From time to time one must make an effort to catch up with a large number of relatively unimportant items which accumulate in the file. These are items which are of some interest to our readers and are worth some comment, but they really do not merit a column by themselves, nor even a half column in the Standard Bearer. One faces a time of decision when the pile accumulates: they must be used or they Must be thrown away.
This column for this time is a “catch up” column; and we include in it a number of these less important matters.
There are still a number of issues in the courts which are connected in one way or another to the general problem of parochiaid. Christianity Today reports on the following:
*Missouri school officials have refused to send public school teachers into parochial schools to help in federally funded remedial reading programs. The issue is now before the Supreme Court.
*In a number of states a kind of “reverse shared time program” is being practiced. Our readers will recall that “shared time programs” involved the sending of parochial students to public schools for instruction in such subjects as were “religiously neutral.” This new program involves the sending of public school teachers into parochial classrooms to teach “religiously neutral” subjects. The practice has been ruled unconstitutional by the Kentucky federal court.
*The parochial and private schools in Maryland had been lobbying for money from the public funds of the state to purchase books and provide bus service for their schools. They want $7.5 million dollars. The state assembly had approved such a plan earlier, but it was rejected by the voters. If such a measure should be accepted, books purchased under such a plan would remain the property of the state, and would be screened to see to it that the books contained no “religious instruction.”
*The voucher plan has been instituted in an experimental basis in New Hampshire. According to this plan, parents with children in private or parochial schools will receive vouchers from the state or federal government which can be cashed in at the school of their choice and which can be redeemed by the school with money from the public till. This experimental program is being financed in its initial stages by the federal Health, Education, and Welfare Agency (HEW).
*New York State had adopted an “interim plan” to allow up to $1,700 in tuition grants covering the first two years for each student attending a public or private (including church related) school on the college level in the state.
The more one hears and reads of all these various programs being tried, the more one becomes convinced that state aid to education in private schools is a plague to be avoided.
Childish Decisions For Christ
An interesting note was found in a recent issue of The Banner in which a psychiatrist and Sunday School teacher told members of a conference on Christian education about the dangers of children accepting Christ as Savior. This psychiatrist was particularly opposed to children accepting Christ in early childhood because it could well lead to confusion later on in life. Oftentimes, so the psychiatrist informed his audiences, such early acceptance of Christ leads to doubt rather than assurance in later years.
Although one is tempted to make more than a few comments on this opinion of the psychiatrist, what is particularly interesting is the unstated implication that a decision to accept Christ made later in life is without such dangers. This we dispute. The whole idea of accepting Christ as Savior is Arminian, in that it rests upon the fundamental premises that salvation is brought about by an act of one’s own will. This always leads to doubt. For not only must one by his own will make the initial decision to accept Christ, but one must also persevere in that—and, again, by his own strength and power. This can only lead to uncertainty and doubt. The Canons of Dordt specifically address themselves to this question in more than one place, and our Belgic Confession very beautifully expresses the truth of the matter when it says: “Moreover, though we do good works, we do not found our salvation upon them; for we do not work but what is polluted by our flesh, and also punishable; and although we could perform such works, still the remembrance of one sin is sufficient to make God reject them. Thus then we would always be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and our poor consciences continually vexed, if they relied not on the merits of the suffering and death of our Savior.” (Art. XXIV)
The doctrines of sovereign election and sovereign grace alone lead to assurance. And the believing parent (and teacher) makes no effort to lead a child to accept Christ, but instructs on the basis of the sure promises of God’s everlasting covenant of grace.
Marriage Counseling A La The World
In all the problems of life including those which arise in marriage, the Scriptures give the only solutions. When the solutions of the Scriptures are abandoned, then other solutions are invented which turn out to be no solutions at all, but which aggravate the problems or create new ones. Sometimes, however, the desperate attempts to find solutions are really very funny. Such an attempt was recently reported in Newsweek—and in all seriousness.
It seems that in some counseling centers partners of a troubled marriage are aided by playing a game with electric trains. “To play the game, husband and wife sit at opposite sides of a large board divided by a low partition that prevents them from observing each other’s moves. But they can see one another’s faces over the partition and are free to discuss tactics and strategy as the, game progresses. Using individual control panels, each partner directs his own train forward or backward over one of two paths to a terminal point. There are two routes, a direct one and a long, winding one. A quick trip is rewarded with imaginary pennies and a slow trip is penalized. If both partners choose the direct route, there is a “collision” (indicated by a red light) just short of the terminal point, and one or both players must back up their trains so that the game may proceed. Each player also controls a barrier that prevents his partner’s train from moving until he chooses to remove it.
“During this confrontation, each partner has options: he can play primarily against the clock (he starts to lose pennies after 30 seconds); he can compete heavily against his partner by employing the barrier though this can cost him time in getting his own train through; or he may decide to cooperate with his partner to get both trains to the terminal in the least amount of time.”
The way people play the game reveals, according to psychologists, unconscious patterns and rules which govern marital relationships. According to various “interpretations” given by the psychologists, much is learned concerning what is wrong with the marriage, what needs to be done to correct the marriage, or whether divorce is inevitable.
When asked how happily married couples would play the game, the inventor of this method of therapy replied: “The fact is that happily married couples just don’t come to see marriage counselors.”
On Growing Old
Newsweek also carried a feature article rather recently on the subject “Can Aging Be Cured?” The thrust of the article was that science is bending every effort to increase the lifespan of people, and the hope is that within a short time, life will be able to be prolonged indefinitely. Already some startling breakthroughs have been made.
There are several thoughts which come to mind when one reads this sort of thing. 1) There is a certain irony about it. On the one hand, science does all it can to prolong life while on the other hand, science openly advocates ending life. The prolongation of life is claimed to be a worthy goal for those who often suffer from all kinds of illnesses and who have nearly finished their life’s path. The ending of life is considered to be a worthy goal for unborn babes who, humanly speaking, have their whole life ahead of them if it is not brutally terminated by an abortionist’s sophisticated equipment. 2) The assumption underlying such efforts is that death is normal and that aging is a disease which can be, according to the title, “cured.” Scripture tells us that death is not normal; it is the sentence of God’s wrath upon sinful man. And aging is not curable, but is the inevitable realization of God’s curse. 3) Although even the child of God quite naturally clings to life, he realizes that growing old is not always something to be coveted at all costs. For one who belongs to Christ, death is the end of an oftentimes weary pilgrimage and deliverance into the blessedness of God’s house with many mansions. There are many things he fears more than death.
An Unfulfilled Prediction
A long time ago, perhaps as long ago as last summer, one of our readers sent me an article clipped out of a newspaper in which a number of scientists predicted “a moderate quake” within “several months” about 100 miles southeast of San Francisco. While earthquake predicting is a favorite pastime, not only among scientists but also in the companies of self made seers and would be prophets, this prediction was especially newsworthy because it was made by government scientists, it was backed up by a wealth of empirical evidence, and it was the first attempt to forecast the strength, exact location and approximate time of an earthquake. Well, the three or four months have come and gone and no earthquake has been recorded anywhere near that area.
While we do not dispute the fact that it is within the realm of possibility that scientists may reach a point in the science of seismography where they will be able to do some fairly accurate predicting of earthquakes much after the fashion in which they predict the weather, it remains a fact that scientists forget that God sends earthquakes. Scripture tells us not only that God shakes the earth, but that these very earthquakes are signs of the coming of Christ. There will always be a certain unpredictability about them, therefore, culminating in the final destruction of all things. God often surprises us, and God often surprises the scientists with their most accurate guesses.