WHAT CHAPLAINS BELIEVE
One of our servicemen, now serving outside this country, recently sent me a small booklet entitled “Protestants Believe.” It was published and copyrighted by the “General Commission on Chaplains,” and is evidently intended to serve as a basis for the instruction of servicemen in the Protestant Faith. This appears from a statement found inside the back cover which reads:
MY PERSONAL COMMITMENT
In gratitude to God for His love and mercy, I do here and now receive Christ and profess the faith set forth in this pamphlet.
It is an excellent example of the kind of religion t which our service men are exposed in the chapel services which they attend.
In the introduction of the book entitled “Belief Is Power!” we read:
On the following pages of this pamphlet are set forth some of the great religious beliefs commonly held by Protestant Christians for many generations…. No statement of a Common Faith can be final, complete or fully satisfactory to everyone. These statements omit some beliefs accepted by many Protestants; they may be stated in a form different from that used by some. However, they do represent a solid ground of agreement on which most people who call themselves Protestants would be likely to agree….
It is no doubt true that this is accepted by most Protestants. But it only shows how far Protestants have drifted away from the Protestant Reformation. The statement of doctrine can serve as a basis for the whole ecumenical movement of our day — and is perhaps intended to do just this. It is extremely deceptive in that it makes abundant use of Scriptural terminology, but fills these terms with meanings foreign to the Word of God. It is so vague and general that anyone in the whole church world (including outright modernists and Roman Catholics) can accept it. It sounds very much like something drawn up under the auspices of the National Council of Churches.
We offer some partial quotations from it, admittedly taking those which strike us as being the most deceptive and false.
Under the general heading “One God”, we read:
When Protestants say, “We believe in one God,” they mean:
—that back of all the mystery of life and of the universe is a power that created, sustains and rules all things.
—that this Power knows, feels, loves and has purposes.
This Power is a Personal Being; and, as such, is the Father of all human beings.
Under the heading “Jesus Christ” we read:
When Protestants say, “We believe in Jesus Christ,” they mean:
—that in Jesus of Nazareth God has revealed himself to men in understandable, human form.
—that God was in Jesus so completely that He was above all other men THE Son of God.
— that Jesus was so completely human, being tempted in all points as other men, yet without sin, that He was above all other men THE Son of Man.
— that Jesus, by His words and by His life, became the highest Example and the greatest Teachev of men.
— that Jesus lived so perfectly the life of THE Son of Man and THE Son of God that He is Lord and Master of human living at its best and highest.
— that, by His life, death, and resurrection Jesus is the Redeemer of Men and the Savior of the world. —
that the Jesus of history, is the Living Christ in the experience of all who accept Him.
Such a statement as this above could be received by any modernist in the world who denies the virgin birth, the atonement and the resurrection of Christ bodily from the grave.
One suspects, after reading the section on God and Christ that the author does not even believe in the trinity. This suspicion is strengthened by the statement on “The Holy Spirit.”
When Protestants say, “We believe in the Holy Spirit,” they mean:
— that God is Spirit.
— that God is Holy.
— that in human experience, God is a Divine Presence, the Holy Spirit.
— that, as Holy Spirit, God is continually seeking to protect the spirits of men from evil and destruction and to bring them into happy fellowship with Himself.
The shallow and superficial view of sin so commonly held today is also reflected in this brochure in what is found under the subject of “The forgiveness of sins.”
— that man has abused the powers God gave him, especially the power to choose.
— that, through the abuse of his God-given power, man has often greatly wronged God and destroyed his fellowship with God — that is, he has sinned against God.
— that sin results in unhappiness and tragedy for men and in great sorrow for God.
— that whenever a man really wants to renew the fellowship, God is willing, and will no longer hold the wrong against the man; that is, if a man will sincerely confess his sin and turn away from it (repent) God will forgive him.
Forgiveness then does not come through the atonement of Christ, but only through being willing to confess that one has done wrong.
In the statement under the title “The Bible” the booklet uses an expression which has become the motto of those who deny that the Scriptures are the infallibly inspired Word of God. It says that “the Bible contains the Word of God for men.” This expression is deliberately used to deny that the Bible is the Word of God. There is, according to those who make this statement, much in the Bible which is not the Word of God. But this Word of God is somewhere in the Bible. It remains for man to try to find it.
In the statement on “The Life Everlasting” no mention is made at all of heaven or the eternal perfection of God’s covenant. It merely states:
— that man bears the image of God; that is, he shares with God His special powers of thinking, feeling and choosing.
— that, out of His great love and mercy, God seeks to give men a life that is lived eternally with Him.
— that, in the resurrection of Christ, we see both a sign and promise of God’s redeeming purpose, and of His saving power.
I include this material in our Standard Bearer in order that our servicemen who read this may be warned of the insidious evils of false doctrine to which they are exposed by their chaplains. It all sounds so pious, so true, that it is quite conceivable that some of our servicemen will think this a statement worthy of their faith. This is especially a danger when our servicemen are far from their homes and the influence of their church. Hence, this is intended to be a solemn warning to be on guard against this perversion of your faith.
THE “GOD-IS-DEAD” MEN ARE SERIOUS
The bold blasphemy of those who teach that God is dead is so utterly astonishing that sometimes we can scarcely imagine that they really teach these things. Yet they do. And they are serious about it to. Below are some quotes taken from a television interview with Dr. William Hamilton, a leading spokesman of this movement. These quotes originally appeared in a newspaper, The Toronto Star, and are taken from theChristian Beacon. Dr. Hamilton is quoted as saying among other things:
We are atheists, but Christian atheists.
We differ from classical atheism in that it says that there never was a God, whereas we say that there was a God but there isn’t now.
We do not know, we do not adore, we do not believe in God.
What we have come up with is a new style of Christian theology. It is a breathtaking way of doing Christianity — without God. We say that it is possible to live as Christians, in obedience to Jesus, without God.
God’s death is not a sad thing, although there is this understandable nostalgia for the God who’s gone.
It’s not the occasion for a requiem but for a comedy. For me the death of God is a liberating experience, a highly moral experience. It frees me to be committed to the service of my neighbor, without God getting in the way.
Christianity is obedience to Christ and for that we don’t need God. Jesus was wrong about a lot of things, but he was still a great person.
Jesus is a way of being in the presence of others, He is a clue or model as to how we should act towards others.
I see no way of affirming the life of the human community after death. Nor can I affirm the existence of Jesus after death. He, too, has ceased to exist.
If prayer is construed as something addressed to a reality outside of oneself, then there is no place for it.
And yet, as great as the blasphemy is, it is only a forthright statement of what countless theologians actually believe but are hesitant to express because of their positions in the established church. Yet even their hesitancy is giving way to increased boldness.
MARRIAGE PAVING THE WAY TO UNITY
We are indebted to the Presbyterian Journal for a news item concerning a recent marriage between a man from the Roman Catholic Church and a woman who is a member of the United Presbyterian Church. We are not so much interested in the fact of the marriage as we are in the explanation offered by Dr. Scott Frances Brenner, secretary for fraternal relations with Catholics, Orthodox and Jews for the Board of Christian Education of the UPUSA Church. The girl was married in Rome and received permission from the Vatican to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist.
In justification for this conduct, Dr. Brenner is quoted as saying: the girl involved was required to make “an express act of belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and an act of obedience to the Pope.” But Presbyterians
are as convinced of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist as are our Catholic brethren.
He pointed out that the Presbyterians are loyal to Calvin in maintaining a certain presence of Christ in the sacrament; only they call it “a spiritual presence” rather than a “real presence.”
For a Christian, however, nothing is more real than the spiritual. Therefore I think the time has come to omit the adjective and join in one common confession of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
In other words, the difference between the Reformed view of the sacrament and the Roman Catholic view, so important to the Reformers, is no longer a barrier to unity. And we may well ask: if this is not a barrier, what is?
On the matter of pledging obedience to the pope, Dr. Brenner is quoted as saying:
I believe that most Presbyterians want to respect and obey the Holy Father insofar as their consciences let them do so.
It is apparent that the ecumenical movement is broad enough to bring all Protestants and Roman Catholics together across the chasm of the Reformation — even though this involves abject acceptance of Roman Catholic dogma.