Prof. Decker is professor of Practical Theology in the Protestant Reformed Seminary.
The Fastest Growing Religion in America
One of every five individuals in the world claims to be an adherent of this religion. Both Europe and the United States are undergoing an explosion of evangelism by this religion. More than four million in the U.S. profess to be adherents of this religion. The goal of this religion is to have six million followers in the U.S. by the year 2,000. Already four million dollars have been earmarked for evangelism in America.
The religion of which we speak is Islam, The first mosque and Islamic center was built in Washington, DC in 1949. Today there are over one thousand mosques and Islamic centers in the U.S. Chicago, alone, is home to thirty-four mosques! There are more Muslims in the U.S. than in Libya. By the year 2,000 they expect to be the second largest religion in the U.S.
The Muslim “bible,” the Koran, has many references to Bible characters such as Adam, Abraham, David, John the Baptist, and even Jesus. Muslims believe in one supreme God whom they call Allah. They deny the deity of Jesus Christ and His atoning death on the cross. The resurrection of Jesus is blasphemy to them. Salvation by grace is replaced by salvation by good works.
Let us not believe every spirit, but try them by the test of Scripture. “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (I John 4:1-3).
Gleaner, Published by Evangelical Baptist Missions
Troubles Escalate in CRC
Earlier (December 1,199l issue) we reported that the Christian Reformed Church in North America was losing churches on account of dissatisfaction over the issues of women in church office and creation/science. At that time we reported that the First CRC in Lethbridge, Alberta (Rev. Jelle Tuininga, pastor) and Trinity CRC in St. Catherines, Ontario (Rev. Calvin Tuininga, pastor), both with a large majority of their respective congregations, had severed relationships with the CRC. In addition, 17 families from two other Ontario congregations formed an independent Reformed Church with Rev. Jerome Julien as pastor. This latter congregation continues to grow and now numbers some 45 families. Rev. Julien, in a recent conversation with this writer, indicates that his congregation feels a sense of relief. There is unity among the members, who enthusiastically receive the Word preached. Because of continued growth and because of the number of visitors at the worship services they are looking for a larger place of worship.
Since our last report, several more congregations or portions thereof have withdrawn from the CRC. These include Wellandport, Ontario; Salem, 0regon;andPompton Plains, New Jersey. Twenty-one families (38 confessing members and 31 baptized members; 69 members total) have left the College Avenue CRC in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The council of the large (600 members) Mount Hamilton, Ontario church informed the congregation by letter that, “Unless the CRC shows clearly and concretely at the Synod 1992 meeting that it repents of its sins and returns to the Word of our God . . . we cannot remain within the federation of CRC.”
Again, let it be understood we do not glory in the troubles experienced by the CRC. It is our conviction that these troubles would have been avoided had not the leadership of the CRC opened church offices to women and had they taken a firm, biblical stand on the doctrine of creation. But church splits are never nice. Already there are disputes over property settlements. Court cases are likely to occur. Families are divided. These are all extremely difficult experiences. But none of these difficulties may hinder God’s people from fighting for the truth of His inspired and infallible Word. We commend these brothers and sisters for their courage.
GKN Turns 100 in 1992
The Gereformeerde Kerken (GKN) will mark their 100th year in 1992. It was on June 17, 1892 that two separated churches merged at a union synod in Amsterdam. The one church, Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerken (CGKN, afscheiding) seceded from the state church, the Hervormde Kerk (NHK), in 1834. The other church was the doleantie (grieving), which broke from the NHK in 1886 under the leadership of Dr. Abraham Kuyper, Sr. Some in the CGKN refused to approve of the union, and they remain a separate denomination to this day. Their seminary is in Apeldoorn, and they are the mother church of the Free Reformed Churches in North America. Several of the ministers of this denomination received all or part of their seminary training in the Protestant Reformed Seminary.
The GKN has long since departed from its Reformed roots. It allows homosexuals in the pulpit, and denies the biblical account of the creation of the heavens and the earth. Some of its theologians do not consider the virgin birth of Jesus to be a necessary ingredient of the Christian faith. The GKN is in the process of reuniting with the NHK.
The 100th anniversary was the subject of a special issue of Centraal Weekblad, a GKN newspaper. Rev. E. Overeem said that they were not celebrating, nor even remembering. That would be a kind of triumphalism, he wrote. Rather, he called for a rethinking of the events of 1892. Other contributors noted that the two uniting churches had, in the main, two distinct spirits. Those of the earlier separation, the afscheiding of 1834, brought a deep piety with them, which they had inherited from earlier re- viva1 movements. The doleantie brought with them an emphasis on the church as an organism, which expressed itself actively in many spheres of life. Overeem called these differences “the depth and breadth” of the GKN.
While the synod of union in 1892 was all celebration, these and other differences persisted in the GKN. Each party continued with a sense of its own identity. Within the GKN there were “A kerken” (afscheiding) and “Bkerken” (Kuyperian). The afscheiding group argued, correctly, that the institute of the church was responsible for the training of ministers, and they maintained the Theological University of Kampen. Kuyper and his followers argued that a society-controlled university was responsible for theological education, and they maintained the Free University of Amsterdam. The two factions also differed over the question of the authority of the local consistories compared with that of the major assemblies (classis, synod).
In light of the apostasy rampant in the GKN there is little to celebrate. How quickly, less than a century, that great Reformed church departed from the faith. Let him that stands, take heed lest he fall!
Reformed Ecumenical Council
Conservatives in Mainline Churches Getting Vocal
Among United Methodists, the “Memphis Declaration” may be the most talked-about item between now and May 5, when the denomination’s 1992 General Conference convenes in Louisville, Kentucky. The proclamation, signed January 25 in Memphis, TN, by some 80 clergy and lay members of the United Methodist Church (UMC), calls Methodists to return to biblical faithfulness and urges General Conference delegates to vote to uphold traditional sexual mores during the upcoming assembly. “Let us cease to debate homosexual practice as if the witness of the Scripture and the tradition of the church were not clear from the beginning,” the proclamation declares. Many prominent UMC evangelical leaders signed the document, including Bishop Richard Wilke of Little Rock, Arkansas and William Hinson, pastor of the largest LTMC congregation in the country, First United Methodist of Houston.
Three members of a Presbyterian committee on abortion said they “cannot stand before God” and affirm the wording of a report the panel will present to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) this summer. Dr. Tom Miller, one of the three dissenting members of the PCUSA’s Special Committee on Problem Pregnancies and Abortion, said “the truths of Scripture are being played down” in the majority report ratified January 19. The statement, to be released March 1, frowns on attempts to ban or limit access to abortion, but it outlines both pro-life and pro-choice views on the issue. Miller and two others on the committee wrote their minority report in order to express “what we believe is an obedient response to the lordship of Christ and the authority of Scripture.”
National & International Religion Report