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The editor of The Christian Labor Herald reflects upon our article on the Union question in The Standard Bearer of Oct. 1, and expresses the opinion that “the editor (of the SB) is hardly justified in concluding that the Synod by that expression also declared that the existing so-called neutral labor organizations (CIO and AFL) do not necessarily give constitutional warrant to sin, nor show in their regular activities that they champion sin.” The editor states that he is under the impression that I quote from a “press report on the decisions of Synod,” and later in the editorial that I “probably felt justified in injecting those initials (CIO and AFL) in parentheses because membership in those two organizations was the real question before Synod.” And, therefore, he quotes the full decisions of Synod on this matter, as they are found in the Acts, Art. 172.

Now, I certainly quoted from a press report, and I stated this very clearly (cf. SB Sept. 1, p. 496); nor did I “inject” the above mentioned initials, for they appeared in the report published by the Grand Rapids Press from which I quoted, so that also the reporter must have had the impression that Synod was referring to the CIO and AFL. However, I have no desire to misrepresent the conclusions of Synod, and, therefore, I gladly reprint the full decisions as they appeared in The Christian Labor Herald of Nov. 1943. Here it is:

“A. Synod of 1943 reassert in re Labor Unions the position taken in 1916 and 1928, and the conclusions of the report, “Christian Social and Industrial Organizations,” as adopted by the Synod of 1930.

B. Synod expressly declares itself in agreement with the following principles:

  1. Church membership and membership in a so-called neutral labor union are compatible as long as such union gives no constitutional warrant to sins, nor shows in its regular activities that it champions sin.
  2. The Biblical doctrine of corporate responsibility and the Biblical teaching of the Christian’s separation from the world make it imperative for members of neutral labor organizations to discontinue membership in any such unions whose common practices are clearly in conflict with the principles of the Word of God.
  3. Christian conscience cannot condone membership in a neutral organization if it continues and approves its sinful practices in spite of protests against them.
  4. The doctrine of corporate responsibility does not imply that membership in unions which have engaged in sinful practices of itself makes one liable to ecclesiastical censure; however, when members of the Church render themselves guilty of acts which are contrary to the Word of God there shall be the usual application of the rules for discipline. Corporate responsibility may render one worthy of ecclesiastical discipline, but the degree of guilt must be determined by the local consistories.
  5. Consistories and Classes should take careful note of the practices of all labor organizations existent in their respective communities to determine whether membership in our Church and membership in such organizations are compatible.

C. Synod exhort the ministers of the Church to emphasize the Scriptural principles of the Christian’s separation from the world, and the sinful consequences of putting on an unequal yoke with unbelievers to obtain right and justice through means condemned by the Word of God. Further Synod admonish the membership of the Church to break with all organizations which by common practice reveal an anti-Christian spirit. In short, Synod urge upon ministers and elders by vigorous use of the keys entrusted to them to declare the principles of the Word of God which must guide the members of the Church in their relation to the world and the organizations of the world.”

The reader may notice that the difference between this report from the Acta and the press report as printed in the SB of Sept. 1 is as follows: 1. The press report inserted “CIO and AFL after “neutral labor union” in B, 1. 2. B, 3 is missing in the press report. 3. C was not taken up in the press report. 4. Also A was omitted in The Press.

But, apart from the insertion of “CIO and AFL” the main conclusions of Synod were literally correct as I quoted them.

More about this next time, D. V.