The Mail Room
Letters from Volume 25
Welcome 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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 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 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.
"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.
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!
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