A STRANGE INCONSISTENCY
In two articles that appeared in the latest issue ofTorch and Trumpet, attention is called to serious troubles that are developing in the Gereformeerde Kerken in the Netherlands. This denomination is the Reformed Church of the Netherlands, formed by Dr. A. Kuyper who brought the Afscheidende Kerkenand the Dolerende Kerken together, split in the 1940’s when Dr. K. Schilder was put out, sister churches of the Christian Reformed Church of this country. In a brief article of Editorial Comment, attention is called to some disturbances that are deeply stirring this historically Reformed denomination.
There is first of all what the author calls a “definite avowed tendency to break with the past, even the recent past.” He tells of information he received to the effect that such theologians as Kuyper and Bavinck are seldom consulted anymore by the people, or even by the seminary students. There is a growing feeling that the theologians of the past were too exclusive and doctrinally narrow for the tastes of the twentieth century.
This, if true, corresponds with equally strong tendencies in our own country, ironically even in the Christian Reformed Church—tendencies to break with the past, especially with our Confessional heritage. It is easy to criticize our brethren beyond the seas—and no doubt, they deserve this criticism; but the fact is sad but true that the Reformed Churches in America are little better. One hears endless pleas to make the truth relevant to our times—as if the truth is not God’s truth relevant to all times. One wearies of the blatant and continual mockery of the creeds, of open denial of the truth of the creeds, of deliberate ignoring of confessional standards, of appalling ignorance among the people of the contents of the creeds. But this is serious business. The Church that ignores her creeds and consigns them to the dusty archives of the denomination despises the work of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit is the Spirit of Truth which has led and still leads the Church into the knowledge of the truth of Scripture. Our confessions can be compared with anchors that keep the Church safe in the harbor of the truth. Cut off these anchors and the Church will drift into the stormy seas of history swept -by every wind of doctrine—and will soon be shipwrecked on the shoals of error.
Secondly, the author calls attention to an almost unnatural fear of “fundamentalism” in the churches of the Netherlands. He is of the opinion, evidently correctly, that the churches across the sea are using their so-called “fear of fundamentalism” as a cover to get rid of true Biblical theology. They not only do not want fundamentalism; they use this war against fundamentalism as an excuse to throw away what has always been historically Reformed. He writes:
I am inclined to believe that the natural scientists there are guilty of starting these suspicions and of presenting fundamentalism as a bugbear. I surmise that to such authors as Dr. J. Lever, as well as to others, the traditional Reformed approach to Scripture (hermeneutics) was an obstacle. If this Reformed approach was maintained, they would not be able to reconcile their theories or hypotheses with Scripture. So they were led to change their approach to and evaluation of Scripture and to adapt them to their hypotheses. The traditional Reformed hermeneutics, therefore, became a bugbear and was labeled “fundamentalism.” This accounts for the fact that Lever, for instance, labors hard, though apodictically, that is, as if his views are indisputable, to square his views and interpretations of Scripture with his “scientific theories.” From the beginning Lever thus designates the traditional Reformed approach to and evaluation of Scripture as fundamentalistic. I do not imply that he and others have selected a label with ulterior motives in mind. But I am suggesting that they needed a label and recklessly selected fundamentalism.”
That there is truth to the contention of the author—that many members of the Gereformeerde Kerken have departed far from Scripture with their scientific theories is clear from another article in the same issue of Torch and Trumpet. Written by Rev. H.J. Kuiper, this article is entitled “Doctrinal Disturbance in a Sister Church,” and in it various illustrations are given of how the “scientists” in this denomination and in the Free University have all but forsaken parts of Scripture.
Dr. J. Lever, a biologist from the Free University has published a new book significantly titled “Creation And [not: or] Evolution” in which he claims that “it is entirely possible that man has ape-like ancestors.”
In a long article in the magazine Bezinning several ministers and professors collaborate together to deny many historically Reformed truths. The authors question the literal creation of Adam and Eve, speaking of them not as the first human beings but as the first couple that were fully human. They make suspect the entire first eleven chapters of Genesis. They doubt that there was only one language that all men spoke prior to Babel. They speak of some floods that may have come in Mesopotamia at one time ; but floods that covered the whole Mesopotamian Plain, much less the whole world, are impossible. They do not believe that it is true that Noah and his family and the animals were saved in an ark. Nor can it be proved, in their opinion that men lived hundreds of years before the flood, that either Paradise or the serpent as Scripture describes it were real.
Of course, such denials eventually involve other problems. And one of these is surely the problem of original guilt—the guilt that God imputed to the whole human race through the sin of Adam who stood as the representative head of all mankind. So this doctrine too falls by the way-side, even though it is taught expressly in many parts of Scripture, especially in Romans 5:12-21. The next step, although the authors do not take it—yet, is to deny that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the elect on the basis of His perfect atonement on the cross. From there it is but a sigh and a gasp to a denial of the atonement altogether and a denial of the divinity of Christ.
Rev. Kuiper who writes of this, is deeply disturbed, as well we all should be. He writes that this article and others like it “make us wonder whether the principles of church correspondence adopted by our synods do not require that we give official expression to deep concern.” He also speaks of the fact that in years gone by the Christian Reformed Church was eager to send her sons to the Free University to study. Now Rev. Kuiper writes, he would much prefer to see them go to Westminster Seminary to do post-graduate work, for this is still a bulwark of orthodoxy.
The alarm of Rev. Kuiper and his deep concern is the alarm and concern of us all. What remains a mystery is why this alarm should be caused only by our Dutch brethren across the sea when an identical tragedy is being enacted in Rev. Kuiper’s denomination. Perhaps it has not developed quite as far, but the principles are there, are developing, are swiftly carrying the schools and churches down the same road. Is what is so evident to us on the outside, invisible to them? Cannot they see the mote in their own eye for concern about the beam in their brother’s eye? Is the evolutionism of the Free University any different from the evolutionism of Calvin College? Is the false science of Amsterdam worse than the Scripture-less science of Grand Rapids? Is a denial of Genesis 1-11 different from a denial of Genesis 1? The Church in the Netherlands may be losing its battles against false religion; but the churches in this country are on the very brink of stunning defeat before these same evils of scientism.
May God send men to these churches that are willing and able to fight for the truth of God’s Word with courage and conviction. And if that is not God’s will, may God grant that those who still love the truth may rally together about the high-flung banner of the final authority of an infallibly inspired Scripture!
THE UNION SHOP
Many of our people who have to work in the shop for their daily bread run into union troubles and sometimes lose their jobs because a shop becomes a “union shop.”
Anyone who has closely watched developments in politics since a Democratic Administration has come to power could not help but notice that sentiment in government is very strongly pro-union. The executive branch of government especially is out to gain the favor of unions at almost any cost.
A recent example of this is to be found in the aerospace industry. Plane and missile manufacturers have traditionally been opposed to union shops. (A union shop is one where workers must join a union within thirty days after being hired and must pay dues regularly to keep their jobs.) In the words of a company spokesman: “Our opposition to the union shop is long-standing and is a key part of our company’s basic business philosophy.”
Nevertheless, when recently a dispute arose between a company and the union, President Kennedy began to apply pressures for a union shop. First of all, the President went outside the Taft-Hartley Act to name a special board to advise recommendations for settlement. If a committee had been appointed under the Taft-Hartley Act, they would have been, by law, prevented from making recommendations for settlement terms. But this committee immediately recommended that the companies accept the union shop if a two-thirds majority of workers approved. The company rejected this recommendation.
At a news conference, President Kennedy began to apply public pressure. He said that the union shop was an accepted fact in American industry and that the unions had accepted the proposals of the panel he had appointed to make recommendations; now the companies should follow suit. If a strike developed because the companies refused, the President warned the companies that they must bear the responsibility.
As it was, one company did give in and permitted its employees to vote. While the union gained a majority of the votes, they did not secure the necessary two-thirds which the committee had recommended.
But the point is that our President is encouraging the strengthening of already much too powerful labor unions. The result will be that more and more our economy will fall under the control of these organizations while our freedoms of which we boast so loudly will gradually be eroded. The trouble is that even many who oppose the unions do so for selfish reasons and for personal gain without any principle being involved. Then, when the question becomes one of daily bread, they forget their antipathies and make common cause with these evil organizations. For those who object principally, there is no room any more in the world.
THE CHURCH GOES TO ITS CONGREGATION
Ministers of the Methodist Church recently met in conference. The main problem up for discussion was the problems created by church members who more and more tend to spend weekends during the summer away from home, and therefore, away from the churches. The result is empty churches during the summer months while the congregation are away at lakes, cottages, camping areas enjoying themselves with fishing, swimming and boating.
Part of the solution seemed to be to discontinue summer services, although that did not seem to be just right. The conclusion was that the Church has a calling to follow their congregations wherever they might go.
This led to some strange practices. One minister brought his service to a shopping center. First the service did not fare well and not many shoppers were attracted. But when the quartet that accompanied him switched to singing “barbershop” type songs, and the minister limited his address to “what Jesus means to me,” attendance began to pick up. Another minister followed his congregation right to camp sites and began holding services adjacent to the camping areas. This was also considered to be effective missionary work. Still another held services at the county fair, and prayer services each night on the fair grounds. In one place a drive-in theatre became a drive-in church with Sunday School lessons in a near-by picnic area.
This may be America’s religion. But God’s Church still sings:
With joy I heard my friends exclaim
Come, let us in God’s temple meet.
Within thy gates O Zion blessed
Shall ever stand our willing feet!