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Our calling churches (Redlands, California and Isabel, South Dakota) continue to call undershepherds to come over and help them. From a trio of Reverends Engelsma, Kamps, and Kuiper, Redlands extended a call to Rev. Kamps, pastor of our Doon, Iowa congregation. Since that call was extended, Rev. Kamps has requested a two-week extension in his consideration of it. Isabel has called Rev. Moore of our Edmonton, Alberta congregation from a trio also including Reverends Kamps and Kortering. (Since the initial writing of this column, we have learned that Rev.
THE NEW CENTURY BIBLE COMMENTARY, Editors: Ronald E. Clements (Old Testament) and Matthew Black (New Testament); Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Reviewed by Prof H. Hanko) I have a number of these commentaries given for review. Before making a few remarks about them individually, there are a few points to be made about the commentaries generally.
A staggering and to many people a bewildering number of churches (denominations) have developed through the years since the time of the great sixteenth century Reformation. It is not our intention to discuss the reasons for this phenomenon. Rather, the question we face is: how does one determine which church is true? What characterizes a true, faithful manifestation of Christ’s Body in the world?
“. . .As for the false Church, she ascribes more power and authority to herself and her ordinances than to the Word of God, and will not submit herself to the yoke of Christ. Neither does she administer the sacraments as appointed by Christ in His Word, but adds to and takes from them, as she thinks proper; she relieth more upon men than upon Christ; and persecutes those, who live holily according to the Word of God, and rebuke her for her errors, covetousness, and idolatry. These two Churches are easily known and distinguished from each other.”
Jehovah, the faithful covenant God, has entrusted into the care and keeping of His church the sacraments. They, along with the preaching, are ordained by God as official means to be used in the church in order to strengthen and nourish her members in the grace of God. The church is called upon, therefore, to guard and use the sacraments in such a way. This calling she dispenses with great joy, for these sacraments are to her very precious and of utmost significance.
There are especially two errors into which many believers have fallen in the exercise of the office of believer. The one error is to seek to exercise the office of believer apart from the institution of the church. The other error is to fail to exercise this office because of the institution of the church. Both errors must be avoided at all costs. To fall into either error is detrimental to the spiritual welfare both of the church and the individual saint.
In past years a great deal has been written about the so-called “electric” church. By this is meant those religious broadcasts that come on radio and television each week. Their number, it seems, is boundless. One can find, especially on Sunday, a constant barrage of religious programming: from local church services to brief messages designed for special instruction of the listener. There are, in addition, a surprising number of Christian radio stations and television stations which broadcast daily the gospel message in word and song—at least these profess to do so.
If one were asked to define what is the main characteristic of the church in the 1900s, what is that one feature of her life in this century which sets the church apart from the church in other centuries, that unique trait which stands out from all others as definitive of the church in modern times, most people would probably say: ecumenism. The church has, in this century, been especially busy with merger, been occupying her time and efforts in the cause of unity, and has stressed this aspect of the church’s life more than any other.
It seems sad that the church, at least in its institute form, should be so universally despised, as it is today, even by those who are members of it. For us as members, that is very much like biting the hand that feeds us. Nevertheless, the blame for such an attitude must not be laid completely to the charge of those who act and speak so disdainfully toward the church or churches of which they are members. There certainly is, in that respect, an overriding need for instruction regarding the church and membership in it.
This is the second of our special issues in the current volume. You will find it to be different from some of our earlier special issues, which have been of an informative and reportorial nature. This issue is devoted entirely—with the exception of the back-page news column—to one doctrine, the doctrine of the church. This does not mean that it is a complete treatment of the doctrine of the church in all its aspects: for it is not, and does not intend to be that.