The Presbyterian Journal, December 14, 1977, reports on the organization of a congregation of charismatics within the United Presbyterian Church USA. This appears to be the first congregation organized in this way. The article states:
A new congregation. formed by Presbyterian charismatic leaders has been approved here as a mission fellowship of the United Presbyterian Church USA with the clear understanding that the new church is to be charismatic-oriented.
New Covenant Presbyterian Church is thought to be the first congregation of any Presbyterian denomination openly formed expressly to be a charismatic congregation.
With upward of 300 persons in attendance from the first regular Sunday worship service, the New Covenant congregation had a charter membership class of some 147 persons, representing over 13 different denominational backgrounds.
The congregation has called the Rev. . . . In a letter to the chairman of South Florida presbytery’s Committee of Missions, Strategy and Property, the Rev. James I. McCord, president of Princeton Seminary, wrote of Mr. . .:
“(He) is a solid Presbyterian, Reformed in theology and polity, and he is a devoted and loyal churchman. He believes and has demonstrated that the charismatic dimension of the Christian life can be channeled into the Church, to the enrichment of the entire congregation.”
In its petition to the presbytery to be organized as a UPCUSA church, the steering committee of the new congregation stated: “It is our ardent desire that this new work be a prototype of how the United Presbyterian Church can incorporate into its historical framework new dimensions of Christian experience. . . .”
The same Presbyterian Journal contains a number of articles by ministers in support of the idea of the work of the Holy Spirit as seen in speaking with tongues and healings. It appears that this charismatic movement continues to infiltrate and affect the churches of our day—including those of various Presbyterian denominations. We too ought to be on our guard against this error which has disturbed others. Remember: it is still around.
The Banner of January 6, 1978 reports in the column by Dirk Buursma on the new campaign planned by Bill Bright:
Bill Bright, head of Campus Crusade for Christ International, is not a quitter. His much-ballyhooed effort to evangelize the United States called “Here’s Life, America” had about the impact of a limp noodle. Most observers feel that it made even less impact than Key ’73 and Evangelism Thrust, other nationwide efforts to reach the masses with the Christian gospel.
Now, undaunted by the failure of “Here’s Life, America,” Bright has announced a new plan which will cost one billion dollars. “It’s a goal that I have held dear for more than 30 years—to fulfill the great commission.”
In order to obtain financing for his plan, Bright has contacted a group of wealthy evangelicals, including such people as entertainers Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Dallas oilman Nelson Bunker Hunt, and the co-founder of the Holiday Inns, Wallace A. Johnson. No doubt other affluent businessmen will hear the telephone ringing.
Bright intends to use television and radio in reaching foreign cities, and in a press conference announcing his ambitious program, he stressed that the crusade would not be political. Bright also indicated that he hopes to raise his one billion dollars from “new sources not being channeled into other Christian organizations. . . .”
So, we’re in for another one of those tremendous, world-wide campaigns. There is to be much ado about evangelizing the world with a billion dollars of contributions—with what result? One would think that evangelism requires the power of billions and the influence of great names. But where is to be found the power of the cross? Only recently the report was given that more than 85% of those who make “commitments” to Christ, never enter into the door of a church after these “commitments.” Is it not an indication that the “evangelization” going on is not God-centered or Christ-centered, but rather, man-centered? The “Here’s life, America” campaign suggested itself the trouble. The bumper sticker used in that campaign proclaimed: “I found it.” It is questionable to what the “it” referred. But the greater problem was that “I found this.” It was not, “Christ found me.” Therein lies the explanation of the failure of this “Bright” campaign. And if, as it is highly likely, the new “Bright” campaign is conducted the same way, it will be indeed a billion dollar failure. The sad part is that this is such a waste of monies in the name of evangelism.
Outlook of January 1978 quotes an interesting article from the Nov. 28, 1977 Lutheran Christian Newsworthy of our consideration too:
The Planned Parenthood Association has publicized alarming figures clearly designated to discourage childbearing. According to their highly suspect statistics it’s supposed to cost from $70,000 to $107,000 to raise a child from diapers to college diploma. The larger figure includes lost earning power of the mother sacrificing her career in order to be “just a housewife.”
Although such figures overlook young people working their way through college and in general are patently absurd—a statement I make as the father of five who are being raised satisfactorily even though the Lord has not supplied the $350,000 to $535,000 the Zero Population Growth people maintain we need to rear them—many couples have swallowed the anti-child propaganda poison and are so intimidated that they feel even having one child would demand unbelievable financial sacrifices and interfere too much with their modern American materialistic and pleasure-mad lifestyle.
How sad to hear in premarital counseling even our Lutheran youth claiming they can’t afford to think of having children for several years and then to see them drive off in expensive cars to luxuriously appointed apartments with color TV and stereo! Have we parents, pastors, and teachers perhaps become too mired in materialism ourselves that we can’t convince our offspring that receiving children as precious gifts of God and bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is much more satisfying and God-pleasing than piling up property and possessions which so soon rot and rust away?
Wisconsin Synod couples, blessed with fertility, need not feel guilty about bringing children into a world allegedly threatened by the specter of overpopulation, not if they are truly Christian parents and give this sin-corrupted world what it needs most—youngsters properly trained to live their Christian faith, to talk about their Savior, to witness by word and deed to the Gospel of the crucified and risen Lord Jesus.
Christian parents, who seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, will surely receive, as Jesus promised
the material things needed to adequately provide for their children from diapers to (high school and/or college) diploma.
The above ought to serve as reminder of the calling of children of God in their marriage union. I fear that we too are being influenced more than we want to admit by all of the propaganda of the world. We see today in our churches sometimes a greater emphasis and desire to possess material things than to receive children of the Lord. Christian young people ought to ask themselves the question too before entering marriage: why do I desire this union? If it is that two may live together more profitably than one, with two working in order to earn for the “good life,” and if the intent is then to refuse to have children or wait a long time to have such, then we have greatly confused our priorities. Covenant children involve time—but above all, eternity. Earthly possessions fade away and in the last day all about us shall be consumed with that fiery heat. But children of the Lord are part of the body of Christ who shall praise the Lord forevermore in glory. Where are our priorities?
This same issue of Outlook contains several articles worthy of consideration. The subject matter also reflects what is of burning concern to this magazine and. within the Christian Reformed Church. Not coincidentally, there are two articles which treat the subject of the dance. Two articles touch upon the idea of the infallibility of Scripture. A lengthy quotation from Geerhardus Vos is presented on the subject of reprobation. The articles are instructive, but also reflect the pathetic situation where these are not simply discussed as errors which confront the liberal churches of the day; rather, these are truths being denied within their own denomination.
The Outlook also reports that they have a new editor, or, as they put it, a “change of drivers.” The Rev. J. Vander Ploeg served as editor for the last seven years. It was a position he took over after having served for many years as editor of the Banner. Through his editorial writings, the Rev. Vander Ploeg has correctly pinpointed many of the ills of his denomination. The diagnosis, however, seemed easier to present than the cure. Perhaps that is understandable. The closest to a “cure” that Rev. Vander Ploeg proposed was the formation of a “United Reformed Church” consisting of conservatives of all of the Reformed churches of the land. But this remained only a “dream.” Specific action, God-required action, was not presented. And so, many conservatives who looked to the Outlook for leadership, found that it accurately painted the troubles, but stopped short of providing the kind of leadership necessary for proper church reformation.
Now the Rev. Peter De Jong of the Dutton, Michigan Christian Reformed Church has been asked to serve as managing editor. Whether this involves also full editorial responsibilities, I do not know. We can only wish him God’s rich blessings in what must be a very difficult position. And it would be our prayer too that he may provide the kind of leadership so essential for the many who are troubled by the apostasy within the churches. We as churches would also much like him, and others, to see what we have suggested for many years, that there is a clear-cut relationship also between current trends and that view of common grace adopted by the CRC in 1924. At least we would hope that the idea is no longer rejected out-of-hand.