RELIGION ON CAMPU§
A brother sent me a clipping from a campus newspaper of one of this country’s larger universities. An article entitled “Agnosticism Defined” is presented in the paper, according to the editor, “to put religion in its proper perspective by presenting another side of faith on campus.” Admittedly, the article is written by a student, and this student is only one in thousands. But it shows clearly where “religion” goes in this country of “freedom of religion”; it shows the dangers of attending secular schools when this stuff is openly encouraged; it shows what happens when proud men will no longer bow before the authority of the Word of God. The following excerpts are taken from the column:
An agnostic believes it to be impossible to know the truth concerning the existence of God and the nature of an “after-life” largely because of the lack of scientific evidence on either side. An agnostic suspends judgment until more facts are presented. He may hold that the existence of God is highly improbable, if not impossible. He may even go as; far as claiming that it is not worth considering in practice.
The agnostic views with uncertainty what constitutes good and evil . . . Sin is not a useful notion, and because of its existence we find the concept of hell. Punishment for undesirable conduct is to be commended when it is of deterrent or reformatory nature, not when it is inflicted because it is thought a good thing that the “wicked suffer.”
If a soul is considered to be a spirit which persists after death, an agnostic is unlikely to believe man has a soul. Most agnostics are weary about the body as well as the soul.
Are agnostics afraid of God’s judgment in denying Him? Of course not! I deny Zeus, Juggernaut, Moloch and Brahma, and this causes me no qualms. If there were a God, I think it would be highly unlikely that He would be vain enough to be offended by those who doubt His existence.
The agnostic does not think the Bible to be divinely inspired; he regards it as an early collection of myths. He thinks its moral teachings to be both good and bad. Samuel ordered Saul to kill not only every man, woman and child of his enemy, but to kill all their sheep and cattle. Saul, however, let the sheep and cattle live, and for this the Bible tells us to condemn him.
Agnostics cannot accept Christ as God, but can admire the life work of Christ as told in the Gospels.
I do not believe in miracles if one considers them to be reversals of natural law. As for the other records of miracles, I point to the fact that all religions are plentifully supplied with legend and folklore. There is as much evidence supporting the miracles performed by the Greek Gods of Homer as there is for the Christian God of the Bible.
I do not think life has any meaning. It just happened. Individual people have meaning and there is little in agnosticism to cause them to lose this meaning. I respect the person who searches for his own meaning without the crutch of religion, more than I do the person who must look to the sky, for inspiration.
What must we do? On our own feet we must approach the problems confronting us with a strong belief in science and logic. We must no longer seek allies in the sky, but must look to ourselves to make this world a place where justice and freedom and all the other good in man can be realized.
The author of this article begins by giving an attempted definition, but soon turns it into a personal and blasphemous diatribe against the truth of Scripture and a mocking condemnation of the saints who have and do confess their faith in God. There is no question about it that this type of thing is very common in our country; but it does not take away the shudder that comes over one as he thinks of the awfulness of the sin.
The ecumenical movement with its prosperous mergers goes on.
The most talked about of all mergers is the so-called “Blake-Pike Plan,” which hopes eventually to unite the Methodist, Episcopal, United Presbyterian and United Church of Christ denominations. Since these four denominations have begun their talks last year, two other denominations have joined the discussions-the Evangelical United Brethren Church and .the Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ). 54 delegates from these churches held their first talks last year in Washington. This year they are meeting in Oberlin, Ohio. Some results of the meeting:
—The delegates were asked to secure from their denominations authority to participate in the writing of a plan of union.
—A report was adopted which defined Scripture as being witness to God’s revelation but not as revelation itself. These Scriptures are said to be inspired, but neither the nature nor the extent of inspiration is spelled out. This fundamental question therefore is left vague and general enough to permit for specific denials of the truth of infallible inspiration in all parts of Scripture. This will now leave room to compromise all Scripture’s truth.
—The adopted report also dealt with the problem of the relation between Scripture and Tradition. It is characteristically vague on the question of whether there is authority in Tradition apart from Scripture. Tradition is said to be “the whole life of the Church ever guided and nourished by the Holy Spirit, and expressed in its worship, witness, way of life, and its order.” In relation to this the Scriptures are said to be “the supreme guardian and expression of Tradition.”
—Invited as observer-consultants were representatives from the American Baptist Convention, the Anglican Church of Canada, Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, National Baptist Convention of the U.S.A., inc., Presbyterian Church in de U.S., Reformed Church in America, Religious Society of Friends, and the United Church of Canada.
Perhaps the question of the relation between Scripture and Tradition was decided with the delegates throwing side glances towards Rome which makes so much of tradition and gives it an authority apart from and independent of Scripture. If so, this is a fundamental departure from the Reformation which stressed the authority of Scripture alone.
The Methodist are also discussing merger plans with the Evangelical and Reformed Churches. Both have agreed to form five committees to develop a plan of union. These five committees are Committees of Faith and Ritual, Ministry, Ecclesiastical Program and Organization, Relations Outside the U.S.A., and Institution and Property. They will submit the basis for union to the Methodist Conference in 1966.
On the other side of the globe, merger proposals are also afflicting the churches in Australia. A commission of 31 members have recently issued a go-page report on problems involved in the merger of the Presbyterian Church and the Methodist Church and the Congregational Church. If such a merger should ever be successfully accomplished, the resulting denomination would be called the Uniting Church of Australia and would have a membership of over 2,000,000 people.
However, there was some dissension within the committee. A majority and minority report emerged, the majority favoring the creation of bishops in the Church and a “concordat” with the Church of South India. A “concordat” was defined as being more than mere cooperation, but less than full merger. The Church of India also has bishops. The minority opposed these points.
The argument in favor of appointing bishops evidently hung on the desire of the majority to seek union shortly with the Church of England in Australia, a denomination numbering 3,700,000 members. This denomination has always had bishops, following its parent body in the British Isles.
Although these divisions appeared, leaders felt confident that merger could be achieved even though it might take up to five years for a final vote to be taken.
Although not directly related to the growing movement towards merger and outward ecclesiastical unity, it is of interest to note that last year the Southern Baptist Convention in this country became the largest denomination outside the Roman Catholics. Up till last year, the Methodist have held this distinction. But they were at last passed by the rapidly growing and evangelically minded Southern Baptists. The latest reports of membership show that the Methodists now number 10,153,003; while the Southern Baptists have attained to the grand total of 10,193,153.
Bigness has become an idol. Men worship bigness for its own sake without regard to doctrinal integrity and Scriptural truth. Discipline is outmoded and ignored while the denominations boast of their size. (Although it must be admitted that the Southern Baptists have taken a stronger stand on verbal inspiration than some Reformed Churches; and have ousted from professorship a man who denied the literal truth of the first eleven chapters of Genesis). One wonders how these ecumenically fanatic people explain the fact that Scripture repeatedly asserts that the Church of Jesus Christ is always, through all time, only a remnant, and that according to the election of grace.
REFORMED CHURCH IN NEW ZEALAND
In the island of New Zealand just off the coast of Australia, there is also a Reformed Church. This Reformed Church has close contact with the Christian Reformed Church, and has in fact, received ministers from the Christian Reformed Church into their denomination.
Last Fall these Churches held their Synod with 10 congregations represented. The majority of the churches have no buildings of their own and many are without their own ministers.
Some of the decisions which they reached are:
—to seek correspondence with the Free (Vrijgemaakte ) Churches in the Netherlands.
—to seek union with the Reformed Churches in Australia
—to promote the strengthening of the Reformed Ecumenical Synod.
—to retain membership in the International council of Christian Churches of which Rev. Carl MacIntyre is the President.
—to send a missionary to the island of Formosa.
—to begin work on a new Psalter Hymnal.
Our Radio Committee has received some correspondence from members of this Church requesting pamphlets and radio sermons.