Insight on the News
The lack of evangelizing on the part of churchgoers has been cited by some authorities as related to the decline in church membership among mainline religions. Concern over this problem in 1988 prompted the United Church of Christ to adopt as a four-year priority the issue of “evangelism and membership growth.”
The St. Petersburg Times reports that other mainline denominations in the United States, including the Presbyterian Church and the Episcopal Church, have acted similarly. However, a recent survey of over 200 congregations of the United Church of Christ revealed that many of its 1.6 million members manifest little interest in talking to others about their faith. One member asked: “Why do we have to talk to others if we’re doing good?” Another said: “If you live your faith, you don’t have to talk about it.”
Yet, in his book American Mainline Religion, coauthor Wade Clark Roof admitted that “how people talk about their religious and spiritual lives is integrally related to the survival of faith itself.”
If “doing good” and having “faith” is enough to please God, why did the apostle Paul write: “Woe is me if I did not declare the good news”? He explained to fellow believers in Rome: “If you publicly declare that ‘word in your own mouth,’ that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.”—1 Corinthians 9:16; Romans 10:9, 10.
More than half of some 1,100 comic stories that appeared in various Japanese publications, including those for children, portrayed sexual acts, said Professor Mamoru Fukutomi. He headed a survey in Tokyo of more than 390 magazines and other publications purchased in one month.
‘Most depictions of the sexual act,’ says Professor Fukutomi, ‘follow the pattern of men coercing reluctant women [into sexual intercourse] and women finally responding actively.’ Almost 80 percent of the 6,861 photographs in popular Japanese magazines that were analyzed “depicted women in a sexually provocative manner,” reports The Daily Yomiuri. Whereas most of the women in the pictures were “in underwear, swimming suits or in the nude” and only 40 percent were clothed, 75 percent of the males in the surveyed pictures were clothed.
How will such sexploitation affect the young? The Bible book of Proverbs graphically describes a young man “lacking good motive” being attracted to the house of a prostitute. (Proverbs 7:7, Reference Bible, footnote) And the prostitute? “Now she is outdoors, now she is in the public squares, and near every corner she lies in wait. And she has grabbed hold of him.” (Proverbs 7:8-13) In modern times even the printed page ‘lies in wait to grab hold’ of youth. However, the Bible admonishes: “May your heart not turn aside to her ways. Do not wander into her roadways.”—Proverbs 7:25.
Who Is the “Better” Christian?
“Regardless of the decision a Christian makes, whether to be a soldier or to be a conscientious objector, it would be wrong for him to claim a higher degree of Christianity for himself than for the other, or even to call into question, for supporting a position different from his own, the other’s being a Christian.”
This statement was released by the Evangelical Lutheran Church Council of Germany in July 1989. Why? Officials said that it was to counteract the position taken by some in the church that conscientious objection is a more “positive sign” of being Christian than is military service. While agreeing that Christians could eliminate war by “personally refraining from violence,” the Church Council argued that this could also be done by fighting violence with military might in order to ensure peace.
In his book History of Christianity, Edward Gibbon wrote that first-century Christians “refused to take any active part in the civil administration or the military defence of the empire,” and that “it was impossible that the Christians, without renouncing a more sacred duty, could assume the character of soldiers, of magistrates, or of princes.”
The question, therefore, is not who is the “better” Christian but whether a person pursuing a course contrary to early Christianity is indeed a Christian at all. Paul wrote: “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage warfare according to what we are in the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly.”—2 Corinthians 10:3, 4.