The Christian Herald, a liberal religious magazine, recently conducted another annual survey of church membership. The following figures are presented:
Church membership in the United States rose to 85,705,290 in 1950, a record—making 55.9 percent of the population. The total membership was up 2,950, 987 over the previous year. Lest you should become too joyful, however, we would point out that included in these membership rolls are many churches that we could not even honor with the name church, and included among the members are those whose names are inscribed and -nothing more.
Taking the above into consideration we quote the following Christian Herald figures:
Protestant membership rose 1,409,045 to a total of 50,083,868, an increase of 2.89 percent over the previous year.
Roman Catholics increased 859,784 to a total of 28,470,092 up 3.1 percent.
Jewish congregations, on which there were no new statistics remained listed at 5,000,000.
The Southern Baptists who added 318,624 members in 1950, had the biggest gain of any single Protestant denomination.
The Methodist church still is the largest Protestant denomination. Its membership rose 143,078 to a total of 8,935,647. Its membership gain was the second highest.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible
Thomas Nelson and Sons, publishers of the revised Bible, have revealed that there will be nearly 1,000,000 copies printed in the first edition of the revised standard version of the Bible. The retail value of this printing order, the largest ever placed for a full-sized book by a commercial publishing house, is more than $5,000,000.
This is the revision which has been criticized as being not only the work of modern, liberal scholars, but of revealing this fact in its failure to take into account the truth that the Bible is verbally inspired.
From the Synods
Christian Reformed: The Synod of the Christian Reformed Churches decided among other things the following:
- Decided to withdraw from the National Association of Evangelicals.
- Interpreted their 1928 stand on worldly amusements. In this interpretative statement Synod declared that 1928 was not legislating on any and every use of the well-known trio, dancing, theater attendance and card playing but warning against worldliness in general and especially as it comes to manifestation in these three. The degree of participation which would constitute “misdemeanor and offensive conduct” was left to the judgment of the individual consistories.
- Appointed Dr. Spoelhof, a faculty-member of the College, to become president of the college, which appointment was accepted.
- Appointed Dr. C. Van Til from Westminster to a new chair of “Recent trends in theology” at Calvin Seminary. This appointment will be considered for a year and the professor-elect will decide next year.
5. Made a special place in the Seminary for retiring College president, Dr. Schultze.
6. Decided to buy land and build a $100,000 denominational headquarters in Grand Rapids. This will be located on Fuller Avenue across from our First Protestant Reformed Church.
7. Among other items, it was decided to discourage Boy Scout membership instead of encouraging the membership in the Boys Club movement. To appoint a negro evangelist, a graduate of Westminster Seminary, to do follow-up work for the Back to God Hour among the negroes and decided to wait one year to find a successor to Dr. Volbeda of Calvin Seminary in the field of practical theology. It was decided to appoint Dr. Hendriksen for an additional year instead of giving him a life appointment in the field of New Testament at the seminary. During the ensuing year the question of methodology and content of the courses will be investigated. The charge or suspicion which was voiced in several places concerning the allegedly socialistic leanings of professors at Calvin was evidently not substantiated. At least those against whom the finger was raised were acquitted and reappointed.
The only item of interest to us at the moment is the decision of the General Assembly of this church to send a letter of repentance and confession concerning the injustices perpetrated upon the Southern Presbyterians in the years 1860 and following. This, of course, with the idea of removing any possible offense with a view to eventual merger.
In this connection it is interesting to read the Southern Presbyterian Journal and what it has to say regarding this issue. In its expressions it rather clearly states that the issues of 1860 if. are no longer alive but they raise instead the far greater issues of the Auburn Affirmation of 1924 (in which over twelve hundred Northern Presbyterian ministers insisted that it was not necessary to believe in the virgin birth, the vicarious atonement, the bodily resurrection, the working of miracles and the Inspiration of Scripture, in order to be a minister in this denomination) and the heresies which it contains. In this connection the specter of Dr. Machen, founder of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church is again rising before the Northern Presbyterian Church from which he was expelled. All these things are urged by the group in the Southern Presbyterian Church as reasons for not merging with the Northern Presbyterians. Of this group the voice is the Southern Presbyterian Journal.
Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in General Synod decided not to merge with any other group at present. A plan for its merger with the Southern Presbyterian Church had been approved by a preliminary committee.