The following news about the organization of our newest congregation in Houston, Texas appeared in the February 20 Hope (Walker, Michigan) bulletin: “On Tuesday and Wednesday, our pastor (Rev. Ronald VanOverloop) and elders King and Engelsma assisted the group in Houston in their organization. Much of their time was spent with Rev. and Mrs. Harbach conducting family visitation and discussing future mission work. At the organizational meeting on Tuesday evening our pastor delivered the sermon and Rev. Harbach chaired the meeting. Those organized totaled four families and twenty souls.
The ACL and the Athanasian Creed Christian News, a conservative Lutheran periodical, presents reports concerning the state of affairs within the Lutheran community. In its issue of Feb. 7, 1977, it presents evidence that the American Lutheran Church no longer defends the Athanasian Creed. It presents the shocking fact that within major denominations the basics of Christianity are being denied. The report states:
To the Members of the Church at Philadelphia, We have neared the end of our discussion of the wrongness of separating one’s self from the Church. We shall, in fact, conclude our discussion of this matter with this letter. There is, however, one point which still needs to be discussed. This point was brought to my attention by one of your fellowship, and it is important enough to discuss in a separate letter.
(Connection: In the preceding section we saw Gomarus, accompanied by several of his fellow ministers, debating against Arminius, accompanied by several of his fellows. The subject was the various points of doctrine about which they disagreed. The conference was held in the presence of the States. At the conclusion of the conference, the States promised to convene a Provincial Synod; but to this promise conditions were attached with which the Reformed ministers could not comply. They also ordered both parties to submit their views in writing.
When we speak of the signs of the times we are immediately reminded of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse as recorded in the sixth chapter of the book of Revelation. It is not our intention, in these articles, to call attention to this passage in any detail. We understand, I believe, that these horsemen ride their horses throughout the New Dispensation. They do not refer to successive periods of history in a chronological order. Neither do they refer to a future period which still lies before us.
“We believe that, to attain the true knowledge of this great. mystery, the Holy Ghost kindleth in our hearts an upright faith, which embraces Jesus Christ, with all his merits, appropriates him, and seeks nothing more besides him. For it must needs follow, either that all things, which are requisite to our salvation, are not in Jesus Christ, or if all things are in him, that then those who possess Jesus Christ through faith, have complete salvation in him.
A very interesting and informative little Dutch book by H.J. Olthuis is entitled (I translate): The Baptismal Practice of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, 1568-1816. As the title indicates, this book studies the actual practice of the Reformed Churches with respect to baptism; and as you might expect, there is much data taken from synodical records and decisions. There is strong emphasis on the idea that baptism belongs in the instituted church, in the gathering of the congregation for public worship, and may not be administered elsewhere.
We now continue our discussion of the section of the Study Report which deals with the Church Order. At the conclusion of our last installment we pointed out that the Report’s solution with respect to the Baptism Form (use of which is required by Article 58 of the Church Order) does not fit.