A Christian Sex Ethic

It was with great interest and appreciation that we read Tim Stafford’s CT Institute article, “Great Sex: Reclaiming a Christian Sexual Ethic” (Oct. 2). It evidences a good grasp of biblical teaching and mature logic in application. It is refreshing after reading and hearing the teaching of many Bible teachers who seem bent on finding ways to accommodate those who have only self-interest at heart. I am going to file this article for future reference.


Columbus, Neb.

Stafford’s article for the most part met an acute need in the body of Christ. Unfortunately, the section on masturbation failed to take into account such biblical passages as Leviticus 15:16 and 22:4. Such passages do not explicitly declare masturbation as sin, but they do point to God’s displeasure at such action.


Portland, Oreg.

A fine article by Stafford—but the bibliography by Cook and Grenz proved to be typically Protestant: Only one reference addresses celibacy. Do we have to leave this area of Christian experience primarily to Catholic spirituality? Isn’t it high time evangelical Protestants began celebrating celibacy?


Missoula, Mont.

Politicizing the judiciary

Charles Colson’s column “Why Roast Bork?” [Oct. 2] misses half the problem. Colson complains that senators’ opposition, for ideological reasons, to President Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court threatens the Constitution’s balance of powers. But Reagan obviously chose Bork on ideological grounds, and nominations made on a transparently ideological basis invite opposition in kind. Colson is right to deplore the politicization of the judiciary; but to be consistent, he should advise Reagan to appoint a fair-minded jurist and not an outspoken ideologue. Those who are campaigning for Bork’s appointment are just as guilty of politicizing the judiciary as Bork’s detractors.


Wheaton, Ill.

For Colson to suggest that constitutional liberties hinge on the all-too-simplistic view of government’s three branches and their separate powers leaves out completely the public-policy development process and the intragovernmental relationships necessary to function in our complex world.


The California Southern Baptist

Fresno, Calif.

Colson makes historical and logical errors when he argues that the Founding Fathers intended for the Senate to accept the President’s choice, except in cases of “unjustified favoritism.” Quoting the Federalist Papers is like quoting the Democratic National Platform or the Republican National Platform. It represents one side of the argument, but in this case does not represent the consensus of the “constitutional framers,” as Colson argues.

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Knoxville, Tenn.

I don’t understand how the separation and balance of powers is the “… most direct Christian contribution to constitutional order” when it’s merely good political sense on the part of our constitutional framers, who were certainly not all Christians. Government is permitted by God because men are sinful, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that each government or political order is ordained by God. God doesn’t necessarily like all that he permits.


Keizer, Oreg.

A Vietnamese Bible

The news item titled “Translation Project: Scriptures in Vietnamese” [Oct. 2] mentions that “a team in the United States is working to produce the first Vietnamese Bible to be translated from Greek and Hebrew.” To set the record straight, Living Bibles International (LBI) has been working on a Vietnamese Bible since 1973 and expects to print a first edition before the end of 1988. That Bible uses Greek and Hebrew texts as primary sources.

LBI’S translators use as their main sources the original Greek and Hebrew texts and other available translations in the given language (such as the 1916 Vietnamese version mentioned). Living translations are thought-for-thought translations written in everyday language and are specifically designed to communicate to people of average education.


Communications Coordinator

Living Bibles International

Naperville, Ill.

The misinformation in this news item is remarkable. Apparently nobody checked with the Christian and Missionary Alliance or consulted their records. They entered Vietnam in 1911; the work stymied during World War I, but was pursued vigorously from 1918 until 1975. Bible translation became an urgent task. The William C. Cadmans in Hanoi and John Olsen in Saigon began translation work in 1918. In mid-1923 Vietnamese Christians received with considerable exuberance the first edition of the New Testament, and in mid-1925 the whole Bible.

A translation aimed at sixth-grade reading level may be worthwhile, but a reprinting of the 1925 Bible would immediately serve a useful purpose.

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Missionary to Vietnam, 1947–62

Fort Myers, Fla.


The recent Senate confirmation hearings of Judge Robert Bork had an unusual effect on our church. With the selection of church officers coming up next month, the nominating committee began taking its cues from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Each potential nominee was called in to answer some tough questions before nomination.

Prospective elders were asked about the original intent of Robert’s Rules of Order, and asked, “Do you consider yourself an ecclesiastical activist?”

Ushers were also grilled. “Have you ever owned, or do you now possess, a plaid sport coat?” Anyone with a beard came under more intense scrutiny.

And a potential chairman of the shepherding committee was disqualified when the nominating committee’s investigators uncovered his checkered past. As a junior higher he had written a letter home from camp confessing that he “hated the counselors.”

Most of our congregation is pleased that the nominating process is being so carefully handled.

But the nominating committee is having some problems of its own. The current members of the committee were found never to have held a prior post in the church—other than this one, where they ask other people to do the work.


Mourning a lost influence?

I came away from reading Harold Smith’s editorial “No Time for End Times” [Oct. 2] with the impression that what he is bewailing is not really the fading of biblical Christianity, but rather mourning for the inevitable loss of influence of premillennial dispensationalism. The complete cultural impotence of dispensational premillennialism—in the face of an ever-growing disintegration of Western society—is prima facie evidence that the dispensationalists do not have biblical answers for how the people of God are to use the written Word of God.


Church of the Master

Monroeville, Ohio

Our joy is glorifying God

James Hoover has missed the whole point when his review of Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, by John Piper [Books, Oct. 2] implies a “moral calculus that can ask, Will this make me happy?” The calculation advocated by Piper is “Will this glorify God?” That is the question. Our joy is in this.

Piper also addresses the question of disobedient “believers.” Those who seek the consolation of God without the concommitant obligation to honor God with obedience are not embracing Christian Hedonism, but mere hedonism, which is quite another thing altogether.

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Hillside Baptist Church

North Fork, Calif.

One picture is worth …

I can’t thank CT enough for highlighting the works of excellent artists—and sincere Christians—like Ed Knippers [Arts, Mar. 6], Sheila Keefe [Oct. 2], and others. A work of art, in any form, can be so eloquent and so radically creative in pinpointing the message that countless volumes of print or spoken homilies repeat, time and again, in words.


Christians in the Arts Networking, Inc.

Cambridge, Mass.

Keeping our religion private

As an admirer and former student of Will Willimon’s, I was somewhat taken aback by his article “The Chains of Religious Freedom” [Sept. 18]. He argues that in return for religious freedom, we in America have agreed to “keep our religion to ourselves” and so have “voluntarily qualified our loyalty to God in the name of the state.” I agree that the Christian church should not allow itself to be privatized by American culture. However, I doubt that this has actually happened to any great extent.

With the exception of about 50 years of fundamentalism and the withdrawing of sects like the Amish, most American Protestantism has engaged in an ongoing, even raucous, critique of the American political, economic, and cultural orders. At this moment, two Baptist ministers, at either end of the political spectrum, are running for President. This hardly seems like “privatized” religion.


National Foundation for the Study

of Religion and Economics

Greensboro, N.C.

I was overwhelmed by the article’s eloquence. I found myself underlining almost every sentence and circling every paragraph. If only this could be required reading for every Christian—even required memorization!


Concord, Calif.

New Age mysticism

The article “Under Fire” [Sept. 18] may be a valiant attempt to warn Christians against “New Age mysticism.” However, it merely skims the surface of a deadly and dangerous phenomenon of our day, namely the revival and spread of Eastern mysticism in many different forms into our Western world and culture. What is needed is a thorough, in-depth, understandable, explanation of the mental breakdowns that can result from the practice of non-Christian, pagan meditation (Eastern mysticism), along with a description of both the logical and the psychological reasons for this. As a former college and seminary professor, I know it can be explained in depth and answered in a convincing and scholarly manner.

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North Vancouver, B.C.

Richard Foster and David A. Seamands are well known for their glorification of the “imagination” of mankind. Has anyone noticed that throughout the Holy Bible there are 108 references to “imagery, images, imagination, imaginations, imagine, imagined and imagineth,” 107 of which are in the connotation of evil, the sole exception being 1 Chronicles 29:18. Foster and Seamands recommend the “sanctification” of this perverted faculty of humankind, as well as the process of “visualization” in their use by Christians. Why is it that if either process is important to the believer, it is not mentioned in the Bible?


Little Rock, Ark.

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