Two Magazines Unite
The R.E.S. News Exchange of Oct. 9, 1979 reports on the merger of two well-known conservative magazines:
In March 1935 the well-known J. Gresham Machen founded the Presbyterian Guardian. In its history this paper has primarily functioned as the ‘house organ’ of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. It has been, however, an independent monthly and representation on its board has come from several denominations. At the present time six Guardian board members are from the Presbyterian Church in America.
Now this magazine, probably after the October issue, will become part of the Presbyterian Journal, an independent weekly of Asheville, North Carolina. As part of the plan worked out by the boards of both magazines, five members of the Guardian board will join the present twenty-five members of the Journal, and the Guardian assets will become part of the new enlarged Journal ministry.
The merger will not leave the Orthodox Presbyterian Church without its “own” paper, however. That denomination has undertaken to launch a specifically denominational paper, developed along the lines of the monthly Messenger of the Presbyterian Church in America.
The Presbyterian Journal has served the conservatives in the Southern Presbyterian Church as well as the new Presbyterian Church in America. It has also sought to gain acceptance within several of the other Presbyterian denominations.
A “Conservative’s” Answer to Discipline
Dr. L. De Koster, in the Banner of August 17, 1979, has a few words to say to and for the conservative. In an editorial, he rejoices that the Synod of 1979 shows that the conservative is still able to turn the course of the church from paths of liberalism. His proof of that is the decision of the Synod to study again the issue of women serving in the office of deacon—and hold in abeyance further elections and installations of women .into this office. Two interesting facts come forth from the editorial. First, De Koster is a “conservative”; he says so. I quote:
I think that the mind that came alive in all these manifestations (at Synod—GVB.) is the conservative mind, a mind of which I count myself a supporter. . . .
I count myself, I say, a conservative. Say, if you prefer, a Calvinist. That implies a certain sober security of mind. Conservatism stands where it has stood across the centuries—from long before Calvin, of course. And being secure in its roots, conservatism can let the winds blow, the voices cry, the criticisms come and go, without worrying too much.
However, De Koster is careful to point out that he is not to be included with certain “reactionary” conservatives:
And then, alas, some few conservatives compensate for their supposed irrelevance by going reactionary and lashing out at random against persons and trends and minds among us—just to show that they are alert after all. This kind of poor, irrelevant, pointless thrashing about is frequently illustrated among us by the “News Bulletin” of the Association of Christian Reformed Laymen.
As a “conservative,” however, Dr. De Koster would allow rather free rein to those of differing views. It is his opinion that the Banner rightly allows people of many divergent viewpoints to write. He is also very much opposed to any sort of discipline of the “liberal” in the church. It is his opinion that the erroneous views of mistaken men will “crumple of its own inner hollowness.” He would not have Verhey or Boer to be put out of the church. He writes:
Well, in a word then: there’s naturally room, in a “conservative” Banner, for other points of view. A room which the other points of view do not, commonly, (and significantly) give to each other. And you can learn something from that, about the real strength of conservatism. . . .”
Do you think, for example, that the purposes of the Church are best served by pursuing constructive programs in obedience to the Word? Or by lopping off the head of a Verhey or a Boer, mistaken as they both seem to me to be?
Rather, put your energies into affirmation of the Truth, of the Word and the Confessions—and error will crumple of its own inner hollowness.
Just a few remarks on the above. I’ve said it before: the church is not well-served when in its church paper all sorts of writers of differing views—views conflicting with the confessions of the church—freely write. De Koster may suggest that the “error will crumple of its own inner hollowness.” Ultimately, of course, it does. But in many cases, that error “crumples of its own inner hollowness” only at the time when Jesus returns on the clouds of glory. In the meantime, it would appear that the church, in its denominational magazine, gives its stamp of approval upon divergent views. Need it be pointed out that the error always appears to be more popular, and the youth particularly susceptible to the error, so that De Koster’s proposition is nothing short of playing with fire? Eve listened to the lie of the devil in Paradise. Her children have done the same since. People of God must be alerted to and warned against the lie. But surely the lie must not be presented by members of the church as though it is the truth. Rather than “crumpling,” the error festers as a sore, working to the destruction of the body. Rev. Peter De Jong, in the Outlook of October, 1979, nicely refutes from Scripture this mistaken argument:
That Word throughout commands us to oppose those who in faith or life turn from or lead away from the gospel and forbids us to tolerate them. Recall Paul’s warnings to “turn away from” those who “are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine” of the apostles.
Recall how he had to order the easy-going, tolerant, Corinthian church to “Put away the wicked man from among yourselves.”
Remember that the Lord Himself in the letters to the seven churches commended the Ephesian church because it would “not bear evil men” and tried “them that call themselves apostles, and they are not and didst find them false” and because it hated “the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”
On the other hand, the Lord sternly rebuked the Pergamum church for tolerating “some that hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication” and also “some that hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans'” (2:14,15). In the same way He rebuked the Thyatira church for tolerating “the woman Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess; and she teacheth and seduceth my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols,” threatening to bring His own judgments on the unfaithful (2:20ff.). Consider in this connection too His concluding warnings to those who venture to tamper with His Word (22:18, 19) that they would receive His judgments and forfeit a place in His city.
De Jong continues by pointing out that these passages of Scripture clearly require proper church discipline—one of the three marks of the true church of Christ. De Koster, however, sets forth neither a Scriptural nor Reformed position of discipline. He speaks of discipline as “lopping off the head of a Verhey or a Boer, mistaken as they both seem to me to be.” Now Verhey denies certain obviously literal passages of Scripture. Boer has denied the doctrine of reprobation, and then necessarily the Reformed view of election as well. These are not little matters. They strike at the very core of the truths of God’s Word—and the confessions of the Reformed churches. Surely, if anything. requires discipline, this should. Yet De Koster believes that the errors will crumple of their own inner hollowness. And he has a terribly sad view of discipline: “lopping off the head.” Even excommunication, according to the form for this, is called a “last remedy.” It may never be viewed as “lopping off the head.” Discipline and even excommunication is used to bring sinners to repentance. If this is not thus used, two evil results follow: the love of Christ is not manifested by the church toward the sinners—and they continue steadfastly in their sins. And, secondly, the errors which are unrebuked, multiply within the church as does the leaven within the bread. De Jong also points this but when he writes of De Koster’s view of discipline as a “caricature and totally misrepresents the motive and purpose of the discipline which the Bible commands. We notice in Matthew 18:5, 6, that it was the Lord’s love for His ‘little ones’ that explained some of the sternest warnings he ever uttered concerning the seriousness of causing them ‘to stumble.’ And. He went on in the following verses to give instructions about how discipline must be exercised in order to prevent or remove such offenses.”
With such sort of “conservatives” and “conservatism” within the church, the foundations of the church will doubtlessly soon be destroyed.
Ordination of Homosexuals
Christianity Today, Oct. 19, 1979, reports on the debate in the Episcopal Church on the ordination of practicing homosexuals within its midst. For the time being, this church has rejected the proposition—though there was much agitation for such action.
The homosexuality issue surged out of the closet and onto the floor of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church last month.
The debate was for and against the ordination of avowed, practicing homosexuals. Perhaps not since the United Presbyterians debated, and then rejected, ordination of practicing homosexuals in the summer of 1978 has a major Protestant denomination studied the issue so seriously.
In the end, the church’s two-chamber legislature rejected homosexual ordination. Its House of Bishops and House of Deputies (clergy and lay delegates) approved a resolution stating, in part, “it is not appropriate for this Church to ordain a practicing homosexual.” The resolution was in the form of a recommendation, not mandatory legislation; but many were pleased that now, at least, the church is on record against such ordination.
The above decision is hardly reason to cheer. The “gay movement” claims a rather large number of priests in the Episcopal. Church are practicing homosexuals. There is, apparently, no discipline of these. And the decision was in the form of a “recommendation,” not a requirement or rule. Surely apostasy is rampant in this day and age!