Those that are able to read Dutch may omit this editorial, for it contains in the main a reproduction of what I wrote in the previous issue of our paper on the same subject.

The reason for this reproduction is a request.

Many, and, perhaps, they are chiefly found among those that are most directly concerned with this problem, cannot read the Holland language. And the request, therefore, is very reasonable, one, in fact, which I may not ignore and cannot refuse.

All the more gladly do I follow up this request, because in personal discussions it became evident, as I feared and as, indeed, might be expected with regard to a question that involves the sabbath, that there is by no means unanimity of opinion among our men. And that our men are looking for a satisfactory answer to the question, is also evident from the request I received from the League of Protestant Reformed Men’s Societies to lecture on this subject in the near future; a request which I had to decline for the simple reason that I have my hands more than full at present. My radio work requires a good deal of my time, so that I have felt myself obliged to decline for all invitations to lecture.

Besides, it also became evident that the proposition I defended in my former editorial had not been clearly grasped by all. That proposition was simply this: If the Government requires of us that we shall labor on Sunday for the production of defense material, we must obey; the rule that we must obey God more than men is not applicable in this case.

I understood, of course, perfectly that the explanation and defense of this simple proposition does not solve all the questions connected with this problem. It is perfectly clear to me that there are many related problems, and that in the practical application of the proposition I defended and the stand I took, there are many dangers that must be faced.

There is always the danger that employers abuse the situation and make their employees labor on Sunday in their own interest, under the pretext of the demand of the government, even then, when it is not strictly necessary.

There is, on the other hand, also the danger that employees purposely seek a job in those defense industries in which Sunday labor is required, because they use the demand of the government as a means to increase their wages.

And there is, besides, the general danger that through this temporary exigency the sanctity of the sabbath in general is lost sight of. Men will become accustomed to Sunday labor, and they will begin to feel that, after all, it is quite proper to continue their earthly tasks on the sabbath.

And so there may be many more related problems.

However, in my editorial I intentionally avoided them, in order not to lose sight of the main issue.

I did not take into account the greedy employer that makes the best of the situation in order to increase his profits. Nor did I have in mind or write about the easy going Christian, that would rather earn a few more dollars if he can find an excuse than give himself wholly to the service of the Lord on Sunday. I felt that, even before all these side issues could be satisfactorily and fruitfully discussed, we must have an answer to the main question. For, if we cannot agree on the chief issue in this matter, it is of absolutely no use to discuss side issues. And that main question is: When the government requires us to work on Sunday in the production of defense material, must we submit and obey, or must we apply the rule: we must obey God more than men?

For this reason my answer dealt with and was meant for the conscientious Christian only. I wrote:

“Especially in times of war, there are many questions that arise for the Christian to answer, questions of conscience, to which the Christian, if he takes his life before God seriously, must have an answer, and that, too, an answer according to the Word of God, in order that he may arrange his life and walk accordingly, and have peace of mind.”

I wrote further:

“Even apart from the question, whether or not the Christian will have to obey the government in this case, he will not easily and not very readily sacrifice the weekly sabbath to the world. Even if he reaches the conclusion and becomes of the conviction that in this case it is his calling to be in submission to the government, he will do his utmost to keep His Sunday free as much as possible. And even when he cannot escape the necessity of working on Sunday, it will remain for him a cause of sorrow and suffering, that, instead of being allowed to meet with the people of God in His house, he will have to be occupied in the fabrication of instruments of destruction.”

Let this be plainly understood.

For the so-called Christian that is lax in his entire walk, and that would rather gladly sacrifice the service of the Lord on Sunday to a few paltry dollars, I did not write. I could not possibly write for him. He has no problem, for the simple reason that he does not take the Christian attitude.

And, therefore, I merely discussed the principal question: Is Sunday labor for defense, when required by the government, proper for the Christian? Or must he apply the rule: I must obey God more than men?

And now I will translate what I wrote in my Dutch editorial on this subject.

“Perhaps, it would not be inexpedient that the churches in common, through the synod, issued a declaration on this question. Then we would, at all events, take a united stand. And thus the brethren, that have to decide for themselves in this matter in a practical sense, could be supported and guided.

“In the meantime, I gladly offer my own views on the subject.

“At bottom the problem is inseparably connected with the question concerning the Sabbath in general. The answer we give to the particular question in discussion depends on our conception of the Sunday. We may put the question in this form: Is working on Sunday as such sinful? Must it be regarded as sin to be occupied with earthly labor on Sunday, in the same sense in which e.g. idolatry, profanity, murder, adultery and the like are sin? If our answer to this question is in the affirmative, we may never work at a on Sunday; and in that case we must refuse obedience to the government when she demands of us that on Sunday we labor for the production of defense material.

“This is self-evident.

“We may never transgress God’s commandment, not even on the authority of the government. Or rather: the government can never have the authority to demand of us, that we sin against God. If she does this nevertheless, she is no longer the government, but simply a group of men. And then we say: we must obey God more than men.

“If, therefore, it is the standpoint of the Word of God, that labor on Sunday as such and in all cases is sin, we refuse to obey.

“But this is not the case.

“This is not the teaching of the Word of God. And this has never been the standpoint of Reformed people.

“The Savior condemned very sharply the standpoint, that consecration of the sabbath really consists in the keeping of a day, and that, too, by doing nothing. He taught us that man is not for the sabbath, but the sabbath for man. Intentionally he often “worked” on the sabbath, and he did things which could have been done just as well on another day. On the sabbath he purposely healed the man in Bethesda, who had been infirm for thirty eight years, and, besides, he commanded him to walk through the streets of Jerusalem carrying his bed. And whenever the Lord was attacked by the Jews for this, He reminded them that it was proper to do good on the sabbath, and pointed out to them that, if only it concerned their own ox or ass, they would work on the sabbath.

“Ceremonial significance the sabbath has no longer. The church of the new dispensation does not keep “days and months and seasons,” in order thus to do God a service. She does not celebrate the Jewish sabbath. Neither does she rest on the sabbath day of creation, as the Adventists would have us do. She celebrates the “day of the Lord,” and that, too, as standing in the liberty wherewith Christ has made her free. She refuses to be encumbered with the yoke of bondage again, even on the sabbath.

“No reformed person, therefore, ever took the stand that all labor on Sunday is as such to be condemned as sin.

“Indeed, there always was difference of opinion and attitude toward the sabbath among them. There were those that were rather lenient, while others insisted more strictly on the hallowing of the day and the refraining from all daily work on Sunday.

“But they certainly agreed on the following principles:

“1. That the positive consecration or hallowing of the sabbath must always have the emphasis, consisting in this, that one on the sabbath would be diligent in the service of the Lord, and in the things of the kingdom of God.

“2. That this principle is applicable not only to the sabbath, but just as well to all the days of our life, so that all our days we ought to rest from our evil works, yield ourselves to the Lord, to work by His Holy Spirit in us, and thus begin in this life the eternal sabbath. Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 38.

“3. That exactly in order to realize this and to be able to occupy ourselves with heavenly and spiritual things in a particular sense of the word, it is necessary that we refrain from our earthly labors as much as possible.

“4. That even so there are things that cannot be put to a stop on Sunday. There are “necessary things,” as well as works of mercy that must be performed on Sunday just as well as during the week. A farmer cares for his cattle on Sunday; a doctor calls on his patients on the sabbath if necessary. And the idea was, of course, that work as such is not sinful even on Sunday. (I may add here, that we all do many things on Sunday that involve earthly labor, without any pangs of conscience. The Church cleans its walks on Sunday after a snowstorm, fires its furnace to keep the congregation comfortable, uses its electricity for lighting and for the organ, or even for the “fan” that people may not suffocate on a hot and sultry day. I speak over the radio on Sunday, use my car to get to the station, employ a young man to run the elevator for me, and many others In the station itself. And the people turn on their radio to listen. Surely, the government cannot abdicate on Sunday; we have our police force; and if necessary we surely make use of the fire department on Sunday. Just imagine how much Sunday labor all this involves!)

“On the basis, therefore, of this Scriptural conception of the sabbath in the new dispensation, I come to the conclusion, that, when the government in certain concrete cases demands of us, because it considers it necessary, that we shall work on Sunday, there is no conflict between this demand and the Word of God or the will of the Lord.

“It certainly belongs to the proper domain of the government to handle the sword, even in waging war. But then it must also be her calling to whet that sword, to put the country in a state of defense, or even to prepare herself for the attack upon the enemy if this should prove to be necessary. And if the situation is such, that she cannot possibly become prepared for war in time unless she demands Sunday labor, this certainly may be classified with “necessary works”. Also the soldier is compelled to work on Sunday and to fight, whenever the enemy makes his attack.

“We do not judge about the way in which the government handles this sword, nor about the righteousness of a given war. We must leave this to the responsibility of the government.

“And whether it is absolutely necessary in concrete cases to work on Sunday, we may also leave to the judgment of the government, as long as it concerns work that is performed in her domain and, therefore, on her authority.

“Then, too, we may petition the government not to demand or allow any more work on the sabbath than is strictly necessary.

“And, finally, if we must work on Sunday, we can make local arrangements, so that we have sufficient free time on the sabbath to attend the service of the Lord.

“But if you ask me: is the rule applicable, in this case, that we must obey God more than men? I answer: No, this rule does not apply in this case.

“In my opinion, obedience is here the demand of the Word of God.”