SYNOD OF THE CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH
We include in our article for this issue a brief report on some of the decisions of the Christian Reformed Church which will be of general interest to our readers. We include this report without much comment, for it is not our purpose here to evaluate these decisions, but to acquaint our readers with important decisions of a denomination in which we are interested.
—Appointments to the college and Seminary were important business. The appointment of Dr. Willis De Boer to the department of Bible was postponed because of statements which he has made which indicate views similar to Dr. Kuitert in the Netherlands.
Dr. Wilson was appointed to the college even though he holds evolutionistic views.
The appointment of Dr. Johannes Verkuyl for a two-month period to the department of Missions in the Seminary was rejected because of unacceptable political views.
Dr. Mel Hugen was appointed to the seminary in the field of pastoral counseling though objections were raised against him. He was on nomination with Rev. Ralph Heynen, pastor at Pine Rest. Dr. D. Hoitinga was appointed to the lectureship in ethics at the Seminary even though he is a pacifist.
—The relationships between the Christian Reformed Church and the Gereformeerde Kerken came under review. It was decided to postpone any decision on this question till a study committee appointed last year can report. Nevertheless, a letter of warning and admonition is to be sent to the Gereformeerde Kerken.
—Some organizational changes in the Synod are in the making. The Synod decided to appoint a committee which will contact the delegates to the 197 1 Synod and appoint them to committees of pre-advice so that they will be able to prepare for their work prior to coming to Synod. This decision was made after long debate, and it is to be re-examined by next year’s Synod. The objections were particularly that such arrangements are contrary to Reformed Church Polity which holds that no Synod is a continuing body.
—The question of the new liturgical forms was also before this Synod. Presented to the Synod were new forms for public confession of faith, and for ordination and installation of officebearers. These were returned to the committee. The new forms for both infant and adult baptism were not yet ready—in part because many objections have been brought against them.
—The difficult and bitter controversy between the Lawndale Church in Chicago and the Timothy School Board also came to Synod. The parents in Lawndale, mostly black, wish to send their children to the Timothy Christian School. The School Board has refused to accept them chiefly on the grounds that Cicero (where Timothy School is located) is all white and that many threats have been made against the school if black children were accepted. The Synod faced the problem of the support of Classis Chicago North which had supported Timothy’s school board. The Synod decided that Classis had to change its ways and bring its policy in line with the statement on race adopted by the Synods of 1968 & 1969 which favored integration. If Classis failed to do this, they were to be held in contempt of Synod. What this means was not made clear. The Synod of 1971 will have to judge on the matter. In the meantime it is hoped the problem will be solved or will go away.
—La Grave Ave. Christian Reformed Church had come to Synod with an overture concerning the character of church services, asking whether the traditional form of church services which emphasizes the preaching of the Word was necessary. Synod answered that Arts. 51-55 (of the Revised Church Order of the Christian Reformed Church) required a sermon to be preached at every service.
—The liturgical committee was instructed to consider the question of a more flexible liturgy and the introduction of more modern hymns into the worship service such as songs which Negroes sing. This was in the light of the fact that the Church is incorporating into her fellowship more people from other races.
—The question of a Reformed Seminary in Nigeria once again came up—as it has for more than a decade. The Tiv Church in Nigeria wants a Reformed Seminary; Synod has hesitated because of its commitment to an interdenominational Seminary in Nigeria. This year the Tiv Church informed Synod that they intended to go ahead with their own Seminary and asked for two teachers and $75,000.00. Synod dodged the issue by promising a, 4-year certificate course, something the Tiv Church did not request.
—The question of membership in lodges came up from Classis Lake Erie. Synod decided that membership in lodges is incompatible with membership in the Church. But Synod appointed a committee to review the grounds for this decision.
—A committee was also appointed to study ways in which the calling of ministers could be improved in the light of the growth of the Church and the wide geographic spread of the denomination.
—The question of graduate studies at Calvin College came up. This became a difficult problem because of the efforts already in progress to establish a Christian University in Toronto, Canada by the A.A.C.S. Synod decided to begin such a graduate program with financial support for the first ten years.
—In the light of the fact that various member churches of the R.E.S. permit women officebearers in the Church, the Synod decided to restudy the matter.
DECISIONS OF THE REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA
A few of the more important decisions taken by the Synod of the R.C.A. include:
—One of the most difficult of the problems faced by the Synod was the problem of the merger of part of the denomination with part of another. The Particular Synod of New Jersey formed a united Synod with a Particular Synod of the United Presbyterian Church. This took place last May.
Four members of that Synod lodged a complaint with the General Synod that such a merger was in violation of the rules. The matter was referred to the Judicial Committee of the R.C.A. Synod. The Judicial Committee concluded that the plan constituted no violation of rules and advised that Synod dismiss the complaint.
By a rather close vote this advice was rejected by the General Synod. But, when a motion was made to declare the merger null and void. this also failed. Apparently Synod did not know what to do about the business. Finally a motion was passed as innocuous as it was meaningless: the New Jersey Synod was instructed to enter into conversation with its churches and classes and further refine its plan for a united Synod. Then it was to report back to next year’s Synod for approval.
The United Presbyterian Church, in its General Assembly meeting, gave approval to the merger.
—In answer to an overture which asked for the Synod to take steps for complete union between the R.C.A. and the United Presbyterian Church, the Synod voted to take no action.
—In answer to an overture calling for Synod to become full members of the Consultation on Church Union (COCU) Synod decided again to take no action, but to send a copy of COCU’s plan for union to all the churches.
—A committee was appointed to begin work on the drawing up of a new and relevant Confession of Faith for the Church.
—Youth radicals were also given their say at the Synod. The Synod refused to accept the draft cards of those who wanted Synod to act as a repository for them. But it did decide to direct its General Program Council: “in the light of the needs of young men who find themselves in good conscience unable to participate in the war or in selective service, to maintain and deepen denominational fellowship with these young men and their families.”
THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH US (SOUTHERN)
A few decisions of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church US are also of interest to our readers.
—The Assembly voted to continue merger talks with the United Presbyterian Church; and the Committee was instructed to have an outline of a plan of union ready by next year.
—It was decided to expand the union talks to include the Reformed Presbyterian Church, the Cumberland Presbyterian Churches, the Reformed Church in America (which recently rejected a plan of union with the Southern Presbyterians) and the Hungarian Reformed Church in America.
—There was much talk at this Synod of setting up a “provisional Synod” to serve as a “holding body” for congregations and presbyteries that do not favor many union proposals. Really these provisional Synods recognize that many present union proposals are going to result in some kind of split in the Southern Presbyterian Church. A resolution to set up such a Synod to receive congregations who desire to become a part of the new church being formed by COCU was defeated. Another proposal to set up such a Synod for Churches who do not want to go along with present mergers with the United Presbyterian Church was referred to the Permanent Judicial Committee and will be considered again next year.
—Inasmuch as many believed that women were not given a large enough voice in church affairs, it was decided to set as a guideline the proportion of one-third women on all boards and agencies.
—Young people are also to be given a larger voice in church matters. One youth delegate, in addition to regular commissioners, would be sent to the General Assembly each year. This youth delegate must be over sixteen years old and under twenty-five.
—A hotly debated plan of restructuring the synods and presbyteries was not decided upon this year. Action was postponed till next year.
—Debate also arose over Colloquy magazine, a paper published by the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church US and the United Presbyterian Church USA. Objections had been brought against the magazine that included charges of blasphemy, immorality, obscenity and pornography. The Assembly voted to continue to support the magazine.
—The Assembly issued a call for the withdrawal of American troops from Southeast Asia.
—It liberalized a stand on abortion, ruling that abortion was permissible in many instances. Some of these instances are when there is medical evidence of a physical or mental deformity in the unborn child, when conception is the result of rape or incest, when the physical or mental well-being of either the mother or the child was threatened, or when socio-economic conditions of the family warranted abortion. Even a swift survey of this nature gives clear indications of the general trend of the church-world today. And the picture is not pleasant.
MCINTIRE UNDER FIRE
Dr. Carl McIntire has run into trouble with the Federal Communications Commission. The Seminary which he heads, Faith Theological Seminary, owns station WXUR—AM-FM in Media, PA. This station is the keystone of McIntire’s radio network over which he broadcasts daily. The FCC has recently refused to renew the licenses for this station which means that it will have to be operated by others. Its reasons were that the stations had “departed in a substantial manner from the programming proposals the licensee had made, and that the licensee had failed to ascertain the community’s needs and interests or to demonstrate that it had met those needs and interests.”
The strange part of it is that the FCC had appointed an Examiner to examine the station. He did his work over a period of nine months and reported that no violations of FCC rules were apparent. Yet the FCC overturned this report and unanimously ruled not to renew the license.
McIntire, who says that he will appeal the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court, has found in this the attack of the liberals who detest his type of broadcasting and are determined to get him off the air. They are particularly enraged by his religious fundamentalism, his strong anti-communism and his political conservatism.
While we do not agree with McIntire’s religion and politics in many important and basic respects, we share in McIntire’s alarm over the ruling now being appealed. There is no question about it that this is a real warning to all religious broadcasters that, if their programs do not meet with current views as to what is good for the American public to hear, they stand in real danger of having their programs blacklisted. This can be done easily by the pressure which the FCC is able to exert against stations carrying these programs. The day is perhaps not too far distant when the air waves will be closed to the preaching of the truth of the gospel.
We do not know what is being broadcast over station WXUR. We do know that McIntire must be given the right to broadcast if freedom of speech is to be preserved.