The “Contributions.” of the Rev. G. Lubbers and brother J. King appearing in the SB of Jan. 15, 1956, reflecting on an article the undersigned wrote in the SBof Dec. 15, 1955, demand an answer, Both of these brethren, and perhaps there are others, were deeply offended by a certain expression undersigned used which appears in quotation marks above. These brethren applied it to the little church at Creston, while others may have applied it to themselves, especially those who were described by me as bypassing a church to attend elsewhere.
It is this offense that I desire to remove if possible by apologizing for the use of that expression. I confess that I used the expression carelessly, not being conscious at the time I wrote it of all the evil implications it contained, as both the brethren have ably pointed out to me. I realize more than ever that words have meaning, and one who writes or speaks should weigh them carefully. I want to assure these brethren that the thought never entered my soul that Creston was “playing church” when it stood firmly in the midst of the battle recently waged in our churches when by the act of schism or by the exercise of Christian discipline the greater portion of this church fell away. Nor did I ever think Creston was “playing church”‘ when each Lord’s Day she preaches the Word and administers the sacraments, and at each Classical meeting asks for Classical appointments. If I did, I would have refused to accept such appointments and stated publicly my reasons for doing so. Nor is it so that when I keep such appointments at Creston that I feel in my soul that I am helping her to “play church.” Nor do I believe that everyone who bypasses Creston, or any other church for that matter, to attend the church of his choice across town is necessarily guilty of “playing church.” I feel now that I have offended good people by the use of that expression, and for this I am sincerely sorry.
However, I do not wish to have my apology destroy all that I wrote. The intent which was not evil, but good, I will defend.
I purposed to lay it upon the heart of all those who bypass the church of their neighborhood to attend another of their choice to weigh heavily their reasons for doing so. And I admit that I had in the back of my mind the church at Creston when I wrote. That surely could not be considered evil of me that I addressed myself to Creston’s neighbors to cause them to reflect seriously on the reasons why they do not attend there. I was seeking the good of Creston as well as that of the people in question. I realize, of course, that you cannot legislate church membership, you cannot force people to go to any particular church though did suggest that maybe such a rule might be helpful. I also realize that there may be good, cogent reasons why a family goes across town to worship. But I also have reason to believe these reasons are not always sound. It was therefore my purpose to impress upon them the necessity of weighing seriously in their own minds the reasons why they bypass a small struggling church to attend a larger one where this condition does not obtain. I know this is a ticklish subject, and please do not think it evil of me that I say what I think.
I am also of the conviction that the small struggling church that resides in a city where three or four other churches are flourishing should ask itself the question not only why it is being bypassed, but ultimately also whether it should continue. I do not believe that just because the Lord has led the church through deep and bitter ways that this necessarily means that it is His will it should continue. The condition of the Church of Philadelphia (Rev. 3) is beside the point, as I see it. It was separated by at least 25 miles from the nearest church. I am not talking about little, stranded churches, but about a church in a city where three or four or more churches reside. And mark you, I do not say by this either that I believe it is the Lord’s will that Creston should disband. I don’t know what the Lord’s will is for Creston. But I do believe it is Creston’s duty to seek the Lord’s will in this matter. I do not believe that just because the church has had a trying experience and the Lord has brought to manifestation His faithful few, that the few ought to conclude that this is necessarily a sign from heaven that they must continue.
Rev. Lubbers does not like the word “ridiculous” which I also used in my article. I don’t either after I read his contribution. His article suggests that I should rather have used the antonym “commendable” instead. This, not only I but our Classis as well has already done. We say it is indeed commendable that a little group of eight families pays a budget almost twice as much as anybody else. But I assure these brethren that my commendation turns, to pity if that condition continues and it should prove to be unnecessary.
It is not my purpose to discourage Creston, nor to tell her to disband. Creston will solve her own problems. But I do like to look at things objectively and factually.