On the evening of Oct. 20, a League Meeting of all the Men’s Societies of our Prot. Ref. Churches of Grand Rapids and vicinity was held in the parlors of the First Prot. Ref. Church. This meeting was opened by the President, Mr. A. C. Boerkoel, by reading I Peter 1 from Scripture, after which prayer was offered, and the audience sang from the Psalter.
The President then extended a word of welcome to the gathering, and introduced the speaker for the evening, Rev. R. Veldman.
The Reverend announced that he would not speak on the subject as printed in “Our Church News”: “Should We Use Our Christian Influence in Civic Affairs?” which he said was self evident, for the Christian is in duty bound to let his light shine in the midst of this world, in the which he is placed by his God.
His topic was: “In How Far Should We Use Our Christian Influence in Civic Affairs?”
Civic affairs, according to “Webster’s Dictionary” means that which is to be done relating to civil life; in other words those activities we daily observe, viz., the dance, theatre, beer gardens, open places of business, etc. What now is the calling of a Christian in those affairs; must we protest? If they go around in the community with a petition to do away with these evils, is a Christian in duty bound to sign in favor of it?
The Reverend made plain that first of all our calling is a spiritual calling. It is not our calling to make this world fit to live in. That is the calling of our “Magistrates.” He must see to it that there are no theatres, beer gardens, dance halls, and many other places of corruption. Those who are in authority must rule in accordance with Scripture.
You may ask the question: Must we not do our utmost to reform the place in which we live, and especially so, when we are blest by our Covenant God with covenant children. Is there no danger that our children will go astray in Sodom? Here we answer: No danger. Parents are in duty bound to instruct their children in their early youth, the first principles of a godly life, and as they grow older they will not depart from that truth. We may live in Sodom, if our Protestant Reformed Church is there, but we must never move to Sodom for Sodom’s sake.
We may try to piously reform the world, but she goes to utter destruction, and it makes no difference upon what road she loses her life. This does not mean however that the people of God have no calling in this respect. We must let our light shine. We must condemn the world in word and deed, and must never love her, for then the love of the Father is not in us. Neither must we delight in the destruction of the ungodly.
We may also protest against ungodly civic affairs, alone or united, but we must be sure, also then, that our battle is a spiritual battle. For instance: if we are asked to sign a petition to have our business places closed on Sunday, let us beware that it is the aim to consecrate the Sabbath, and not have a day of seeking the pleasures of this world.
Let no one think, that this is Anabaptistic: for it is not. This is serving the Lord in Spirit and in truth.
Those who rave for the betterment of this world, are usually they who do not care for principles.
Let us however, not try to take all the pleasures from the ungodly people of this world. They must also live their own life, and it must become evident that they are ungodly indeed.
This is true also: take away from the drunkard his intoxicating drink, and nine times out of ten he becomes covetous, which is the root of all evil, according to Scripture, I Tim. 6:10.
Let us as Christians never look at things as they appear on the surface, but test all things in the light of Scripture, and in the light of our Prot. Ref. principles. If we do this, our vision is clear and we know the way also in civic affairs.
After recess we continued our meeting by a lively discussion, as some of the members differed in opinion from the speaker. They thought it was absolutely necessary to create clean surroundings, where they were not present, and if necessary, protest as individuals or in groups, even if the principles involved were unreformed.
It entered my mind: Several years ago, when our Christian Schools were in danger of being closed, many women of Reformed persuasion cast their ballot, although they did not believe in women suffrage, and knew very well that it was not in agreement with Scripture. They made the lame excuse: ye want to keep our schools, forgetting that God will take care of His own, and we never can give Him a lift.
The patriarch Jacob made the same sinful mistake, but God in His mercy blessed him in the house of Laban and on his return to his own country he made the faithful confession: with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. And God spoke unto him, and told him, thy name shall be called Israel.
Let us never forget that in civic affairs the Christian must act in accordance with God’s precepts.
This meeting which was well attended, was worthy of our being present, and we are looking forward for more of them. The Rev. Veldman must not forget to send his speech to the Editor in Chief, so that the S. B. readers can read it in full. The gathering was closed with prayer by the Vice-President of the League, Rev. J. De Jong of Hudsonville.
S. De Vries
Grand Rapids, Michigan