I get letters! I write articles and some people take the time to respond with letters to the editor. Here is another batch of those letters.
Letters on Learning to Be Rich
To bolster your argument, this happened to me: When having a will produced before returning to the mission field, the lawyer casually but non-mean spiritedly commented that we were dirt poor missionaries. Then we got on the plane and in less than 24 hours we were transformed into filthy rich missionaries. No one gave us money on the plane. It’s all in your perspective.
—Bill, St. Louis, MO
Letters on Christian Men and Their Video Games
Thanks for advocating self-control and correct priorities in connection with video games. However, after reading The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr, I would disagree that reading, fishing, and crocheting are the same as gaming. The alterations in the physical structure of the brain, and the decrease in ability to give deep attention, does not make video gaming the same as the other activities mentioned, or even the same as non-digital games like chess, checkers or parcheesi. While video games are probably an acceptable form of entertainment for Christians, it does not seem accurate to classify them as the same as other non-digital forms of entertainment which promote brain rest.
—Lois S, Wichita, KS
I’ve worked in the gaming industry as a Christian since 2013 and have found it a difficult balance at times to live out my faith among my fellow believers. As you wrote so wonderfully, there are some seriously cheap shots that have been taken at those involved in gaming. Thank you for a good reminder today about living as Christ has called us, in all of our spheres of influence, including entertainment.
—Jacob T, St. Louis, MO
Letters on Why Does the Universe Look So Old
I was HUGELY blessed to have Dr. Barrick teach me Genesis 1-3 in Hebrew class at The Master’s Seminary. First, he went through Gen. 1 verse-by-verse, in Hebrew, block-diagrammed to show that the structure is SO profound, and context SO clear, and grammar SO precise, that you can’t change the literal interpretation of Gen. 1 without simply denying what it says. Based on his class, I’ve taught Gen. 1-2 several times. I agree fully with what you wrote. To explain age, I use Actual, Apparent, and Accelerated.
There’s the Actual based on Scripture: 6 day literal creation and thousands of years since. There’s Apparent age like you described with Adam and Eve, plants, and animals having no “history” of birth, youth, etc. (i.e. God willing to create as-is young adults with an apparent age, yet instantly created at that age). Plus, light created in transit, earth created instantly, not from dust/rock accumulation, etc. Then, apply the fall and God left us a world whole, with apparent age and Christians needing to live by faith in this area, as in all areas of life. Just another place we ignore the wisdom of the world because we know what God really did. I mention Accelerated age because many creation “scientists” argue this. They argue the speed of light was faster and then slowed down. But, literally everything about creation would have had to be “accelerated” (star formation, universe expansion, planet formation, star explosions, etc.) and that is both inconsistent with the Gen. 1 narrative and they can’t explain it. Their simple model deals with light. Actual, Apparent, and Accelerated have been the ways that I’ve explained the obvious, honest questions that arise because the Bible and “science” don’t agree.
—Bill V, Auburn, Ca.
I think two things might improve the ammillennial chart.
1. The tribulation in now (rather than ‘the tribulation is symbolic’ which makes it sound like it isn’t real)
2. The millennium is purely heavenly in nature (rather than ‘is purely spiritual in nature’). A major difference between the views is whether an earthly and heavenly millennium is in view.
I think these two things might make an excellent chart even better.
—Andrew, Canberra, AU
I agree with your thesis but my concern comes from the fact that we have so many men of character leading failing churches. Character is not enough. Jesus calls us to “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” In today’s post-Christendom world those who are simply innocent doves are falling from the sky.
There are many definitions of shrewd but I prefer one of the several provided by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary – “marked by clever discerning awareness and hardheaded acumen”. Today’s pastors need to marked by this definition of shrewd.
—Steve D, Loveland, CO
Tim: But does the Bible say that? It is quite clear on the character of an elder, and I don’t see “shrewd” listed.
Letters on There are 3 Kinds of Churches
I really appreciated what you had to say regarding the shift towards commuter churches. Years ago, our family moved from another suburb to be within walking distance to a local church. We saw a value in being able to walk to church and wanted to have a home that was close by, as a way to offer it for hospitality opportunities, etc.
Well, our church shifted over the years, and began to morph into something with which we no longer felt comfortable. So began our “church-search”. After looking at several churches near and far, we felt a call to join one that most resembled church #3 in your ‘Three types of churches’ article. Only problem? It was a 25 minute drive. As we wrestled with this issue, we had a very clarifying discussion about what were deal-makers and deal-breakers in this decision and, when it came down to it, we understood that the people and the preaching of the Word (not necessarily in that order) were far more important to us than programs or proximity. So, we left our comfortable, neighborhood church, because, in the end, we understood that those two things are worth the drive.
The pastor of our new church has worked with the “commuter” demographics by organizing parish-model community groups that meet during the week. So, really it’s the best of both worlds now.
I look forward to the future articles you will write on this topic.
Letters on What’s the Purpose of … the Church?
While I agree with your three conclusions on the purpose of a church in relation to the glory of God, I find it rather upsetting that you need to condemn other circles for their apparent focus. I could not help sensing a measure of pride in your words, that somehow you have figured out the exact way that church is to be conducted. I run into this all the time and find it nauseating. You basically contradict yourself completely in mentioning that one church has a focus in winning the lost and another in discipleship, and then state the same in your assessment of what a church should be.
You seem to assume or indicate that Rick Warren is doing what he’s doing not for God’s glory. I am quite conservative in a lot of ways but also realize that each church family is unique and special. Each placed by God, where they are for the time God allows, and it is not for me to criticize how they seek to glorify God. As long as they are doing that. From my understanding Rick has seen thousands of souls won for the kingdom, and I believe the Apostle Paul would be rejoicing according to Philippians 1. If one church has focus of soul-winning, and another is more focused on discipleship, and both hopefully on worship, why do I (or in this case you,) need to be so critical about it? I trust God will continue to use you in this way of writing, and bless the church that you pastor. We all need to encourage each other.
—Bryan, Toronto, ON
Letters on 7 False Teachers in the Church Today
I just want to point out it’s pretty jarring that in a list of obvious “bad guys,” you name one of them “The Prophet” which is a title that should be held in honor among the people of God, given it’s rich and glorious biblical history. “The Prophet” led and helped and nourished the people of God from Genesis to the end of the 1st century. Also, while I reject the idea that anyone today can claim the same prophetic status held by men such as Moses, Isaiah, Paul or Peter, it is easy to see from the NT that some men and women still bear the title despite (I think) being of a lesser sort. It’s interesting to me that when you discuss Scripture under this heading you appeal to at least one text which speaks not of “The Prophet,” but of False Prophets; do you think it might be important to appreciate that distinction? Is it really a good idea to list the title Prophet alongside such titles as Charlatan, Heretic, Abuser, etc? If you had entitled this category False Prophet I would have no problem, but I think you have done wrong here.
—Dave W, Texarkana, AR
Letters on ‘Tis a Point I Long to Know
The poem you shared does tremendous honour to the “now and not yet” of the kingdom in us. It is a helpful poem. I would like to send you one of my poems, if only for your own edification/enjoyment. On the cusp of decisions with far-reaching consequences, I wrote this to my Lord. It is comprised of quick-rhyming couplets, a stable scheme with slight instability around the middle.
To the one who said, “Let there be light”,
who made the mud and gave us sight,
I pray to ask for wisdom here:
that dark unknowns would be made clear;
that, hearing, I would walk in faith
in any circumstance and place;
that gods called consequence would fail
to rock me, plunge me, drain my sail –
but rather, independent of
these earthly prompters of my love
let God be worshippéd by me
whose eyes were opened, Him to see.
—Joe Spring, Johannesburg, South Africa