Welcome to the Mail Room for Present Truth Magazine! This is where we post some of the interesting letters which we have received 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!
Sir: The entire volume 41 issue of Present Truth Magazine was enjoyable. The Christ-oriented material with Old Testament emphasis was so refreshing. G. Ernest Wright's article, "The Church's Need of the Old Testament," aptly presented the Old Testament as being "a chief bulwark of the Church against paganism."
Indeed, Christ is the meaning of all Scripture. Also, it was good to see a balanced perspective concerning the mercy and justice of God. It seems that some religionists are unable to reconcile these two attributes of God, and extremism of some kind results. You are to be commended for the fine biblical perspective that explains the harmony of God's justice and mercy. The God-acting-in-history emphasis was very welcome too. This particular perspective has spiritually enriched me, my preaching and, consequently, the church. Some members of the church have come to understand this timely truth, and it has been an evident faith-builder.
You have been very fair in printing letters from your critics. I appreciate the fact that you will not become entangled by the temptation to debate, hurl insults or retaliate, but give calm, matter-of-fact responses. As Verdict continues to explore the Holy Word of Jehovah, the pet doctrines of the sectarian will always be under threat.
C. Kenneth Aspinwall
Church of Christ Evangelist
Gentlemen: Mr. Brinsmead shows himself to be totally in error concerning dispensationalism, which is not a "framework" in explaining "God's method of saving men".
A dispensation is a period of time in which God deals with the human race under a specified administration of government, each ending in man's failure under the test, followed by judgment from God. One could, for instance, hardly equate the Mosaic economy with the dispensation (stewardship) of grace (Eph. 3:2) given to Paul to reveal.
Salvation has always been by grace alone, and to this every knowledgeable dispensationalist will totally agree. In stating that God has carried out all His promises to Israel , Mr. Brinsmead should read such portions of God's Word as Jeremiah 30 and 31, containing promises to the nation of Israel yet to be fulfilled.
Mr. Brinsmead fails to discern between the promises to the natural heirs of Abraham and those to the spiritual heirs of Abraham. Discernment is also lacking in his not differentiating between the unregenerate Jew and the spiritual Jew in his use of Galatians 3:27-29 and 6:16 (p. 47).
Mrs. Mary L. Lyons
Abraham and Christ
Sir: I do appreciate receiving Present Truth Magazine and wonder why you didn't enlarge upon the relationship of Abraham to the preaching of Christ beyond what was said on pages 9-10 of your volume 41 issue.
Consider chapter two of "Christ, the Meaning of All Scripture, Life and History": "The Historical Pattern of the Old Testament." It would have been helpful on page 27 to have had a section entitled "Features of the Patriarchal Event" and subsequent discussions of the importance of Abraham in the New Testament preaching of Christ by:
John the Baptist (Matt. 3:9; Luke 3:8)
Jesus (Matt. 8:10 -12; 22:29 -33; Mark 12:24-27; Luke 13:28 -30; 16:19 -31; 20:34 -38; John 8:39-59)
Peter (Acts 3:13 , 25)
Stephen (Acts 7:2, 8, 16-17, 32)
Paul (Acts 13:26 ; Rom. 4; 9:6-8; Gal 3)
Hebrews ( 2:16 ; 6:13 - 7:10 ; 11:8-22)
James ( 2:18 -24)
Particularly in view of Paul's heavy reliance on the faith of Abraham as a prototype of faith in Christ, I think you would do your readers a service to deal with this Old Testament source for New Testament faith and preaching.
Church of the Brethren Pastor
Sir: I strongly disagree with one letter writer's comment that you should use only the King James Version when quoting from the Bible. When King James had the Bible translated in 1611, the oldest Bible manuscripts used in his translation were just a thousand years old. Since that time there have been many archeological discoveries of older and more accurate Bible manuscripts than those used in 1611.
I'll agree that some modern translations, like the New English Bible, Phiffips and the Living Bible, are poor; but there are others, like the Revised Standard Version and the New American Standard Bible, which are excellent. The latest modern translation of the Bible is the New International Version, which was made by over one hundred conservative Bible scholars from more than a dozen evangelical denominations. I would certainly call this work, which was made over a ten-year period for $2.25 million, far superior to the King James Version.
Many young people regard Bible reading as a formidable task because of the archaic language of the KJV, so I pray that Verdict will not ignore the modern excellent translations of the Bible such as the RSV, NASB and NIV.
Sir: Thank you for the truth I have discovered through your journal. I am a student at a "charismatic" Bible seminary, and I cannot begin to express the new found freedom and joy I have discovered by returning salvation to its proper place-the Christ event.
Your journal has provoked me to careful consideration of the Scriptures. Through the questions your thought-provoking articles stirred within me, I was led to rediscover the beauty and freedom of justification by faith. It was incredible how, quickly after I had placed justification in its proper place, other doctrines (i.e., the baptism of the Holy Spirit, regeneration, sanctification) had to fall into their proper places, all important but insignificant apart from the imputed righteousness of Jesus.
I have shared your journal with several other students here, and we have formed a Bible-study group on campus to study deeper the riches of these rediscovered truths. We pray and discuss methods we can use to turn others on to the true gospel.
We are praying for your journal and your ministry daily. We bless God for it and express to you our eternal gratitude. Please pray for us-we see difficult days ahead, but in Christ we can face the worst.
We currently are going through your "Covenant and the New Testament Gospel" cassette series and plan to send for other of your cassette-tape sets. We can't read or study enough. We've rediscovered the Word of God.
The Ordo Salutis
Sir: Many of the theological insights which I find in your writings are very helpful to me. I am a conservative Calvinist, and I agree with a statement by you in which you expressed the opinion that most Calvinists put regeneration before justification. In the Ordo Salutis issue of your journal you wrote that the Calvinist, as distinct from Calvin, puts "the acquisition of moral freedom before the acquisition of legal freedom. This placing of regeneration before justification is a Romanizing tendency in the Reformed church-and is indefensible."
I agree with the proposition that this is indefensible. I agree that Reformed Christians for the most part have accepted an ordo salutis of regeneration, faith and then justification. One who did not was Archibald Alexander Hedge, who, in "The Ordo Salutis or Relation in the Order of Holy Character and Divine Favor," in The Princeton Review, 1878, pages 304-32 1, wrote:
"The notion that the necessary precondition of the imputation of Christ's righteousness is our own faith, of which the necessary precondition is regeneration, is analogous to the rejected theory that the inherent personal moral corruption of each of Adam's descendants is the necessary precondition of the imputation of his guilt to them. On the contrary, if the imputation of guilt is the causal antecedent of inherent depravity, in like manner the imputation of righteousness must be the causal antecedent of regeneration and faith."
Thus Hedge puts the ordo salutis as being imputation of righteousness, regeneration and faith. He has had, I am sorry to say, no great following among Calvinists. Hedge did not cite Calvin as being in agreement with him, but from what you have written, cited above, I understand that Calvin did put justification (or the imputation of righteousness) before regeneration. I have not found where Calvin addresses himself to the problem. If you will help me in this matter, I will be deeply appreciative.
Stephen M. Reynolds
The problem is compounded when we note that the word regeneration is used two different ways—for that moment of passing from death to life in Christian initiation and for the whole process of sanctification. It seems that Calvin uses regeneration in both ways, although more often in the latter. We're going to do more homework regarding Calvin on this point. In the meantime, are there some Calvin specialists who can give this gentleman chapter and page from John Calvin ?—Ed.
Sir: Your issue on "Election" has helped steer me away from fatalism.
Sir: I enjoy receiving your material very much. As a serious student of the Bible, your publication has presented me with an entirely new viewpoint. Sad to say, I have no previous knowledge of the teachings of Luther, and I find it astonishing how far adrift the churches have come from the basics he perceived in the gospel.
At first I felt your doctrines were not always correct, since they did not fit in with my preconceived doctrines. But on closer examination and study of the Bible to see what it really said, I found that I had been holding wrong beliefs and misplaced emphases. No one likes to be found wrong, but matters pertaining to God are too important to allow prejudice to blind us to the truth. I thank you for showing me my errors. Your journal is the most rational, well written material in the religious market today—and I know, because I receive many publications.
We are forced to admit we are wrong too. Often our readers make us think again on certain points. We cannot encompass infinite truth, but we "follow after. " —Ed.
Sir: I'm sure you are having a marvelous time wrangling over theology—but that's not "where it's at." Jesus came to show a better way. The Christian religion is a reaching out in love to those around you. Remember the parable of the good Samaritan? What did he know about "anthropocentricism"? Not much! But he knew about love and concern. And Jesus not only praised him for it, but gave him as an example for you and me.
Margaret E. Hill
Sir: Where your journal came from I do not know, but I find it so valuable to a present-day understanding of theology. There is so much "trash" coming forth—you are a breath of fresh air!
George W. Southwick
Sir: It's hard for me to explain the anguish and stress I suffered searching for the gospel at the hands of "ministers" whom I trusted to have its truths. I was swept away from its glorious simplicity and "religicized" by an evil system of faddish, victorious-life, second-blessing, dispensational hodgepodge.
I can personally testify that your work is not in vain and wish to thank you for your ministry.
Dennis R. Myers
Mail Room index
Volume 43 index