The Mail Room

Letters from Volume 25

elcome to the Mail Room for Present Truth Magazine! This is where we post some of the interesting letters which we receive from our viewers. All of our viewers are invited to E-mail us your comments and views and we will post these views for all to consider!  

"What Is the Gospel?"

I have been receiving encouragement, enlightenment and refreshment through the pages of Present Truth. Although I do not share your misunderstanding of the dispensational hermeneutic and occasionally find your words toward Pentecostal brethren a bit harsh, I do think you are providing a clear declaration and explanation of the objectivity—the outside-of-me-ness—of the work of our Lord in His death and resurrection.

In this regard I found Geoffrey J. Paxton's article, "What Is the Gospel?" forceful and lucid. However, I would like to share with you an "editing" thought or so:

First, I was disappointed that consideration was not given to the apostle Paul's concise definition of the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-11) A brief exposition of this passage would have fit well under point 2 (p.8), "The Gospel Concerns a Past, Historical Event."

On page 10 Paxton writes, "The power of God is the gospel. The gospel and the power of God are identical." This statement is imprecise. The power of God is not the gospel. The power of God is broader than and is not limited to the gospel. There is the power of God in preservation and the power of God in witness, for example. Neither of these activities of God's power is the gospel. What the apostle meant (Rom. 1:16) and what Paxton should have written is, "The power of God for salvation is the gospel. The gospel and the power of God for salvation are identical."

Dale Younce, Baptist Minister

This correspondent did read Paxton's article, "What Is the Gospel?" and has only this to say: this man labored to bring forth a mountain and got only a mouse! Why did he not just quote 1 Corinthians 15:1-10, because by God's own definition "this is the gospel"? Then, quite to the dismay of brother Paxton, the divine Author spends the next 48 verses telling us what the gospel does. Actually, one could insist that the gospel includes only 4 verses (1 Cor. 15:1-4), then 54 verses reveal to a reader what the gospel does. So the gospel is to the result of that gospel as 4 is to 54!

E. Finkenbiner, Baptist Minister

Your latest magazine, "Nothing But the Gospel," was greatly rewarding. I wholeheartedly agree that the gospel is not "asking Jesus into your heart." Thank you for proclaiming "justification by faith alone," which to me is a life or death issue.

David Adams, College Student

The May issue of Present Truth is great. The article, "What Is the Gospel?" has such an appeal that I have to read it over and over.

James Warnshuis
New York

Thank you for your material on "TULIP" in the May issue of Present Truth (p.13). I have a friend who is literally caught up in hyper-Calvinism. To her the central thing seems to no longer be Christ but election.

Mrs. A. Y. Bait

"New Testament Eschatology"

I have appreciated your magazines more of late, especially the issue on "New Testament Eschatology".  I agree with the truth brought out in all the articles that Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises.

I am the pastor of a Mennonite church and have found your articles sound. They are meeting a need in my ministry.

Fred Gingerich, Mennonite Minister

Your issue on "New Testament Eschatology" is the best I have read, having received Present Truth for the past 18 months. I found, somewhat to my surprise, that I agreed with most of it. I value Present Truth, for even when you are in error you challenge me to think clearly, to dig deeper, and to beware of accepting things at face value.

Stephen Hayes
South Africa

I am writing to express my disappointment in your publication. Even though your magazine is antidispensational, I have read your articles on issues dealing with Reformed theology, which I have really enjoyed. We need more preaching about the sovereignty of God and the awfulness of sin, the kind of preaching which was seen in the writings of Calvin, Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards. However, these men of the Reformed faith did not understand God's program concerning Israel, the church and the kingdom.

I do want to point out a very serious issue. Your April issue of Present Truth on "New Testament Eschatology" contained a dedication to Dr. George E. Ladd which stated, "Dr. Ladd is an evangelical scholar committed to the established verities of the Christian faith, yet a man who has the grace to combine Christian conservatism with openness to new currents of biblical thought."—p. 2. How can you say this? In The Battle for the Bible, by Harold Lindsell (Zondervan, 1976), it was pointed out that neither Fuller Seminary nor Dr. Ladd hold to the doctrine of inerrancy any more. I suggest that if you buy Ladd's view of the future, print articles by men who are believers in inerrancy but at the same time believe Ladd's view. Berkhof, Allis, J. Barton Payne and Hodge all are Reformed and have written on eschatology from an inerrant viewpoint. If you continue to condone Ladd and others who hold to an errant Bible, you will sooner or later turn out like Fuller Seminary—a whitewashed tomb! Why not print good articles on eschatology by Walvoord, Chafer, McClain, Pentecost and Feinberg? At least print ones by men who hold to the inerrancy of the Bible.

As far as Ladd's eschatology goes, I suggest that you read a copy of Walvoord's The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation (Zondervan) when it comes off the press this August. If you disagree with dispensational eschatology, which I gather you do, at least stand up for the inerrant Word of God like the real Reformers did.

D. E. Sutter, Th.D.
New Jersey

Your April issue on "New Testament Eschatology" is one of the clearest presentations of eschatology I have seen and a great blessing because of its Christ-honoring position. I truly appreciate your scholarly work and dedication to sola scriptura.

Jay Armstrong

One of the most refreshing things to happen to me for some time was to be able to read the introduction to the April magazine entitled, "An Introductory Word." Specifically I refer to the sentence, "Yet we also think there are areas where we need to plow new ground, that we need to be challenged to rethink vital portions of the faith."—p. 4.

Howard Hallett

I believe your April issue of Present Truth to be one of the best publications concerning eschatology which I have encountered. Recently, I've been compelled to find new fellowship when I could no longer say Amen to typical dispensational sensationalism about our Lord's second coming. I've experienced the extreme intolerance of a church which sees fit to take church discipline on a member who even speaks of the central importance of Christ's finished work with regard to eschatology.

Meade H. Baker

Coming from basically legal and law-oriented backgrounds, my wife and I must continually remind ourselves of the all-important principle of justification by faith. Your publication plays a major part in aiding us to that end. We were especially thankful for your recent special issue on "New Testament Eschatology" and the way that you again prove Christ to be the emphasis and reason behind all of God's plans for mankind.

Bill McDonald

I suppose some would classify me as a charismatic Presbyterian, but I personally prefer to think of myself as simply a believer—a member in the body of Christ. Labels really do tend to be divisive, emphasizing as they do our differences rather than the great truths that bind us all together.

I wince occasionally as I read some of your strong words directed against the charismatic movement, but I understand how the activities of some of our brothers and sisters of Pentecostal persuasion would give you cause for alarm. Thrill-seeking and experience-based Christianity are a frightfully dangerous business, and I commend you in your efforts to call everyone (both "Hallelujahs" and "Straights"!) to the great fundamental doctrines set forth in Scripture. We must be grounded in the Person and finished work of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible.

I am grateful to be part of a group of believers who are both rooted in the Scriptures and open to the working of the Holy Spirit. We hope we are open to any manifestation the Spirit may choose, including the supernatural ones, but religious fireworks are by no means our objective. Our objective is to know Christ and to make Him known.

I have found Present Truth to be an extremely valuable aid in my own personal growth and understanding. I especially thank you for the incredible special issue on "New Testament Eschatology." It is really magnificent.

Cay Kosik

"The Old Testament"

Sincerest commendations are in order for Graeme Goldsworthy's lucid and true-to-Scripture contribution, "The Kingdom of God and the Old Testament," in your February issue of Present Truth. The entire issue is up to the standards of excellence which I have noted in the past, but this is the nonpareil! My own graduate studies in this area (I wrote my master's thesis on this subject) lend my humble support to the affirmations which he has stated so well. He has kindly but definitely removed the ground from under the feet of chiliasm and clarified to my mind at last why millennialism and Pentecostalism have been constant traveling partners through 20 centuries of Christian history—they both derive from a common error, a misunderstanding of the Bible doctrine of the grace of God.

I do not always agree with your articles—the deathbed confession story of a few issues back came across to me as a nauseating reminder of Catholic extreme unction with the priest in absentia); but I believe unreservedly in your sincerity and your dedication to the cause announced on the cover of Present Truth. Just remember to imitate Luther and Calvin only insofar as they imitated Christ.

Terry M. Balke, Bible School Dean

I was greatly impressed with the substance of your issue on "The Old Testament." I have long admired the work of John Bright, and this made the lead article of special interest to me. But all the articles are useful.

Lyle Vander Werff, Professor of Religion


In spite of all the good your publication is accomplishing, there is a disturbing feature I would like to call to your attention: your tendency to make covenant theology and Calvinism synonymous. I want to point out that Calvin and other Reformers knew nothing of a systemized covenant theology as we have it today. Dispensationalism did not spring onto the religious scene any more recently than did the covenant system of today.

I believe in your work, but please stop trying to alienate dispensationalists as though we are a lot of Arminian sinless-perfectionists adverse to Reformed thought. I happen to be Calvinistic and dispensational at the same time, unthinkable as you may find that to be.

Joe Higginbotham
West Virginia

I thank God I was delivered from "Scofieldism" more than 20 years ago. Your teaching on justification by faith is just what I received in the small seminary I attended in Canada several years ago.

D. G. Milligan

I have followed your magazine with interest for several years. Its strong Lutheran position has been impressive, and even more impressive has been the number of fundamentalists who have sent you letters of praise. It is good to see them come to the proper place in theology to see that Christ's justification is not by works but, as Ephesians makes abundantly clear, is a free gift.

I agree wholeheartedly that dispensationalism is a deception and an error which ought to be put down at all costs. Even the most liberal theologian could not do as much damage to the gospel as have our dispensationalist friends. Bultmann might make some effort at taking the so-called myths out of the Word, but that in itself is not nearly so rotten as tearing it into bits and pieces so that it looses its very core. In fact, when you think of it, Bultmann does one kind of tearing down while the dispensationalists do another.

Richard Lang, Minister

"The Gospel and Christian Behavior"

I must commend you on the fine tract, "The Gospel and Christian Behavior" (The Australian Forum: Topic 8). It was a quick help in reviewing my own preaching. You surely didn't pull any punches! I look forward to more articles on justification by faith and its proclamation through preaching. Also, I hope for more on the proper law/gospel distinction.

Paul H. Lainen, Lutheran Minister

"The Gospel and Christian Behavior" was the most confusing, say-nothing article I have ever read.

W. J. Fenz

I found your forum on "The Gospel and Christian Behavior" very enjoyable. You were so right that good preaching will separate the "is" and the "ought" and show their proper relationship to each other.

I am a student at a Baptist college. Your insights are much needed among the theology faculty here.

Mark E. Day

The forum, "The Gospel and Christian Behavior," is excellent. Having been reared in biblical truth as expressed in the Heidelberg Catechism, I appreciate your emphasis upon the law. It is so lacking in today's Protestantism.

Henry L. Schram

"The Victorious Life"

I have read your pamphlet entitled "How to Live the Victorious Life" and want to extend to you my most heartfelt thanks and appreciation for helping me to see what has been missing in my spiritual armor—the great foundational truth of justification.

For many years (since 1967) I have been strong on the preaching of "sanctification," which in our present day goes under many titles: "The Key to Triumphant Living," "The Saving Life of Christ," "The Faith-Rest Life," "The Deeper Life," "The Spirit-filled Life." But all the while that I have been preaching it, I have been aware that something was missing. What it was I did not know until I read your little booklet.

During the years that I have been preaching on "The Deeper Life" I have found that my consciousness of the "lostness of humanity" and the Christ experience of the cross whereby men become sons of God has been less and less. I have even found it difficult to preach on the subject of "salvation." When I would try, it seemed that I would almost have a mental block. So after a time I just resigned myself to the fact that maybe God did not want me to preach on that subject, that the thrust of my ministry was to be on sanctification and not justification.

This gave me no peace, however, because in the depth of my heart I could not see any wisdom in preaching a sanctification which had no connection with justification. I could not reconcile what I was preaching with an almost total absence of any compassion for those outside of the Christ experience.

The coming of your pamphlet into my life has provided the correction that has been so long needed in my theological foundation, and I will always be deeply indebted to you for it. When one has been guilty of error for so long, it takes a while to make the psychological adjustment, but I thank God that I have begun the trip.

Please find room to print this letter, for I know that many ministers are making this same mistake today. We are building on the subjective while leaving behind the great objective truth of the Christ experience of the cross and the justification that is ours thereby. This is like building the superstructure while leaving off the foundation. Ultimate collapse is the inevitable consequence.

George Bradley, Baptist Minister

Your booklet, "How to Live the Victorious Life," has been the clearest statement I have ever come across on the nature of and relation between justification and sanctification. It has helped me "no end" in seeing where the error is in the present "charismatic movement."

William E. McDowell, Minister

Your "How to Live the Victorious Life" is an exciting exception to the majority of "deeper life" treatises. I am wearied with gimmickry, sloganism, hip Scripture paraphrases, and slick surface treatments of the problems attending sanctification. Thank you.

Mrs. Judy Eadie

"How to Live the Victorious Life" explains so clearly what my Reformed home, church and school have taught me. There are many paradoxes in the Bible. Mr. Brinsmead has helped me understand better the Pauline one in my life—"That which I would I do not. . . "

Walter A. Dejong


I'm thankful for your publications, which have pointed me to the Word and to what true justification is. I've been exposed to some people caught in the charismatic movement—lovely people who do love their Lord but are in bondage because of listening to man's doctrine instead of the Word alone. They almost led me into bondage, trying to convince me that I needed a "second baptism"; and I felt badly because I couldn't feel this "baptism" of the Spirit. I was striving for that feeling. Oh, what bondage—depending on one's feelings!

Your publications pointed me back to the Word and true justification and true freedom. I pray that I will keep my eyes on Christ and His finished work for me and witness to this gift of grace. And I pray that your publications will reach others and set them free from the bondage of man's "isms," pointing them to the Word alone.

Joyce Elgin

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