Recently we wrote an article on “Banner Ethics.” It was in connection with The Banner’s refusal of the reply of our home missionary, the Rev. Kok, to insinuations which the editor of that paper published against our missionary.
I now wish to call attention to Banner manners.
Manners and ethics are more closely related than many people would be willing to admit. Bad manners are often rooted in bad ethics.
Take, for example, the treatment accorded Dr. Schilder by The Banner.
We all remember what was done before this distinguished theologian had left the old country to visit our shores.
Here was a Reformed theologian, in good standing in the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands, professor in dogmatics at the seminary of those churches, sister churches of those that are represented by The Banner. But he is suspected by the editor of The Banner, as well as by others, of views on “common grace” that deviate from those set forth in the dearly beloved “three points.” And before the professor can start on his journey The Banner publicly invites him to postpone his visit, and suggests that no opportunities be given him to speak.
Hardly courteous, one would say.
But while the professor is here as a guest a minister of the Christian Reformed Churches sends an article to “The Banner” in which he criticizes some of Dr. Schilder’s views.
These views had been set forth, not in speech or lecture while the professor was here, but in a supplement to “De Reformatie” in which the doctor offers an explanation of the Heidelberg Catechism. There was, therefore, no occasion to publish this criticism while the professor was still our guest in this country.
The criticized material was written in the Holland language. Dr. Schilder, naturally, cannot express himself readily in the English language. The critic was well aware of this. He might have used “De Wachter” and publish his criticism in the Dutch language, thus giving Dr. Schilder fullest opportunity to reply and defend himself against the attack. However, he prefers to use the English language and requests “The Banner” to receive his criticism.
And The Banner has no scruples.
However, this is not the worst.
Dr. Schilder sent a reply to The Banner while he was still in this country. And many of us who were aware of this have asked why this answer of the professor was never published.
The editor in a recent number of The Banner now explains. Dr. Schilder did send his reply. But this reply appeared in the form of a first installment. It was to be followed by other articles. The Banner now wrote to Dr. Schilder that it would have to have all the material the professor intended to write, before they could publish the first article. The publication committee “would first have to see the article in its totality and pass judgment on its contents and length.”
Its contents must be right in the eyes of The Banner.
And it must “not be so long that it could not be placed in one issue.”
Hardly courteous? I say shameful.
Cannot a theologian of a sister church in the Netherlands be trusted to write a series of articles that are fit to be published in The Banner? How did professor Schilder deserve to be thus insulted? And why could he not be permitted to publish a series of articles in consecutive numbers of The Banner? The excuse offered is that the professor writes in the Holland language. But is not The Banner to blame for this, seeing it received criticism against a man that does not freely express himself in the English language, and of material the professor had published in Dutch?
Must the doctor be treated like a little boy who writes his first essay?
The editor of The Banner writes that he is still waiting for the remainder of Dr. Schilder’s reply to the criticism.
I hope that Dr. Schilder considers it below his dignity to answer.
One more instance.
The reader will remember how the editor of The Banner when he published his insinuations against our missionary, alleged that he possessed written evidence for his statements.
Well, these written evidences proved to be the testimony of one man, the Rev. A. Bratt, of Manhattan, Montana. There was only one witness, and he not an impartial one.
But now the editor of The Banner received an apology of the Rev. Bratt, confessing that on one point, at least, he had misrepresented the Rev. Kok. He ought to have written an apology for all of the insinuations, but let that pass for the moment.
The editor of The Banner cannot even allow this apology to stand as it is. In an editorial note he explains that the correction by the Rev. Bratt does not really alter the case.
He enervates the apology.
I ask: cannot a man who repents apologize without interference on the part of The Banner?
And I say: bad manners!