“God Bless America” – But How? By Prosperity or By Another Depression? and Reformed Fellowship Chapter Activities

Prosperity or another depression?

What an odd, absurd, even asinine question! But is it really?

Of course, a Gallup poll would settle that question in a hurry, once and for all, with a whopping, landslide majority in favor of prosperity. One would have to be crazy to ask God to bless America with another depression.

But just a minute. Wouldn‘t we agree that what was once good for Israel as God’s chosen people would be good for America also?

Remember Elijah? He was a prophet of God in the days of wicked King Ahab and his even more wicked Queen Jezebel. A man of God who dared to lay his life on the line to say what God wanted him to say.

And do you remember what this “oddball” prophet once prayed for? Of all things, a famine! Imagine how the fury of wicked Ahab and heathen Jezebel was stirred up against him. Anyone eccentric enough to pray that for his own nation would have to be eccentric, a foe within the gates, a traitor, public enemy number one.

But not so. Israel had no better friend than Elijah, and no one more interested to promote the true welfare of his nation. Actually, he was the best patriot in the land.

Seems mighty strange though. Look at his prayer. “Elijah was a man of like passion with us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth for three years and six months” (James 5:17).

And Elijah didnt keep it a secret either. Fact is, he went boldly right to headquarters and told godless King Ahab: “As Jehovah, the God of Israel, liveth before whom I stand, there shaH not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word” (I Kings 17:1).

Was he crazy? Not at all. Elijah was one of the few left in Israel who could still see straight. And Elijah was the only one who dared to face up to King Ahab and tell him what was what.

Israel had become horribly apostate. Weak-kneed King Ahab had knuckled under to his domineering Queen Jezebel who, by her atrocious cruelty, had forced apostacy and the worship of Baal upon Israel and slain the prophets of Jehovah. At such a time as that, Elijah was given to sec that business as usual and prosperity would be a curse to Israel and that the only thing that would bring the apostate Israelites to their senses and to their knees was a famine or a depression.

But America—we have no worship of Baal here.

Let’s not be too sure; it may be even worse.

A quick look at the record speaks volumes.

Volumes as to whether more prosperity and affluence for America would really prove to be a blessing or a curse.

1. Abortion on demand in America has now come to be legal and reputable in our supposedly and so-called Christian and civilized society.

For long centuries, mankind has shuddered at the memory of the ruthlessness and monstrosity of a Herods slaughter of the innocents at Bethlehem. The blood of all those boy babies from two years old and under, so cruelly murdered, still cries from the ground for vengeance, a cry to which a just and holy God does not turn a deaf ear. But the awful tragedy is that the murder of such little and helpless babes did not end with that tyrant Herod of nineteen hundred years ago.

In his recent (1974) book, Abortion and the Meaning of Personhood (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mich., $3.95), Rev. Clifford E. Bajema (CRC minister in Akron, Ohio) in a chapter entitled “An Infamous Day in American History” writes:

“On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States decided by a seven to two vote that, in Justice Blackmun‘s words, the term ‘person’ as it is used in the Constitution, ‘has implication only postnatally.’ So now we have abortion on demand nationwide by Supreme Court decision. After the third month the states may, if they choose, put on limited regulations related to maternal health. For all practical purposes, however, the die has been cast for the unborn” (p. 83). (Note: Bajema‘s book on this up-totheminute matter is one that pastors, teachers, and other concerned persons cannot afford to be without.)

Consider also the following. The April 1975 Newsgram of the Grand Rapids Right to Life Committee informs us: “The Grand Rapids Press (2-27) recently reported 5,000 abortions performed in the immediate Grand Rapids area [where the CRC has its headquarters] during the past two years. When one considers that there is no law making it mandatory to report abortions, it becomes obvious that the figure of 5,000 is merely a low estimate of the number of unborn who have been killed, aborted, extracted, terminated or succumbed following an untimely delivery by hysterotomy, in Grand Rapids.”

Think of it, more than 5,000 in the Grand Rapids area alone. Estimate for yourself what the shocking toll would add up to if we would include New York, Chicago, Detroit, and all the rest of the nation.

Yes, “God bless America!” But will more prosperity, affluence, a dramatic upturn in the economy, and business as usual bring our nation to the mourner’s bench? Or will it take a depression and perhaps a famine to do that?

If the prophet Elijah were sent to America today, what would he be praying for? Well, you be the judge.

2. Or take the case of divorce in the U. S. That quick and easy divorce (or any divorce cxcept on the one ground allowed in Scripture) should be taboo has long been obvious to the CRC. But here too the winds of change are blowing, blowing like a hurricane. Let no one underestimate the amount of God’s grace it will take if we are to remain impervious to the wholesale divorce that is now spreading like a plague on every hand.

Recently, Columnist James Reston wrote the following about todays escalating rate of divorce:

The National Center for Health Statistics of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare has just reported that there were 970,000 divorces in the United States in 1974, compared with 913,000 in 1973, and 479,000 in 1965. The rate of population growth in the United States is down over the last decade, but in 1974, the excess of births over deaths was still upby over a million and a quarter, while the rate of marriages was down and the rate of divorces was up” (The Grand Rapids Press, March 17, 1975).

All of which leaves us once again with the agonizing question: What will do more to make this land that we love humble, contrite, and repentant before the God who has so richly poured out his favors upon us for the past two hundred years—prosperity or another depression? What should we pray for?

When all the evidence is in, what’s the answer? Once again, you be the judge.

3. Take a look at one more gloomy page of the accusing record, and that should suffice. It was homosexuality that preceded the doom of Sodom and Gomorrah. The infiltration of this perversion with its brazen demand today for respectability in our society is bad enough; now the infiltration of it into the so-called Christian church is even worse.

Religious News Service, reporting from Cincinnati (as published in The Church Herald, March 21, 1975) tells the following about homosexuals and today’s church situation:

The moderator of the Universal Fellowship of the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) reported here that the ‘gay’ (homosexual) denomination is growing. The Rev. Troy Perry, thirty-four, of Los Angeles, said that the MCC has thirty-nine chartered congregations and forty-three missions and study groups. There are 17,000 members in eight countries and sixty-three men and women students for ordination at a denominational seminary in California.

The fellowship grew by forty percent in 1974, said Mr. Perry, who met with the local MCC group which holds services at St. John‘s Unitarian Church, Clifton. Mr. Perry said his denomination expects to apply for membership in both the National Council of Churches and the National Association of Evangelicals. The MCC, he said, is ‘evangelistic in nature.’”

Can you imagine that!

No need, I trust, for more evidence to make the point.

Israel was hopelessly mired in the worship of Baal. At least, Elijah knew that things were hopeless for his nation unless God would bring about a miracle of repentance by means of a prolonged drought and an unforgettable famine.

Yes, “God bless America!” And Canada also! But let’s keep our priorities straight. What do we need above all—an upturn in the economy or a return to the God of our fathers?

Should we pray for prosperity, affluence, and business as usual, or (one hardly dares say it) for another depression? My heart, all my sympathies, and also my own love for ease and comfort yearn for the former; but deep down in me there is also something that persists in pointing in the other direction.

Indeed, it must take supernatural grace in a giant measure to dare to be an Elijah when we pray at such a time as this.

What must you and I pray for?

Once again, you be the judge.


Gratefully  it may be reported that interesting activities on the part of Reformed Fellowship Chapters is in evidence. Let me report the following.

It was gratifying to me recently to be asked to address meetings sponsored by the Burlington, London, and Toronto Chapters in Ontario, Canada on April 7, 9, and 11. Due to another appointment it was not possible to include the Toronto meeting in this brief itinerary. Hopefully, this may be possible at a later date.

In line with the request of these Chapters, the topic of the address at Burlington and London was “Let’s Remain Reformed.” The interest of those who sponsored these meetings in this particular topic was heartening. It would be difficult to think of an exhortation more urgent and relevant in our day than this matter of remaining Reformed. The thoughts I sought to develop in addressing these meetings were the following: let’s remain knowledgeably Reformed; let’s remain honestly Reformed; let’s remain distinctively Reformed; let’s remain dynamically Reformed; and let‘s remain unitedly Reformed. It was like a tonic to experience the interest in and concern for these matters.

A big thankyou is due to Fred R. Vander Velde, president of the Burlington Chapter, and also to others both in Burlington and in London to arranging these meetings and also for the generous accommodations for both my wife and myself during our stay in Canada. Mr. Vander Velde is the Assistant Space Manager for the Canadian National Exhibition and obviously familiar with handling such matters efficiently and with dispatch.

Questions asked at these meetings revealed a real interest in issues that confront the CRC in both Canada and the U. S. Unfortunately, time did not allow for consideration of all the questions asked in writing at the Burlington meeting. If those whose questions did not receive attention wish to send them to me, I will gladly do my best to try to answer them in a future issue of THE OUTLOOK.

It is good also to learn about the fonnation of new Reformed Fellowship Chapters in other a,.eas. Recently we received information about the organization of a new chapter in New Jersey and also of a new chapter in the Lynden, Washington area with 56 charter members. Word from northwest Iowa indicates lively activity on the part of the chapter there.

News of area chapter activities (with photos if possible) will be very welcome for publication in THE OUTLOOK. Information about how to organize an area Reformed Fellowship Chapter will be gladly sent upon request. The Reformed Fellowship will be pleased to hear from interested parties and to help in such an undertaking.