Electing Pro-Christians

Don Eberly’s editorial, “Stakes Beyond the White House” [Dec. 14], makes some good points about the need for nonpolitical Christian action. However, it seems to underestimate the need for Christian political action. Aside from the clear examples of the influence of the kings of Israel and Judah on their countries (which some might be tempted to brush off as a “special case” of a “theocracy”), what about the roles of the kings of Babylon and Persia? Why are those not good precedents for “political rulers” to make pro-Christian decrees?

Thomas F. Harkins, Jr.

Fort Worth, Tex.

Eberly said we need “cultural” strategies to rehabilitate the family, particularly fatherhood. I would like to hear him spell out what these strategies are, and how we can get them into place and working.

Carol K. Larson

Rochester, Minn.

Waiting for that Day

Messianic or “apocalyptic fever” is hardly recent, as Timothy George’s editorial so readily confesses [“Apocalyptic Fever,” Dec. 14]. It was seen in the first century (Thessalonian congregation) and, I believe, will be seen until Christ does return. Yet, while it’s natural to anticipate the parousia, Scripture clearly warns Christians to avoid speculations about when it will occur.

Many fall prey to excessive “apocalyptic fever” due to faulty presuppositions. For the Thessalonians, it seems to be the false teaching that the resurrection of the dead had already occurred. Today Christendom has been saturated with an eschatological view deeply rooted in premillennialism. While George and others are “convinced” premillennialists, other eschatological interpretations seem to be more reasonable, historically valid, and biblical. So while the premillennialists search “literally” to interpret symbolic prophecies, this convinced “realized millennialist” or amillennialist will patiently wait and watch for Jesus. Until that Day, I’ll simply work and witness for God’s kingdom on earth and in heaven now.

Prof. Rick Chromey

Boise Bible College

Boise, Idaho

Is Mollenkott evangelical?

Did the word former fall out of the original text? Otherwise, how can Julia Duin call Virginia Mollenkott an “evangelical author” [“Episcopal Adversaries,” News, Dec. 14]? Duin’s article proves the point, I think. She shows the incompatibility of the views expressed by Mollenkott with those of the institution where she recently spoke, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, “a bastion of biblical orthodoxy.” A Trinity student is quoted as saying: “They worship a different God than we do.” Duin accurately describes Mollenkott’s theology as a defense of “lesbianism and monist beliefs in a female God.” Trinity Episcopal and Mollenkott cannot both be evangelical.

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Prof. Peter Jones

Westminster Theological Seminary

Escondido, Calif.

A Differently Sensible Idea

My nephew pastor, Wally, in Southern California recently told me he planted a new church, one designed to reach the politically correct. These are hyperscrupulous folks who are offended by the mere hint of offending anyone. They like their language hyperinnocuous, where anything or anyone stupid, for instance, becomes just differently sensible.

“Those people are differently sensible!” I told Wally.

“You’re just target-group challenged,” he replied.

Wally’s first challenge at Theologically Correct Church was the Bible, a book that would surely present one huge stumbling block to his target congregation. So he drew up a glossary. Some examples:

Satan: a divinity-impaired being; sin: nontraditional morality; Peter’s denial: allegiance-impaired action; Antichrist: alternative leader.

He included a section on ethics:

Seven deadly sins: seven life-challenging habits; pride: state of being humility challenged; greed: materialistic nonadjustment; anger: momentary patience impairment; adultery: sexual exploration by the alternatively committed.

Finally, to interpret the language of guest preachers: Heretic: the truth inconvenienced; unbeliever: trust-impaired seeker; backslidden: temporarily faith deficient; spiritually dead: eternal-life challenged.

Within weeks the church foundered, unable to agree on which version of the Bible to use in church—“Holy Bible” offended the unholy (or “differently holy”), the Good News Bible irritated the “joy challenged,” and the Living Bible insulted everyone’s “breathing-impaired foreparents.”

As I said, it was one differently sensible idea.


Which church offers moral hope?

In “You Can’t ‘Pass Go’ on a Chessboard” [Dec. 14], Charles Colson’s solution for our society’s failure to reach a moral and cultural consensus was to turn to the church. Which church? The church generally is in the same relativistic morass as society. Perhaps he should have referred to that part of the church that accepts biblical authority.

Donald Kopecky

Rochester, Minn.

Beyond a white Jesus

Thank you for your News report “Evangelical Racism?” [Nov. 23]. As a white evangelical, I must admit Malcolm X was right when he said that for the past 500 years, white Christians have participated in the enslavement, conquest, and oppression of people around the world. While championing Western civilization, embracing manifest destiny, and whining about political correctness, we have often preached a white Jesus who has come to make the world subservient to us.

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Fortunately, the watching world is, like Malcolm X, better able than we to distinguish between Christ and white Christendom. They know the American Christian commitment to preserving our theological, economic, and social privilege is not Christ.

Jeff Hittenberger

Irvine, Calif.

As a member of the Board of Administration of the NAE, I am concerned about the issues raised. The discussion reflects an interesting perception by CT, which happens to be just as “white” as the National Association of Evangelicals is accused of being. We all struggle with racism; it is a universal manifestation of our fallen nature. The church is not immune anywhere in the world.

I wonder why we have a black association of evangelicals. I thought the concept of separate but equal was repudiated by Brown v. The Board of Education some 38 years ago. Also, NAE’s World Relief does an outstanding job of providing aid to people of all colors around the world. If relief were reduced to Africa and increased to urban America, would we hear complaints from black evangelicals?

The serious problem is our inability to honestly discuss the sinful tendency we all have toward racism. After all, no temptation has come to us except that which is common to all people!

Dr. Robert Wenz

Glendora, Calif.

Is the Afrocentricity movement black or reverse racism? No, it is not. Is it a response to centuries of white racism (the only racism there is) and white intellectual colonialism? Yes, it is. We who are African and African-American will no longer allow white people to determine how we understand ourselves and our history.

Pastor Kenneth L. Waters

Vermont Square

United Methodist Church

Los Angeles, Calif.

Afrocentrism is a legitimate response to the failures of white theology and practice. But the fundamental issues dividing black and white evangelicals go deeper than Eurocentrism and Afrocentrism. White evangelicals do not have a theology that adequately addresses ethnocentrism and oppression. Therefore, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we allow, tolerate, or support racism. The Bible aggressively addresses both ethnocentrism and oppression, but the white evangelical church only superficially understands and addresses ethnocentrism and oppression. As a result, the African-American church cannot take our lukewarm efforts seriously.

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Prof. Lowell Noble

Spring Arbor College

Spring Arbor, Mich.

A self-seeking church

Thanks for Chuck Colson’s refreshing article, “Welcome to McChurch” [Nov. 23]. Colson is one of the few voices speaking sanely to the church today. When will we take heed? We have become an excuse-ridden church unwilling to take personal responsibility for our own moral meltdown. Colson says, “The church can no longer disciple and discipline.” This is the crux of the problem. We have become a self-seeking church within a feel-good society.

Don S. Otis

Sandpoint, Idaho

Colson used as an illustration a young pastor named Brian who prayed for people to stay away from his church and said, “Brian might just be right.” From my perspective, Brian has not learned what a pastor is—a shepherd to look after the whole congregation, not just those who are spiritual giants. Churches are composed of people with all levels of spiritual maturity, and some have baggage of the old nature that hasn’t yet been lifted off. How are they helped when the pastor stands at the door of the church and prays they leave?

Roy E. Nordstrom

Grand Rapids, Mich.

Which commitment helps?

In “Holy Health,” the interview with David Larson [Nov. 23], the words religion and religious people were used often, yet there was no attempt to define what religions were being talked about. Conceivably, the studies that dealt with the benefits of religion were observing not only Christians, but also Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and others. Is any religious commitment beneficial? Clearly Larson’s own work deals with evangelical Christian beliefs and practices, but what about the wider picture? Clarification would have made this more useful.

Amy J. Delaney

Seattle, Wash.

Larson says he does not know how God works. He then goes on to say he does know how religious commitment works, which is the point of his article. Where does the religious commitment come from? Is it from wanting the things Larson says religious commitment brings, for instance? Or does God have anything to do with this?

William G. Brouwers

Milwaukee, Wis.

Do all scientists decry religion?

The cover [Nov. 23] had the statement “Scientists have told us that religion makes us sick. But new research explodes the myths about who really lives the good life.” Which scientists? All scientists? Your statement perpetuates the myth that differences between science and Christian faith are unresolvable; that scientists are a unified group, and your statement represents all of them; that there are no individual scientists who believe in Christ and God. While the following articles make the statement to be a lie, it feeds those already prejudiced about science and faith. Also, many may not read the important articles that follow.

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Stanley E. Lindquist

Professor of Psychology Emeritus

California State University

Fresno, Calif.

Using Clinton’s abortion language

If Terry Eastland’s editorial, “Our Agenda, Mr. President” [Nov. 23], advocates that Christians negotiate pragmatically in terms of the moral principles of the President-elect, his language certainly demonstrates this attitude. When he speaks of the disagreement among Americans over “whether the law should protect a woman’s right to an abortion,” he has already granted linguistically the existence of such a right as apparently self-evident, inalienable, and antecedent to the law that functions either to protect or deny it. Thus, in his very presentation of the problem, he has already conceded to viewing the issue on Clinton’s terms.

Richard Hancock

Vicksburg, Miss.

Eastland’s assertion that “We are commanded to pray that our President be a force for good …” appears to be a serious misinterpretation of the oft-quoted 1 Timothy 2:1–4. This passage essentially says we are to pray for all people, including kings and authorities, because God wants everyone to be saved. It deals with the peace and godliness that results from spreading the gospel.

William B. Leak

Barrington, N.H.

Abusing Winnie-the Pooh?

I had trouble finding a way to express my anger over Rodney Clapp’s article “The Sin of Winnie-the Pooh” [Nov. 9]. To attack A. A. Milne’s characters, and to so badly use and abuse them, beggars my imagination. In a backhanded way you have done a service: that some of your readers may be moved to explore Milne’s work and the philosophy his creations put forward pleases me. On the other hand, you have published a clear example of literary clap(p).

Greg Danelz

Victor, Mont.

Bother! Four-year-old daughter Jesselyn and I do adore the Pooh for the grand amusement he provides. I hope Mr. Danelz can forgive us if we seek our philosophical instruction elsewhere.

—Rodney Clapp

How many more Satanists?

I was intrigued to discover, in your November 9 issue, that Mike Warnke has accused Jesus People USA, publishers of Cornerstone magazine, as being part of a Satanist cult. As your recent cover story [Sept. 14] clearly stated, JPUSA is a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church of America. At the denominational annual meeting in June 1989, the Covenant church welcomed JPUSA into our family with joy. In the years since, we’ve rejoiced further to see the fruit of their ministry.

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Out of curiosity, Mike, are the 90,000 + members of our 600+ churches also members of this Satanic conspiracy?

Pastor Rick Lindholtz

Bretton Woods Covenant Church

Lansing, Mich.

The coverage CT has given to the Warnke debate is commendable; it is a story concerning which the Christian community needs to be informed. There are, however, two bigger issues. First, much of what evangelicals have come to believe about Satanism has been based on the misinformation created by Warnke. If we discredit him but continue to assume the “facts” he created, we are in a dangerous situation.

Second, we must evaluate the role and responsibility of the businesses that produce “Christian” books and recordings. I have worked for a major “Christian” publisher and am well aware of how they operate. These businesses are fond of referring to their “ministry,” but when it comes to selecting books for publication, sales are the primary motivation. A book like The Satan Seller is a certain best seller. Little concern is demonstrated in checking out the facts of the story.

It is time for “Christian” publishers to take their responsibility seriously and seek out quality rather than sensationalism and truth rather than profits.

Jack Strating

Gainesville, Fla.

Mike Warnke replies

Regarding the [Nov. 9] article in CT: I spoke with the writer, Perucci Ferraiuolo, in September 1992, who called us stating he was a “free-lance” writer interested in telling “our side of the story.” I asked him: “Is this an interview?” His answer was no. “Are you recording this?” His answer was no. (There are witnesses.)

I have said repeatedly that when the time is right, I will make a statement. When all the trouble started, I did answer the charges. What I had to say was either ignored or dismissed as “not good enough.” In light of this fact, I determined to make my next statement much more direct and documented.

At no time did anyone at Warnke Ministries grant this individual an interview. We had a conversation, “off the record,” and even that has been grossly misquoted and misrepresented.

If I have charges to make, they will not be made in the media. I would never do to anyone what has been done to me. I pray that the Christian media be patient with me. I know this is a “hot topic,” but how many stories can you print without hearing my side?

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Mike Warnke

Burgin, Ky.

After my article was published, Sue Warnke, Mike’s present wife, phoned to say, “If we knew you were taping these interviews [and they did], we wouldn’t have talked to you.” Isn’t truth truth whether or not it is recorded? Mike Warnke said he and I had a “conversation,” not an interview. Is honesty altered depending on what form of dialogue is used? He accuses me of “grossly misquoting” him, yet researchers and journalists from CRI, Cornerstone magazine, and Bookstore Journal have heard my taped interviews, verifying the accuracy of my article.

—Perry Ferraiuolo

Misrepresentation of the truth

In reporting the outlandish attack on Trinity seminary professor Murray Harris by some 35 “cult-watch” groups [News, Nov. 9], CT has followed the modus operandi of secular magazines that feed on the sensational without checking for accuracy and truth.

I am senior pastor of the church where Harris and his wife are members. I have read his books on the resurrection of Christ as well as the material that attacks his views. It is obvious to me that his critics either have not carefully and objectively read Harris’s books or they are ill-equipped to understand his scholarship, thus resorting to quotations out of context, resulting in complete misrepresentation of the truth. Such irresponsibility within the rank and file of the church is grievous.

Pastor John G. Vosnos

Church of the Redeemer Lake Forest, Ill.

This controversy is a critical discussion of a central doctrine of the Christian faith. The doctrine of the Resurrection is the differentiating teaching of Christianity, and the question of the nature of the resurrection body of Christ is the determining characteristic of the doctrine.

Thomas A. Howe

Liberty University

Lynchburg, Va.

The issue seems to be whether or not the resurrected body of Jesus was flesh and blood or not. What difference does it make? Actually, it makes no difference to me. Is it not enough that Jesus died and was resurrected?

Roselyn Heims

Forest Lake, Ill.

I wish to clarify a comment I made on the controversy. I was quoted as saying Harris “denies that Jesus has human flesh and blood.” As many are aware, “flesh and blood” is a New Testament idiom for corruptible and frail humanity or, as we say today, a “mere mortal.” I did not mean to imply that Jesus is “flesh and blood” in this sense—that is, corruptible, earth-bound, or mortal. Rather, I intended to convey that Harris denies that Jesus has a material body of “flesh” in the normal sense of muscle, tissue, skin, and so on.

The point of dispute is whether Christ currently possesses a body of flesh in heaven. When Jesus told his disciples he had a body of “flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39), did he really mean to add “for the time being?” We think not.

I do not believe Harris is a cultist, or that TEDS or the EFCA are cultic. I believe Harris is a born-again Christian, a capable apologist, and a true scholar. However, in this matter he has erred.

Eric Pement

Cornerstone Magazine

Chicago, Ill.

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