Christian author Tim LaHaye plans to move from San Diego to Washington, D.C., next month to establish a permanent office for his American Coalition for Traditional Values (ACTV) and to set up a political lobby. At a meeting last month in Washington, LaHaye met with ACTV board members to plot a strategy for boosting legislative goals, including a Human Life Amendment, religious freedom guarantees, antipornography laws, and a voluntary school prayer amendment.
LaHaye’s coalition includes 31 evangelical and fundamentalist leaders representing large constituencies of their own. They hope to increase their ranks to a total of 50 conservative Christian leaders. Prominent television preachers on the board include Jerry Falwell, Jim Bakker, and Jimmy Swaggart. Southern Baptist Convention president Charles Stanley and Assemblies of God general superintendent Thomas Zimmerman also serve on the board.
ACTV took shape before the presidential election to conduct a voter registration drive using a network of 300 volunteers from churches across the country. “When we had our first meeting, we said we were going to pursue a plan of starting in on one or two issues and hammering away until we saw the country move in a moral direction legislatively,” LaHaye said.
In addition, ACTV will try to interest Christians in government to the point where they consider civil service careers or party politics. For funding, LaHaye said the organization will not use direct-mail solicitations, which would compete with the ministry appeals of board members. ACTV will look to foundation grants, among other sources, for financial support.
ACTV’s tax status requires it to remain strictly nonpartisan, so a lobbying arm will be established to advocate specific bills in Congress. “Lobbying will not be a major function,” LaHaye said. “We’ll use it only on those issues where it is required.” He said he sees ACTV primarily as an opportunity for conservative Christians to communicate a consensus on issues of overriding moral significance.
Questions about the group’s nonpartisan nature were raised throughout the election campaign, because much of ACTV’s literature aligned identically with the Republican party platform. Three ACTV board members, Falwell, Swaggart, and Southern Baptist evangelist James Robison, testified before the Republican platform committee and lauded its final result.
Yet LaHaye said, after last month’s meeting, that ACTV “formally went on record as saying we are nonpartisan. We are an issue-oriented organization. We don’t want to be perceived as a promoter of one party. Any fallout help any candidate will get will be on the basis of his position on issues. Our ultimate dream for America would be to so raise the consciousness level on all moral issues that both parties would field candidates who reflect these views.”
Continued participation by some board members, including Bob Dugan, director of the National Association of Evangelicals’ Washington office, depends on how ACTV authenticates its nonpartisanship. Dugan said the “cross-fertilization of Christian leadership” provided by ACTV has helped already. “To know these people and to understand each other is of great value,” he said. “And it is of political benefit to the country to make common cause on moral concerns.”
Many of ACTV’s goals are shared by another organization that plans to move to Washington, D.C., from California. Christian Voice, headed by Colonel V. Doner, is best known for issuing “moral report cards” on members of Congress before each election. Doner, who serves on ACTV’s board, has said Washington is big enough for both groups.
Gary Jarmin, ACTV’s national field director during its voter registration drive, will return to his former position as Christian Voice legislative director. He will not retain any affiliation with ACTV.
Romanian Authorities Raze Another Church
The Romanian government last month destroyed the meeting place of a 500-member Baptist congregation in the city of Bistriţa, ostensibly for violating a building code. The pastor of the church, Nicu Minzat, was fined 6,000 lei, equivalent to $500 U.S., or about half a year’s salary.
Romanian authorities have razed 13 churches in the last four years, according to Christian Response International (CRI), a religious rights watchdog organization based in Washington, D.C. In September, the Romanian government threatened to demolish the Second Baptist Church in Oradea, the largest church in the country (CT, Oct. 5, 1984, p. 100). CRI’s Jeff Collins says public pressure from the West so far has prevented the government from carrying out its threat.
A New Revised Standard Bible Will Make Limited Use Of Inclusive Language
When the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible was completed 32 years ago, it met with harsh criticism. Some opponents called it blasphemous and modernistic. One North Carolina preacher stood in front of his congregation and burned a copy with a blowtorch.
In spite of such protests, the RSV caught on. Copyrighted by the National Council of Churches’ (NCC) Division of Education and Ministry, more than 34.5 million copies have been sold in the United States alone. However, criticism of the RSV might be revived when an updated version is published in 1990. According to the chairman of the translation committee, the modernized RSV will correct the King James Version’s “overmasculinization” of personal pronouns.
Bruce M. Metzger, emeritus professor of New Testament language and literature at Princeton Theological Seminary, chairs the RSV committee. He said inclusive nouns such as “one” or “people” will replace “man” or “men” where the Hebrew and Greek texts allow such usage. Some 30 Protestant, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Jewish scholars are responsible for updating the translation.
In 1946, the first edition of the RSV New Testament made use of some inclusive language. For example, Revelation 3:20 reads: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me [italics added].” In the King James Version, “any one” is translated “any man.”
The updated RSV will not, however, use generic nouns and pronouns in reference to God and Christ. In that respect, translation principles for the new RSV differ from guidelines followed by a committee producing the NCC’s inclusive-language lectionary. A collection of Scripture readings for corporate worship, the lectionary is a separate project of the NCC’s Division of Education and Ministry. It includes such changes in wording as “Child of God” for “Son of God,” and “Sovereign” for “Lord” and “King.” The second installment of the three-part lectionary was published in October.
Metzger said such changes in reference to God and Christ “tamper with the Word of God” and impose phrases on the biblical writers that they did not use. The 1990 RSV will, however, make second-person pronouns referring to God conform to modern usage. In the 1930s, the first RSV committee decided to use “you,” “your,” and “yours” for people, but retained the use of “thee,” “thou,” “thy,” and “thine” when speakers addressed God. In the current RSV, for instance, Jesus’ prayer in John 17:1 reads: “ ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son that the Son may glorify thee,’ [italics added].” But in the previous verse, Jesus’ words to his disciples read: “I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace [italics added].”
Such differences in pronouns “introduced a distinction not present in Hebrew or Greek …,” Metzger said. “In the Hebrew and Greek texts, the same form of the second-person pronoun is used in talking [both] to God and to people.”
He said discoveries of additional ancient manuscripts clarify the meaning of some biblical words and make the RSV revision necessary.
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