Eutychus: Goodbye And Hello

The wit of Eutychus has been with CHRISTIANITY TODAY since its inception. He (or she) has actually been a succession of writers, with custom dictating that each Eutychus be announced upon retirement from the column. We can now reveal the latest Eutychus: Calvin Miller, pastor of Westside Baptist Church in Omaha, Nebraska. A gifted storyteller and natural poet, Miller is the author of many books, including the acclaimed Singer trilogy (IVP, 1979) and his recent If This Be Love (Harper & Row, 1984).

With this issue, a new Eutychus goes to work. For now, we have nothing else to say about him. Or her.

Saint Petro’s

A friend recently wrote about an all-too-common problem:

“My family is having trouble finding a gas station to attend,” he wrote. “After moving here last year, we did a lot of station hopping, but none of the local stations are like our old station back home. Our expectations aren’t unreasonable—we just want a place where the whole family can fill up each week. But finding a station we all agree on isn’t easy.

“I think any station we join should have early service. No sense wasting the whole day. My wife feels the attendants have to be friendly, people you can talk to about normal things, not just carburetors. My son, who’s done just enough reading about station administration to be opinionated, says the order of service is important. ‘No one should wash windows before checking the oil,’ he claims.

“What should we do?”

My friend’s plight prompted me to do some background reading. At one time, I read, people did not have such worries because there weren’t any choices. Standard stations were virtually the only ones you could go to. My parents, I remembered, went to Parrish’s Standard, the only station in town.

But an obscure grease monkey named Marty began pointing out the dangers of indulging a monopoly. Before long, the monopoly was broken up, and different stations began appearing, sometimes four to an intersection, each claiming it offered better service, nicer facilities, higher octane, or some special additive.

From time to time, fads swept the industry. One was down on the institutional station. Younger drivers began saying, “Gas yes, stations no.” They suggested people have pumps at home. These house stations were nice in theory, but no one ever developed one that could last more than a few years.

Lately self-service is the rage, a concept actually based on one of Marty’s original gripes against Standard—every driver should be able to pump his own gas. So far it seems to be working, though some say we don’t yet know the effect this less-glorified role will have on attendants. Some drivers already complain that self-serve leads to apathetic operators. Others point out that when your engine needs work, you can’t go to the local station anymore. Mechanics are specialists now, each with his own shop.

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Before I could reply to my friend, he sent a note:

“One of our neighbors is disgusted with all gas stations because ‘they just feud with each other’ and ‘they’re just after my money.’ So he stopped going anywhere. Of course, his tank is always empty too.

“I don’t think that’s the answer. I’m coming to the conclusion that as long as the gas hasn’t been watered down, I’ll keep buying, even if the station isn’t quite like the one back home.”


Weeping Over the Children

After reading Rodney Clapp’s article, “Vanishing Childhood” part I, [May 18], I was easily able to imagine God in heaven, crying over the children of the world throughout history.


Olivet Baptist Church

Lancaster, Calif.

The remark Clapp quotes about Charles Lamb was made at a time when Lamb was feverishly ill. Furthermore, nowhere in that letter of April 1833 is it implied that the child in the next room had died; it had merely been removed. Lamb loved children. I should hope that the writings of one whose noble kind spirit has so warmed and encouraged the imaginations of other writers would not be avoided as monstrous on the basis of an uncharacteristic sentiment uttered in private during a moment of weakness.


Denton, Tex.

I am intrigued by Clapp ascribing fatherhood to Charles Lamb. I’ve always thought that Lamb was a bachelor. In fact, John Buchan in his History of English Literature wrote unequivocally, “Lamb was never married.” Does Mr. Clapp know something I don’t?


Sharon, Penn.

Mr. Clapp only said that Lamb had a “common parental experience,” not that he was the child’s father.—Eds

Religion Is Not a Social Club

Unfortunately, the bill Kenneth Kantzer suggested in his Editorial “The ‘Separation’ of Church and State” [May 18] as “an excellent example of ‘accommodation without preference and without coercion’ ” is not the ideal solution. Religion cannot be compared to social clubs or stamp collecting! Under this bill, children would be actively proselytizing within the school. This could sharply divide students in schools where a diversity of religious groups exist. Problems like this do not occur between social clubs.

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Rockville, Md.

When Marriage “Dies”

I appreciated very much Walter Wangerin’s attempt to deal with “the sort of grief that follows divorce” [“On Mourning the Death of a Marriage,” May 18]. Too often the church has been so preoccupied with the issue that it has neglected the people who have been deeply wounded by the experience. But I find the logic that claims a marriage is “dead” before the divorce actually takes place dangerous and unbiblical. I see no such distinction in Scripture and am concerned that such thinking will add to the other nonbiblical rationalizations Christians are using to free themselves from the necessity of working through the serious difficulties we sometimes face in marriage.


Bethel Baptist Church

Aumsville, Ore.

Wangerin speaks of “me” and “you” and “we”; the last being “a living thing—the life in a marriage.” Scripture speaks of “two becoming one flesh. Vows do not make a marriage; vows are a promise to become “one flesh.”


Monroe, Wash.

Eschatology and Missions

Your news coverage of the TSFM meeting at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School [May 18] reflected accurately its theme, which had to do with the effect one’s eschatology has on the way he will do missionary work. It is regrettable that early in the report it was stated that “At issue was which view of the millennium provides the best motivation for spreading the Christian witness.” Neither Richard Lovelace nor I tried to present our respective views of the millennium as the best motivation for missions. We were really seeking to show how eschatology affects the nature of missions.

The CT reporter stated that I separated myself not only from amillennialism but also from dispensational premillennialism. Such was not the case. I regret dispensationalists’ tendency to divide the people of God into blocks and to deemphasize the reality of God’s kingdom here and now.



Wheaton, Ill.

Philip Yancey Aye and Nay!

Who is Philip Yancey, this Editor at Large? Did he write “The ‘Atrocious’ Mathematics of the Gospel” [Open Windows, May 18] to infuriate readers, or just to get our attention? What on earth could he have in mind, questioning Jesus or the Word? Perhaps I am naı̈ve, but to agree with Judas that to break a pint! (his emphasis) of perfume on the very feet that would be pierced on the cross was bad economics, makes me question Yancey’s point of view.


Gulfport, Miss.

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The first thing I do when CHRISTIANITY TODAY arrives is check the table of contents for an article by Philip Yancey. If there is one, I know I am in for an intellectual and spiritual treat.


Eagle, Idaho

I would not mind the article so much if he had merely stated the different values and worths found in the Bible. But he digs into the Gospels and tears apart the dignity in the parables of Christ. If the article were intended to amuse, then Yancey shouldn’t have tried so hard to side with everyone in the parables except for Christ.


Grand Haven, Mich.

Mr. Yancey suggests readers might try reading his article as satire—which is what he intended.—Eds.

The WCC and Evangelicals

The April 20 Editorial, “Winds of Change in the World Council?,” provides a succinct and helpful agenda for future discussions between the World Council of Churches and evangelicals, however much some of us in the WCC might wish to debate your analysis. Some of us will want to agree with parts of it, while questioning other portions. It may be of some interest that the WCC has a Task Force on Relations to Evangelicals, and I have been appointed moderator.

I agree that our future discussions may well focus on “essential truth,” what the Christian faith really means. I thank God that pure doctrine is not our entry pass to heaven, but that search for the essential truth of Christian faith and action is crucial for us all.


World Council of Churches

Geneva, Switzerland

Contrary to the implication of your Editorial, I took no part in the drafting of the evangelical Open Letter, although I concurred with its positive conclusions.


Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

South Hamilton, Mass.

More Church Growth

I read with interest “The Greatest Church Growth Is Beyond Our Shores” [May 18]. I was surprised that you did not acknowledge the work of the Church of God in the areas listed. During the past ten years we saw a 79% increase in the number of churches in Central America. All around this world we are seeing the harvest gathered.


Church of God

Cleveland, Tenn.

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