A HUNDREDFOLD RETURN
Words can hardly express what I felt as I read "100 Things the Church Is Doing Right" in your November 17 issue. I was inspired as I read that real people, who have a strong, vibrant love for others generated by the Savior's love for them, are all over this sin-saturated planet making a real difference in so many lives! Your cover feature proves yet again that hearing God's message is wonderful, because "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word"; but it also proves just as certainly that faith comes by seeing the message when it's lived by people created in God's image. I find it hard not to weep when I see firsthand the difference a relationship with Jesus can make. There is no better way to reclaim lives than to get the church involved, as you so convincingly show in your contemporary example of the hundredfold return.
John H. Busser
* I especially appreciated the balance of evangelism/social action represented by your choices. In a time when much of evangelicalism seems to be in a defensive posture towards the secular world, these "light" stories provide a much needed reminder that God is still changing the world through his people. My only regret—as a New Englander—is that you didn't manage to locate anything good happening in New England. I assure you that God is working here as well, doing powerful things through the churches in our region.
* I commend you on a most inspirational issue! It's the first time in years that I've read an entire issue of a magazine from cover to cover in one sitting. I was moved to tears before I got through #1.
Edmonton, Alta., Canada
* I congratulate you for discovering that God is alive and well in Jackson, Mississippi. Voice of Calvary Ministries is indeed worthy of mention. And Ronnie Crudup, who sat next to me on many Board of Servant meetings of Voice of Calvary Ministries, is an extraordinary servant of God—as is Thomas Jenkins, chairperson, who also has a vital pastoral training ministry in French West Africa. The church, without these usually unsung heroes, would not be as vibrant as it is in many parts of this country.
Vision New England
This letter is written to show my disapproval of "Chuck Singleton, The Abolitionist." I am cognizant of the accusations that Sudan and other African countries have continued with the horrific trade in human beings. If true, such workings are to be actively condemned at all costs. However, one certainly cannot justify the assumption that Islam condones slavery any more than Christianity does. Also, the hinted assumption that Islam condones prejudice is also certainly not correct.
The problem of the Sudan is not unique. Persecution seems to be a growing global trend. The focus is on Christian oppression, but globally, many others are oppressed as well.
Juan P. Alvarado
Although I support Promise Keepers and its mission, I am unclear what the group means when its leaders call for repentance for racism ["Will the Walls Fall Down?" Nov. 17]. If they mean to say that individual members of PK who have harbored racist thoughts or engaged in racist behavior ought to repent, that seems right. However, if they are calling for all members of PK to repent for racism, as if the guilt of some were imputed to all, that cannot be right, since clearly not all men (including both whites and blacks) who attend a PK rally are racists. PK is a wonderful movement whose leaders should clarify exactly what is meant by "racial reconciliation." PK should not be PC.
Prof. Francis J. Beckwith
Trinity Graduate School, California
Anaheim Hills, Calif.
* Author Joe Maxwell's suggestion that a group of one million men made up of 80 percent whites and 14 percent Africa-Americans is off-balance is ludicrous. What better statistical representation of our national complexion could he have needed to witness? While we are all created equally in the eyes of our Lord, we are not equally distributed in this nation. A 50-50 split would have been a very sad reflection on the white male population. Thank God it was a representative one instead.
I read Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper. I told myself I would remember it was a man's book and I would be objective. I prayed I would have an open mind. I hadn't gone 20 pages until I thought, these men are being led to believe they are "saviors," and by 50 pages I was convinced.
I am not a radical feminist or a member of NOW. I am a retired military wife, and we worshiped in an army chapel. We always treasured our worship there. When Promise Keepers came in we couldn't accept their theology, felt uncomfortable, and left. If the church we now worship in is invaded by Promise Keepers, we will again depart.
Dorthy Van Meter
WOMEN AS "MORAL LIGHTWEIGHTS"
* After reading "Men Behaving Justly," by Frederica Mathewes-Green [Matters of Opinion, Nov. 17], I first felt uneasy and later angry. Her assertion that "women need to be tamed by men as well, particularly in moral issues" is demeaning. First, the author suggests that Christian women tend not to hold themselves to as high a moral standard as do Christian men. I cannot think of a more inaccurate generalization. The Christian women I know do not skirt around moral right and wrong or "consider human factors rather than principles of right and wrong in making ethical decisions" as Mathewes-Green argues. Second, the picture presented of male-female relationships is clearly one of the marriage relationship. If it is true that women need men to call them "upward toward the highest moral principles," then where are the single women left? Hopelessly abandoned in the dust of their own moral waywardness?
Ann Arbor, Mich.
* Thanks for the refreshing interview with Barbara Dafoe Whitehead [Conversations, Nov. 17]. She speaks a message on divorce the church needs to hear. In its passion to be culturally sensitive and relevant, the church should never forsake its mission to also be prophetic and countercultural. Biblical patterns of marriage and family life will preserve the integrity of the church and offer hope to the world.
Pastor Jim Miller
Lexington Mennonite Church
TRUTH IN LABELING
* Do inclusive-language Bibles distort Scripture? After reading both sides of the issue [Oct. 27], I am resigned to answer with a firm "yes and no." I agree with Dr. Grudem ("Yes") that accommodation of culture at the expense of accuracy is too high a cost to pay. It is not the Word of God that must become "all things to all people," but the messenger of the Word of God. As to Dr. Osborne ("No"), I would agree with his concern that polarization and name-calling among evangelicals over this issue will not help the mission of the church. We seem to be willing to allow a great deal of latitude in creating missionary translations, so why can we not see our own culture as a mission field?
There is an element of trust missing in this entire discussion. I, for one, trust that God will preserve his Word, no matter what mere men (that is, humans) try to do with it. It is, after all, his Word. If gender-neutral or inclusive-language translations are not of him, then I am confident that they will end up on the backlist of publishing history. If inclusivist translators disagree, and believe they are truly doing God's work, then let them clearly and confidently identify their "translation theory" on their work. Truth in labeling is the only ethical, honest option for evangelical translators.
Fort Worth, Texas
* I became a Christian by reading an NIV Bible. I had tried reading the Bible many times but had been mystified by church language and strange idioms. Through the NIV, the Lord became personal and his message understandable. Within a year, I was in Bible college and headed toward a career as a translator overseas.
Now in graduate studies, I rarely use the NIV. Nor do most scholars, for it is not literal enough for the exacting world of academia. Though an excellent translation and model for dynamic equivalence, the NIV is not the Bible of exegetes, but of the masses. Yet by necessity, it is the exegetes and professional scholars who control its contents. This aspect of the current argument I have not heard discussed.
When the scholars tell us we must hold to a specific form of the NIV, or preachers proclaim the KJV as inerrant, our leaders are no better than the pre-Reformation church, which said, "We will tell you which version to read, and we will tell you what it means." Through the years, translation arguments have assumed that the form is somehow sacred, and those who do not understand the form merely need instruction, not a new form. The unbeliever or nominal Christian is left at the mercy of the priest, the preacher, or the scholar, not the Word of God.
[Bruce] Metzger describes translation as "the art of making the right sacrifice." Are we willing to sacrifice the sacredness of the literal form in order to bring God's Word to a generation? Or will we choose to elevate the form and possibly sacrifice the generation? Let us look to these inclusive versions not as a new standard the church must embrace or reject, but as a legitimate method of reaching the lost.
Langley, B.C., Canada
* A major part of the problem is the lack of a neutral third person singular pronoun in the English language. I propose this radical solution: let's make one. People are inventing words all the time for various uses, so why not just make one up? My suggestion is Qe (pronounced key ). For one good reason, it will not be confused (in written form anyway) with other words, and it follows the he/she form. More importantly, it will give relief to millions of Scrabble players around the world who get stuck with a Q and no U! So please, language scholars of the world, unite. Go for coffee at your next convention and come up with one lousy word we can all use in place of that pesky he (where appropriate, of course). Is that too much to ask?
Rev. Joell Haugan
Kitimat, B.C., Canada
The "literal translation" arguments of Wayne Grudem convince me, whereas the "dynamic translation" arguments of Grant Osborne ring hollow. Seeing their reasoning debated side-by-side was what I needed to understand all the issues.
Now I wonder, "At what cost to accuracy have I been enjoying the readability of my NIV Bible for all these years?"
Amy M. Givler
One issue which has concerned me greatly is the attempt by American conservatives to control the publication of Bible translations in the United Kingdom—since they have put pressure on the Bible distributors of the NIVI (which we already have) to withdraw the version from British shelves. I wonder if they do not believe that Christians in the U.K. are spiritual enough or intelligent enough to think, pray, and study for themselves, and so we need the benevolent use of American power to control the Bibles we choose to use. After all, of course, the only serious Bible scholars and theologians in the English-speaking world must be Americans!
Perhaps they are blithely unaware of the offense their actions cause, and of the absolute arrogance it displays when they feel it to be their God-given right to control the walk of Christians in other nations. Perhaps they forget that using their economic clout to dictate to the International Bible Society and others in this way is an absolute contradiction of biblical principles and a denial of the gospel standards they say they seek to promote. Jesus warned us that we could tell the truth of messengers by their fruit.
As for my church? We will continue to enjoy hearing God's Word from the NIVI—for as long as our American brothers and sisters allow us!
Orchard Baptist Fellowship
Oxford, England, UK
* I really appreciated your balanced coverage of the gender-inclusive translation controversy. With Grudem's and Osborne's arguments facing each other, it is easier to appreciate the other point of view. I have been reading CT for many years now, and this confirmed my confidence in your reporting.
By the way, I'm curious: Did anyone research the spelling of the vegetable in the title of the article "Your Sins Shall Be White As Yucca" or did some editor with a spell-checker "fix" it? "Yuca" (pronounced you—kah) is a starchy root that is a staple food all over Peru: as an MK there I know it well; "yucca" (pronounced yuck-ah) is a desert tree that grows in southwestern U.S.A. There is no similarity other than spelling.
Was the inspiration of Scripture of God sufficient for all people of all time? Or did the Spirit fail to anticipate the social environment of late twentieth-century Western culture? If he did, is the Lord trying to make up for his error by leading the inclusivists to correct his mistakes? My assumption is the Holy Spirit did not err in using third-person singular pronouns and masculine nouns in so many verses.
The task of the church and its teachers is to lead men and women to understand the biblical revelation. Adapting the text to suit the whims of secular-minded people has the opposite effect. To obscure the intentions of the Holy Spirit creates far more misunderstanding than, as Osborne suggests, leaving number and gender as they are. If we can change them, we might also change case just as easily.
Pastor Edmond Long
Westview Baptist Church
—The Eden Conservancy, number 79 in "100 Things the Church Is Doing Right" (p. 37), is located in San Jose, California, not Santa Fe.
—The total number of clubs belonging to Christian Business and Professional Women, number 93 in the same issue, also includes Christian Women's Club and After 5 groups, similar but separate branches of the same ministry. The combined groups number 1,851 as of June 30, 1997.
CT regrets the errors.
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