An Incongruous Reach

Ruth Tucker’s article “In Search of Respectability” (Feb. 5) was well written, timely, and helpful. Mormon friends have been seeking our participation in the Mormon-dominated Institute for Constitutional Education. We have not found peace of mind in doing so.

There is something incongruous about this reach for cooperation (respectability) on the part of a church that teaches its missionaries that “as far as all religious organizations now in existence are concerned, the presence or the absence of this [Melchizedek] priesthood establishes the divinity or the falsity of a proposed church” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 479, by the late Bruce McConkey).

Jim and Betty Truxton

Fullerton, Calif.

Faith Versus Works

John R. W. Stott wants to know why “if justification by grace alone through faith alone is now believed by both” Protestants and Catholics, the Catholic church hasn’t changed its beliefs and practices (“The Remaking of English Evangelicalism,” CT Institute, Feb. 5). Well, for one thing, while the ARCIC theologians did agree that salvation is by grace alone, they refrained from denouncing James 2:14–26, and agree with what C. S. Lewis said about faith in his Mere Christianity.

If Stott believes justification is by faith alone, does he denounce going to church, reading the Bible, and making an act of faith (or “accepting Christ”) as vain works that avail not? Or does he feel, at least in these situations, that “you see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works” (James 2:22)?

Don Schenk

Allentown, Pa.

Godly men like John Stott, Dick Lucas, and Jim Packer removed themselves from leadership opportunities by maintaining—in practice if not theology—the cessation of certain gifts of the Spirit. Younger evangelicals, such as the late David Watson, waited for them to lead the way, but when they would not, the mantle of leadership fell to others.

All over England there are evangelical-charismatics—what Peter Wagner calls the “Third Wave”—who are concerned with moral purity, doctrinal correctness, and equipping the saints. What they have not concluded is that Stott’s gifted style of expository preaching, nor his Reformed theology, are the only means of reaching those objectives.

George Mallone

Grace Vineyard

Arlington, Tex.

Error Mixed With Truth?

Your February 5 cover caught my eye: [“The Recent Truth About Seventh-day Adventism”] was a surprise to me. I turned to the article and read what I suppose the author submitted as the “gospel truth.”

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I have been a Seventh-day Adventist for 34 years and did not find the author describing me or my church as fully as the title seems to imply. What I did find is error mixed with truth. He seems to be trying to refute a book written by his predecessor, with whom he disagrees.

Kenneth Samples’s version of what is happening in our church is just that. He cannot declare or undeclare that our church is a cult, evangelical, or anything else. He would be wiser to spend his time studying his Bible for the purpose of finding the truth therein for the saving of his own soul rather than trying to pronounce any verdict in the affairs of the Adventist church.

Esther Jones

Leominster, Mass.

Might as Well Face It

“First of all, you’ve got to want to change.”

For a second I thought I’d wandered into Al-Anon or some drug-counseling clinic. Hardly. I had checked myself into the Church Conference Rehabilitation Center. So when it came my turn, I stood up and confessed. “I, too, am addicted to church conferences.”

The center opened about three years after Key ’73. That’s when conferences went big time. Most people learned to walk away from a slick brochure, but a good share of us got hooked. We couldn’t even pass up a Sunday-school convention. It got so bad that one of those Christian psychologists quit the convention circuit and started this center.

The routine here is pretty simple. We meet in small groups to share our stories and admit we need help. In my group, one guy told how attending conferences had ruined his family relationships. Another fellow said attending conferences had disrupted his work in the local church. An older woman said she’d spent $6,382 dollars attending writers conferences, but had sold only one article. For $21.50.

Over lunch I ran into a man who had attended seven “world-hunger conferences” in the last year. “Bet you really get your friends involved in helping the hungry,” I remarked. “That’s the problem,” he said. “I recruit them to other hunger conferences.”

We’ve gotten lots of suggestions for avoiding conferences when we get out: Call a friend when you get the urge to send in your registration; listen to tapes of Tony Campolo; pray for deliverance; get rid of all your polyester sports coats.

I think I might make it. At our latest therapy session the director brought in current issues of a dozen or so Christian magazines. We paged through them, barely noticing those slick advertisements announcing yet another conference on evangelism. Our leader praised us. He said he thought we were ready to go home, which is fine with me.

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I’ve been looking for an excuse to stay away from my denomination’s annual conference this summer.


Congratulations for publishing Kenneth R. Samples’s article. It is perceptive, accurate, and sympathetic. For a century and a half, SDAS have challenged the rest of Christendom in two areas: (1) Give one New Testament text that proves God has sanctified Sunday as the Christian Sabbath; (2) Give one Bible verse that proves soul or spirit can function without a body.

I endorse these challenges from Adventism. Let me now challenge the challengers: Give me, from the Bible and the Bible alone, proof about the doctrine of 1844 and the Investigative Judgment. I invite the SDA church to appoint a representative to discuss this topic with me over public media (at no cost to SDAS). I challenge the church leaders to deal with their presupposition that the Bible predicted Adventism’s rise in 1844 and that the Last Judgment then began. This presupposition undergirds much of the church’s work through It Is Written, The Voice of Prophecy, and The Quiet Hour.

With great affection for the SDA part of the Christian faith, I plead: If the 1844 Investigative Judgment teaching is important to you, defend it over the public media.

Desmond Ford

Good News Unlimited

Auburn, Calif.

Those Messianic Jews

I applaud Sam Nadler’s article [“Jewishness Is Not Legalism,” Speaking Out, Feb. 5]! I have always felt that Messianic Jews are perhaps the most whole and complete Christians of all.

I am upset with narrow, fundamentalist Christians who use legalism, even with other Christians—things such as “You’re not saved, unless you speak in tongues.” Cultural differences will always exist; and why shouldn’t they? They don’t hurt the basic premise of real Christianity. Christ came to overcome the law with love, which should be leading Christians, no matter what their culture.

Bunnie Corwith

Lake Forest, Ill.

What Constitutes “Rescue”?

Our lack of consistent thinking (and action) as evangelicals is evidenced in the news reported in your February 5 issue. On the one hand, tensions exist in the prolife community because “there is disagreement about the wisdom of the rescue strategy,” which is a nonviolent response to injustice. On the other hand, the human blockade by a Romanian congregation to protect Pastor Laszlo Tokes—which led to both bloodshed and freedom—is hailed as a moment of glory by evangelicals worldwide.

I live in Kettering, Ohio, a generally wholesome midwestern suburb, which hosts an abortionist who sticks scissors into the skulls of healthy, 24-week unborn children, and then sucks out their brains. That certainly is at least as abhorrent as churches being bulldozed and Bibles being turned into toilet paper, as happened in Romania. Yet, many local evangelicals turn their heads when “rescue” is mentioned.

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Rev. James B. Futrell

Fairhaven Church of the C&MA

Dayton, Ohio

Hallmark Of Democracy?

I am both prolife and proeducation. It stretches neither my conscience nor my intellect to agree that Christians need to encourage their elected officials to act on behalf of the unborn [“They’d Rather Switch than Fight,” editorial by Lyn Cryderman, Feb. 5]. Likewise, agreeing “the value of a godly mind disciplined by academic rigor” creates joy rather than sorrow [“Thank God for British Imports,” editorial, same issue, by David Neff].

However, I find Cryderman’s prolife editorial founded on such loose, shallow assumptions that it is “off-putting,” as the British say, and thus detrimental to both the encouragement of prolife political policies and godly thinking in general. Its underlying assumption seems to be that any politician “of conscience” will naturally develop and promote policies agreeing with the minority point of view—which is, of course, the correct view. Also disturbing is the tacit assumption that our republican, representative form of government cannot be trusted to work for the common good. It seems to have escaped Cryderman’s notice that constituency opinion is the hallmark of democracy—and not political conscience. Also, recent political history reveals that several politicians known to invoke their consciences have been removed from office for behavior the majority would not countenance.

Perhaps someone could write an editorial suggesting ways for prolife Christians to take seriously their responsibility to work within the political system. It might be more effective than finding fault from a safe, external vantage point.

Rev. Irving W. Herrick

First Baptist Church

West Chicago, Ill.

We don’t elect government officials to vote with their consciences but to accurately represent their constituencies. Whether you morally agree or disagree, the fact remains that a large percentage of the American public favors legalized abortions.

Rev. Kal Bushman

Central Baptist Church

Knoxville, Tenn.

The Sin Of Racism

Bravo to Philip Yancey for “Confessions of a Racist” [Jan. 15]! He reminds us that much remains to be done in the area of civil rights. When he recalled watching Klansmen beating up blacks, I had to remind myself that the event was not in the Dark Ages but took place while I was growing up.

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He also rightly reminds us that while Martin Luther King, Jr., was not perfect, neither is anyone else. In spite of our shortcomings, we must strive to work and do what is right—whether it is popular or not.

Kyle Bailey

Roseburg, Oreg.

Yancey’s references to King’s “genuineness of faith” and “centrality of Christian conviction” begs at least one fundamental question: Is the faith ascribed to Dr. King that faith to which evangelical Christians subscribe? If so, the evangelical Christian community would welcome such evidence.

L. M. Vogt

Edina, Minn.

Like Yancey, I was raised in the deep South in a Bible-preaching setting that was racist. Now that I pastor a racially integrated church, I struggle with why the adult believers who taught me as a child did not deal with the matter.

Rev. Dave McPherson

Maranatha Bible Church

River Ridge, La.

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