Reader Mail

Hearing What the Good Book Says

Church making in America -- special reactions. Also: Fred and Nancy. Personal opposition. Plus more.

5.1.07

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THE END OF THE MAINLINE
Re: Lawrence Henry's The Making of a Church:

Sir, I find Mr. Henry's article to be quite illuminating. It confirms what I have observed in a sort of general passing way. His article brought my thoughts about what I have observed into focus. Many of the "main stream" churches have bowed to political correctness. This somehow raises puzzling questions about the separation of "Church and state." Political correctness is the acid eating away morality. Please thank Mr. Henry for his fine article.
-- Paul Bunker
La Moille, Illinois

Thank you for Lawrence Henry's fine article on Bible churches. I'm a Baptist, but love Bible churches and have many friends and family members who attend them. Readers might be interested to know that the Bible Church seminary, Dallas Theological Seminary, is one to the best in the world and is headed by Charles Swindoll, who is also a well-known author, pastor, radio personality.
-- Roger D. McKinney
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Lawrence Henry had me going with his article about a Bible Church in New England; and then, he ended with this phrase: "People are hungry for religion, not spiritualism." Maybe I do not follow his remark, but religion is nothing more than Man's attempt to deal with a corrupt world; I do not think we hunger for that.

On the other hand, spiritualism is different. I think most people hunger for spiritualism, though many find it outside of God. In my view, what makes Bible churches different is that they present the Bible as it was meant to be, which is spiritual, not religion. The difference is that religion is man, but Bible-driven spiritualism is God-based. We can trust the infallibility of God, but man will always let us down.

Where I live, Bible Churches are common, and I am a member of a 7000 member Bible church (it was once a member of the Southern Baptist Convention -- most Baptist churches are akin to Bible churches). Where I attend, God is sought, praised, taught, and worshipped, and that feeds the hunger for something bigger than us and bigger than any religion.
-- Steven R. Shaver
Dallas, Texas

As I was reading your article, it was as though it had been written by me. Our family stuck with the Episcopal Church for years, vainly trying to rationalize why. Although the service itself is beautiful and meaningful, there's no "meat" anymore. And the national Church has gone from radical to ridiculous. The new Presiding Bishop is little more than a cute mascot; a nice, albeit radical woman with a very light resume. She's an embarrassment more than a threat. Fortunately for us, there's a wonderful "Bible Church" a few miles away, Parkside Church, led by Alistair Begg, known nationally for his Truth for Life radio show.

He too is a gifted, knowledgeable and engaging speaker with a firm and voluminous knowledge of scripture. His half hour sermons fly by and always leave the congregation wanting more. I have been sad for the loss of the Episcopal Church but in this wonderful country vacuums are filled quickly with entrepreneurs. It's true in business and it's true in the spiritual business as well. And, more importantly of course, truth will prevail.
-- Pam Lange
Chagrin Falls, Ohio

It is amazing how similar our churches have begun. We started a cowboy church two years ago in a dance hall and it has grown to the point in which 55 acres have been purchased and a 7800 sq ft building is going up as we speak. People are hungry for the Bible and Jesus' teaching to lead them through this most twisted world.
-- Daryl Wolf
Vernon, Texas

When my wife and I were married, she was a Roman Catholic and I was a Southern Baptist, so we compromised and became members of the United Methodist Church. It was a workable compromise because we were satisfied with the somewhat formal services that were Biblically based and the Church and its services could be traced directly back to John Wesley who was a spiritual and socially responsible man. (He is of course is credited with starting the idea of Sunday school for children.) His motivation was both to teach the story of salvation and to teach the poor to read something they probably would not be able to do otherwise.

Over the years, however, although we enjoyed worshiping with good people it became clear to us that we almost never agreed with any of the political and social positions taken by the bureaucrats of the church in its national and state offices. This included minor issues as well as crucial ones such as abortion.

After our children went away to college we moved to a city condo and the nearest church was a Baptist church in upscale Birmingham, Michigan, and my wife said we should attend since it was within walking distance. I mildly warned her than it probably was not like the Baptist church that we attended when we visited relatives in Tennessee. The first Sunday we attended the minister gratuitously and viciously attacked Billy Graham and Fundamentalists. While we intended to stay until the end of the sermon and leave quietly it got so bad we got up and left in the middle of the sermon. Most of the people in attendance appeared to be elderly upper middle class individuals who had no idea what was going on or just had become used to such utter nonsense.

From then on we attended "Bible Churches" and although my wife prior to her early death from cancer fit in (she was one of those remarkable people who are at home anywhere with all types of people) with ease I 'm not sure she was ever comfortable in the less formal services. She was fond of saying that the Roman Catholics and Southern Baptist were similar in that they had many of the same beliefs and both felt they were the only ones who were right.
-- Jack Wheatley
Royal Oak, Michigan

Lawrence Henry's article on the New England Bible Church hints at, but does not fully explore, one of the most fascinating features of the rise of Evangelical churches in America, the blurring of sectarian differences and clear denominational markers between those of a "born again" bent. For centuries, Protestant sectarianism not only marked Americans squarely as Presbyterians, Congregationalists, or Episcopalians, but also captured exquisitely detailed doctrinal differences between a half-dozen species of Baptists, several different kinds of Lutherans, and so forth. A majority of my students in Indiana are evangelicals, and astonishingly, when asking the class for the number who are Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, most of the latter do not even realize they are Protestant -- they are "Christian!" I would be very interested to learn more about this seeming collapse of sectarianism among America's Bible Churches, since, as I'm sure, they are so often composed of refugees from older main-line denominational faiths like Mr. Henry's. The old American story of the melting pot seems to be happening anew.
-- Richard Vernier

Respectfully, people aren't hungry for religion. They're hungry for a relationship with the Living God, one who can fill the hole in their soul that imposters or man-made religion can't and won't ever be able to. That means people seek places where God's the focus and where pastors and congregations aren't ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus the Christ.

Second, all churches claiming to be preaching the Gospel had better be Bible churches. Sadly, many haven't been and many aren't. And won't be. Henry's piece simply amplifies how far afield some churches and/or denominations have muddied and diluted Christ's message.

In those years immediately following the Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, false gospels appeared. Nothing's changed. But now, it's clear that people who really hunger for Jesus won't tolerate it any more.

The movement of some Christian churches -- and it does not matter what the name over the door may say; it matters what's preached, taught and shared inside them and then to the world -- to get back to the powerful simplicity of God's Word will only gather more steam. Denominations or churches that won't or don't follow suit will wither, then disappear -- or become even more estranged from the Gospel.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

With due respect to Mr. Henry. The only "church" (meaning "the called out") was begun 2,000 years ago. The New Testament says there is only one church....
-- Kevin Wilson
Morgantown, West Virginia

Lawrence Henry replies:
My article may have given the impression that New England Bible Church does not observe the seven sacraments. It does. We do not recite the Nicene Creed, but its points are recapitulated every Sunday in Bible study and in the sermon. If you are talking about an apostolic church being a necessity for a true church, well, then, there we depart, as do many denominations. I once heard a flight instructor make the point that we all (pilots) could trace our teaching lineage to Wilbur Wright. But many pilots simply acquired airplanes, got in, and flew.

BETTER FRED THAN RED
Re: The Washington Prowler's Fred Being Fred:

I am considerably worried that, when Fred finally enters the race, the campaign team of experienced, high profile, GOP consultants will manipulate and package him in a way that causes us to lose the real Fred Thompson. They have managed to do that to many fine conservatives that did not have sufficient courage of their convictions. St. Ronald of Reagan was one of the few that was not completely up rooted from his principles. I am excited by the thought of Fred Thompson making the run for the White House precisely because he is the way he is now. Fred, please, just tell them, "I yam what I yam!" and refuse to change anything.
-- Ken Shreve
Hopeful in New Hampshire

I am more interested in the segment of this note entitled "Frequent Flyer Miles" concerning Ms. Pelosi's visits to our enemies. This reminds me of the story from the then brand new President Jimmy Carter and his question to his aides "why shouldn't we destroy all our ballistic missiles? Russia will certainly follow suit."

This willingness to take the most unreasonable risks with our liberties has long been the hallmark of Democrat party policies.

Now Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid continue in that long cherished Democrat diversion, playing who can we find to surrender to? Ms. Pelosi has been so enthusiastic at this game that she's even offered to surrender Israel!

Unfortunately those pesky Israelis, who take minimal risks with their freedoms, caught her in the act and just for a moment she looked exactly the fatuous idiot she is. Now she is engaged in another great quest. She will meet with what once was accurately referred to as a "tin horn dictator" and she will give him two great gift she otherwise could not buy, even if he diverted all of Venezuela's revenues to himself and other countries. Ms. Pelosi will give him credibility and legitimacy. Else why would the woman third in line to the Presidency of the world's most powerful free country in the world visit him?

She will also provide him the security he needs to widely export his communist revolution to his neighbors: the knowledge that this radical left controlled Congress will allow nothing to stop his imperialism.

This going to visit an insignificant, annoying flea is bad
enough, but Ms. Pelosi wises to really hurt the US. She wants to go to Iran to demonstrate that no matter how egregious Iranian participation in the murder of our soldiers by Iranian weapons, trained troops or funds, "The Friends of Iran" better known to us as democrats, will not permit the US to intervene to safeguard its young. She will also convince the Iranians that American resolve is non existent and that if Iran can step up the killings of American troops, Ms. Pelosi and her ilk will be grateful because it will let them surrender all the more quickly.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman and JFK must be spinning in their graves. I suspect Lyndon B. Johnson is at the minimum vibrating in his. Jimmy Carter is smiling and thinking "Ya'll finally understand. we'all need to tear this constitution up and get one that let's us be like Castro and Chavez, with just a whiff of Muslim fanaticism thrown in to shut these wimmin up!
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Denver, North Carolina

Do you have a name for that info on Pelosi?

This is a fantastic story that will cause a tsunami...you know that right? LOL!

People are still PO'd about Syria and now this. (It's difficult to laugh and type at the same time.)

Can you provide a name from the Dim's on this info??

Also, love the shortchangin' catch you made of the MSM on Fred by the way. I don't know how you stay on top of things my friend but, don't stop!

Thanks!
-- Winghunter
www.draftfredthompson.com

INTERESTING CHOICE OF WORDS
Re: Daniel Allott's The Fallacy of "Personally Opposed, But...":

While politicians look for language that lets them have it both ways (in their minds only), the objective truth is that there is no moral difference between killing a just born infant and one about to be born. For a Nation to remain "whole" its laws must be both objective, just and moral in order to stand the test of time. Slavery never met this test and would have fallen if not forced to fall due to this. The bulk of Abortions are just the abolition of a moral compass from the law of the land. By any name you give it, it is just murder of the defenseless. This is the kind of war cowards are good at. Those that are generally for the mass murder of the defenseless in the womb are also generally against fighting in any war which speaks volumes to the conflict within their own conscience. At the center of both views is a lack of personal responsibility to anyone but self. I've always wondered if women had to actually commit the murder by their own hand if we'd be seeing 1.3 million slaughtered a year?

Abortion on demand convolutes the foundation of our Constitution Republic and laws upon which all of us depend. It also mocks the very essence of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. The example this sets into law goes far and wide beyond just Abortion.
-- Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia

Mr. Allott's insightful article forcefully cuts through the misleading rhetoric used by some pro-abortion politicians to capture votes from "the mushy middle" (my term).

The next logical step from Allott's argument would be to point out that those "conservatives" who support Giuliani are also equally guilty of utilizing such a fraudulent methodology to capture votes from pro-lifers.

To support a candidate who politically tolerates the evil of abortion, with a willingness to overlook this position in favor of other "issues", is in fact saying: "I am pro-life, but..." It is the same lie. The same sham.

These rhetorical attempts by pro-abortion candidates and any of their various supporters, while at the same time covertly supporting (either explicitly or implicitly) the radical position of funding attacks on innocent human lives, are always attempts that are not only disingenuous and irrational, but objectively evil regardless of their intension.

Clearly, any persons of conscience seeking the common good must reject these unjust compromises as the "short route to chaos" and death.
-- Will Goodman
Stevens Point, Wisconsin

THE BEST WASN'T FINISHED
Re: Thomas Cheplick's Churchillitis:

Mr. Cheplick is right. There are too many biographies of Churchill. However, one, William Manchester's The Last Lion, will do for most purposes. I waited for the third and final volume of Manchester's Churchill for fifteen years... and when Manchester passed away we gained an unfinished symphony for the literary world...a truly great unfinished biography...
-- Greg F

COMMITTED TO SELF-DEFENSE
Re: Kenneth R. Berv, M.D.'s letter (under "Distinctions") in Reader Mail's Therapeutic Counsel:

Abraham Lincoln once asked, "How many legs does a cow have, if you call the tail a leg?" Answer: still four. Calling the tail a leg, does not make it a leg.

Kenneth R. Berv, M.D., gave us a clinical explanation of various psychoses. This was nice but very irrelevant. It does not matter what you call mental state of someone like the VA Tech shooter, if no one will institutionalize him, then someone needs to be able to return fire, when he goes postal.
-- David Shoup
Grovetown, Georgia

FIGHTING SPIRIT
Re: Mark Fallert's letter (under "Not Again") in Reader Mail's Therapeutic Counsel:

I was just wondering when Mr. Fallert will find something worth fighting for. I guess we should wait until thirty percent of our population is Islamofascist, and imams are telling us how to live and what they will do to us when we break sharia law. Liberals and Moderates! Nothing is worth fighting for until it is a lost cause, then the only answer is to surrender.
-- Joseph Baum
Garrettsville, Ohio

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