Pointers for Preachers

Baptismal Qualifications, Lethargy or Liturgy, Graham, Wesley, Moody, and News Notes

BAPTISMAL QUALIFICATIONS

The baptism of minors often raises the question whether this child or that is too young to understand the solemn spiritual implications of baptism. Christianity Today, May 22, 1961, carried a long review of a book on the atonement by J. S. Whale, in the course of which the reviewer, Samuel J. Mikolaski, associate pro­fessor of theology, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, made this succinct comment: "Baptists do not believe in 'adult' baptism, but in baptism as the issue of faith on the part of the candidate whatever his age."

This accords with our views on the subject, aptly expressed in Mrs. E. G. White's words: "After faith­ful labor, if you are satisfied that your children understand the meaning of conversion and bap­tism, and are truly converted, let them be baptized." —Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 94. Care should be exer­cised in ascertaining for certain that the point of conversion has been reached, and we should be equally careful not to delay till age suppresses the convictions of the child and dims his love for Jesus. 

H. W. L.

 

LETHARGY OR LITURGY

An amusing story was relayed by an Anglican to a national conference of Presbyterian men, and reported in "Letters to the Laos," January-February, 1960.

A woman told an Anglican rector that she wished to join his church. "My dear woman," he said, "you've been a Presbyterian all your life. Now you tell me you wish to become an Anglican. What makes you think you want to make such a change at your time of life?"

"Because I just adore your lovely Anglican leth­argy," replied the woman.

This story was told and received in good humor. But the story has more than humor for all Chris­tians.

Liturgy signifies, as the editor of the journal in question points out, engagement in forms of wor­ship, and the acknowledgment that ideally the worshiper's whole being is involved in the worship of God.

Lethargy signifies indifference, boredom, uncon­cern, laziness, and thus disengagement from God's worship and from His service.

There is a spiritual anemia in the air, a con­sciousness that everything is vanity. This malady may attack us whether we follow liturgical forms or not. It may come to one who, having stood loyal to his church and his God for long years, slowly sinks into a routine inertia, a deadening mechanical acceptance of things that have been but which are no more.

"Intellectual laziness is sin, and spiritual lethargy is death."—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 399. That is a devastating sentence. Lethargy is a devastating mal­ady, however much the spiritually dying love it. It takes a resurrection to annihilate lethargy.

H. W. L.

 

GRAHAM, WESLEY, MOODY

In one broadcast message today, Billy Graham can reach more listeners than heard John Wesley or D. L. Moody in fifty years of their arduous travels. Apart from TV and radio, Graham has demonstrated that large-scale, personal, public evangelistic campaigns are by no means finished.

Public evangelism takes more of many things today—more courage, more devotion, more educated approaches, more logical reasoning, and certainly more prayer-born love for the souls of men. These are things that do not come through machinery. They are given only to utterly committed men.

H. W. L.

NEWS NOTE

Evangelist Billy Graham told 450 clergymen in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to "come back to the sim­plicity of the gospel" and not let themselves be divided by the ideas of leading theologians. He said Protestant ministers have become confused and ineffective in trying to follow the theologies of such men as Paul Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr, Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, Rudolf Bultmann, and Carl Henry. Each of these men, he noted, has German background, adding: "Every few years a new theological system is developed by a new German." He reported that Dr. Henry, editor of Christianity Today and a conservative theologian, gave a lecture series at Union Theological Seminary, New York, which was "a sensation." He said a student had told him the reason was that "nobody could understand him." Dr. Graham called on the clergymen, who came from denominations as di­vergent as Episcopal and Pentecostal, "to preach the certainties of the gospel." "If you have doubts, don't share them with your congregations," he advised. "When I stand up to preach, I never have a doubt."


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October 1961

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