Lite Gospel

What this country needs is a lite gospel. If everything from soft drinks to canned peaches is going lite, why not the gospel?

More than just a cosmetic faith-lift, the gospel needs a whole new image for modern times. What a difference a few modest changes could make:

Heavy gospel is bulky black Bibles with words of Jesus in red; lite gospel is a version that translates Nebuchadnezzar, Zerubabbel, and Jezebel as Waylon, Willie, and Dolly.

Heavy gospel is knowing doctrines like the Atonement, Redemption, and the ordo salutis; lite gospel simplifies systematic theology into a triune formula: Know yourself, love yourself, be yourself.

Heavy gospel is a day of fasting; lite gospel is skipping breakfast when you’re in a hurry, or grabbing a salad bar lunch instead of your usual Whopper.

Heavy gospel is an all-night prayer vigil; lite gospel is a few minutes of prayer and share.

Heavy gospel is Seven Deadly Sins; lite gospel is Seven Minutes with God.

On second thought, perhaps we don’t need to lighten the gospel. Maybe we just need to digest the one we’ve got more thoroughly.


Christian Jews

I read “Jews Who Believe in Jesus” [July 13] with great interest. I must say that a clear representation of Christianity, yes, even first-century Christianity, does not include rabbinic ceremonies and ceremonial objects. Therefore, the issue is not whether the Christian should witness to the Jew, but rather if the methods used to do so must, or even should, include the customs and traditions of rabbinic Judaism, particularly in an actual religious ceremony that is supposed to be Christian. Utilizing rabbinic Jewish practices not sanctioned by New Testament teachings as part of Christian religious services is heresy and cannot be excused by any circumstances.


Flushing, NY

High Expectations

In “What Do These People Want of Me?” [July 13] Douglas Scott relates unreasonable attitudes and expectations people have of a “pastor” and wonders how to handle them. But neither he nor most pastors or Christian magazines question our current accepted ideas about the pastorate. If honest scholarship would take a concordance and a Greek lexicon and find out what the New Testament actually says about “pastors” and the nature of the New Testament ministry, we could improve the lot of pastors as far as load and people’s expectation are concerned. We could also give God a chance to work in the church much more as he planned and wishes to.

The New Testament ministry is supposed to be “plural” (according to 1 Cor. 13, Eph. 4, Acts 20:17–35, etc.). This would divide the load and criticism (as well as the power).

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Wichita, Kan.

The Enigma of Robert Schuller

Thank you for your timely and penetrating article “Some Hard Questions for Robert Schuller” [Aug. 10]. I found the interiew illustrative of the continuing problems surrounding the man and his ministry.

While I dare not presume to judge Schuller’s motives or his relationship with Christ, I am forced to judge and discern the literature that he continues to put into print. The crux of the matter is simple—in print he affirms one thing; in private, cornered by evangelical theologians, he affirms another. Until Dr. Schuller says what he means and means what he says, in print, his private recanting only serves to further inflame the already infected wounds. Is there any wonder why evangelicals simply find it difficult to trust him? We want to—but do we dare?


Buena Park, Calif.

It seems to me Kenneth Kantzer’s illustration and the underlying attitude are rather superorthodox. Even the worst that Schuller’s critics can honestly say about him is that he is stringently orthodox in his theology but out of balance in his methodology. I for one would like to thank him for effectively showing us that sin is a condition before it is a behavior, a condition of helplessness from which Christ Jesus set us free by his forgiveness.


Marion, Ohio

Hard questions? Are you kidding? They were multiple choice, right or wrong. Once you got beyond the methodology apologetic it became a quiz on the Reformed doctrine test. Schuller knew all the answers.


Wheaton, Ill.

Schuller’s personal appearances, books, and statements by those intimately familiar with his ministry seem to negate his statements. If the statements made in the interview truly represent his beliefs, then I would encourage and implore this brother to let them be heard.


Deerfield, Ill.

Thank God for Dr. Schuller, one who looks for the good instead of the evil in us all. Bless him or blast him, he’s blooming where he is planted.


Seattle, Wash.

I was glad for your helpful and balanced assessment of Robert Schuller’s theology, especially of his doctrine of sin—which is certainly his weakest point.


Friends University

Wichita, Kan.

Schuller is entirely within his rights to select Jesus Christ over Paul as a model in reaching modern secular minds. But in doing so, he should recognize in Christ a far more exacting model, to both secularists and religionists, for he said: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself (self-esteem?) and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

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Colton, Wash.

Latchkey Kids

“After-school Orphans” [Aug. 10] simply highlights our church’s experience. We have operated a latchkey program for 12 years, after a local elementary school principal was beseiged with requests for after-school care. “Could members of our church provide that care?” was her request to us.

Although many churches in our area provide day care for preschool children, few have considered or established latchkey programs, though the need continues to grow. Recently, due to a time change at the elementary school level, working parents were presented with yet another dilemna, that of unattended children early in the morning. This prompted an addition to our latchkey program: we expanded it to include before-school care.


Tucson, Ariz.

Ministering to Refugees

I fully concur with Beth Spring’s assessment of the vital role American churches are playing in helping refugees resettle [“Refugees: Off Sinking Boats into American Churches,” June 15]. But to say that resettled refugees are, to use her phrase, “foreign missions incarnate” makes me uneasy; and to a certain extent, Spring shares my unease by conceding that some refugees are tempted to enter the church for opportunistic reasons. Of course they are—but so are other categories of people, including many native-born Americans. I think it better to speak of propagating the gospel to all non-Christians rather than singling out refugees or other segments of the population as if they were fair game for conversion.

Also, the title implies that resettlement in America is the sole or most important solution for refugees. It most emphatically is not, because there are other solutions that affect far greater numbers of people. The best one, of course, is for the refugees to return home voluntarily as happened in Nicaragua, Zimbabwe, and in other places. Resettlement to far-away third countries like the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—while certainly a solution—is, as we know, sometimes extremely difficult to effect and is in any case available to only a tiny fraction of the world’s estimated 15 million refugees.


World Council of Churches

Geneva, Switzerland

A Helpful Review

At last! A film review [Sam’s Son, Aug. 10] that is helpful and practical. As a film fan, a Christian, and a sometime film-literacy professor, I appreciate the other reviewers, and it’s obvious they’re conversant with the Pauline Kael, Time, and Newsweek reviews: we readers get all the subtle nuances non-cineastes would miss. But Thiessen’s review was helpful criticism, not just sophisticated, albeit accurate, reporting. I’m also a father and her word to parents and families was on target.

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Norfolk Christian Schools

Norfolk, Va.

Those Novel Evangelicals

In “Faith According to Fiction” [July 13], Christopher Lutes blasts the writers of recent novels for pernicious portrayals of evangelists and evangelicals. Lutes cites the authors’ ignorance as the primary cause for the unflattering characterizations of Christians he finds in these books.

Christians in general and evangelicals in particular are being vilified in the novels because of the traits we have come to share with film stars, sports stars, politicians, spys, and drug dealers—we now have power, money, mystery, and fame. No matter how discreetly we operate, our present political clout, the gross receipts of many TV evangelists, the charismatic gifts, and all the press attention we get lately can be worked into a good story.


Lancaster, Penn.

Win Some, Lose Some

I have subscribed to your magazine for several years and wish to commend you for the fine service you provide those of us in Christian ministry. I am in campus ministry at Ohio State University, and director of the Cult Information Service here at the United Christian Center. Your article in the August 10 issue relative to the Maranatha Christian Fellowship was most helpful.


Columbus, Ohio

It is with a feeling of sadness that I not renew my subscription to CHRISTIANITY TODAY. Somehow I feel I have lost an old friend; it is not the same magazine. There seems to be a liberal bent that will destroy the magazine just as it destroys churches and individuals.


St. Simons Island, Ga.

I just got the August 10 issue and was amazed. “Amazed at what?” you ask. No, it wasn’t the articles on Schuller or the juicy news stories or even the great column on fasting by Eutychus. My amazement was over the Letters to the Editor. People wrote you expressing appreciation for a certain article and then suddenly used that awful word—however. Therefore, I will make this statement: CT has received a lot of negative correspondence concerning recent articles and news items. However, I for one greatly appreciate the approach, style, and professionalism.


Lansing, Mich.

Letters are welcome; only a selection can be published. All are subject to condensation, and those of 100 to 150 words are preferred. Address letters to Eutychus and His Kin, CHRISTIANITY TODAY, 465 Gundersen Drive, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.

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