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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Tuesday, July 16 2002 

McIntire - 5, positives

Despite the ultimate failure of his crusade to survive him by leaving in-tact institutions of any importance, and the fact that he was largely forgotten even before his death after having been a major figure in American religion from roughly 1945 to 1975, Dr. Carl McIntire has been the subject of some exceptional tributes, most notably a 3000-word biographical essay by Randall Balmer in Christianity Today, the leading American religion periodical of our time.

Also surprisingly appreciative in the same periodical published simultaneously with Balmer's biography is a short editorial by author and Fuller Theological Seminary president Richard J. Mouw, seemingly grudgingly admitting that on one of his most controversial stands, Dr. McIntire had been right, and Mouw and McIntire's critics were wrong. As a convert to Orthodox Christianity, it's one of the aspects of his public life that matters much to me: McIntire's claim that the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church under the Communists was being used by the KGB (Soviet secret police) and some of its most visible spokesmen were KGB agents. I remember accompanying a caravan of pickets led by Dr. McIntire to Flemington, NJ, to demonstrate against a contingency of Russian churchmen being given the grand tour of the United States by liberal church agencies. I thought at the time, of course, that Dr. McIntire was right. I had, after all, edited his articles documenting his claims and had access to his sources. Without citing Dr. McIntire, CBS News' 60 Minutes had also made the same case several times during the cold war, and today no one who was privy to what was going on in the Kremlin and/or the Moscow Patriarchate denies the scenario, as Mouw acknowledges.

One of the most persuasive aspects of McIntire's radio program was his consistant invitation to critics to appear on the program to challenge his claims. Books were written discrediting him as best they could, his enemies in the liberal press, church, and politics were legion, but none of them met the challenge, implying that their refusal to do so was taking the high ground...they wouldn't "stoop to his level," though in fact they were stooping much lower. Having planned in his undergraduate years on going into law, McIntire's admirers often cited his "trial lawyer's mind," and one of his biggest resources early in his career (but deceased before I joined his staff) was a layman in his congregation, a Presbyterian elder, adult Sunday school teacher, and attorney who gave him legal guidance.

Despite being well-trained in my editorial tasks at the Nanty Glo Journal by my predecessor there, Andy Rogalski, and my journalism prof at Johnstown College, John Crowe, I learned much more at the Christian Beacon, which followed ridgid documentation and publications style standards. There hasn't been a working day since leaving the Beacon that I haven't depended on some of those lessons.

And though I went my way independent of McIntire and his "movement" in my campus ministry from around 1970 till its discontinuance in 1983, I never abandoned some of the principles he taught, mainly by example, in the conduct of "faith ministry." The most frequent charge levied against successful ministries of all types is that their wealth is gained through the sacrificial giving of people poorer than themselves, especially when that is accompanied by ostentatious living on the part of the "ministers" (which was a major factor in the undoing of such notable "broadcast ministries" as Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's PTL Club).

But although McIntire raised millions of dollars to support his broadcasts and institutions, I never saw such charges levied against him. Despite the fact that in its time the Christian Admiral Bible Conference/resort was a first-class operation with the best dining room in Cape May, McIntire continued to drive a Chevy Impala and his wife had a "used" Cadillac. One of the things I early admired about him on getting personally acqauinted was that he was never not working. If there's such a thing as a Presbyterian monk (there isn't, but...) he was one, in the sense that he truly lived his "vow of poverty," meaning that everything in his life (except his modest but comfortable home, from which he never "moved up") was used almost entirely for the furtherance of his ministry.

I never got the sense that he failed to practice what he preached.... Nor did I get the sense that he expected or required his underlings to live up to his standards. More likely, he assumed they couldn't have, even if they wanted to.

More to come.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Hymns for the over-50 crowd (series)

7. "Give Me The Old 'Timers' Religion"
8. "Blessed 'Insurance'"

— Sent by Bob Kennedy

Thought for today

One ought to endeavor, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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