Letters to the editor: May 2006
Online coverage ofWinkler story praised
Withall the media coverage surrounding the slaying of Selmer, Tenn., ministerMatthew Winkler, I have found the ChristianChronicle to be the best source of information. I want tocongratulate Bob Ross Jr. and Tammy Ross for the articles I have read so far. Iam writing this letter on the same day that Mary Winkler was arraigned on afirst-degree murder charge, so I am confident more articles will becoming. The Ross’ coverage of the horrific incident, the Sunday servicethat followed at the Fourth Street Church of Christ and the arraignment notonly contained valuable details, but also added “color” and is givingus insight into what the Winkler family, the church and those of us in theextended church family are feeling right now. Many of us did not personallyknow Matt or Mary Winkler, still feel an enormous loss. Through theRosses’ coverage we are able to share the grief of all their”families.” My heart goes out to all of them.
Itisn’t any surprise to me that the Chronicle has been the only publication (print or broadcast) I have seen that has painteda clear and correct portrait of the Church of Christ. I willcontinue to seek out coverage from other news sources because of my journalismbackground, but I will turn to the Chronicle for what is correct. As a former editor and reporter, I am all to familiar withthe value of disseminating accurate information and the damage that can becaused by erroneous rumors. The Chronicle is setting the e standard by which I am judging other news agencies inthis matter.
Keepup the good work.
Paragould , Ark.
Reactions to discussionson unity
Ihave read every article in this months online edition concerning ongoingefforts of some to share fellowship and unity with those who are “like us, butnot exactly like us” depending of course who “Us” is. The “Us” on the acappella side seem to be much more protective of history, tradition, and areskeptical of anyone who uses “the instrument”. “The Instrument” asinstrumentation is referred to again and again reminds one of “the plague” or“the curse”.
Whatappears to be a discussion as narrowly defined as if it is ok with God for agroup of Christians to have a piano accompany their singing on Sunday morning,I think is naïve. What is at the heart of the separation is that many, perhapson both sides of the issue, do not have a solid grasp of the grace and mercy ofGod offered as a free gift through the sacrificial and efficacious work ofJesus Christ. Any preacher who believes he is in danger of loosing his soulover a musical instrument in an assembly will not get my ear for long.
Canany person who comprehends the forgiveness and grace of God through Christimagine a poor person hearing God say at the judgment, “Yes you believed onChrist, you depended on His promises and were obedient to the claims of thegospel. Yes, you were my child for 40 years but you started to worship with“The Instrument”, “so I have no choice but to cast you into everlastingtorment. Yes, you were faithful in attendance, you made Christ known to others,and you loved me with all your heart, but…”You accepted The Instrument! Now youwill go to hell”. Can you think of anything more absurd?
Iwonder how many years it will be until more than Rich Little, Max Lucado, and afew more preachers will have a biblical view of “The Lord’s Church”? If theChristian churches and the churches of Christ do find common ground and beginto fellowship, please don’t call it “unity”. Neither group can claim biblicalunity until they recognize ALL born again believers as part of the body ofChrist.
Monroe , La.
Inthe many articles I have read concerning unity, I have notseen any discussion on the church.
The discussionis on the unity of the Christian Church and the Church of Christ.In that context both are denominations. Since I do not believe thechurch Jesus established on Pentecost is a denomination and it is the oneand only church this is not a logical discussion. Is the Christian Church thechurch Jesus established on Pentecost? Is the church of Christthe church Jesus established on Pentecost? If they both are, and Jesusestablished ONE church, then the discussion is not unity between theChristian Church and the Church of Christ (apparently a coupleof denominations) but unity of brothers and sisters in Christ andshame on us, and them, if we/they are not treating brothers and sisters inChrist as they should be treated.
Ifonly one of them is the church Jesus established there can never be unity. Howcan there be unity of the church Jesus established and the world? Ifneither are the discussion is mute.
MightI suggest we are our own worst enemy or as Charlie Brown says. “I havefound the enemy and it is us.”
We believe the Bible advocates congregationalautonomy and we interpret that to mean the other congregation does things thesame way we do but that is not what the Bible says. As Gospel Advocate EditorFurley said years ago, “if we want people to respect our autonomy we mustrespect their autonomy.” That means even if congregations, made up of peoplewho have obeyed the Gospel, do things differently than “our” congregation, weare required to accept them as brothers and sisters in Christ. Where didPaul or any other New Testament writer ever suggest otherwise?
The discussion on unity usuallyreferences church leaders apologizing. Whom are these “leaders” leadingand for whom are they speaking? If they think themselves speaking for thechurch Jesus established on Pentecost, they have much too great opinion ofthemselves and we may have some insight into the real issue.
Gatlinburg , Tenn.
Short-term missions tough, but worth it
I enjoyed yourwell-written article on short term missions. My wife and I worked with summermission groups, primarily from OCU, for over 10 years in Hungary. Werethey expensive? Yes. Were there occasional problems with the students notconforming to the culture? Yes. Did we have some students who came mainly for avacation and to have fun? Yes, at least one or two every year.
But were the campaignseffective and valuable in spite of the things already mentioned? Definitely,yes! The campaigners allowed us to reach a segment of the population that wewould have never reached otherwise. The campaigners, teaching English using theBible, were able to provide an opportunity for as many as 400/summer to studyEnglish with a native speaker, an opportunity they could not have otherwisehad. We had so many Hungarians who would come back year after year. Some, it istrue, just came to be with Americans. Most started coming primarily because ofthe opportunity to learn and speak English, but by the 2nd or 3rd summer theycame because of the Bible teaching they received. There were not a lot of conversions from thesummer activities–I won’t bother trying to list the reasons now, but therewere some, including our daughter-in-law and her brother who is the currentleader of the church in Miskolc, Hungary, where we lived before having toreturn to the US. Many other people received a foundation in Christ that willstay with them. Perhaps one day they will enter the family of God; for now,most of them at least have some new ways of viewing their lives.
My wife and I(especially my wife who wrote and prepared all the curriculum for thecampaigns) worked hard for about 6 months every year to get ready for eachcampaign, but the effort was always worth the result.
I need to also add thatsummer campaigns are a great boost to the missionaries on the field and to thechurch there. Missionaries working with small churches can get very lonely. Thesmall churches can feel like they are all alone, that few other people know ofthem or think like them. But a group of energetic campaigners can change all ofthat, bringing renewed life to the missionaries and the mission church.
I think that themissionaries on the field need to set guidelines for any group that wants tocome work with them. The kind of guidelines I think of deal primarily withcultural issues. Groups that are not willing to follow these should not beinvited to come (or return), for they can and will hurt more than they help.
Also, I think that mostmission trips should be at least 2 weeks long, with 3 weeks generally beingbetter. This time period is harder for most working people, especially groupsponsors, but it has several great values: 1)It makes the campaigns more costeffective, spreading the cost of the plane fare out over a longer period oftime; 2)It allows people time to get over jeg lag and still have plenty of timeto be effective at the mission point; and 3)It gives the campaigners more time to connect with thepeople of the country they are in.
Having discussedshort-term missions with other missionaries many times, I agree with theconclusions of your article regarding some of the main gains that come fromthese short-term missions. Short-term missionaries 1)are some of the primarycandidates to become long-term missionaries; 2)theywill often become deacons over missions or elders who have a heart formissions; and 3)even when they are not in leadership roles, they encouragechurches to be active in missions. Inshort, short-term campaigners keep the heart of missions alive in our churches.
And what about all themoney for summer campaigns? Myexperience is that most of this money would probably never reach the Sundaycollection plate even if there were no summer missions. It is generally extramoney given by concerned Christians who have a relationship with the person towhom they give money. So the cost of thecampaign is almost a non-issue in my books.
Thank you, ChristianChronicle, for all you do to encourage missions.
Milwaukee , Wis.