Other Churches. . . .
During the month of June many denominations besides our own hold their annual Synods or Assemblies. Since we have written previously of the problems which various other Churches face, their resolutions in respect to these will be of interest. We quote briefly from various periodicals the decisions of some of these Churches at their annual meetings.
From The Banner of June 25, 1948: “Synod At a Glance—1. Decided to establish a chair of missions and call a professor. Rev. Harry Boer of Nigeria elected. Will begin to serve in about two and a half years. 2. Membership of our Church in National Association of Evangelicals continued. Committee appointed to study the matter. 3. A new committee appointed to study the subject of junior colleges from all angles. 4. Committee appointed to study the alleged conflict between articles 6 and 12 of the Church Order regarding the status of ministers in Christian high schools and other non-ecclesiastical institutions. 5. Limited ordination and office of evangelists for lay- workers in mission fields not approved. 6. New area added to our mission field in China. 7. Eighteen protesting members of the Grace Church in Kalamazoo, including Rev. H. Danhof, must meet three requirements for the continued recognition of their membership, one of these being an expression of adherence to the doctrinal position of the Christian Reformed Church.—H. J. K.”
From the same source we learn a bit about the Reformed Church in America. The Rev. Peter Van Tuinen writing in the department “Other Churches in the News”, reports as follows: “The valiant efforts of the loyally Reformed elements in the Reformed Church to preserve its traditional character and to annul, or at least weaken, the influence of the strong liberal leadership in the denomination, were reflected in the business of the general synod again this year. The struggle was mainly evident in discussion regarding relocation of the denominational headquarters from New York to the Midwest, denominational membership m the Federal Council, and union with the United Presbyterian Church. Concessions were made to the demands of the conservatives on all three issues, but the fundamental question remains unsolved, and the struggle will continue.
Instead of moving the headquarters so as to give greater influence to the more conservative Midwest area of the Church, the synod provided for more balanced representation on the several boards, and required that all sections be adequately represented at all times, regardless of financial cost. On the Federal Council question, the synod refused to withdraw its membership, and instead took action to see to it that its own representatives in Federal Council activities be recognized champions of true Christianity. In addition the synod will inform the Federal Council that it reserves the right to disapprove of any action that is not consonant with the Christian faith, and that its view of evangelism is based on the biblical doctrine that man is lost without the atoning work and saving grace of Christ. The action on the Church- union question, of course, remains to be completed during the next couple of years.
From our point of view, a disappointing and rather inexplicable bit of business at the Reformed Synod, according to the Church Herald report, was the fact that, after giving the delegates the gloomy prediction that America will be pagan in 20 years because of the lack of religious education in our country, the Board of Education recommended “no action” on a request from Classis Kalamazoo that the Board be instructed to give careful consideration to the possibility of promoting Christian Church Schools in areas where the anti-Christian influence prevails.
Two items of general interest in The Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (Southern) are reported in the June 15 issue of The Southern Presbyterian Journal, which records the activities of the 88th General Assembly of that denomination. We quote: “Considerable debate was precipitated on the matter of the Federal Council. Majority and Minority reports came from the Standing Committee. By a gentleman’s agreement the debate was limited to two hours, one hour going to each side. . . . The vote showed that 274 Commissioners desired the Church to remain in the Council and 108 to withdraw.” The other item of interest concerned the proposed union of the Southern group with the Northern Church or Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. The report on this matter continues as follows: “The Inter-Church Relations Committee, according to a special order of the day, discussed the question of organic union with the Presbyterian Church U. S. A., Tuesday morning. Majority and Minority Reports were also submitted on this question. Dr. L. Nelson Bell of Asheville, N. C., proposed a substitute for the whole. Dr. Bell’s substitute stated ‘that for a period of five years the entire plan of reunion with Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., be held in abeyance and that during this time the Committee confine its activities to exploring avenues of acquaintance and cooperation only.’ Dr. Charles L. King of Houston introduced an amendment which added, ‘except that the Committee complete the plan by March 1, 1949, and have the same printed in such number to supply any requests.’ The Assembly adopted by unanimous vote the substitute of Dr. Bell with the amendment offered by Dr. King.” Hence, the whole matter will be dropped, except for discussion and study, for at least five years. This appears to be a very wise course and should be emulated by other groups contemplating union.
While speaking of Church union we might add that the proposed union of the Congregational and Evangelical and Reformed Churches has also failed to materialize. The Evangelical and Reformed Church had approved the merger but the Congregational General Council failed to acquire the necessary three- fourths vote from the congregations and conferences. From the outset the Evangelical and Reformed group had been the more enthusiastic of the two denominations. The Congregational groups feared that they would lose their independence and looked somewhat askance at the Presbyterian Form of Church government.
The Presbyterian Church in Canada. . . .
From time to time we have quoted from Bible Christianity, an independent monthly journal issued by some ministers of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. It is a conservative and orthodox paper and its editors mean to use it to publicize and fight against the growing evils in their Churches. To give our readers an idea of the tremendous difficulties these men face and the sad state of affairs they are attempting to correct, we quote from the following editorial. It is from the issue of June, 1948, and is entitled, Church Discipline: “A forgotten duty in the Presbyterian Church in Canada is that of Church Discipline. Members who have been guilty even of flagrant sins have not even been admonished. The result is that members of the church have no respect for it and do not feel the necessity of obeying its precepts. Lodges exercise more discipline than the churches.
It must not be forgotten that Christ is the Head of the Church. Those who are members of the Church are the subjects of Christ. They have promised submission to His will and commandments. His laws are enforced and law-breakers are punished by those whom He has constituted rulers in His Church, namely, the ruling elders.
The purpose of church discipline is not merely to indicate authority and to punish. The purpose of church discipline is: to vindicate the honor of Christ, to maintain the purity of the Church, to reclaim the sinner, and to warn others lest they also sin. The Scriptures allow for censure, rebuke, suspension and excommunication.
If the church were to discipline those who absent themselves from the services of worship and from the ordinances, it would be a good thing and would cause the membership to respect the Church.