Commendation. . . .

We wish to begin our column in a slightly different manner this time. Under the caption above we will quote several comments and add a few personal remarks at the close. The statements quoted are certainly worthy of repetition as they contain valuable lessons for us all, as well as an encouraging and heartening note of truth.

The first is written by a Mr. Henry Sikkema, in the department, “Voices in the Church” of the Banner of Feb. 28. Most of our readers are aware of the fact that Mr. Sikkema took issue with the Rev. E. J. Tanis concerning the latter’s favorable attitude towards the A.F.L. Mr. Sikkema was not satisfied with the answer and explanation of the Reverend and so replies to him. We quote but a small part of Mr. Sikkema’s splendid expose of the A.F.L. and refutation of the Rev. Tanis.

“Rev. E. J. Tanis seems to imply that I am being presumptuous in thinking I have solved the intricate problem of the closed shop by denouncing it as anti-Christian, un-American, and vicious. I am convinced that the closed shop is anti-Christian. . . .

The editor of “The World Today” reminds me that “consistency” might demand that we do something more than assume a negative attitude, I agree. I believe we should heed the admonition, “Come ye out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord,” that is positive. I am of the conviction that our failure to sound and to heed that admonition has created not an intricate, but a very serious problem, and that the continued evasion of the issues involved will only increase its seriousness.

Frankly, I see nothing in this situation to be happy about, and I would repeat that our leadership would manifest greater wisdom if they would warn the people against the organizations guilty of such anti-Christian practices, than they do when they call them to be glad because of their propaganda.”

When we first read this it so gladdened our heart that we were inclined to write the brother personally. We take this means, however, to publicly congratulate him and encourage him to “hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy crown”.

In respect to it all the Rev. Tanis has nothing to say. He writes rather lamely: “I intended to favor this correspondent with a lengthy reply but came to the conclusion that this is hopeless.” And again: “I owe a great deal to the works of Dr. Abraham Kuyper and Dr. Hendrik Colyn of the Netherlands, genuine Calvinists, and have no intention of abandoning their position in regard to social and economic problems, . . . .” It is not too striking that over against the Word of God the Reverend has no answer. It is sad, however, that he should elevate the teaching of mere men, notable and gifted though they may be, above the clear expression of Scripture.

Our second quotation is from the same department of the Banner of March 7. A Mr. John Buteyn asks the question: “Are we Hiding the Truth More or Less?’, Among other things he writes: “I am afraid there are many right in our own Christian Reformed Church who believe exactly what Arminians believe.” A bit later: “Should we not, old and young, know that God has here upon earth a Church chosen from before the foundations of the world? Or are we hiding the truth somewhat? On the other hand, it looks to me that we, old or young, never or seldom read a book on Christian doctrine.” And again: “Tell the young people that Jesus does not stand at the door and say, ‘Please, sinner, O please, open to me.’ Not at all. Jesus is never taken by surprise. God does not depend on our will. Christ does not stand in a corner to wait and see if there are some sinners who are ready to accept him.” And he closes with this fine observation: (the italics are his own, W.H). No, a man by nature has no free will to do good, only a free will to do evil. Surely, we must accept Christ, but let us remember the words: ‘We love him because he first loved us.’ We love the song: ‘It was not I that found, O Savior true; no I was found of Thee’.”

Again, truly commendable. But our joy is tempered by the fact that in the same issue appears a most atrocious “Meditation” under the title: “The Betrayal”. In it the writer expresses gross error and untruth (we were going to write Arminianism and heresy) especially when he declares of Jesus (The Son of God! W.H.) in relation to Judas: “Jesus knew it all the time, from the very beginning, but in love continued to warn him, and sought to save his soul!” And again in the same article: “Jesus wishes to issue one more kind and gracious warning, but this time a plain one, lest Judas mighty carry out his plot to the bitter end.” This defies all explanation; so glaring that it needs no rebuttal. If this be the bread what are the crumbs like? As commendable as was the laymen’s expression so lamentable, and more so, is this from the clergyman!

Our next two quotations are from the Banner of March 14. They both contain sound instruction and valuable advice for all who love the Reformed faith and would seek to perpetuate it. The first is by the editor, the Rev. H. J. Kuiper, and appears in an editorial regarding catechism. He writes under the caption: “More Parental Cooperation”:

“First Things First, means, for example, that our spiritual needs are to be considered more pressing than our physical needs, that catechism must take precedence over baseball games, basketball practice, family errands, music lessons, paper routes, an after-school job, and whatever else may clamor for the interest of our boys and girls at that particular hour.

Do you agree, boys and girls, fathers and mothers?

You are bound to assent if you really believe in the principle: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God” (Matt. 6:33).

Parents who profess Christ as their Lord have solemnly assumed the obligation to teach their children this fundamental principle of the kingdom that first things must have first place in their life, and to insist that it shall be the rule of their life as long as they are under the parental roof.

Alas, how often Christian Fathers and mothers permit the violation of this principle! They made exceptions when the children were still small. Mary’s tears and Johnny’s tantrums were more compelling than the majesty of their Lord’s edict: “First the Kingdom of God!” When that principle has once been compromised, either because the children were more determined than the parents or because the parents were more deeply interested in material than in spiritual things, the foundation has been laid for the habit of making the things of the Kingdom secondary and the things of self, of the body, of the earth, primary.

Parental cooperation, then, in regard to catechetical instruction consists first of all in this that our fathers and mothers send their children to catechism regularly. Irregular attendance invariably means poor recitations, these in turn breed disinterest, if not antagonism. Irregular attendance is almost as fruitless as non-attendance.”

The editor goes on to point out that attendance is but the first requisite of parental cooperation. It also is demanded that they supervise the preparation of the lesson and assure themselves that their children are prepared. He quotes Deut. 6:6-7: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; and thou (father, mother) shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” !He adds in conclusion: “We have frequently heard the complaint that many of our young people, in spite of catechism, Sunday School, and Christian School, seem to know but little about the Word of God. One of the reasons is that too many Christian parents look to these agencies as substitutes instead of aids for the inculcation of divine truth and wisdom in the hearts of their children.”

In the same issue under “Voices” we find a letter simply signed “S”. This writer also presents the case for catechism and writes as follows:

“We have to have more interesting services, they are “too dry”, we are not “friendly enough to strangers”. Our messages must be made so soft that we hardly ever hear about election and reprobation anymore; I realize that some may say, What does this have to do with catechism? Just this, our children after having studied our Heidelberg Catechism In their early years will be able to distinguish the truths of our Reformed fathers. The sovereignty of God, election, reprobation, etc., are the fundamental truths we all were taught in catechism and if we are to remain truly Reformed and different from most, if not all, American churches, we should insist on the old way in starting our children in this training as soon as they start school.”

Both of these quotations declare much needed lessons in our day. Commendable!

We promised the addition of some personal comment. Here it is:

  1. In the first place, what we wrote above by no means attempts to be an apology or expiation for anything we may have written in the past or shall write in the future. The truth needs no apology! Nor is it our intention primarily to congratulate the individuals who wrote. Our felicitations mean nothing to them and, perhaps, they would as soon we had not published their names and quoted them in the Standard Bearer. Our purpose is rather, to rejoice that the Spirit of God still operates and that truth crushed to earth must invariably rise—and that on the same spot where it was crushed.
  2. In the second place, we as Churches, and individuals, have often been denounced as purely negative, schismatic, defamatory, derogative, etc., etc. The above is written, therefore, to once again give the lie to such aspersion and point out that we recognize the truly “good and beautiful” and are happy to commend it.
  3. Finally, we, too, heed the injunction of Scripture to bind and build and unite “till we all attain unto the unity of the faith”. But this can never be accomplished on basis of error or in the way of compromise; “but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ.” And upon that basis we commend and call to these “voices” to remove the lie of separation they have wedged and seek that which they expelled.

TIME: The Present!! PLACE: Close To Home!!

A most startling revelation of Catholic hostility to Protestantism was revealed in an article in the Moody Monthly of March. The information is reprinted from The Mexican Indian and is written by John T. Dale. Its title: “Rebirth of the Dark Ages in an Age of Light” aptly describes its content. It is an eye-witness account of what took place at the 1946 Annual Convention of Evangelical Churches in Mexico. This convention was held in the city of Toluca, which is but a short distance from Mexico City.

Agitation on the part of the Catholics, against holding the convention began many months before it was held. They had petitioned the mayor to prohibit the meeting but were disappointed when it was made clear that the Protestants had a legal right to meet. This did not stop the Catholics, for as the writer states:

“Balked here, they made plans to hold a series of meetings (holy hours, as they call them) each day of the convention in the Catholic Church directly across the street from the Presbyterian Church which was to be the host to the convention.

Thus it was that each day, at the same time that the convention was in session, Catholic priests with loudspeakers launched a tirade against the Protestants. Obscene statements were made regarding the Protestants which cannot be repeated. It was stated as a fact that every Protestant church and home was a center of prostitution. After each holy hour, with church bells ringing incessantly, the Catholic mobs paraded up and down the street shouting insults and threats to the Protestants and, with the same breath, cheers to the holy Virgin and the Pope. Each day especially printed leaflets were distributed over the city notifying the faithful of the threats and curse of the Protestant invasion of their city. Catholics were asked not to come near the convention nor receive any tracts, which they consider Protestant propaganda.

This, however, was neither the end nor the worst. Though warned by the police to cease disturbing the Protestant meetings the agitation continued and increased until, as a precautionary measure, police protection was provided the Protestants. Even this did not dampen the ardor of the Catholics and on Sunday, the closing day of the Convention, they attempted actual violence:

“During the course of the day rumors spread throughout the city that the Protestants would bring about at that time the closing of the Catholic churches in the city. The previous night, we learned later, the priest had endeavored to arouse the spirits of his people into storming the convention hall. However, the people had not responded wholeheartedly and so the plan was apparently postponed.

Sunday afternoon messengers went through the neighboring Indian villages asking them for help, as their Catholic duty, to drive the Protestants out of the city, falsely declaring that they had dared to burn the image of the holy Virgin. Naturally, by nightfall the Catholic church directly across from the convention was packed with people. About the middle of the evening service of the convention, approximately two thousand enraged Catholics armed with sticks, knives, stones and pistols stormed the one entrance of the church. Fortunately the large door was closed just in time as the mob surged against it. The few policemen tried to disperse the crowd, but in vain. Firemen came and with water tried to drive the mob away, but they only broke up into smaller groups in order to make repeated drives upon the firemen and policemen who had taken their stand with their backs to the door. As the situation became more critical, federal troops were finally called. Pistols were fired and I was told that the chief of police, among others, was wounded. From the towers of the Catholic church fanatics armed with pistols shot down upon the policemen, firemen and troops.”

The affair was finally ended as follows:

“About eleven o’clock order was restored, preventing the possible massacre of over one thousand Protestants. With troops stationed on either side of the street, the delegates of the convention in small groups were allowed to leave the church. It was indeed good to get out into the open air and again find quietness. However, underneath that stillness of the late night there was still the uncanny feeling of unrest. We made our way to the hotel with thanksgiving in our hearts to God for this deliverance.”

Truly, shades of the “Dark Ages” and “Inquisition”! The leopard has not changed its spots nor Catholicism its cloak!