Dramatic Fever—4.

As Entering Wedge!

“The Netherlands Reformed Weekly, Trouw, in the issue of July 20, contains an item of interest to us in our constant concern over the movie problem. Twenty Protestant leaders, among whom are such familiar Reformed figures as Prof. G. C. Berkhouwer and Prof. H. Doorijeweerd, have published a significant comment on the subject of the public movie. They are impressed by the fact that the Protestant Churches have not solved the serious problem of the evil influence of movie-attendance by the prevailingly negative and all-too-general approach to the issue, especially in view of the fact that more than half of the members of the Protestant Churches in Amsterdam attend the movie-houses without the benefit of any dependable Christian guidance in the matter.” (Does this figure also include members of Reformed Churches? One would almost receive this impression if one considers the fact that Reformed leaders were included in this group and their report was published in Trouw.—JH)

“While recognizing that most films are highly objectionable both from a cultural and Christian point of view, and that serious warning against the dangers of movie-attendance is always in place, especially for the spiritually immature, these leaders believe that it is neither necessary nor desirable to declare all movies, without further qualification, contraband, since such a policy often simply ignores the principle of the Christian’s individual responsibility. They suggest, as a more positive and effectual approach to the problem, the formation of local boards of experts, made up of Protestants who understand the needs of the Protestant constituency, which will serve as censorship bodies, and publish in the daily papers a list of their selection of those movies that are suitable for the entertainment of the Protestant Church folk. The proponents of this suggestion are convinced that such a policy would have the effect of encouraging greater spiritual and moral discernment in the use of movies and other forms of entertainment by church members.

“This proposal will sound a little revolutionary in our circles. But it must be admitted that among us too, the negative approach has been and is unsuccessful, and that, within the limits of the Christian Reformed Church, the movie problem has not been solved. It is high time for some fresh and courageous thinking on the subject, not with a view to taking a more easygoing attitude toward the moral and spiritual perils present in the majority of popular screen presentations but with a view to furnishing the kind of confidence-inspiring guidance that will cultivate sound individual judgment in these matters. Whether the proposal of the Dutch leaders is the answer is subject to debate. That some new answer must be found is not.” Quoted from The Banner of Sept. 24—Other Churches in the News, by Rev. Peter Van Tuinen.

We wrote above “An Entering Wedge?” and would, in this connection, also issue a warning. For the history of various churches over against certain ethical questions, particularly those involving amusements is always the same. First the church constituency becomes superficial, carnal, worldly-minded and pleasure-mad. Then the leaders in Zion dare no longer raise their voices against the present evil for fear of the results. This in both the ministry and in the exercise of discipline soon becomes evident. (By this order we do not mean to suggest that the other is never the case, i.e. that the corrupt preacher is the false prophet leading astray the people of God. This also happens of course.) Then, that which can only be saved in the way of a complete reformation is attempted in the way of compromise—censorship committees, together with implied approval, ending inevitably in the way of a complete capitulation to the carnally-minded element in the church involved and the eventual loss of her light on the candlestick.

And if the time has come also in the Christian Reformed (and in the Protestant Reformed?) Churches for some “fresh and courageous thinking on the subject” let it by all means be in the direction of a principal rejection of all acting together with a renewed emphasis on our spiritual separation in this world.

Mixed Marriages.

“If there is one thing in our life regarding which we should seek counsel from God it certainly is in the matter of seeking a wife (or husband—JH). Similarly, how important it is for a girl to ask herself the question: “Can I go through life with that boy who is proposing to me?

“Not that we can evade trouble and sorrows in our wedded life: indeed not. The path which God has marked out for us we shall have to tread. But that is a different matter.

“God’s Word forbids us to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Neither may we take the position, “Let us do evil that good may come”. The secret counsel of God is unknown to us and therefore we are to give heed to the revealed will of God.

“We may not join in affinity with the enemies of the Truth and of the Church of God. Just think of those examples given us in the Word of God as a warning. We read in Genesis 6 that the sons of God intermarried with the daughters of men. What was the Lord’s answer? “My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” God put an end to it by means of the Deluge and spared and delivered only Noah and his family.

“Rebekah had much grief because of the daughters of Heth, because her son Esau married women outside of the pale of God’s Church. Indeed, these strange wives were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah. (Gen. 26:35).

“We read of Ezra that he mourned because many of the people that returned, the holy seed, intermarried with the people of the lands. At the command of Ezra the strange wives were sent away, and the people, those who were guilty of transgressing God’s law, made sacrifice unto the Lord. See Ezra 9 and 10.

“But what about marrying outside of our own church? Are such marriages always evil? Dare we assert that all marriages of people in one and the same denomination or confession are always happy ones? Alas, there are instances among them, too, which are deplorable and upon which a judgment clearly rests. There certainly are happy marriages with people outside of our own denomination, are there not? I should not like to dispute this. It may be difficult at times to find someone in one’s own congregation. Parents are indeed obliged to act with discretion in circumstances of this kind. We cannot manufacture love and. . . .there must be love!

“But what I mean is this, let us never forsake our confession for the sake of marriage. If it should happen that a person meets someone outside of his own church, and the young man or young lady is willing to go along, then that is another thing. On the other hand, it should not be this way, either, that one comes to church for the sake of a boy or for the sake of a girl. Let the boy or girl do everything possible to convince the other of the purity of our doctrine so that the other’s heart may be won over, as far as it lies in our power to do so. To go to church, and later on join the church, solely for the sake of a boy or a girl, but to continue to cling to a wrong doctrine, results in serious danger to the church, and in many instances will avenge itself.

“In some cases it turns out for good, but we may not and cannot act in accordance with this. We do not take the stand that we alone are The Church. . . . However, we should adopt a definite position regarding the church. Never deny the truth. If we should, sooner or later we shall regret it.” From Banier der Waarheid, August, 1948.

“No Substitute for the Word”.

“The Church has nothing worth preaching and teaching except the Word of God. Take that away and she has no mission. There are many things worth lecturing about, holding classes upon, writing on, and debating about; but preaching and teaching are not lecturing and debating. Unless the Church gives forth the Word in its simplicity and purity through its preaching and teaching force, there is no reason for these high offices to exist as distinct from the lecturer who seeks the improvement of the moral, social, and financial condition of the people. Man has a far deeper needs than these, which cannot be met except by the Word of God.

“In insisting on the supremacy of the Bible in the Church, it is not to be inferred that it is to be treated as a charm or talisman, the mere presence of which insures the desired results. Far from that. The Word of God is “living and operative”, as the apostle declares, but only as it is read and expounded under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. . . .

“One of the most subtle temptations besetting the preacher and teacher is to devote his time and energy lecturing about the Bible instead of preaching and teaching it. . . .

“When the Church ceases to offer a stone for bread and gives herself fully and faithfully to the preaching and teaching of the unadulterated Word of God, she will again have that authority and power which so many say she has lost. It cannot be emphasized too strongly that there is no substitute for the faithful, Spirit-directed preaching and teaching of the divinely inspired Word. To meet the need of the hour nothing less will suffice, and nothing more is needed. Its effectiveness is guaranteed by God Himself in the familiar but little relied upon promise: “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto I sent it.” From Southern Presbyterian Journal, Sept. 15, 1948.