Unlisted Spiritual Gifts

I think the apostle Paul missed a few good bets when he was putting together his list of spiritual gifts.

In our congregation, the gift of procrastination ranks way ahead of such things as prophecy and preaching. Our board of trustees, for example, has managed to postpone repairing the church roof for two years by convincing the congregation that rainwater actually helps weather hardwood floors. Now that’s a gift!

Most evident, too, among our membership is the gift of buck passing. Why didn’t Grandma Goodwin get the customary African violet when she was hospitalized? Because the pastor didn’t notify the deaconesses, because the “Violet Request Form” hadn’t been reprinted, because the mimeograph machine wasn’t working, because the church secretary hadn’t ordered a replacement part, because the line was always busy when she tried to call.

Then there’s the gift of hindsight. (How could Paul have overlooked that one?) With 20/20 rear vision, virtually every member of our congregation can tell you we should have added a Sunday school wing to the church 15 years ago when prices were a fourth of what they are today.

“Procrastination, buck passing, and hindsight, and the greatest of these is …”—on second thought, I think I’ll stick with Paul’s list.


Marriage: Agape Love

John Stott’s excellent article on “Homosexual ‘Marriage’ ” [Nov. 22] may need the contribution agape can bring to it. Not only is heterosexual marriage a true ideal because of the nature of man and our original creation, it is also the only sexual relationship sanctioned by the meaning of love as agape.

The one-flesh love of husband and wife is said to be agape; “God is agape”; and “agape love never fails.” This powerful truth illuminates the darkness in which the homosexual invert finds himself.


Chula Vista, Calif.

The facts of biology buttress the contention that heterosexuality is prescriptively natural and normal and homosexuality is prescriptively unnatural and abnormal. Those who mistakenly think homosexuality is natural and normal fail to make significant and much-needed distinctions between human beings and animals, between prescriptive and descriptive normality, between (what Emerson termed) “the law for man” and “the law for thing.”


Arlington Heights, Ill.

Stott’s article censuring homosexual “marriage” is disturbing. To me, it is incredibly arrogant to decide on God’s behalf which acts of disobedience he will and will not tolerate in born-again Christians: namely, the supposed disobedience of Stott’s homosexual brothers and sisters in Christ.

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Cassadaga, N.Y.

I feel indebted to Mr. Stott for his careful and thorough arguments on both sides of the homosexuality question. He comes refreshingly close to acknowledging homosexual orientation in and of itself as an unchosen fact of life for many Christians and therefore outside the realm of morality. However, I don’t see that Paul’s line of reasoning in Romans 13 supports Stott’s contention that “love needs law to guide it.” I find just the opposite to be true.

Yes, I believe Paul objected to homosexuality, and he also regarded women as inferior and Roman slavery as okay. Why is it so inconceivable for evangelical Christians to see Paul’s vision of the gospel as necessarily limited in scope?


Davis, Calif.

Long-standing Christian abhorrence of homosexuality is heightened by the AIDS problem. Militant demands that Christians accept behavior they hate compounds these strong feelings. Some church leaders who rationalize and condone homosexual behavior add to the confusion. We Christians must struggle with morality while holding the door open to all who will hear Christ’s gospel. Christ died for the sins of all but made a clear call for sinners to repent and leave their sinful baggage behind. When homosexuals deny the sinfulness of their behavior, we are stymied in attempts to reach them.


Atlanta, Ga.

Using The Common Cup

The news item on the abandonment of the common cup by a Lutheran seminary [Nov. 22] included a quote from a layman, which gave the rationale for the seminary’s decision. In the Episcopal Church, competent medical authorities have studied the issue repeatedly. No one has ever traced a case of disease communicated through the common cup.


All Souls’ Episcopal Church

North Versailles, Pa.

Rogerian Good

I read with interest your recent articles responding to Dr. Carl Rogers and his influence in the Christian world [“Carl Rogers’s Quiet Revolution,” Nov. 8]. I fear Dr. Roberts did not read Dr. Rogers’s book to have made such a statement as, to “become … Rogerian is to cut oneself off from a necessary condition for becoming a mature, complete person—that of being responsible to others.” So why is nearly the last third of the book On Becoming a Real Person devoted to relationships, family, educational, even national?

I have become a more mature wife, mother, and friend because of Rogerian therapy. I am grateful for the love or “empathy” I experience because Dr. Rogers shared his abilities. I believe every good gift is from God, and this has been good in my life.

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Fredonia, N.Y.

Thank you for the articles by William Kirk Kilpatrick and Robert C. Roberts. Their clear articulation of the Rogerian psychology and its antithesis of Christianity was timely and very profitable.


Caronport, Sask., Canada

I found the articles mean-spirited. I regretted that I had read them—rather like listening to gossip. In contrast, how magnanimous the spirit of Paul Tournier, who speaks warmly and with enthusiasm of the contributions of Freud, Jung, and others to the understanding of human psychology.


Munster, Ind.

CT has performed a great service in analyzing the seductive and devastating theses of Carl Rogers, the former President of the American Psychological Association.

JOHN A. HOWARD, President

The Rockford Institute

Rockford, Ill.

I was struck by Kilpatrick’s statement that “psychologists have never been able to keep their noses out of religion.” I agree, but I feel that the reverse is also true—that religion has never (at least lately) been able to keep its nose out of psychology.

This is not to say the church should keep her hands off healing broken minds and relationships, but we should recognize and label the difference between Christian faith and psychotherapy. They are not interchangeable. Mixing the two indiscriminately could be a subtle and deadly way to forget the central Christ who calls us not to mental wholeness, but to eternal life.


Leetonia, Ohio

It is incomprehensible to me that Roberts’s article could have been written by a professor of philosophy, and even more so from such a prestigious institution as Wheaton. If I’m going to be forced to choose between “pagan empathy” or “Christian love,” I’ll take empathy every time. I’ve tasted both and there is really no contest.


Dunkirk, N.Y.

One spin-off of any self-fulfillment philosophy is the increasing refusal of its adherents to answer honest questions. Apparently “guilt-free” means no obligation to respond to your fellows, only to listen. No need to debate, just wait out your opponent like a smiling, tolerant Buddha.


Mendota, Ill.

I don’t understand: on page 23 it is stated that Carl Rogers is 75. So he must have been born in 1910. Then the line under his picture shows him on his honeymoon in 1924. He looks to be more than 12 years old in the picture with his wife.

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Long Beach, Calif.

He was either an early bloomer—or born in 1902, which Who’s Who in America more accurately states.


Thirty Years Overdue?

Thank you for the splendid piece on “The Sexual Hazards of Pastoral Care” [Nov. 8]. As a 64-year-old Baptist General Conference former pastor and denominational youth executive, I am seeing some of my peers—only a few, not many, fortunately—fall by the way-side because of this problem. If only you had written this article 30 years ago, and they had read it, perhaps their troubles would not have happened.


Santa Clara, Calif.

A Precious Relationship Lost

“Three Women out of Four” by LaVonne Neff on widows in the church is accurate and timely [Nov. 8]. For the word “widow” you could substitute “divorcee”—for we, too, have grieved deeply the loss of life’s most precious relationship.


Durham, N.C.

I am a new widow—of a pastor. When a person of our church dies, the family calls the pastor. When the pastor dies, who does the pastor’s wife call? I could think of no one! I had to wait upon the Lord to see whom he would bring in my time of need. It’s rough being a widow.


Gardner, Mass.

The idea of a widow’s support group in the church must be discussed and plans for it laid before there is one widow to be served. Yet there is a kindred group that is overlooked when the subject comes up: widowers, particularly those with small children. I know, because for six-and-one-half years I was there.


Ramsey, N.J.

A Kantzer Home Run

Kantzer has hit a homer. His editorial “In Search of Heroes” [Nov. 8] has properly placed the bulk of the responsibility for the loss of integrity in American athletics, not upon the athletes themselves, but upon society as a permissive audience. After all, it was we who made Mary Lou Retton an expert on batteries.


Blaine, Wash.

We have a problem in the athletic world because the attitudes of many Christian leaders discourage Christian young people from getting the proper education and training and entering the field of physical athletics. We must begin training Christian coaches in our colleges who understand physical education and athletics and who can integrate it with a Christian philosophy of education. If “athletes remain the principal role models of young Americans,” we cannot cut off from the Christian academic community the one field of study that can make an impact in this area.

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I am one of only three physical education majors on the 55-man travel squad that played my senior season in the Orange Bowl. I am a Christian who believes there is something wrong in the educational system, and I am determined to do something about it and not leave the athletic field and the gym to the rule of Satan.


West, Tex.

Kantzer has a historically inadequate view of sport in the “good old days” as well as an opposing selective perception of the “bad new days.” Has sport changed? Yes and no, but nowhere to the degree he suggests. Sport is a strange mixture of myth and reality, and the reality has a seamy side we would prefer not to notice. Perhaps the only change Kantzer has noted, but inadequately assessed, is that sport in 1985 is less an arena of idealized projection and fantasy within American society than it once was. Our selective memory has played tricks on us again.


Wheaton College

Wheaton, Ill.

Redaction Criticism: A Helpful Discussion

Thank you for the CT Institute on redaction criticism [Oct. 18]. I felt the discussion was extremely helpful and balanced. These are issues with which evangelicals must wrestle, and I appreciate your time and energy in helping pastors and other leaders think this one through.


Friends University

Wichita, Kan.

It concerns me that we have compassed the circle once more. Are the “scholars” again telling the lay Christian he cannot understand the Scriptures without their first digesting it? Are we, then, after two millennia, at terminus ad guem or terminus a quo? God help us have a sense of humor—or must someone redact this too?


Alta Loma, Calif.

Thanks for including Bob Thomas’s clear, concise, and insightful comments. His view provided at least token balance in an otherwise unanimous approval of evangelical use of redaction criticism.

One is at a loss to understand why this redaction “baby,” conceived and nurtured by liberals, has been mutilated and then adopted by evangelicals. Why did Matthew, Mark, and John need to redact someone else’s material when they were eyewitnesses of the events whose memories were supernaturally activated by the Holy Spirit to recall “all” that Jesus said?


Dallas Theological Seminary

Dallas, Tex.

Why not a layman’s opinion: How ridiculous can a group of professors get? As the saying goes, “The only reason for the giraffe being what it is, it must have been put together by a committee.” To me, redaction criticism has the same effect as giving a child a knife and telling him to see if he can find what is in his toy drum that makes it go “boom-boom-boom.”

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Newell, S.D.

At issue is “biblical inerrancy.” This doctrine necessitates that every line of Scripture have the same level of truth; none can be given any weight greater than any other. Redaction criticism, like form criticism before it, gave greater weight to “the earlier source,” if not directly at least by implication.

Redaction criticism leads to heresy from the fundamentalist, evangelical view. This kind of Christianity, like any authoritarian system, cannot stand heresies.


Los Angeles, Calif.

Several years ago I “invented” the following definition: The Bible is an imperfect tool in the hands of God to lead us to The Perfect Solution. You see, no matter how perfect the Bible would be, if it did not have in it The Perfect Solution we would still be dead. It seems like a corporate effort, God watching over what really matters versus the writers displaying their own individuality. It makes sense to me.


Pleasant Hill, Calif.

More Babies To Adopt?

In the article “Where Have All the Babies Gone?” [Oct. 18], the premise seemed to be that infertile couples “need” a baby. We may feel that we need many things, including children, but are we willing to accept that infertility may be in God’s will for our lives in much the same way that some are called to be single?

As Christians we must examine our motives in the prolife movement. Do we really believe that abortion must be stopped because we believe in the sanctity of human life created by God, or do we hope that the Roe v. Wade decision will be reversed so there will be more babies to adopt?


Gainesville, Fla.

In the article, Bill Pierce’s comparison of open adoption to open marriage is a blatant misrepresentation of the issue. Closed adoption has not adequately addressed the needs of many people. It has perpetuated unresolved grieving on the birth-parents’ part, and made it difficult for adoptees to be at peace with their adoptive identity when the circumstances surrounding the adoption are shrouded in secrecy and mystery. How much healthier to give the various parties in the adoption the option of openness.


Christian Adoption and Family Services

Anaheim, Calif.

Evaluating Rock

I found your guilt-by-association article on Amy Grant most disturbing [Oct. 18]. What is this bit of editorializing doing in your “News” section? Who are the “many Christian listeners” who “reacted negatively” to Unguarded? Who defines what “hard-edged” rock is? Such a subjective issue as what constitutes “rock” is difficult to categorize and evaluate.

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Sunland, Calif.

Praise God for young women like Amy Grant. When Amy crossed over the charts, my girls were so excited to be able to tell their friends at public school that this great sound with the beautiful message was one of their favorite Christian artists, and no one could call it boring!


Mt. Pleasant, Pa.

Growing Christian Smugness?

Thank you for the excellent editorial by Cornelius Plantinga [“The Justification of Rock Hudson,” Oct. 18]. His amazing way with words riveted me to my seat as I read, and then reread, the editorial. But most important, in relating this story current in our thinking, he also calls the current furor a nutrient for growing Christian smugness. Keep up the good work—and while you’re at it, have Dr. Plantinga write another editorial soon.


United Presbyterian Church

Follansbee, W. Va.

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