Letters to the Editor
Alcohol, Tobacco and Free Will
Nicotine, Cancer, Gambling. In 1983, it was estimated (as reported in the book None of These Diseases) that smoking was responsible for a total of about 400,000 excess deaths per year in America (cancers, strokes, pneumonia, coronary heart trouble, etc.)
But it looks like you left out another BIG ONE--alcohol. Alcohol kills over 25,000 every year on American highways.
Statistical studies also show alcohol plays a prominent role in almost every type of crime:
53% of murders 57% of sex crimes 47% of burglaries 60% of assaults 80% of suicides 40% of annual work-related deaths 50% of annual work-related injuries
Around 700,000 alcoholics fill up beds in our mental and general hospitals.
Auto insurance rates could be cut by 40% and health care insurance by 12%.
Economic costs of alcoholism and alcohol abuse in the USA in 1975: total $42.6 billion.
But governments make a ton of money from alcohol sales. Or do they?
Keep up the good work, Ralph! Andrew Peat, Taiwan
Although I respect Mr. Winter as a man and a missiologist I am curious about his stance on free will. I agree the tobacco industry and gambling are out of whack but don't we as people have the right to choose? The battle then is not fought against these industries but against the darkness within. Only from a change on the inside will people stop smoking and gambling. Eliminate the need and you eliminate the industry.
Also, though I understand that warfare on the field is much more visible than maybe in the U.S.A. I still believe satan is a tool God uses to bring about his purposes. Disease is horrible but "our thoughts are not his thoughts" so I think chasing warfare down to a viral level is another witch hunt when my neighbor is suffering form broken heartedness over divorce/death or separation from God. We live in a fallen world that still falls and fails and we are only sojourners here with a mission to light the way to Truth; therefore, we will be at odds, we will suffer and bad things will happen as our fight is not against flesh and blood. But though the battles rage on, the war is over and victory is ours in Christ Jesus. If God is outside of time, do we consider that He has experienced the second coming? As Billheimer puts it, "Everything in the Christian life is preparation to reign with Christ." Mark Pinson
Annoying Christian Aid Ads
Thanks for the salient perspective on the Christian Aid mailings. I have received them for years and have never allowed myself to respond. (I am too inclined toward "reacting in the flesh.") As a USA born missionary called of God, equipped of God and sent of God, Christian Aid's newsletter has always been a real source of agitation. Every issue is replete with assertions that my call is not genuine and, therefore, my labor in God's kingdom has no credibility and thus no eternal significance. This, in effect, reduces my position in God's Kingdom as one of an unfaithful steward who is squandering God's resources of time, finances and energy on selfish aspirations.
Thank you for standing on behalf of the million or so who have answered the call and followed the cloud of His glory into foreign fields of service on behalf of the propagation, perpetuation and preservation of the Gospel of the Kingdom of our God.
Edward Sauvageau and Family East African transplants.
The Worldwide Church of God
As a pastor serving a congregation of the Worldwide Church of God in the Fox Valley area of Wisconsin, I received a complimentary issue of Mission Frontiers' May-June issue discussing the WCG.
I wanted to extend my thanks to thewriter and to your magazine for a well-researched article that got me seeing our recent history in a missions context. I especially appreciated Russ' statement on page 33 that, "Dr. [Ralph] Winter argues that we need to be less concerned with making the ultimate determination on who's going to heaven or not (doesn't Someone else make that decision?) and instead focus on whether the people are truly seeking God in their hearts and are believing and obeying the scripture that they already know." I serve a congregation of sincere and dedicated believers who suffered too long under an inadequate and heretical theology.
While the aftershocks of our reforms continue to jolt us, and while complete renewal so far evades us, the fact remains that we are talking about a group of people who have always loved God and sought to serve Him. How sad (and what an indictment of the Body) that many of our evangelical observers minced no words in condemning us for our heresies while remaining so very reluctant to extend helping hands to lead us out of the dark woods.
In his editorial, Ralph Winter comments that some years ago a well-known seminary refused admission to one of our church's leaders, contributing further to our largely self-imposed isolation. I think I can understand faculty concerns that admitting theologically heterodox students will have its effect on other students; somehow, though, we must discover the fine line between protecting orthodoxy from counterfeits, and sharing it with those unwittingly dying of thirst!
Due to its small size, WCG may indeed be only a tiny blip on the radar; the ramifications of how we address heterodoxy, however, loom big when we engage the several much larger cults of Christianity.
Thanks again for the fine article. And I'm pleased by your offer of the magazine, which I hope will help to build a fire within our congregation for missions. Aaron Root
Your recent issues have been stimulating. Our adult class recently used one article on rethinking missions.
One article, "Global Lessons from Worldwide Church of God," contained a distressing statement from George Alexander on the nature of the Great Commission. "We are to train ourselves not in creed, but conduct; not things to be believed, but things to be done.
Is this Scriptural? The word "observe" in Mt. 28:20, according to Kittel, applies to the content of all that Jesus has said...Do Paul's epistles start with conduct or creed? Are ministers in the Pastoral epistles charged to promote primarily conduct, or doctrine (i.e. 1 Tim. 1:10)? In fact, how else is conduct determined, but by creed? If Jesus lives, I'll behave differently than if He doesn't. If Scripture is THE authority, I'll behave differently than if the Bible is AN authority.
Perhaps the WCG was mistreated by evangelicals. This doesn't justify scrapping "creed." In fact, if evangelicals hadn't stuck to their guns concerning truth, who would be helping the WCG now? If Walter Kaiser is correct, what is needed isn't LESS creed, but MORE! Pastor Jefferey Becker, Corning NY
Thank You For Mission Frontiers --It's Making a Difference
I started reading Mission Frontiers in 1981 as a brand new Christian with no real church background. As you would expect, most of it was way over my head. As the years went by, I was able to understand more and more of it, and found it fascinating.
As more years went by, and I got a better understanding of missions in general, Mission Frontiers became helpful in very practical ways. As my wife and I became more interested in missions, we found the unreached peoples becoming more and more important in our thinking. The issue of the unreached is the central one for us. When our church decided to support some non-residential missionaries through a new agency specializing in the least reached peoples, we were prepared to really understand what they were doing and start educating the church about the issue, really from scratch. As we've moved into involvement in a mobilization network supporting ministry to the unreached in Central Asia, the background we've received over the years from Mission Frontiers has prepared us well for this work, too.
I can say that while I've read other works (mainly missionary biographies and the Perspectives Reader,) Mission Frontiers has been the primary means by which I've received my education in missions for over 15 years, and it's still the one I read the most consistently. The writing and editing are first class, and it's usually read within less than a week of its receipt (even in a household with young children).
Many thanks and blessings to all who work on it. If others would be encouraged by any of this, please pass it on. Bruce Gordon, S. Windsor CT
Praise the Lord that someone is doing the research to make missions an educated pursuit. Too often anthropologists and other "secular" people see us as uneducated zealots instead of people with enough love and concern to understand the people we reach. Brenda Williamson, Columbia SC
I've just finished reading the Mission Frontiers for March-April 1998 and must share with you that it is an answer to prayer. I have been selected to head up the missions effort of our medium size (20 families) Sunday School class and wanted to share something with the class to get them thinking about missions. I wanted something that was fair to the high price, high call and great variety of missions, but could think of nothing short of a library. Then along came your March-April 98 edition and, ah yes, a great place to start. Dr. Winter's editorial, "The Six Spheres," the Hawthorne and Bryant articles and the Agape Craft story are all perfect. Thank you indeed.
Let me thank you again for consistently high quality and your clear service to our Lord Jesus Christ. Alex Greene, Germantown TN