A Menace to Church and State
And since this Federal Council is the parent of the National Council of Christian Churches, the pamphlet concludes this part as follows:
“In summation, forty-two years of Federal Council history was largely the history of a small clique of ultra modernist clergymen whose political coloration could be described as deep pink and who controlled and directed its affairs. A mere recital of F.C.C.C. presidents and top officials would leave little doubt as to the direction of any organization subject to their control.”
And it ends this chapter in capital letters with the following words:
“Such is the history of the National Council’s parent organization. The Federal Council of Churches of Christ! Is this the kind of activity you want your church and your money to support?”
Here I must insert a remark.
The Southern Presbyterian Church, to which also the authors of this pamphlet belong, is also united with the National Council of Christian Churches. How is this possible? Do not the authors of the pamphlet know that not only a small clique of top men, but practically all the churches or, at least their leaders, with which they are thus united, are full of modernists if not leftists? How, then, can they unite with them at all? Suppose they succeed to get the leadership of the N.C.C.C. in the hands of the conservative element, which is very improbable, would that solve the problem? Would not the modernists still be in the Council and would they not still be united with those that deny the Christ of the Scriptures? The Bible plainly, teaches us that there is not and cannot be any communion between Christ and Belial, between light and darkness. And, surely, all modernist theologians, that deny that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, that deny the total depravity of the natural man and the divine Sonship of Christ, as well as the atonement on the cross, are children of darkness and children of Belial. Hence, the Southern Presbyterian Church should never have joined the N.C.C.C. which is a daughter of the Federation of Christian Churches and should separate themselves immediately.
However, this is not the position of the pamphlet. For, on p. 25 we read: “Our own Church is a member of the National Council, but we find our hands tied to make an effective protest. Those who are at the head of the Council, along-with staff members who do so much behind the scenes to direct the policies of this organization, seem adamant in their position and have laid themselves wide open to the severest criticism. In fact, these men have in their action lined themselves and the National Council squarely behind the present Communist line.
“If any of them do not like this statement let them repudiate their position. Otherwise they and their actions will be increasingly suspect.
“In saying this we are not taking a stand against the principle back of the National Council. There is need for an agency which can, in mutually agreed areas, represent Protestantism as a whole.
“Nor do we wish to make an all-inclusive criticism of the National Council. There are activities and individuals which are rendering an acceptable and effective service.
“But this we assert: as now constituted the National Council has become an ecclesiastical octopus which in an increasing degree is trying to influence all of the constituting churches of the Council and this influence only too often comes from men whose concept of the Church is widely at variance with that of our own denomination. We have the frightening fact that an agency for the Church has left the role of servant to assume the position of master.”
This I cannot understand.
How the Southern Presbyterian Church with a Council of Churches that has its origin in the Federation, which is so controlled by modernists that it is even impossible to protest, controlled, too, by men that are “squarely behind the present communist line” — that is a mystery to me. And I repeat: it was a mistake that the Southern Presbyterian Church ever joined the National Council and should separate itself as soon as possible.
Much of the rest of the pamphlet is devoted to a criticism of the stand taken by the National Council to recognize Red China.
The reader must know that last year, in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates to what is called a “World Order Study Conference” which was sponsored by the National Council of Churches, passed the following resolution: “With reference to China, Christians should urge reconsideration by our Government of its policy in regard to the People’s Republic of China . . . steps should be taken toward the inclusion of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations and for its recognition by our Government.” Pamphlet p. 21.
The pamphlet suggests that a strong protest should be registered against this action of the National Council. And a letter has already been sent to fifty thousand Protestant clergymen from which we quote the following:
“We believe it is important to set the record straight and to show the world where the American Protestant community stands. It is in this belief that we are sending this letter to you and to other Protestant clergymen of all denominations with an urgent request that you make your individual point of view known on two simple and yet paramount questions :
“(a) Do you favor recognition of Communist China by the United States ?
“(b) Do you favor the admission of Communist China to the United Nations?
“We urge that you complete the enclosed form as soon as possible and return it to us with an indication of your sentiment. We hope that you will join thousands of other clergymen throughout the country in registering your opposition to any action which would betray the people of China, our allies and the basic tenets of our Christian morality. We look forward to hearing from you by return mail.” Pamphlet pp. 26, 27.
This protest though it asks for the expression of thousands of clergymen in regard to their sentiments on the above two questions, does not enter into the principle of the matter. For that principle involves the separation of Church and State. The National Council of Churches is supposed to represent a large section of the Church. It, therefore, must be interested in the affairs of the Church, chiefly with the maintenance and development of the truth of the gospel. But the question of the recognition of Red China and its inclusion in the United Nations is strictly an affair of the State. It certainly is not the business of the National Council of Churches.
We, therefore, suggest that, in case a protest is made, it should read as follows:
“We, all members of Churches that belong to the National Council, protest through the various assemblies of our Churches, against the action of the National Council of Churches according to which they resolved that Red China should be recognized by the Government of the United States and be included in the United Nations. Grounds:
“1. We all believe in the principle of the separation of Church and State.
“2. The National Council is supposed to represent the Churches that belong to it and, therefore, is interested in all things that concern the truth of the gospel and the wellbeing of the Church.
“3. But the matter of the recognition of Red China by our Government and its inclusion in the United Nations is strictly an affair of the State and although individual members of the Church may be interested in the matter and express an opinion, no Church-body as, such may draw up an official resolution regarding this matter.
“4. By making this resolution the National Council has placed itself in the sign of the false church from which we are called before God to separate ourselves. The false church is anti-Christian.”
The pamphlet closes with a chapter under the heading: “To Our Beloved Church.”
In this chapter strong emphasis is expressed on the necessity of maintaining the truth of the infallibility and plenary inspiration of Holy Writ. And the authors of the pamphlet express deep concern in this respect, not only over the condition of the Church in general, but also over conditions in their own Church. They write: “First of all. There is constant need to guard against any tendency to a qualified acceptance of the Bible. There is an alarming absence of that sturdy faith in, and resounding affirmation of, the Scriptures which characterized the Church in past generations. There is accorded to many scholars outside the bounds of our church a respect and acceptance, which their views in no way justify. It can be clearly demonstrated that no development of science or proven finding of scholarship has invalidated one whit a single doctrine of the Christian faith. Nonetheless there is abroad today a scholarship which denies almost every cardinal element of truth, not on the basis of established facts but on the basis of intellectual pre-suppositions which have denied the faith before they even examined it.”
Many in the Church follow these would-be scholars that deny the Holy Scriptures, the God and the Christ and the plan of the Scriptures. And it is, evidently, the idea of the authors of the pamphlet that this is true even of their own Church.
Personally, I agree very much with the sentiments expressed in this final chapter. But when the authors suggest that there are those in the Church who agree with the modernists and their views about Holy Scripture, I cannot help but wonder whether or not there is still discipline in the Southern Presbyterian Church. The authors quote more than once the Westminster Confession of Faith. But that Confession also has the following to say about church discipline:
“I. The Lord Jesus, as king and head of his Church, hath therein appointed a government in the hand of the Church officers distinct from the civil magistrate.
“II. To these officers the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed, by virtue whereof they have power respectively to retain and remit sins, to shut that kingdom against the impenitent, both by the Word and censures; and to open it unto penitent sinners, by the ministry of the gospel, and by absolution from censures, as occasion shall require.
“III. Church censures are necessary for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren; for the deterring of others from the like offenses; for purging out of that leaven which might affect the whole lump; for vindicating the honor of Christ, and the holy profession of the gospel; and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the Church, if they should suffer his covenant, and the seals thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders.
“IV. For the better attaining of these ends, the officers of the Church are to proceed by admonition, suspension from the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for a season, and by excommunication from the Church, according to the nature of the crime and demerit of the person.”
I have the impression from the pamphlet that this part of the Westminster Confession is not observed and that Christian discipline is not faithfully exercised.
In conclusion, therefore, I would once more advise the Southern Presbyterian Church to separate themselves from the National Council of Churches which they should never have joined.
And, secondly, I also advise them to exercise Christian discipline faithfully and excommunicate the members that are disorderly in walk and that deny the faith.
Otherwise I see no hope.