Back Issues

Volume 7, Issue 4: Sharpening Iron

From Us:

[The following may only make sense if you are using Netscape 1.1 or higher]
One of our pet peeves concerns has to do with how judgmental readers always sometimes conclude that we at Credenda are arrogant simply because we seek to write, teach, and publish with confidence. Well, all we have to say to them is . . . This concerns us. As brothers in Christ we should always assume the best about others even if they are being meatheads.

We can’t remember all the times Sometimes readers have popped off expressed their conviction that it seems like we "always think we’re right." And we suppose they suggested this to us because they thought they were wrong, hey? But of course, we would like to suggest, everyone is in this position. We are created in such a way that no one says things because they believe them to be false. At least not anyone we know.
We really are being humble, and we wish everybody would just lay off, see? We really appreciate your insights and comments except for the really dumb ones. We invite readers to differ, and we expect them to express their differences with confidence. They’re just wrong, that’s all.


From You:

Dear Editors,
The Lord told me to write this to you after reading "Prison House of Images" [Vol. 7, No. 3]. Romans 10:17 "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Paul's use of "word" here does not refer to Scripture, rather the literal hearing of God's voice.

God's words to us through the Holy Spirit give us the faith to do His will. Ask God if this is true--don't ask a man or consult a commentary, go to the throne of grace and honor God by asking Him.

John Madany
Waynesville, MO

Dear Editors,
Thank you very much for pursuing excellence in dealing with biblical matters. However, could you please expand the sports section?

Lee Robinson
Ft. Collins, CO

Dear Editors,
I believe that brother Dickison has inhaled a little too much wild libertarian atmosphere in his "Magistralis" (Vol. 7, No. 3, p. 8) assertion that "pornography is not a problem which the civil government can deal with." Although I agree with the general thesis that there are governments of various levels--the state, the church, and the family--it hardly follows from this notion that any are exempt from repressing evil where they have power to do so. In fact, "naked square" activities-- especially when they are naked--require political solutions.

Pornography is a big business in America. It is, in our imagistic society, a live sex show in which we can vicariously participate without the need for a prophylactic.
Not 700 yards in three directions from my house are video stores which rent relatively mindless PG films upfront, and house triple XXX hard core videos in side rooms. Mr. Dickison seems to be suggesting that the proliferation in one's neighborhood of visual whore-houses in every house with a VCR are no concern of Christians or their government. I'm sure the patriarch Lot thought the same. Public sins have public consequences.
Mr. Dickison's statement that "Neither the state nor the church will be able to protect people from smut. That must be done in the home if it will be done at all," is off the mark on two counts. First, the repression of evil is never to banish it--Christians believe in original sin, after all. Rather, it is to repress it; to make it less pervasive, to drive it out of the city and into the jungle. Second, though I agree that the family is clearly the place where morals are taught, the laissez faire approach to visual evil will result in a society in which a noose is being drawn tighter and tighter around the neck. God's law extends to the society, as well as the family and church.

James Sauer
Coatesville, PA

Editors: Let it be known that here at Credenda/Agenda we never inhale.

Dear Editors,
I don't know how you got my name, but I am glad that you did!. . . I really appreciated your examination and challenge to Eastern Orthodoxy. I especially like "Non Est," which is the heart of the matter I believe. Although I would caution you in that, regardless of philosophical baggage and theological errors, the descriptions I have read of their understanding of the process of sanctification (deification) in the EO are very similar to John Wesley's description of res-piration: breathing in and out of the Holy Spirit. In other words, growing like Christ by intimate fellowship with him: John 15's "abiding." And there are many within the fellowship who know that Christ alone is righteous, that any good in them comes only through the Holy Spirit within them, and that they trust Christ for their salvation, hoping only to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. This is very similar to Paul's "yielding your members" to the Holy Spirit for sanctification. The confusion reigns in that sanctification becomes so focused on their own attempts to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, that in practice, the reliance on the Holy Spirit by many of the members is absent. . .

Jefferis Kent Peterson
Lawrenceville, GA

Dear Editors,
I was pleasantly surprised that peacemaking was the theme of your recent issue. Considering that you usually focus on severely criticizing the views of others, an issue devoted to peace seems to signal a major change of direction. Even more surprising, given your usual fierce devotion to minutae, was the assertion that all doctrines are not equally important (Presbyterion, Douglas Wilson) and that squabbling over the less important ones is a mistake (I can't help but think you lost half your readers with that article). Only Wes Callihan (p. 12) seemed not to fully catch the new spirit, contributing poetic diatribe against women who choose not to have children (they are selfish and blind, have sacrificed the only thing that could have given their life meaning, and have cursed themselves eternally). Apparently whether or not we have children is not one of the lesser doctrines but ranks right up there with the Deity of Christ and justification by faith. Oh well, I suppose we cannot expect too much change with just one issue. No doubt your core readers will accuse you of abandoning the "true faith" with your move towards a "kinder, gentler" Credenda/Agenda, but I, for one, wish to voice my support for your increased emphasis on peace and love.

Steve Penning
Sapelo Island, GA

Dear Editors,
I really appreciate your magazine and would like to continue getting it. (My wife hates it--please pray for her.)

Name withheld

Dear Editors,
I think that Wes Callihan woefully misgauges the weight of poetry in music ("A Requiem for Poetry," Vol. 7, No. 2). Lyrical music is pure poetry simply dancing to a beat, and music is absolutely a primary force portraying and even defining contemporary culture.

To say that poetry is dead or irrelevant is similar to saying that writing is dead or irrelevant because one refuses to read anything on a computer. Mr. Callihan skips over the subject of poetry in music, briefly mentioning the extreme poles: inane pop music and culturally superfluous hymns. In fact, there is an immense amount of complex, intriguing, intellectually and spiritually satisfying poetry available on CD or cassette if one looks deeper than the Wal-Mart music rack. Granted, a person must wade through hip deep garbage with well-honed discriminatory skills to find the poetic pearl, but was this ever any different?

Eric Engerbretson
Spokane, WA

Dear Editors,
. . . . Credenda/Agenda is amazing. It would not have occurred to me that something so highbrow (I mean that as a compliment) could be so practical. Every issue hits me between the eyes. Before I read in Volume 7, Number 2, "Making Peace by Exposing Sin," I assumed the bad-news media was just bad news for Christians. I admit my error. When I read the last line of "True Companions" and finally understood what Phillippians 4:3 must have meant to Eudia, Syntyche, and Clement, I cried.

Thanks for a publication that is always wonderful. My wife home schools our three boys and finds a lot of help and reassurance in every issue. So do I.

Richard Cassin

Dear Editors,
I wanted to drop a note to attempt to encourage [Jack Van Deventer's] "eschatological" labors. I thoroughly enjoy "Eschaton." [His] article on Dispensationalism/Premillennialism was great. Having formerly been one, as many others, I really appreciated it even more. If I might, I'd like to suggest some topics for future publication: (1) Pessimism and Dispensational Premillennialism (truly a poison in our day) and hand in hand from the opposite side (2) Historic revivals and optimism for future things. Press on, brother, bringing glory to Him who reigns, even now, supreme.

Vince Nixon
Palmdale, CA

Dear Editors,
Okay, first it was Frank(y) Schaeffer, now it's David Chilton! Who's next, Chuck Colson, Bill Bright, or one of the other "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" signatories? How disillusioning that Schaeffer, who to myself and tens of thousands of other thirty-something Evangelicals who matriculated in the late seventies and early eighties by cutting our theological teeth on the writings of Schaeffer, pere and fils, has apparently abandoned sola scriptura. How disappointing that Chilton, whose writings are closely followed by Reformed families everywhere . . . is feeling the same pull to Eastern Orthodoxy. What is it? The growing vapidity of contemporary evangelical worship, cut to fit the Nashville/contemporary Christian music mold? The supposed ministry of the Word through dance, drama, painting, basketweaving, etc. at the expense of expository preaching? The absence of "evangelical tradition" (described ably in the works of David Wells), for which the seekers substitute the mysticism and magic of the status quo ante, replete with icons and co- mediatrices? Our only consolation as Reformed believers is, of course, the providential plan of our Lord, who after deciding not to come last September, will undoubtedly purify His church through the whole experience--a purification that, like a "refiner's fire," may prove a bit unpleasant, not only to the "Church of the User-Friendly Savior and Best Buddy," but to the whole of Evan-gelicaldom. . . .

William Gabbard
Annapolis, MD

Dear Editors,
Two statements in "Historia" (Vol. 7, No. 3) caught my heart: "Contrary to popular misconception, the Puritans advocated and practiced an institutional separation of church and state. Clergymen carried their influence through preaching and writing in personal counsel when possible," and "the godly virtue of submission to authority even when criticizing it." Nineteen innocent people died while the Puritan clergy took no action but persuasion. How does this apply to our modern conflict over abortion? Is our opposition limited merely to sermons? Is Operation Rescue ungodly in its confrontational civil disobedience? Do we submit to the authority represented by the Clinton administration or the authority that our interpretation of the Constitution provides?

Wally Danielson
Edmonds, WA

Dear Editors,
. . . . "Priorities and Peace" (Vol. 7, No. 2) contains a couple of technical errors in the last paragraph of the first column.

First, you move from speaking about "relative importance" to stating that some things are simply not important. (I assume you mean, "not important, relatively speaking.")
Second, you mention doctrines both explicit and deduced. In the second clauses of three of your four pairs of issues, you deal with doctrines not specifically explained in Scripture: drinking beer, immersion baptism, and "wrangles over paedocommunion."
Women's head coverings, however are specifically dealt with in Scripture. While they may not seem as important as Christ's deity, sola fide, sola scriptura, or election, they are important enough to God for Him to inspire St. Paul to write simply and clearly about them. Comparing the teaching on head coverings to beer, baptism by immersion, and paedocommunion, is illogical. Paul is quite clear and open about the issue of both women's and men's head coverings. And again, "though Christ's deity is more important than head coverings for women, any biblical doctrine is important. . . .

Hugh McCann
Petaluma, CA

Dear Editors,
My compliments on Wes Struble's scientific review of Fingerprints of Creation. Frankly, I was pleasantly surprised that Credenda did not swallow it hook, line, and sinker considering the dogmatic six 24-hour day stand by much of your staff. . . .

Reviewing the geological and astronomical data, one must wonder why young earth theorists and universal flood proponents attempt to verify their beliefs using science at all. Since they claim that the earth and universe were made to appear old, what hope have they of proving them to be young? Did God simply forget to age define radiohalos? . . . Why would God purposely create a universe and an earth that are old in appearance, and then leave dicey and difficult to obtain proof for a young earth?. . .
It is time Christians woke up and smelled the rotten fowl they are being sold in the temple by radical and miotic "creationists." For it is just as lame as the dogmatic rationalism we were getting outside of the temple, though the former is obtained in a more beautiful location and is sold and purchased with good intention.

Malcolm Kirk
Bellevue, WA

Dear Editors,
I'm perplexed at your position on cable and network T.V. in the current "Disputatio." Here I sit, a mind-numbed robot with a hole in my drum--a staunch disciple, crushed at the sight of your lifeless body at the feet of a sneering Charles Church! Or was your "devil's advocacy" only for the sake of a rousing column, you sly dog?

If not, why the defense of this medium before the relentless cannonade of Mr. Church? Earlier in this issue (in the "Thema") you decry the vacuum-cleaneresque discernment of today's Christians regarding popular culture. I agree, three garden slugs would spoil a salad; but if network and cable television is the salad, it's infested with creatures far more numerous and revolting. If everything is to be brought into submission to Christ, then there is no justification for cable or network T.V. in my home.
Nonetheless, I can't be dogmatic, nor should Mr. Church; television can't be proven malum in se. I suppose he is saying (in a heavy-handed way) that Scripture is silent on today's technologies, but not on sin. I agree with him. In fact, you agree with him; your "Thema" suggests that the malevolent elements of video media today outweigh their redeeming qualities. In fact, I propose to Mr. Church that even the selective use of videos is indefensible, if it involves frequenting video stores, for it's impossible to do so without being sensually assaulted. So I am perplexed; where do I go from there, to your comparing television with leaving smut books on your shelf (I take liberties here...) for the sake of modeling Christian liberty?
If a position must be taken, mark me down grudgingly in Mr. Church's camp. But, in the first place, his book analogy was not valid. It's one thing to wade through chapters of gratuitous filth in print (too much work for most modern Christians) but another thing to simply flip a switch and dive in! Please don't drag my beloved books into the fray, Mr. Church; at least books are more difficult to employ in today's gutter than movies! In the second place, we need not limit our discussion to television; the ethical dilemma of engaging popular culture is not new for Christians. Still, the worst offenses can be avoided by refusing to go "pearl diving in the cesspool," and perhaps a disengagement is called for today. . . .

David Zuniga
Laredo, TX

Dear Editors,
I wanted to thank you [and Charles Church] for your enlightening exchange of views in the "Disputatio" of the last issue of C/A. Christians of all outlooks do well to consider your arguments in light of their perspective on contemporary media and the Scriptures.

Reading over the "Disputatio," I noticed that [Mr. Church] was misconstruing Mr. Wilson's argument. You say that "we've both admitted that `context' can establish something as `evil in itself.'" Yet Wilson never conceded this, nor should he. If something, i.e., TV, depends on a context, then it is, by definition, not a malum in se, because without the context, viz. by itself, it is not necessarily an evil in itself. [Does Mr. Church] see the logical contradiction of [his] argument? It's much like an oxymoron ("military intelligence"). Imputing evil to the fundamental nature of TV is the equivalent of saying that the electric circuitry is evil. . .

Adam Zens
Cushing, WI

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