The Mail Room
Letters from Volume 11
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!
Universal Redemption and Calvinism
Let me thank you for your most perceptive views and treatments of justification and sanctification. You seek to base all that you say on God's Word, the Scriptures. Even though I am not convinced your view of redemption as universalistic is Biblical, yet you are correct to offer the gospel to all who are thirsty or weary or heavy laden. May I be so bold as to suggest that on the question of the perseverance of the saints (Present Truth vol 9) you are more Calvinistic (really Biblical) than some who proclaim so loudly that they are Calvinists.
The most perceptive and warm treatment of the whole subject of perfectionism is to be found in the two volumes on this subject by B.B. Warfield, published by Oxford Press. These original volumes are so much more complete than the reprint in giving a full exposure of this heresy of perfectionism within liberal theology as well as evangelical circles. How much good was done for my soul by the masterful Article 1, " 'Miserable-Sinner Christianity' in the Hands of Rationalists"!
T. T. E.
Having read the two special issues of Present Truth Magazine very carefully, I am convinced that what you are writing is indeed truth.
Coming from a local church background that put a great deal of emphasis on "feelings," I had gone through both college and seminary still teaching and preaching a subjective gospel. Confronting the ultraliberalism of the seminary community, I retreated even further into a doctrine of subjectivism. I must confess that all during this time I felt there was something not quite right about what I believed and taught. It was not until I took the little quiz in your magazine and went on to read the articles, that I began to seriously examine my beliefs.
Now, after a good bit of study, I see that what I had been preaching was not really "good news" at all. It was a "do it yourself" doctrine of good moral living rather than faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The truth which you proclaim in your magazine has made a real difference in my life and my ministry. People are responding far better to the gospel that I am now preaching. I look forward to receiving further issues of Present Truth,
May God bless you for your insight into Scripture and for the courage to print what you found!
I just finished reading Topic 6 of The Australian Forum, entitled "The Immoral Revolution," and would like many other preacher brethren in this area and this state to read it also.
It has challenged and humbled me because of my own spiritual blindness and laxity. Please send me twenty-five more copies as soon as possible. I will use them wisely and see that they are read and reread by Christians and non-Christians alike.
D. E. P.
Personal Testimony from Jesus Movement
As a "refugee" from the Jesus movement, I wish to encourage you in your efforts to set the records straight. After all, you have encouraged me beyond my expectations, and though my exposure to your literature is as of yet limited, I have come to respect your opinions as mature, thoroughly exhaustive and well-balanced.
My own personal experience, and that of many people I know, was (and is in some cases) one of seeking after a mystical experience from the Lord—I might even say a mystical relationship with Him—and upon receiving it, being overwhelmed with joy and expectations of fulfillment and satisfaction within that context. Only in retrospect did I realize that what I had experienced was not at all a revelation of God's work in Christ but rather an emotionally—based peer group high—one that faded away in the everyday life of a fickle human being. I hasten to explain to people in the charismatic movement that I am not at all down on emotions but rather emotionalism. What hurt most of all, I suppose, was to see the shallowness of our relationships with ourselves (twenty-seven living in a Christian "house"). We developed intricate religious facades; the pressure to conform to an ideal was tremendous. The ideal was one of following a script for a "spiritual" life, i.e., the Bible. The problem was that we held it up to our noses like sheet music. As a result we tripped over Life (in Christ)—a form of legalism. So, as a result of being under this pressure to be "spiritual," we repressed honesty, the transparency of our own deep problems. I might add that this pressure to be "spiritual" was never spoken of or written in word; it was a very strong undercurrent that all were made aware of.
As a result of this shallowness, which I have observed everywhere in the Pentecostal movement and in the dead church in this country (liberal theology, etc.), I now know one too many apostate Christians or ones who seemingly have progressed no further than where they were two years ago. It is disturbing.
A Brethren missionary here has introduced me to the Present Truth Magazine, and it has come as water to a thirsty soul. In this part of the world, Reformed theology is very rare indeed, and in fact I don't know of a church in Bolivia where one can hear these doctrines preached.
There is a tide to be stemmed in this part of the world as is all too evident in the superficial evangelism around us and the dearth of theology in the churches.
R. C. S.
I want to thank you for your thoughtful and penetrating discussion of the Campus Crusaders appearing in your magazine. It describes perfectly our own experience here, raises those warning flags which we have tried so often to hoist and expresses that desire on the part of the church to encourage genuine enthusiasm, warm hearts and changed lives, but in a context of God's eternal purposes. I think your lineup of the sequence of trying drugs, sex, and why not Jesus, was perceptive.
I was extremely disappointed after reading your article, "A Friendly Dialogue with Campus Crusaders," in Present Truth Magazine. It is overwhelmingly apparent that your research was neither thorough nor objective.
I would like to thank you and your staff for the increased understanding of the gospel, especially as it often is being misrepresented in our culture. I was suspicious of Present Truth Magazine at first as you seemed more "Sola Reformation" than "Sola Scriptura," but I have come to respect the articles you print.
I was especially interested in your latest issue as I became a Christian through Campus Crusade. I agree with your evaluation of their teachings and have personally seen problems some of them bring in Christian lives.
With so many young people today looking to Christianity, it is important that they get the real thing and not some tinseled counterfeit, because they are the future leaders of the church.
Your latest Present Truth Magazine has come to my office, and I have read it from cover to cover as usual. Up to now I have considered passing remarks about Campus Crusade for Christ as coming from lack of information. I am still not quite sure. I am challenged by your approach and would like for you to plumb this more deeply.
G. L. C.
Your articles are very valuable in pointing out the dividing principle of justification by faith—a principle that marks the division between truth and deception, between victory and subtle surrender.
You set forward the well-known Reformed position that "grace does not change the sinful nature of the believer.... the believer is always a saint, always a sinner. In Christ he is fully righteous; in himself, by reason of the sinful nature, he is fully sinful" (special issue, "Justification by Faith and the Charismatic Movement," pp. 19, 20). Permanent spiritual schizophrenia is the best the believer can hope for. What the power of Christ is unable to do toward liberating the human heart from the tyranny of inner sin, death—the great enemy—will accomplish. "I am crucified at the moment of death rather than with Christ," Paul is made to declare. Not only Wesley but Paul is made to limp along in the spiritual paralysis of Romans 7. God the righteous Judge has issued a pardon written in the blood of Christ on behalf of the sinner. But the prisoner who receives that pardon cannot expect that the prison doors will in fact be opened and that he will in fact be set free until death, the great liberator, comes to his rescue.
In all due respect to the deeply spiritual and scholarly Reformation theologians and preachers who have maintained this position, supposing thereby to the more greatly praise God's sovereign grace, I cannot accept that position for even one moment. I realize that fruitful discussion stops until we have sorted out our definitions and understanding of sin, human nature, pneuma, hagios, etc. But it seems to me that the transcendent sovereignty of God's matchless grace is praised all the more when we say with Paul: "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life." Rom. 6:22. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." Gal. 5:24, 25. I could go on piling reference after reference from God's Holy Word indicating that the inner warfare in the believer's heart can be ended and that "there is therefore now no condemnation [even for the old nature] to those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death." Rom. 8:1, 2. 1 don't know what being set free from the law of sin and death means to you, but I take these words at face value and do not try to squeeze their obvious meaning out by pressing them into a previously delimited theological position. Orthodoxy must always be amenable to Scripture—not the reverse.
Western evangelicalism has been too long infected with a defeatistic theology which offers believers nothing more in this life than a standoff with the nature of sin. The heart of the believer longs for something better. Sons of God desire to live, walk and talk like sons of God. They yearn for the intimacy of an immediate, direct relationship with their heavenly Father in the freedom of a heart made perfect in love. "Christ in you, the hope of glory!" That is the great hunger of the soul—a heart undivided in its love and loyalty to Christ, a heart made perfect in love.
It is clear that no man's nature lies beyond the reach of the cleansing blood of Christ (1 John 1:7). That is good news for a soul divided against itself. Many, like the apostle Paul, experience this cleansing of the old nature subsequent to their Damascus-road experience of justification.
C. S. C.
In the "Letters" section of the latest Present Truth Magazine was included a letter from J. J. H., Nazarene Pastor, West Virginia. He quoted the following statement from Dr. Richard S. Taylor's book, Preaching Holiness Today: "God saves men from sin to holiness through faith in Jesus Christ by the inward action of the Holy Spirit in two works of grace and in subsequent supervision and discipline." As the Scripture sees it, this theology is in error; for as long as we live we sin—this is what the Scripture teaches.
For anyone to "feel" that since he came to faith, he is no longer a sinner and desperately in daily need of the cleansing blood of the Saviour, is nothing short of being self-righteous; and this is dangerous indeed since only the righteousness of Christ can stand before God.
Look at what the converted and "holy" men had to say who, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, wrote the Bible.
The apostle "whom the Lord loved" said, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." 1 John 1:8. John does not say "You" but rather "we." Thus John knew that he was a sinner and would remain a sinner, but a forgiven sinner, until the day he would pass into eternity to be with his Redeemer.
The apostle Paul, that great ambassador of the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, had this to say about himself long after his conversion: "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.... O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." Rom. 7:19, 20, 24, 25.
We see the same in the Old Testament as well: "For there is not a just man upon the earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." Eccl. 7:20.
To quote more passages would make me guilty of gross redundancy indeed, but these passages do prove a point. We all carry around for some threescore and ten this bag of sinful flesh, which is at war with the Spirit-filled new man.
I know that in the face of what I have said, some would quote me a passage like 1 John 3:9, which says, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."
But of what man is this passage speaking? Of the flesh, the old Adam which was at war with the Spirit in the apostle Paul? Certainly not! This passage speaks of the Spirit-filled "new man," who surely cannot sin. But let us remember that we, like Paul, all have "split personalities"—two men, old and new, within us—and that because of this we do sin daily and because of this our lives are to be lives of daily repentance as we turn in faith to our Saviour for forgiveness.
D. F. H.
Get It All
A friend recently gave me a copy of Present Truth Magazine, in which you attempt to enlighten your readers on the subject of the holiness movement and holiness theology.
I notice that your writers emphasize the claim that they "got it all" in justification. Perhaps they did get all they know about, but as those described in Hebrews 5:12 to 6:3 and 1 Corinthians 3:1, 2, they are still on milk and not able to take meat. At the moment of justification, one is concerned only with forgiveness and is not in any position to make any consecration or dedication to God, which is imperative in seeking the gift of a pure heart.
You may find some day that the "all-sufficient imputed righteousness" is not "all-sufficient" after all.
F. M. S.
I'm sorry you feel compelled to depict Pentecostalism in the poor manner in which you have.
We Pentecostals have experienced your faith; we accept it fully. But you have not experienced our Holy Spirit baptism. Too many writers today are writing about Pentecostals and Pentecostalism who never experienced the Holy Spirit baptism. Talking about something you haven't experienced personally is like coming back from where you haven't been.
J. R. E.
I understood your articles to teach that one "got everything" at justification. This type of doctrine, which uses as its "golden text," "All things are yours in Christ," has, I think, robbed the church of much-needed power.
It would seem that the Pentecostals and charismatics are not worse than you who do not hold out any hope for the believer beyond his initial salvation experience.
W. C. M.
It is most obvious that your only reason for existence is to fight the holiness movement. Your purpose is thus totally negative.
I have never seen someone who can make such a bobble of interpreting Scripture. I am requesting that you drop me from your mailing list.
After reading and enjoying your publication for a number of months, I thought it time to tell you how much I appreciate its timely articles. I find myself reading it with more intensity and benefit than other of my theological subscriptions and journals.
I am beginning my religious education at a Lutheran college, and your articles have been a blessing to myself and my classmates in helping us to understand some theological issues we are expected to know.
I recently received a copy of the special issue entitled "Justification by Faith and the Charismatic Movement." I must say that, without a doubt, it is the most complete and comprehensive compiling of Scriptural "truth" on this subject I have ever read. I want to share this with some of my preacher brethren.
D. W. P.
Your special issue, "Justification by Faith and the Charismatic Movement," came a while back but somehow was never read. Recently we have become involved in much discussion over the charismatic, and someone called attention to your magazine, which had also come to him. So I went home and dug out my own copy. It is a great help, and many thanks for sending it. I would appreciate receiving Present Truth Magazine regularly.
F. E. C.
Pastor, Advent Christian Church
Thank God for your magazine and your work. The opposition is a sign that your ministry is greatly needed, as is the approval of your work.
I am deeply appreciative of the fine work you are doing in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ in these troubled times. It is heartwarming indeed.
Present Truth Magazine is like a breath of fresh air at the end of a smog-filled tunnel. Your articles on the charisma movement have blessed me and given me stronger conviction for preaching the unvarnished truth of justification by faith.
I have been down the road of Pentecostalism, and I know the dangers therein.
I have been an appreciative reader of your excellent magazine since it first came out. We need a clear message of sin and grace in this day of apostasy.
A. E. W.
I am "caught up" in the "new movement" and want very much to forget it and return to my lifelong belief in justification by faith. I'm afraid that I am a confused Lutheran right now. I would appreciate being on your mailing list.
H. G. B.
Meets the Need
I feel that Present Truth Magazine meets the need of the hour. I myself have been involved in the charismatic movement to some extent and found it very frustrating. I appreciate the way you base your teaching so clearly on Scripture and the Reformer's interpretation of Scripture. I know this is a tremendous help to many weak Christians. Only the truth brings true freedom of spirit.
Border of Apostasy
May God continue to bless the enriching ministry of Present Truth Magazine. My own ministry has been deeply affected as I preach from the great doctrines of justification by faith. I praise God that there is someone who is teaching sound doctrine in a day when even "evangelical" Christianity is floundering on the border of apostasy.
R. L. D.
Tell It Like It Is
Present Truth Magazine seems to be a magazine that tells it like it is. This is what we need in America today, and the people need to be aware of the facts. There is a greater need, and that is to make the Christian people aware of conditions in the world. I believe that your magazine will do that.