Religion and Morals in the News


The former queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands died November 28 at the age of 82. When she relinquished her throne and was succeeded by her daughter Juliana, she refused to retain the title of queen and wished to be called Princess Wilhelmina. She had many sterling qualities for which she was adored by the Dutch people. Wilhelmina was a deeply religious woman though her convictions did not run wholly in the direction of the Reformed faith. Doubtless some of our readers have read her memoirs, Lonely but Not Alone. One of her outstanding virtues was her thrift, probably one of the reasons for her enormous wealth. It is said that she mended her own stockings. We wonder whether it would not have been better to let one or more of her subjects do this for her and help relieve their poverty. But…perhaps we are not supposed to criticize the dead! We trust she is now enjoying the fullness of eternal life to which she looked forward with a simple faith. Would the world had more religious leaders who publicly confess their faith in God and His Christ.


President Kennedy issued a statement in connection with the annual worldwide Bible reading program of the American Bible Society and made the remark that it is not enough to translate, publish, and distribute the Bible; it should also be read. A worthwhile and timely statement indeed. Words of praise for the Bible as the Word of God, even as his infallible, inerrant Word, though very necessary, can never take the place of an actual, personal, devoted reading and study of the Scriptures. There can be no revival of true faith in the Christian church unless and until there is a return to earnest bible study, both personal and collective. A mighty spiritual awakening will sweep this country, every country, when many of those who confess the name of Christ will begin to hunger for the Word of God and follow the example of the Bereans who “examined the Scriptures daily.” How about our family altars? Are they in disrepair?


Dr. Howard G. Hageman is one of the most provocative writers in the many religious periodicals that come to my desk. He edits the department “Focus on the World” in The Church Herald, official organ of the Reformed Church in American. I do not always agree with his slant on events, but I do admire his fresh, original approach to current happenings in the religious world. His recent article on “Predestination Anyone?” delighted us and will be of real interest, I am sure, to the readers of this paper.

“A large American denomination without a single drop of Calvinistic blood in its veins recently conducted a theological survey of its laity. They wanted to discover what theological questions the laity were puzzled about and wanted instruction in. According to my information, they were the most surprised people on earth to discover that predestination placed very high on the list. Since they had though that this was a subject discussed by nobody but a few Calvinist crabs since the 17th century, they were very much surprised indeed.

“But my reaction is not even the Calvinist crabs have much to say about it any more. If the survey was at all accurate, here is a question which really has people disturbed. And here is the Reformed Church which carries the gospel of sovereign grace on its heart. But most people would not know it for we keep it mum, as though it were a family secret which it would be disastrous to have as public knowledge.

“Well, it’s the old story all over again. When we start being Reformed, instead of talking about it (or worse still complaining about it) we just could be something our Mother Church in the Netherlands has recently published what I understand is an excellent study on the subject.”

Comment: We do well to remember one of the above sentences a long, long time: “When we start being Reformed, instead of talking about it, we just could be something.”


Father Ong, Jesuit priest of Chicago, asserted, according to an EP report, that modern man, modern society, is more immoral than former generations in some respects but also more moral. Changing marriage standards, he said, show moral decline. On the other hand, moral standards have improved in the area of social justice. Whether we agree on the latter statement depends, of course, on what we mean by social justice. Apparently Father Ong did not agree with ex-president Hoover when he spoke at the Republican National Convention in 1960 about the “frightful moral slump in America today.”


The Rev. Lynman Coleman, says EP, has resigned his position with the Billy Graham Crusades “to undertake a personal and specialized ministry to those church interested in experimenting in a ‘depth’ program and the training of a core of lay leadership.” The new organization which seeks to do this is called Christian Outreach Inc. Its purpose is defined as being “to assist the local church in bringing before its people the need and challenge for a dedicated spiritual life, and also encourage and train an effective core of lay leadership from within the ranks.” One of the means toward this end has been “a disciplined Bible study program.”

We are all for a “depth” program in the American churches. We do not wish to detract from the good which the Graham evangelistic campaigns are doing, but the greatest need of the hour is not to bring more men and women into the churches but to deepen the spiritual life of those who do belong, to prune church rolls of the dead branches and, through a church-wide proclamation of the unadultered and undiluted gospel of divine grace, not only to bring new life into spiritually dead churches but also by means of faithful discipline to prune and purify them.


Nels Ferre is professor of Philosophical Theology at Vanderbilt University School of Religion, a popular speaker in churches and denominational schools, and said to be highly recommended by practically every high official in the National and World Council of Churches. The Bible Presbyterian, which is the source of our information in the matter, quotes the following from Ferre’s book on The Christian Understanding of God. “Mary, we remember, was found pregnant before her engagement to mild Joseph.  Nazareth was hard by a Roman garrison where the soldiers were German mercenaries. Jesus is also reported throughout a continuous part of the history of art, it is claimed, to have been blonde. This is supposedly unnatural for the Mediterranean countries where this same tradition started and was continued. Hence Jesus must have been the child of a German soldier.

Apparently Ferre has no faith in what the Scriptures record concerning the miraculous conception of Jesus Christ. His blasphemous statement is the logical consequence of his unbelief. But let it be well understood that there is no essential between denying the historical character of the first three chapters of Genesis and refusing to accept at its face value the divine record in the first chapters of Matthew, Luke and John. Those who have more faith in the pronouncements of science than in the teaching of Holy Writ must come to a denial of the Virgin Birth, the deity of Jesus Christ and all the miracles recorded in Scripture. The only difference between Ferre and the compromising evangelicals of today is that the former is far more honest and consistent than the latter.


The Rio Grande Presbytery of the United Presbyterian Church passed a resolution that presbytery ministers in the future should be addressed as “Mr.”, instead of “the Rev.” and referred to as “teaching elders”, a Scottish custom. It stated that the title “Reverend” should be reserved only for God. Pastor Harry G. Willson, the presbytery’s clerk, is having new stationery printed with “Mr.” preceding his name. Well, this writer has never been enthusiastic about the title “Reverend” and less about the Dutch “Dominie”, which means “lord” or “master”. Moreover, to use the term as an adjective (for example, “Reverend Jones”) is just as incorrect grammatically as it would be to address or speak of a judge as Honorable Frankfurter. But common usage, we suppose, will prevail. At all events we would rather hear our young people address their pastor as “Reverend” than call him “Bill” or “Dick”. Of course, it’s different among equals and friends. As for me I’m perfectly satisfied if these call me “H.J.”


One mistaken policy for which Evangelist Billy Graham is criticized, even by some who admire him as an evangelist, is his failure to take sides in the basic issues that divid the conservative and the liberal churches. This does not mean that he fails to preach the evangelical faith, even though he does it in diluted, Armenian fashion. The point is that in his campaigns he seeks to enlist the aid and cooperation of the modernist as well as the conservative churches. The Christian Beacon states: “This is the great tragedy of Graham’s evangelism and it explains his inclusivism, his evasion, and his soft attitude generally.” It also quotes from Decisions, Graham’s own magazine (September 1962), in which he answered the following question: “What seems to be your strongest opposition?…I asked that question because it has come from certain evangelical leaders that perhaps the mingling of all the churches represents compromise.”

Here is the answer which Graham gave: “I don’t believe we should cut ourselves off from people with whom we disagree. I think we ought to talk to them, try to understand their point of view and let them understand our point of view. I don’t think the church ought to have this terrible division in which we don’t even speak to each other. I went to the World Council of Churches in New Delhi and I went to the National Association of Evangelicals in Denver. I go to all these different groups because I believe that the church is bigger than any one little group. God has his people in many places, and I think we are going to be surprised when we get to heaven and find out who is there and who is not there.”

It seems to us that here Billy Graham is sidestepping the real issue. We think he should ask for the cooperation of evangelical churches only, even if this would completely alienate the Modernists. Then he would be free to urge his converts openly to find a church home in churches that preach only by faith in the Christ who bore the wrath of God for the sins of his people.