Reply to Brother A.D. McClure
Thank you for your contribution in our November 15 issue. Though you have only recently joined the ranks of our subscribers, and though this “hymn-discussion” really began with remarks of mine in an editorial report on Synod in the July 1 issue, rest assured that we do not consider it presumptuous to write on the subject, Our magazine is open; and you are welcome. By the same token; you will expect a reply, I am sure.
Permit me to reply briefly as follows:
1. I believe it must be granted that our English “Psalter” is far from perfect. Recently I cited an example in this regard; and I repeat that such examples could be multiplied. I also concede that our English “Psalter” is more faithful in content than our Dutch “Psalmboek.”
2. Let me repeat that in our present metrical versions of the Psalms we do not have literally the inspired Word of God, but simply versifications based on and derived from the Psalms. The issue before us therefore is not that of the inspired Word of God versus the uninspired poetry of the saints.
3. Without at all going into the question of the validity of our Christian holidays, I am sure you will concede that in our church music we wish to celebrate the wonders of grace connected with these holidays. And I frequently find it difficult to choose selections from our “Psalter” which clearly and directly refer, for example, to the incarnation, the resurrection, the outpouring of the Spirit, etc.
4. In that same connection, let me assure you that I do not consider the Psalms to be the Song Book of the Old Testament only. And I would be the last to dispose of our “Psalter” too. But you will have to concede that the outlook of the Psalms is definitely “Old Testament.” And I see no principal reason why the church of the new dispensation must be confined to the Old Testament viewpoint in its’ singing.
5. As far as the saints of the New Testament are concerned:
a. It cannot be proved that they confined themselves to the Psalms.
b. There is indeed evidence that good, sound hymns were used at an early date in the ancient church.
c. We surely need not confine ourselves to songs which other New Testament saints used. The believers are as free to versify the rest of the Scriptures as they are to versify the Psalms.
6. I very much doubt whether the church is corrupted by hymns initially. I would rather think that the church (and also the individual believer) must first be doctrinally corrupt, or at least lacking in doctrinal alertness. Otherwise doctrinally corrupt hymns could not find their way into the church. Once a church decays doctrinally, however, and such bad hymns are introduced, they contribute to more decay.
7. However, the issue in our churches is concretely whether we shall, in addition to the Psalm-versifications, introduce other faithful versifications of Scripture. What, from the viewpoint of principle, can be against this?
Thank you again for your contribution. And: call again!
A Knotty Problem
One of the questions that seems to plague the Protestant clergy is the oft repeated one: “Why do people miss church?”
While reading the October issue of The Church Observer the undersigned found this question discussed again. Without going into the reasons given by this article, I would like to make a few comments. The first is this—that the greater part of the clergy of the Protestant Churches direct their inquiry outward, away from the church, seeking to find the answer by diligently searching into the inner recesses of the hearts of their church members. The common assumption of many ministers is that the people are indifferent, lazy, unconcerned about the Bible and their Savior.
“Ah!” they say, “if only we can wake up these sleepy, lukewarm, worldly Christians. How much they could contribute. How much the Kingdom of God would advance! I’ve just got to do something to stir up these people to their responsibilities.” And so they reason within themselves.
I might tell you of a certain gentleman whom I know, who stopped going to the Reformed Church. He had his reasons. It seems that one Sunday as he took his accustomed place in church eager to hear God’s Word, that he was not spiritually nourished. That particular Sunday the congregation was treated to sermon entitled “How a Boy Scout Won the Award for God and Country.”
You guessed it, the boy scout was an elder’s son.
On another occasion this gentleman confessed that he was simply amazed when another officer of the church presented his 12-year-old son for baptism. Seems somehow he had never gotten around to having his son baptized although he himself was and had been an officer of that church for sometime.
Many other irregularities were observed, but being a very patient man, the gentleman of whom I am telling you, still hoped and prayed for the best. What finally drove him from the church (I have it from himself) was the sermon on the “Crucifixion of Christ.” In very eloquent terms the Reverend told how Christ suffered, bled and died for the sins of the whole world. Yes, when Christ hung dying from the cross he said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
The gentleman remembers in particular the last sentence of that sermon where the minister hastened to add, “If Christ forgave everyone why can’t you and I do the same?”
The gentleman, who I dare say, was as well versed in Scripture as some ministers began to think a little. Said he to himself, “If Christ forgave everyone as the Reverend says; why is there a hell? Would God send someone to hell whom Christ had forgiven? What did Christ mean when he said to the Pharisees, ‘Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.’ Are these forgiven too? These same people He called white washed sepulchers. Everybody forgiven?”
Suddenly he felt uneasy in his pew, within him arose slowly but surely a deep conviction that he didn’t belong there. As he went out the church door that bright sunny morning, as he paused to shake hands with the minister, if you could have listened closely, you would have heard him say to the minister, “Do you still call yourself Reformed?”
If you observed closely as well as listened you would have seen the Reverend’s face blush a little as he braced himself, gave the gentleman who asked him a hearty handshake and replied in a boisterous voice, “Certainly, as much as you do.”
May I suggest in closing this article, that although the congregation isn’t perfect and could improve, that all ministers who ask the question, “Why don’t people attend Church?” first look into their own heart, into their own denomination, and, doctrines and sermons. Maybe they have overlooked something.
“First cast the beam out of thine own eye, then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
Report of Eastern Ladies’ League
The Ladies’ League meeting was held October 20 at our First Protestant Reformed Church. The meeting was opened by singing Psalter No, 237 and Psalm 42:1, which we sang in Dutch, Our present president, Mrs. M. Schipper, read Genesis 11 the first nine verses. At this time she opened with prayer. A ladies’ double duet sang, “I Hear in the Air,” accompanied by Mrs. Holstege. This number was given by our Hudsonville ladies.
Our speaker for the evening Rev. M. Schipper was introduced. He spoke on the topic “Confusion of Tongues.”
Rev. Schipper spoke to us about the confusion of tongues. First, the historical occasion for it, second, the modern attempt to overcome it and third, the attitude of the Church over against it. Then the speaker called our attention to the attitude of the modern church over against the tower building and overcoming the confusion of tongues is not one of antithesis by synthesis. Finally brought out what our attitude should be. How we should react in respect to the building of the tower? Our attitude will be one of hope. The true church of Christ will therefore be watching and sober, their lamps will be burning. All their senses will be focused on the parousia, that second and final coming of tile Lord of glory to take to Himself His precious bride. That is the day when the tower and the tower builders shall be finally destroyed, and the saints called unto the Heavenly tabernacle; where forever they shall be united unto the Lord Who elected, regenerated, called and delivered them unto everlasting salvation.
We sang Psalter No. 276 while a collection was taken for our own High School.
Mrs. Maring from Hudsonville gave a piano solo entitled “The Holy City.”
The business of the evening was taken care of and the new officers were introduced. In closing we sang Psalter No. 374. Mrs. M. Jonker our new president closed our meeting with prayer. Refreshments were served in the basement, which we always enjoy.
Miss A. Reitsma, Reporter