HOEKSEMA MEMORIAL LIBRARY
The Fund that was started some time ago for a Hoeksema Memorial Library to be added to the present library of the Seminary continues to grow. Our readers will recall that this Fund was begun at an anniversary celebration for Rev. Hoeksema, and that its purpose is to add to the present library a section dealing exclusively with works on “Dogmatics.” Its growth is dependent upon the collections of our Churches and the contributions of individuals or societies. There have been a few recent contributions which brings the total to $752.78.
Hope Mr. and Mrs.—$25.00
Redlands Men’s Society—$10.00
First Ladies’ Aid—$25.00
First Men’s Society—$50.00
Randolph Prot. Ref. Church—$5.60
Interest on savings account—$8.53
The Library Committee of the Theological School Committee is making plans for the spending of this money. The additions of these books to our Library will be welcome, for they are needed. To encourage young men not only from our own Churches, but also from other denominations to study in our Theological School, a library is of considerable importance. For study, for research, for preparation, a good and extensive library is indispensable. This Cause is highly recommended to our people.
Among all the strange sects that make their appearance on the Church scene, none is stranger than the “Laboring Order of the Ark.” The founder is a certain Joseph Lanza del Vasto who belongs officially to the Roman Catholic Church. With the 61 people that have joined his movement, he has established himself on the banks of the Rhone River in France and forced his group on the national attention of the French people.
The sect teaches a strange mixture of the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount and the teachings of Mohandas Gandhi, the late religious leader of India. Lanza was an apostate from the Romish Church in his youth, but now has returned. He believes that the Sermon on the Mount is really all that counts in Scripture. He studied for some time under Gandhi in his wanderings, and claims that Gandhi was the only one who really applied the teachings of Jesus. Here, he claims, is the union between Christianity and the pagan religions of the East.
The members all wear white monk-like costumes and wooden crosses to advertise themselves. They pray five times a day and begin each day with yoga-like exercises. Anyone, of whatever denomination, may join the movement if only he will express a belief in God, take several vows—among them the vow of poverty, and will subject himself to the discipline of the group.
The group tries to be self-sufficient, raising their own vegetables and making their own clothing. This is rather necessary for really they think that their primitive and “world-flight” kind of a life is the true fulfillment of the Sermon on the Mount. But there is also a very practical purpose in this. They believe that presently man is going to destroy his world with all his inventions that he uses to frighten and subdue his fellow man—his bombs and rockets. When this terrible cataclysm takes place all culture and science will be destroyed and man will have to return to a simple mode of life. Then, in the words of the founder, “we will have a head start on the rest of humanity.”
Jesus’ words are surely being fulfilled when He told us that men would say, “Lo, here is Christ; lo, there is Christ.”
And this is all within the Roman Catholic Church.
Rev. H.J. Kuiper has died. He was editor of The Banner from 1929 to 1956 and managing editor of the Torch and Trumpet from soon after his retirement in 1956 to his death last month. In 1924 and the following years, he was an ardent defender of the three points, of common grace which the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church adopted and which was the doctrinal cause of the breach between that denomination and our own. In more recent years, he became more conservative in the defense of the Reformed faith and spoke very little of common grace. He was a vigorous defender of the truth against the errors of mistakes in Scripture, the “period theory”—especially its evolutionistic implications, and the universalism inherent in Arminianism. He fought against these errors especially as they reared their heads in his own denomination. Yet he never saw—or admitted that he saw—that the evils which he fought in the last years of his life were, to a considerable extent, the fruit of the three points, of common grace. When it was time to harvest the crops of the seed sown in 1924, the harvest was too bitter for him.
Another conservative voice in the Christian Reformed Church is hushed in death.
Rev. Ned B. Stonehouse is dead. He was born in Grand Rapids, graduated from Calvin College in 1924, received degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and from the Free University in Amsterdam in 1927 and 1929. Since the founding of Westminster Theological Seminary in 1929, he was Instructor and Professor of New Testament. He taught with such well-known men as Dr. J. Gresham Machen and Dr. Cornelius Van Til. He wrote many books, among them a biography of Machen which was also a history of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and an apology for its split with the Presbyterian Church USA.
He died at the age of 60 and was buried in Grand Rapids
MAN OF THE YEAR?
At the very beginning of every new year Timemagazine has a custom of choosing out one single man as its “man of the year.” This man is supposed to be the one of all world figures who “dominated the news that year and left an indelible mark—for good or ill—on history.” This did not come as too much of a surprise this year when Time chose Pope John since the Vatican Council attracted more publicity even than John Glenn or Fidel Castro or Nikita Khrushchev. Although one never ceases to be amazed at the amount of publicity this godless Church can gain for itself. So the lead article is about the pope of Rome and about the Council he called and about the impact of that council on the world’s Churches.
John himself is already characterized as one of the greatest popes of all time. Although he has only occupied the papal seat for a comparatively short time, and although rumors persist that he is incurably ill, he is said to have made already a greater mark on his Church and on the world’s Churches than any other pope before him.
This is all due to the Council he called. While he is said to be unusual in that he, more than any other pope, is a humble man, a man of the people, a man who takes into his heart the illnesses and fears of all mankind, his council is his reputation.
The Council is a critical business. To understand it all one must know that there is in the Roman Catholic hierarchy a “Curia composed of some of the most conservative members of the clergy in all the Romish Church. These conservatives—mostly from Italy and permanently stationed in the Vatican, did not want the council at all: but now that it is meeting, do not want it to do anything that will change the Church in the least. Although they have tremendous power in the Church .as a whole (e.g., they control all the seminaries throughout the world, all the Church’s missionary work, all its ecclesiastical and liturgical legislation) and tremendous influence on the pope, John succeeded in freeing himself from them and freeing the Council from their influence. The result is that the liberals in the Church are having a heyday—their voices are being heard for almost the first time; their problems are being discussed; their demands for change are getting a sympathetic ear.
So far the Council has accomplished little of concrete significance. It is not finished; its second session will be held sometime in September. But especially in three areas are the liberals so far carrying the day.
1) The Council passed a resolution to approve the change of various parts of the liturgy. While previously no bishops could make any change without the approval of the Curia, now each bishop can decide for himself whether he prefers certain parts of the mass to be read in the language of his country rather than in Latin. The content of this motion is not as important as the fact that the power of the Curia is cut down.
The Curia wanted badly to defend the historical position of the Church that said that the truth of God could be known both from Scripture and oral tradition. This was, in fact, a major point with the Reformers who insisted that Scripture alone was the sole rule of faith and life. The Romish Church has always clung tenaciously to tradition. Its doctrines of the infallibility of the pope, of the immaculate conception, of the assumption of Mary, of purgatory, were founded on the authority of tradition. But the Council sent back for re-writing a document drawn up by members of the Curia which maintained this position. The liberals don’t want to antagonize Protestants any more with this point. It’s hard to tell what they want in its place however. They surely will not repudiate the doctrines already accepted and based upon tradition.
3) The liberals are also trying hard to get the Church to soften its stand on such matters as church-state relations, religious liberty, and hierarchical authority. They do not want the Church to take the position that church and state ideally should be one with the pope the head of it all. They would like to reverse the Church’s historical position that Roman Catholicism has the right to impose its religion on a nation even by means of persecution. They want to take some power from the clergy and give the laity a greater voice in Church affairs. Also a report on this was sent back for re-writing, because the Curia again had tried to hold the traditional line.
But most interesting of all, the whole purpose of the Council is said to be to make the Church more relevant to our modern times. By this old clichÃ© is meant that science has made vast conquests in knowledge and technology which the church has usually ignored. These advances include such things as the discovery that life may exist on millions of other planets; the proof for the evolutionary development of man; science stands on the threshold of creating life in its laboratories; science has called into question the traditional doctrines of Scripture—the flood, the prophet Jonah and the whale that swallowed him, the star of Bethlehem, etc. The main calling of the Church, in Pope John’s opinion, is to assimilate these findings of science into the teachings of the Church and harmonize the dogma of the Church with them thus bringing the whole Church up to date. Then once again the church “can speak to our modern world.”
In order to accomplish this more effectively, John says, the Church must be one. Hence all the talk about union with Protestants. Hence all the anxiety on the part of Protestants to look favorably toward Rome. When the Church is one, it can speak with one voice. Speaking with one voice, it can speak effectively and in a voice that will be heard by all men. Then science and religion will together bend their efforts towards the betterment of man and the attainment of Paradise.
The trouble is that this “voice” is not the voice of God through Jesus Christ and through His Word, but the voice of the devil through Anti-Christ. It is an appealing voice, appealing to the flesh, for it makes men very great. But it is a voice to which the Church may never and will never bend her ear.