It was shocking to reach inside my mailbox and pull out the April issue of Charisma. The picture startled me--and the article inside ("When It's Hard to Believe," by Andy Butcher) was equally frightening. The pictures would frighten my grandchildren. Surely a great Christian magazine can do better in selecting its photographs.
Thank you for going out of your way to help all of us "churchies" learn what non-church people think. God has truly anointed all of you to be a great asset to those of us working to reach others. I would like to use Andy Butcher's article in an apologetics class that I teach at our school of ministry.
Rev. Jeff Wade
First Assembly of God
Parkersburg, West Virginia
Wow! The April cover story about reaching nonbelievers really hit the nail on the head. I've been a Christian for 22 years, but after decades of singing in the choir, teaching Sunday school and working in the nursery, attending church is no longer for me.
I won't bring my unsaved friends there. In fact, some churches say I shouldn't even have unsaved friends. Count me among the 3 million Americans who call themselves Christians but don't bother with the local church. We will stay away until the church is more concerned with reaching the lost than it is with looking good.
I am surprised you would allow that much space in your magazine for the foolish talk from nonbelievers that you printed in the April cover story. In Titus 3:10 we read, "Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him."
It's as simple as that. Just give them the Bible and suggest they read it.
I found it appalling that you would interview people who are not Christians regarding the affairs of the church. What gives you the authority to ask "the world" to evaluate the effectiveness of the church? Our unsaved relatives, neighbors and friends are not in the place of judges. They are sinners needing salvation.
You ask: "What keeps people away from church?" At the risk of being too simplistic, what happened to the answer of "sin"? Why are we pondering why Jesus is not popular?
Why should we, the church, be so influenced by the world's responses that we doctor our message and "repackage" the Bible's message to make it palatable? We must be unequivocally faithful to the unadulterated Word of God.
Rev. Charles E. Minor Jr.
Christian Country Clubs
I say a big "amen" to your article "No More Christian Country Clubs" (by Dave Burchett, April). I grew up in a strict church home. Our spirituality was based on our willingness to conform to dress codes, makeup choices and hairstyles.
I have ministered in churches that wouldn't allow nonwhites to come in a service. Needless to say my tenure in those churches was very short.
After preaching all over this country in many denominations, I have come to realize that there is one big reason why the church is not growing: We do not have an outreach mind-set. For too long we have viewed the local church as a select, exclusive group of people who are in agreement with petty rules. May God help His church to be one of love and not of judgment.
Rev. Dana Craig
I am sorry you received so many negative letters regarding your article on Roberts Liardon. As another Christian publisher I support you in your publication of that story. It's time we stop sweeping our garbage under the table.
It is your job to report the news fairly and without bias. Your news story did not condemn or judge Liardon. Those who wish to take leadership positions in the church need to understand that each of us is accountable for our actions. Nobody wants their sins exposed. But it seems that we have more fear of man's opinions than God's.
How we judge one another is our part in the accountability process. Because of your article, I personally prayed for Liardon for grace and healing. I prayed for his restoration. Without the article, I would never know to pray. Bravo for your courage and leadership in Christian journalism.
Rev. Bradford Crook
The Christian Life-Times
Commack, New York
I have noticed that you have received a lot of negative remarks about your publication of Roberts Liardon's moral failure. I support the ministry of Roberts Liardon, but I also feel that Charisma did the right thing in publishing the truth for us as believers to know. What Charisma did is no different than what the Bible does in exposing the sins of believers, especially sexual sins such as Abraham's adultery with Hagar, David's affair with Uriah the Hittite's wife, Bathsheba, and Solomon--whose drive for women caused his downfall.
I think it is sheer hypocrisy on the part of those criticizing Charisma for publishing a news story about the immoral behavior of a man of God. If Charisma's exposé of the conduct of Roberts Liardon is unchristian and distasteful, then we can conclude that the writers of the Bible are guilty of "exposing" the sexual misconduct of King David, one of the Bible's great men of God.
I believe we gained rather than lost anything from the publication of Liardon's affair. Any serious Christian who reads the news is bound to realize the importance of backing Christian leaders with prayer, since they are the prime targets in our war with the devil.
South Holland, Illinois
I found myself putting my copy of Charisma away while our children were here for Easter. It always has some great articles, but I was dismayed at the "exposé" of Christian brothers who have fallen.
I know we need to pray for these that God will restore them, and we know He will. I know that I myself will stumble and will find healing in the Lord, but I don't want to see it in print. These articles could do more harm than good. I'm disappointed that you've done this kind of reporting.
I am writing to thank Charisma for "telling it like it is." While I don't like reading about the failures of others, doing so is a reminder that if I am not careful with my thoughts, it could be me. A saying from the military applies to all of us: "The price of peace is eternal vigilance."
Oregon City, Oregon
Sin in the Camp?
Thanks for the message of "Sin in the Camp" (First Word by J. Lee Grady, March). In the case of the pastor he mentioned, Clarence McClendon of Los Angeles, there is no way that God would tell him to divorce his wife and marry another woman. He is not hearing from God. He is hearing the voice of the destroyer.
It is sad that those who follow and support this man are being deceived. What is alarming is that other leaders are associating with him.
"Sin in the Camp" is an uncompromising word to all Christians and not just church leaders. Your straight talk on divorce must be accepted as fact, and if all of us pastors and church leaders would just do the right thing--God's way, then this would be what God had intended it to be.
You will be criticized by other pastors for the truthfulness of the article, but don't be discouraged. You are on the right track.
Rev. Dennis D. Grant
I am appalled at how some pastors disregard the very things they teach and then get a pat on the back from other so-called leaders. I agree with you that when ministers fall, they need accountability and time to heal. The leader should step down out of the ministry and come under counseling.
In past issues of Charisma I have read about an unfaithful pastor, then the next month he is married and back in the pulpit. Something is terribly wrong with this picture! It seems like if you know the right person or hang around with the right ministry, you are above rebuke!
Joseph H. Hunter, president
Truckstop Ministries Inc.
Before Dec. 1, your editorial "Sin in the Camp" would not have meant that much to me. But on that day my husband--a pastor--informed me that he had been having an affair with a younger woman in our church.
I wanted you to know that some ministers do take this sin seriously. My husband is taking a long period of time off to get our marriage back on track. We decided not to throw 23 years of marriage away.
Since I've gone through this trauma, I've learned that there are many pastors' wives who have gone through this same trial. This has been the hardest three months of my life, but we know God is in the healing business.
Grady appropriately decried the errant pragmatism of segments of Christianity eager to absorb the success of these men despite their sinful lapses. But your judgment in accepting advertising is shockingly poor. In the case of one of your advertisers, it lumps you in with the people Grady castigates.
On page 5 of the March issue, one of the men he mentioned is in a photograph for a conference. We realize Charisma does not endorse the contents of the advertisements in the magazine, but it certainly exercises editorial discretion. We recommend that you tighten that policy further.
Glen and Gloria Dunham Kennewick, Washington
Editor's note: The advertisement you mentioned was purchased by a third party. Charisma has no control over which speakers are invited to various conferences.
God and the Goths
Thank you for writing such a touching article, "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" (by Jimmy Stewart, August). It was wonderful to know other people have the passion for my culture that my friends and I do.
The way I got hold of the article was through my mother, who is not pleased at all at what I have become. I had received a vision from God that summer about opening a Gothic café outreach in Denver. She didn't want to read your article at first, but when she did it helped her understand me a little better. Then she hid the magazine from me because she was scared it would "give me ideas." But God kept telling her to give it to me.
When she finally did, I was skeptical at first. I thought you would describe the Goth movement as a satanic cult, but you didn't. I thought it was very true to my culture, and even some of my non-Christian friends thought it was dead-on with our way of life.
Thank you for your support in my mission and for bringing my mother and I a little closer as friends.
Angel Sonshine Doty
I must say if U2 is a Christian group, it sure doesn't show in their lives. How can anyone say they're Christians who slide in messages of Christianity in their music? Their lives have to reflect Jesus Christ, not political messages.
If they don't know the Jesus of the Bible, then all U2 is doing is deceiving their fans and themselves. Please test all things. No one is above the Word of God!
Claude S. Avilez
Alta Loma, California