Musical Apartheid
Michael Hamilton's article "Triumph of the Praise Songs" [July 12] depicts today's church dividing and reorganizing along lines of personal musical preference, in surrender to the "boomer" principle of "each to his own." As a church worship director, I find this like having a church potluck where the beaneaters eat in one room, the salad lovers in

another—and come back tonight if you want hamburgers! Whatever happened to fellowship? What happened to taking an interest in the joys and cares of others? "Equal but separate" musical apartheid is a temporary fix for a deeper spiritual problem.

Gregory R. Moore
Rainier, Oreg.

* I am not sure Michael Hamilton and I were living in the same era. Why does he waste half the article on the "reformers" who write songs no one sings? Why does he not even mention the charismatic movement, which is the birthing room of the praise and worship phenomenon?

Bill Fitzgerrel
Copeland, Kans.

It would have been fun to sit in on the editorial sessions that determined that Michael Hamilton's cover story would be surreptitiously compromised by following it with Mark Noll's "We Are What We Sing." Perhaps many readers missed the connection, though the artwork gave it away—the "sad organ" with Hamilton's story of "How guitars beat out the organ in the worship wars," and the "glad organ" with Noll's article (subtitle: "Our classic hymns reveal evangelicalism at its best").

Despite his insistence that praise songs and guitars of the "revolutionaries" have already won the war, Hamilton is still trying to silence us objecting "reformers," including probably Marva Dawn and Mark Noll. He joins the church-growth pragmatists by insisting that church music quality should be judged "only by the lives of the people singing the songs." Hopefully, he will read Noll's historical evaluation that begins: "Evangelicalism at its best is the religion displayed in its classic hymns." In the long run, the church also must be considered.

Noll might have mentioned that evangelicals have not always lived up to their best in singing. In the early 20th century, revivalist gospel hymns emphasizing human experience swept aside the classic Watts and Wesley hymns quoted by Noll. During that 50-year worship-poor hiatus, our classics were preserved by the liturgical and "liberal" denominations. Now who will represent us reformers in preserving our new potential "classics" for the 21st century?

Donald P. Hustad
So. Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Ky.

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* One article leaves us with a certain clear call to unity in a fragmented body of believers—the other, at least for now, the accentuation of fragmentation.

Aldo Ray Classen
Greeley, Colo.

The article "The Triumph of the Praise Songs" was obviously written from the perspective of worship in the context of mostly, if not exclusively, white churches. Anyone with but the scantiest of knowledge of black churches and their worship style would not venture so bold and blanket an assertion as the article title suggests. That just is not the case in most black churches, certainly not in the one I serve. What is more disturbing is the implicit message that worship worthy of the name happens only in the white church worship context. I invite the author to visit black churches to experience how rich and meaningful worship can be over in that other "ghetto."

Pastor Jim Offutt
Mt. Carmel Baptist Church
Canton, Ill.

Why was an essay on Psalmody not included? Protestant worship in times after the Reformation included the singing of psalms. It seems when evangelicalism increasingly concentrated on the New Testament that hymnody became the choice for worship. Psalmody of the Old Testament, so relevant to the New Testament church, receded. Now, with the "I praise songs" the psalms with themes such as Kingdom, Covenant, The Word, and the hymns that emphasize Jesus Christ and his redemptive work are being caused to recede. Let us remember that Ephrem, the Syrian, led the erosion of sound teaching in the church centuries ago with his new songs.

G. Van Groningen
Tinley Park, Ill.

I am a baby boomer who, although I enjoy praise choruses, sometimes longs to dust off the hymnal, open it, and sing the rich words which are filled with wisdom, beauty, and actual musical content. Occasionally I long for the words of my youth—"Please open your hymnbooks to number 125; we'll sing all four verses, standing on the last."

I often wonder with some amusement what our children as adults will do with church. Perhaps they'll consider the ubiquitous transparencies on the screen to be hopelessly outdated and return to … no, impossible!

Pamela J. Pugh
Chicago, Ill.

* Feeding the boomers what they want may find the church growing big, but will such ministry find her "faithful" to the gospel? Steps toward apostasy are hardly signs of a faithful, Christ-centered church! Rather, they indicate a self-seeking attitude where "success" is measured more by numbers in the pews—oops, chairs!—and the treasury more than by faithfulness to God's Word.

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The mood of this narcissistic generation is selfishness and self-seeking—"does it meet my 'needs,' "—read "desires"—rather than enough humility before the gospel to study how the gospel in all of its implications meets all of the world's needs.

Karl E. Moyer
Lancaster, Pa.

* Most unsettling in the triumph of the praise songs is the eclipse of robust theological content. I expect that theological indifference in turn brings us full circle to aesthetic stale ness. Freed from the task of bearing a rich theological fabric, only a few hot tunes are needed in worship. Even those of us who instinctively clap on the off beat sense that something is missing: all the songs say the same thing, so we hardly notice that our wealth of eager, talented young musicians are content to regularly recycle a play list shorter than that of a commercial FM rock outlet.

Gary W. Thorburn
Maynard, Mass.

* Bravo to Michael Hamilton for his charitably critical article on the debates over worship in America's churches. While the church must insist upon doctrinal purity in worship music, this should be balanced with charitable affirmation of diversity in the body of Christ. Critics of the new praise music should exercise caution in dismissing it as theologically vacuous and self-centered as well. CT highlighted Hamilton's comment that "first-person pronouns tend to eclipse every other subject" in praise songs, but this is obviously not the case in all the new music, nor is it necessarily "spiritual" to exclude first-person concerns from worship. If this were the case, traditionalists would have to reconsider their use of such wonderful hymns as "Amazing Love (And Can It Be that I Should Gain)," "Be Thou My Vision," or most of the psalms.

Thomas S. Kidd
South Bend, Ind.

Hamilton blames the baby boomers for the current morass in church music. Yet the evolution of contemporary worship music is much more complex than Hamilton suggests, due not only to the influence of Generation X but also to trends in the entertainment industry and the church's utter failure to teach good hymnody. No wonder people prefer to follow the bouncing ball over monosyllabic words on a screen rather than sing more challenging tunes in a hymnal. These praise songs tax neither the soul nor the mind, and they certainly don't have the enduring power of such great hymns as "Amazing Grace."

This point is illustrated at the end of Hamilton's article, in which he tells of a dying woman who came out of a coma when her pastor sang favorite gospel songs. On my dying day, if my pastor sang the praise song quoted in the article—"Send me, Jesus, send me, Jesus, send me, Jesus, send me, Lord"—I would sincerely wonder which of us was dying!

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Marci Whitney-Schenck
Christianity and the Arts
Chicago, Ill.

A Needed Perspective
* I just finished reading one of the most concise, insightful and beneficial writings on living the Christian life ever printed in your magazine ["Stuck on the Road to Emmaus," July 12]. In reading it, I recognized in myself a frustrated longing for "fulfillment," which, in Mark Buchanan's words, is "heaven's business." Whether or not I'm ever "fulfilled" in this life, as a believer I do possess joy, peace, and a "blessed hope."

David P. Clarke
Norfolk, Va.

* I think we Christians often desire some great role in history. Yet the role of a Christian is not so much to be "fulfilled" ourselves as it is to glorify God. I have to keep reminding myself that God has blessed me with a family, a small business, friends and associates, and that at least for now this is the ministry to which he has called me. I must learn to be content and obedient with the responsibilities he has already given me and patiently await further instructions.

Bobby Martin
Easley, S.C.

Going the Opposite Direction?
I let out a whoop for joy when I saw the Matters of Opinion piece ["Integrating Mars and Venus"] in the [July 12] issue. I have resisted the idea of gender-based ministries for the same reason the Groothuises do: they are divisive and unbiblical. A hearty yes to the question "Are we, perhaps, going in the opposite direction from the unity, community, and reconciliation our Lord would have for us?" Gender-based ministries truncate the church and deprive us of the gifts and graces inherent in male-female interaction. The image of God is only fully visible when women and men are working, living, and worshiping together.

We have let our fears of the opposite sex and our reluctance to face the challenges we bring to one another's perspectives keep us from creating ministries that are "full-orbed and well balanced, not … [functioning] primarily in their own separate spheres." Have we learned to love with God's perfect love, if we are still afraid of each other?

Margaret Josephson Rinck, Ed.D.
Cincinnati, Ohio

If the early church had practiced gender differentiation and separation, Mary "the mother of Jesus" and "the women" would have prayed in another room, possibly another house altogether (Acts 1:14). They would have been excluded from Pentecost blessings. This is equality?

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I thought faith in the Lord Jesus Christ unified people. New millennium Christianity in America is creating new and unbiblical walls of separation. Alas, what is the culture of our country doing to transform us into its image?

Rev. Alan Rosenberg
Christian & Missionary Alliance Church
San Bernardino, Calif.

Addressing Past Wrongs
* While I am grateful to my denomination [Christian & Missionary Alliance] for wanting to address past wrongs, I am disgusted at CT's obvious leaning toward the sensational and inflammatory [News, "Pain Relief," July 12]. The introduction led the reader to believe that all 80 alumni had been beaten, fondled, and forced to eat vomit and sit in their own waste. I was at that reunion, and I know that those abuses applied to a very small minority of the attendees. (Only one person that I know of has ever made the allegation of being forced to eat his own vomit.) Most of them were there because of words, not beatings, that had hurt them. While I am not minimizing their pain, to state that all 80 people were abused in the manner you described is irresponsible.

Janet Weiss
Leesburg, Fla.

Don't Blame Lambeth
In the article "One Church, Two Faiths: Will the Episcopal Church survive the fight over homosexuality?" [Special News Report, July 12], at issue is the statement: "In reality, the pressures created by the Lambeth sexuality resolution have the potential to fracture permanently the Anglican Communion, one of Protestantism's most enduring institutions.

"For those who oppose the ordination of practicing homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex unions, the essence of Anglicanism itself, and not solely its teaching about sexuality, is under siege." The writer makes it appear as if a religious institution's opposition to homosexuality would "fracture" the institution. He is wrong. The stance against homosexuality only strengthens the institution's submission to the biblical text (Lev. 18:22). It is not the decision of the Lambeth Conference that causes division, it is the homosexual agenda brought on by homosexual priests that threatens to cause division.

Gregory H. McKee
Marietta, Ga.

* I was present at the Lambeth conference as a journalist covering the conference for several magazines and an online news service. I was present on the day of the vote on Human Sexuality. Your story was accurate except for one totally inaccurate statement from the revisionist bishop of California, William Swing. Never at any time did a bishop from any country use words like white or imperalist or pig. That is a complete fabrication by the bishop. It is as much a lie as revisionist bishops who said that black African bishops' votes were bought by chicken dinners and conservative money from American evangelical and traditionalist bishops. It never happened.

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David Virtue
West Chester, Pa.

A Unifying Expression of Faith
* I have pored over the "gospel" document ["An Evangelical Celebration," June 14] and would like to affirm CT for the vision and the drafting committee for the writing of a document that will positively affect the whole world of evangelicalism. I will do what I can to encourage its acceptance on a global scale among evangelicals. For a beginning, I would propose that the Trainers of Pastors International Coalition (50 countries, 100 organizations) would adopt this statement as their cross-denominational, international, creedal position on the gospel. We live at a global hinge moment and we desperately needed an articulate, unifying piece around the core of our life-giving faith. Thank you for furnishing that service to the body of Christ.

Ramesh Richard, Ph.D., Th.D.
Dallas Theological Seminary
Dallas, Tex.

* Alas, and alas! Once, I thought I was Anglican. Once, I thought I was CRC. Once, I thought I was Baptist. Once, I thought I was Associated Gospel. Once I thought I was Reformed Episcopal. Then I thought I could be RC or even Orthodox. But all the time I thought I was evangelical!

The question comes to mind whether anybody has it "right," but surely this formulation is at odds with anything prior to the year 1000. Why anyone would want to depart so markedly from those years is beyond me, but I know there is still lots to learn. Just when you think you've got some things to a workable perspective, they aren't! And forgive me, but it does sound like a double-barreled Calvinism with yet another (juridical) barrel. And some wonder why others run for the cool shade of a mighty Orthodox-looking (or reasonable facsimile) rock in a weary land.

Of course, if I were drowning, I would hope not to get too caught up in the theory of how somebody might be saving me. After the fact, I should be a little careful not to get into the same fix, so some theory might not be a bad thing! And maybe I would be better equipped to help save somebody else. If salvation isn't at least a journey, I'm not sure what it is at all.

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Christopher Morbey
Sidney, British Columbia, Canada

* It was satisfying to read that "the avowed goal is unity in primary things, with liberty in secondary things, and charity in all things." That is the tenet of the Moravian Church ever since it was stated by Bishop John Amos Comenius (1592–1670) who fled from Bohemia-Moravia to Poland, to England, and finally found refuge in the Netherlands, and remains the motto of the Moravian Church today.

Samuel B. Marx
Winston-Salem, N.C.

Keeping Faith with the Army's Mission
I was interested in the article in your June 14 issue on the Salvation Army and our recent election of a new general ["Salvation Army General Seeks Refocus on Gospel"]. I was president of the 75-member High Council, which met in early May to elect the new general, and know the passion of General-elect John Gowans for the gospel. In fact, one of the central reasons he was elected is because of the deep and strong commitment on the part of the Army leaders from around the world in keeping faith with our mission: "To preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination."

That has been our aim since the start of our work in 1865 and is our central purpose as we enter the new millennium. I am sure General-elect Gowans was not suggesting that we have "lost our way," but sees the need to redouble our efforts to bring people to Jesus.

Commissioner Robert A. Watson
National Commander, Salvation Army
Alexandria, Va.

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