Reformed!! ??. . . .
In The Banner of January 17, 1947, official organ of the Christian Reformed Churches, the Rev. J. M. Ghysels, in his “Meditation” department, writes as follows:
“Once I read of a rich man whose wife died, and not long afterwards their only child, a little boy, followed the mother to the grave. The father never recovered from the shock of the double bereavement. After his death search was made for a will, but none could be found. At the sale of the household furniture, a maid, who had worked for the family, was present for the purpose of buying a portrait of the little boy, which had been hanging all the time on the wall. She had dearly loved the child when alive, and now desired to have his picture. It was sold to her where it hung, and when a little later it was taken down, the will was found fastened to the back of it, and when read it was discovered that one of its main stipulations was that the person who should purchase the portrait of this much loved son would have all the property.
“Now this is a good illustration of what God has said to us in the gospel. If we accept, honor, and love His Son, He will make us heirs of all things.” (Italics mine, W.H.)
Whenever we read statements of this nature in The Banner, and this is not an isolated instance, it causes mixed emotions to rise in our soul. The first feeling is that of sadness, for it is a sad plight when these Arminian stones are fed as Reformed bread to attempt nourishment in the way of Meditation. Our sadness, however, does not primarily concern itself with the leaders who produce such stones but rather goes out for the thousands of simple sheep given to their care; who unwittingly and unthinkingly are the recipients of such fare. They are being deceived and poisoned by their own trusted shepherds; that’s a cause of deep sorrow.
Our second emotion is that of surprise. Surprise that though time and again such “food” is served in The Banner to its constituency, there is seldom, very seldom, a voice of protest and rebellion. How is it possible that all the 23,000 readers of The Banner, both of clergy and lay-men, can stomach this fare. Is there no man, in whose soul, such utterances cause the pangs and pains of indigestion to arise? Is it possible that in the historically sound and Christian Reformed Churches there has been accomplished an almost complete lethargy and lack of discernment?
Our third reaction is that of amazement! Isn’t it amazing that in a denomination which professes and prides itself in being a Reformed stronghold, a truly Reformed note is no more sounded in a leading department of its official organ? Certainly there must be a man somewhere amongst the vast resources of the Christian Reformed clergy who could write a Reformed meditation. We cannot believe that this is the best they have to offer. Or is it, perhaps, indicative of a trend and purposeful writing; a definite and deliberate movement from the professed Truth and adopted standards to popular untruth and Arminianism? If it is, it is even more amazing!
Finally, it fills one with righteous anger. The Banner and the Churches for which it speaks, claim to be the spokesmen and defenders of the historic Truth of the Calvinistic Reformation. Yet, in such instances, they reveal that they have lost, or cast out, the very fundamentals and heart of that Truth. When a group of Churches loudly flaunt themselves to be the last stronghold of the Reformed Truth, yet deny it in their very official expression, it arouses the indignation of anyone with a sense of propriety and understanding of that Truth.
The Catholic Hour . . . .
According to a report in Time magazine of Feb. 3, 1947, Msgr. Fulton J. Sheen of the Roman Catholic Church, has begun his 17th series of Radio talks. His first address of this new series sounded a note of warning as they contained a prophecy to be read in the signs of the times. Msgr. Sheen declared that “the signs of our times point to two inescapable truths’’. The first of these is “that we have come to the end of the. . . . chapter of history which made man the measure of all things. . . .the death of historical liberalism.” It has died because it attempted to build on the basis of a moral man, according to the Msgr.
“The second great truth to which the sighs of the times portend is that we are definitely at the end of a non-religious era of civilization, which regarded religion as an addendum to life, a pious extra, a morale- builder for the individual, but of no social relevance.”
The speaker went on to prophecy that we are entering a new era which “might be called the religious phase of human history.” He hastens to add to this that he does not mean “that men will turn to God, but that indifference. . . .will be succeeded for a passion for an absolute. . . . Men will divide themselves into two religions. The conflict of the future is between the absolute which is the God-man and the absolute which is the man-God; the God who became man and the man who makes himself God; between brothers in Christ and comrades in anti-Christ.”
Following this he goes on to ridicule and deny the popular and mythical picture of the devil. He declared: “Nowhere in Sacred Scripture do we find warrant for the popular myth of the devil as a buffoon who is dressed like the first ‘red’. Rather is he described as an angel fallen from heaven, and as ‘the Prince of this world’ whose business it is to tell us that there is no other world. His logic is simple: if there is no heaven, there is no hell; if there is no hell, then there is no sin; if there is no sin, then there is no judge; and if there is no judgment, then evil is good and good is evil.
“But above all these descriptions, our Lord tells us that he will be so much like Himself, that he would deceive even the elect”. Here Msgr. Sheen does not mean that he will attempt or purpose to deceive the elect but that his desire will succeed, for as he states a bit later: “Because his religion will be brotherhood without the fatherhood of God, he will deceive even the elect.”
His conclusion is as follows: “Jews, Protestants, and Catholics should unite against a common foe. It is not a unity of religion we plead for that is impossible when purchased at the cost of the unity of truth, but a unity of religious peoples. . . . In a word, if anti-Christ has his fellow-travelers, then why should not God and His divine Son? . . . .We may not be able to meet in the same pew—would to God we did—but we can meet on our knees.”
There is much of truth and discernment in what this spokesman of Romanism had to say, but there is also much that is misleading, not only, but erroneous and not in harmony with the Word of God. What he predicts of an “end of a man-made-measure” of all things he denies when he declares, correctly, that the coming conflict will be with “the man who makes himself God”. And this man, the anti-Christ, Scripture teaches, will not only be a-moral but positively immoral as well. The present course of history and all the Word of God emphasizes that the trend of things will be, just exactly, to elevate and glorify man and to depart more and more from the Absolute God. Further, that relative human standards shall be the measure and basis of development out of which the anti-Christ shall rise. Cf. 2 Thess. 2.
It is hardly necessary to refute and deny the statement that “he (anti-Christ) will deceive even The elect”. This is certainly without Scriptural basis. On the other hand all of Scripture teaches most clearly the preservation of the saints, by the grace of God, through the end of time.
Finally, his conclusion and remedy leads us in just the wrong direction. His plea for a “unity of religious peoples”, which he conceives as a possibility without unity of truth, must necessarily promote the cause of anti-Christ. Msgr. Sheen and, perhaps, too much of nominal Christendom, lose sight of an important Scriptural truth. The Word of God teaches that anti-Christ does not arise out of the known heathen world nor from an evident godless community, but rather shall arise from a united “Church” which has forsaken the principles of scriptural truth and is federated on the basis of compromise and utility. The only Church that shall maintain itself and be preserved unto the end is that which is “joined and united with heart and will, by the power of faith, in one and the same spirit”, i.e., upon the basis of the basis of the Truth of God’s Word, without compromise or equivocation. When the time comes that Church shall be united not only in its prayers, but in faith and practice as well—and be small, very small!