On Masons and Membership
In the Banner of August 29, 1975, under “Voices,” James Daane of Fuller Theological Seminary, has an article on “Masons and Membership.” He writes:
About fifteen years ago I contended in the Reformed Journal that if Christian Reformed mission effort brings a man to faith in Christ, the church is obliged to accept such a man into its membership even if he is a member of the Masonic Lodge. I claimed this on the ground that if Christ accepts a person the church may do no less. Not to accept him would be a sectarian act.
Now, many years later, the Rev. George Vander Weit makes the same plea (Banner, May 16, 1975). He contends that any Christian whom God through His Spirit brings to the Christian Reformed Church must be accepted even if he is a Mason. He is, of course, right. He has, furthermore, asked the CRC to prove him wrong by officially declaring that the reason a Christian Mason cannot belong to the CRC is that such a person is not a Christian but a child of the devil.
This the CRC, of course, will never do. Why not? Because although the CRC argues that the religion of Masonry is incompatible with the Christian religion—which it is—nonetheless the CRC recognizes that saints are still sinners, that a Christian can inconsistently be a Mason and for all of that still be a Christian. The CRC’s basic position on this matter is not that a Christian cannot inconsistently be also a Mason, but that it does not want such inconsistent Christians to be members of the CRC.
Is this a legitimate position? I make no brief for Masonry. I think its religious aspects are profoundly un-Christian. But I also believe it is profoundly unbiblical for a Christian church to exclude from its membership any authentic Christian whose conduct or doctrinal views are less than wholly Christian. The CRC is untrue to its Lord when it excludes those whom Christ has accepted, and the CRC is sectarian when it maintains conditions of church membership that exclude Christians from its membership.
Now in the first place, James Daane does not state why the CRC does not want such inconsistent Christians in its fellowship. However, I can give him some very good reasons.
James Daane maintains that a Mason can be a Christian and therefore should be accepted into the fellowship of the church. He concedes that the religion of Masonry is incompatible with the Christian religion. So, one can be a Christian and at the same time deny the Christ! If such a man be a Christian, he is surely not walking and revealing himself as a Christian, and the church of God must judge a man, in this instance, according to his appearance. Besides, does not the Saviour say in Matt. lo:33 that “whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven?”
James Daane maintains that a Mason should be accepted into the fellowship of the church of Christ. How, then, would the sacrament of baptism be possible, when it is promised before God and His church that the child will be instructed in the doctrine as taught in this Christian church? How, then, can there ever be public confession of faith when it is promised before God and His church that he will maintain the truth as taught in this church and that he will fight every heresy repugnant thereto? How, then, could Christian discipline ever be exercised against any heresy, when a person can be a Christian regardless of what he believes and confesses?
Notice how miserably and inexcusably weak James Daane is. He concedes that Masonry is incompatible with the Christian religion. He writes that Masonry is profoundly unbiblical and un-Christian. Rev. Daane, Masonry is anti-Christian, even as Arminianism is not merely un-Christian and un-Reformed, but anti-Christian and anti-Reformed.
James Daane would welcome Masons into the fellowship of the church of God and of Christ. This means that James Daane would not hesitate to welcome wolves into the sheepfold of Christ. He would not hesitate to expose the church of God to every heresy. Does he not know that the Saviour warns against those wolves? Does he not know that the church of God is exhorted to keep that which it has, that no man take our crown? Does he not know that, according to Eph. 4:14-15 the people of God and the church of the Lord are exhorted to be not as children, tossed about with every wind of doctrine? James Daane would not hesitate to expose the church of the living God to ruin and destruction.
OPC-RPCES UNION FAILS TO GAIN SUFFICIENT VOTES
The Presbyterian Journal of June 15,1975 informs us that this union fails to gain sufficient votes. On page 5 we read the following:
BEAVER FALLS, Pa.—In voting tallies which surprised both observers and participants, the Orthodox Presbyterian General Assembly approved a proposed merger while the Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod voted against a plan of union which had been ten years in the making.
The Orthodox Assembly, which had been expected to reject the plan, voted 95-42 in favor.
In the RPCES General Synod, the vote was 122-92 in favor, slightly less than the two-thirds required.
Following the vote, which was taken after a full day of debate scheduled by both bodies, both Churches adopted statements of continued interest in on going discussions but without setting any particular deadline for another vote. However, the respective union committees were directed to continue their contacts in hopes of an eventual merger.
It was generally conceded that a deciding influence in the RPCES General Synod were remarks made by the Rev. Francis Schaeffer, who spoke against the union proposal.
Our readers may recall that The Standard Bearer has written sometime ago about this merger. There are difficulties involved, such as Arminian and premillenarian tendencies. However, this merger may yet come to pass.
ARE WE HEADING FOR A SHOWDOWN?
In The Outlook the editor, Rev. John Vander Ploeg writes editorially on the above subject. This article appears in The Outlook of Sept., 1975. We need not quote the article. Rev. Vander Ploeg directs attention to conditions in the Christian Reformed Church. The attention of our readers has been directed repeatedly to these terrible conditions. And I may add that the editor of The Outlook has also called the attention of his readers repeatedly to these conditions. And now he asks the question: Are we heading for a showdown?
Our comments will be very brief. First, Rev. Vander Ploeg, how long must this continue before this showdown is finally reached? And, secondly, what must be done with those in the Christian Reformed Church who believe in and advocate these terrible departures from the Word of God? How long must they be tolerated? How long can you recognize them as brethren and have fellowship with them and sit with them around the same table of the Lord? If you can tolerate them, what guarantee is there that you will not tolerate them in the future.
WORD AND CHURCH
In the Banner of Sept. 26, 1975, the editor also writes on: Word and Church. We quote:
So we, too. The rescued must come to the Rescuer: “What, O Lord, would You have me do?”
The divine and inspired answer is spoken to us through the Scriptures. Here and here alone is to be found, as we confess, the infallible guide both to faith and to life—to belief that issues in doing.
Fundamental, then, to the role of Christianity in the world is always this question: what of the Bible?
Every attack upon the Scriptures weakens the impact of Christianity upon human behavior. If the guidelines are blurred, the path is obscured and our steps become uncertain. The moral confusion so characteristic of our era bears eloquent testimony to what follows for human behavior when the Bible has been riddled by criticism, speculation, and skepticism.
What can and shall we reply to this? To this we say a hearty AMEN. How true, editor of the Banner! How true that the moral confusion so characteristic of our era bears eloquent testimony to what follows for human behavior when the Bible has been riddled by criticism, speculation, and skepticism!
Yet, to anyone who loves the truth that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, from Genesis through Revelation, these words of the editor of the Banner are a hollow sound. They mean so little. Fact is, this same writer has written in a booklet that the Bible does not tell us whether the evolutionistic theory of creation is true or the theory that the world was created by God’s almighty power. He wrote that the Bible does not bother to settle this issue. And, editor of the Banner, do you believe that the Bible is infallibly inspired from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation?
In the Banner of Sept. 12, 1975, under “Voices” appears a short article under the above heading. See page 20 of this issue of the Banner. We quote the following:
Prosperity, affluence, material success can never be equated with the favor of God; much less as a reward or payment for faithful service.
There is more in this article. The writer takes issue with one who had written that “the farmer in India may experience success equal to that of the Iowan farmer if he would only take the “positive Christian outlook, taken as a whole and taught by Calvin.”
We were so surprised to read in this article that prosperity, etc., can never be equated with the favor of God. Did this writer ever hear of the theory of common grace? This is exactly the position of the Christian Reformed Church that prosperity must be equated with God’s favor. Sunshine and rain, etc., are all tokens of the favor of God. I assure the writer of these words that the Protestant Reformed Churches hold to this view that God’s favor must never be equated with things, and we have held to this teaching of the Word of God throughout our existence, ever since 1924.