A preference for Pat
Tim Stafford's not-so-flattering portrayal of Pat Robertson ["Robertson R Us," Aug. 12] was provocative but omitted reference to the daily Newswatch program that precedes the 700 Club. Our family videotapes Newswatch every day for later viewing. However, we intentionally do not tape the latter portion of the 700 Club, due to our lack of theological affinity for some of the nuances Stafford addresses.
Newswatch is the only daily television newscast that we can trust. It's the reason we subscribed to cable tv. We would "rather" watch Pat than Dan, Tom, or Peter.
Doug and Linda Gwinn
Tim Stafford wrote an excellent article on Pat Robertson, perhaps the best ever written on the religious broadcaster. As a former Robertson devotee, I was surprised at Robertson's concession that he doesn't expect a revival in America.
Will Robertson be remembered in 20 years? Yes, he will, but he won't be missed. Pat Robertson is one of the main reasons our organization monitors the Religious Right. He is also one of the many reasons I converted to Judaism.
After Christians tire of "end time" theology, I think there will be revival in righteousness, but it may come through Judaism and not Christianity.
Institute for First Amendment Studies
Great Barrington, Mass.
* I loathed Pat Robertson. I saw nothing in him not crass, cheap, and self-centered. But your story changed my mind. I am crass, cheap, and self-centered. And I cannot claim to have evangelized millions. So thanks to you, I will try not to judge so quickly in the future. Thank you for a provoking article.
* Your profile of Pat Robertson was a gracious one. You seemed to grant that the political/social agenda he champions is compatible with biblical Christianity. In fact, Robertson's mix of nationalism, capitalism, and political ambition couched in biblical language has turned many people off to the gospel who would otherwise be receptive. There is no question that Robertson is one of the most influential American Christian figures of the late twentieth century, but much of that influence has been negative. Robertson is not us.
I'm sure many would consider Tim Stafford's article on Pat Robertson to be a balanced report-perhaps it is in this P.C. world. When he says Pat is considered a nut in some quarters, I recall Noah building the ark and what happened to the jesters when the rains came. As to the "strange stuff"-many of us worship a supernatural God who can and does control hurricanes, heal the infirm, and speak to us when we take time out to listen. Experience is greater than knowledge.
The article was well written and contained a fascinating look at Pat Robertson and at evangelicals as a whole. Stafford, however, made one statement that contained a significant error and indicated a surprising lapse of research. He states that "No one professionally involved with religion-no priest or minister-had ever been a serious candidate for the presidency."
President James A. Garfield was an ordained minister in the Churches of Christ and the Christian Churches. For many years prior to entering politics he served as the preacher of the Miles Avenue Church of Christ in Cleveland, Ohio. He also was instrumental in founding, and served as the first president, of Hiram College [originally called the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute], a school that held the original purpose of training young men for the ministry.
Perhaps Garfield's early and tragic assassination has eliminated him from our collective memory to the point that we no longer are aware of his ministerial avocation.
Dale R. Meade
The really important things
Susan Bergman's article "In the Shadow of the Martyrs" [Aug. 12] is a sobering reminder of the really important things in faith and life. The things that sometimes seem so very important-committees, meetings, building programs, budgets, and so on-pale in comparison to the possibility of losing one's life for Christ. May the Lord forgive us for our superficiality and give us a heart to follow and serve him even unto death.
David R. Dusek
* "In The Shadow of the Martyrs," touched the core of my soul more than any other article, perhaps book, that I have read. My eyes were filled with tears as I read about the brutality of man and the beauty of a life sacrificed for our Lord and Savior. I always say, "It is easy to trust God when you don't really need to." The testimony of these martyrs rebukes my self-gratifying faith and selfish, affluent lifestyle. It takes more than head knowledge of Jesus or any doctrine to follow Jesus in such a manner. My faith and commitment are in for an overhaul.
Arlington Heights, Ill.
Susan Bergman quotes from letters by Lizzie Atwater, who, along with her husband, children, and many others, was killed in the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900. I am a direct descendant of the Atwaters and last year received a copy of their family history. As I read it, I came across these same letters by Lizzie Atwater and was startled to read that two of her children who were away at school were beheaded in Taiyuan (not Taiwan as the article misquoted), the capital of Shanxi Province [mainland China]. Taiyuan is important to me because eight years ago I spent a sabbatical year there teaching English. Little did I know that almost a century earlier, this same city had already become "holy ground" with the blood of my own family line.
Janet E. Taylor
A consistent pro-life ethic
It was refreshing to read Ron Sider's editorial "Our Selective Rage" [Aug. 12]. There are more than a few of us who would advocate such a consistent pro-life ethic.
More of these voices are needed in order for our society to realize that the Christian Coalition, or a one-sided Christian Left, does not speak for all Christians. The recent Call to Renewal that has formed is such an attempt to form a new alliance. This message, as articulated in the editorial, is important for evangelicals to hear. Others should know that there are Christians who are "pro-life" when it comes to abortion, but who also urge that a sanctity of life thread be woven into the discussion when persons are dying due to war, pollution, and poverty.
Pastor Phil Ebersole
Bancroft Mennonite Church
* Sider clearly shows that Christian involvement in the political arena is much more complicated than simply following a "Congressional Scorecard." He provides us with timely advice for these turbulent times.
Ron Sider precisely defines the difficulties that impede the church's efforts to achieve a "biblically balanced political agenda"; but are such efforts really necessary? The body of Christ is not, and cannot hope to become, a homogeneous formation; it is more properly an imperfect mosaic, colored by the very cultural, traditional, and political mores cited in his editorial. In that event, it is important to recognize the differences in emphasis that Christians will assign to each item on the shopping list of issues prepared by him regarding the sanctity of life. The addition of a new "coalition" in an already crowded field of Christian pacs would, in effect, represent nothing more than a continuation of current strategies.
Operating in the light of God's Word we must choose our battles carefully, not decrying the efforts of others, motivated by the understanding that we "see through a glass darkly," while God, seeing all, transforms the discrete elements of the church into the Bride of Christ, who will fulfill the earthly obligations required of her, arrived at after the summation of tribulations we have yet to bear.
Edward J. Borges-Silva
Evolution no "embattled theory"
* If Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey consider that scientific tenets should be decided by popular referendum, then they have some fundamental misconceptions about what science is all about ["Planet of the Apes?" Aug. 12]. Evolution is taught in classrooms because the overwhelming majority of scientists agree that it is the best scientific description of how life developed on this planet. Contrary to the authors' assertions, evolution is not an embattled theory. Science, by its nature, does not pass off unchallenged dogmas, but rather subjects its hypotheses to rigorous testing, using the scientific method. The theories proposed by Darwin have been subject to this kind of testing for over a century by thousands of scientists, who have agreed overwhelmingly that it is supported by the evidence that they have analyzed.
Science, however, never makes metaphysical assertions; nor does it concern itself with the supernatural or the existence of God. These ideas are totally beyond the purview of science and are the proper preserve of ethics, religion, and faith. It is not the business of science to provide "transcendent moral guidelines." Darwinism provides a scientific-not a religious-means of understanding life on earth. Is this incompatible with a Christian understanding of man and his place in the universe? Colson and Pearcey may believe so, but that makes me think that their God is fragile and weak-like man-and not the omnipotent, ineffable being attested in his Scriptures.
San Francisco, Calif.
Christians and non-Christians alike should heed what Charles Colson and others are saying about the inability of modern science to formulate sound theories of origins of life and the universe. As a Christian and scientist, I feel deeply about this.
The scientific enterprise has accomplished wonderful things, but it has its dark side: scientists are not trained to think critically, and the pressures of life such as economics, politics, social status, and personal beliefs tend to inhibit disciplined reasoning and clear thinking. It is ironic that Christians, who are sometimes rightly accused of being "unscientific," actually have the potential, by the mercies of God, to infuse a higher degree of reason into the scientific enterprise.
John B. Coulter III
* Colson apparently does not understand the role of science. Science does not make "metaphysical assertions." It simply investigates the physical evidence to determine how events occur. From molecular biology to paleontology, the mountain of data supporting evolution grows daily. What is sad is that the evangelical community has been beaten to the punch by those espousing naturalism. I do agree with Colson when he exhorts Christians to come together to "craft a credible apologetic" regarding Darwinian evolution. That is the role of theology, not science.
I hope Charles Colson's call is not ignored for Christians to respond to Darwinism/Naturalism with a reasoned apologetic at the scientific and philosophical levels. Toward this end I have written a chapter with Dr. Jay Hollinan, "Ethical Issues in Genetic Diagnosis and Treatment," in a book, New Issues in Medical Ethics, in which we challenge those who believe the Bible to "understand the genetic revolution well enough to critically review what is being taught so they are able to respond in an informed and thoughtful manner."
In response to Colson's question "who wrote the genetic code?" God knows my answer, because he knows my heart. Humankind knows my answer, because it has been published. My thanks to Colson for encouraging us as Christians to craft a credible apologetic in response to naturalism. It may be one of the most important things that those involved in scientific research can do. Indeed, the world-view held by all people with regard to morality and human dignity is at stake.
William J. Parsons, M.D.
Baylor University Medical Center
How does a professor of environmental ethics at Cornell know what is happening in K-12 public education throughout this country ["Our Faithless Forefathers," Books, Aug. 12]? What proof does he have to back up his statements that public schools routinely teach satisfying one's own desires as well as directly competing with traditional Christian beliefs? What do these statements have to do with a book review on The Godless Constitution: The Case Against Religious Correctness?
I feel Richard Baer's unsolicited editorial comments disguised as part of a book review are offensive to the many Christians who have given their lives teaching and living Christian values in America's K-12 public schools.
Don Fekete, Ph.D.
Public School Superintendent
Multi-ethnic worship increasing
I found "Silent Exodus" helpful and informative in describing the plight of Asian-American churches [News, Aug. 12]. However, I felt the overall tone was pessimistic and seemed to lack hope. I see the generational exodus of young Asians as a serious problem, but I consider myself a realist, who believes in God's reality. When the gospel is believed, communicated, and practiced in its biblical fullness, I believe it can transform any individual, ethnic group, or place.
There was a distinction between multi-congregational ethnic churches and multi-ethnic worship services of churches, which I thought your article did not sufficiently explain. However, as we move into the twenty-first century, closer to Christ's return, and the world becomes more of a global village, I believe the church will begin to reflect the multi-ethnic worship seen in Revelation 7 more and more. I believe Christ's body would be healthier if it focused less on how "our" culture relates to the gospel and more on how the gospel transforms us, our culture, and the culture around us. Asian-American Christians in New York City are certainly not "just trying to survive," but beginning to thrive because they have grasped the reality of the transforming power of the gospel.
Jim Om, Pastoral Intern
Redeemer Presbyterian Church
New York City, N.Y.
Our awesome God
* Thank you [for Ruth Tucker's From the Fringe to the Fold, July 15]. As a member of the Worldwide Church of God, if there is one thing I would like my brothers and sisters in Christ to know, it is how very much we all love them, and also how sorry we are that we were in error. But we know the love of our Savior will cause us all to forget the differences of the past and dwell on the unity in Christ that we have been blessed with.
Our God is truly an awesome God and greatly to be praised!
St. Petersburg, Fla.
* Congratulations on your treatment of the "changes" at wcg. I've spent time with the wives of the regional directors, and they set a stunning example to me of people who have sacrificed security, finances, and close relationships to proclaim the truth about Christ. The group needs our love and support.
As a longtime wcg member, let me say that the recent article by Ruth Tucker was inaccurate in some critical areas.
First, Tucker states the church is now led by a board of directors. This is not true; Joseph Tkach still wields absolute authority over the church, including the council of elders. The by-laws of the wcg show that Tkach has sole power to hire and fire board members and to make ecclesiastical decisions. His term is for life.
Second, women continue to be second-class citizens in the wcg. They are not allowed to speak in any capacitiy from the pulpit. Instead, they are separated into their own "ministry," holding teas, and so on.
The "vitality of faith" Tucker speaks of is not apparent in many local congregations. Instead, both attendance and income continue to plummet. One of the most common phrases used by wcg members is "I'm hanging in there because I don't know where else to go."
Thanks for the reviews
Thanks for Robert Patterson's "Getting Evangelicals into the Church: The Heresy of Individualism" [Books, July 15] The review title is very revealing on how the majority of modern Christians mistakenly view the "church." We have so institutionalized its function that we have difficulty understanding it as a Holy Spirit-led and energized, living, breathing organism. Are we not being presumptuous when we judge those who are not involved in a traditional form of the "church" to be individualistic, out of God's will, and not "part of the church"?
* In reading Donald Bloesch's review of The New Century Hymnal, I was struck by how familiar the hymnal's feminine God imagery sounded, recalling Ernst Bergmann's catechism for "Positive Christianity" in Hitler's Third Reich. It states the belief that "the All-Mother gives birth to Knowing, Being, and Mind," and the "Mind-child God lives in the womb of the All-Mother." Actually, it is a bit refreshing to know that some of the ucc's ever-trendy theology has been around for at least 60 years.
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Last Updated: October 2, 1996
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