of God’s will and His people in bringing the blessing of God’s covenant to earth, often promote instead the perverse and depressing, exploding these aspects of human experience up to some sort of cosmic norm. People are forever having children and swearing like sailors throughout the pages of Updike’s novels. Moreover, Updike’s low view of the church and its importance in the world takes on something of an evolutionary character.

Overall, human life is made out to be one continuing series of crises and depressions, and the only joy that anyone experiences is strictly momentary, fleeting, and on the whole relatively insignificant.

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Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Gundry Versus ETS

“Evangelical Scholars Remove Gundry for His Views on Matthew” [Feb. 3] sounds like a replay of what went on in the Catholic church some 40–80 years ago. Geisler has forced Gundry’s position to its logical conclusion, even if Gundry does not personally hold to such extreme conclusions. His position creates such possibilities and logically implies them. Biblical history is no longer reliable with Gundry’s method.


Aptos, Calif.

It is disturbing to me that so often we as Christians are guilty of intolerance toward the views of our brothers and sisters in Christ, especially on issues where there are no clear, definite answers. Too often we say, “Either you believe as I believe or you do not believe.” Too often we mistakenly make the Bible the object of our faith. We do not possess definite knowledge on questions such as inspiration. Yet, we choose sides, force others to choose sides, and shout judgments from both camps. Thus it is that the world lies waiting while we waste our energy fighting amongst ourselves.


Belle Chasse, Louis.

Hats Off!

Hats off to you for your fine article on pastoral responsibilities [“How Many Hats Does Your Pastor Wear?” Feb. 3], especially for that last line about the priesthood of believers, which put it all into the proper perspective. Each of the ministries you mentioned can and should be undertaken, at least in part, by gifted and trained “lay” persons in the congregation. But it would seem that it is too easy to forget that the pastor of a church is not the minister but rather an equipper of ministers who have all been gifted for the task by the Holy Spirit. If more pastors recognized this as their chief responsibility (Eph. 4:11–12), what a difference it would make to the cause of Christ throughout the world!


Honolulu, Hawaii

Naïve Statements

Richard A. Baer, Jr., understates the case when he says our schools are “one of our key structures” [“They Are Teaching Religion in the Public Schools,” Feb. 17]. Our schools are more than that. They are the roots from which grow our most precious commodity, our religious freedom. Today’s private school systems, motivated for religious, cultural, and political reasons, are springing up all around us. Many are sponsored by us evangelicals. Is this wise? Isn’t there danger that this splintering up of our children during their formative years may in time destroy our togetherness as a nation and in turn tear away at our religious liberty? The recent influx of Mexicans and Southeast Asians to our country, people who understandably want to share our liberties and our wealth, makes this need more urgent than ever. The thread that holds our nation together is a slender one.

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Let’s speak up for our public school educational system. Let’s pump in Christian teachers, and work on school boards and in the PTA SO our grandchildren can be assured of religious liberty also. Then let’s encourage our fellow evangelicals to phase out their well-meaning though dangerous programs of private school educational systems—and leave religious training of our children (ages 6 to 16) where it belongs, in our homes and churches.


Santa Clara, Calif.

’Tis strange that when nontheistic scientists admit their inability to prove evolution by logically coherent evidence but choose to give it credibility due to their inability to accept its only alternative, theologians accept evolution as the gospel. ’Tis strange, also, that when Christian scientists have no problem with a scriptural view of creation, theologians do. ’Tis strange—that is, until we recall that Darwin was an apostate divinity student. No wonder evolution is hotly debated in the higher levels of the scientific community and is generally accepted as fact only by those undereducated in science and overeducated in theology.


Laurel, Miss.

What Is Art?

With regard to “Must Art Be Christian to be Good?” [Feb. 3], Veith makes some very naı̈ve statements about art and the Christian community. To assert that “art as art is essentially neutral” is to misunderstand the very nature of art. Art communicates; it reveals a philosophy of life that brings it into being.

Art is a gift from God. Christians need to be aware of the power of the arts to communicate, to inspire, and to stimulate. While art cannot “be” Christian, it can reflect a philosophy of life compatible with the Christian faith.


Stone Mountain, Ga.

The Thinking Machine

Although I agree with some points made by Emerson and Forbes [“Living in a World with Thinking Machines,” Feb. 3], I would like to take exception to several others. While making several specific admissions of the limitations of AI, they nevertheless convey the impression that these will soon be overcome, with profound psychological and theological implications (even the quote from Jastrow recognizes that “sixth generation” machines will need to work with human intuition).

Furthermore, a memory that helps us learn is not “in a word, free will”; a machine that is given “the most rudimentary notions of mathematics” is not starting from “virtually nothing” in its development of mathematics; the ability to “create analogies,” even if developed, is not “the wellspring of imagination.” While many poets, artists, and scientists do not observe their creative processes, some do. It is not accurate to say that these people are “unconscious” and “… so are we much of the time.”


B.C., Canada

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