All Around Us

Voting On Sunday

The idea of rest for Sunday has well-nigh disappeared from the land. There is seen hardly any observance of this special day any more. There is buying and selling on Sunday. Entertainment and other activities are available and used on Sunday. Yet the Christian could continue still in observing this day of rest. The temptations to abuse it are great. But the child of God understands that the fourth commandment still applies.

But now we have been hearing of various reports of an attempt to change the day for voting in our country from the traditional Tuesday to Sunday. This represents an attempt. to force faithful Christians to choose: to honor their responsibilities as citizens of the country, while violating the fourth command—or honor the fourth command even when he is excluded from the privilege of voting thereby. It comes down to the choice of honoring God or man. 

Some thoughts on the problem are given in the Herald of the Covenant, October 23, 1981, a paper of the Covenant Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America. The writer states:

. . .A new bill has been introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives by Mario Biaggi, a Congressman from New York. His bill would move all general elections from Tuesday to Sunday on a six-year trial period. He believes where Sunday elections have been used in some European nations, the voter turn-out has been traditionally higher than in the United States. 

This bill is receiving increasing support from some of the most influential politicians in this country. Recently, in the Atlanta Constitution dated May 8, 1981, in an article entitled, “Sunday Voting Proposed;” it is reported that three former presidents back this bill introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator S.I. Hayakawa of California. . .

The article concludes with the following encouragement:

Write your Congressman today regarding H.R. 84. It is urgent that you do so. Politicians respond to letters written to them. . . .The march towards secularism is set by those who have been made to believe that Sunday is just another day. Sadly, many Christians nod assent through silence. Write your letter today!

Gospel According to Reader’s Digest

Christianity Today, Oct. 23, 1981, reports on a new project of Reader’s Digest:

Editors of the Reader’s Digest are nearing the completion of a major book-condensation project: the entire Bible. Publication date is September 1982, but so far, Digest editors are saying little about it. 

Jack Walsh, who is overseeing the Bible project, did say that work on it was being done under the direction of “one of the world’s most respected Bible scholars. . . .” 

Walsh said Reader’s Digest editors who had professional knowledge of condensing procedure were “specifically trained to work on Bible text. . . .” 

Walsh said that though the condensing technique developed by Digest editors for the Bible was basically the same one used for other books, there were some differences. “We had to adapt it to some extent because of the nature of the Bible,” he said. As an example, he said, editors will change a word or phrase to clarify or shorten it. In working with the Bible, how ever, unlike other books, “we could not use any words that came from our editors. We used only words that actually appeared in the RSV, preferably in the same book we were working on. . . .” 

Walsh explained why Reader’s Digest undertook this project. “The original full-length Bible is very long and tends to be obscure in many places,” he said. It is not easy to read the full, original Bible in any version. Other Bibles made to simplify the text are always either full-text versions or simple abridgments. 

“Of course, these have their own purposes to serve,” he said. “But the Digest Bible offers the whole Bible, reduced by 40 percent. . . .” 

It does not cut out whole blocks of text, but is instead a line-by-line cutting process. True condensation never interferes with the essential substance of a text.”

There have been condensed Bibles in the past. But this condensation might become the most popular and better known than any of the preceding ones—if only because it has the backing of the marketing techniques of the Digest. (And, incidentally, I can well imagine that the Digest will include in its offer of this Bible to the public the opportunity also to enter one of its “drawings”—a form of gambling which has made its other publications more attractive and appealing.) 

What must one say of this attempt? Is it correct to state, as one did, that it is “a hellish plan. . . . It’s censoring God”? First, we must be aware that often in preaching and teaching, we present summaries of what Scripture teaches. These are indeed “condensations” of a passage. However, this is not set forth as the “Bible,” nor is it implying that there is extraneous material in the Bible, but clearly the summary is presented of a selected passage in connection with teaching. The Digest project could well lead into the error of selecting the “condensation” as one’s Bible—while neglecting or ignoring the Bible as God Himself infallibly gave it to us. A condensation, however good it may be, is not the Bible as God has given it. 

Secondly, though it is difficult to judge the content of a condensation which has not yet appeared, there is an obvious danger here: man condenses out of the Bible also those doctrines, thoughts, or practices which he does not appreciate. Whether the Digestcondensation will do that, remains to be seen. 

In the meantime, let us remember that God gave us His infallible Word to use faithfully. Those who constantly want to “cut corners” in their study of Scripture, find decreasing interest in continuing study. If there is not to be that “lack of knowledge” against which Scripture so strongly warns, then the child of God ought faithfully to study Scripture as God has given it to us. He may make use of proper “helps,” but let him turn to Scripture itself as the final and reliable authority. To rely on “crutches” instead of the Book God Himself gave, would be dangerous and utter foolishness. 

Nor can this kind of condensation serve a useful purpose in mission work, I believe. It is argued, of course, that the unbeliever might be “turned off” at the length and difficulty of the Bible, while, perhaps, he would be attracted to a “condensation.” Now it is also true that God uses excerpts and quotes from Scripture, written in other books and pamphlets, to bring His people to desire the reading of the whole Word of God. However, we ought never to minimize the power of God’s work in the hearts of elect sinners. Where God works repentance, there He also works a hungering and thirsting for things spiritual—including diligent reading of Scripture as God gave that to us. Such a one would never be content with man’s condensation of that Word, but surely will want to hear from the Mouth of God Himself.

“Christian” Rock?

The Christian News, Oct. 5, 1981, contains a number of articles treating the subject of “rock” music. Much of what is there written, emphasizes the point found in the articles recently of our Beacon Lights. Our young people ought to pay close heed to what is said. 

One short piece in the Christian News treats “Christian” rock. It merits careful study and serious thought. The writer, Carleton Toppe, states:

The drug theme and the revolution theme are not as prominent in rock music today as they were in the late sixties when they were shrieked and dinned by the rock stars and combos; but the sex has stayed in. It may not be as raw as it was when Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Mick Jagger, Jim Morrison, and their ilk sang and mimicked fornication to worshipping audiences, and when they delighted to “turn on” thousands of young girls to “dancing with the ceaseless enthusiasm of bottled lust.” 

The rhythmic, pounding beat, especially when it is loud and driving, is primarily sexual and physically hypnotic. Quite frankly, in its pulsations if not in shameless lyrics, it appeals to sex and desire. Jan Berry of the singing duo, Jan and Dean, freely admitted, “The throbbing beat of rock-and-roll provides a vital sexual release for its adolescent audience.” Time writes: “By its very beat and sound (rock) has always implicitly rejected restraints and has celebrated freedom and sexuality.” A former writer and singer of rock states simply, “Rock is sex.” 

Now what is “Christian.” rock or “gospel” rock music? Essentially it is the attempt to unite Christian words to beat music. Thus it is a yoking together of the spiritual and the carnal. The words intend to glorify God; the beat appeals to the flesh, even to sensuality. The words say one thing, but the music says something else. 

Some music is neutral regarding good and evil, and it can be used for either good .or evil; but rock is not neutral. It appeals to man’s baser nature, to his sensual pulse beat.

The Christian worships the Lord in the beauty of holiness, and angels join that worship. Vulgar, sexual rock beat was always part of pagan worship; it has no place in the Temple of God.

The young people especially ought to be aware of the fact that one does not accept as “good” and “pleasurable” what everyone seems to find attractive. The question must always be faced, “Do I desire this because of that old, sinful nature of mine?” And the kind of music that “everybody” of the young people listens to, and seems to enjoy, of which the above quotation speaks, seems clearly to fit into the category of the “fleshly” and “lustful.” “Flee youthful lusts,” states the Word of God.