I was edified by Tim Stafford's overview of the population debate ["Are People the Problem?" CT Institute, Oct. 3]. Several of my myths were debunked. Yet, in the end, I was uneasy with some of the explicit and implied conclusions. My concern is that Stafford has accepted some conclusions of the population movement without fully examining them in the light of an evangelical focus on Jesus.

For example, Stafford describes scenes where Indians have internalized the population-control message, the implication being that this was achieved largely through improved mortality rates for children. This is wonderful material for a secular conference on population control. I found myself wondering about the state of the soul of the people he described. My concern is that by defining marginal progress against the symptoms of an underlying spiritual malaise as a success story, we might lose our focus on transformation through redemption.

While Stafford's conclusion that family planning belongs to families is certainly a valid restatement of the emerging consensus of the population movement, it seems marginally relevant to evangelical concerns. With the U.S. government contributing hundreds of millions to supporting population-control efforts while U.S. evangelicals are devoting much less than that to reaching unreached peoples, our priorities should be clear. Support for family-planning efforts can certainly be a byproduct of our central mission; it should never be a focus.

But Stafford finishes well: "The certainty of God's triumph and of his judgment must control how we concern ourselves with population." In the final analysis, population-control programs remain the purview of a population movement that reflects a secular world-view. ...

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