ALL TO MAKE MONEY!
It certainly does not speak well for the corporate conscience of a nation when relatively little indignation is expressed over what happened at Daytona Beach, Florida, last Easter weekend. The shameful scenes witnessed by other Florida communities in previous years apparently had no deterrent effect on the Daytona Beach business men who were successful in luring 40,000 collegians to their city during last spring’s vacation period. The bait was free beer! The reward was some $2.5 million spent by the young roisterers in local establishments. A belated word of thanks still can be given the Reverend Rhodes Thompson, pastor of the First Christian Church in Daytona Beach, who has publicly denounced the “suds, sex and sand” line of civic promotion and is spearheading an organized movement to outlaw this prostitution of the city’s many attractions. Thirty truckloads of beer cans were hauled away from the city’s beaches during that one Easter weekend. Meanwhile the dollar-hungry community leaders who supported the event recorded the promotion as a successful venture. It will remain a horrible blot on the name of this attractive resort center that one of the holiest days of the year was given over to that kind of commercialism. Satan must have chuckled when he saw the image of this lovely city eroded by an alcoholic celebration of Eastertide. And all to make money!
JUST WHAT IS EXPENDABLE?
Now that we are almost certain to be caught up in the stream of ecumenicity abroad in the church, it is time we ask a few questions and consider just what is expendable. For the ultimate objective of ecumenical discussion must be unity of organization. Denominational mergers must result. That is demonstrated all around us. Certainly it may be assumed that none of us believes in ecumenicity Roman Catholic style. You know, the Pope believes in ecumenicity too. Provided, of course, that it be a one-way street. The wandering sons must return to his fold. But for us ecumenicity cannot be a one-way street. Then it must of necessity be a give and take proposition. We could hardly expect others to become Christian Reformed.
Wen, in that case, then, what are we ready to give up? Just what is there in our church that is expendable? Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind is our Christian schools and our covenant theology which determines our view of Christian education. Oh, you say, no one would be so foolish. Let’s hope so. But some might suggest another way out. Those who do not share our views could be left free in the matter of Christian schools. If they did not feel like preaching or supporting our program of Christian education, no one should bother them. After all, heaven does not depend on this, does it?
And what about the lodge? Let us assume—although I am not at all sure about this—that we shall remain adamant in our stand on the lodge. Do we expect others to alter their stand for the sake of a church merger? Rather naive to expect that, is it not?
One could mention a number of other things. Amusements, for instance. I am well aware that in practice this question today is becoming obsolete. But does it mean that we now indiscriminately indulge in these things on which the church has frowned? Is this expendable? Or perhaps there are certain points of church government that we consider expendable. I don’t know what they could be, but many people know more about these things than this writer. Or how about our views on sabbath observance and Sunday labor?
Yes, just what is expendable? As for me, I am ready to give up just exactly nothing for any ecumenical movement. How about you?
THERE MUST BE SOMETHING WRONG HERE
The services of ministers of the gospel are constantly sought by non-ecclesiastical, though Christian, organizations. They are expected, upon acceptance of such appointments, to leave their charges and engage exclusively in the work assigned. The positions are, therefore, full-time. Our synods have vacillated in this matter—at times they have decided that a minister accepting such a position could not retain his status; at other times they have yielded and allowed ministers to accept such appointments without jeopardizing their status.
Naturally, this vacillation on the part of our synods causes one to wonder just what are the principles which should direct synod in its decisions. Surely there are such principles. But the space of a brief article such as this does not allow one to enlarge on them. Moreover, the present writer has done this formerly and elsewhere. At tllis time I would make only one or two remarks.
First, it seems strange to me that at the present time our people are so dependent upon the ministry that they insist upon recruiting men from those ranks for work which does not specifically belong to the ministry of the Word and the Sacraments, and which, by common consent, can be done by other qualified men. There was a time, not so very long past and still vivid in the memory of many of us, when there were very few “educated” men among us outside of the ministry. Men possessing a bachelor’s degree were very, very rare. However, God has blessed us wonderfully so that among our people bachelor’s degrees are so plentiful that they are hardly noticed, master’s degrees are common and even doctor’s degrees are not unusual. There must be a number of men among us who are “educationally” fully qualified to serve our institutions and our youth. Yet in the midst of this abundance we turn to the ministry and ask some of its members to perform tasks which, according to common consent, could be done by others. Some years ago we yearned for the time when we could call upon well-trained men to perform such tasks. We have such trained men now and yet we persist in depending upon the ministry. Evidently there is something wrong.
The fault may be with our people in general. Perhaps they wrongfully insist that the “sanctity” of the office of n minister shall spread itself over other realms of Christian activity and thus more or less “hallow” such domains. On the other hand It is also conceivable that the “educated” among us arc hardly qualified for the tasks intended. This would, of course, be a reflection upon them and/or upon their training. The question has been put, Are the educated among us really interested in the Kingdom of God? I have no reason to doubt this. But then one is bound to ask why such educated men cannot lead and educate others. Do we really mean to say that among all our educated people no men can be found fit for the work which is now being assigned to ministers? Must we turn to ministers for this purpose? If that should be the case I am afraid that with all the expansion of our educational facilities we have not advanced; that we are not producing the kind of product we expected. This is a situation that calls for review and investigation.
To justify the recruiting of ministers for tasks which can be performed by others the question is almost regularly asked whether the work is spiritual in character, or whether there is at least a spiritual element in the work. The question is likewise asked whether the work has anything to do, be it remotely, with the training of ministers. I should say that such questions and the attempts implied in asking them do not at all impress me. After all we are Christians and Reformed at that. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). If there is no spiritual element in the work, or if we cannot approach the task with spiritual and God-honoring purposes in mind, we have no business engaging in it. This holds for all work, be it lofty or lowly. All Christians are office-bearers unto God. One need not be a special office-bearer—a minister or even an elder or deacon for that matter—to perform a task which any qualified Christian can perform, as for example to lead and to educate our youth.
THE ENEMY WITHIN OUR GATES
The threat of Communism in America looms larger every day, and we can ill afford to shut our eyes to the forces in our own country which are only helping it along. Lenin may not have been so far off when years ago he made this prediction about the United States: “We will not have to attack. It will fall like an over-ripe fruit into our hands.” Khrushchev is even more explicit: “The Communists will destroy capitalism, not with nuclear weapons, but through the spread of ideology.” Do we see the handwriting on the wall, or shall we continue to sit back and say, “It can’t happen here”?
On this topic Dr. Carl F. Henry recently wrote an editorial in Christianity Today, entitled, “Strategy For Disaster -BW’n the Fire Truck.” He made some very pertinent rcmarks which dcserve our attention:
“In our rightful concern over the gradual spread of Communism abroad we may prove to be like the man who vigorously fought a grass fire in a neighbor’s yard while his own house was ablaze…
“While we fight brush fires in other lands we are in grave danger of ignoring the slow-burning congregation in our midst. Concerned over Communist aggression in other nations we ignore the termites of infiltration here at home. While we fight the fires of Communism abroad let us beware of the Red-inspired pyromaniacs here at home.”
Oh that all the American people, and especially the leaders, would awake to see these dangers!
But Dr. Henry also gives a solution, and for us who profess to be Calvinists, his words should be doubly impelling:
“A strong faith in God is the greatest single enemy of Communism, and where such faith is fostered a bulwark is set up against materialism in all of its manifestations.
“Christian citizens should be the bulwark against which the designs of the international conspiracy of Communism flounder.
“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? They must seek to rebuild these foundations, no matter how costly, no matter how difficult.”
THE COUPLES’ CLUB
The organization of congregational life is rich and complex. True, we must also see well to it that we have the spiritual dynamite to run our machinery. But we are thankful for the good classes, circles, and societies which have grown up out of felt needs and are functioning with blessing.
Different guidelines have helped shape the patterns of society life. Age has often been the determining factor, dividing into various youth and adult groupings. Again, sex has decided the classifying into societies for boys and girls, men and women. Or, purpose and activity have been determinants as in Choral Societies.
One fellowship is shaped by marriage status: The Couples’ Club. It seems to have caught on quite widely. Let’s consider it.
By its very name it shows its restrictiveness, more arbitrary than that of other circles. In that lies a weakness for service. If one young parent must baby-sit, going as couple is out for that home; again, the widow, widower, and unmarried adult would not fit where the purpose is to meet as couples.
Some one might reply: “Well, such persons can join other societies.” Perhaps so, or perhaps often not. But our thought now is: Would not a “Couples’ Club” make more friends and influence more people if, in a less restrictive way, it functioned as a “Christian Fellowship Circle,” or something like that; inviting that often-left-out widow and single girl. that shy bachelor and lonely widower? Inviting them would often meet a present need and might even lead to a fine social development.
Might not a wider outreach lead to a fuller service?
Note: Some of our churches already feature this type of society. May the number increase. –Ed.