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Commendable

If members of the Presbyterian Church in the II. S. A. take the advice of the leaders of their presbyteries and synods, they will postpone all plans to build new buildings or to add to old ones until their denomination becomes able to extend help to fellow Christians in the devastated areas around the world. This policy was decided upon recently at a meeting held in Chicago. Leaders asked that all local building plans be deferred until the denomination reaches its goal of raising 27 million dollars for restoration and assistance of Churches abroad.

German Protestants Reorganize

Both the Lutheran and Reformed Churches in Germany are diligently working towards complete reorganization. Leaders of both Churches met in Conferences recently to affect this reorganization. One such conference, called by Martin Niemoller, met at Frankfurt while another large group met at Treysa. An almost complete reorganization of Protestant forces in Germany was the result. Both groups joined forces to form the new Evangelical Church of Germany, which will have its headquarters at Stuttgart. This new union replaces the former German Evangelical Church.

The following three statements of policy were decided upon: 1. The Churches will work in closer union but remain separate groups, 2. The union will exclude those ministers and congregations who supported the Nazi regime but leaves room for their inclusion if they show repentance and renounce their errors. 3. The union proposes to disavow the old policy of detachment from political and social realities and concentration on Creed and Confession. It was expressed that in this way the Church must lead Germany to “genuine Christianity and a genuine democratic social order.’’ The question of demanding state support for Church schools was discussed without definite action being taken.

De Hervormde Kerk-Netherlands

Within a few months the Netherlands Reformed Church will hold its first General Synod since 1618. Its purpose will be to reorganize its Church government on a confessional rather than a purely administrative basis. Forty-five delegates, consisting of thirty ministers and fifteen elders named by the various classes, will meet in Amsterdam to consider breaking off ties with the State. These ties have existed since 1816 when King William I imposed a statute on the Reformed Church that substantially defined its government. The King’s action made a Synodical Commission a purely administrative body. The result was, according to one spokesman, that the Church formed at the great Synod of Dordt 1618-19, “lived by its regulations instead of its Creed.” Plans are to adopt a new Church Order, which it is expected will take about three years to prepare. It is planned that the new order will restore the validity of the three historical confessions of the Church adopted at the Synod of Dordt.

Pope Endorses Communism

Pope Pius XII in an address to the women of Italy repudiated Capitalism and virtually gave his blessing to Communism. During the course of his address he asked: “Can a woman hope for her real well-being from a regime dominated by Capitalism?” In answering his own question he pointed out at great length the picture of social and moral ruin caused by developments under Capitalism and left no doubt of the condemnation pronounced upon it by the Roman Church. Observers see in this attack another indication of the fact that the Roman Church is attempting to end the social and political systems of our Western world and to erect corporative organizations of state and society upon which the papal blessing will be bestowed.

Netherlands

According to Major J. M. Tinley, Chief of the Food and Agricultural Subsection of American Civil Affairs Mission to Holland, Holland’s food situation is at present “better than in any other country in northwestern Europe except Denmark.” He warned, however, that for the next two years the Netherlands will continue to face an extremely difficult situation. He pointed out that at the time of liberation the average Netherlander was twenty pounds underweight.

Although the Netherlands railroad system lost about seventy five percent of its tracks and almost half of its locomotives in addition to a great quantity of its freight and passenger cars it is slowly returning to prewar levels. All lost track, about 1,500 miles of them, have already been repaired or restored. The main difficulty at present is the almost complete absence of bridges over the many waterways.

It is also reported that the coal mines in Limburg province have reached their highest production since the country’s liberation. They are approaching a goal of 26,900 tons daily output. Though all of this is -encouraging it is stressed that the situation is still desperate. The great need is for clothing of all kinds.

“Proving” The Bible

Time and again while casting about for material for this month’s column we ran across the following news item. Eleven early Christian burial urns have been discovered in a cave on the Jerusalem-Bethlehem road. Archeologists say these may provide the oldest record of Christianity. Inscriptions on the urns contain historical confirmation of the trial and crucifixion of Christ. The inscriptions are in Hebrew and Greek and date from the 1st century A. D. They appear to be lamentations on the passion and death of Christ written by Jewish disciples, perhaps eyewitnesses of the event. Though they have not yet been fully translated, common names as Mirian, Simeon and Matti, and definite references to the crucifixion are evident. Great hopes are held that they will vindicate and “prove” the authenticity of the Scriptural record.

Such accounts always remind us of the close of Christ’s parable of the rich man and Lazarus. “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

Christmas Trees

Perhaps you have noticed that this month’s material has been a straight news report with practically no comment. We feel that the material has been of such a nature that our readers can judge it for themselves. The same is true, of this, our closing observation. It is a quotation from The Banner of November 2, 1945, written by the Rev. N. J. Monsma in answer to a question concerning the Christian’s attitude towards the Christmas tree. He writes as follows: “It appears from history that it has ever been difficult to maintain the Christian character of the observance of Christmas . . . . Indeed, it seems as if the observance of this day gets out of hand very easily . . . . It is hardly necessary to describe the present character of the observance of Christmas in our land. All agree that the day is becoming commercialized by Jew and Gentile alike. Moreover, externalism reigns, so that only the things which can be observed by the senses receive attention, and the actual event which is supposed to be celebrated and which is so beautifully and centrally described in the Bible is either neglected or misinterpreted.

Now, in this setting the Christmas tree finds a place. This tree became popular in Germany during the 17th century and from Germany the custom has spread. The vogue is anything but Christian. It originates from the ancient Teutonic yule-tide and yule-tree, as does also the use of the mistletoe, considered a ceremonial plant by our Teutonic ancestors. The yule-tree was used by these pagan races in connection with the celebration of the winter solstice (about Dec. 22). An evergreen was usually lighted and placed before a dwelling. Since the sun takes its turn at this time of the year and makes for the spring and summer seasons again, the tree was considered an emblem of new life. It was, therefore, a feature of nature worship and highly idolatrous.

All those loving the Lord Jesus should be able to draw their own conclusions. Nothing can be said in favor of the Christmas tree from abiblical viewpoint. The Bible does not speak of it, and does not so much as suggest the custom. As far as the origin of the custom is concerned it appears to be idolatrous. As far as its effects are concerned it may prove to be dangerous in that it threatens to supplant the real object of our joy on that day. Fact is that in a great many homes such is actually the case—the tree so fascinates the minds that Christ and His birth are neglected.”