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Confessing faith

I would like to respond to the comments made by a Letters section contributor in the Spring 2000 issue. Sadly, I also have had to tell some of my friends that the "Christian" in TCU has been severely diminished in recent times.

In his article, Thom Haynes makes statements about the author Neale Walsch and concludes his comments with, "and the path to God does not have to go through Jesus." My question for Mr. Haynes is: Has he traded the Biblical truths that TCU was founded on for statements made in a secular work? The Bible says in John 14:6, "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me‚' (NIV). Further, in Acts 4:12 we find, "salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (NIV).

It sure looks to me that Mr. Haynes sold out. Mr. Haynes also notes Walsch‚s ideas about evolution. He states in paraphrasing Walsch, "there is no Hell, no original sin, no judgment day, and we all go to Heaven." For one, the Jesus Christ himself made several references to a place where there will be "gnashing of teeth," which is hell.

There is the story of Adam and Eve and the fall of man in Genesis chapter 3, which tells of original sin. There is a whole book about judgment day and the end times: Revelation.

I find it impossible to take the words of a secular author as truth over Jesus Christ and the scriptures. These scriptures are the very basis of Christian faith, and therefore, of Texas Christian University. To close, I can listen to the opinions and ideas of others. However, when such comments are printed in the Texas CHRISTIAN University magazine, I must also state what I believe.

Ginger Luckett' 99

Questioning Faith

Kenneth Cracknell's article on "Questioning Faith" in the Summer 2000 issue left me questioning whether he understands what Christianity is at all. He informs us that "more Hindus, more Buddhists, more Muslims are born each year than Christians."

Being born into a Christian family does not make one a Christian. Here are a few of the other questions that I had after reading the article: If God will find many non-Christians "acceptable", what is the criteria? Why do we have to believe anything? Using Dr. Cracknell's writing, wouldn't everyone be allowed into heaven? Why did Christ tell the apostles to go into all the world and preach the gospel? (Mark 16:15) Why did they die such horrible deaths proclaiming Christ if He is not the only way?

I agree that God wants all people to enjoy eternal life with Him. He wants this so much that he sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16) This passage gives no indication that people who do not believe in Christ will be found "acceptable".

I would like to thank Dr. Cracknell for writing this article as an indicator of some of the false teachings that abound in our universities and seminaries today. This should be a wake-up call to Christians to study God's Word and not rely on "theologians" for interpretation. There is ONLY one name by which men and women may be saved. (Acts 4:12)

I pray that you are inundated with letters from other TCU Alumni who recognize the error and danger in theology such as this. In the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

Jeff S. Holmes '98 (MSE)
Fort Worth

What's best

I graduated from TCU in 1984 and have truly felt that the school has fallen so far away from the ideals from which it was founded. TCU was far away then, and I was quite surprised at the liberal viewpoints held by the majority. I have not supported the school or agreed with much said in The TCU Magazine until the Spring 2000 issue.

I applaud Thayer K. Miller who said it all so perfectly in "The Christian in TCU." This letter spoke my words far better than I could have. I passed it to a few other alums who wholeheartedly agreed.

I worked in the bookstore when the T-shirts changed from TEXAS CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY toTCU. At that point so much had changed since Mr. Miller had attended in '54.

TCU should be standing out from the world as a light in education, morality and in spirituality. The Christian in TCU needs to return for the good of the school, the students, and for the good of the world. TCU always seemed to believe it was about the BEST. Maybe you have forgotten what best is.

Susan Minnich '84
Hudson Oaks, Texas

University of Pluralism?

In response to your article entitled "Questioning Faith" by Dr. Kenneth Cracknell, I was dismayed that such a learned man actually thought he was teaching Christian Theology and yet failed to recognize it as "Pluralism."

Pluralism, simplified, is the belief that all religions lead to God. However, foundational Christian theology believes that Christ is the only way to eternal life. This is not a unique spin on Christian theology.

For instance Handel's Messiah, which premiered in London in 1742, boldly point to Christ. Merely echoing all of the Old and New Testament. In the third act, Handel direct us to Revelation 4-5 when John weeps that no one among the great rulers or creatures bowed before God's illuminated throne are worthy to break a seal and open up the scroll of history.

Then John sees a Lamb. A helpless lamb that has been slain and He alone is worthy to open up the scroll. We know this worth lamb by the name of Jesus Christ. Thus, Handel ushers his climactic "Worthy is the Lamb."

Tell me what other religion outside of Christianity has produced such dramatic and lasting masterpieces from the arts? Complex and spiritual in nature, Handel's soul is longing and met with his Creator and Savior Christ (not Buddha).

Was Christ only slain for 30 percent of the population in this century as Dr. Cracknell notes in his article? Regardless of the quanity of Christ's current following, do not confuse numbers with reality. Faith is not quantifiable.

Ask yourself this question…Why would God crucify His Son on a cross if 70 percent of the population could come to him through some other philosophical means? All of scripture points to Christ.

If the article from the esteemed visiting professor does represent the theology embraced by Brite Divinity School, then I propose a name change for TCU. Please reconsider the meaning of the "C" in your namesake. Maybe a replacement of "P" for pluralism would be more contemproary and inclusive for our present world and the diverse population on campus.

Karen Robinson Peters '89
Indianapolis, IN

Every knee

I read Dr. Kenneth Cracknell's article in the Summer 2000 issue of The TCU Magazine. His article seems to be a strange mix of faith in Jesus and acceptance of other gods.

In fact, his assertions seem more in tune with Hinduism than Christianity. Hinduism has many gods, and certainly has room for Jesus.

Dr. Cracknell said, "Hymns and litrugies in our church all imply that the church will grow larger and larger until 'every knee shall bow and every tongue confess' that Jesus is Lord."

He seems to belittle that notion when he talks about Christians being a minority among the religious believers of the world. In his letter to the Phillipians (Phillipians 2:10-11), Paul the apostle said "so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, …and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord."

In that statement, Paul was quoting part of a prophecy made by Isaiah hundreds of years before (Isaiah 45:23), when he said for God, "…to Me every knee will bow, every tongue bill bear allegians." The Bible does not imply that the church will grow larger and larger until every kneww will bow. What is says is that there will be spiritual warfare, and that in the end every kne will bow, because the enemies of God will be put down (read that in Matthew and Revelations).

And in the Old Testament, I read that God is a jealous God (Exodus 20-:5). That's why He gave us that commandment about having no other gods before Him. His people were often punished for turning to other gods (see that in 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles).

Dr. Cracknell said that Melchizadek blessed Abraham in the name of a non-Israelite God Most High. It is evident in the story in Genesis that Abraham received the blessing because he worshipped the same God. He was not yet known as an Israelite God because the Israelites hadn't been born yet.

Years later, Abraham was to become the grandfather of Jacob, who would not be renamed by God as Israel (and the father of the Israelites) until he was an old man (it's all in Genesis.)

Dr. Cracknell quoted part of 1 Timothy 2:4. Paul did write to Timothy (1 Timothy 2:4) that God wants all human beings to be saved. He went on to say in the next two verses, "For there is one God and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time."

Dr. Cracknell quioted part of John 10:15, "I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock and one shepherd." Jesus was talking to his Jewish disciples about the Gentile (that include me.).

Dr. Cracknell says that the Jews and the Christian church are not special to God. The whole context of the Bible refutes that statement. I assume that he has read the whole Bible. I have. It clearly teaches that the Jews were God's chosen, and that Jesus was born Jewish, and called the Christian church to be the bride of Chirst, and to spread the Gospel to the world.

In John 3:18, we are told that those who believe in Jesus are not judged, but those who don't are judged already, because they haven't believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Jim Gilliam '92 (MEd)
Fort Worth

Shavahn on Suicide

Shavahn Dorris has got to be one of the most talented writers I've read in years. First, her article "At Face Value" in the Spring issue, then her "Suicidal Tendencies" in the Summer issue, were both beyond excellent. They opened windows of experience the rest of us have either never encountered, or keep tightly locked. Opening them let in fresh air.

When I was at Brite, 1983-87, Prof. Howard Stone let us choose between writing a load of papers or volunteering on the Fort Worth Suicide Hotline. I chose the hotline. As part of that work, I taught workshops on suicide prevention, and still do.

I hope Ms. Dorris will permit me to use her Summer issue article in future workshops. In all the years I've been doing this, I haven't found anything better to help workshop participants come face to face with the true depths of suicide.

Thanks, Shavahn. Keep breathing.

On a side note, thanks also to Dr. Kenneth Cracknell for his article on "Questioning Faith." My husband, Billy Longbone Skye, and I do seminars on Native American Spirituality, and we often have to explain how we can be Christian and practice Native American Spirituality.

Dr. Cracknell gave us some new words to use: "We want to see whether it is really 'Christian' to have a theology that condemns the great majority of humankind to hell. We want as Christians to find room for the idea that God may have different ways of reaching out to human beings and of 'saving them.' "

I'd love to be closer to Fort Worth to audit his course for continuing education. It sounds challenging and timely.

Rev. Drea Walker-Skye '87 (MDiv)
Muskogee, Okla.

Put people first

It was exciting for me to read in the "In Brief" section of Alma Matters (Summer 2000 issue) about the intensive early intervention preschool called the Rise School. What was not so exciting was its description as a school for "Down Syndrome children." It is vital that the press use "people first" language when referring to people with disabilities.

Children with Down Syndrome (note the "people first" emphasis) have many other attributes, besides the Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome does not define them anymore than having blond hair defines them. When the press places the disability label in front of the "people" reference, it sends the message to the public that this is an appropriate way to refer to a person with a disability.I have a daughter, 13, who is blond and who happens to have Down Syndrome, so I am sensitized to this issue.

I look forward to more news about the Rise School and hope that articles about it will use "people first" language.

Tammy H. Tiner
Ph.D. Bryan-College Station

Questioning Cracknell

Christian theology left in the hands of Kenneth Cracknell will take an enormous leap backward into paganism. While Jesus was on earth, He didn't embrace all religions, nor did He condone them. When Jesus stated, "I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:16), he was saying those who reject Jesus as Lord and Savior will not enter the Kindgom of Heaven.

Indeed, "For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). The Hindus do not "believe in Him." The Buddhists do not "believe in him." The Muslims and Zoroastrians do not "believe in him."

God's word is clear, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart, that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart, man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:9,10). Not one of the aforementioned religions confess Jesus as Lord.

The light of Jesus can shine only through the lives of those who believe in Him and confess Him as Lord and Savior.

Dr. Martha Kay Bailey '88


A real Brite voice

The recent article by Dr. Kenneth Cracknell, "Questioning Faith," deeply saddened me. Unfortunately, I believe it typifies the thinking that permeates the Brite Divinity School. In the name of multiculturalism and political correctness, our supposed "Christian" professors have sold Jesus out for a watered-down version of the Gospel that is all-inclusive and is much like a religious salad bar or inter-faith buffet.

In Jesus' day, the intellects, scholars, and Pharisees didn't get the message of the Gospel. It appears as though there are some today at Brite Divinity School who still do not understand the Gospel. Did Jesus die in order to simply say that everyone is welcome into heaven regardless of what they believe as long as they are "good people"? What was Christ's message? Why did he have to die? Why is it not enough to be a "good person?"

The truth of the Gospel is not a popular message. It wasn't in Jesus' day, and nor shall it be today. The message of the Gospel is that all mankind has sinned and falls short of the mark of "acceptable" ("For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," Romans 3:23).

God doesn't owe salvation to anyone. Rather, a righteous God is obligated to punish the sin and wickedness that exists in the heart of every man and woman. Christ therefore had to die on the cross and take upon him the wrath and penalty of our sin.

His atoning death allows those who receive Christ through faith to also receive mercy and forgiveness and the gift of eternal life (Ephesians 2:8,9 & Romans 6:23). This is God, in His love and infinite wisdom, reaching down to man, not man appeasing God. This is the Gospel and it leaves no room for a proud human heart desiring to earn its way to heaven through good works, religion, and ceremonialism.

This is the message that Mr. Luke Brite, a Bible-loving Texas rancher who founded Brite Divinity School, passed down to his family members and the generations after him.

My prayer is that Brite Divinity School would stop worrying about being accepted into the intellectual community of the world and return to the Gospel. Keep in mind that most of Christ's disciples were simple fisherman. Several degrees are not required behind one's name to be a Christian or to understand the Bible -- all you need is Jesus.

Luke Gilcrease
Fort Worth

(Ed.: Gilcrese is the great-grandson of Luke Brite.)

Loophole to heaven?

Dr. Kenneth Cracknell's article "Questioning Faith" is another flawed attempt to recast Christian theology as one of tolerance and inclusion for other world religions. But the God of the Biblepolitically incorrect, as He may be, has revealed Himself over and over in Scripture to be just the opposite: intolerant ("You shall have no other gods before Me," Exodus 20:3) and exclusive ("I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God," Isaiah 45:5).

Why? Because He's mean spirited? No. Because He loves us and knows that all other gods have no remedy for our sin problem and will ultimately lead us away from the One True God and toward eternal condemnation. Only the God of the Bible can save.

Speaking of Jesus Christ, God declares, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Not Buddha, not Mohammed, not Joseph Smith, not Charles Taze Russell or any other name.

Cracknell's kind-hearted attempt to find a loophole for other faiths to be saved apart from Christ requires that he misuse Scripture, and that he does. In using a selected portion of 1 Timothy 2:4, "[God] wants all human beings to be saved," Cracknell makes his deceptive case for universalism in Christian theology.

But the passage continues. Yes, God wants all humans to be saved, but how? By "[coming] to a knowledge of the truth: there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."

Cracknell practiced a similarly flawed hermeneutic on virtually every other Scripture reference in his piece. Cracknell's bad theology and error is compounded by the fact that it is part of preparing the next generation of pastors coming through Brite Divinity School.

Rather than being armed with the clear teaching of Scripture of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, through Christ alone, the pastors from Brite will perpetuate a lie that will condemn more and save none. For this reason, I will continue to withhold my alumni support of TCU. Why see God's money used to undermine His saving Truth?

Mark Hernandez '84
Centreville, Virginia

Good point (and pachyderm)

The journalists from the Dallas Morning News aren't yet asking, "Does Brite Divinity School teach only humans?" or "Are non-humans excluded from the list of 'acceptable' students?" Nonetheless, the press could be concerned.

First, very many religious people understand the problem of "species-ism." (The problem has been carefully reported by a Hindu student in one of my writing classes.)

Second, there is university research on the intelligent communication of pygmy chimpanzees, challenging the widely-held view that only humans are capable of language. Third, at least one well-respected TCU Religion Professor has conversed (via a human interpreter in India) with a pachyderm named Emily the Elephant; privately, he now questions to me the assertion of linguist Noam Chomsky that "The human faculty of language seems to be a true 'species property,' varying little among humans and without significant analogue elsewhere."

Public questions about lines of discrimination can be dicey in America, where the intolerant elite rudely draw hegemonic lines. So there's no surprise when several TCU Religion professors and students couldn't or wouldn't answer the question, "What is religion?" (a question posed by a guest linguist talking with the religion department on "Language and Religion"). To define 'religion' might be to exclude any one of the various religions represented by the audience. And it's no surprise that Brite distinguished Professor-in-Residence Kenneth Cracknell gives Universalistic answers to a Dallas Morning News reporter's questions ("Questioning Faith," Summer issue).

Universalism's "Christian theology of religion" works to show that "[the Christian] God will find many non-Christians 'acceptable.' " Its concern is to erase those "strange" lines "that Christians throughout their history have spent so much time" drawing and redrawing as "middle walls of partition." But how strange this Universalism would seem to the religious Buddhists and Confucianists and Taoists and Moslems and Animists and syncretistic Hindus I've met in Viet Nam, Thailand, and Indonesia.

Most would describe their respective faiths as "a million miles away" from any absolute drift towards a trinitarian god whose sole door to the afterlife is Jesus Christ, even if that Christ is "unknown" or "latent." These individuals do pray: to ancestors, or to a plethora of spirits and gods, or to the One God whose chief prophet supercedes Jesus, or to no god at all.

Could a Christian deity be tricking all religious non-Christians into praying to him and thereby surreptitiously drawing them closer to him than many Christians? No, the trick is the Euro-centric construct of a small society of professors in North America.

My non-Christian friends in Southeast Asia would find the Universalist meta-narrative suspect. My Christian friends are suspicious too. The Universalist excludes the views of many, many others by imposing an either-or choice: Either there's a snobbish bigot of a God who "condemns the great majority of humankind to hell" just because they won't buckle under and "believe in Jesus Christ"; or there's a smiling wimp of a god who glosses over even the most heinous evil of the most wicked persons -- especially if they're a part of "a fast-growing religious community" of some sort -- so that "absolutely no human being . . .is outside [this god's] convenant."

Let the reporter ask, "Is the Universalist's the only way to legitimately read the Bible?" But whisper your answer to Emily.

Kurk Gayle
TCU Intensive English Program

The last letters on the "C" in TCU

I am writing in response to Dr. Walter Kania's letter to the editor in the Spring 2000 issue. First of all, I would like to know what Dr. Kania means by the concept of "Jewish mythology."

History, and the accurate portrayal of such, was extremely important to the Jewish people, as evidenced by the time and effort taken to record genealogies. In addition, there are several distinctions between mythological writings and the historical genre of the Old Testament.

For example, comparing the biblical account of the flood with that found in the Gilgamesh Epic, one can see that the biblical account is devoid of mythology. Secondly, Dr. Kania asserts that the "Old Testament God was everything but a God of Love." Has he read Deuteronomy lately?

One can learn as much about the love and long-suffering characteristics of God from the Old Testament as from the New Testament. For example, Deuteronomy 4:37 states, "Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendents after them." Deuteronomy 7:7-8 reads: "The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples …but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery…."

Furthermore, Deuteronomy 10:15, 18 state that "on your fathers did the Lord set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them…. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing."

Just as a parent would not let a child whom he loves run into the street just because the child desired to do so, neither did God want His children to participate in practices that were not good for them: idol worship, child sacrifice, murder, theft, lies… to name a few.

When a child does transgress, a loving parent will administer discipline in order to help prevent that behavior in the future. God, as a loving God, but also a holy and just God, needed to mete out punishment to a people that disobeyed the commandments He set up for their own good. "For whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father, the son in whom he delights" (Proverbs 3:12).

Thirdly, to say that Genesis "is not even monotheistic" is heresy! One of the best early examples of the Trinity, a concept seen in both the Old and New Testaments, is in the creation account: "Then God (singular) said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness," (Gen. 1:26).

Finally, I ask Dr. Kania to check his use of logic. According to the Random House College Dictionary, the definition of non sequitur is "an inference or conclusion that does not follow from the premises." To state that one who believes in creationism lives "on a flat earth around which all of the galaxies, and our sun, revolve," is to commit the logical non sequitur fallacy.

One who believes that this earth was created by an all-powerful, all-intelligent Being, namely the Creator God, does not necessarily believe that we live on a flat earth, etc. The creation accounts in the Bible are written in phenomenological language, as opposed to scientific language.

Phenomenological language describes things as they appear to the human eye, as opposed to describing from a technical perspective. A modern example of this is when a meteorologist predicts what time the "sun will rise" in the morning. Does he or she believe that the sun revolves around the earth? No, he is speaking in phenomenological language as well. Have scientists ever made discoveries that change what they previously thought was true? Yes. That is what happened in the case of Copernicus.

The discovery that the earth and other planets revolve around the sun -- in a perfect pattern that could not have happened by chance any more than one could throw marbles on the sidewalk and have them all line up in perfect orbit around a shooter -- serves not to deny, but to confirm the existence of an all-powerful, intelligent Creator God.

To quote Digory Kirke of C. S. Lewis' Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, "Don't they teach logic at these schools?" Obviously not!

Cynthia McKinney Pimpo '85
Arnold, Maryland

The "C"

In the summer issue, Russell K. Elleven '89 expresses the view that the "C" in TCU stands for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I prefer to think that the C stands not for a church but for a way of life that dignifies the human being and calls each one of us to develop our own talents and use them in a life of service and love.

Mr. Elleven gives a quote, whose source he does not acknowledge, that the mission of TCU is "to educate individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community."

If this is the case at TCU, then its name should be changed to Texas Ethical University. Perhaps Mr. Elleven would benefit from reading the article by Dr. Kenneth Cracknell in the same issue, "Questioning Faith." Dr. Cracknell beautifully affirms St. John's teaching that the Word (Christ) "had a part in the creation of all human beings and his life was and is the light of every man or woman, boy or girl born in this world."

He goes on to say that this Light shines among all peoples -- Hindus,Buddhist, Muslims, whatever. "No one anywhere is bereft of the light of the Logos."

I hope that TCU has as its mission to brighten that light in each student that attends TCU, thus making our world a much better place in which to live.

Sara McCauley Daniels '49
Charlottesville, Va.