“Convergence of Two Denominations.”
Rev. H.J. Kuiper writes on the above subject in the July- August, 1959 issue of Torch and Trumpet. The two denominations referred to are the Christian Reformed Church and the group that followed the Rev. H. De Wolf in the schism of 1953 when they left our churches. The Rev. Kuiper is very hopeful of a reunion of these two groups.
What was striking to us in the article of Rev. Kuiper was the fact that he correctly conceives of the group that left us as not being Protestant Reformed. He tells his readers that the De Wolf group “broke away from the denomination by that name (Protestant Reformed—M.S.) which since 1925 has been headed by Rev. Hoeksema.” In the next paragraph of his article he tells the readers: “A few years ago a number of the churches belonging to the Protestant Reformed Churches were expelled from the denomination because they could no longer agree with the doctrinal extremes of Rev. Herman Hoeksema and his followers.”
We would presume that the followers of De Wolf will not like this observation by Rev. Kuiper, simply because it has been and still is their contention that they, and not we, are Protestant Reformed. In all the court trials that resulted from the split they have avidly sought to take away our properties, and they did this by seeking to prove to the courts that they were the true continuation of the Protestant Reformed Churches. Rev. Kuiper evidently does not believe their contention that they are Protestant Reformed. He believes that Rev. Herman Hoeksema and his followers are the Protestant Reformed denomination since 1925, and because the De Wolf group broke away from” and “were expelled from that denomination” are no longer Protestant Reformed. This is exactly what we have always maintained. Rev. Kuiper has done us a service by calling this to the attention of those who are no longer with us.
Moreover, that Rev. Kuiper does not believe the De Wolf group to be Protestant Reformed, is also evident from the fact that he conceives of them as being doctrinally one with the Christian Reformed Church. True, he understands that all the differences between the two groups have not yet been ironed out. But these are differences which will ultimately be erased by continued conversations. He believes that in the main the De Wolf group also embraces the Three Points of Common Grace, and therefore there is no reason for separate existence. Also this we have always maintained.
Kuiper closes his article with the following paragraph: “We hardly need to say that, as we see it, the Protestant Reformed Churches, with their strong emphasis on theological conservatism, on the antithesis, and on the necessity of being Reformed would be a very welcome addition to the Christian Reformed Church.”
“Calvinism and Capitalism”
Under the above title Rev. Irving E. Howard writes inChristian Economics, an article intended to remember the 450th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin. The article is brief, and we quote it in its entirety for its merit.
“This year marks the 450th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin, benefactor of Western Civilization in many surprising ways. One must hasten to acknowledge that some of the benefits which are usually traced to John Calvin may also be credited to Martin Luther, but nevertheless, the Reformation came to England and America in a Calvinistic framework and Calvinistic Puritanism was the major force in the making of America. It is therefore fitting this year to pay tribute to this logically precise reformer.
“The enemies of capitalism have delighted in pointing to a connection between the capitalistic economic system and the teachings of John Calvin. They have reasoned: Calvinism is in disfavor in the modern world; therefore, we will demonstrate the relationship between Calvinism and capitalism. However, the method has backfired! The theological fashions have gone full cycle and Calvinism is in favor again!
“Max Weber was the first to explore the connection between Calvinism and capitalism in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. His purpose was not to discredit capitalism, but to refute Marxian materialism. R.H. Tawney took, Weber’s thesis and used it in his book, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, as an oblique attack upon capitalism. In this, Tawney set a precedent which others have followed, but neither Weber nor Tawney defined what they meant by ‘capitalism.’
“If by ‘capitalism’ one means an economic system in which man uses his ingenuity and accumulated wealth to increase production, that system began when the first cave man made the first stone tool. If by ‘capitalism’ one means the market system based on money, credit, division of labor and exchange of goods and services such as has developed in Europe and America, the Protestant Reformation contributed to its birth, although the European society had been gestating such a system before the 16th century. In a crude form, it existed in the cities of northern Italy long before the Protestant Reformation.
“John Calvin’s chief contributions to the development of the capitalistic system in the second sense of the word are his doctrine of calling, his ethic of work and thrift and his defense of interest and credit.
“The Puritans applied Calvin’s doctrine of calling to all vocations. Calvin himself had spoken highly of vocation as a service to God, but the Puritans wrote such treatises as Navigation Spiritualized, Husbandry Spiritualized and The Religious Weaver. Making everyday work a joyous service to God became a characteristic of Calvinistic people. Furthermore, the man in the small house could not resent the man in the big house as long as he believed that God had called them both to their respective stations in life. Calvinism negated the class conflict that communism has incited. Calling also implied a Divinely ordered universe, which faith has been at the foundation of capitalism. Adam Smith spoke of it as ‘the hidden hand.’ When faith that the universe is a harmonious order disappeared from the West, capitalism became ill. It is this illness, resulting from lost faith in the sovereignty of God, that has brought us to the brink of chaos.
“John Calvin’s ethic of work and thrift contrasted sharply with the Medieval virtues of leisure, meditation and charity for the poor. While Calvin taught charity and made careful provision for the poor in Geneva, he also called upon the poor to improve their own situation. He made no virtue of poverty and he frequently quoted a statement of Paul’s rarely heard in modern pulpits: ‘If any would not work, neither should he eat.’ Calvin also condemned indiscriminate almsgiving because of its effect upon the recipient. If the Calvinistic ethic contrasted with Medieval life, it contrasts much more with modern welfare statism. The indolence and improvidence which Calvin denounced as sins, present day politicians encourage to get votes. Too much credit cannot be given this Calvinistic ethic of work and thrift for the capital accumulation in the West, without which Western technological progress would never have been possible.
“Not the least among Calvin’s contributions to capitalism was his endorsement of ‘usury’ which the Medieval authorities condemned. Calvin argued that it was as just to charge interest for money as to charge rent for land. He made rules to protect the poor from exploitation which a free market economist would consider unnecessary interventions, but nevertheless, his influence was on the side of the credit system which became the heart of the Western market economy.
“How Calvinism, which regimented life in Geneva and in Puritan New Haven,” finally became the strongest champion of economic freedom and political liberty is a story too long to tell here. The fact remains that Calvinistic Puritanism did just exactly that.
“Whittaker Chambers in Witness reminded us that the most revolutionary question in history is: God or Man? and that whoever answers ‘Man’ shares the Communist vision whether he is aware of it or not. John Calvin answered that question unequivocally: God! The strength of his answer furnished iron to the Western struggle for political and economic freedom.”
The above article clearly demonstrates that Calvinism is more than a theological system. It is a way of life. If practiced properly, it affects the whole of life in all of its departments and necessarily our economy. It stands to reason therefore, that where Calvinism flourishes, communism has no ground in which to embed its roots. We agree with Christian Economics that our American way of life with its original Puritanic and Calvinistic principles is fast fading into a socialistic-communistic system in which all of our real liberties will ultimately be destroyed.
“Converted Doctor Diagnoses Romanism!”
Under the above title we read the following article in Protestant News, a new newspaper in the Grand Rapids area, the July, 1959 issue.
“Dr. Frederick E. Milkie, M.D., of Lima, Ohio, a former Roman Catholic but now a Bible-believing Christian, conducted a ‘forum on Romanism’ at the Lincoln Lake Baptist ‘Youth Camp on Memorial Day. Dr. Milkie, who previously served as psychiatrist for the Ohio Penitentiary, was invited here by the Michigan-American Council of Christian Churches, a group which believes in ‘contending for the Faith.’
“Dr. Milkie declared: ‘Romanism, directed from the Vatican, is the greatest danger to our way of life. It is an insidious infiltration.’ A former member of the Knights of Columbus himself he described the K of C as a mere ‘front for the priesthood’ to promote R.C. objectives.
“He stated that one of Satan’s most effective tools is the argument that there is ‘nothing bad in religion’ when in reality there are ‘terrible religions.’ Dr. Milkie’s forum follows, in part.
“QUESTION: What ways is R.C. hierarchy working to make American Catholic?
“ANSWER: Two ways principally—The Educational system and their Hospital system. Rome grows through income from R.C. hospitals. Protestants would be appalled if they knew how many of their babies have been baptized Catholics in the R.C. hospitals.
“QUESTION: How does the Roman Catholic church operate in the community?
“ANSWER: Rome is being given more and more concessions. The law in Ohio says no bingo, yet the R.C. Churches have Sunday and Wednesday nights for bingo.
“QUESTION: Does Roman Catholicism have control over papers?
“ANSWER: Definitely! Most newspapers do not even accept advertising unfavorable to R.C.’s.
“QUESTION: Are there conversions out of the priesthood?
“ANSWER: Many leave the priesthood and come out of nothing into nothing. They’re afraid. Some have threats of being committed to a mental institution if they leave the R.C. Priesthood. Only the truly saved ones will stand up.
“QUESTION: How can churches best reach Roman Catholics for Christ?
“ANSWER: Door to door visitation. Some will slam doors. Don’t argue. Express appreciation that R.C.’s teach the virgin birth of Christ, verbal inspiration of Scriptures, etc., which many modern Protestants no longer believe.”