All Around Us

Cooperation Between Christian Reformed and Rome 

We quote the following news item which appeared in the Detroit Free Press and which was reprinted in theNews Bulletin of the Association of Christian Reformed Laymen. It gives an example of how far ecumenicity has gone among some Christian Reformed congregations.

Listen to the services in some of the church buildings in the Detroit area on a Sunday morning and you may wonder where you are. 

A number of religious groups are sharing buildings — and sometimes services — in order to save money and offer a variety of types of worship. 

“We have a structured community working on the church of tomorrow today,” says the Rev. John Malestein, pastor of the North Hills Christian Reformed Church, 3150 N. Adams in Troy. 

He is vice-president of the North Suburban Parish, a grouping of nine Troy-area Protestant and Catholic Churches. 

The Troy churches conduct joint camps, retreats and education programs led by Catholic nuns and Protestant clergy. 

They also hold special liturgies together at Easter, Thanksgiving and for anniversaries of pastors or congregations. 

For instance, a baptism rite for two infants and two adults in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church last spring had the hands of clergy from Episcopal, American Lutheran, Christian Reformed, Methodist and Roman Catholic churches dipping into the water.

Comments On The Film Arts 

Sometime ago I lectured in South Holland on the subject of “The Christian And The Film Arts.” This lecture was later published, with some modifications, in a pamphlet by the same name. In a paragraph on page 6, I wrote:

The question which is of concern to us is: Is there not a deeper objection against movies? An objection which condemns them out of hand? 

Before we answer this, we must make a careful distinction between different kinds of the film arts. In one class must be placed home movies which record delightful experiences in the life of a family, educational films, travelogues, etc. In another class must be placed all movies which are dramatic presentations. It is bad logic to lump all movies together into one class. To the first class we have no objections. It is with the second class that we have our quarrel. . . .

A reader of our Standard Bearer in British Columbia has recently read this pamphlet and has sent a letter in which he takes exception to what I have written. The matter which he brings up is an important one and worth some comment in our column. He writes:

In the booklet “The Christian And the Film Arts” . . . we read on page 6: “To the first class we have no objections.” Maybe this could be said when the booklet first was written, which I doubt very much. It is a very dangerous generalization. The world produces these movies! Do not we hold that the world produces evil? Do not we say, “there is no common grace”? 

Be assured that “educational” movies and “travelogues” picture a false picture. These movies are used by Satan to pervert the masses, including those who call themselves Christians. All communications media are in the hands of the evil one today. 

Educational movies and travelogues subtly brainwash the masses into believing the three great hoaxes: Darwinism, Marxism, and Freudianism. Observe these movies critically, and you will soon see this. The famous “National Geographic Magazine” I wish to mention here also. It, too, is dangerous trash. Full of lies and ungodliness. 

Have you seen the book “The Emergence of Man” advertised? This is an overt example of what I am hinting at. We are shown a group of natives crawling among, and arising up from among tall grass. Someone with poor vision could easily mistake the picture for a pride of lions in an Afrikaans veld. 

How many of our people buy these books? It is high time to warn our people. 

We must stress purity of doctrine, indeed. We also must stress purity of life, separation from the world. We must guard against all of Satan’s ruses.

There are a couple of comments about this which will, I think, clarify the matter considerably. 

In the first place, our correspondent misses the point which I was making in the pamphlet. When I stated “To the first class we have no objections,” I was referring specifically to all movies which are not dramatic productions, and against which no principle objection could be made. The thrust of the argument was especially that the film arts which are dramatic productions do not belong to the area of Christian liberty. They are wrong per se because drama is wrong. All these dramatic productions are evil whether they appear in the local theatre, on the television screen, or on the stage in live productions. They must be condemned on the basis of God’s Word. They are not a legitimate form of entertainment for the Christian.

But there are other movies which are not dramatic productions. These include travelogues, home movies, educational films, etc. They are not per se wrong. They cannot be condemned on the grounds that it is always evil to make a movie of children romping in the back yard, or of scenes in some foreign country. They cannot be lumped together with dramatic productions and condemned out of hand. It is in this sense that I made the remark: “To the first class we have no objection.” 

Nevertheless, for the rest, we agree with our correspondent. It is certainly true that even travelogues and educational films can, when made by ungodly men, be instruments of ungodly philosophy and propaganda. They can be, and often are, means whereby the masses are pumped full of worldly philosophy with its Satanic world-and-life-view. The dangers against which the above letter warns are very real and not imaginary. And the warning is much to the point. I have seen travelogues which, in their very presentation, gave approval to idolatry. I have seen educational films which are primarily education in evolutionism. Our people should certainly be much more sensitive to these things than sometimes they are. This is especially true because this propaganda can sometimes be so very subtle that it is difficult to detect even when one is alert to it. And this makes it all the more dangerous. 

Nevertheless, it is impossible to make a good movie which includes drama. It is possible to make a good home movie, a good travelogue, a good educational film. We may not condemn non-dramatic movies out of hand. We must carefully evaluate them. And we must reject that which is evil.

News Items From The Church World 

Louis Cassels, UPI Senior Religious editor, has recently written a series of articles on religion in America. A recent column, syndicated in many newspapers, and appearing in the Grand Rapids Press, makes mention of the Churches of Reformed persuasion. The pertinent paragraphs are as follows:

Four important U.S. denominations with a total membership of about 700,000 trace their ancestry to the Dutch Reformed Church founded in the Netherlands during the 16th Century by followers of John Calvin. 

The American offspring of this ancient Protestant body are, in order of size, the Reform (sic) Church in America, the Christian Reformed Church, the Netherlands Reformed Congregations and the Protestant Reformed Churches in America. 

They came to America with the first Dutch settlers Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, which later became New York. Today, the largest concentration of Reformed Congregations is found in Michigan.

According to Christian News the conservatives in the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod are seeking a division of their denomination. Although the conservatives won a smashing victory in their recent Synod in New Orleans, many are suspicious that the officials in the Church are not doing all they can nor moving fast enough to implement these decisions. Particularly, many complain that the liberalism and heresy in Concordia Seminary is not being rooted out with sufficient dispatch. Hence, since time is on the side of the liberals, many fear that the victories gained in New Orleans will be lost after all.

Carl McIntyre is still having his troubles with the government. Although he has a large network of stations over which he broadcasts, his key station, WXUR in Media, Pennsylvania, was recently closed by the Federal Communications Commission on the grounds that McIntyre did not abide by the rules of the so-called Fairness Doctrine. Though McIntyre appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court, he did not succeed in getting his station back on the air. 

He has since then purchased an old minesweeper which he has now anchored off the coast on the eastern seaboard. He intends to broadcast from this boat outside the limits of the sovereignty of the United States and thus, in his opinion, outside the jurisdiction of the government. He is having his problems however. First, technical difficulties delayed his broadcasting. Then, after a few hours of broadcasting, he was forced to quit because his radio signal was interfering with other stations and he had to seek a new wavelength. Now his program is already in the courts and his right to broadcast from international waters is being challenged by the government. 

While we do not sympathize with the views which Rev. McIntyre promotes, we nevertheless consider it a grave injustice that the government has silenced his station. His contention that the government permits every conceivable form of liberalism and godlessness to be broadcasted without interference and only vents its wrath on conservative broadcasts, is a legitimate one. And, no doubt, this is but the harbinger of another day when the government will shut down all broadcasting which is in any way conservative theologically. 

In the meantime, Christianity Today reports that McIntyre is in deep financial trouble and is barely able to keep up payments of his vast and far-flung program.