Much of what William Willimon says is excellent [“I Was Wrong About Christian Schools,” Feb. 8], and it is encouraging to see Christian initiatives in delivering excellent educational services. However, he ignores some signficant factors in reporting the differences between public and Christian schools in terms of both costs and results.
Private schools in general are short on delivering educational services to the physically, emotionally, and academically disabled. Public schools are mandated by law to provide all such special services. These are expensive, and their costs are a part of the public-school bill.
Private schools also may choose their clientele. Students with behavioral problems or who do not measure up to academic standards are either not admitted or returned to public schools. Their academic records become part of the public school’s performance reports against which private schools, operating without such handicaps, measure themselves.
Christian schools can be a great asset, but when comparisons are made, they should be done fairly.
Arthur L. Moser
The church at worship
The point of the [Speaking Out] article [“Let’s Stop Childless Abuse” Feb. 8] is well made. Why does the church pander to every commercial and civic holiday? I once attended an unfamiliar church on Pentecost, hoping for the best. Pentecost was never mentioned; it was Children’s Day, complete with balloons and all the hilarity of a penny social.
This is the church at worship?
Open Bible’s investments
[Re: “Open Bible Churches Lose Funds in Alleged Scam,” News, Feb. 8], let me set the record straight.
First, the Department of International Ministries has not and will not lose any money as regards these investments. To the contrary, they have received more cash returns than they invested. The jury is still out on some of the other investors.
Second, we were never promised exorbitant interest rates.
Regarding our feeling of responsibility to notify our people, I told [the article’s author], “We are monitoring the situation very carefully and are prepared to take whatever action we feel is appropriate.” Apparently, that is not the slant he wanted to communicate.
Ray Smith, President
Open Bible Standard Churches
Des Moines, Iowa
Bravo! and kudos to the author of “Homosexuals in Uniform?” [Editorial, Feb. 8]. One doesn’t often encounter such honesty! It takes real courage to call homosexuality “unnatural, unhealthy, and ungodly.” Not to mention “indecent”!
R. B. Johnston
Fort Wayne, Ind.
I share Chaplain Webster’s disdain for homosexuality. However, we live in a pluralistic society—not a theocracy. The matter of allowing gays into the military must be resolved on a constitutional basis, not a religious one.
As to his concern for preserving the “moral and spiritual health of both the armed forces and the American commonwealth,” I would point out that in the same context that God’s Word condemns homosexuality it also condems other sinful practices that are commonly practiced within the armed forces as well as society at large. By what measure does there presently exist in either one a “moral and spiritual health”?
Ronald E. Frye, President
Christian Respondent, Inc.
We Have Finished The Race
Some of us from the Thursday-morning Bible study decided to combine our zeal for evangelism with our love of competition: We embarked on a race to see who would be the first to lead Dan Rastler to the Lord.
Doug was first off the block by coming up with two first-baseline tickets to the Cubs’ home opener. Doug and Dan had a great time, but Doug froze up on the way home. “I had the perfect opening when Dan started talking about his marriage, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask him where he would go if he died,” Doug recalls.
Jim came closer: “I took Dan fishing, and conditions were perfect. I mean, you’re in a boat for five hours, no one’s around to distract you—and you’re fishing! The perfect chance to talk about another Fisherman. But the weather was so nice, we were catching fish, and Dan was enjoying himself so much. It didn’t seem right to get religious on him.”
Not to stretch the fishing analogy, but I almost hooked Dan myself. I knew he loves old cars, so I invited him over to help me replace the generator on my ’57 DeSoto. Things were looking up as he stroked those big fins and then leaned over the fender to hold the new generator in place as I tightened the bolts. Then came the moment I had rehearsed for all week. As I reattached the battery cable, I looked up and said, “You know, Dan, that’s just like it is in real life. We all need to be hooked up to a Higher Source of Power.”
He said he’d been thinking of trying transcendental meditation himself.
The following Thursday we felt pretty depressed. And more than a little ashamed. We vowed never again to turn evangelism into a game but to keep being friends to Dan and let God do the rest.
But all was not lost. Dan unexpectedly walked into the restaurant where we meet and sat down with us. After a little small talk, he said, “You know, the Good Lord’s been so nice to give me friends like you, I just might get saved one of these days.”
John Stott and the charismatics
I have been a fan of John Stott for over 25 years; all his efforts are to be commended, especially in his concern for reconciliation between charismatics and noncharismatics. However, his reference to the “signs and wonders movement”—a common code name for John Wimber and the Vineyard Christian Fellowship—is somewhat misleading [“John Stott Speaks Out,” Feb. 8]. The Vineyard movement espouses the “now and not yet” kingdom theology of George Eldon Ladd.
We do not make “miracles the norm of the Christian life” or say “every disease can be miraculously healed.” But we do believe in praying for the physically sick and emotionally wounded and believe that God often allows us to experience the “now” of the kingdom.
Pastor George Mallone
Grace Vineyard Christian Fellowship
The New Testament silence
Thank you for publishing the excellent article by Michael J. Gorman entitled “Why Is the New Testament Silent About Abortion?” [Jan. 11]. I particularly appreciated the evidence he presented of a consensus against abortion that existed in both Jewish and Christian thought when the New Testament books were being written.
When a sinful action is clearly identified and condemned in the Old Testament (as is abortion), why must that condemnation be repeated in the New Testament in order for it to be valid today? Did God change his mind about what was sinful during the time between the two Testaments? And what about other sins that are not mentioned in the New Testament? Shall we declare that Christians have freedom of choice regarding bestiality and sadomasochism simply because these aberrant sexual practices are not mentioned in the New Testament?
Dr. David Reagan
Silence is silent! We cannot properly argue this either way. To dredge up contemporary literature is interesting and may be informative, but to equate these with canonical material undermines the very reason for a canon. If, as we claim, the Holy Spirit inspired Scripture and the selection of the canon, we should not try to change it when it does not say what we want it to say.
Robert G. Tallent
It seems the article has accepted too much of the common conclusion that only the New Testament really counts today.
Pastor C. Bruce Anderson
Calvary Baptist Church
A needed framework
I appreciated your coverage of the Earth Summit, and the article by Loren Wilkinson [“How Christian Is the Green Agenda?” Jan. 11]. His outline of theological issues that need to be addressed should be a framework for a major effort by evangelical theologians and scientists.
Our responses to many environmental issues are directly related to our environmental ethic; this is precisely the area where evangelicals can provide needed guidance. As Wilkinson’s article showed, environmental issues are relevant to many areas evangelicals have always considered of major importance, including missions, stewardship of monetary and other resources, and human health and social problems.
My hope is that we will seize the grand opportunity to provide a “team effort” of leadership in this important area of debate. If we do not, there are many other groups that will, and in the process some might establish an environmental ethic that may not at all be acceptable.
Raymond E. Grizzle
Buies Creek, N.C.
I wonder why there seems to be interest in rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. God has sworn to destroy this material earth. The use of New Age terms and thinking should alert any Bible-believing Christian to this apostasy. The Bible does not teach shalom or true peace, as Wilkinson suggests. Rather, it is presented as peace with God the Father through the Son at the cross, through his blood. He is in the people-saving business and has charged us with the responsibility of getting out this message.
Poet T. S. Eliot spoke well and truly: “A wrong attitude toward nature implies, somewhere, a wrong attitude toward God, and the consequence is an inevitable doom.”
Historian Lynn White, who tried to lay the blame for what he chose to label our “ecologic crisis” on the author of Genesis, and thus on Christianity, apparently overlooked the pervasive nature and influence of sin, especially greed, in all of man’s relationships—not least those involving the Earth and other forms of life that depend on it for their material sustenance.
However, many critics can be useful teachers. A credible case can be made that the members of the visible body of Christ on Earth have been lax in teaching each other and the rest of humanity that Earth and all it contains should be objects of love and respectful treatment precisely because they are God’s creation, and he has charged us to have responsible dominion over them, husbanding them unto fruitfulness.
If having large families causes criticism of Christianity among environmentalists, so be it [“Are 10 Billion People a Blessing?” sidebar, Jan. 11].
By using the cultural mandate (”to replenish the earth, subdue it and have dominion over it”) as a call for Christians to be “green,” one must also take seriously the cultural mandate’s instructions to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). There is no reason why Christians can’t do both.
Michelle Bruinsma Roberts
Scripture out of context
Tod Connor’s article on Gaia, “Is the Earth Alive,” was interesting and informative [Jan. 11]. Unfortunately, the two Scripture quotes were taken out of context and given meanings that appear to be foreign to their authors.
Apparently Connor wants to say that “if you defile the land it will vomit you out” means the Israelites were not to harm the environment (Lev. 18:28). Even a cursory reading of Leviticus 18 will show the author intended to say that incestuous sexual relations, homosexuality, child sacrifice, and bestiality would defile the land and result in the Israelites being “vomited out.” Similarly, he quotes 2 Chronicles 7:14 in an attempt to reconcile the statements of Mother Teresa and Mr. Lovelock.
Clearly, God has said he will control the environment as a means to wake people up when they begin to sin. And we will not change the environmental conditions if God intends to judge the sins of the people, for we will be fighting against him.
Bruce J. Taylor
After reading the article by Tod Connor, I was tempted to go out and stomp on the grass, cut down a tree, and kill an animal for supper, just the way God intended when he said we are to subdue the earth.
Richard A. Bennett
As a pastor, author, and executive in the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI), and a longtime CT subscriber, I am disappointed by your selectivity in reporting on our movement of 1.5 million constituents. You have consistently chosen not to discuss UPCI or its newsworthy events, yet you recently ran an item, evidently prompted by an ex-member, that erroneously anticipates a major schism [News, Jan. 11].
Of the five sources CT named, two left the UPCI years ago, and two apparently plan to leave soon. Consequently, the article is one-sided and misleading. In 1992 our general conference passed, by an overwhelming majority, a resolution calling for each minister to sign an annual reaffirmation of our identifying beliefs. It appears that, as usual, we will enjoy net growth in the coming year. Perhaps CT should cover our general conference in 1993 and publish a follow-up article on the accuracy of its predictions.
David K. Bernard
As this issue was going to press, over 400 current or former UPCI ministers had just concluded a meeting in Spring, Texas, to discuss the future of the denomination.
A Calvinist review title?
Only a Calvinist could have titled a book review “If the Rapture Occurs, This Magazine Will Be Blank” [Books, Jan. 11]. (Perseverance of the saints, and all that.) An Arminian, however, would have titled it, “If the Rapture Occurs, We Dearly Hope This Magazine Will Be Blank (though we suspect there are a couple of guys in the sales department who are going to be left behind and will use this opportunity to promote themselves to editor, in which case you’ll probably want to ignore everything you read in this magazine, anyway).”
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