* The message in large, bold letters on the mudflap of a tractor-trailer truck passed on I-80 somewhere between Iowa and Connecticut last November riveted my wife and me with its terse ONLY JESUS SAVES. A lively discussion ensued about the importance of the word only. Little did we realize it was the Lord's preparation for the insights in Daniel B. Clendenin's powerful presentation ["The Only Way" Jan. 12]. With hindsight, it can be concluded that the long-haul trucker was correct in his exclusiveness and diligent in his obedience to the Great Commission.

Peter Kushkowski
Haddam, Conn.

* I agree with the points Clendenin made. I just wish he had not overlooked the words of the apostle Paul. Romans 1:20 tells us God is so clearly seen in his creation that man is without excuse, and Romans 2:14-15 tells that us when the Gentiles instinctively do the things contained in the Law they reveal the law written in their hearts, an experience analogous to the new covenant.

Because God does not want anyone to be lost, because God always does that which is right, in my opinion Paul suggests that God could save those who never heard the gospel because they saw Jesus the Creator revealed in his creation and on that basis lived instinctively for him experiencing what we would call the new covenant.

On the basis of biblical evidence, I would have to answer Clendenin's question, "Yes, God can certainly save those who have never heard the gospel." I believe he would prefer that all hear the gospel. But not all have heard or will hear the gospel because of our failure to proclaim it. Should they then be lost because of our failure? It seems to me that Paul describes for us a just, fair, and loving God's alternative.

* Clendenin's article is to be commended for its pointedness and sensitivity. Perhaps it is too simplistic an observation, but for any Christian to believe that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God and also to believe theological pluralism is an ultimate absurdity. In fact, it is just plain slanderous of God. If Jesus is indeed God's Son and theological pluralism be true, then God is both foolish and evil; not only foolish to have needlessly sacrificed his only Son when there were other ways for man to be saved, but also evil to have done so, the other ways making it quite unnecessary.

Pastor Clifford A. Hurst
Hurst Union Road Pentecostal Church
Dayton, Ohio

I believe the error of pluralism is a failure to understand who Christ really is. What comes out from this world-view is that Christ is a "peer" of Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, and the like. The Christian knows this is not accurate and that Christ is very God, one with the Father. To say that no one comes to God except through Christ is not narrow; it just acknowledges the truth that no one comes to God except through God. Any attempt to reach God through other religions must go through Christ eventually if it has any hope of being successful. A high view of who Christ is solves the problems of exclusiveness, narrowness, and so on.

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Robert C. Vanstrum
Dellwood, Minn.

Frederica Mathewes-Green's article "Wanted: A New Pro-Life Strategy" [Jan. 12] encourages the pro-life community to trade political activism, which she says does not work, for a model of sympathetic persuasion. I believe Mathewes-Green draws up a false dichotomy. Active listening and sympathetic discussions are effective in crisis-pregnancy centers and in intimate settings, but they are not sufficient to end abortion. There is no need to take an either/or stance on pro-life strategy. The sin of abortion is invasive both at the personal and the institutional level. Different tactics are called for depending on the intended audience and on specific goals.

As Mathewes-Green acknowledges, most people know it's a baby. However, the American conscience needs to be stung repeatedly by the truth that killing a baby is wrong. Old Testament history reminds us how easy it is for a generation to slide into complacently accepting evil. Many pro-lifers are weary, and some may wonder if the battle is worth it. Just as we are called to persevere in our personal walk with God, so we need to persevere in the down and dirty business of telling the world that abortion is wrong, and in the sometimes even dirtier business of political involvement.

Mary A. Waalkes
Boulder, Colo.

* While applauding Mathewes-Green's suggestion that we move beyond "avoidance and fury" in the abortion debate, I would add one further consideration to her suggestion that "we should explore whether marriage is a possibility." While she cites statistics of the success of "shotgun" marriages (and they are impressive statistics), shouldn't the spiritual state of both parties be included in our exploration? If the principle of being "unequally yoked" mentioned in 2 Corinthians applies to the marriage bond, then we could find ourselves complicating sin with sin by encouraging a believer to marry an unbeliever [just because] one of them is pregnant.

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James Menzies
Wakefield, R.I.

Mathewes-Green lists three points for a new strategy: (1) It's a baby, (2) Abortion hurts women, (3) We can live without abortion. Under these she further details how to advance this strategy by speaking to the woman about preventing pregnancy, supporting those who experience an unexpected pregnancy, becoming a friend, exploring marriage to the baby's father, encouraging adoption, and so on.

This made me wonder: "What have I been doing for the last 13 years?" We have been, on a daily basis, setting this strategy before the clients of the pregnancy-help centers for many years.

There was a fourth point with which I must take great exception—the recommendation not to speak to people who are not religious about God or Scripture because Mathewes-Green has found such an approach to be "nearly always ineffective" and because you may be seen as "one of those." However, I have found the opposite to be true.

When first in the pregnancy-help center movement, we were taught to counsel women without bringing up the concept of God. However, if it appeared the woman was receptive, we could broach the subject but be ready to retreat if there was any sign she was not ready to hear the mention of his name. Years of frustration followed as I and those I taught struggled to present that strategy. We knew deep in our hearts there was something missing.

Eventually we realized that gagging our speech about God was wrong. Without speaking about God, sharing his message of salvation, peace, mercy, forgiveness, and love, there cannot be a change of life and heart. As much as I agree that we must (continue to) "listen carefully to pro-choicers in order to understand their reasoning," my experience with women in the counseling room, as well as my understanding of Scripture, indicates that the abortion issue is not a faulty-reasoning issue but rather a matter of the client's heart and spiritual condition.

When done in a respectful, loving, and sensitive way, speaking about the God of love through biblical counseling is the most effective and longest-lasting approach.

Pat Dundas
Hope Counseling Center
Dover, Del.

* At first, the article urged cooperation between pro-life and pro-choice groups in a way that could dramatically impact the annual carnage wrought by abortion. However, it turned out merely to be a smoother approach to the standard bottom line: We must pass laws that will force all pregnant women to carry every pregnancy to full term regardless. Such an absolute stand means the carnage will continue.

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Don Hawley
Portland, Oreg.

About a year ago I came across a statistic saying that 85 percent of women contemplating abortion, who then have an opportunity to view their own sonogram, choose not to abort the child. This explains why abortion clinics position the screen so that only the physician can view it. It occurred to me that the most effective deterrent to abortion may be a law that required clinics to offer a woman the option of viewing her sonogram.

I began calling pro-life leaders throughout our state. I expected to have someone politely explain to me why such an idea was na•ve and unpractical. To my surprise, I was met with praise and excitement.

I talked with a couple of individuals about devising a strategy for such a bill. We spoke of presenting it from a pro-choice perspective, the difference being that our bill allowed for informed choice rather than blind choice. The initial reaction was one of enthusiasm. I was asked to come to Annapolis to meet with pro-life leaders. [But dates for] meetings to be held in August or September passed. I then spoke with a representative who came to my office and asked me to abandon this approach, at least temporarily, and get involved in an attempt to ban partial-birth abortion in Maryland. I agreed.

Still another contact with Maryland Right-to-Life suggested I abandon all hope for "an informed consent bill." Her logic: "We don't want to be perceived as being too pushy." I was then told that if I persisted in pushing for informed consent, the local news media "will rip you to shreds."

If a bill requiring clinics to give women the option of seeing their sonogram is not feasible, then fine. But if we are backing off under the threat of a hostile press, something is wrong.

Pastor Howard Gardner
Bel Air Assembly of God
Bel Air, Md.

Your editorial "What Really Died in Oregon" [Jan. 12] prompted me, for the first time, to consider the seriousness of the assisted-suicide issue. Life is very precious, and for a person to lose that divine spark, it must be the result of the unavoidable collapse of one's health, not the product of a bad day. Whether or not I'm a burden to myself and society, the breath that is within me was given to me by the grace of God, and to snuff it out by my own hand would be a denial of the providence of the Almighty.

Perhaps if the naysayers, who adamantly proclaim the end of the Age of Miracles, would quiet their rumbling, the afflicted might be able to hear the voice of God, for God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all we can ask or think. That would include healings as well.

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David A. Brayshaw
Tampa, Fla.

The largely HMO-controlled medical industry in this country does, indeed, create a market for the services of Dr. Death. HMOs are set up to serve persons with illnesses and injuries that have a specific etiology and a limited duration and, therefore, are readily treatable with one or two of the conventional therapies.

Those persons whose bodies suffer from more mysterious, intractable ailments and so refuse to recover quickly and efficiently soon get the message that the maintenance of their health is not worth the required trouble and expense. Negative conclusions about the relative worth of their own (increasingly miserable) existence follow predictably.

When the bottom line is, well, the bottom line, much that is so much more valuable than the saving and making of money is irrevocably lost. The Oregon vote is the voice of the future in HMO-land.

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis
Littleton, Colo.

* Kudos to Charles Colson for his column on the spirituality spin that advertisers are more commonly employing as they try to charm the consumer ["Madison Avenue's Spiritual Chic," Jan.12]. Apparently these days not only sex but spirituality sells, and our corporate community continues to cash in on whatever works. Indeed, their philosophical motives are rarely neutral. Unfortunately, Colson failed to comment on the most prevalent and perhaps most pernicious message that all advertisers preach, hardly "neutral," and certainly "spiritual": consumerism. Our shopping malls are the cathedrals where we "worship." As we excavate and critique advertising philosophies, let's not forget the foundational philosophy that tempts all of us—contentment through our credit cards.

Andrew Beunk
Grand Rapids, Mich.

* I wish evangelicalism's foremost cultural critic would write what really needs to be said: Turn off the idiot box and get a life.

Greg Mortimer
El Jebel, Colo.

Colson's anecdote about how his criticism of one auto company's ad campaign led to a change is encouraging. But he seems to extrapolate from that event a belief that similar complaints by the rest of us will have similar effects. He overlooks the reality of his own position and influence.

More disconcerting was the juxtaposition of the questions "When our kids hum the catchy jingle of the latest commercial, is their spiritual impulse being diverted into consumerism? Are they absorbing Madison Avenue's false values?" with the statement "Ads with spiritual themes trivialize religion by reducing it to a marketing ploy." I think Colson is confused about who is absorbing and trivializing what.

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The trivialization of religion by commercialism can as easily be a charge laid against the "Christian" publishing houses that have often sacrificed content in their publications and replaced it with marketing glitz. And "Madison Avenue's false values" were adopted long ago by churches in North America, which assumed a model of the corporate world as a standard of success. We have replaced the concept of a pastor with the idea of a CEO. Many of my colleagues in pastoral ministry are nearly being crushed by the expectations of Christians that we perform as corporate executives. I was wonderfully trained at seminary to perform theologically and pastorally, only to realize that the churches' expectations require an M.B.A. rather than an M.Div. Christianity, at least in this country, bought "Madison Avenue" a long time ago.

By the way, my children know that humming "the catchy jingle of the latest commercial" will result in the swift imposition of a television viewing moratorium in our home.

Pastor Charles M. Lyons
Bethel Assembly of God
Jacksonville, N.C.

Brief letters are welcome. They may be edited for space and clarity and must include the writer's name and address if intended for publication. Due to the volume of mail, we cannot respond personally to individual letters. Write to Eutychus, CHRISTIANITY TODAY, 465 Gundersen Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188; fax: 630/260-0114. E-mail: ( * ).

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