Dear Mr. Editor,

Will you please give me another opportunity to reply to Mr. Ten Elshof? I hope that your patience and that of the readers is not being overtaxed.

I am very glad that brother Ten Elshof has struck a better tone, at least toward me if not toward the C.L.A. I noticed also that the arguments I presented’ in my previous article and the questions asked were passed over very lightly and that the main burden of the brother’s last article is a more direct attack upon the organization which I defend.

In regard to that being more or less Scriptural, I think we can now drop that. The brother evidently accepted my explanation, so why go into that any further? Space in this paper is too valuable for that.

However, brother Ten Elshof still asks for Biblical proof. Now I am at a loss somewhat as to what I am supposed to prove. I do not intend to write about the strike question any further so long as the C.L.A. secretary is doing that. If his articles have not made the C.L.A. position clear and have not convinced the critics I am sure I cannot do so.

Perhaps the brother wants Scriptural proof that a Christian may join even a Christian labor union that strives for the betterment of labor conditions and the defense of the rights of the laborer. I get the impression from his writings, and especially from the texts he likes to quote, that he is of the opinion that Christians may not form such organizations. If brother Ten Elshof is consistent in holding to the interpretation which he gives of those quotations, and their literal application in our day, he must come to that conclusion. If I am correct in that the brother ought to be fair in shifting his attacks from an established organization, in concrete, to an abstract condemnation of any and all labor unions.

But, as to the Biblical proof, now for the position that Christians may form Christian labor unions for the purpose of improvement of labor conditions, the removal of sinful labor relationships and the establishment of just and harmonious conditions, through the application of Christian principles. I admit that not one text can be quoted from the Bible that says in so many words that such organizations must be established. (The same is true also of the opposite position). The same can be said concerning the Christian school. There is not one text in the Scriptures that says in so many words that we must have Christian Schools. There is a reason for that too of course. And I am sure that all of us will say that if the Apostles were living today they would most certainly have been very insistent upon the Christian school for our children, in view of the social conditions, the public schools, etc. No one will find fault with that. We pride ourselves on being very strong in our convictions concerning the Christian school. That’s fine. Yet, I repeat, that there is not one text in the Bible that says in so many words that we must have Christian schools. Of course there is plenty of ground for it. The whole Bible teaches it. But it is nevertheless taught indirectly and by implication. We arrive at the conclusion by deduction.

The same is true also in regard to the Christian labor union. It is not based on one text. Anything tint is based on the Reformed view of life never is. It is based on what the whole Bible teaches concerning the sovereignty of God in all of life, the industrial sphere included; it is based on the teachings concerning the position of the Christians as bearers of light, as the representatives of God upon earth to proclaim His Will md to contend for righteousness. Those doubts come to us as individuals but also to Christians collectively. The Bible speaks to the individual, but to the Church as well. And the Christians as members of that body, in its organic sense, must unitedly do that. Such is the teaching of the Scriptures. That is our Reformed life-view. That is Calvinism.

In answer then to Mr. Ten Elshof’s plea for a text I answer: My dear man, I give you the whole Bible. Study it, and don’t stare yourselves blind on a few texts which in reality have no bearing on the question at all. Leading Bible scholars all agree that the quotations from James and Paul in regard to the submission of the slaves and servants of those days cannot be literally applied to present day conditions. Yes, also today, authority of employers must still be respected but consideration must be given to the changed conditions, to the freedom which the laborer today has as a result of the general operation of God’s Spirit. To us that is a blessing which we may fully enjoy. Also texts in regard to Christian suffering as a result of his Christian confession have no direct bearing on our problem. Sinful conditions which the worldling suffers as well as we cannot be classified under cross bearing. And all that is not cross bearing as a result of our Christian testimony we may and must oppose. Let’s please remember that, otherwise we will not remain militant.

The secretary of the C.L.A. has supplied the answer to brother Ten Elshof’s attacks on the C.L.A. This is what he writes: “Mr. Ten Elshof has given some information which is partly true, but which cannot be classified as undeniable. A brief explanation will have to be given. (1) The brother to whom Mr. T. E. refers was, of course, well known to us. When he joined the C.L.A. he was as far as we know a member of an orthodox Christian Church. He was married to a member of the Roman Catholic Church. The brother then and later never once in our contacts with him showed anything but great interest in the Christian principles of the C.L.A. and remained loyal when others left. In the depression of 1938 he was out of work. His wife went to another city, back to a job she held before. Later she refused to return to him, although he was anxious to have her. Her job was better than his. When the C.L.A. Board became aware of the situation it considered what should be done. But, the C.L.A. is not a church, and we had no reason whatever, on the basis of his personal eon- duct, to discipline him. We can hardly be expected to check on church attendance, etc. Nevertheless, the brother was not renominated when his term of office was up and during the last two years of his life he was not any longer an officer of the C.L.A., not even a member in fact, although that was perhaps not known in Holland.

(2) I do not doubt that Mr. T. E. was contacted by a C.L.A. agent to join the organization. The C. L.A. does not ask for a confession of faith. But, before members are accepted they must express agreement with the first four or five articles of the Constitution. (3) It seems a bit unfair to condemn the C.L.A. because of what C.L.A. members may or may not have said to acquaintances of Mr. T. E. But, even if they did, I can understand very well that even a Christian might prefer working next to a fair-minded C.I.O. member above working next to a nonunion man who lives only for himself and has no sense of social responsibility. All C.I.O. members are not necessarily evil, and all non-union men are not Christian. (4) That joining the C.L.A. will easily lead to another step, that of joining the C.I.O. or A.F. of L. is definitely not true. Mr. T. E. puts it as if joining the C.L.A. is the first step on a downward path. Joining the C.L.A. because of its principles, will never make one a candidate for membership in other unions. The C.L.A. influence will be to the contrary. Some who were formerly C.L.A. members are now in other unions. But, such men never fully understood the principles of the C.L.A. In regard to the carpenters mentioned by the brother, he has the “facts” wrong again. Those men, most of them, never did promptly join the A.F. of L. The C.L.A. carpenters union was wrecked on the strike question. The C.L.A. had enough prestige but would not allow the men to strike when the majority wanted to. The Exec. Comm. would not sanction it. Then the majority quit the union. They did not promptly join the A.F. of L. Many of them never did. Only a minority later were forced into that organization through A.F.L. controlled P.W.A. jobs. Those are the facts. Incidentally, it ought to be of interest to Mr. T.E. and others to know that the very fact that the C.L.A. stood on its Christian principles were the cause of its failure in Holland to hold its membership, Li the furniture factories abo the C.L.A. lost control because it refused to allow the men to strike. That broke the organization. So actually the half-truths contained in the brothers accusations become recommendations of the C.L.A. when the facts are fully known.”

So far the quotations from the C.L.A. secretary. That surely puts an entirely different light on it. The last part of brother Ten Elshof’s article I cannot now answer. It would take too much space. However, I can briefly say this: that, while the government is even now punishing those who violate the labor laws, of which we approve, such state control of every phase of human life as brother T.E.’s suggestions would entail if put into effect, would in a short time rob us of all freedom of action. That is not in accordance with the Scriptures’ teachings concerning the function of government. And, if put into practice, it would be the death-knell of all Christian activity in the social realm. I would advise the brother to read Christelyk Sociale Beginselen of C. Smeenk, and Pro Rege of Dr. A. Kuyper in that connection.