Opinions and Observations

Within recent memory the ecclesiastical drums were being beaten for “youth services.” If you wanted to be “right on,” “in the spirit of our times,” that was the “in” thing to do! Now not near so loudly but quite perceptively another trend is developing among us, namely, the introduction of “Children’s Church Services.” Oh yes, we encourage the family to worship TOGETHER until the time approaches for the Word to be read and expounded—then today’s children, being different from past generations, must for some reason or other be separated from the OFFICIAL proclamation of the Word and led into a Sunday School or Church School service arrangement. All sorts of rational arguments are brought forward to substantiate the need for such a new development—which after all isn’t new at all. The American Church world has followed this as an established procedure for as many years as anyone can remember, and it certainly has NOT strengthened these churches to say the least.

God help us to resist this new trend among “us” and keep the family worshipping together—the family that is already too fragmented where each member goes his own way the other six days of the week. Let the children learn the discipline of sitting with their parents in the Lord‘s House; learning from their parents interest in and love for the Word; the discipline of listening to the Word faithfully applied to them by the minister every Sunday without fail; the discipline of faithful participation in communal worship.

Garrett H. Stoutmeyer pastor of Faith Christian Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan. TWO WORDS

They belong together!

To believe the one is to believe the other!

The Bible is called the Word of God. So is the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who blink at the authority and infallibility of the Bible accuse evangelicals of embracing a “paper pope.” Those who study it inductively change some historical truths to symbolical accounts. It is popular to infer that the apostles were naive first-century Christians whose writings were time conditioned and culturally determined.

But what does this do to our Lord Jesus Christ? We accept the authority and inspiration of Scripture because of loyalty to Jesus, not primarily because the church taught it for nineteen centuries. We believe Biblical infallibility because Jesus said “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35), not primarily because of the unity of its message and the power of its influence. Although some dare to play down the Bible while asserting Christ’s verity, He has not left us this option.

Jesus had such a lofty conception of God‘s revelation that He said, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me” (John 7:16). He answered each question and resolved each problem by an appeal to Scripture. In the hour of temptation He met the devil head on with “It is written.” When the lawyer made trial of Him and asked the important question about what to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus said, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” (Luke 10:26).

When Jesus was drawn into disagreement with the religious authorities He made Scripture the judge. The Pharisees added to it by “holding fast the tradition of men,” and Jesus told them, “Full well do ye reject the commandment of God that ye may keep your tradition” (Mark 7:9). Nothing could take the place of God‘s Word. The Sadducees, on the other hand, subtracted from Scripture, and Jesus declared to them, “Is it not for this cause that ye err, that ye know not the Scriptures nor the power of God?” (Mark 12:24). How important to know and believe God’s Word!

In fact, our Lord Himself made provision for the New Testament by appointing and authorizing His apostles. Paul asserted his personal commission given by Jesus Christ when he related how Jesus said to him, “unto whom I send thee” (Acts 26:17). Again he declared so forcefully, “For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:12).

The apostles’ preaching was intended to be a witness to Jesus as He commissioned them by the Spirit. “Who shall teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you” (John 14:26). When the Holy Spirit was poured out, the people “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42). Paul speaks of the body of believers, “Being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2:20).

This was the steadfastness of the early church in its consciousness of Christ’s authority. Approximately A.D. 200, Tertullian wrote “We Christians are forbidden to introduce anything on our own authority, or to choose what someone else introduces on his own authority. Our authorities are the Lord’s apostles, and they in their turn chose to introduce nothing on their own authority. They faithfully passed on to the nations the teaching which they had received from Christ” (Prescription against Heretics).

There arc two Words: the Bible and Jesus. To receive the Scripture is to receive the Savior! To reject the Word is to reject the Lord!

Fred Van Houten is the pastor of the Christian Reformed Church of Sully, Iowa.


Faith of our fathers living still In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword–

Thank God our fathers remained true to the faith in spite of awful persecution. But also, out of the fires of that persecution they gave us a glorious heritage in the creeds and confessions for the church universal and the Reformed Faith in particular. These men, some of whom were burned at the stake, did not retract, did not water down, did not compromise, nor negotiate the truth in order to co-exist with error; even in the face of death.

Today we are not in danger of losing our heritage because of persecution. Let us paraphrase the song and sing:

Faith of our fathers living still In spite of luxuries, sports, and materialism

Yes, these have taken their toll. One wonders if men today would be able to remain true to the faith if persecution should come. Our nation is sportsmad, and materialism is the God of our age. But, I do not think our greatest danger is here. Let us paraphrase further:

Faith of our fathers living still In spite of the new hermeneutics, and the scientific approach–

Here I feel lies the real danger of losing our heritage. The Psalmist through the Holy Spirit speaks of this in Psalm 11, when he says in verse 2, “The wicked bend the bow—that they may shoot in darkness at the upright.” He goes on in verse 3, and exclaims in question, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” This shooting in darkness is the subtle approach of the liberal today. They do not openly recommend to change our creeds and confessions, but very subtly propose to re-write or update them.

Now the question arises, how can we safeguard our heritage as we face these proposals for change? I would propose:

1. Any change or rewriting of the creeds or the confessions, and the Church Order, shall require a 2/3 majority vote of the Synod for approval and: 2. Such change and/or re-writing shall require ratification by 2/3 of the individual consistories in the denomination before the next general synod, for final approval.

The elders of the church are charged by Christ, the Head of the church, to maintain the purity of the Word and Doctrine. Here is where our hope lies, in the “grassroots” the body of believers. The Reformed confessions are our form of Unity. This is the unity which binds the various congregations as member congregations in the denomination. It does therefore, become incumbent upon the consistories, speaking for Christ in the various congregations they serve, to have the final voice in deciding whether or not that which binds them in unity with the other congregations of the denomination shall undergo a change.

Should the “Form of our Unity” be other than what it was when a particular congregation became a member by free choice of this denomination?

The consistory is the highest authority. They should have the final vote for ratification on such important issues.

When the faith of our fathers is thus safeguarded, then we can conclude the song with heart and mind—and with our children:

Faith of our fathers holy faith, We will be true to Thee till death.

Bert Van Dyken is an orange grower in Ripon, California, where he and his family are members of the Immanuel Christian Reformed Church.    


No church is any stronger than the moral and spiritual integrity of the constituent homes. Throughout the ages, Satan has been doing his utmost to destroy the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. ]n his attacks upon the Kingdom, he has succeeded in capturing Christian seminaries, church-related colleges, and many churches. But he cannot deliver the deathblow to the Kingdom unless he destroys the Christian home.

Christian homes have always been the bulwarks of the Kingdom. Whenever Satan subverted a church, the Christian home started a new church or a new denomination based upon the infallible authority of the Word of God. Whenever Satan infiltrated a church-related college, the Christian home started a new Christian college. When Satan undermined institutions of public instruction, the Christian home established Christian schools.

Consequently, today satan has redoubled his efforts to destroy the Christian home. It seems as if all the forces of the demon world today are directed against the homes of God’s people and also those of the secular world. Our homes today are being undermined by divorce, hasty marriages, pre-marital sex, women’s liberation, parental delinquency, progressive education, drugs, and every form of immorality. Children of our Christian homes are in danger of being sucked under by the whirlpool of rebellion that surrounds them on every side. Foundations are beginning to crumble. As never before, we must be alerted to the many dangers threatening our homes.

(To be continued)

CORNELIUS J. VAN SCHOUWEN is minister of the Christian Reformed Church living in Sioux Center, Iowa, where he served as Professor of Bible at Dordt College from 1954 until his retirement in 1968.