Give Yancey a Pulitzer!

Philip Yancey deserves a Pulitzer for his article on forgiveness (“Holocaust & Ethnic Cleansing,” Aug. 16). Aquinas, the angelic doctor, could not have done better.

Dan Lyons, Director

Catholic Communications

Bloomsbury, N.J.

Yancey’s is a simple message and yet powerful and true. Promoting hate and bitterness only fuels the discontentment of all people.

Marian Grace

Irvine, Calif.

The unbiased, gentle manner in which Yancey wrote broke my heart. I am going to take the article with me when I travel overseas to Croatia. Pray that God will give me wisdom as I present it to others.

Sandy King

Burlington, Ont., Canada

Colson’s reasonable approach

Thank you for printing “Crime, Morality, and the Media Elites” [Aug. 16], Charles Colson’s address to members of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Once again, he has hit the nail on the head. If Christians are to be credible participants in public discourse about the social, moral, and religious issues that tend to polarize members of our society, we would do well to follow Colson’s thoughtful and reasonable approach to those with whom we disagree.

Gloria J. Kittock

Minneapolis, Minn.

Female deities never freed women

I cannot contain my enthusiasm for Elizabeth Achtemeier’s article “Why God Is Not Mother” [Aug. 16]! She confirms and develops all my resistance to the woman-as-god ideology, particularly in terms of practical implications. I especially appreciate her wisdom in indicating that the old female deities never freed women from anything; instead, their worship promoted women’s roles as prostitutes and breeders. In contrast, Judaism made women the center of family life. Achtemeier’s insistence that biblical inspiration is nothing to be trampled over for the sake of current mores is well taken.

Cynthia Barraza

Glendale, Calif.

I have no more trouble perceiving Mother God as transcendent and distinct from me than I do Father God.

Achtemeier makes the same mistake as some she calls “radical feminists”: identifying transcendence with the masculine, and immanence with the feminine. Such connections are not necessary; evangelicals should challenge that identification. Many Christians need a Mother God who is both with and beyond the created world.

Reta Halteman Finger, Editor

Daughters of Sarah

Chicago, Ill.

As we welcome the birth of our third child, let’s see if we understand Achtemeier regarding male and female language for God. Genesis presents God as male, rather than female, so that the distinction is maintained between God and the creation. So are we to believe that Kari is organically, genetically related to our children, but John is distinct from them?

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A further puzzle occurs to us: Genesis portrays a God who speaks the world into being. Male or female sexuality seems to have nothing to do with this. Why could not a female, or neuter, God do this speaking? Isn’t it more the speaking, rather than the maleness, that safeguards the Creator/creation distinction?

Kari and John Stackhouse

Winnipeg, Man., Canada

At last you have given us a cogent, biblically sound piece from a woman who manages to be both brilliant and theologically astute! I pray the result will be much-needed and overdue damage control from the heady, misguided and misguiding “biblical” feminist corner.

Elaine L. Stedman

Grants Pass, Oreg.

Is not there a difference between God revealing himself in masculine terms and God revealing himself as a male? He never invites us to think of him as a male, and those who seriously study the divine self-disclosure do not visualize a man in a long beard when thinking of God.

Thomas L. Cowdry

Tucson, Ariz.

‘Be Ye Vulnerable’

Our pastor is leading our church into new levels of intimacy, bond building, and self-disclosure. He has even begun to share his own struggles from the pulpit. But only to a point. “I’ll confess my sins, but not my faults,” he admitted.

Other staff members are catching the vision, too. In fact, the youth pastor has become so transparent I haven’t seen him in weeks.

The real test came for me when I was asked to lead our home Bible-study group into new depths of sharing and intimacy. I was reluctant, but was willing to take the risk. I explained to our group that our assignment was to become intimate through honest confession.

It was up to me to get the ball rolling. What did I have to lose, besides my reputation? I cleared my throat and began. “I’ve never cleaned behind our refrigerator. My cholesterol is over 240. I rarely floss my teeth. I routinely sneak 12 items through the 10-items-or-less checkout line.”

The group gasped in shock. Then an embarrassed hush fell over the room. The silence was crushing, but I went on. “I bring my own popcorn into movie theaters.”

“Are the ‘No Food Allowed’ signs clearly posted?” somebody asked.

I hung my head and said, “Yes.”

When I was done, everyone stared humbly at the floor. I, however, was quite pleased at my mastery of becoming vulnerable.

Ezzo program a blessing

I have nothing but good to say about Preparation for Parenting [“Brave New Baby,” News, Aug. 16]. Because of Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo’s program, I have a child who slept through the night at five weeks. I was highly disappointed by the slanted nature of your article. There was not one example of families for whom this program has been a blessing. When a program that reminds us to get back to biblical basics as we raise our children to love God comes along, we should be careful not to destroy its pure intentions, while examining it fairly and by God’s Word.

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Kendra Fletcher

San Francisco, Calif.

We applaud the Ezzos for seeking to apply Scripture to this important area of life. However, we believe it can be done with more charity, more liberty, and more accuracy.

Stan and Debbie Reeves Auburn, Ala.

I am grateful to Tom Giles for tackling this difficult and controversial story. The major appeal of Preparation for Parenting is that it offers an easy, cut-and-dried approach to parenting complete with guarantees, and it contains just enough truth to mask what is personal opinion. What parent would turn down a method that practically guarantees peace, harmony, friendship, and a decision for Christ?

Name withheld by request

Santa Maria, Calif.

I am appalled at the Ezzos’ ethnocentric slam on parenting/mothering in the Two-Thirds world. The Ezzos seem unaware that God is supracultural.

Deborah Crough

Yaounder, Cameroon

I have been a medical missionary in Nepal for 25 years, specializing in pediatrics, maternal and child health, and public health. The sort of “biblical teaching” espoused by the Ezzos harks back to the dogmatic directions given by pediatricians in the 1940s. These artificial feeding schedules so that mothers (and doctors) could “control” their children have now been discredited.

Suckling on demand is nature’s (God’s) way to “control” the amount of milk an infant needs from its mother. What a marvelous custom-made mechanism God has put into place! We tamper with it at our own peril.

Suckling on demand is the best way to establish an adequate amount of breast milk. The chance of lactation failure is much higher if a baby is placed on a schedule. Furthermore, if there isn’t enough breast milk, eventually the baby either starves or the mother resorts to formula feeding. In poor, developing countries, the risk of death for a bottle-fed infant less than six months old is 25 times greater than for a breast-fed infant. I fear the possible consequences should the Ezzos’ type of advice for mothers be exported to developing countries.

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Cynthia Hale, M.D.

Loudenville, N.Y.

Discerning between church and state

Hurray for Philip Yancey! His column “Why Clinton Is Not Antichrist” [Aug. 16] may ruffle some feathers, but affirmed again for me the role of the church. The church must not try to persuade government, but live righteously so as to give hope to the world. The more distinction we have between church and state, the more the world can see the work of Christ through the church. Changing the laws of the land will not transform the lives of people.

Pastor Dave Graybill

First Mennonite Church

Johnstown, Pa.

In his otherwise discerning article, how could Yancey have omitted reference to the one great command of our risen Lord: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” “Discipling” a nation is neither “Christianizing” nor passively “being.” It requires aggressive prayer, planning, and hard work toward the goal of seeing Christ incarnated (“church” planted) within access of every person.

It profoundly disturbs me that many Christians in America are either trying to Christianize the nation in the sense Yancey effectively debunks or passively trying to “be” the church. While Christians in many truly hostile situations around the world are aggressively bringing multitudes to Christ and gathering them into new congregations, we’re suffering for our half-hearted obedience to the one very specific command of our Lord concerning nations.

Dr. James H. Montgomery

Dawn Ministries

Colorado Springs, Colo.

Yancey states that Bill Clinton is a lifelong Southern Baptist. But the Washington Times states that “Mr. Clinton began attending Baptist services after he lost his first race for re-election as governor of Arkansas.” Yancey said nothing about Bill Clinton’s policies on abortion or homosexuality. But the Southern Baptist national conference issued a statement calling Clinton a prodigal son and urged him to return to the fold.

LaNell Sado

Arlington, Va.

I am pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, the church where President Clinton is a member. I have “filtered” through letters, calls, articles for the last two years. I have been able to maintain communication with the President from a conservative, evangelical perspective [though] my “brethren” have not always appreciated, understood, or supported my unique position.

Dr. Rex M. Horne, Jr.

Immanuel Baptist Church

Little Rock, Ark.

TV controls no solution

As much as I abhor the overdose of violence and sleaze on television, the notion that stricter government censorship or new government guidelines could correct the situation is even more abhorrent [“Why Trust TV Execs?” Editorial, Aug. 16]. Letting the government sanction a certain amount of TV murders, adulterous affairs, and other unsavory acts would limit the already stifled creative spirits in Hollywood, and worse, stall the consumer uprising, which is the key to bringing about real changes. Tighter controls will only issue a challenge to “artists” to fulfill sleaze quotas and push the new limits.

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Valerie A. Loop

Mossyrock, Wash.

The struggle at King’s

Your News story [Aug. 16] on The King’s College touched upon some of the financial challenges while missing the real dimensions of the organizational and spiritual struggle.

I recall my arrival at King’s in 1986. Control over the day-by-day affairs of the college was in the hands of a tight clique surrounding Samuel Barkat, vice-president of academic affairs and professor of psychology. Under their control, faculty dissent was regularly quashed, subbiblical theology was honored more than dishonored, and immorality had made tragically uncorrected inroads.

Although President Radandt tried to work with the old crowd of insiders, he concluded that it couldn’t be done. So, he proposed to bring in a new vice-president of academic affairs. However, Barkat and the old crowd decided to declare war and proceeded to do everything they could to make miserable the life of the president and anyone who they perceived as siding with him. Their bloodlust for the life of the college evidently still runs hot.

Prof. Tony Carnes

The King’s College

Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.

Guarantor of orthodoxy?

In your news article “Christian Leaders Admonish Hinn” [Aug. 16], it is reported that “James Robison says he brought [a warning about the word-of-faith doctrine] to Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and Larry Lea, but none of them heeded the warning.”

First, on what basis has James Robison been catapulted into the role of guarantor of evangelical orthodoxy?

Second, the implication that Jimmy Swaggart was an unrepentant proponent of the word-of-faith doctrine is very misleading. I remember hearing Swaggart’s radio sermons in the late 1970s on the theme of God’s “power of attorney” being given to Christians. But in the early eighties, Swaggart gave plenty of evidence that he saw the error of the “name it-claim it” teaching. This is most clearly evidenced by the article “Hyper-Faith: A New Gnosticism,” published under his name in his organization’s magazine, the Evangelist (May 1982).

David R. Bundrick, National Director

The Assemblies of God

Springfield, Mo.

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