All Around Us

X-Rating Rock Radio 

Christianity Today, Nov. 18, 1977, contains several editorial warnings which are much to the point. The first concerns some of the evil songs which are so very popular today. The warning of danger is appropriate—also for us. Especially our youth face the temptations of going along with current trends. Young people all too easily are affected and influenced by the “popular” things of the day. Nor do they want to be left out or be different from their peers. It seems natural to want to talk about the latest “hit.” One hears, at times, worldly and corrupt songs blaring from car radios of our youth; or hears this in the homes and even the outings of our youth. There is reason for real concern. 

The editor of Christianity Today lists some of the titles of current popular songs—titles too explicit even to print, I think. There is no doubt about the contents of their song when one reads the titles. These are largely concerned with sex and “love” in their most perverted forms. He writes:

Although concerned parents do what they can to reduce the amount of sex and violence their children see on television, few of them realize that what is heard on the radio may do far more damage. (Then follows a listing of the current “hits.”) 

. . .Sex on radio is nothing new. . . . But many of . . . the risqué lyrics of the sixties were either unintelligible to the listener or else drowned out by driving rhythms and twanging guitars. Today the lyrics are more prominent. This is unfortunate, because musical groups are now expressing perverted views of love and sex even more explicitly. 

Three factors contribute to the mind numbing effect of radio. First, it can be everywhere—in the student’s bedroom, in the car, in school study halls, and in stores and restaurants. He wakes to it every morning, and goes to sleep to it at night. Second, composers combine debased lyrics with catchy tunes or rhythms. Third, repetition increases the problem. The more popular a song becomes, the more often it is played. The biggest hits can be heard two, three, or even four times an hour. . . .The editor continues to give some advice to parents, advice with which I would not wholly agree. Perhaps, though, parents ought to consider several things. First, what are our children hearing? With earphones (which only allow the listener to hear), and at parties and outings where only young people gather, or in the privacy of the auto—what are our children hearing? Do we know?

Secondly, there ought to be place for discussion of the songs which are apparently so appealing even to children of the church. There is no useful purpose served if parents merely “yell” at children to turn off that awful noise. Parents do surely have the Scriptural right and duty to demand (not simply request) that their children in obedience to God and their parents do not listen to these worldly songs. But also, there ought to be room to consider these songs, especially their words, in the light of the Word of God. Can the Christian ever listen to or sing that which caters to our flesh? That which is contrary to God’s Word? Can one spiritually enjoy the music which is admittedly adapted to the corrupt lyrics? Let our children face the question: are we reflecting the life of Christ in these things which we want to hear? Nor is it even a question of what we “like,” but of what God demands of us. Just let us remember: it is impossible to sing or enjoy these worldly songs in “a Christian manner.” 

One out of Ten

The same magazine presents a short editorial on social drinking. There appears to be some indication that this is growing in popularity in our midst as well. Though none of us would object to alcoholic beveragesper se, the regular use of this, especially in social drinking, can lead to terrible sins and awful consequences. Think of this:

How many people would fly if they knew that there was a one out of ten chance that the plane would crash? Probably not many. But flying is in fact safer (on the basis of fatalities per passenger mile) than riding in a car.

How many people would drink alcoholic beverages if they knew that there was a one out of ten chance that by doing so they would become alcoholics? Yet, the number of people who drink is rising despite the high incidence of alcoholism. And alcoholism affects not only the sufferer himself, but those around him. Nor is alcoholism an inconvenience, such as minor automobile accident from which one quickly recovers, but it is chronically debilitating.

Social pressures to drink are apparently increasing, and at younger and younger ages. Many Christians defend drinking in moderation. But in the light of the high incidence of alcoholism in many societies around the world, Christians and anyone else interested in being a good steward of the creation entrusted to us by God should seriously question the wisdom of drinking. Is it right to take such a needless risk of becoming an alcoholic? Is it right to set an example for others that can lead to their becoming alcoholics? The chances are one out of ten—for those who drink.

The Church—A Political Machine

Another warning, along a different vein, comes in theOutlook of December 1977, by Rev. Peter De Jong. In his lucid style, Rev. DeJong pinpoints a part of the problem he observes in connection with synodical decisions in the Christian Reformed Church. The problem actually comes done to that old bugaboo, hierarchy. That danger ever exists in the churches. We too must ever be on our guard against this. He writes:

But, aren’t these procedures, letting the Clerk cut the Agenda and letting five men assign committees and their jobs, more efficient ways of getting the work done? Of course, they are. But if efficiency of operation is to be our over-riding-criterion, an even more sensible and efficient procedure is to skip having the delegates meet at all. Why not elect the five men who increasingly control the procedure, by mail and let them handle all of the business? Think of all the time and expense that we would save. And the results might not be appreciably different. A further improvement on that procedure in the interest of even greater efficiency is not inconceivable. Why not let one man take care of everything? Then we would not even be burdening five men with it. Such suggestions are not absurd fantasy. They have a long history of practice in the annals of the Christian Church. And they were in many ways undeniably efficient. There was only one major objection to them. When oligarchy and monarchy become the accepted structure and order in the church that church organization had moved so far from the Lord’s direction and pattern for His Church that our Reformed fathers had to denounce the institution in the Belgic Confession as no true church at all (Articles 29-32). Anyone who is at all familiar with that Roman Catholic history and structure will observe some remarkable parallels between the way it developed and the way our church organization is increasingly developing. The Roman Catholic development, however, took centuries. Our movement in that direction is happening in a much shorter time, in mere decades and years.

Dr. Tietjen Ousted

The Christian News, Nov. 7, 1977, reports the ouster of Dr. Rev. Tietjen from the Missouri Synod—Lutheran Church. There is now a cry to mount open rebellion against this action—coming understandably from Seminex, the seminary which was formed when the majority of students and professors refused to recognize the condemnation of Dr. Tietjen in Concordia Seminary in 1974. The report states:

The Seminex faculty has urged the members of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod to ignore the expulsion of Seminex President the Rev. Dr. John H. Tietjen from the Synod’s clergy roster and to invite him into their pulpits “to preach the Gospel they confess with him.” In a letter mailed to pastors in the church body, the faculty encouraged those who believe and teach like Dr. Tietjen to state so publicly. The faculty reminded the Synod’s members that “to be silent now is to consent to and share in the unjust action of the synod.” 

Entitled “The Reformation: A Call for Confessional Commitment,” the faculty statement was mailed October 31 on the anniversary of the day when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Saxony in 1517. 

The faculty urges members of the Synod 

“—to invite Dr. Tietjen into their pulpits; 

—to express their unity with all who share their confession both in and outside the Missouri Synod; 

—to share the exhilaration which comes from knowing that God is creating new freedom of confession and new relationships of fellowship; 

—to share in the jeopardy that often comes from ecclesiastical structures.” 

The faculty states that “if you share our confession and your ministry with us, you will experience repression and opposition. There is always risk in confessional action. But it is a risk that is tied to the cross.”

So, rebellion is being encouraged in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. The struggle there between “conservative” and “moderate” (or more properly: liberal) is not over. Many, perhaps most, of the “moderates” remain in the Missouri Synod. If these do not have the upper hand today, it appears they will seek to create dissension and unrest until such time as they can regain control in the church machinery. Unless that church rids itself entirely of this “moderate” element, the measure of reform recently begun will not long continue.