The Mail Room
Letters from Volume 13
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!
The Current Religious Scene
I commend Present Truth Magazine as a courageous statement of the pivotal religious issue of our time. If we at all value the name "Christian" or wish to call ourselves by it, we had better make up our collective mind to return to the concepts of the adequacy and authority of the Scriptures by themselves for "all things that pertain unto life and godliness."
The ministry of Present Truth Magazine is sorely needed to counteract the fallacy of the modern "tongues" movement. "The Current Religious Scene and the Gospel," touched the sore nerve of the entire charismatic movement: the inclusion of those who deny the Bible's cardinal truths. I refer to the Episcopalian priest who denies the virgin birth and the resurrection of Christ, yet who has received the "baptism." This is typical. Many Catholic Pentecostals continue to smoke, drink and endorse papal authority and Mariolatry. Anyone who thinks this represents the "fullness" of the Holy Spirit must be blind! Your message is desperately needed in a day of gross religious confusion.
J. J., Minister
Your statement concerning an Episcopalian priest who speaks in tongues and at the same time denies the virgin birth and resurrection does not prove anything. A good theologian would know that Satan can counterfeit the genuine. Because a person speaks in tongues does not mean he is a Christian. You are taking isolated human experiences and throwing them in the same bag with all charismatics.
I don't care what Fr. Edward O'Connor or J. Rodman Williams say. Are you saying that you have all the truth? While you are spending your time "putting Christianity on solid ground," the charismatics are preaching the kingdom and saving souls from hell!
After reading your issue and comparing it to other past publications, it is obvious that either your articles on the "charismatic," "Holy Spirit" movement are greatly misinformed or you really don't understand it at all. It is too bad that such a magazine is read by ministers and laymen alike, who may have valid questions but, after viewing such articles, may thoroughly be in confusion—which, incidentally, is not our Lord's will for us.
I refer specifically to the article, "The Burning Passion of the Current Religious Scene." Why is it necessary to give information about an extremist, referring to the Episcopalian priest who was so liberated that he neither believes in the virgin birth nor in the resurrection? Yet it was claimed he has received the "baptism" in the Spirit. Apparently, throughout this entire article your primary aim is to find radicals to probe into and label as "charismatics" just because they assume the name "Pentecostal."
Don't you realize that the spirit spoken of is not necessarily the Holy Spirit of God? Satan himself manifests himself as many spirits and essentially tries to persuade us that he is the "Holy Spirit." This obviously will lead many questionable believers in the wrong direction and to eventual damnation.
In Acts 4:8, 31 Paul clearly states that the pouring out of God's Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah and Saviour of the world. Also, this act enables us to speak with boldness of our Lord Jesus Christ, thus bearing witness to others. How can one assume that a spiritually full person would then deny Christ? How ridiculous!
There are indeed many tests of the Spirit, and certainly if it is not Scriptural, then it cannot be of God. In simple words, denying Christ is definitely not intended or Scriptural but must be the devil working overtime.
I found your articles on "The Current Religious Scene and the Gospel" informative. Your desire to cast the light of God's Word on unScriptural religious experience is appreciated. It must however be recognized that there is a Scriptural experience. Christ called it the new birth. It is a radical change: sins are forgiven and their burden lifted; a heart once in rebellion loves God and man; a spirit once dead comes to life and receives the witness of God's Spirit; a life of vanity becomes a life of fruitfulness; in short, all things become new. It is an experience "solely by grace, solely by Christ and solely by faith." To Christ goes all the glory.
The gospel must hold first place over experience that is, the redemptive acts of God in history must never be neglected or distorted by total subjectivism. Yet the end result, the purpose of these historic acts—the incarnation, the crucifixion, the resurrection, etc.—was one: to bring salvation to fallen man. The historic acts and the experience, made possible by the acts, go hand in hand. To deny the acts is to call God a liar, but to affirm the acts and deny the experience is to reject the salvation they offer. The balance and interdependence of objective fact and subjective experience must be maintained.
R, C., Bible College Dean of Men
Just finished the section, "The Current Religious Scene and the Bible.". Excellent! Like a fresh, cool breeze in the desert of humanism.
I heartily agree. There is no revelation or experience apart from the revealed Word of God, the Holy Bible. May all fall under its enlightening pages, as we will all stand before it in judgment.
I am reminded of Isaiah 8:20 in reference to those who place their experience above the Word of God:". . . if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them."
May God continue to encourage you to minister to those who love the Book above pseudo-religious experiences.
F. S., Baptist Minister
I am delighted with your issue on the current religious scene. I certainly appreciate your publication and have found nothing like it in all of Japan—neither in the Japanese language nor in English. It would certainly benefit many Japanese pastors, evangelists, Christian workers, laymen, etc., if they had something like this in their language. It has helped me over many rough spots.
I understand, from a national pastor here in Japan, that speaking in ecstatic speech is not limited to the Pentecostal movement but can be found in Buddhism as well.
P. M., Missionary
I just finished reading Present Truth Magazine. It was a liberating experience, and I went on my way rejoicing. Though I do not agree with everything you say, I am basically in sympathy with your view.
D. C., Lutheran Minister
"Four Great Certainties"
For a long time I have admired and appreciated the material in Present Truth Magazine. However, I had one reason for disappointment with it. The material was great, but I felt that because of the type of arguments presented, it was not suitable to give to non-Christians. I had hoped that you would sometime publish something with this doctrinal basis which would be suitable for non-Christians. I believe you have done it with your booklet, Four Great Certainties.
I agree with you that ecumenism and neo-Pentecostalism are dangers to the church. However, I would like to point out that another very dangerous threat to the church lies in the un-Scriptural higher critical method, which many liberal and misguided pastors are using today. The laymen of the church should be aware ot this danger and be able to recognize it when they hear higher critical sermons from the pulpit. The method has as its basic premise that the Bible is not totally inerrant, that since men wrote the Bible there must necessarily be errors in it, that the Bible is only a container for the Word of God and not the very Word of God itself, and that through human reason a man can finally dig out what is God's Word from all the fallible human words in the Bible. This method not only denies the inerrancy of Scripture but purports to be able to interpret through human reason, which is a denial of the principle that only Scripture interprets Scripture. If one is to follow the Reformation dictum of sola Scriptura, then this subjective method of interpretation is false.
Your position on justification by faith seems correct, fundamental and scriptural. For that reason I like your magazine. We must base our position on the whole Bible, not on the word of men—even giants like Calvin and Luther (whom I have a great deal of respect for).
When I first came to know the Lord, it was in one of the "Jesus freaks" movements. But I thank the Lord that He has now revealed His truth to me and that I am now truly headed in the right direction. Yet so many others—old friends—seem to be still caught up in the movement and are so involved with the experiences with the "Spirit" that they seem to neglect the Word of God and the importance of the Bible. I'm sure that if they read their Bibles more, they could see that what they are doing is plainly against the Word of God.
"The Protestant Era at an End!"
I believe that your brochure, The Protestant Era at an End! "hits the nail on the head" as far as stating where we are at this critical time in our history. The more people can understand what is happening, the better they will be able to make a stand for the historic faith once for all delivered to the saints.
Wow, what a relief! For so long I have been searching for my salvation in an almost forgotten childhood experience and, in the process, only reaping a harvest of doubts. Present Truth Magazine has come as a true gift as I've come to see that my salvation has been made complete in Jesus Christ and that His imputed righteousness is mine today through faith. This is real assurance. The truth shall indeed make one free!
Sir: You are "narrow" in your views on the authority of Scripture. You are "narrow" in your view of the work of the Holy Spirit. You are "narrow" in your view of experience versus gospel. You are "narrow" in your view of the current Pentecostal, Catholic and neo-evangelical movements. Thank God for that "narrow" view, for it is needed today in a world of theological "broadness." I enjoy your publication.
Brinsmead continues to delight with his deep insight into the heart of the gospel. But it is a surprise to find him comfortably quoting Paul Tillich, however true the isolated quotation might be.
Freedom to Obey
I have read most of the special issue entitled "Justification by Faith and the Charismatic Movement." You are making a helpful contribution to what will be, I suspect, the most intense and, hopefully, the most fruitful theological debate within the Christian church in a long time. We may indeed be on the verge of a new Reformation. In so far as it is of God, I am sure you would agree that we can welcome it.
Faith and Works
I find Present Truth Magazine articles well written and worth the time and effort to read. As an Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian priest, there is, of course, more than a little with which I do not agree. I do, however, feel very much in sympathy with the references to "subjectivism" so rampant throughout many areas of Christendom today. Often it does seem as if the folks involved in the charismatic movement are in truth trying their best to force God's hand: "Show us a sign!" I tend to agree with one of my teachers (perhaps one of the greatest), the late Prof. Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, that the predominance of natural religion in America, and common in practically every denomination, does account for the popularity and strength of subjectivism so evident throughout the present religious scene in America.
Thank you for the help you have given (and still are giving) to me in sorting out what the Bible has to say about my assurance of salvation. Coming out of a conservative Lutheran environment, then being involved for a time with the Jesus People, and now studying for the Lutheran ministry, you have provided me with very valuable counterbalance to the emotionalism prevalent today in much theology.
I am thankful for the warning that we Protestants are lacking faith in Christ. Your magazine has answered many personal questions concerning what Christ has accomplished for me. It has also clarified certain teachings in the church which I felt uneasy about but was unable to diagnose —namely, the position that one could accept Christ as Saviour and then, at a later date, accept Christ as Lord by asking the Holy Spirit to fill him.
One finds it difficult not to thoroughly admire your courage, zeal and enthusiasm, however misguided. At your earliest convenience you might check Paul's two admonitions in Acts to believe on Jesus and be saved, while the apostle asked another group of believers, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" If this line of thinking is followed open-mindedly, I think you will agree there is a possibility of two separate works of divine grace.
Your magazine is only partly true. Quite evidently it is quite prejudiced against the manifested ,thus bringing division in the body of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ did baptize me in the Holy Spirit after He saved me. I do not feel that I have to prove anything to anyone. I know what the Lord Jesus did for me and when He did it. Neither does God have to prove anything to anyone —He is God.
Thank you so much for your publication. I agree entirely with your views. I have been an evangelical Christian for nearly forty years and, like you, can find nothing in Holy Writ to support the "second blessing" of the tongues movement. Indeed, I have been puzzled and worried over the drift towards Romanism in the Pentecostal movement and the World Council of Churches despite the great issues of the Reformation. The tendency today is to forget the past and cover over doctrinal differences, forgetting the great doctrines of the Reformation.
I have had the same concern as you express regarding Pentecostalism for many years, and your ministry is an echo of my concern. Constantly one finds that "evangelicalism" is a meaningless term and is seldom synonymous with the Reformed faith.
I have given close attention to Pentecostalism for many years and, in recent times, to its ecumenical impact, specially in relation to Rome. I think there are signs of a genuine reformation amongst some Roman Catholics—and they will pay the price for their faithfulness. But the system is still giving all the evidence it ever did as to who masterminds it.
D. R, Minister
From South Africa
Here in South Africa we face the same problems as you face—i.e., an aggressive Pentecostalism, a remarkable growth in Catholicism, and widespread doctrinal ignorance of our Protestant heritage among English-speaking South Africans. I have been concerned about this for some time but have not known what to do in the circumstances. Unfortunately, Pentecostalism makes such a great appeal to our people, although among Baptists the movement is not great. But as far as I can see, the writing is on the wall, and the Baptists will not be able to withstand the great pressures that are going to come upon them—unless something is done to stem the tide. On the other hand, there is a growing Reformed movement apparent among many Baptists, and I feel that there is going to come a time when the issues will become so clear-cut that division will result.
I find the letters in Present Truth Magazine interesting—particularly those from the so-called charismatics. Having been involved in Pentecostalism in my early Christian life, I can understand their position although I do not share their discomfort. I have no argument with sola gratia, solo Christo and sola fide as well as sola Scriptura because my salvation is utterly dependent upon the written Word of God apart from any outward manifestations or physical experiences.
As a student, I first read Present Truth Magazine on the recommendation of one of my instructors. I'm very impressed with your stand on the Word alone and with your emphasis on justification by faith. I've been very disturbed by the subjective, experiential, Pentecostal trend on our campus. It seems to be spreading like an epidemic. I know that several students and most of the faculty share my concern. We have become acquainted with Present Truth Magazine, and we have been gaining perspective on the implications of justification by faith and on its meaning. We've also been seeing the very real dangers in subjectivism and our obligation, as dorm counselors, to combat this both in our personal lives and in our ministries. Present Truth Magazine has been a real help in pointing out the danger and in providing a solidly Biblical foundation. We'll keep recommending your magazine to those we meet.
I'm a student at a Christian college and have found strength and assurance in your stand for the gospel of grace. It isn't often heard with clarity.
I'm wondering how you arrived at the name of your magazine. You couldn't be farther from the truth!
Quite a Job!
You do not know which way the wind (Holy Spirit) is blowing. You have quite a job on your hands, for this charismatic movement is of God, and no man can stop it! God said that in the last days He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh. If you had ever been to a charismatic service and felt the beautiful presence of God, you couldn't print Present Truth magazine.
It is tragic that in a day and age such as ours, when Christians are finally beginning to love and accept each other, you have nothing better to do than publish a magazine, the entire contents of which only speak against movements that differ from you. Even though I may agree with some of the magazine's content, I think it is one of the most divisive things I have seen!
You claim that Pentecostals promote their experience above Jesus Christ. How is it possible to exalt our Lord when you are constantly attacking the beliefs of Pentecostalism and Catholicism—both Christian beliefs? Is unity to be gained by constantly fighting those who are in opposition against you. Your method of "guilt by association"—associating Pentecostalism with the evils of Catholicism—is sickening.
It is a blessing to my soul to see that someone is knowledgeable enough to be able to correct, by Scripture, the fallacies of Pentecostalism without becoming embroiled with hellfire and brimstone.
I've read some of your articles and although I don't share your view of today's "Jesus Revolution," "charismatic" or "Pentecostal" movement, I am most thankful that the centrality of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ was emphasized in these articles.
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