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Shall We Take Inventory

In a magazine, THE BANNER OF TRUTH, July, 1975, page 14, appear a few statements which I wish to pass on to our readers. After writing that he had no true religion at all up to the time that he was about twenty years old, the writer offers the following which, though not an excuse for his conduct, may serve to some extent as an explanation of it:

I really had no opportunities or means of grace, so to speak, when I was young. My father’s house was respectable and well conducted but there really was not a bit of religion in it. We had no family prayers at all, except on Sunday nights and that only occasionally. My father and mother went to church and took us on Sundays, but I never could see that the service, or sermon, were regarded as anything but a mere form. Conversation on a Sunday went on much as on weekdays. Letters were read and written, newspapers read just the same as on weekdays. We dined early and had plum pudding, which was always a joyful thing, and we also had an extremely good hot supper, and sometimes oysters and hot ale. The elder members of the family on Sunday evenings in winter used to read sermons to themselves in separate corners of the room. But they all used to look so unutterably grave and miserable over them, that I privately made up my mind that sermons must be very dull things, and religion must be a very disagreeable business. Macclesfield with only 35,000 people had only two churches and in neither of them was the gospel preached. The clergymen were wretched high and dry sticks of the old school and their preaching was not calculated to do good to anybody. I can truly say that I passed through childhood and boyhood without hearing a single sermon likely to do good to my soul.

I do not quote this because I believe that it is completely applicable to our homes and to our conduct upon the Sabbath. I certainly do not believe in legalism, and that what we do or fail to do as such upon the Lord’s Day has any merit in itself. But I do believe that the first day of the week is the Lord’s day, and that we should not spend this day as we spend any other day. And I have quoted this because I would ask our readers to take inventory of themselves, and to ask themselves: how do I spend this day which the Lord has separated from the other days of the week? I believe that this question is of great importance. 

WOMEN IN ECCLESIASTICAL OFFICES 

In the Banner of August 22, 1975, appears the following from a Rev. B. Mulder, pastor of a Christian Reformed Church in Alberta, Canada, a delegate to that church’s synod, which the editor of the Banner has quoted in his editorial:

The other day I began to reminisce a bit about that long and emotional discussion we delegates had on the floor of Synod of 1975 regarding women in church office. 

There was the traditional view, born of good and long tradition, which holds that Scripture must be taken at face value, also with regard to this question. In that view there are two golden strands running through the whole Scripture. The one strand has to do with the salvation of male and female alike, the bestowing of the gifts of the Spirit on both sexes, the realization of the Pentecostal dream that your sons and daughters shall prophesy. Those who take this road assert no inferiority on the part of the female, no slavery for her, neither hidden nor overt. They simply believe that God has made both sexes magnificently in their own way and in their own order, so that they are both fellow heirs of salvation as well as living witnesses to the grace of God. 

The other strand, equally clear in Scripture, shows that male and female do not have the same function before God. The woman is to be submissive to the male because of the creation order, for the male was created first and the woman after that. This, says Paul, is what the Torah, the law, says about her. 

There is yet another reason mentioned in

I Tim. 2,

but we are not going to indulge in all sorts of repetitions of what has been said ad nauseam on the subject already. In any case, as the study report said, “the literal enforcement of this (biblical) rule . . . . would forbid the ordination of women to the office of elder . . . . as defined by the Church order.”

Then, after asserting that the big question is whether it is to be enforced what the Bible says about this matter, and that the Bible says NO to women when it comes to holding office, and also stating that there was another approach on the floor of Synod to this question, namely that the Bible must always be read against its own cultural and historical background, the writer concludes:

If, then, anyone thinks that the matter of the ordination of women is a rather innocent affair once it is stripped of its emotional overtones, he or she ought to have another look at it. A ship run aground is a warning for sailors, says a Dutch proverb in free translation; it would be utter foolishness for them to steer the same course as their hapless examples. The vote on the floor of the 1975 Synod was uncomfortably close, I thought. The whole matter will be back with us before long; in the corridors of the Fine Arts Center there was some foreboding talk about battles won and wars lost. Sad business, really.

Sad business, indeed. We, too, fear that the battle may have been won but that the war will ultimately be lost. And it would surely be a tragedy for the Christian Reformed Church should that church ever decide that women may hold office within the church of God. How sad it would be that, although the Bible emphatically declares that women may not hold office within the church, the church would nevertheless decide that this would be proper, and this because the Bible must be read against its own cultural and historical background, and that therefore what may have been in effect years and centuries ago is no longer applicable today. 

In connection with this same question, whether women should hold office in the church of God, there is an article in CHRISTIAN NEWS, Sept. 8, 1975, page 1. In this article it is stated that the LCMS (the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod) advocates the Scriptural position that women are not to hold office within the church of God. The LCMS has taken this position repeatedly. However, the majority of ELIMists (the moderate group among the Lutherans) reject this position of the Word of God, claim that the apostle Paul is or was in error when he forbade the women to hold office in the church of God, and they would maintain that women may hold office. Strange that these ELIMists should strive to maintain this position? Hardly! It is striking that that element who support the position that women may hold office in the church of God (and this is also applicable to the Christian Reformed Church) is constituted of those who deny the infallibility of the Scriptures throughout and who maintain that the Scriptures must be read and interpreted against their cultural and historical background. 

LABOR DAY 

In the Banner of August 29, 1975, the editor of theBanner writes on LABOR DAY. We need not quote the entire article. The following excerpts should be sufficient:

A holy day, Labor Day is. On which we give thanks for human energies, and organizing genius. On which we bless God for technology, and pray that He will grant wisdom for right use of it. A day to remember that all things made embody the lives of those who shared in their making. To remember that such made things are holy, for in them humanity itself is set aside for the common good.

So, now we understand that Labor Day is not only a holiday; it is a holy day. And we must remember that all the things that are made by human genius are holy, for in them humanity itself is set aside for the common good. Should not the people of God rise up in holy horror when they read this, this wicked modernism? I remind the editor of the Banner of Jabal, Jubal and Tubal-Cain, in the Old Testament, before the flood, the wicked children of the wicked Lamech. I assume that the editor of the Banner also believes that the products of these men are holy, inasmuch as they were set aside for the common good of all mankind. Well, the world was destroyed, because of these men. Of course, there is nothing wrong in things, themselves. But we must thank God for these holy things, holy because they serve the common good of all mankind? The world was destroyed because of these children of Lamech, and the same will occur at the end of the ages. 

And then we read this:

How shall mankind know the use of all God’s blessings lest He also tell us? And how shall mankind hear except He send bearers to this generation of His prophetic Word?

That the fruits of labor and industry may feed, clothe, and provide opportunity for all men—this, surely, is the intent of the inspired prophetic Word. That none shall lose their souls to luxury while others succumb to grinding want—this, surely is the temporal intent of the Gospel. 

On this Labor Day it is imperative that the Church confront again its mandated obligations to the marketplace—that is what Biblical prophetism is all about. 

And it is a measure of the Church’s dereliction of, its command to preach truth to power that often ideologies usurp the divine prerogative in the minds and hearts of men earnestly thirsting after righteousness. 

It’s a day to pray with the Psalmist, as we reflect upon another year of labor past, and anticipate doing what we can in the year opening before us: “Establish Thou the work of our hands upon us, yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it.”

Ps. 90:17

And what can and shall we say about this modernistic corruption? Now we know what Biblical prophetism is all about. Here we read of men, all men, who are earnestly thirsting after righteousness. I know of only one righteousness, and that is the righteousness of the cross, of Calvary, the righteousness of the Son of God and the Son of Man, the righteousness which is bestowed only upon the elect people of God. This is the only righteousness I know, and this is the only righteousness which is held before us in the inspired Word of God. And now we may also know what Moses meant when he, inspired, wrote these words in Ps. 90:17: “Establish Thou the work of our hands upon us, yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it.” This, Editor De Koster, refers to God’s covenant people, the work of His grace and Spirit, and that the work of our hands is established by the Lord, does not mean that the Lord works, approvingly, in the hearts and upon the hands of wicked men whereby they seek the advancement of that which is from below, but that we may be active in the work of His grace and covenant. I am only amazed that an editor of a magazine, which claims to be Reformed, such as the Banner, could write these words.