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IS THE CHRISTIAN’S CALLING ORGANIZATIONAL? 

In the March 6 issue of the Canadian Reformed Magazine there appears a review of the book “Out of Concern for the Church.” In this review, the author touches upon some criticisms of the A.A.C.S. and the C.L.A.C. and other Christian organizations which we consider valid and which we have ourselves long felt to be justified. The proponents of separate Christian social organizations and the authors of the book referred to above have long insisted that the real essence of the Christian’s calling in manifesting the kingdom of Christ here upon earth is the organization of a Christian political party and a Christian labor union especially to subject these spheres of life to the rule of Christ. The author of the article to which we refer criticizes this position on the grounds that a Christian organization takes over the calling of the individual child of God. A few quotes from the article will give the general idea which the author states.

The booklet under discussion (Out of Concern for the Church) made the impression on us that, in the mind of the five authors, the Christian organization has to take over from the individual Christian as well as from the state, society, etc. Although we have repeatedly written about this in previous years, we will again try to make ourselves clear. We must, then, keep in mind that the ideas about Christian organizations of the A.A.C.S. men must be evaluated against the background of their concept of the ‘body of Christ’ and the (modest) place of the ‘society structure of the ‘institutional church’. It all boils down to this: the ‘body of Christ’ encompasses much more than what we call the (true) Church. This ‘super temporal’ body becomes visible, not only in the church . . . but also and with similar impact in ‘other’ Christian ‘societal structures’, such as political, educational, scientific, and artistic organizations. . . . 

In previous years we have maintained over against the writings of Mr. VandeZande, Dr. Seerveld, and others, that Christian organizations never can nor may take over from the individual Christian his kingdom calling, i.e., to be a readable letter of Jesus Christ in the family, in the neighborhood, in the store and on the job, in conversing with fellow-citizens. The authors gave the impression (by that time they were writing for the C.L.A.C.) that you cannot be a good Christian laborer if you are not a member of the C.L.A.C. Because in the C.L.A.C. the ‘body of Christ’ is revealed and we have to appear on the scene of labour unitedly, communally as not only members of that body but as the body proper. We agree, of course, that a Christian organization may help me in the various callings I have but it is not supposed to take over from me my Christian duty and responsibility. I do not enter the plant as representing the C.L.A.C. nor does the C.L.A.C. with me, enter the plant. I enter there as an employee who, whether organized or not, has to work there in such a way that others can notice that I am a member of Christ, a child of my heavenly Father. 

The same goes for my ‘political calling’. . . . 

On the other hand, the above-mentioned authors give the impression as though, if only all members of all churches understand their calling, the Kingdom of heaven will be established upon earth. Or, in other words, our goal seems to be that several organizations-of-Christians will, or will have to, take over from the government, from the social structures, from the department of education, etc.

Then, in connection with these last remarks, the author states:

In the first place it is unwarranted optimism to envisage “all denominations’ as taking part in this movement. The authors . . . should learn to speak more in the terms of the Reformed Confession with its distinction of the true and the false church. Scripture speaks about a (small) remnant that will remain faithful in these last days. The authors do not deserve the consent and cooperation of the Reformed Christians as long as they do not drastically change their concept of the Church. 

In the second place it is unwarranted optimism to draw a picture of the future with such bright colors as they use. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. We must not try to make people believe that, if only everyone cooperates, we can create a Christian world, a Christian state, etc. . . . 

It is ‘the last hour’. Christian organizations must not be expected to take over from the individual Christian his ‘cultural mandate’, nor should they act as though it is their calling to take over the life of the nation and whatever other ‘sphere of life’. We are and we remain strangers in this world….

With these criticisms we concur. It seems to us that they are very much to the point. Not only do Christian organizations take over the individual calling of the Christian, but they run the grave risk of leaving the impression with the individual child of God that he has fulfilled his calling when he has joined such an organization. He need no longer witness in his own station and calling in the home, the shop, and the world at large; the organization which he has joined will do this witnessing for him. His very membership in it is supposed to be such a witness, for it is the essence of the Christian’s life. 

And this is, after all, the easy way out. There is nothing so very difficult or soul-stirring in joining an organization. There is nothing so exceedingly pious about this. There is nothing in this which will bring him face to face with his calling: “Let your light so shine before men. . . .” Even if one should commit himself wholeheartedly to such a Christian organization, it is infinitely easier to crank out position papers on a mimeograph machine than face the world every day in the grim realities of the shop and street and maintain the cause of Christ in word and deed. And this latter is after all, the heart of the Christian’s calling. And let no man despise the many faithful people of God who, day after day, do this in their own humble and simple way.

ROCK MUSIC 

A couple of issues ago we began a discussion of rock music, which has become so popular in the world today and which is so attractive also to covenant youth. In that article we were making two assertions: the one was that, while all the music of the world is basically sinful, there is something uniquely wicked about rock music. It stands in a class by itself in the midst of the music of the world as something particularly devilish. The other assertion was that rock music itself is this kind of music altogether apart from the words which may be sung. The music is, of course, particularly adapted to themes which are sinful; and we shall examine this question a bit later. But for the present, the point which needs to be stressed is that, even if no words are sung, the music is harmful and does bad things to those who listen. 

We quoted, in this connection, a couple of men, one of whom has himself written and played rock music, but who, after his conversion, rejected it as being extremely evil. We quoted these men because they are the ones who ought to know. I do not know enough about music to be able to form an independent judgment; nor would my word count for very much. But one who himself participated in rock groups ought to know. We noticed that they invariably come back to the matter of rhythm when they discuss the evils of rock. And their contention is that the peculiar rhythm of rock music produces wicked physical responses in the bodies of the listeners. A couple of more quotes from these writers will illustrate this. 

In his book, “Music? Does It Make Any Difference?” Bob Parks is quoting another writer, Bob Larson:

Some argue that there is no such thing as an evil rhythm, I must differ with them. Because of the rhythmic nature of the human body, and the close association that rhythms have with the biological drives of the body, certain tempos will inherently evoke certain reactions, particularly in accompanying dances. This is a partial explanation for the erotic body movements of dances w>h syncopated rhythm.

The author himself then goes on to say:

He is saying that there are rhythmic patterns that by the very peculiarity of the arrangement of the accents and pulsations will naturally produce wrong responses in thought and action. . . . 

Continuing to answer the original question about good and bad rhythms, we still need to find out what makes rhythm good or bad, so we’ll be able to tell the difference. Let’s get one misconception cleared up first; it’s not the speed or tempo of a rhythm that brings the greatest offense. . . . Most of the problem comes in the use of altered or syncopated rhythms.

Then after discussing the whole subject of syncopation, the author continues:

Broken, jerky rhythms that are emphasized even above the melody itself call for strong physical reactions. Contemporary dances such as the Frug, Watusi, and the Monkey represent various physical reactions to individual rhythmic patterns of syncopation. The displacement of accents or their omission can cause the body to respond with a form of shock at the misplaced accent (where it is not expected), or it can cause the body to “lunge” physically to fill in a missing beat. In listening to the various styles of syncopated rhythms in many pop rock songs heard over the radio today, the perceptive ear can pick out certain identifying earmarks of each respective style. . . . Could they possibly restrain their desire to react? Certainly they could. That’s not what they do, however. Even if they did restrain themselves, emotionally they would be going through the same response they would physically but chose not to express. This, by the way, is one reason why it is impossible to listen to rock or syncopated rhythms without being affected. You can hold yourself back. You can comply with your parents’ wishes by not going through the contortions you might express physically. But you will never escape the emotional and psychological tension generated by the rhythm. That’s why I cannot accept the defenses of Christian teenagers who say they listen to rock music but do not “turn on” to it. 

There are good and bad rhythms. Good rhythms fulfill the purpose and intention of God for His gift of music. . . .

I am not sure that I agree precisely with everything which the above author writes concerning rhythms and syncopation. It is difficult for me to tell, but the general gist of his thought is very much to the point. And that is that the rhythm of the music itself is of such a kind that it does evil to a person. This is substantiated strongly by an article which appeared some time ago inNewsweek in which the whole field of rock music was discussed at length and was commented upon favorably. The gist of the article was that the force of rock music is precisely its physical impact upon the listener along with its emotional and psychological influence. We quote one paragraph in which the article is talking about a rock group by the name of Jagger and the Stones.

“I’d say they are the greatest rock ‘n’ roll group in the world,” says rock producer Glynn Johns. “They’ve done things to an audience no one else has. Mass hysteria is an understatement.” Seldom understated, the Stones precipitated a turned-on frenzy and unleashed a submerged rebelliousness in both boys and girls as no other group did. Where the carefully groomed Beatles came across in the beginning as kicky, sassy boys next door to be swooned over by crush-ridden teeny-boppers, Jagger and the Stones immediately homed in on the deeper, fugitive malaise bubbling in the more sophisticated youth of both sexes.

It is apparent from all this that rock music is evil and devilish and can have nothing but disastrous consequences in the life of those who listen to it. We shall, the Lord willing, return to this later. 

(The quotes from Bob Parks’ book are used here with permission.)