Prof. Decker is professor of Practical Theology in the Protestant Reformed Seminary.
Evidence of the continuing decline of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (GKN), in which most of us have our spiritual roots, is evident from two decisions of its latest synod. With only nine delegates voting against the motion, the synod passed a decision making the second worship service on the Lord’s day optional. The synod changed Article 70 of its Church Order so that it now reads: “On the Lord’s Day, the consistory shall call the congregation together for worship, if possible twice, but at least once, and further, at least once on Christmas, Good Friday and Ascension Day” Given the fact that so few attend second services in Reformed churches in our country it probably will not be long before these too are considered optional.
The GKN also decided that the Church Order reference to “mission to the Jews,” is no longer acceptable. The reason? Each religion, including Judaism, has its own legitimate way to God. Jews, therefore, are no longer to be considered subjects for conversion. Rather Christians and Jews ought to dialogue with one another.
Unconverted Jews deny that Jesus is the Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). There is nothing to dialogue about with the unconverted Jew (or Gentile, for that matter!). All that the church can and must say to the unconverted is: “Repent, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ!”
The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, one of six regional accrediting agencies in the country, gave Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia until September 15 to “show cause why its accreditation should not be removed because the school has no women on its 24-member board of trustees.” Westminster has replied that the threat is a violation of religious rights. We hope Westminster will stand fast on this issue.
Liberal higher critics of the Bible have long ago denied that Moses was the instrument used by the Holy Spirit to write the Pentateuch. Rather, they say, there are four different human authors. A recent publication, called The Book of J, now claims that one of these authors was a woman. The author argues that J was probably a woman “because the most striking characters in Js early writings were women, not men, and that much of the writing is from a feminine perspective.”
We guess we can expect such nonsense in our day. May God give us grace to hold fast to the Bible’s own testimony as to its authorship.
The Detroit News
The women-in-office issue is so critical to them that an emergency meeting of the Korean Church Council, which represents all the Korean churches within the CRC, was called in mid-September in Cerritos, California. The Rev. John E. Kim, considered to be the titular head of the Korean churches, said that his council at Los Angeles Korean Christian Reformed Church has already decided to leave the CRC if the Synod’s 1990 decision on women in office is ratified in 1992. There are some 44 congregations with 7,000 members in the Korean Church Council. Some estimate that about half of these churches and members are so disturbed by this issue that they will leave the CRC.
Commenting on the hermeneutics and higher criticism of the Bible some fifty years ago, Dr. J. Gresham Machen said, “I verily believe that the new Reformation, for which we long, will be like the Reformation of the 16th century in that it will mean a return to plain common honesty and common sense. At the end of the middle ages the Bible had become a book with seven seals; it had been covered with the rubbish of the fourfold sense of Scripture and all that. The Reformation brushed all that rubbish away. So again today the Bible has been covered with an elaborate business of ‘interpretation’ that is worse in some respects than anything that the middle ages could produce. The new Reformation will brush all that away. There will be a re-discovery of the great Reformation doctrine of the perspicuity (clarity, RDD) of Scripture; men will make the astonishing discovery that the Bible is a plain book addressed to plain men, and that it means exactly what it says.”
Calvin Miller, in his book, The Taste of Joy, makes this comment: “Many Christians are only ‘Christaholics’ and not disciples at all. Disciples are cross-bearers; they seek Christ. Christaholics seek happiness. Disciples dare to discipline themselves, and the demands they place on themselves leave them enjoying the happiness of their growth. Christaholics are escapists looking for a shortcut to nirvana. Like drug addicts, they are trying to ‘bomb out’ of their depressing world. There is no automatic joy. Christ is not a happiness capsule; he is the way to the Father. But the way to the Father is not a carnival ride in which we sit and do nothing while we are whisked through the various spiritual sensations.