In What Direction are We Going?
I have been reading and studying the recent editorials in the Standard Bearer with interest and dismay. We understand, of course, that these editorials were to inform our people of the events and various circumstances that were part and parcel of the Australasian Tour. We also believe that these articles served in no small way to prepare our Synod of ’76 to unanimously decide to grant the request of the congregation at Christchurch, New Zealand that one of our ministers labor in their midst as an Orthodox Presbyterian minister.
But I have some questions about this matter. Let me make it clear, I am not opposed as such to sending a man to New Zealand. But how and on what basis are we in good conscience going to send (or allow one to leave) to labor in the Presbyterian congregation at Christchurch?
Did Synod inquire into the creedal basis which will serve as the foundation of our minister’s labors there? We rightly understand, of course, that our minister will not be a missionary there but in very fact a Presbyterian minister of another denomination and particular church. If our minister was being sent there as a missionary many of, if not all, the questions and problems which I see would not be occasioned by such an endeavor.
I now present my questions. I believe that my questions are also shared by others in our churches.
What is the creedal basis for one of our ministers, who will remain an officebearer in our churches, to serve another denomination and congregation? Is it so that the session of Christchurch has or will accept the Three Forms of Unity of the Protestant Reformed Churches? Or will it be necessary for our minister there to labor under the Westminster Creed with its binding declarations concerning a conditional Covenant of Works and its unbiblical declaration of the right of the divorced to remarry? What about the demands of the Formula of Subscription upon our minister on loan in this regard?
Is this matter of Divorce and Remarriage a matter of non-essentials of which Article 85 of our Church Order speaks? Article 85 speaks of usages not matters of faith. Article 85 is not minimizing doctrinal differences or matters of a proper Christian walk. Would it be necessary that our minister on loan, who is supported both financially and spiritually by our PR people, to administer the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to a person whom we believe lives in a state of adultery? This is a very real possibility, isn’t it? Would not such a minister fall subject to discipline by the PR consistory which has loaned him to this OP Church at Christchurch, New Zealand? How about the matter of the baptism of the children of divorced and remarried persons?
Further, to what covenant view does the Church of Christchurch subscribe? Do they have an. Arminian view of the covenant which is so common in our day? It seems logical that if one holds to the conditional notion of the Covenant of Works that he would also hold to a conditional view of the Covenant of Grace. Or is this matter of a conditional or unconditional view of the covenant now non-essential? It was not non-essential in 1950-53 when many Dutch immigrants wanted to be served by our ministers and form PR congregations. Do we remember the “Declaration of Principles?” It is not pertinent in this case?
I ask: In what direction are we going? Is what we are now about to do in New Zealand proper?
Mr. Thys Feenstra
(editor’s note: for a reply to this article, see the Editorial Department.)
MORE ON COMPROMISE
The writer, N.D., is justly and rightly burdened with the injustice and wrongdoing of government compelling Christians to pay taxes for God-less, Christ-less government-owned and operated school systems. (see S.B., March 15, p. 781). He also condemns the government take-over of the deacons’ work to provide relief for Christ’s needy. He might have also condemned rightly as the work of the devil such sinful misuses of God-ordained government taxing powers as social security payments, government paid doctor and hospital expenses, handouts to farmers, government college scholarships and hundreds of other similar present day misuses of the power of government. These are not the duty and responsibility of government.
Government is ordained by God to execute justice and judgment, to punish evil doers and to praise them that do well. But sad to say, very few know what is true justice and what are God’s and Christ’s commandments for individuals, families, society and church; so we witness in our land the reign of confusion under the rule of Satan, the father of disorder, confusion and disobedience of divine commandments.
The Lord Jesus in His days on earth lived under corrupt and evil government. Think of the slaughter of many children at Bethlehem, of the beheading of innocent John the Baptist, and then later the crucifying and putting to death the-innocent Lord Jesus. Nevertheless Jesus taught by word and example the paying of taxes to corrupt and evil government, conferMatt. 17:27.
So the compromise is not that we pay taxes for all sinful misuses of government, but the compromise is that the church officially fails to witness to government against its evils, John 7:7. Citizens in the glorious kingdom of Christ also sinfully compromise when they apply for some of the many handout programs. These are very serious days for God’s people, Jesus warns His Church with great concern. He said if it were possible, even the elect would be deceived. What a responsibility have those of Christ’s ministers who claim to be Christ’s mouthpieces in the proclamation of the Gospel of His kingdom! Brethren, pray for them!
Brother Tilma makes a severe indictment when he writes that the “church officially” compromises when it “fails to witness to the government against its evils.”John 7:7 (the reader can look it up) says nothing whatsoever as to the duty of the “church officially.” If the brother means that it is the duty of our consistories, classes, and synods to make and forward to the government pronouncements on the various social, economic, and political ills for which our governments (local, state, and federal) are responsible, then I demur. The marks of the church are the preaching of the Word, the administration of the sacraments, and the exercise of Christian discipline. To this three-fold task the church must be faithful.