Prof. Decker is professor of Practical Theology in the Protestant Reformed Seminary.

Jesus is coming soon!

The year of our Lord, 1990 saw several terribly significant events occur. Who at the beginning of the year would have dreamed that Communism would collapse in Eastern Europe?! Who would have thought that the “cold war” would come to an end? Who would have predicted that in 1990 the Berlin Wall would be broken down and the two Germanies reunited? Would any one of sound mind have predicted a year ago that Russia would pass a law guaranteeing religious freedom during 1990, or that Romania would allow freedom of worship?

There were other events as well. Apartheid is on the way out in South Africa. Nelson Mandela, a black political leader in South Africa, was freed last February after nearly 26 years in prison. In November leaders of both white and black churches in that country met to condemn apartheid, seek reconciliation, and plan for a segregation-free future. In the U. S. abortion dominated the headlines. After the November national elections it is unclear whether a pro-life or pro-choice position is the greater political asset.

Because of the unprecedented prosperity we enjoy in North America we hardly realize that hunger and death are daily realities for millions in this world. Over 14 million children under the age of five died in 1990 from infection and malnutrition. At least 100 million children of primary school age worldwide will never enter a classroom. Almost 23 million children are classified as severely malnourished. About half of these live in the seven nations of South Asia. Between 1980 and 1988 nearly one million children in Southern Africa died war-related deaths-nearly a half million of these in Mozambique alone. In the U.S. 12.5 million children live in poverty, and between 6 and 10 million children under the age of 12 are hungry or vulnerable to hunger.

Add to these things the fact that persecution of the saints persists in many countries. The Middle East Christian Outreach (MECO) issued a “desperate cry for prayer for Christian believers in Lebanon.” Lebanese Christian refugees fleeing East Beirut report numerous killings by Syrian troops since the Syrians ousted Lebanese General Michel Aoun last October. Also, rival Muslim and Druze forces have entered East Beirut and attacked Christians.

At the moment of this writing the world is poised for what could be catastrophic war in the desert sands of the Persian Gulf area.

Among the churches there continues to be appalling apostasy. Homosexuals are not only allowed full membership in the churches, but are even serving in church office. Not only is this true in “mainline” churches, it is happening among denominations which stand in the Reformed tradition, notably the GKN in the Netherlands. More and more denominations are allowing women to serve in church office. The creation/science debate continues in spite of the clear testimony of Holy Scripture on this issue. Increasingly the churches turn their attention away from the preaching of the Word, the administration of the sacraments according to the institution of Jesus Christ, and the exercise of Christian discipline, and they concentrate instead on social issues, economic issues, and world peace.

How shall we react to all this? In faith! We shall not be discouraged or dismayed. We shall not fear. We shall understand that in the light of Holy Scripture (especially a passage such as Matthew 24) all these things mean “our redemption draweth nigh.” We shall, therefore, by God’s grace neither attempt to flee this world nor become its friends. We shall seek God’s Kingdom and righteousness in the confidence that God will supply all our need. And, we shall live in hope, because world events and ecclesiastical events in the light of the testimony of Holy Scripture assure us that Jesus is coming. . . soon! Our fervent, daily prayer shall be: “Come Lord Jesus; yea, come quickly.”

Christianity Today 

National & International Religion Report

The Reformed Alliance

The Reformed Alliance of the Christian Reformed Church met in Lynwood, Illinois from November 13 to 15 to discuss the recent synodical decision to open the office of minister and ruling elder to women in 1992. Thirty-nine congregations sent official delegates, while twenty more churches sent observers. According to Rev. Ralph Pontier, about 100 other observers were also present, bringing the total number of participants to around 350. According to its constitution the Alliance is an “association of Christian Reformed Councils united in effort to give effective testimony to God’s truth within the Christian Reformed Church and to promote the denomination’s heritage and confessional nature.” Most member churches came to the November meeting asking for advice in replying to the June synod’s decision to open all offices to women. The Alliance advised the councils to reaffirm the historic position and refuse to cooperate with the synod’s action. While the council refused to accede to the request of two congregations that it endorse secession, the Alliance did appoint a committee (the vote was 41-35 and the issue was sharply debated) to study the practical implications involved in possible withdrawal from the denomination. Opponents argued the measure would send the wrong message and might scare people away. Further, they maintained that the measure would lend credence to press reports that the Alliance is schismatic. Supporters argued that the Alliance needs a forum to discuss the issue of withdrawal and be ready for it, even if the majority oppose it.

Probably because of the women issue as well as the writings of three science professors of Calvin College, the Cornerstone Christian Reformed Church in Hudsonville, Michigan has decided to withhold its quotas from Calvin College and Seminary. Classis Georgetown, in which Cornerstone CRC resides, officially reprimanded the congregation and strongly urged the church to reconsider its decision not to pay quota for the college and seminary.

What the final outcome of all this will be, only time will tell. We certainly do not glory in another denomination’s troubles, especially when that denomination happens to be our “mother church.” Our sympathies, of course, lie with the brothers and sisters who want to remain confessionally Reformed. If, and it appears that this is going to be the case, it is impossible to remain confessionally Reformed within the CRC, then the calling of the conservatives is to secede, as painful as that process may be.

May God give all of us who stand in the Reformed tradition much grace to “stand fast and hold the traditions which we have been taught” (II Thessalonians 2:15).

The Christian Observer 

The Banner