Christian Reformed Synod Faces Nigerian Question Again
The reader may recall that about a year ago attention was called to the problem facing the Christian Reformed synod relative to a Theological College of Northern Nigeria. The synod at that time took a definite stand in respect to this problem.
Now, once more, according to the May/June issue of Torch and Trumpet, the synod of 1960 will have to cope with the Nigerian question, only this time from a slightly different angle.
It appears from the information given by Rev. H.J. Kuiper that the General Conference of missionaries on the Nigerian field and a majority on the Mission Board of the Christian Reformed Church are flaunting the decisions made at the 1959 synod relative to the Nigerian problem. Also we are told a minority group on the Mission Board is appealing the decisions taken by the Board, and two classes and a consistory are sending overtures to synod protesting the action of the Board of Missions.
As to the decisions of the 1959 synod, it must be remembered that synod was asked to collaborate with others of an un-Reformed background in the establishment of a Theological College in Nigeria. Synod decided, however, first, “to participate in TCNN only to the extent of loaning Dr. Boer as teacher of Reformed theology in the TCNN”; and second, “synod decided, in view of a previously expressed declaration concerning ‘its total commitment to the Reformed faith,’ to instruct the Christian Reformed Board of Missions and the Nigerian General Conference to maintain and develop the Reformed Pastor’s Training program in Nigeria with a view to hopefully establishing a Reformed Theological Seminary.’”
Briefly, the above decision came down to this, that the synod of 1959 did not want to go in the direction of establishing an un-Reformed theological school, but felt itself committed to establishing a Reformed theological school of its own. Considered by itself, this was a commendable position to take. However, we hasten to add that we believe it was a mistake to, at the same time, loan Dr. Boer to the un-Reformed College and offer to support him. Consistency, it seems to me, would have demanded that the Christian Reformed synod would have nothing to do with an un-Reformed Theological College. It is perhaps because of this inconsistency that the 1960 synod will be faced with the same problem again.
It appears from Rev. H.J. Kuiper’s understanding of “The Theological Background of TCNN,” that he is not at all in agreement with the promoters of the movement on their idea of ecumenicity. If Kuiper’s interpretation of their presentation is the correct one, we agree with him that the ecumenism referred to “is modern ecumenism, and modern ecumenism is essentially modernism as applied to ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church). Such ecumenism is concerned about the outward unity of the church, not about its purity in doctrine.”
We will be looking for further word about what the synod will do with this matter.
“Our Children Belong to God!”
On this subject Rev. Irving E. Howard writes in the June 14th issue of Christian Economics.
The author points up that there are States in the Union which are jailing Amish fathers for refusing to send their children to public schools.
He cites the case of Henry Herschberger, an Amish patriarch, who explained that the Amish do not want their children attending public schools “because they do not believe in the ‘monkey theory of man’ and because the Amish people object to motion pictures and dancing.” He states further that “other reasons have been given, but when the conflict is reduced to the basic issues it is found that the Amish people believe, first, that children belong to God, not to the State and, second, that education is a religious function which cannot be separated from religious convictions.”
He concludes his article by saying, “The American people are indebted to the simple Amish folk. By their obduracy they have brought into the open the silent assumption of the educational profession; namely, that children belong to the State and that parents’ rights are secondary in the matter of their education.
“It is time Christian people informed themselves about the origin of our public school system and discovered that it is not as indigenous to our Republic as educators have tried to make us think. In fact, public education is an alien importation from Prussia involving assumptions far removed from those implicit in the U.S. Constitution. Indeed, far removed also from what Jesus meant in His words misused by Judge Donald Young: ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.’
“Our children belong to God, not to Caesar!”
Concerning the above, we make two remarks:
1. It is an alarming thing when under the freedom of our U.S. Constitution there are States enforcing the divergent law which demands that all children attend the public schools.
2. It is commendable that there are those who dare to defy this unconstitutional ruling and insist that the education of our children is not the work of the State, but of the parents who brought them into the world. We can envision the day when we as parents will no longer be able to realize our Christian and covenant duty to bring up our children in the fear of the Lord, and according to our religious principles.
“Apartheid”—Is It Really Race “Discrimination”?
The subject of “Apartheid” has been discussed freely of late in periodicals religious and secular. Most of these periodicals condemn the idea of Apartheid. Few have been its defenders.
Writing under the above title, Wentzel C. du Plessis, former Ambassador of the Union of South Africa to the U.S., offers some cogent remarks in its defense. He claims that the word “discrimination” has been blown out of proportion. He advocates “it would be a good thing, not only for the friendly intercourse between people but also for the peace of the world if more discrimination were to be applied in the use of the word ‘discrimination’.”
Writes he, “It is often used as a weapon against those who prize the things proven by tradition, and who set their standards by the good and the beautiful handed on to them by a Western heritage which, thus far, has withstood the test of the centuries reasonably well.”
He admits “that the word ‘apartheid’ has become unacceptable to the world at large. But that is not because the concept is wrong; it is because the word has become twisted and distorted in a process of brainwashing of such scope and of such viciousness that one can only be filled with a sense of foreboding as to what else cannot be done in this world in which we live.
“The fact is that the relationship of individual toward individual, family toward family, group toward group, and nation toward nation, rests squarely on the concept of apartheid—that is to say on ‘differentialism’ and all that it implies. And what it implies is a recognition of the fact that people, in being different from one another, yet share a common humanity but that, in this sharing, the highest human right which any man can have is that based on his own individuality.
“It also implies that, if any being claims for himself this right to be himself, he must, because this right is inalienable, also concede it to his fellow man.
“The white South African, therefore, does not wish to imitate the Bantu, neither does he wish to force the Bantu to imitate him. He wishes to preserve his own identity, based on his own culture and his own way of life and this he also concedes to the Bantu.
“Whatever the Bantu wishes to accept from the white man’s way of life he must do voluntarily, but neither is going to allow the other to force him into a common mold. Not all the immense pressure which the world can exercise will accomplish this because, in fact, if it is accomplished it will mean the death of white as well as Bantu society. The resistance of this will, therefore, come not only from the whites but also from the Bantu, except from those who do not cherish an own identity and who have lost their self-respect.”
The author of the above lines as they appeared in the June 20th U.S. News & World Report, believes that there is considerable misunderstanding in respect to the intention of the white South African. He points up that many, even in the U.N., have been conditioned to believe that apartheid is not differentiation but discrimination. Writes he, “Leaving aside, for the moment, the question of discrimination based on religion, the question must be asked: Is it true that differences between people based on race, color, language and sex are discriminatory? It need not be true and by and large it is not true. In the great majority of cases race, color and language, far from being discriminatory, can be identified as the unifying factor in any particular group. They distinguish people from one another and, unless one actually wants this drab universality, it is necessary that people be distinguished from one another, just as the myriad of elements in nature are distinguished from one another and, yet, in the sum total of their diversity form one glorious whole.”
Mr. du Plessis, I believe, presents a clever, but solid argument to demonstrate his concept of differentialism when in the following paragraphs he answers the question: “What about discrimination based on sex? This is as big a misconception as the others already mentioned. When Adam told God that he was lonely and wanted a mate, God fortunately did not create another Adam to alleviate his loneliness but in His wisdom He created another human being so different that, even to this day, woman remains one of God’s creatures that man does not properly understand. And how happy we can be that, in a world steadily being pushed toward uniformity, this differential, this mystery, remains. Out of this difference, life, and also hope, are constantly born anew and when it ceases humanity’s hour will indeed have struck.
“Differentiation based on sex cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called discrimination because it, too, is based on a fact in nature. If it is discrimination then the whole world, in all spheres of the human, animal and plant kingdom, is riddled with it. That is not to say that inequalities do not result. Of course they do. How could it be otherwise? But inequalities do not of themselves mean injustice. It is only when the element of injustice enters that discrimination also enters.
“Therefore, it remains important, and will always so remain, to distinguish between discrimination, differentiation, inequality and, finally, injustice.”
The author’s concept of uniformity with rich distinction will stand. However, there is one concept which he fails to develop in his thesis and that is the reality of sin and the corruption of the race due to sin. It is because of this factor that injustices that are discriminatory enter into the various relationships that are different. We believe it is also because of this factor that a corrupt human race always attempts to erase the lines of demarcation and set up a unity in which the man of sin rules supreme. In this attempt even the modern church will take part and give it leadership.