All Around Us

CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS IN BRITISH GUIANA

Recently Dr. Cheddi Bharatt Jagan was elected premier of British Guiana. The Western nations were somewhat alarmed by this, for there was reason to suppose that Dr. Jagan was and is a communist. The reasons for alarm as listed in Eternity are:

1) British Guiana would make a perfect center for Communist infiltration of all of Latin America, for it is on the mainland and not isolated by water like Cuba. It borders the important countries of Venezuela and Brazil. 

2). Jagan, quite the opposite of Castro, is an attractive, refined person. 

3) British Guiana is the only English-speaking nation in South America. What propaganda value the Communists could find in this! 

4) Guiana would be the first country to become Communist by peaceful means. Jagan was elected legally under the supervision of a British colonial government. 

5) British Guiana is predominantly Protestant and would be the first Protestant nation to embrace Marxism.

Of more interest, however, is what happened to the private schools in this South American country. The church-related schools have, throughout the years, accepted aid from the government. With the election of Dr. Jagan, the schools have been seized by the government just because they had been bought and built with government funds. The report of what happened as given in Eternity is, as follows:

Education in British Guiana has always been the domain of the churches. There are presently more than 300 church-related schools in Guiana. Through the years the churches have received aid for education. The government has given building and maintenance grants and has often supplied money for the purchase of property and original construction. The government also pays teachers’ salaries. 

Shortly before the August elections, the government seized 51 church schools that had been bought and built with government funds. This brought the church leaders to their feet. The battle still continues, but the government is still planning to take over all the schools, leaving the churches without a major means of witness. 

The P.P.P. (the initials of the People’s Progressive Party, the party headed by Dr. Jagan, H.H.) manifesto declares, “Education is . . . recognized as the greatest liberating force in the struggle against ignorance, reaction, bigotry, superstition and economic exploitation. . . . The system of dual control of schools whereby denominational bodies control the appointment and promotion of teachers on a denominational basis, while the Government pays the salaries of the teachers and makes large grants to these schools will be eventually abolished.” 

James Davison, head of the Methodist Church in Guiana, believes that this is part of a plot to stamp out Christianity. Most other clergymen with whom I talked agreed with him.

There is an ominous note of warning in this. While it is true that no federal legislation is pending in this country which would make federal aid to education available to private schools, the fact remains that the issue is far from dead. The Roman Catholic Church is campaigning loudly and strenuously for such aid to be given to their schools as well as to the public schools. What the outcome will be remains to be seen. But should such a time come when federal aid is made available to our own Protestant Reformed Schools, no doubt the history of British Guiana should be a warning to us to forget the aid. It is true that the take-over of schools in this South American country came only with a change of government which is probably communistic; but this does not rule out the possibility of some government coming to power in this country with the same designs on private schools. Better it is to pay for our own schools and retain all the control over them we possibly can than to become indebted in some manner to the government with possible grave dangers in the future.

GUILTY OR NOT

Modern psychology has long denied the reality of sin. If an individual becomes guilty of some crime against the law of the land, this is not clue to the presence of sin; it is rather the fruit of mental disorder and disease. This has come to mean that all sin is sickness at bottom, that sin can be cured with mental treatment of one kind or another because it originates in personality disintegration and psychological maladjustment. This modern concept of mental disease and sin has also had its influences on Christian institutions of mental healing. There is a growing tendency among Christian psychiatrists to follow this teaching and to advise that Consistories should not censure for cases of theft or adultery, but should send the “guilty” persons to the mental hospitals for treatment since censure would only aggravate the mental disease obviously at the bottom of this “sin.” This same idea has permeated the concepts of justice and punishment in our land where, e.g., murder is often called mental illness so that the murderer, rather than being punished for his crime, is sentenced for a time to a mental institution.

An article was recently quoted in the Torch and Trumpet which originally appeared in the Golden Anniversary issue of the Christian Sanatorium Quaterly, a publication of a Christian sanatorium located in Wyckoff, New Jersey. The quote is as follows:

Extreme guilt feelings are generally prominent in mentally disturbed people. The reason given for these feelings is often inappropriate, e.g., failure to wash something, or irrational, e.g., sin against the Holy Spirit. However, it is a proven fact that the offered reason turns out to be a substitute or cover for the real reason, that the guilty feeling attaches to an actual moral transgression which the patient is loath to face. There is thus a difference between guilt feelings and real guilt, and the latter may have more to do with mental “illness” than is generally thought . . . . 

The Bible gives us at least one clear example of personality disintegration due to unrepented sin in the case of Saul, the first king of Israel. He showed symptoms which would indicate a manic-depressive reaction, and the record makes clear that his overt wickedness, which he tried to cover with a false piety, lay at the root of his troubled spirit. The great difference between Saul and David was not that David was less a sinner, but rather that David knew how to repent while Saul did not. 

Perhaps we have been thinking too much in terms of “sickness” with its implications of “not responsible,” and not enough of “Sin” with its implication of “responsible.” It may be that the whole truth does not lie exclusively on one side, that the line can not always be sharply drawn. But sin, in its Christian meaning, is undoubtedly the basic disrupter that alienates man from God, self, and others, and it must have a place in the psychiatric vocabulary from which it has been banished too long.

The point of this brief quote is, of course, that mental disease is the result of sin, that perhaps specific diseases may be the result of specific sins. A case in possible support of this contention is cited, the case of King Saul. Although it may be seriously questioned whether the “evil spirit” which the Lord sent upon Saul can be called a case of manic depression, the point of the author is no doubt true. And from this it would follow that it would be wrong to speak of sin as being the result of mental disease in every case.

The dangers of refusing to recognize the reality of sin and excusing all sin on the basis of mental disorder are many, The whole idea is based upon the age-old Pelagian concept of sin’s being only a sickness of relative degrees which somewhat weakens man’s moral nature but leaves him with the ability to do good in the sight of God and initiate his own salvation. To the extent that sin is explained in terms of mental disease, sin can also be cured by drugs and treatments and therapy of one kind or another; but then there is not room left for the cross of Christ. Further expected advances in medicine and psychiatry will conceivably complete the restoration of man and obliterate completely the need for the cross.

When modernists speak this way it is to be expected, for they deny the blood of atonement. When Christians speak this way, it is startling and bodes no good for the future of Christian psychiatry. All this points to a crying need for a soundly Reformed and Scriptural development of the science of the body and soul, of psychology and psychiatry.

PRESCRIPTION FOR ANNIHILATION

In a recent article in Time, a report is given of an article written in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in which is discussed what are called “Doomsday Machines.” These “machines” are weapons that could conceivably destroy mankind. The author of the article claims that it is already within the ability of the largest nations possessing nuclear weapons to make these machines. But more terrifying, according to the author, is the possibility that these weapons can now be made so cheaply that almost any nation, no matter how small, can build them given sufficient technological know-how which even the underdeveloped nations are rapidly acquiring.

Some of these weapons are described.

There is the possibility of exploding a nuclear bomb of about 20,000 megatons on the ocean bottom just off the coast of some nation. The result would be a wave with a crest still 100 feet high after the wave had traveled 200 miles. This would be sufficient to wash most coastlines bare and ride far inland.

Another type of weapon is a bomb made as radioactive as possible. Depending upon the material used and the size of the bomb, its destruction reaches fantastic proportions. One bomb made of sodium could contaminate 200,000 square miles (four times the area of New York State) so badly that even basement fallout shelters would be useless. Another type could produce radioactivity that would last five years long enough for it to be carried all over the globe before it would lose its power to kill. It would take only 50,000 megatons to kill theoretically every one on earth.

There is also the so-called neutron bomb which would only destroy life. It would have no explosion in the usual sense of the word so that no cities would be destroyed by its blast and fire. Its rays only would flash about unseen to kill all that lived within its range.

Considering all these things which lately have filled our daily newspapers and news magazines, it cannot help but impress the child of God that man at his wisest is an awful fool. Sin is, by its nature, foolishness. And even the wisest of men cannot shake off the shackles of their own folly. Wonderful and amazing powers they discover in God’s world; wonderful and powerful inventions they are able to fashion; but they use them all to kill their fellow men. Always the threat of destruction hangs as a cloud over the laboratories and test areas of men. They seem to be able to use what they uncover in this creation only for self-destruction. This is the foolishness of sin.

Yet, how good it is to know that the hands of men who make weapons and fire missiles are hands guided sovereignly by Jesus Christ Who rules in heaven and loves His church. Shall all these happenings be a means in the hands of our Lord to save us and all those who love His appearing? Indeed they shall. This is the serene confidence of faith.

THE PROBLEM OF CHRISTMAS

Always the church, in her celebration of Christmas, faces the grim prospect of competing with the world which destroys Christmas with its crass commercialism and gross carnality. How to commemorate Christmas as it should be commemorated is a perpetual problem of God’s people.

In a recent issue of the Grand Rapids Press a news release quoted a Lutheran clergyman who offered his solution. The entire clipping reads:

The churches should ignore Dec. 25 and leave Christmas completely in the hands of the business world which has increasingly taken it over, says the director of worship for the United Lutheran Church in America. 

Writing in “The Lutheran,” official weekly paper of the church, the Rev. Dr. Edgar S. Brown said: 

“The Babe of Bethlehem . . . represents an investment to be protected. 

“Christmas, the annual pious salute in the direction of religion, is now the property of the business world, and I say it’s high time that the church said in unmistakably clear words that it intends to divorce itself from the whole mess. 

“Let the churches simply ignore the 25th of December the way most of them pass by Ascension Day. 

“Then everyone could have a merry Christmas without having to go to church, and the church wouldn’t have to sit like a stood-up female wringing her hands.”

While the characterization given of Christmas is sadly correct, the solution is like throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water. According to our Church Order, it is the calling of the Church to commemorate the birth of her Savior with special services. This is as it should be. This should continue to be the center of Christmas for the church. If the world chooses to corrupt Christmas, let’s have the courage to be different and resist the swiftly moving currents of our time. This we must do anyway, not only on Christmas, but in all our life.

—H. Hanko