Periscope (45)

A CHRISTIAN NATION?

We become impatient with church people who talk about nations that are Christian, in distinction from nations that are not. Especially when they speak of America as a Christian Nation. Not long ago we read an article by Dr. G. Goris on “Not by might—but by the Lord” in which he compares (our country not only but) the United Nations as countries whose battles were won as David won his battle over Goliath. Not by might but by the Lord. Hitler was the modern Goliath. Then he continues: “Yes God is involved in this war. God is interested in the fate of the oppressed nations of the world who, without any reason are attacked and crushed and their liberties taken away. God hears the call of Czech-Slovakia, Belgium, Poland, China, Norway, the Netherlands. This battle is the Lord’s.” When reading such I say to myself: What nonsense! If one must be a Doctor to write such nonsense, then I am glad there are no Doctors in the Prot. Ref. Churches. For note: what have the United Nations done to free Poland, and the Baltic countries? Doesn’t God hear their call? Just a few issues ago of the Banner (Nov. 16) Rev. M. Ghysels wrote: “Israel felt grateful that it was strong to withstand its foes and secure against danger. We can say the same thingabout our nation. It is stronger today than at any time in its history. The might of its enemies has been crushed permanently. The two nations that have come out of the war as the mightiest nations on earth are Russia and the United States”. And remember the Rev. Ghysels was writing a Thanksgiving Day meditation, while sitting in Washington, D.C. Perhaps that accounts for such foolishness. Foolishness it certainly is.

We are not a Christian Nation. And there is nowhere a Christian nation anymore, as in the days of Israel. We, a Christian Nation? When nearly 70 percent of our population does not even attend divine worship on the Lord’s Day? America in which you find more divorce and Hollywood adultery than in any other nation under the sun including Japan and Germany. America which does not even safeguard the right of the Christian workingman to work when his fellow-workmen strike. America which is facing disaster, according even to President Truman, if it persists in its present way, stronger than at any time in its history? And “the might of its enemies crushed permanently”? One would almost think that Rev. Ghysels was closing his eyes to reality. He speaks like a child. It will soon be revealed’ that the might of its enemies is greater than ever before. Think of Russia. Think of the enemies within our own borders, such as Communism, Socialistic labor unions, greedy Capitalists, corrupt Politicians, etc. I just received at this moment a card from one of our boys just returning from Europe, in which he writes: “The Germans are running the Yankees instead of the Yankees the Germans, over here”. Please let us not be so superficial as to haughtily think that America has crushed the might of her enemies permanently.

But what we wished most of all to emphasize is that in all history, there has been but one nation which was worthy of the name Christian, and that only because God had made it His own, peculiar people. Not surely because there was no corruption or sin to be found in its borders. Surely Israel sinned grievously and made herself worthy of rejection. But there was always the elect nucleus, and for its sake Israel was not destroyed until Christ was born in the fullness of time. In Christ Jerusalem is above and is the mother of us all. But the Holy Spirit, poured out upon the Church, is poured out upon all flesh. It is not confined to any rational boundaries. It brings forth children from all nations, tribes and tongues. Therefore the Church is in strictest sense a universal church, in so far that it is not confined to any certain country. Of that universal church alone may it be said: Ye are a chosen nation. America is not the object of God’s choice; not any more than Japan is. True, there are many children of God in America but they are also in other countries, also in the defeated nations. Now, my chief remark concerning all this, is that we must have only such a world and life view, which sees the blessing of Jehovah NOT on a certain country called America or Britain or Russia, but God’s view we must have, which sees the blessing of Jehovah ONLY upon the peculiar people, the chosen nation from all peoples and from under all flags. Therefore also the church as church shows not a flag of one certain nation, thereby splitting the church of God on earth into national groups, but the church from all nations marches on under the banner of truth. And she has not her enemy beyond the Rhine or on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, ‘but her enemies are also among all nations, namely, those ‘who care not for the truth of God. There is no Christian nation since Christ proclaimed to Israel: “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate”. Except the Nation of God, the mystical body of Christ throughout the world.

SMALL CONGREGATIONS:

While thinking about the great, universal Church of God out of all nations, we also thought of the many small and local manifestations of that one Church. In many cities and villages and country communities, that Church of God comes to manifestation. And many of those congregations are small. We experienced the gathering of those small groups when they were first organized many years ago. We still see them and may share with them. But it used to be thrilling to see these small groups come into being. We were reminded of this again when reading “De Reformatie”, and the beginnings of churches who become “liberated” from the Synodical Church in old Holland. A few typical quotations are interesting. (I translate, L. V.)

“Meppel—We notice that also at Meppel, members and elders have been suspended from office, despite the words of the minister that nothing serious has happened. And on Nov. 18, 1945 these men began services upon the old Reformed basis.”

“Ijmuiden—On Nov. 5, 1945, Prof. K. Schilder addressed’ a large gathering, giving light concerning the questions troubling the churches. The question of “liberation” is very acute”.

“Gameren—Here at Gameren a majority of the consistory, (including Rev. R. Brands) have liberated themselves from the evil, unscriptural, and church- politically-condemned decisions of “Synod” and thus has again brought our church back to her (original) basis”.

And many more church notices are to be read. At Emmen the brethren who are grieved at the action, of the Synod gathered in an open cafe because the building of the Reformed church was denied them. There were about 130 people present. The gathering was led by an elder who was admonished and soon suspended from office for this seeking after the truth. Then a minister (Rev, H. Vogel) came and after a speech, in which he enlightened the brethren, 40 confessing members signed the act of Liberation. At another place 61 members organized a new congregation. Many more examples could be quoted. Though we as Protestant Reformed are not one with either the Synod group or the “Liberated” group, nevertheless we see much semblance in the beginnings there and as they were with us around 20 years ago. Here and there small groups of believers “liberated” themselves from the Christian Reformed hierarchy, repudiated the lying “three points” and organized themselves into small Protestant Reformed congregations. Some of these small congregations have grown considerably, some have remained about the same, some have even disappeared from our church map.

We have good reasons for passing on this news to our reading public. Many of you belong to such small flocks. Those small flocks usually experience much struggle to keep going. Generally they are poor (financially). There is not much in them that would attract others, except the truth. It is hard often to elect a consistory of four or five members. Many times reading services have to be held, with not always reading talent in their midst. The deacons often must sweat to get the monthly salary check for the minister. Many other hardships are encountered. But it is ever thus. It was so in the days of the Apostles, as f.i., in the church at Philadelphia. There were but eight members of the church at the time of the flood. When most people left off from following the Christ, and the twelve stood before Christ, He asked them: “Will ye not also go?” And Jesus emphasizes that it is but a LITTLE flock, to whom the kingdom shall be given, according to the Father’s good pleasure. We therefore say also to our little flocks, that they must not be discouraged simply because they are small. We like to grow numerically also, but only because of the truth. Essentially it makes no difference whether we are small or large, if we are gathered together in the blessed NAME, for the Lord assures us: “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them”.

A NEW CHURCH

I am not referring to a new Protestant Reformed Church, but to a new Christian Reformed Church, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. With what the Editor of Concordia wrote concerning the church, formerly ministered to by Rev. H. Danhof, we heartily agree and we will not repeat what he said. But a few remarks we wish to make in addition to that of Rev. Vos. The name of the new church was sent us by a friend. It is “The Grace Christian Reformed Church”. This church formerly called itself: “The Protesting First Christian Reformed Church”. It carried this name for the last 21 years. And if names mean anything it means that this Kalamazoo church has ceased to protest. Whereas it formerly protested against the injustice dome to them by the Chr. Ref. churches, and protested against the adoption of the three points of common grace, now they withdraw their protest. They used to stand on ONE grace, now they stand on TWO graces. Let me quote the literal words of Rev. H. Danhof, written in The Standard Bearer, Vol. 1, p. 6, No. 12, (I translate, L. V.): “The Christian Reformed Church wants TWO graces, TWO life principles; but we want only ONE. Besides the saving grace, which God gives to the elect, He also reveals, according to Synod, a certain grace or favor unto reprobates; who because of such certain grace, can perform good before God. Because it is impossible for us to see it that way, and therefore can preach unto the churches with a free conscience, therefore and therefore ALONE, are we separated from the Christian Reformed Churches.” Now my remark is: that according to the very words of the Rev. H. Danhof the church at Kalamazoo, by adopting the name Grace Christian Reformed Church, has finally stopped protesting against the two graces or life principles, and has accepted that doctrine. It formerly believed in ONE grace to the elect only, now it believes also in the second grace of the Christian Reformed Church. Hence her newly adopted name: “Grace Chr. Ref. Church”. And we believe also in the co-responsibility of all its members to this new name and also new teaching. Those who cannot bear this responsibility, must join, our Protestant Reformed Church in Kalamazoo.

A CALVIN UNIVERSITY

Here is an item of interest to those who have wished for and longed to have also a Calvin University. It appears in the Presbyterian Guardian as (follows: “The Board of Trustees of the Christian University Association of America met in. Philadelphia on Oct. 10th. Among the items transacted was the election of the following officers of the board: Pres. Dr. Ned B. Stonehouse, Glenside, PA; Vice Pres. Dr. Howard Higgins, New York, N.Y.; Sec’y, Dr. Robert K. Rudolph, Philadelphia; and Treas. Mr. Lambert Steen, Midland Park, N.J.” Note that all these members of the board of trustees are Eastern men. And as far as we know only Ned. B. Stonehouse was formerly of the Christian Reformed Churches. Calvin’s professors are left out. Not long ago some of the leaders of the latter named churches were pulling for a specific Calvin University to grow up from Calvin Seminary and Calvin College. They even bemoaned the fact that a Christian University as proposed by these Eastern men was too general and not specific enough. However, Calvin has become very UN-Calvinistic in some points of truth and has become even more general (or shall we say common) than many an orthodox church of other denominations. In Calvin today there is no room for truly Calvinistic truth and teachings. Her professors even advise putting out of her church denomination fundamentally Reformed and therefore Calvinistic teachers. Surely such little leaders (?) are not to be trusted in beginning an institution as a Calvin University? Calvin College and Theological School should re-learn Calvinism.

GERMAN CHURCHES

“Protestantism has made its first contribution toward the reconstruction of religious life in Germany with the giving of the sum of $180,000. The money came from various denominations and creeds. The step was taken as Confessional (anti-Nazi) church leaders again took the reins in Berlin. The money is the first of a much larger amount that will be needed if the German churches are to take their places as forces for reconstruction”. So we read in the Religious Telescope. Only a drop in the bucket when we consider the hundreds of churches destroyed completely with other hundreds partially damaged. Yet it is a beginning.