I am deeply offended by Richard Cohen's assertion [op-ed, Oct. 6] that betrayal "is inherent in the palaver of any . . . minister," because "they all promise what they know they can't deliver or, in the case of the minister, what no one can prove."

I have spent nearly 32 years in the Christian ministry. My vocation has been to preach and teach faith in Christ and to explain what that means and why I trust it. I have seen myself as a messenger and a witness, seeking to convince others of that which has given my life meaning and purpose. Christian clergy are called to be witnesses to the truth as we see it and understand it and communicators of the witness of previous generations of Christians as they have recorded them. I do not believe that I can "prove" the truths of the Gospel with mathematical certainty any more than I can prove the existence of love or holiness, but I do believe that the preponderance of evidence and experience supports my belief in them.

Cohen may well believe that I and others such as myself are in error, but it is a serious insult to accuse us of betrayal. It is equally insulting to describe our message as "palaver," a word that may be defined as "idle chatter" or "speech intended to deceive." Those insults are particularly odious to those of us who know that ministers of the Gospel are risking and in many cases sacrificing their lives in dark corners of the world to engage in the work that Cohen denigrates.

He owes a lot of apologies.

-- Randolph M. Bragg

Arlington