Christians At State U

“Calls of Ivy” [Nov. 5] by my academic neighbor Jack McIntyre and the [sidebar] by Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen struck a responsive note. I was especially moved by the point that few enthusiastic undergraduates in evangelical campus groups have given serious thought to becoming a college professor, scientific researcher, or scholar in the liberal arts.

Despite a modest challenge at an event such as the triennial IVCF Urbana missions conference and an occasional foray into apologetics, most Christian undergraduates I know see their Christian involvements, particularly at a secular institution, as more significant and meaningful than their studies and the investigation of serious academic questions. How will they ever be qualified for entrance to graduate school?

My experience indicates that, sad as the case may be for evangelicals involved in research and scholarship, the pure and applied sciences and professional studies are far more strongly represented than those in the humanities and the social sciences. Yet it is in these fields where much of the critical dialogue is occuring on matters that deal with ideology and world views. These areas of study make Christians of any kind stand out in a crowd. And there are fewer and fewer of us, or so it seems.

Prof. Donald G. Davis, Jr.

The University of Texas at Austin

Austin, Tex.

McIntyre and Van Leeuwen have each spoken well. This is a message that needs to be heard, although there are many who will still refuse to listen.

Wendell F. McBurney, President

Indiana Adademy of Science

Indianapolis, Ind.

McIntyre could have included a broader concept of “science” to embrace scholarship in all its endeavors. Gifford Lecture Awards were given this year to two evangelical Christians: Dr. Alvin Plantinga and Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff. These awards are on a par with Pulitzer Prizes and Nobel Prizes.

Henry P. Ippel

Grand Rapids, Mich.

Over the past five years InterVarsity has developed, in partnership with Christian faculty groups, a focused ministry to the leading graduate schools of this country. Our goal is to disciple these men and women, train them to think Christianly about their disciplines, evangelize their peers, and do their scholarship and teaching to the glory of God.

It was with some pain that I noted McIntyre’s implication that InterVarsity is not encouraging students to go on to graduate school. What I have seen in my travels to leading graduate schools is groups of Christian graduate students committed to the very principles affirmed in this article.

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Randy Bare

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

Madison, Wis.

Modern-day inconsistency

Charles Colson’s column “Orwell Goes to College” [Nov. 5] touches on a curious modern-day inconsistency. Recently, my wife encountered a professor who caricatured Christians as antimoderns who had sacrificed their intellect. Needless to say, he “got away with it.” Yet it requires little imagination to consider what kind of furor would have erupted if he had, with equal fervor, promoted Christianity or even spoken positively about it. It is time Christians make clear that atheism is as much a religious commitment as theism. Perhaps it is time for Christians to play hardball and claim that if we cannot speak freely about our religious ideas, neither can non-Christians/atheists speak freely of theirs.

Assuming this won’t wash, we then need to insist that if atheists can freely present their agenda, then, in the name of academic freedom, Christians should equally be allowed to present theirs. Anything less strikes me as grossly unfair and, ironically, very un-American.

Rev. Scott Hoezee

Second Christian Reformed Church

Fremont, Mich.

My experience has been on the small, not-so-well-known state university and community or technical-college level of education. I have found more intellectual honesty and openness to explore various expressions of religion and Christianity in these grassroots-level schools than in Christian or religious liberal arts school settings.

Rev. David Coffin

Trinity Lutheran Church (ELCA)

Malinta, Ohio

Prayer: Exercise in futility?

The article “What Can I Say” [Nov. 5], by Timothy K. Jones, stressed the need for and effectiveness of prayer. The rational person knows nature is a system of immutable and fixed laws, governed by cause and effect. A prayer will never bend or change this chain of cause and effect.

It is truly an exercise in futility to think prayer will alter these fixed laws. The rational person does not want this system disrupted and is not egotistical enough to think it will be. Only the irrational person believes the chain of cause and effect will be bent for some personal whim.

Jesse Bailey

Birmingham, Ala.

Jones’s article on prayer spoke very directly to me; after over 20 years in ministry, I understand what he is saying: God wants our communion, not our words.

Terry L. Lumpel

Libertyville, Ill.

A positive impact

I appreciate the update in your News section concerning the church’s response to homosexuality [Nov. 5]. However, you did not mention the ministry of Exodus International that you introduced to me [Aug. 18, 1989]. Exodus-approved ministries are springing up in many places, including one here in the Dayton area that was inspired by your magazine. I need to be increasingly aware of ministries, like Exodus, that will make a more completely positive impact for the work of God.

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Rev. James B. Futrell, Associate Pastor

Fairhaven Church of the C&MA

Dayton, Ohio

I have little doubt that the statistics you report regarding the large numbers of homosexually oriented persons in the church will be met with denial (whether conscious or unconscious) by the majority of your readers. We simply don’t want to believe that there are that many of “those people” around, especially in our churches, just as it is much easier to believe the Bible unequivocally prohibits them from seeking the same level of emotional intimacy that almost all nonhomosexuals so long for and cherish. But isn’t doing this nothing more than choosing the “wider gate” of convenience and psychic comfort rather than the “narrower gate” of enlightened compassion and a radical caring to understand the psychological needs of others, just as we seek to have our needs understood?

Maybe the Bible condemns homosexual practice and maybe it doesn’t. I don’t think anyone can be so arrogant as to be certain he has the answer.

Raymond L. Garassino

Milford, Conn.

Thank you for having the guts to address the subject. I am in an evangelical church but have always felt homosexual. Why does Romans make it sound like we choose “to give up normal for abnormal”? My feelings sexually are as bottom-line as anyone’s, and I did not choose to be gay.

Whatever, I mostly exist to glorify God and praise him for loving me. In what I see as obedience to his desires, I am celibate, love life, and stay active in my church. There’s certainly lots more to life than sex. Intimacy with Him through Jesus is my lifeline.


No longer so quiet

I read with keen interest your excellent coverage of the Anabaptists [Oct. 22] since my roots are in that movement.

Repeated reference was made to the growing evangelistic efforts of the Anabaptists. One such effort is the publication of Together, an evangelistic tabloid that goes to every home in selected communities coast to coast as a free paper. Also, the Mennonite church has since 1952 been strongly involved with mass media through Media Ministries of the Mennonite Board of Missions in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Obviously, “the quiet in the land” are becoming less so.

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Norman B. Rohrer, Director

Christian Writers Guild

Hume Lake, Calif.

How refreshing to read such a balanced presentation of our movement. By way of correction: Marlin E. Miller mentioned only two Anabaptist groups (the Mennonite Brethren and the Brethren in Christ) as members of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). In addition, the Brethren Church is an active member of NAE, having joined in 1968.

Ronald W. Waters, Director

The Brethren Church

Ashland, Ohio

The Evangelical Mennonite Church is also a charter member of the NAE.

Douglas R. Habegger, Chairman

Evangelical Mennonite Church

General Board Morton, Ill.

It should be pondered that those who perpetrated the horrors upon the Anabaptists were their fellow Christians, not atheists, agnostics, or rationalists.

Kenneth H. Bonnell

Los Angeles, Calif.

Turn Your Eyes Upon the Wall Behind the Organ

After three straight years of declining attendance, our pastor decided to do something drastic: He asked our songleader to toss out the hymnals and purchase an overhead projector. From now on, we’ll be singing Scripture only, beamed on the wall behind the organist, using tunes more hip to the 1990s. Some of the old-timers grumbled, but I thought it was a splendid idea. What did Martin Luther know about worship, anyway? And even if he was onto something, “a bulwark never failing” is about as meaningful to today’s young, urbane professionals as thumbtabs on a Scofield Bible.
Although we didn’t really throw away our hymnals (they’re in a storage room with a stack of leftover Key ’73 notebooks), we did pick up a used projector from a retired motivational speaker. Armed with a handful of transparencies and an enthusiasm you could feel, our song leader gave us a peek at the future of evangelical worship.
He began with Psalm 93 and told us to sing it to the tune of “Bridge over Troubled Waters.” Admittedly, the tune is kind of old, but the overall effect was very cool.
Then he flashed a few verses from Isaiah on the wall and encouraged us to clap as we sang—this time it was a tune of his own composition. It was tough to sing, and I can’t say I found myself humming the tune after Sunday dinner. But hey, how many times have you heard anyone whistle “Hail, Thou Once Despised”?
We got bogged down a bit on the next one—the organist really botched “Wind Beneath My Wings,” but the words of the psalmist were touching.
All in all, I’d have to say these off-the-wall choruses worked a lot better than “Safely Through Another Week” or “Golden Harps Are Sounding” ever did.
In fact, it went over so well we asked the pastor just to print the salient points of his sermon on a transparency, aim it at the wall, then serve coffee and croissants while we each interpret the meaning of the lesson in light of our varied backgrounds and experiences.
It’s a good thing we didn’t throw away our hymnals.


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