Thankful for Food
Marvin Olasky’s article “Dependent No More” [Aug. 17] is relevant and a real challenge. However, I question his statement “Therefore it is right for gospel missions to ask homeless men and women to listen to the Good News before dinner, though it would be wrong for them to demand a profession of faith in exchange for stew.” This he supports by the Scriptures telling of Jesus feeding the four thousand and the five thousand. I do not see that these thousands came to hear Jesus because they were physically hungry, though at later gatherings some may have come for that reason after they heard of his multiplying the loaves.
Street people who come for physical needs, especially food, are not going to be very receptive listeners with “growling stomachs.” Maybe with thankful hearts for the food, they may be more open to hearing about our loving and merciful God.
Of children’s books and beer ads
Thanks to Richard Cizik for his recent “Speaking Out” about brewery-sponsored community programs [“It’s Time to Bite the Silver Bullet,” Aug. 17].
I recently volunteered to tutor kids from low income, mostly non-English-speaking families. Some area churches “adopted” a grade school in their neighborhood and set up a Saturday tutoring center. I was dismayed to see that many primary-level storybooks (produced by a Christian publisher) had large “donated by Coors” slogans on the covers. This certainly rivaled the Playboy foundation’s vast donations to feminist causes as an oxymoronic corporate charity.
Yet Coors was the only firm that provided our center sorely needed materials, and, desperate for supplies, we used these lovely children’s books bound in beer ads. I still wonder just what lessons my third-graders were learning.
Feasting on Stott
When I see John Stott’s name as a contributor then I know I am in for a spiritual feast! His exposition of Galatians 5:22–23 [“The Forbidden Fruit,” Aug. 17] is masterly, humbling, and a summons to renew the search for holiness!
Charles R. Britt
It is curious how evangelical Protestants fall into the trap laid by John Stott in “The Forbidden Fruit.” Like Luther, Stott adds the word alone to the Scriptures. The Epistle of James does not say, “The just shall live by faith alone,” rather, “The just shall live by faith.” Luther’s addition was not sola fide. Since he added the word sola, the wording would have to become fide sola, in that curious word order.
Likewise, Stott accuses the heretic Cranmer (who was so cowardly he signed five different recantations, each “worse” than the last, in order to save his miserable hide) of being “an Episcopalian.” Alas, Cranmer was not an Episcopalian. He had never even heard of the word, nor thought of the concept, which did not come into being until the seventeenth century, with the so-called non-Jurors—those bishops of the Church of England who went north to Scotland. They had already sworn allegiance to James II; they could not swear another allegiance to King George. They, being men of honor (precisely what Cranmer was not), founded the Episcopal Church of Scotland.
Other than that, I thought the article interesting and worthwhile.
Father Andrew L. J. James
I Haven’T Read The Book, But I Heard The Sermon
One Saturday morning I found myself with Mildred Horn-swallow, Frank Ferber, and our pastor in the church library. A sign on the shelf across from me shouted, NEW ACQUISITIONS—MUST READS! Under it stood The Cross and the Switchblade and The Total Woman.
“I’ve got to get around to reading those,” I thought.
“As I told each of you,” our pastor began, “the board is concerned about the library. No one has checked out a book in three years.” We all shifted nervously. “I’m wondering,” he continued, “if we need to purchase some new books.”
The awkward silence was broken by Frank: “No offense, pastor, but we just can’t throw money at this problem. We’ve got to get to the root.”
We all nodded enthusiastically.
“And the root problem is that blasted boob tube,” Mildred added.
“It’s much deeper than that,” said Frank. “Secular humanism has sunk its invidious roots.…”
“Perhaps,” the reverend interrupted, “we could begin with a promotional campaign.”
“And we should aim it at the youth,” I said, “since the young people already use this room for their Sunday school class.”
“I was hoping,” our pastor said hesitantly, “the whole congregation would be targeted. But, okay, let’s say we aim for youth. Perhaps each of you could take a turn in Sunday school, telling the kids how reading Christian literature has helped your faith.”
“Now there’s a budget-balancing idea!” said Frank.
“So who will go this Sunday?”
In the ensuing silence, I could hear the dust collecting on The Cross and the Switchblade.
“Perhaps we should aim at the whole congregation,” Mildred finally said. We all nodded enthusiastically.
“And you know, Pastor,” said Frank, “there’s nothing like a convicting sermon to put things like this in perspective.”
Everyone nodded enthusiastically again. Our pastor forgot to close the meeting with prayer. He just got up and walked out.
Credit not due this time
It’s always nice to receive credit where credit is due, but your August 17 issue gave me credit which wasn’t due [World Scene]. I had no part in the translation of the Gospel of Mark (or any other Gospel) into the Waorani (Auca) language. I was with the Waorani only two years (see my book The Savage My Kinsman), during which Rachel Saint and I both worked on reducing the language to writing. I then returned to Quichua work, where I spent eight years. Rachel remained with the Waorani.
Elisabeth Elliot Gren
Breath of fresh air
Thank you for the breath of fresh air in [Ruth Tucker’s] “Colorizing Church History” [July 20], Unfortunately, we as a church have taken our cue from secular philosophy in denoting who are leaders in the church rather than from Old Testament clarion statements and Jesus’ statements as to who are leaders in God’s kingdom.
I have found it interesting to hear “prominent” people in the church express that it was a Sunday-school teacher, to whom God gave the grace, wisdom, and willingness to teach, who gave them the knowledge and call to a sure foundation in Christ.
Edith K. Fink
I am thankful Tucker has brought women and minorities missing from church history to our attention. However, I disagree with her on one point.
I do not understand how she can put a history based on the “church fathers” and other “male leaders” as being opposite a history that “more fully reflects the experience of the church and the work of the Holy Spirit.” Does she not know that the vast majority of these men were pastors? How can she dismiss their work as just dealing with “theological and institutional crises”? Does she not know that the work of these men was done with pastoral concerns and not vain academic glory?
Pastor Brad Yonley
Athens and Crossroads, La.
United Methodist Churches
Tucker’s “Colorizing Church History” was thrilling to me. I had not heard of any of the folks she wrote about except William Seymour. What a debt we owe to those who have gone before us, both known and unknown.
Pastor Diann Wiberg
Tucker’s article concerned me. She starts out bemoaning the “PC” movement in secular history, then makes the same mistakes with her own suggestions on how to retell Christian history. History should never be retold to make it more palatable in a different time. History is a compiling of factual information that records and analyzes past events. The history of the Christian church, by definition, is a chronicle that explains how the church developed.
It is factual that the development of the organized church is traced through Western civilization. It is also factual that the majority of “movers and shakers” throughout the history of the church were men. This is not to say other groups did not participate. It does say the church was centered on male leadership, and the leadership shaped the history (not always something to be proud of!). The examples Tucker gives are inspiring. But the fact remains that the persons mentioned did not “steer the boat” and thus are usually not given much time in the history books.
Review by ideologue?
The recent book review “Ecoguilt” by Doug Bandow [Books, July 20], an article masquerading as a composite book review, calls for a response.
While Bandow makes some good points, the ideology guiding his response (not review) to the very mixed bag of titles [on environmental issues] overshadowed his positive contributions. I have worked in science, technology, and society education for years developing curriculum materials and am familiar with several of the books referenced in the article. The two works I am familiar with were clearly not given their due in terms of their worthwhile contribution to the literature. In the future, can the editors of CT not permit such an article to pose as a book review, but instead treat it as an article?
Rev. Dennis Cheek
Despite theological differences on this issue, one conviction that surely binds Christians together is the command of Jesus to care for “the least of these,” the poor of the world. It is a telling omission that in Bandow’s article the poor go completely unmentioned. Yet the poor suffer most from deteriorating environmental conditions.
The real problem is consoling ourselves with the notion that our rightful place and contribution is limited to the “obligation” of individual Christians to “participate in the debate.”
R. Bruce Johnson
I hope Bandow would agree that thoughtless actions have led to a history of injuries to “God’s green earth.” We have woven an exquisite tangle of problems. I hope he and others will avoid ridiculing those who choose to seek healing solutions.
Erich N. Brough
The implicit attitude of Bandow’s review seems to contradict your editorial stance of seeking “to inform and stimulate Christian leaders in this important area.” In the future, please have an environmentalist review environmental literature.
Prof. Chris Newhouse
Spring Arbor College
Spring Arbor, Mich.
High praise to Doug Bandow for his perceptive, beautifully balanced review. He gives “worldliness” a new dimension of meaning by his incisive analyses of evangelicals on the environmental bandwagon. His practical applications and theological scalpel lay bare the dangers of this new one-issue crusade.
Donald E. Hoke
Real freedom means surrender
I commend you for the superb “Freedoms Under Fire” [CT Institute, July 20], Tim Stafford’s article was particularly moving—not only because of what he said and how he expressed what he wrote, but because I know Bedan Mbugua. I happened to be in Nairobi when he was confined to prison. I was not permitted to visit him.
CT’s 12 pages help us to think more deeply and probingly about the role we can have through word and deed in the real world with its oppressors, intimidators, and those who deprive others of liberty—not only in terms of religious belief, but also economic, social, and personal freedoms. In our own society there is an urgent need for Christian voices to speak to our national leaders and those who oppress others, including the corporate world of big and small corporations.
I do wonder if religious freedom is possible apart from a broader and deeper understanding of freedom. Do we Christians confuse religious freedom with the pervasive “my way” syndrome that permeates so much of our walk and talk in contradiction to the call for obedience and discipleship? Genuine freedom always involves surrender. And misunderstood freedom leads to distorted values and bondage while we glibly speak of liberty. Besides the application of freedom to individuals, our commitment to it must carry over strongly into society, as Richard Mouw points out. One wonders if most of our Christian business leaders truly comprehend the meaning of Christian liberty within the context of business relationships and staff management.
Robert B. Reekie
As to the source and rightness of religious liberty, the founders of the United States said God was the source of man’s equality and freedom. They were doing God’s will when they established a nation guaranteeing liberty and justice for all. They believed they were recognizing the great principles of God’s natural law when they established a nation without a king and refused to establish religion by human laws.
In separating from the authority of England and declaring their independence, the colonists did not deny God and religion. Instead, they proclaimed God as the source of their liberty and freedom.
The dark night of soul
Until I read Richard Foster’s article “Prayer in the Desert” [July 20], I thought I was the only one who ever felt that way, and was deeply depressed at the desert time I was experiencing. The article gave me hope! It renewed my faith that God is there whether he answers or not. It gave me joy I have been seeking for months.
Thanks to God for allowing Richard Foster his dark night of soul, and thanks to Dr. Foster for sharing this with us.
Rev. Jerry G. Robinson
Community Bible Church
Finally—another Christian with a deep walk in the faith who has experienced what I’ve experienced—a desert, silence from God, and an extended time of questioning. Foster’s description of the experience is so accurate: exactly how it feels, exactly how one thinks; and his points—that it’s part of the normal Christian walk, that the experience is individually tailored, that we end up letting God be God—were just the conclusions I was arriving at but hadn’t put into such well-chosen words.
Susan Spengler Cervin
Of moral absolutes and choices
I agree with the substance of Sen. Dan Coats’s article: We cannot remain neutral forever [“Principles on a Collision Course,” July 20]; however, let’s not forget that Jesus took neutral stances in conflicts between Jewish laws and nationalism versus Rome’s Caesar. He never tried to influence the Roman Senate.
As a Lutheran pastor, I probably ride more fences than I did before I was ordained. Clergy often have a church full of diverse views based on diverse life experiences—and Bible passages to back them up! While my “heart” agrees with Daniel Coats, I wish he’d realize that one biblical Christian’s absolutes may well be violating another biblical Christian’s freedom of choice.
Rev. David Coffin
Trinity Lutheran Church
Your brief article “To Russia, by AD 2000” [News, July 20] contained a serious contradiction: While the main article reported on the Riga Congress and its aim “to evangelize the former Soviet Union,” the accompanying box with statistics from David Barrett seemed to indicate the job of evangelizing is already largely completed.
Barrett, the statistician, uses a definition of “evangelized” that is so specialized (and so broad) that it bears little relationship to what the average CT reader understands by that term. Most of us believe that a person is “evangelized” if he has heard and understood a meaningful presentation of the gospel. Any survey of the population of Russia or Ukraine, not to mention the less evangelized Central Asian Republics, will reveal that far less than 10 percent of the population have an understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ adequate for salvation.
Barrett’s statistics can be valuable to church professionals or mission specialists who have the time and ability to study the technical details, but they are misleading and unhelpful in this popular format.
Rev. David Stravers
The Bible League
South Holland, Ill.
I appreciate the coverage you gave to my research about the false story of a modern Jonah in your July 20 issue [North American Scene]. Unfortunately, the final paragraph is somewhat misleading. I did not trace the story “through the history of the South Atlantic and New Zealand.” My research was conducted only in England and the United States, and involved sources only from Europe and North America. I went elsewhere only vicariously.
Neither did I find merely that the sailor called James Bartley “was never lost overboard,” although in itself this would be enough to falsify the story. Rather, I found from Lloyds shipping records that no one by that or any similar name was ever a member of the crew on the said vessel for any part of the voyage that might have carried it past the Falkland Islands in February 1891 when the incident is alleged to have happened. In the process I uncovered a real whale, without a human occupant, whose misadventures may well have inspired a fish story about Bartley.
Prof. Edward B. Davis
I was a seminary student in the forties when every seminarian received five complimentary copies of Harry Rimmer’s books, among them The Harmony of Science and Scripture, which had an entire chapter on “Modern Science, Jonah and the Whale.”
If Davis’s research is valid, and I have no reason to doubt its trustworthiness, how is it that former scholars, even evangelicals, did not delve into a scrutinizing search for the truth, ascertaining for themselves and the whole Christian public “to see whether these things were so”?
Rueben M. Baerg
Saskatoon, Sask., Canada
The “responsible” choice
Dan Quayle’s overall message in his much-discussed speech on family values is commendable; in general, a two-parent family is better than a one-parent family [Editorial, “The Veep and the Sitcom,” July 20]. But Quayle’s words with respect to Murphy Brown are incautious and misleading.
Quayle asserts that “bearing babies irresponsibly is wrong,” and he presumably means out of wedlock. Murphy Brown is held up as an example of such irresponsibility. But the idea that it is irresponsible to bear a baby out of wedlock serves as grist for the abortion-rights mill. Now that the “right to abortion” has made pregnancy a matter of choice, unmarried women who become unintentionally pregnant (like Murphy Brown) are often encouraged to believe abortion is the responsible choice, and it is irresponsible to bring to birth a child that one is unprepared to parent. Shifting the charge of “irresponsibility” from the act by which a child is conceived out of wedlock to one of bearing a child out of wedlock is the ploy of the liberal sexual rights/abortion rights contingent. Do we—does Dan Quayle—want to agree with such “reasoning”?
Becky Merrill Groothuis
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