DOUBLE STANDARD OF MORALS
In a recent article in a Catholic Action Weekly entitledOur Sunday Visitor, an editor by the name of Father Ginder speaks of the double standard of morals and truth in our modern world. He points out the fact that in effect our country has accepted a double standard of truth and of morals by which they measure our own deeds and the deeds of our enemies. He points out that what we condemn in our enemies we approve among ourselves. Or what we condemn in one man we approve in another.
This he demonstrates with various examples. He points out, in the first place, that all the facts of economics point to the truth that the disastrous give-away programs in which our government has engaged are sure to lead to bankruptcy. But, in spite of this, the government not only continues these programs, but increases them, each year pushing us closer to fiscal catastrophe. He speaks of economists who say that “our whole economy depends on the Give-away, that we have to go on making heavy machinery and trucks even if only to dump them into the ocean—else hard times will return.” From this illustration he turns to various other aspects of the cold war as fought by our country. He points out that the Central Intelligence Agency, which received most of the blame for the fiasco in Cuba, foments rebellions, topples governments, parachutes agents behind enemy lines and engages in all kinds of spy work. We are called to support this in the name of patriotism, although when other countries engage in the same practices, we call it subversion.
We speak of the evils of plotting against legally elected governments; but we are very reluctant to support legally elected governments unless they agree with us. If they do not, we often try every which way to bring another government to power.
Or consider the case of the Eichmann trials.
While Eichmann killed only Jews, Khrushchev killed just as many without bothering to make any racial distinction. The one used gas, the other used mass starvation. The one is being exhibited to the world in a glass cage, the other is being wined and dined in every capital of the world. Why? Evil for Eichmann, but not for Khrushchev?
The author goes on to show how, although on the one hand our leaders are intent on showing to us the evils of communistic Russia, in fact they are doing all they can to aid and abet the enemy in cultural exchanges, in promoting socialism in the country, in refusing to discredit those in our own midst who are obviously sympathetic to the cause of Communism.
There is much that is true in this brief article. The point is, a point which the author fails to mention, that there is an objective standard of truth and right in God and in His law. When this objective standard of truth and right is ignored and men make laws out of expediency or personal gain, the country entrusted to them becomes hopelessly mired in the gross inconsistencies of which the author speaks. It is difficult to see how this country can in any way be called Christian when these principles are obviously ignored. And indeed, in the final analysis, should America ever be successful in its struggle with Communism on the basis of its own standard of right and with the means which this country has chosen to employ, the victory will have a very hollow ring, for we will have destroyed all our own freedoms in the process.
The irony is that the Roman Catholic Church itself has often followed such a double standard of morals. Consider its tenet that the end justifies the means which led to the butchering of thousands of people of God throughout the ages—rivers of the blood of the saints which can never be washed from the hands of that church.
AN EVANGELICAL’S VIEW OF PREDESTINATION
In a recent issue of The Standard Bearer we have had opportunity to discuss the position of evangelicals in the church world. We noticed at that time that evangelicals usually maintain the fundamental truths of Scripture such as the Virgin Birth, the Atonement of Christ, the Resurrection from the Dead, etc. But, while they maintain these fundamentals, they also are usually very Arminian with strong emphasis on the general offer of the gospel, the invitation to come to Christ, the universal love of God, the free will of man, etc.
In recent issues of Christianity Today, there has been a rather lengthy column devoted to “Basic Christian Doctrines” written by various evangelical theologians throughout the world. Starting with the doctrine of the Trinity, in eight articles this series has progressed to the doctrine of predestination: This article, appearing in the April 24 issue, and written by William Childs Robinson, Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Church Polity in Columbia Theological Seminary, is a graphic illustration of the fact that an evangelical committed to Arminianism cannot possibly maintain the doctrine of predestination. It is therefore of some importance in gaining an insight into the thought of evangelicalism.
By way of introducing the doctrine, the author says:
For Christian faith, predestination is a vision of the King in the glory of his grace, and a warning against transposing the revelation of the majesty of his mercy into any concatenated scheme of human logic. It proclaims the freeness of God’s saving grace in Christ, without making of his will an arbitrary fatalism. The ways of him who predestines are past our tracing out, and the mystery thereof bids us worship where we cannot fathom.
After a few more general remarks concerning the views of Augustine and the use of the word “predestinate” in the Bible, the author turns to the subject proper.
In connection with his statement that “Predestination is the personal decision of the God who elects,” the author quite correctly maintains that it is God alone who elects; that this is true because God elects eternally; that God does this for Himself and for His own name’s sake; that God does this by electing a people.
He however seems to confuse election with providence when he says, somewhat impiously:
On the other hand, the sovereignty of God meant for Luther and Calvin God in action here and now, His hand at the helm even in the most violent storm. God has not gone fishing, or golfing, or to an Ethiopian banquet. He is not asleep. He is not otiose (being at leisure, useless, without function, H.H.). He is activissimus (most active, H.H.). We are not following the Reformers when we treat God as an absentee deity. Their God was the God of Elijah.
In the second point, entitled “Predestination is in Jesus Christ,” he emphasizes that apart from Christ election is impossible. He writes:
we are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son that He may be the firstborn among many brethren, and we know that God is for us by his not withholding His own Son. According to
Christ is the ground and reason of the divine blessing, in 1:4 He is the meritorious cause of election, in verse 5 through His mediation our adoption is realized, and in verse 6 the grace of God is revealed and bestowed. Salvation is the act of the Holy God doing justice to His own righteousness at any cost to Himself. In Christ we have redemption through His blood—the forgiveness of sins through His giving of Himself for us.
In concluding this section the author writes:
When all is said and done, there remains the biblical picture of God who chooses, God who elects, God who predestinates in Christ and for His sake saves a great host that no man can number including the last, the least, and the lowest of those who take refuge under His wings; but He does not save those who continue to love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil, nor those for whom the preaching of the Gospel is a savor of death unto death, nor those who despise the riches of His goodness, longsuffering, and forbearance, and fail to consider that the goodness of God leads to repentance. When the cities of His day rejected Jesus, He rejoiced in the Father’s sovereign discrimination and continued to sound forth His gracious invitation: “Come unto me, and find rest for your souls.”
This is the only mention in the article of those who are not saved. And while the author therefore studiously avoids any use or mention of reprobation, he comes close here to speaking of conditional election and conditional reprobation.
The last section deals with “Predestination is the election of free grace.” In this section the author strongly argues for the truth that grace is given freely by God to “helpless, undeserving, ill-deserving, hell-deserving sinners.” He writes for example:
Grace is the heart and center of the Gospel. It is the expression of the electing love of God and the parent of faith. It issues in the inward work of the Holy Spirit illuminating our hearts to appropriate the love of God revealed in Christ dying for the ungodly. It is this love reaching out to forgive the guilty. It is not that we loved Him but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. It is the forgiveness which justifies the ungodly through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. It is the Father’s welcome to the prodigal which gives him a place in the family of God by adoption and by regeneration.
While the author emphasizes therefore the gracious character of election, he says also on the other hand, “Thus grace is prevenient, it comes first, before any response by the sinner.” This almost implies that grace is given to all men who hear the gospel in order that the response of the sinner may be his own and on the basis of which he may be saved or damned.
Reading this article, one comes to the definite conclusion that, on the one hand, the article is pretty good when it maintains the sovereign grace of God at crucial points. But, on the other hand, the article is vague and uncertain at these same crucial points because it leaves the possibility open for conditional predestination, for an offer of the gospel, for a universal love of God. It seems to be the tactic of the Remonstrants of the 16th century to speak the Reformed language while denying the Reformed truth. No doubt, the main reason for this vagueness and uncertainty is due to the fact that nowhere does the author maintain that a certain and definite number of people are elected by God with a certainty and finality about their election which cannot be destroyed. For if the author had maintained this, he would also have had to maintain the decree of sovereign and free reprobation which he nowhere mentions in the entire article. In neglecting this fundamental aspect of this important truth, the author simply is satisfied with a vague and indefinite election which could easily encompass the whole human race, but which is dependent upon man’s acceptance of the gospel for its fulfillment.
It is precisely this vagueness and, as a matter of fact, denial of reprobation, which characterizes evangelicalism. And it is this denial which makes evangelicalism a travesty of the gospel of Jesus Christ. For, after all, predestination is the heart of the gospel. Without both election and’ reprobation one soon loses all the truths of Scripture.
THE EVOLUTION OF MAN
I have often wondered about the official position of the Roman Catholic Church with regard to the theory of evolutionism. It is evident, of course, that evolutionism, even in the Darwinian sense, is taught by Catholics throughout the world. But whether this was the official. position of the church was another question.
This question was partially answered in a recent article in Our Sunday Visitor in an article entitled “The Evolution of Man.” Already the sub-titles indicate what direction the article will take. They read: “What Doctrine of Evolution can Catholics Entertain?” and “The Origin of Man’s Body is Open to Scientific Investigation; His Soul is not.”
After discussing materialistic evolutionism and pantheistic evolutionism, the author refers to a papal encyclical of Pope Pius XII issued in 1950 in which the following points were made:
(1) The fact of the spiritual soul of man must be taken for granted. (2) Otherwise, free discussion of the problem is allowed. (3) However, discussions should be carried on by experts, with due regard for pros and cons, and with a will to submit to the Church. (4) No one should take the position that human evolution is a completely certain and proven fact, and that no difficulties in putting it together with Catholic belief still exist.
Then the author goes on to discuss the matter of the church’s stand and, its influence in the church as a whole. He writes:
Developments in science (newer and fuller evidence for human evolution) and development in theology (especially in the study of Sacred Scriptures), have urged many Catholic theologians to modify their first reserve about human evolution.
Indeed, there are many Catholic scholars who are using the concept of evolution not only in a purely intellectual way, but also as a source of greater knowledge of God’s universe and a source of greater love of God.
Evolution brings a dynamic element into our consideration of the universe. God, instead of immediately setting each creature into being and motion, started a great and complicated machinery going. This machinery produced plants, animals and man. But God, did not set his machinery going, and then sit back, so to speak, with folded arms. No, each atom and animal, each galaxy and molecule, and man, are kept in being and enabled to act by the fact of God’s cooperation.
Man, the highest product of evolution, is not simply appointed, as it were, to his position as representative of the universe before God. He grew out of the universe, and is cousin to it all, the inorganic, the organic, and (because he was given a spiritual soul) the angels. When Christ assumed human nature, therefore, He did not simply take on the nature of man as it was 2,000 years ago.
Christ assumed that human nature which was the result and the crown and the glory of millions of years of evolution. He I also assumed a human nature which was destined to continue to evolve as long as it existed.
Christ took this human nature and raised it to the unbelievable heights of the supernatural—making man as near God Himself as was possible, with man remaining a creature. Christ, therefore, assumed and supernaturalized an evolution which included man as a biological being, a social being, and then a supernatural being. And Christ will gather all the fruits of this evolution and His own Redemption in the great harvest of man and the universe which He will present to God the Father on the Day of the last Judgment. Evolution, in sum, adds its testimony to the fact that we have been made worthy (although all unworthy ourselves) to cooperate with Christ in the fullness of the Spirit, and of the Mystical Body.