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Letters

Enigma of Anger

Though I don't consider myself an angry person, I can see myself in some of the personal stories of Mr. Keizer ["The Enigma of Anger," September/October]. I even feel some of the impatience and agitation he expresses with the self-help movement, its oversimplifica- -tion of life to a set of steps. Do evangelical Christians embrace the full breadth of human experience and emotion? Where in evangelical discourse is anger/aggression acknowledged as even remotely justified in the human experience anywhere? The "crusty character" has been completely-villainized. Let's have some "well-aimed" Christian rage and we may see some results in our culture. Dr. Albert Welters, in his book Creation Regained, says Christians are "to sanctify aggression, not repress it." He dif

ferentiates between "structure and direction." All that/is created is structurally good, but it can be perverted or misdirected, as anger often is. Perhaps we can add the concept of "amplitude" to direction (borrowing from physics). As Mr. Keizer points out, anger is too often misdirected and/or well out of proportion with the event that initiated it.

Stuart Culver Chicago Christian High School Pahs Heights, III.

Thinking Christianly

The September/October issue was.mar-velous! It's the second of my subscription, and I'm thrilled. Perhaps it's just the way my mind works, but the articles seemed to flow in a way where one or two central ideas kept surfacing in different form. I've been reading the stories of 19th-

 

and the Christian "do-gooders" clashed, especially in terms of how many chances people are entitled to, but all things tended to work productively on a daily ongoing basis, as the process of open discourse continued, not completely resolved.

The editorial, "Seven Years of Culture," quotes poet Joy Harjo: "there's no sense engaging evangelical Christianity . . . because they don't encourage interaction and thinking for yourself." In one sense . our presence at the homeless shelter refutes Harjo's charge. We are certainly Christians who encourage interaction and thinking. But do we still belong in a category called "evangelical"?

Again, I look toward Garrison. In his newspaper, The Liberator, he relished nothing better than to publish the letters and speeches of opponents so he could publicly debate the contents. Liberal Christians—not entitled by common usage to call themselves "evangelicals" any longer—sense that those described as evangelicals today are unwilling to engage in discourse, and would rather move to suppress disagreeable media than to openly dispute opposing views, and further that the evangelicals of today disingenuously claim discrimination when their eftorts to suppress materials are challenged and thwarted! Is that a fair judgment by the liberals? Is there truth in it?

William Mehr Dumfries, Virginia

Too Many Bibles?

I thoroughly enjoyed the reviews of the three representatives of the latest spate of new translations of the Bible into American English, and I applaud the work that so many of my colleagues have put into such ventures f"Many Bibles, One Scrip-. ture," September/October]. But I must confess that I am disquieted by the irony

that in spite of so many new translations,

survey after survey indicates that year after year American Christians seem to know less about the actual content of the Bible.

I teach regularly for a number of different seminaries and find that very few of the current crop of theological students can differentiate between a key text from one of Paul s letters and the letters of John, distinguish the approaches of the } Gospel according to Mark and Luke, or summarize the content of Exodus or 1 Samuel. Most of the students have-not even read through the entire Bible once (and do not seem to have any plans to do so)! Some of these students have actually

 

been in ministry for a decade or more.

And if this is true of the prospective clergy, what about the laity? Has the plethora of available translations and editions of the Bible, guides to its study, and the popularity of Bible discussion groups resulted in a better knowledge oftlie content of the Bible? Alas, I am afraid not.

When I came to faith as a high school student, I was told that it was important to study the Bible. So I went out and bought one. And I began to read it. Providentially, I found a small church where the pastor was a gifted Bible teacher and where it was assumed that it was important both to study the Bible carefully and to read it

 

regularly. It was suggested that one should read through the Bible each year. (It took me two years the first time.)

In addition to Bible-based preaching and teaching from the pulpit, three times a week, there were weekly Bible studies for men, women, and youth. So for the next two years before going off to college, I learned the essential content of each section and book of the Bible.

When I was in college and seminary we were beginning to be introduced to a variety of new translations. First and foremost was the fairly recent Revised Standard Version (1952). Then there was the paraphrase of the New Testament by J. B. Phillips (1958), the Amplified Bible (1958), and the Berkeley Version (1959). A few older translations were available, such as the American Standard Version (1901), Moffatt (1928), Goodspeed (1938), and-Williams (1952). After seminary, there came the Jerusalem Bible (1966), William Barclay's New Testament (1969), the New American Bible (1970), the New English Bible (1970), the New American Standard Bible (1971), the Living Bible (1971), - Today's English Version/Good News Bible '(1976), and what was to become the most popular of all, the New International Version (1979).

In addition to reading the Bible, as a young believer I was told that I should memorize Scripture. I made a stab at this, but soon gave up in despair. Reading the Bible in a variety of translations undercut my ability to memorize the exact wording of all but the most familiar texts. Which version should I use?

In the past couple of decades, translation after translation of the Bible into contemporary American (and occasionally British or International) English has rolled from the presses. There is even The Word:

The Bible from 26 Translations! Even though I am supposed to be a specialist, I must confess I have been unable to keep up with them all. I occasionally buy a new translation, but I let most of them pass. As it is, I have four long shelves of English translations. That seems like enough for me.

In addition to the steady stream of new translations, there has been a flood of study Bibies, not to mention a bewildering choice of annotated "niche" Bibies: the Women's Devotional Bible, the 12 Step Recovery Bible, and so on.

W. Ward Gasque, President Pacific Association for Theological Studies Seattle, Wash. 

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