I was amazed at the arrogance of suggesting that the "new heaven and new earth" would be more like a move to the right than the left. When Jesus dealt with the religious leaders of His day, it was the conservative Pharisees going up against the liberal Jesus. Numerous times the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus into defining the world in their simplistic "black-and-white" boxes. Jesus never fell for their traps. I think the new kingdom will look a little more like the example of the King. - Steven Reiff, Tokyo, Japan
Joel Belz is correct about syncretism. The Hegelian dialectic (thesis, antithesis, synthesis) operates as relentlessly as Adam Smith's unseen hand. Hegel saw his system as leading to utopia, but history has shown him to be wrong. - Ralph W. Hahn, Glenns Ferry, Idaho
Two reports in the Aug. 16 issue illustrate that the right-to-left drift does occur: "Formally heretical" (on the current debacle in the Episcopal Church USA) and "AG speaks to the AG" (on the increased flexibility afforded to Assembly of God ministers when it comes to marriages of divorced people). This tendency results in the birth of new organizations on the right. - Richard Engelmann, Cincinnati, Ohio
Read the book
To Gene Edward Veith's comment ("Christian Christ-killers," Aug. 16) that maybe a "movie on the centrality of the cross can set the record straight," I would add, "Read the book!" - Jeff Cottrell, Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio
Mr. Veith hit the nail on the head (if I may use that expression) when he wrote about Mel Gibson's Passion movie. I applaud Mr. Gibson's stance and his endurance to see this project finished, despite political consequences. If people see this movie as anti-Semitic or Jew-bashing, they've got a wrong perspective of both the story and the man who's producing it. - Ruth Romansky, Pennsville, N.J.
I enjoyed Mrs. Seu's "Playing with words" (Aug. 16). I, too, have become more and more disillusioned with writers as I have forayed into the world of writing. I and some fellow homeschooled teenagers from around the country have started a newsletter; going through the process of writing myself has made me much more critical of others' work. - Sarah Fowler, Groveland, Fla.
Many in the media (including WORLD) have used the term openly gay to describe the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, recently elected bishop in the Episcopal Church ("Formally heretical," Aug. 16). May we use the more accurate biblical terms unrepentantly homosexual? The first should disqualify him even more than the second. The formalization of heresy can only come after many years of its celebration and affirmation in practice (ordaining homosexual priests, blessing same-sex unions, etc.). No Episcopalian leader has a right to feign shock over this heretical development. - Joel Mark Solliday, Brooklyn Park, Minn.
I took heart recently when two unbelievers I know expressed their disgust at the tone that television has been taking in its glorification of homosexuality. It is a sign that Christians may no longer be alone in believing that there is a long-term plan to legitimize that lifestyle throughout all of American society. The latest attempt to forcibly gain respectability by placing an openly gay bishop shows clearly that they needed a churchand they got one. - Elaine Neumeyer, Big Canoe, Ga.
Christians are infamous for killing their wounded, so I really appreciate the charitable yet honest tone of the article. It is easy for our small "vices" to become monsters. We should examine our own hearts and behaviors lest we too wake up one morning to discover that our witness has been devoured by habits that once seemed innocent. - Anne Johnson, Newport, Ore.
Based on an incorrect reading of a published report, WORLD wrongly stated that Nimir Petroleum took kickbacks from the purchase of Iraqi oil to finance terrorist activities ("Fueling terrorism," Aug. 9). The article also incorrectly asserted that Khalid bin Mahfouz is "head" of Nimir Petroleum. His sons Abdulrahman bin Mahfouz and Sultan bin Mahfouz are, respectively, chairman of the board and deputy chairman of the board of Nimir Group Ltd. WORLD regrets these errors.
Nothing falls up
I loved the two columns by Joel Belz on the drift from right to left in organizations and in all of life's institutions from family on up ("One-way traffic," Aug. 9; "Unlikely as uphill erosion," Aug. 16). It reminds me of Jonathan Edwards's famous text on Deuteronomy 32:35: "Their foot shall slide in due time." From Adam on, innocence dissipates before disobedience, and life turns to death. Nothing falls up. Praise the Lord for Joel Belz's courage to say what he did when people are breaking their arms patting each other on the back for their own goodness. - James A. DeWeerd, Grand Rapids, Mich.
The suggestion that the right-to-left trend is part of an "overall back-and-forth fluctuation" is partially right. I would add that short of the outpouring of the grace of God, there would be no rightward recovery to our leftward drift. - Tom Hatcher, San Jose, Calif.
Great observations. But some of Mr. Belz's friends verge on blaming the environment for institutional erosion, things such as technological advancement, memory loss, familiarity, and a desire for growth. The primary cause of organizational drift is evil hearts; the secondary causes are all those things we use to justify the practice of evil. - B. Winship, Laurence Harbor, N.J.
Those objecting to the bloodiness of Mel Gibson's new movie need to remember that "nothing but the blood of Jesus" can save them or me. A graphic portrayal may well be necessary to impress each of us with the price He paid. - Erica Kennedy, Plainfield, Ind.
The headline, "Christian Christ-killers," should remind all Christians who bears the responsibility for Jesus' death. The song asks, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" Spiritually, I was there, and it should cause me to tremble. - Mary A. Bell, Portland, Ore.
You quoted Anglican theologian Kendall Harmon saying that the threatened split is "catastrophic ... the most serious crisis Anglicanism has faced since its founding." Anglicanism was founded as the result of a schism by King Henry VIII, who sought to redefine the institution of marriage in his own terms. It seems ironic that Anglicanism's "most serious crisis" may lead to a schism resulting in part from a modern attempt to redefine marriage. - Jay Ryan, Cleveland, Ohio
Clear as mud
I have some questions for Bill Bennett ("To become a better man," Aug. 9): If gambling was "wrong in the use of my time and resources in that way," then for whom is gambling a wise, proper, and godly use of time and resources? If gambling is not sin at root, then why not courageously correct the mistaken public notion? And if it is sin, then why not confess it? I think the equivocation is worse than the deed: It sends a moral message as clear as mud. - Chris Cobb, Greenville, Ohio
I was truly gratified to see Edward E. Plowman's story on the passing of Bill Bright ("End of an era, or new beginning," Aug. 2). I am one of the millions who have been profoundly affected by him. My sorority sister was saved through Campus Crusade in 1970. Several months later she shared the Four Laws with me, and in the fall of 1971 I chose to believe that, yes, Jesus is truly the way, the truth, and the life. - Carolyn G. Marshall, Columbia, Mo.