Our Reformed Witness Hour committee received the following communications from WAWZ-FM in Zarephath, New Jersey. They speak for themselves, and we quote:
April 1, 1975
Dear Mr. Prince:
I am writing to acquaint you with certain guidelines for religious programs that have been set up by both the National Association of Broadcasters and National Religious Broadcasters. The code of the (former reads in part: Radio broadcasting, which reaches men of all creeds, simultaneously, shall avoid attacks upon religious faith . . . Religious programs shall be presented respectfully and without prejudice or ridicule . . . Religious programs shall place emphasis on religious doctrines of faith and worship.
The speaker on the REFORMED WITNESS HOUR last Sunday evening was clearly in violation of these guidelines, as well as the guidelines of the station. He mentioned by name the Roman Catholic Church and spoke about what he considered to be their wrong doctrines. I am not disagreeing theologically with his statements in the least, but to air them on a radio program we cannot permit. Unless I can have written assurance from you that this will not happen again, we will have to terminate the REFORMED WITNESS HOUR at once.
w.s. James M. Pearsall Program Director.
The second communication reads as follows. This letter was dated September 9, 1975. We now quote it:
September 9, 1975
Dear Mr. Prince:
I regret to have to inform you that we must cancel the REFORMED WITNESS HOUR effective immediately.
As you will remember, I wrote to you under date of April 1, 1975 to apprise you of certain statements I heard over one of your broadcasts that were in violation of the N.R.B. and N.A.B. Code of Ethics. The statements at that time, I believe, were in reference to the Church of Rome and its doctrines.
This past Sunday evening (9/7) the speaker on the REFORMED WITNESS HOUR made mention of “Arminianism” in a negative manner and was heard to say that it was, in his opinion, a wrong and un-Biblical doctrine, or words to that effect.
I am sorry, but we cannot permit this to continue over this station. You understand our position, of course.
Yours most cordially,
w.s. James M. Pearsall
In the first place, the latter letter states that mention was made of “Arminianism” in a. negative manner, that the speaker was heard to say that it was a wrong and un-Biblical doctrine, or words to that effect. The undersigned, the speaker of these radio sermons, delivered last March and last September, is sure that he was heard correctly. Of this I have no doubt.
Secondly, the undersigned was not aware of this letter of April 1 last when he delivered the four radio sermons during the month of September. However, this does not matter. I had heard years ago of some such code of ethics. But I know that our radio speakers have again and again condemned the teaching of Arminianism, including the undersigned.
Thirdly, I am not criticizing the position taken by this radio station in Zarephath, New Jersey. It is the conviction of the undersigned that all preaching, also over the radio, must not only be positive but also distinctive. This injunction has surely been laid upon the Church by the Head of the Church, our Lord Jesus Christ. He warns His Church repeatedly to beware of the false prophets who appear as wolves in the midst of sheep, wearing sheep’s clothing, Matt. 7:15. And the apostle warns the church at Ephesus, Eph. 4:14, 15: “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” To preach the gospel certainly means that it be preached in all its purity and that it be defended against all error.
Finally, this surely should show us how easy it will be to stifle the voice of the church as it would pro claim the pure gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And this day is coming. Let us arm ourselves, and also our children, with respect to this eventuality, that we may be able to stand in that day. Incidentally, the radio committee deemed it advisable that I comment on this in our rubric of ALL AROUND US.
In the Banner of Sept. 26, 1975 the following appears on page 22, and I quote this article in part which has the above for its heading:
A wall is not a fence, and a fence is not a wall—at least not as I picture them. It seems to me that a wall is clearly, a more negative thing. It is wider and keeps people father apart. Some walls even hide us from each other. Then we are left to guess what those on the other side are like. We form mental images that are hardly realistic, or just, or fair. Sounds and voices can sift through such a wall, but they are often muffled or garbled and hardly refine the images.
We trust that Reformation Sunday (Unity Sunday), 1975, will find all our churches engaged in this exhilarating transformation of wall into fence.
Rev. Nelson Vander Zee
Denominational Interchurch Relations Committee
And I fear that in due time also the fence will disappear. This Reformation Sunday is supposed to be Unity Sunday. This means, to me, that this is but another step toward bringing the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church of America together. But what about the differences between them? What about the secession of the Christian Reformed Church from the Reformed Church in 1857? Was this secession just and legitimate, as before the face of God? Did the Christian Reformed Church have just reasons for acting as it did then? And now, on Reformation Sunday, Unity Sunday, there will be a pulpit exchange between these churches? But it is surely very serious to preach in one another’s pulpits! It means that a Christian Reformed minister places himself under a Reformed Church’s consistory. Will this not lead to an ignoring of all differences?
Rev. Henry Vander Kam is writing a series of articles on I Timothy in THE OUTLOOK. In the issue of October, 1975 he writes on I Timothy 2:1-7, page 12. We need not quote the entire article. The following may suffice.
Prayers for all men—The Apostle tells Timothy that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings are to be made for all men. The church is to remember her function in this world. She is to preach the gospel to all men but must also remember all men in her prayers.
It is not sufficient to pray only for the membership of the church but congregational prayer must be far broader. The church must remember that she is the intercessor for the world. The world cannot pray. The church is to bring the needs of the world before the throne of God. Herein too she is the salt of the earth. That world will not last long if the salt has lost its savor. When the church is gathered for worship she is to bring the world’s needs to God’s mercy seat. The world doesn’t realize how important the worship services of the true church are for its very existence. What a responsibility for those who lead in congregational prayers!
An illustration is now used to show something of the content of such prayers. Prayers are to be offered for kings and all those who are in high places. This could not only be forgotten very easily in the early church, but there might even be strong feelings against doing this. These rulers, almost without exception, were not friendly to the church. That makes no difference. Government is God-ordained
and must so be honored. Paul exhorts the church to pray for the government which will put him to death! This is the calling of the church. He does not tell us what the content of this particular prayer should be because that will change with the times. However, he tells us that prayers offered for authorities will have the effect of giving us a tranquil and quiet life. In other words, we are to pray that persecutions by governments will not hinder us in our lives. Then we will be able to live in godliness and gravity—and so we must! We are to live in such a way that we do not invite persecution.
In the first place, the writer of these words declares that the apostle does not tell us what the content of this particular prayer should be because that will change with the times. Is this true? Is it not clear from this entire passage that the apostle tells us that the Lord would have all men be saved? This does not refer to all men individually (the writer himself writes this when he immediately afterwards asks the question whether the apostle is speaking of a universal salvation). But this surely indicates that the content of this prayer which the apostle enjoins upon the church is exactly that we must pray for kings, etc., in the sense that we pray for their salvation. In our prayer that the Lord may save all His people we must not omit them who are in authority.
Secondly, we are to live in such a way that we do notinvite persecution. With this we agree. We must surely never invite persecution. But this also means that we must pray that we may never be persecuted? With this we do not agree. This can never be harmonized with the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer.
Thirdly, the church must pray for all men, for the world? This is surely what the writer of these words is saying. (Of course, I stand to be corrected.) But, this is surely impossible. The church must pray for the world? How does this author harmonize this with the Lord’s Prayer? That prayer is a model prayer, teaches us how to pray. But this prayer of the Saviour is surely completely particular. Where do we read in this prayer that we must pray for the world? And how does this author harmonize it with what we read in John 17:9: “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine.” Jesus does not pray for the world. And we must pray for the world? Indeed, this “tranquil and quiet life” does not refer to a quiet and tranquil life in the midst of the world but to such a life in the consciousness of the child and church of God. We must have peace and tranquility within our