Editorials: Always Grateful What’s the Secret?; Once again: Lindsell’s The Battle for the Bible; Annual Report of Managing Editor

Our hope is that our readers in Canada may have had a successful Thanksgiving Day recently on October 11 and that we who are south of the border may also have such this month on November 25.

Our even greater hope is that all of us, and others too, may be truly grateful not just one day in the year but always and in all things. That’s what God prescribes in His Word. “In everything &rive thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to youward” (I Thess. 5:18).

Impossible? Not at all—if only we come to know the secret. Someone has well said that, instead of dwelling so much on the bad news of the world, we should think more about the good news of the Word. That’s the secret!

Those precious souls whose lives are always radiant with gratitude are what they are just because they are doing precisely that. They are far less occupied with the world news every hour on the hour than with the good news for the ages. They are fully aware that we do not really get the news unless we first get the news behind the news, to be found only in our Bibles.

Everything depends on our perspective or point of view. Some insist on living by sight and they gripe and grumble; the believer knows that we are to live by faith and he can be grateful. The name of the poet escaped me, but this is how he spelled out the difference:

Two men looked through prison bars; The one saw mud, the other stars.”

Following are examples that came to mind:

1. I have just come from the dentist’s office where the period of waiting afforded an opportunity to find in a copy of the National Geographic a gripping account of the devastation and horrors caused by the fearful earthquake of last February 4 that left Guatemala in Central America with an estimated 23,000 dead, 77,000 injured, and more than a million homeless. Think also of the destructive earthquakes that struck Red China and the Philippines this August.

How thankful you and I may well be for having been spared from all such indescribable disaster there and elsewhere. And how thankful we should be not to be tortured by the legend found there that the earth is a cube resting at the corners on the shoulders of four gods who become tired when this earth becomes becomes overpopulated and then shift the weight of it all to get rid of a number of its inhabitants in that way. Thank God that we know from Scripture that it is our gracious Father in Christ who shakes the earth for His own good reason (Heb. 12:26).

That is the good news of the Word that counteracts and cancels out the bad news of the world. and the secret of being always grateful.

2. Think also of all the atrocities in the land of Lebanon as the fighting thcre goes on and on. Other trouble spots where uprisings and bloodshed have been the order of the day readily come to mind. The recent news item that some run-ofthemill student succeeded in putting together an atomic bomb with a real potential for detonation and for causing wholesale devastation fills us with apprehension at the thought of what havoc and atrocities could be caused at any time.

Can we be thankful even at a time like this when the clouds of war and of an unprecedented holocaust are looming on the horizon? By faith we can, even at such a time as this.

For one thing, we have been spared from such wars and atrocities within our own borders, and neither are our sons, brothers, and husbands fighting on foreign soil.

Moreover, we also know from Scripture that it is our God Who “maketh wars to cease unto the ends of the earth,” and that He tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God.” We are grateful that, come what may, we know that “Jehovah of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge” (Psalm 46:9·11).

That is the good news of the Word that counteracts and cancels out the bad news of the world, and the secret of being always grateful.

3. Another specter that haunts us as a freedomloving people in the Western Hemisphere is the threat of godless Communism as it reaches out to extend its cruel and iron dictatorship wherever possible.

Whether it was wishful thinking, a plain and simple blooper, or an unfortunate case of semantic confusion on his part, President Ford must have kicked himself often enough after he blundered in that debate with Governor Carter when he insisted that Eastern Europe is not under Soviet domination.

Already in 1967, fifty years after the ruthless Bolsheviks, now known as Communists, had seized control in Russia, William Henry Chamberlin, one· time Moscow correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and author of a two-volume history of the Russian Revolution, had the following to say about the capitulation of Eastern and Central European nations to Russian Communism:

Stalin had once declared: ‘We do not want a foot of foreign soil; we shall not yield an inch of our own. But,’” says Chamberlin, “‘he might more accurately have said: ‘We do not want a foot of foreign soil, except Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Roumania, Yugoslavia, parts of Finland, East Germany’” (The Freeman, August 1967).

Although we cannot close our eyes to the unquestioned stranglehold that godless Communism has on so much of today’s world, neither may we lose sight of the freedom we still do enjoy. Recently it was our privilege once again to go to the polls to participate in the choice of our national, state, and local rulers. Those who refused to bother themselves to register and to vote do not deserve the freedom that is still theirs. and they should blame no one but themselves if someday they wake up to to learn that the freedom they refused to exercise has been taken from them.

Ever grateful—yes, even when the ghastly and godless specter of Communist dictators leer at us from their many strongholds in which they are now so firmly entrenched.

But what is there to be grateful about? Surely. it is this. Our God says: “Why do the nations rage, and the peoples imagine a vain thing? . . . He that sitteth in the heavens will laugh; the Lord will have them in derision” (Psalm 2:1–4).

Why be grateful? Because our Jesus is reigning supreme as King of kings and Lord of lords at the headquarters of the whole world and of the entire universe at God‘s right hand. And also because we know: “If therefore the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). What more could we possibly want!

That is the good news of the word that counteracts and cancels out the bad news of the world, and the secret of being always grateful.

4. To catalog all the infirmities, afflictions, diseases, handicaps, disappointments, and heartaches to which all men are subject would require a volume greater than we have at our disposal, and they are far more numerous than we would care to relate. If we would listen only to the bad news of the world in the midst of calamities we would soon be crushed in spirit and all the light would be blotted out of our sky.

However, we blunder badly if we think that all must be sunshine and every day a bed of roses to go through life with a Hallelujah! in our hearts and on our lips. Fact is that George Frederick Handel wrote his masterpiece. the Messiah with its “Hallelujah Chorus” after he had gone bankrupt and while he was suffering from a paralyzed right side and right arm. Handel must have really been in the grip of the good news of the W ord for his genius and gifts to reach such sublime heights which God allowed him to attain.

Helen Keller once wrote: “I thank God for my handicaps. for through them 1 have found myself, my work, and my God.”

It may well be that the chief burden we have to bear is the realization that truth and right, God‘s Word, and the church of our Lord and Savior are being so persistently and increasingly attacked in our day, that apostasy is crowding ever closer in on us. and that the handwriting may be on the wall even for the denomination we love so dearly.

Consult only the bad news of the world at such a time as this. and it will not be long before gloom and doom will overtake us, and despair will unnerve us for our Lord‘s order to contend earnestly for the faith. It is only when we arc attuned to the good news of the Word that we san say with James Russell Lowell:

Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne Yet that scaffold sways the future, And, behind the dim unknown, Standeth God within the shadow, Keeping watch above His own.”

Always precious to me in all the ups and downs of more than forty-six years in the ministry is that precious assurance by which Paul, in all his adversities, could live and die so gloriously:

And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

That is the good news of the Word that counteracts and cancels out all the bad news of the world, and makes it possible to be always grateful. Let us give thanks.


Once again: Lindsell’s THE BAffLE FOR THE BIBLE

Now that Dr. De Koster, Editor of The Banner, has written at some length to pursue his severe criticism of Dr. Harold Lindsell‘s recent book, The Battle for the Bible, and even though I am informed that more is still forthcoming at the time of this writing (October 16), I do wish to take the opportunity once again to urge our readers to get this book and read it so that you may judge for yourselves whether The Battle for the Bible is as bad as Dr. De Koster would have us believe it is or whether it rates the wholehearted and enthusiastic recommendation I still believe it deserves.

Allow me to remind you once again of the strong denunciation of Lindsell‘s book by Editor De Koster when he first wrote about it in the August 20 issue of The Banner as follows: “It is a highly incompetent work, at most a reservoir of unseemly gossip (Italics mine. JVP). Unfortunately it has secured some hasty endorsement by Reformed writers who, on reflection, will have occasion to consider, I think, their enthusiasm. I refer to Dr. Harold Lindsell‘s T he Battle for the Bible (Zondervan 1976). The closer you look, the worse this books looks, as we shall see together sometime soon” (p. 7).

Let me hereby assure Editor De Koster that, to date, I have seen nothing to cause me to reconsider what he apparently thought to be a “hasty endorsement” of Lindsell‘s book and my enthusiasm for it. Allow me once again, as I have already done before in a telephone conversation with him, to urge Dr. De Koster to give specific examples of the “unseemly gossip,” which, according to him, is so plentiful in the book that he calls it “a reservoir of unseemly gossip.” It seems to me that a charge as serious as that should either be carefully documented or withdrawn with an apology to the author.

In my judgment, the case Dr. Lindsell seeks to make in his book still stands, and I am convinced more than ever that he is right on target when he states his case in the book as follows:

I will contend that embracing a doctrine of an errant Scripture will lead to disaster down the road. It will result in the loss of missionary outreach; it will quench missionary passion; it will lull congregations to sleep and undermine their belief in the full-orbed truth of the Bible; it will produce spiritual sloth and decay; and it will finally lead to apostasy” (The Battle for the Bible, p. 25).

Because of my unwavering conviction that the evil which Dr. Lindsell exposes so clearly and specifically is the greatest threat to the future of the CRC and also other evangelical denominations, I cannot urge you strongly enough to get this book and judge for yourself what the situation really is.


Following is the managing editor’s report made at the annual meeting of Reformed Fellowship, Inc. on September 30.

This is the sixth annual report I am privileged to make as managing editor of THE OUTLOOK. Little did I realize when honored with the appointment to serve as managing editor six years ago that my service would extend as long as it has. During these years the board has been considerate and the Lord very gracious to make this possible. This opportunity has been very interesting and challenging and has done much to enrich my senior citizenship years which might otherwise have been unfulfilled and even frustrating. So, a hearty thank-you to all of you and especially to our gracious Lord whose cause we seek to serve.

Allow me to call your attention to the following matters:

Circulation – The circulation graph of any publication is always of special interest to those who produce it and also to the readers. Six years ago the paid subscriptions to our publication stood at 2800. The latest available figure is about 5,000. During the recent recession we had a dip in the number of subscriptions but we are grateful now to be on the rise again. During the last six years we have been blessed with an average increase of 360 subscribers per year.

During this 25th anniversary year of Reformed Fellowship and of our publication we have experienced a dramatic increase in circulation. In view of the healthy condition of our treasury made possible by the generous financial contributions from friends of our cause and by faithful members paying their membership dues—a one-year free subscription was offered to all CRC consistory members who would request these. This was done because of the importance of reaching especially the consistories with our message. We had no way of knowing what the outcome of this unusual oHer would be. Imagine our surprise—and also the drain on the treasury—when no less than about 4,000 consistory members took us up on this offer. Because requests kept coming in it was finally found to be necessary to make September 1 the cut-off date for this offer.

Of course, it is our hope and prayer that all or a good number of those now receiving their subscriptions free will become paying subscribers and continue as readers. Whatever the outcome may be, it is very encouraging and challenging to know that for a year we are able to address our message to these thousands of consistory members at such a critical time as this in the history of the CRC.

Finances – Although it is not in my province to give a financial report I cannot refrain from expressing my personal gratitude for the generous financial contributions that have made it possible this past year again to operate in the black. Although we do not have a place on the list of denominational quotas or causes recommended for offerings, by God‘s grace we must have a place in the hearts of so many throughout the church who love the Reformed faith and who are obviously eager to have us carryon in our defense and exposition of it by means of the printed page.

Because of the heavy drain on the treasury at this time, due to the 4,000 free subscriptions for consistory members, I do not doubt that an urgent plea will have to be made this fall for a lot of generous contributions to keep us from skidding into the red where we have no longing whatsoever to bc. Unless I overestimate the generosity of members, friends, and supporters, I trust that the Lord will make them willing to keep this from happening.

Copy – Once again, appreciation is hereby expressed to regular contributors and others who have been so willing and faithful in providing copy for our publication. At no time has there been a dearth of material. That capable writers who dearly love the Reformed faith have been so ready to write is a cause for real gratitude.

A word of thanks is due to Rev. P. De Jong, Miss Johanna Timmer, Dr. L. Greenway, Rev. H. C. Vanden Einde for faithfully providing copy for their departments.

Appreciation is due also to those who have provided series of articles: Rev. H. Vander Kam, Rev. H. G. Arnold, Rev. J. Julien, Mrs. Laurie Vanden Heuvel, and Rev. John Blankespoor–and also to others who have provided occasional articles. Also to Rev. Peter De Jong for his outstanding preview of and also his report on the CRC Synod of 1976.

Twice during the past year we published 32-page issues instead of the usual 32-pages. Free copies of the April 25th Anniversary Issue were made available to a II who requested these.

Note: A special word of thanks is due once again to Mr. Peter Wobbema, the printer, who is always willing to go the second mile to help, to his efficient staff, and also to Mrs. Mary Kaiser for her faithful performance of all the du ties at the office.