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“Down With…All Gambling”

The above title heads an article appearing in The Christian News, Oct. 20, 198q. It was written with a view to combating the growing desire to gamble. Several states, evidently, in November voted whether or not to sanction bingo and other forms of gambling. Of course, Michigan did not have to vote this time. For some time already not only has bingo been legal, but the state itself conducts a well-advertised lottery. In most grocery stores, when one pays the grocery bill, the clerk inevitably asks, “Any lottery tickets today?” One can not help but notice, not infrequently, an individual pay for most of the groceries with government-provided food stamps while paying cash for several lottery tickets. Even the ignorant must recognize that something is radically wrong. 

But, to return to the above-mentioned article. In it, the writer states:

. . .Bingo is the third largest gambling enterprise in the United States. Casino gambling is first, horseracing second. 

On any given day close to a million Bingo players, mostly women, and mostly elderly will spend at least $10-$12 for a few hours play. Annually this comes to a $4.5 billion cash business. That’s as much as Americans spend on movies and records, ten times as much as they spend on baseball, football, basketball an hockey. 

Gambling has become big business throughout the world. Wayne Pearson of the Nevada Gambling Control Board has said that “Statistically, gambling is the normal thing. It’s the non-gambler who is abnormal in American society.” 

According to a U.S. Commission on Law Enforcement, “Law officials agree almost unanimously that gambling is THE GREATEST SOURCE OF REVENUE for organized crime.” Every week four million Americans make illegal bets with bookmakers. On an average fall weekend, when football games are played across the U.S., between $50 and $60 MILLION are bet illegally. The gambling fever never lets up. 

Two years ago a Reuters story from London noted that “Gambling, perhaps the world’s oldest obsession, is flourishing today as never before.” It said that “The figures involved are astronomical. In the United States alone, the turnover in legal gambling is believed to amount to some $19 billion.” 

. . .Professor E.L. Hebden Taylor wrote in the June 9, 1980 Christian News in an article titled, “Extent of Gambling—CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE ON GAMBLING”: 

“No Christian can engage in any form of gambling for he is a steward of all the time, talent, and treasure entrusted to him by God. Can he honestly use his gifts in gambling when his winnings are gained at the expense of another’s losing? and where the “house” is ultimately the only winner? Can he expect to get something for nothing? 

“It is claimed that the stock market, farming, raising a family, even (according to some theologians) faith is all a gamble. Therefore, why is the wagering of money in a game of chance any less moral than the investment of time, money and effort in the chance game of life? 

“Life does have its normal risks which we must accept with faith and courage. But these normal risks are in no sense morally equivalent to the risks taken in a game of chance. Gambling offers artificial risks in the hope of excessive gain, gain far beyond what the investment of time, money or skill justifies. And the chance taken is unrelated to creative effort such as that called for from the farmer or the stockbroker who invests his mental and physical resources. At the gambling table money changes hands according to the luck of the players involved. 

“The Christian knows that ultimately life is not a gamble, a risk, a game of chance. Rather, life is lived in the providential care and keeping of God whose self-giving love has been revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Viewing, human life as God-directed and supported takes the odds out of life and transforms it into a response to God’s counsel and plan for the believer. 

“Gambling elevates money and material gain to a place of priority in human life; it encourages dependence on chance rather than on the providence of God. The gambler uses the individual as a tool for his own profit. . . .” 

In a resume on “What is Wrong with Gambling” the paper says in part: 

“That it violates the commandments mentioned above by ‘stealing, taking neighbor’s money or goods’; he is not willingly giving it, but hopes to be lucky enough to take your money or goods; by coveting, by trusting to luck rather than in God and at times by invoking God in situations or risk or sin, and ‘robbery by mutual consent.’ 

“That it abuses the 4th petition and discourages trust in the providence of God, trusting, instead to chance. While we ask for God to give us our daily bread on the one hand, we at the same time squander that ‘bread’ and look to goddess chance or lady luck for blessing. 

“That it is trying to get something for nothing, the easy way, desire for gain without labor or production. 

“That it is pleasure obtained at another’s expense and generally against his will. 

“That it feeds fleshly desire for mammon arid encourages covetousness, which is idolatry. 

“That it is addictive as much as alcohol or drugs. It is estimated there are 6 million compulsive gamblers in the United States, all of whom are sick. 

“Caters to unwholesome competitive spirit and disregards neighbor’s possessions. 

“That it may lead to corruption, cheating, crime, bribery, embezzlement, moral deterioration of victims, suicide, ruin careers, break up families. . . .”

Much more was written. But let this suffice. Gambling is sin—a sin of a most vicious sort. One wonders about the critical financial position in which the state of Michigan finds itself. This has been blamed upon the recession; concentration of industry in one area (automobiles); foreign imports of cars; etc. Doubtlessly, the greed and sinfulness of man has a large part in all of this. God surely can not look with favor upon those who openly and legally gamble. In addition to many other sins, there is this one in which the state encourages its citizens to gamble. Inevitably, the poorest and least financially able ones do. One wonders whether the Christian ought not to promote a drive to place on the ballot a proposal to rescind all laws permitting gambling or allowing the state to conduct this. The sin is having its inevitable consequences in the citizens who participate. 

And the child of God ought to be warned never to participate. There is the temptation to try it everyone does. Rather, oppose this evil and condemn it for what it is. 

The Crystal Cathedral

The RES News Exchange reports on Dr. Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral:

On September 14, 1980 the Garden Grove Community Church in California, a member of the Reformed Church of America (RCA), dedicated its Crystal Cathedral. The steel and glass structure features more than 10,000 window panes and accommodates 2890 people in opera-style seats. At the opening of the church, pastor-founder of the congregation, Dr. Robert Schuller, was able to announce that the total cost for the construction, 18 million dollars, had been received in cash, gifts, or pledges. The church, an architectural masterpiece, was designed, by architect Philip Johnson. 

Recently Dr. Schuller, a graduate of Hope College and Western Seminary in Holland, Michigan, briefly returned to Western Michigan where he was well received by his colleagues in the RCA. Dr. Schuller has often been under fire in his denomination for his type of preaching. Schuller, who clearly favors his ties with the Reformed Church, openly admits: “I believe in the Bible, but if people want Bible preaching they can get it elsewhere.” He has also been much criticized for erecting this lavish Crystal Cathedral. . . .

Much might be said about the size of this “congregation” and about the amount of money invested in its building. One might indeed wonder whether this is done, after all, to the glory of God or for the enhancement of man. But what is most disturbing of all is the remark of Schuller, which was reported also in the Grand Rapids’ Press, “I believe in the Bible, but if people want Bible preaching they can get it elsewhere.” That sounds exactly contrary to the statement of that great preacher in Scripture, Paul, who said, “For I determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified” I Cor. 2:2. It appears, then, (if Schuller was correctly quoted) that he not only does not have Bible preaching, but by that very fact shows that he does not believe the-Bible either—at least not the whole of it. Otherwise, he would preach what Paul did. 

Readmittance of the Excommunicated

The Presbyterian Journal, Nov. 5, 1980; quotes:

The Vatican will review the case of Galileo, the 17th-century Italian scientist and astronomer condemned as a heretic by the Roman Inquisition for teaching that the earth revolved around the sun, a Vatican official announced here. 

Bishop Paul Poupard, an auxiliary bishop in the Paris archdiocese who is acting president of the Vatican Secretariat for Non-Believers, said a commission had been set up to look into Galileo’s case in connection with a study of science and atheism. 

The French prelate, who is also rector of the Catholic Institute in Paris, said he would be directing the research on “the historical level,” and that the commission would deal with the Galileo case “with complete objectivity.” 

The announcement came just short of a year after the pope told a distinguished gathering of scientists and cardinals at the Vatican that Galileo had been “wrongly” condemned by the church and, as a consequence, had “suffered greatly.”

Well—so much for the infallibility of the Romish Church. One wonders whether that body will soon get around to removing the ban on Martin Luther and expressing sincere sorrow for the persecution of many of God’s people at the time of the reformation. But that, I suppose, would be far too much to expect.