Redemption Songs

Thank you to Christianity Today for shedding light on what's driving so much of today's faith-fueled music ["Songs of Justice, Missions of Mercy," November]. Having worked in music my entire adult life, I have never seen the social-justice drive as prevalent among the creatives as I do now.

I do think CT left out one important story. In the early 1970s, a group of newly converted Christian hippies called Jesus People usa created a community centered on discipleship, evangelism, and social justice. Out of their commune came Cornerstone Magazine, an evangelical voice that spoke out against apartheid, spiritual abuse, war, and much more. They fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and—with their hard-edged Resurrection Band—rocked.

Cornerstone, Rez Band, and Cornerstone Festival have a nearly 40-year legacy of this faith-in-action work, and many of the artists mentioned in CT's article have a deep connection to this gathering. I encourage any Christian artist to make the pilgrimage to Cornerstone and get infected by the same bug that bit me 25 years ago.

John J. Thompson
Nashville, Tennessee

I have a tendency to skeptically think that social justice is just the latest trend in Christian music. But I'm struck by how many artists are taking justice seriously and changing their lifestyles as a result. I recently heard two artists quote Amos 5:23-24—the unlikeliest of verses for a musician to quote: "Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream." Seeking justice will take different forms for different artists, but it's wonderful to see hands and feet moving once hearts have been moved.

Mark Geil
Atlanta, Georgia

Fractured Fellowships

A group of students left InterVarsity's chapter at Claremont McKenna College last fall for the very reasons mentioned in "Not All Evangelicals and Catholics Together" [November]. We felt that, in its attempt to unite Catholics and Christians, the chapter had compromised the doctrine of justification by faith alone. The new club includes many students who go to Foothill Bible Church, which is very similar to Capitol Hill Baptist. In my experience, the doctrine of justification is not mentioned in InterVarsity meetings. If students were more informed about the debate, I believe we would see a major shift in campus ministries nationwide.

Luke Rhee
Claremont, California

I wish those reading Collin Hansen's article could hear N. T. Wright's 2007 lectures on sacramental theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake. In the lectures and the Q&A sessions, he delineated how he differs, on biblical grounds, from Catholic theologians and students. Wright is so non-Catholic that the idea that he leads his readers to Rome is preposterous.

Article continues below

The departing group of students' reaction to InterVarsity is standard fare for some polemicists. Timothy George, who knows Reformational theology as well as any evangelical, understands the issues much better, which is why his quotes were helpful. Both sides of this debate need to stop, take a deep breath, and reflect on things more carefully.

John H. Armstrong
Carol Stream, Illinois

I used to be passionate about these debates. Now I can't muster a scrap of enthusiasm for them. They deflect energy away from our main work: loving God and neighbor, and caring for the poor. And they lead to bitterness and disunity, as evidenced by the split among George Washington University students. As well as heeding Paul's message about justification, we also need to remember his message about foolish controversies.

James Addis
Auburn, Washington

Working on Grace

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your interview with Michael Horton ["Christ at the Center," November]. After 15 years of deep involvement in the evangelical world, I can corroborate his critique that we get far more good advice than we do Good News. I base this on a number of experiences in ministries that put less emphasis on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and more emphasis on what we need to do.

For example, a recent chapel message at my evangelical seminary focused on the need for Sabbath rest. It emphasized techniques and practices rather than Jesus' work on the Cross as the ground of eternal Sabbath rest. I've heard rousing exhortations to develop accountability relationships and spiritual disciplines, but far fewer exhortations to believe the gospel anew and cling to the completed work of Jesus.

Please continue to follow this story and help re-infect evangelicalism with Horton's and others' rearticulation of the gospel. It is a desperately needed corrective from which the entire "village green" would benefit.

Mark Denning
Huntersville, North Carolina

Paul's epistles take a distinctly negative view of some Jewish converts' attempts to mix the old covenant and the new. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to correct this error. No one who accurately reads the New Testament would disagree.

Article continues below

My alarm comes from what seems to be a misuse of the texts that address law and grace. Michael Horton assumes it is okay to use that ancient problem to negatively categorize what he disagrees with in today's church. I think he paints with too broad a brush. He sees law as the biggest problem in evangelical culture, when it is obvious that license is what's killing us. The evangelical gospel is a grace-gift message that requires faith but never works. Our "God has done everything, you cannot do anything" message is the prevailing ideology.

Jan Hettinga
Bothell, Washington

The Stories of Saints

Chris Armstrong's article on spiritual biographies ["Let Us Tell You a Story," November] was a breath of fresh air. I used to bemoan the fact that I had no one to disciple me. But for the past decades, two women—Amy Carmichael, a missionary in India for 55 years, and Frances Ridley Havergal, a 19th-century hymnist—have been doing so. I am a different person because of their and many others' lives and writings.

Ruth King Goddard
Everett, Washington

Worth Repeating

"The reason we hear nonsensical talk such as, 'I don't worship the Bible, I worship Jesus,' is because we have raised a generation of Christians who demand that church … function for the validation of themselves."
Glenn, on cultural impatience with the Bible in preaching and teaching.
SoulWork: "Yawning at the Word"

"This looks more like a political agenda than a sincere focus on the breadth of Christian conviction."
Bennett, on the identification of abortion, marriage, and religious freedom in the Manhattan Doctrine, a statement signed by 150 evangelical leaders, as the three fundamental issues on which Christians must unite.
"Leaders Issue 'A Call of Christian Conscience'"

"This is a movie that non-Christians will actually watch."
Mark Almlie, on why The Blind Side is an exemplary Christian movie.
CT Movies: "The Blind Side"

"Most Christians love a testimony—when it's over. Hardly anyone is willing to walk through the dark places as a friend."
Jen, on the value of anonymous confessional websites.
Women's Blog: "I Have a Confession to Make"

"What ever happened to getting on your knees and asking the Lord what he wants his people to hear?"
Catherine F., on a recent emphasis on Christ-centered preaching, which some fear ignores the diversity of the biblical genres.
Theology in the News: "Christ-Centered Cautions"

Top 3

What got the most responses in November's CT?

  1. 35% Not All Evangelicals and Catholics Together by Collin Hansen
  2. 17% Most Improbable Dialogue
  3. 13% (tie) Christ at the Center by Christopher J. H. Wright and CT's Redesign
  4. 22% (other)

Related Elsewhere:

Letters to the editor must include the writer's name and address if intended for publication. They may be edited for space or clarity.


Fax: 630.260.8428

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.