Our readers will recall that I recently reported on and criticized the April 22, 1966 issue of Chimes, a Calvin College Student Council publication. In the interest of complete reporting I now want to give the sequel to this incident, as I gleaned it from Church and Nation of May 31 and June 21, 1966 (Dr. Marten H. Woudstra, Editor). From an article entitled “The Great Gap” I quote the following:
. . . .Our editor has expressed his sincere concern about the article The Great Gap. He is not the only one apparently. A statement of the Student Publications Committee of the Faculty and the Executive Committee of the Student Council approved by Dr. W. Spoelhof, the President of Calvin College, has come to the attention of the editor of this paper. In consultation with Dr. Praamsma I (This is written by R. Kooistra, Managing Editor, H.C.H.) inform our readers about this statement, that you may have the whole story. It states that “the article ‘The Great Cap’ constitutes a serious breach of trust and a violation of clearly defined ‘responsibility-freedom’ policy, though the committee has been assured by the editor and the author that the violation was not deliberate.” It then informs us that the committee “condemns the spirit of the editorial as well as significant elements of its substance.” The Committee “finds the editorial irresponsibly written, giving occasion for questioning the integrity of Calvin College, her student body and Faculty, and the theological orthodoxy of the Christian Reformed Church, the supporting and sponsoring denomination.”
The following decisions were taken:
1. The April 22, 1966 issue of Chimes, suspended from circulation earlier, shall be withheld from further circulation.
2. Because this has been another wise commendable Chimes year, the committee is unwilling to impose any general censorship. However, because of the aggravated situation created by the editorial, the committee imposes a limitation prohibiting the further discussion of this matter or the issues raised, in editorials, stories, letters, or by inference in the remaining issues of Chimes.
3. The editor shall print this document and an appropriate apology which shall reaffirm his acceptance of the Faculty-Board Statement on Student Publications in the next issue of Chimes.
4. The writer of the editorial shall be dropped as news editor and from the editorial staff, shall not be permitted to write editorials, but may write news stories and feature articles, provided the latter are first approved by the Faculty mentor.
It will be evident from the above report that the Chimeseditorial did not meet with the favor of the college administration. However:
1. The action reported above is extremely mild in comparison with the offensive character of the editorial.
2. It is a locking of the barn after the horse is out.
3. It leaves unanswered the question whether the student publication gave expression at all to what is being taught in the school. It should not be forgotten that not only the individual writer is responsible for this editorial; those who allowed it to be placed in Chimesare equally responsible. And I simply cannot believe that this violation was not deliberate, as the statement quoted above would have us believe. If it was not deliberate, what was it then? Was it something that slipped through? I realize that a teacher cannot be held responsible for what a student says. But I also recognize that as a rule students give expression to what they have been taught by their teachers,—sometimes, to the dismay of the teacher, in a much more radical and forthright manner than his teacher would expect and desire. It is on this basis, as well as on the basis of the fact that I sometimes hear disturbing reports of the instruction given at Calvin College, that I suggest again that an impartial and thorough investigation be conducted. How much denial of the infallibility and sole authority of Scripture is there at the college, for example? How much denial of the truth of creation and how much affirmation of evolutionism is there? How much of the same sneering attitude toward systematic theology, “theological fence-tending,” and “remote abstractions,” etc., which was evinced in the condemned editorial is also found among faculty members?
4. No concern whatsoever is expressed about the corruptions of the Fine Arts Festival, with which the same issue of Chimes was filled. These things may be euphemistically called “the theater arts,” but they are more correctly called the corruptions of the world and the imitation thereof.
But there is added reason for alarm. For in a “Postscript” to the above-quoted article, the Editor ofChurch and Nation writes as follows:
In loyalty to Calvin College, Dr. L. Praamsma and I decided to make no mention of the Student’s article The Great Gap, nor of the decisions of the Students Publications Committee, even though we had serious objections to the former and serious misgivings about the latter. However, since another edition of the Chimes (“Chides”) has come to our attention in which The Great Gap is followed by an article entitled The Great Gag and we have found quite a few irresponsible statements in this article and in the further part of the issue as well—which may make it necessary for C and N to make further comments on the situation—I have decided to proceed with publication of the above materials anyway.
To illustrate what I am saying, here are two quotations.
In The Great Gag the author says: Second, learn to read the Stone Lectures like any other book. Expired they are. But might it not be only false pity that has led us to think that they are also interesting and relevant? If Kuyper says that Calvinism is reverently awaiting its future mandate on the beach at San Francisco when he means Orange City, Iowa, we ought to allow him that margin of error. We need not be North Beach Bohemians in order to be good Dutch Calvinists.
Another article is entitled: Gagantuan Scripture flown from Infallibility. It informs us about “what is thought to be the world’s most unmanageable copy of the Bible,” which would have been acquired by Calvin Library. It states:
Mr. J.P. Pragma, College Vice President of Promotion, commented that the new acquisition “is a gold-mine of promotional possibilities.” For example, airplane passengers flying over Grand Rapids could read selected passages from their windows. A schedule of opening the volume to selected proof-texts is currently being worked out in a series of open forums held by the .Religion Department and the Library Staff.
I always thought that jokes about the Bible betrayed bad taste. I am not fussy, nor a sissy, I think but here is something which requires not only discipline, but much rather some sound teaching.
The Editor of C and N may call this sort of thing “bad taste,” and Dr. L. Praamsma may speak of “not being dry behind the ears” in connection with the editorial that gave rise to this criticism. But this is more serious than a little student tom-foolery and immaturity. It is mocking of the Reformed faith; and it is also a sneering and satirical flouting of authority.
I repeat, therefore, and I do so both for our own parents and young people and for the Christian Reformed constituency: be warned! There is an evil spirit manifest in this material which has emanated from Calvin College. Even as all is not gold that glitters, so also all is not Calvinism which has the name of Calvin