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!
"Restoring the Gospel to Its Rightful State"
Sir: I appreciate very much your recent emphasis on the Old Testament framework of the gospel and its need of restoration in our preaching and teaching. It has helped me see some weaknesses in my own ministry.
Restoration of such a costly jewel however, takes more than the broad sweeps and generalities that characterized your issue. Many of your childish neighbors who specialize in Palestinian eschatology and dispensationalism are guilty of the same thing in seeking to develop a restored biblical system of their own. These broad sweeping statements go far in exciting the general evangelical public and many times they draw the "you really opened my eyes!" response from those who are looking for some honest help in their approach to the Scriptures. But these things do little service in drawing any of us closer to the text of Scripture.
What is needed today is some energetic work through the text of Scripture. Your staff is quite capable of such a venture, as was demonstrated when you devoted several issues to an exposition of Romans 6-8 some time ago. Being a "childish neighbor," I did not agree with all that you said, but I found it to be the most stimulating discussion of the passage that I have seen. Where I disagreed, I had to do some digging in the text myself, which proved most helpful.
The broad studies may get you wider following and gain you the approval of those already on your side of the fence, but it is the text of the Word itself that is able to effect restoration of the gospel in its proper framework in the hearts and lives those on both sides. May God see fit to further use you and your journal that end.
John P. Cwynar
"New Testament Witnessing"
Sir: I found Geoffrey J. Paxton's article on "The Gospel and Testimonies" quite good. I have seen the very thing he talks about. Yet I think Mr. Paxton, as usual overstates his case.
Sir: I enjoyed very much two articles: "The Witness Theme in the Gospel of John," by Allison A. Trites, and "The Gospel and Testimonies," by Geoffrey Paxton. The latter aptly described what I have also witnessed while fellowshipping with many of my friends who describe themselves as "evangelical Fundamentalists," whose ambition is to emulate today's so-called "soul-winners." I often wonder what the souls they have won have been won to, for their preaching is so full of tear-jerking stories about other people and so devoid of the witness Jesus Christ.
I challenge every believer to study 1 Corinthians 2:1-2, then analyze his own testimony and then strive to make Paul's testimony his own, because the apostle said, "We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord" (2 Cor. 4:5).
Daniel E. Parks
Sir: I was thoroughly enjoying your magazine until I came to the article entitled "The Gospel and Testimonies," by Paxton. That made me decide that the round file under my desk was the place for your publication rather than passing it to another as is my practice.
I am amazed that you would waste your space and your readers' time by publishing such drivel. To try to establish a difference between a "gospel testimony" and an "evangelical type testimony" seems only an at tempt to start another theological argument. And how can Paxton judge all testimonies so harshly when so many have proven a blessing?
Had Paxton had his way, Joni Eareckson would have never published her book, Joni, or its sequel, Step Farther, nor would Chuck Colson have published his testimony Born Again. I have to wonder how Paxton would handle Luke 8:39, where Jesus told the healed maniac go home and tell what had happen to him. And Paxton's conclusion suggesting that to "discard the traditional evangelical-type testimony will bring great honor and glory God"—what an idea!
I'll be the first to agree that many so-called testimonies are emotion packed, sometimes poorly delivered and I am sure some are exaggerated. But can't the same be said of many sermons? So do we exclude them all?
I'd like to ask Paxton: "Has an atheist ever testified to you of how much his atheism has helped him and tried to share his beliefs with you? Or has a Moslem or Hindu given you his testimony—how his faith has lifted him out of the doldrums of life? In my sixty-eight years of experience in this life, I have been approached few times by evangelical Christians with a desire to share their faith. No liberal, no Catholic, none of any other faith has found enough personal satisfaction in his faith to want to share it with me. And Paxton would remove this one unique activity from the zealous Christian who wants to share with others the best thing that ever happened to him.
I'm sure you don't expect your readers to agree with all you publish. But this—it's near blasphemy.
A. Frank Gibbs
Sir: Reading the article on "New Testament Witnessing" was like having an accumulation of dust blown away by a cool wind. I particularly appreciated Geoffrey Paxton's article on "The Gospel and Testimonies," which cut through the heart of an issue that I have been wrestling with for some time.
A few months ago a lady who knew something of my personal history asked that I come and speak to her Sunday night group about my experiences in coming to Christ. I said I would, but that it seemed to me the most important experience to talk about was Christ's experience on our behalf. The most significant thing about becoming a Christian, and later living as one, is having our eyes turned away from ourselves and focused on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To this the lady replied, "Well, if all you want to talk about is the gospel, then I don't want you to come. That doesn't fit in with our format."
I have been uneasy about this ever since, and even Mr. Paxton's article hasn't completely dissipated the problem. In attempting to defend the centrality of the gospel, all I really did was lose an opportunity to tell it. (And I probably also came across as a sanctimonious, pietistic religious snob—which, being the sinner I am, is, I fear, largely true!)
Ah well, no one ever promised that being a Christian would be easy—at least no one trustworthy ever promised that. But Present Truth Magazine is surely a comfort in times of stress. It is also a challenge and a stimulus to continuing study in God's Word.
Anne M. Wallace
"Preaching Christ from the Old Testament"
Sir: I want to express a word of thanks, especially for the issue of Present Truth Magazine that deals with "Preaching Christ from the Old Testament". It came at a time when I myself had only started to think along these lines.
In my preaching, which has mostly dealt with New Testament themes, I have only made scant reference to Old Testament contexts and passages. I have, however, realized that I needed to expose myself and my church much more to the Old Testament. And so your issue was very timely.
Although I don't agree completely with everything you publish, your journal is refreshing and stimulating.
C. R. Dickson
Republic of South Africa
Sir: Your issue on the Old Testament was a joy to me. You've provided a long-needed forum for a crucial matter. So let's move on with it and pursue this to its obvious conclusion.
When will we finally listen seriously to Paul's statement that the gospel was long before announced to Abraham, the believer? (Gal. 3:7-9). When will we recognize the Mediator of the eternal covenant throughout the events of the Hebrew text and believe that there is (and has always been) only one Mediator between God and man, the Man? When will we hear the Messenger of God speaking the Eternal's words of truth from the Glory-Presence on Mount Sinai and from the Mount of Transfiguration? When will we realize that the Anointed One gave Jacob a name above every name; He gave him His very own name: Israel , the Prince of God? (Gen. 32).
And when will we Gentiles forsake our self-righteous piousness and acknowledge that we-by God's eternal love-were grafted into the one true Olive Tree, which had its root in the Ancient of Days and its trunk in the righteous believers of old (Seth, Enoch, Noah)? When will we stop condemning the natural branches to darkness and break into weeping and prayer for them, knowing that their centuries of terrible wandering have allowed us to find a home in the Holy One of Jacob? When will we forsake our pagan festivals and ritual and return to the God-given patterns in His Scripture? And when will we open our hearts to the eternal glad tidings: "Messiah our Passover has been sacrificed"? (1 Cor. 5).
There is much ground left to inherit in the Book of the Covenant. It is time we started home.
Paul B. Sumner
Sir: Thank you for your wonderful journal and the truth I have learned from it. The only improvement I would want is for the literary and theological giants to write so a high-school grad could understand them more easily. Sometimes I just get bogged down with so many words and have to put the journal down for a while and let them sink in.
Your presentation on the law and gospel is great. I have recommended it to several pastors. It was the clearest presentation I have ever read or heard.
This Is Life
Sir: I am extremely pleased with your book, This Is Life—probably because my wife and I have already been practicing some of the things mentioned. I am most anxious to involve our congregation in the use of This Is Life. We have already discussed the possibility of involving the community in a monthly meeting with this type of discussion.
Sir: I thoroughly enjoyed your publication, This Is Life. It is very well written. I was particularly impressed by your common-sense approach to evangelism and man as a wholistic being—body, soul and spirit. I pray that This Is Life gets the wide reading it deserves. You can be sure I will expose many friends to it.
Keep up your scholarly work.
Sir: I have appreciated the spiritual meat in your journal. Yet I never considered using any of your material as an evangelical tool. However, This Is Life is the most complete explanation of the most gracious gift the Lord has given us-salvation. There are very few books I can hand to a person who is not mature in the Lord without having to give cautions and explanations about the material. But This Is Life-indeed, all the publications I have read from your organization- does not contain doctrine and tradition not found in God's Holy Word.
Jack P. Heilborn, Jr.
Sir: This Is Life is without doubt the most meaningful work ever put into print on what it is to live the real Christian life. This comes from folks who have been educated from elementary school through college in Christian schools. Just wish this had been available thirty-five years ago!
Mr. and Mrs. Eugene F. Wakefield
Sir: I happen to read Present Truth Magazine , and I believe that no other publication has so clearly presented health in relation to God. I am in agreement with almost all that you have published. I especially like your treatment of the subject of life in This Is Life.
I am a Roman Catholic and would like to see the neglected values of truth back in their proper place.
Nick L. Madijanon III
Mail Room index
Volume 44 index