Christianity Today, October 4, 1999

Christianity Today, October 4, 1999

Columbine's Cross
I was moved by Wendy Murray Zoba's article "Do You Believe in God?" [Oct. 4] and thought it was well-thought out and powerful. But at the most crucial point, she seemed to take the position that we don't know the answers. I write of her statement, "whether the deeds of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold will be covered by the 'offense of the Cross' is beyond human ability to know."

This matter would be "beyond human ability to know" if it weren't for the fact that God has already told us. Does not the Scripture make it very clear that repentance and faith are requirements? Is there no objective standard by which God will judge and a timing that is acceptable to call upon him? By ignoring this issue, Zoba was unable to offer real hope.

Zoba wrote of her anticipation that this generation of Christian young people is being galvanized to make a difference. May they be galvanized around the truth—repentance, faith, compassion, hope now.

Joanna Lekberg
Whiteland, Ind.

In tearing down the crosses dedicated to the Columbine killers, Brian Rohrbough was restoring moral clarity to a situation badly in need of it. Greg Zanis has a lot of nerve to be "outraged" at the "defiling" of his crosses. It was he who defiled the "sacred ground" by honoring the evil monsters that made the crosses necessary.

Edward Hofmeister
Coronado, Calif.

Seldom am I riveted by a piece like I was this one. Unfortunately these horrific deeds ended in a way so that we will never know what was in these two boys' hearts. But if they had lived and God can't forgive them, then he cannot forgive you and me. The grace of the Cross is unfair in how it treats everyone. And thank God it is! This tragedy is a testimony that God can work in anything for our good. Even in evil things, God is not overpowered.

Jeffery A. Raker
Fostoria, Ohio

The article on Columbine was heartbreaking. I was struck by Rohrbough's attitude that the two boys were not victims and did not deserve crosses. The boys were victims of Satan. Satan used them for his purposes and then destroyed them along with the others. Christ died for the sins of the whole world.

Pat Williamson
Chillicothe, Ohio

It is a stretch to suggest that the tragedy has "changed America." The only visible signs of change are the crass marketing of Cassie Bernall's last words in Christian bookstores and the increase in explicit sexual content in the fall TV shows. American culture is continuing pretty much as usual.

David John Seel, Jr., Ph.D.
Montreat, N.C.
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To Bear or Not to Bear
I appreciated the editorial "In Guns We Trust" [Oct. 4] for presenting a godlier perspective on the issue of gun control. However, I must respond to the statement that "[an evil person is] someone to be resisted." Scripture is crystal clear: "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."

No Christian who trusts God's power can do other than live in obedience to these difficult words. For a Christian, whatever is designed to take life must be utterly rejected. Anything less is tantamount to the Crusades or abortion.

Dyanna Black
Willard, Mo.

People who "need" guns for self-defense understand neither the commandment nor Jesus' teaching. They don't need guns; they need Bible study. The gun lobby and the ever-increasing use of guns at personal instigation is a worsening curse on our society.

Dr. Karl E. Moyer
Lancaster, Pa.

Advocates of gun control want to take us back to pre-A.D. 323 when oppression, slavery, and martyrdom of Christians for entertainment was common. I respectfully reject such practices and will oppose it with lethal power if necessary.

I'm a debtor to those who gave their all to purchase these precious rights which today we see being torn to pieces and trampled underfoot. Have those who died at Valley Forge, Yorktown, Gettysburg, and the many other places died in vain?

Jim Glover
Heber Springs, Ark

Capitalism Redeemed
It was no surprise to learn Eric Miller has retreated into academia where he can continue to whine about the evils of consumerism, unscathed by the evil world outside. If he prefers to stay where he is, he would do well to junk his rusty Toyota and buy a horse and buggy from an enterprising Amish businessman; then he could proudly park at the front of the lot.

Will Miller
Penn Valley, Calif.

In the article "Keeping Up with the Amish" [Oct. 4], the phrases "corporate capitalism" and "consumer capitalism" pop up again. I have a master's degree in economics and have read a great deal on the subject, yet I have never found these terms in any scholarly work.

Miller declares capitalism to be a great evil, but what is his alternative? Marxism, or its anemic twin, socialism? Is it the Amish? By the standards of India and China, the Amish are obscenely materialistic. How much do the Amish give to alleviate poverty, improve education, and heal the sick in countries such as India?

Roger D. McKinney
Broken Arrow, Okla

Our Crooning Bad Boy
Cheers on a job well done casting light on the real Pat Boone ["Why Pat Boone Went 'Bad,' " Oct. 4]. You may love the leathers or you may like him to lose them, but the true mettle of this man is his courageous Christian compassion. Last August Pat rode his Harley 200 miles in driving wind and rain on our Mercy Ride for Kosovo Refugees, donating his time and airfare, to reach out to the "least of these." Pat does more charity events for more organizations than anyone I know, co-founding Mercy Corps International 20 years ago. Rock on, Pat!

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Dan O'Neill, President
Mercy Corps International
Portland, Oreg.

Nowhere in Scripture do I find the Church called to be entertainment.

Far too many in today's body of Christ seem to have lost faith in the substance, beauty, truth and power of the gospel alone to attract the lost. They have, instead, decided to "help God sell it" by slick packaging, gimmicks, lighting and audio technology, costuming, lavish and costly productions, and passing fads and fashions that tickle the eye and ear. Can you imagine Christ in the studded collar of his day? Did he posture in lavish robes in order to "win" Caesar?

We need to get self out of the way and let the Holy Spirit do His work through us, not in spite of us.

Kathleen V. Nelson
Kingston, Wash.

Can the Church Say No?
Regarding the forum on homosexuality, "Just Saying 'No' Is Not Enough" [Oct. 4]: I am glad you referred to the four panelists as "Christian thinkers" and not "Bible scholars." Van Leeuwen said in the forum that she wouldn't know what to do if a lesbian couple wanted to join her church. First Corinthians 5 makes it clear that such a couple is not to be regarded as members of the Church of Christ.

J. Michael Cobb
Chicago, Ill.

Christians and Divorce
Professor Burge answers the question, "You're Divorced—Can You Remarry?" [Directions, Oct. 4] with the traditionally conservative, "the innocent partner is free to remarry." This plausible but misleading wisdom, coupled with its loose application by churches, may be one of the reasons why the divorce rate among evangelical Christians is the same as that in the general population.

F. Eugene Guest
Valley Cottage, N.Y.

Burge quotes I Corinthians 7 as Paul "saying that husbands and wives are not permitted to leave each other but should work toward reconciliation." The chapter says nothing about working toward reconciliation at all, but rather that a woman must not separate from her husband, but if she does she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. Paul precedes this statement saying that the command comes not from him, but from the Lord.

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While an innocent party is not bound to re main in an adulterous marriage, he or she is bound by God's command not to remarry as long as the other spouse lives. (This is precisely why David had Bathsheba's husband killed rather than recommending divorce.)

Greg Richter
Gardendale, Ala.

Douglas Brouwer's review of Garry Wills's Saint Augustine [Books, Oct. 4] incorrectly places Augustine's death in 417 instead of the correct date of 430. If the error was Wills's, he should be even more amazed at Augustine's productivity.

Steve Oldham
Moundsview, Minn.

Susannah's Woes
As a born-again Christian, I would love to attend Lauren F. Winner's church. It would appear, from her rather narrow reading of Carlisle Floyd's opera Susannah that she has never met a Christian who acted in a hypocritical, sanctimonious, or other wise unchristian manner. The Reverend Olin Blitch, whom we first meet as a rather oily type, actually becomes a true Christian by the end of the opera; having seduced Susannah and found her a virgin, he sees not only that she has been falsely accused, but recognizes and repents of his own sin as well. Winner's conclusion that Floyd is branding Christians as hypocrites with mob mentalities, with the unsaved being the only moral people, is erroneous.

Instead of condemning great examples of American art like Susannah, The Crucible, and Inherit the Wind, why don't we concentrate on trying to live as true Christians, so that no artist—good or bad—can ever truthfully portray us as self-righteous hypocrites again?

Lou Santacroce
Producer and host of "At the Opera," heard weekly on National Public Radio
Laurel, Md.

Christianity Today, September 6, 1994, 1999

Christianity Today, September 6, 1994, 1999

Render to Caesar, Render to God
The cover story in our September 6 issue—"Is the Religious Right Finished?"—continues to generate animated responses from our readers. Most who wrote favored Christians being engaged in politics as individuals, but seemed wary of organizations aligning themselves with a political party. Glenn Arnold of Wheaton, Illinois, even suggested: "A more informative follow-up would be 'the outsiders' view, giving the perspective of those whom the Religious Right thought they were influencing: people in government, politics, media."

I appreciated your series of articles on whether the Religious Right has ceased to be relevant. The most striking point came from Don Eberly's article, "We're Fighting the Wrong Battle," where he says that "our crisis is cultural." This should lead to a call for Christians to become the best lawyers, doctors, writers, scientists, moviemakers, and educators the world has ever seen. In this way, we can truly challenge the culture with the relevance of our message.

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Bill Clark
Belleville, Ontario

The right of involvement in leadership selection and governmental process is a precious, blood-bought opportunity to wield influence for the betterment of the nation. To be uninvolved is to act irrationally and, I suspect, unspiritually.

H. Edward Rowe, Th.M., D.D.
Las Vegas, Nev.

Amazing Grace
Roger Olson's article "Don't Hate Me Because I'm Arminian," also in the September 6 issue, evoked several letters of gratitude from people who appreciated his irenic and balanced presentation. Michael Andrus of Manchester, Missouri, wrote: "The Bible itself is amazingly balanced between God's sovereignty and human responsibility," while Frank Nelson, of Brook field, Wisconsin, noted, "It really doesn't seem to make any practical difference except to theologians."

I would rather fellowship with a warm Arminian than with a cold Calvinist, and surely regenerate Calvinists "need" regenerate Arminians as members of the Body of Christ. But we certainly don't need Arminian "theology," with its pitiful Christ standing at the door of arrogant sinners' hearts, begging for entrance but helpless and failing in most cases.

Terry Rayburn
Clarksville, Tenn.

Educational Choice
Your editorial "Stay in School" [Sept. 6, 1999] seems to be a radical shift from your editorial point of view a school generation ago. In "Values in the Public Schools: A Prerequisite to Teaching" (April 10, 1981), Christianity Today editorialized that no school can be "value free" and that the only way parents could secure a consistent Christian "world-and-life view" was to send their children to the private Christian school. What positive changes in American public education over the past 18 years caused your editorial board to make this 180-degree philosophical shift?

If all Americans who claim to be born again sent their children to Christian schools, there would not be enough room. But the thousands of Americans who do make that choice willingly subject themselves to "double taxation" as they continue to support government education by paying taxes while bearing the full cost of their children's educational expense.

At the same time, educational choice is nonexistent for countless Americans; they simply cannot afford the cost (tuition) of an educational alternative.

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The proposal by some for a mass exodus by Christians from public schools is inappropriate. If we are going to solve this dilemma, it will call for new kinds of thinking and innovative action to help families exercise choice—particularly the ability to choose schooling whose aim is to integrate a Christian world-view with the rigors of academia and the overall school curriculum.

Ken Smitherman,
President and CEO, Association of Christian Schools International
Colorado Springs, Colo.

Our editorial in 1991 observed that " … evangelical Christians have turned increasingly to private Christian schools. In the long run, we believe this is the best solution to the problem."

The same editorial added: "And even if they place their own children in private schools, evangelicals dare not isolate themselves from their fellow citizens by deserting public education."

Both editorials recognize the challenges of sending Christian children to public schools, and that this decision rests with parents. We feel our editorial of 1999 complements and updates the 1991 editorial. —Eds.

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 can not 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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