In fact, 1,435 readers wrote to CT in 1995--via fax, e-mail, and "snail mail."
Readers wrote on many subjects, but most notably on the debate last summer between John Woodbridge and James Dobson on whether using "fighting words" in defense of truth help or hurt our cause (June 19, 1995), and on Woodbridge's earlier article, "Culture War Casualties," that sparked the discussion (Mar. 6, 1995). Runner-up was a wide range of opinions about the CT Institute in December 1994 on evangelicals and Catholics--J. I. Packer on the document "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" and Alister McGrath's analysis of the new Catholic catechism.
We heard from dozens more about adulterous pastors (April 3, 1995), and on the discussion engendered by Mark Noll's book "Scandal of the Evangelical Mind" (Aug. 14, 1995).
This issue shows lively opinions about November 13 articles by Caleb Rosado on affirmative action and by Frederica Mathewes-Green on the sin of gluttony.
In 1996, keep those cards and letters coming. We appreciate hearing from you.
GRAHAM: MODEL OF STEADFASTNESS
- Thank you for providing us with such a thorough and fitting tribute to Billy Graham on his fiftieth ministry-year anniversary [Nov. 13]. As a pastor, I have heard many people say, in the wake of all the televangelist scandals, that "if Billy Graham ever falls, I'm hanging up my faith." Billy's faithfulness to his Lord and to his wife has provided a fantastic model of steadfastness for the rest of us. His example has, indeed, inspired other preachers to stay the course.
- Dale Johnsen
It could well be noted that some of us sensed Billy Graham's calling very early on. He was a classmate of mine at Wheaton College in the forties. I sang in Billy's gospel team quartet. I never remember being in a church sanctuary or an evangelical church on a Sunday evening; we went where the gospel was needed. We would drive in Billy's old Plymouth, and the five of us would pray all the way to the service. When Billy prayed, he often said, "Is it OK if I keep my eyes open while I drive and pray?" His message was always the simple gospel. "The Bible says...For God so loved the world...The Bible says...Come unto me all ye that labor...and I will give you rest...The Bible says...Now is the day of salvation...."
After every service we would comment, "Wow, two people came to Christ tonight," or the next Sunday, "Wow, three were saved tonight." We thought the numbers were unbelievable. As this was repeated Sunday after Sunday, I can still remember the quartet sharing on different occasions, "God has his hand on Billy; the Lord is really going to use this guy some day."
Billy hasn't changed. The Word hasn't changed. It's still "The Bible says..." The last issue of CT was a testimony to our humble prophecy.
- Donald R. Brown, D.D.S.
Bonita Springs, Fla.
To William Martin's point that within the fundamentalist/evangelical camp Billy championed the participation of liberal Christian ministers in his campaigns, racial integration, and cooperation with communists, I would like to add another possible reason for his iconoclastic perspectives.
At Wheaton, Billy Graham encountered anthropology from the stimulating teaching of the late Alexander Grigolia. If Billy's experience was anything like my own, he experienced sudden enlightenment upon learning the concept of culture. For the first time, I saw myself as a product of my culture, and others of theirs. If I was to effectually communicate with others, I must realize that my way of thinking is not the cosmic norm, and that I must respect the views of others by understanding the cultural forces acting upon them. I must be aware of my own ethnocentrism as well as theirs. Griggie taught us to respect differences in both culture--and race.
Today nearly everyone has heard of culture and has at least a superficial understanding of it. But 60 years ago it was a relatively new, powerful concept that provided the diligent student a new world-view.
- H. Wade Seaford, Jr.
Penney Farms, Fla.
At the time of Billy Graham's first evangelistic campaign in Los Angeles I was a student at the American Baptist Seminary, and I attended several of the meetings. I was not conscious of any great difference between Billy's messages and those of numerous other evangelists whom I had heard in the past--or since. Who could question the fact that God called Graham for the specific purpose of evangelism, and that he has wholeheartedly carried out his call, honestly, faithfully, and effectively?
The one aspect of Graham's format I have felt was inconsistent with the campaign's purpose is the practice of having political or other celebrities on the platform at his meetings. Since many of these are people whose lives are diametrically at conflict with God's clearly stated teachings, doesn't this practice suggest a practical antinomianism which is out of place in the work of a dedicated proclaimer of God's holiness? I am totally in favor of politicians and celebrities coming under the sound of the gospel, but should it be as models?
- L. Edward Laraway
Billy Graham is a world evangelist. We of the Baptist World Alliance and as Baptists worldwide are grateful for the model he has given to world evangelism and for the awakening within the hearts of Christian believers all over the world, and for the watchword for evangelization he offered, "the evangelization of the world in this generation." We are also grateful that he has shown, in a very practical and significant way, that ecumenism is not ecclesiastical leaders sitting around discussing esoteric questions of doctrine but is Christian believers gathering together in the unity of the Spirit and proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ. Beginning with the Berlin Congress of Evangelism through the Lausanne and Amsterdam conferences, Billy Graham has been shown to be an ecumenical statesman par excellence. His evangelistic crusades have spawned a great period of unity among Christians of many persuasions and denominations to work together for the kingdom of Christ and the evangelization of the world.
We salute Christianity Today in their recognition of Billy Graham and join with millions of Christians around the world in saluting Dr. Billy Graham, world evangelist, servant of Christ, friend of the poor and the lost!
- Denton Lotz, General Secretary
Baptist World Alliance
- Billy Graham is certainly worthy of the respect he commands. He would also be worthy of an article that omits the pejorative generalizations regarding fundamentalists found in William Martin's "Fifty Years with Billy." Garth Rosell got it right in "Grace Under Fire." Sadly, fundamentalists and evangelicals have too often shouted out the faults of the other "camp" rather than appreciated that both, equally needy of the grace of God, have been used by God to advance his kingdom.
- Michael Suhany
GOD'S JUSTICE IS NOT LIKE OURS
- Thank you for printing Caleb Rosado's "God's Affirmative Justice" opinion piece in the November 13 issue. I was favorably impressed by his reasoning and believe that he has the right idea. God's justice is certainly not the same as my justice. I'm like most people, happy with justice as long as no one gets more than me. But his use of the landowner who paid everybody the same wage for different amounts of work struck a chord with me. I know there are some days at my job that I shouldn't be paid for. Christ's compassion and mercy are better than mine will ever be.
- Archie Caughell
Rosado's use of the parables of the landowner who paid the same amount to all his workers, no matter how long they had worked, and of the prodigal son who was welcomed back with open arms by his father harm rather than help his case. Neither of these stories has anything to do with affirmative action; each has striking and specific theological meanings which would have been clear to their hearers.
- Robert J. Schier
Rosado missed a crucial point when he attempted to use the parable of the landowner and the laborers to justify affirmative action laws. In Matthew 20: 13, the landowner reminds the complaining workers that they had agreed to work for a certain amount, and that's what they got. He chose to make different agreements with other workers and he paid them what they agreed to.
The situation with affirmative action is very different. We thought we had agreed in this country that racial discrimination was wrong. There are good biblical reasons to insist that it is wrong. But the goals, set-asides, quotas, and other forms of racial preferences that affirmative action has required by law are, in fact, just another form of racial discrimination. The government has not done what it said it would do. You can't eliminate racial discrimination by practicing more of it.
- Wayne Shockley
- It is so good to see a Christian brother apply our faith to the issue of affirmative action. I have tried on many occasions to convey my beliefs to opponents of affirmative action, but never so poignantly as has Caleb Rosado. He boldly lifts up the scriptural mandate to base our systems of hiring, not upon our perceptions of "fairness" or upon what we "deserve," but instead upon God's awareness of justice: that is, upon what people need.
- Rev. Roger Wolsey
Rosado has again demonstrated that man's notion of what is fair and/or just is always colored by how he is personally affected.
In 1975, having graduated from the best criminal justice program in the country, I was told by over 180 police and criminal justice agencies that as they were in the process of complying with federal affirmative action requirements, my application could not be accepted unless I were a minority member or female. This was no matter of "perceived advantage to individuals from underrepresented groups." If I had been a woman or minority member with a GED, my application would have been gratefully received, whether or not I could pass the written, physical, polygraph, and board exams.
I know my family history back to the eleventh century, and though in Ireland we suffered servitude to the British, none of our line ever held African slaves, slaughtered Native Americans, or owned farms worked by Mexican migrants. We were indentured servants, transported prisoners, simple laborers, not overlords. So, wherein have I or my forebears offended against "underrepresented persons" that a God that "is no respecter of persons" requires that I submit graciously to deprivation of food, shelter, clothing, employment?
I am mightily offended by the cavalier manner in which Rosado sticks words in Christ's mouth. Scripture is silent about the motives of the landowner, a parable about salvation, not labor relations. Rosado and others would think equality requires that all short persons be given elevator shoes and all tall persons be beheaded.
- Ronald M. Garrett
WORTH A YEAR'S SUBSCRIPTION
The November 13 issue was worth a year's subscription. The article "To Hell on a Cream Puff" was particularly well written and most helpful. I have read and reread it; "Dieting can merely be a substitute of one of the Seven Deadly Sins for another: forsaking Gluttony, we fall into Vanity." How true! Fasting as a means of restoring self-control? I followed the advice of St. Climacus for one week: "Let us for a while only deny ourselves fattening foods." It was difficult, but that one step up the ladder was just what I needed to exercise my flabby muscles. It was a victory, my first in a long time. I look forward to the next rung up.
- Carolyn Wynstra
- There was truly a lack of understanding about addictions and those suffering from eating disorders. It appears that fasting was suggested as a cure. Many will suffer more guilt and shame as a result of trying to follow the dangerous advice suggested.
- Gregg Jantz
"To Hell on a Cream Puff" offers a needed adjustment to the dimensions of the Christian life. I was reminded of an incident when, having returned, several pounds lighter, from teaching in China, I was standing in a shopping mall and was shocked at all the bodies of jiggling fat parading before me. Had I been standing in the church parking lot, the view wouldn't have been much different.
- Richard L. Stevens
Cape Coral, Fla.
I am sure the problem dealt with is shared by many, but no real solution was presented. Try this: Read 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. Copy it onto two cards, one to set before you and one to carry: "God's temple is holy, and you are that temple. God's spirit dwells in you." Each time you are tempted to overindulge, consult with your God who dwells within you, his holy temple. Treating your body as his temple requires no onerous self-denial.
- Hilda Peterson Schaefer
The [News] article "Principle or Pragmatism?" [Nov. 13] was carefully worded in order to remain politically neutral but was extremely helpful and thought-provoking. As I read about the smugness of the extreme rightists, I was reminded of a story about a woman, in her eighties, who always voted a straight Republican ticket. Her son said, "Mom, I'll bet that you would not vote Democratic if the Lord himself were on that ticket." Her reply: "Certainly not. This is no time for him to switch parties."
- Edwin W. Kortz
Poor Ron Sider. Not long ago he was busy telling us we could easily be liberal in politics and conservative on faith issues. He was going to be our great, Christian Robin Hood. He wanted to tax the rich and give to the poor--all for the sake of children. Now that his liberal dreams have turned to nightmares, all Ron Sider can hope for in a presidential candidate is one "which is likely to do the least damage."
- C. K. Larson
THANKS FOR THE BIBLE ISSUE
Belated thanks for and congratulations on your October 23, 1995, Bible issue; it was one of your strongest--at the level that Carl Henry used to seek.
- Art Thomas
As a student of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, I found your annual Bible issue quite disconcerting. A more appropriate title for the issue would be "The New Testament Tells Me So." The lack of discussion of any issues relating specifically to the interpretation of the Old Testament will just reinforce the "practical Marcionism" that is so prevalent among evangelicals today.
- Tyler Williams
Toronto, Ont., Canada
- Thank you for the wonderful issue. It really helped to deepen my feelings on the newer translations of the Bible. Modern translations can assist in understanding biblical passages; however, Revelation 22 makes it clear; the Word mustn't be taken from or added to. Isn't modernizing and paraphrasing adding to and taking from? Are the words "trustworthy and true" if they have been changed?
- Denise Rainey
Timothy George did his homework in the historical statements, including those of the Lausanne Covenant and the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy ["What We Mean When We Say It's True"]. Hermeneutically, he constructively emphasized exegesis rather than postmodern relativistic eisegesis.
A constructive criticism: Paralleling the union of special revelation and the Spirit, he could add the Spirit's universal use of truths in general revelation making all humans inexcusable for idolatry, injustice, and immorality. In administering divine providence, the Spirit uses historical and scientific evidences. They are used also for confirmation of the objective validity of the gospel's assertions as the Spirit subjectively assures believers that they personally are children of God.
The evangelical cause needs more theological articles on classical Christianity that has appealed to commonalities shared by all kinds of people of all tribes and contexts. The classically relevant faith is the basis for evaluating the prevailing winds of postmodernism. et cetera.
- Gordon R. Lewis
Wendy Murray Zoba's article on the work of textual critics was especially appreciated, for that kind of information is not often made available to those without a seminary education.
- E. Ermal Allen
Shattalon Church of Christ
EXCELLENT TRANSLATION, DEFECTIVE SOURCE
The "King James Only" movement puzzles me ["King James-Only Advocates Experience Renaissance," News, Nov. 13]. Its members tend to come from among the most evangelically oriented among us. One would think that they, of all people, would want a Bible that was accurate and understandable. Yet they insist on a Bible that is neither.
American education being what it is today, most high-school graduates, and many college graduates, cannot read and understand Shakespeare. But the language of Shakespeare is the language of the King James Bible. How can you reach out to people with the Word of God if they have no idea what they are reading?
And, if the Bible is God's word, and the "only rule of faith and practice," shouldn't you use the most accurate translation you can get? The Greek text that was the basis for the KJV translation was a sixteenth-century translation, based on late medieval manuscripts. Those who produced that translation had access to older manuscripts but chose not to use them because they varied too much from the later ones. But the earlier manuscripts were more accurate. We now have many more, much older, and more nearly original manuscripts available, as well as 300 years of advances in the study of Greek and Hebrew language, structure, syntax, and idioms. Yet the KJV-onlies reject newer translations because newer translations don't always say what they want the Bible to say. But the task of the evangelical is to teach what the Bible actually says, not what we may want it to say.
The King James Version of the Bible is an excellent translation of a seriously defective source, written in language most modern readers cannot understand. To use it as a foundation for evangelism in today's society is irresponsible, ineffective, and unfaithful.
- Rev. Randolph C. Nolen
Richmond Heights, Mo.
- On page 10 of [the Oct. 23 issue, an ad] implies that the KJV is a masterpiece--"one that can't be updated." I agree. No one attempts to modernize the masterpieces of history's great artists. Why? The paintings stand as reflections of the artists' talent and vision. The publishing houses should consider investing in the modernization of great art, for the clothing and hair styles are not contemporary, and many do not understand the historical accuracy of the art. I know it is a foolish thought, but no more so than modern-day Bible scholars who attempt to modernize the work of God.
- Jeffrey W. Kelley
Brief letters are welcome. They may be edited for space and clarity and must include the writer's name and address. Send to Eutychus, Christianity Today, 465 Gundersen Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188; fax: 708/260-0114. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters preceded by - were received online.
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