A POPULAR conservative religious broadcast features an interesting speaker and his associate to whom he affectionately refers as "Amen Charlie." Dr. Charlie's chief function on the program seems to be to endorse with fervent amens the pronouncements of the speaker. I have listened to this sincere man through the years and found his endorsements as interesting as the sermons. In fact, it was "Amen Charlie's" fervent sanctions that attracted me to the program. Often his amens change to "That's right," or "That's what it says," lending negligible variety to his predictable endorsements. An interesting program, but as I listen I often wonder just what would happen if "Amen Charlie" one day changed his testimony from "That's right" to "That's wrong." An admittedly mischievous thought.
My mind shifted to committees. Here a strange criteria may, or may not, apply. To wit, that a contrary opinion is necessarily disturbing to the atmosphere of peace. If delivered in a combative spirit, a contrary opinion is just that—contrary. There is also such a thing as an unholy filibuster. It being the purpose of a committee to explore all aspects of a given issue, it would seem a necessity that all "Amen Charlies" stick to broadcasting. On second thought, in the spirit of ecumenism, it takes all kinds to make a spirit. Perhaps to be avoided is a roomful of either blind followers or conscientious objectors. How else can we escape monolithic monotony and its consequent boredom?
E. E. C.
WHAT A CHALLENGE
THE church board was in session. They represented an elite, highly educated, urban church. The conference president wanted to ascertain from them the type of minister they felt would serve best in their particular situation. He tactfully inquired: "Do you desire a skilled organizer, an able administrator, one who will carry a full program of evangelism, or perhaps one who would specialize in visitation?"
The chairman of the board, a respected and skilled physician, responded to the president's questions: "Brother _________ , please use your influence to help us obtain a real preacher, someone who is an able theologian, who will open unto us the Scriptures and point out 'Thus saith the Lord.' We want a Bible-message preacher and one who speaks to the heart. We want a man who knows the way to heaven and who will take us with him. We would really like to have one who is akin to the apostle Peter, who knew his Saviour and voiced his testimony with a fervor so empowered by the Holy Spirit that men cried, 'What must we do to be saved?'
"I hope we are not asking too much, Brother President, but give us a man who is radiantly in love with the Master. We want to be moved by his preaching, to have victory from sin. We want to be led to assume more obligations in the service of the Lord and to love one another more in our Christian fellowship. And may we make it clear to you, Brother President, we are not interested in a philosophy of Christianity or the practice of psychology in religion. We are living in the midst of sin, alluring temptations are all around us, discouragement is at our heels. We need help, real help, every Sabbath."
What a challenge! May God enable each minister, by His grace and indwelling Spirit, to meet such a standard of spirituality, ability, and power that we may be able to serve our beloved people in the way they need.
A. C. F.
COME, LET US SING!
IN our worship services about the only opportunities given for all to participate are in our hymns. In fact, when wisely chosen, hymns become the very heart of the worship program. Nothing permits the individual worshiper to express his innermost feelings more than the right kind of hymns. But we have noted with some concern a tendency to diminish the number of congregational hymns while we increase the number of choir contributions and solos. The Spirit of Prophecy writings on this point are very clear: "As often as possible, let the entire congregation join" in the singing (Evangelism, p. 507). Note the words, "as often as possible." Who makes it impossible? Not the people, but he who arranges the worship service. By decreasing the opportunity for active participation, interest in corporate worship cannot help but slacken. Congregational singing rightly understood is the part of worship to be done by the people, not for the people. A real experience comes to the individual as he sings hymns which express the feelings of his heart. Oral expression releases the tensions of living and brings strength and comfort to individuals. Apart from the actual preparation of the sermon nothing is more important than the selection of the hymns that will help the congregation, individually and collectively, to enter into the experience of praise, adoration, petition, and surrender.
R. A. A.