This fall evangelical Christians throughout the world will face the question of commemorating the 450th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
Strange as it may seem, this has become a pressing issue. Those now in the middle years of life will remember how only a few decades ago this event was celebrated with much enthusiastic praise to God. Then men seemed convinced that the reformers under God delivered the church from the fetters of formalism and superstition unto a joyful freedom of serving God according to his Word.
Now such celebrations are under fire. In recent years “festivals of faith” in which Protestants and Roman Catholics cooperate arc substituted for commemorating Luther’s heroic act of faith. Many, perhaps mostly under growing ecumenical pressure with its perverted theology, are ashamed of their Protestant heritage. It is scored for being divisive, intolerant, contrary to the spirit of Jesus. Today we are all supposed to get together and work together, whether we are agreed or not.
This should come as no surprise. With the unrelenting attacks on the authority of Scripture, men no longer know what they can and should believe. The latest theological fads are avidly propagated, only to be substituted after a few months for more radical positions. Meanwhile an appalling ignorance has settled over many congregations. Some claim to be searching for a relevant message; others are confused; many more are afflicted with a growing indifference to God’s truth as it is in Christ Jesus. In spite of all the external activities which keep people busy, the churches are infected with the sickness unto death. The symptoms are undeniable. And the cause is not hard to find. By neglecting, questioning and denying the absolute authority of the Scriptures, men forsake God who is the fountain of living waters and hew out for themselves broken cisterns which hold no water. Not until they return to him as he is revealed in his Word will there be any joyful and fruitful revival.
Symptoms of this sickness unto death are not absent from the confessional Reformed churches to which our readers belong. Hardly anyone, we would believe, dares to insist that his church is perfect. So much of our worship is marred by dull routine. Often our prayers seem perfunctory; our praise a mouthing of meaningless phrases; our listening to sermons cold and impersonal and listless. Quick at times in our criticisms of others, we too seldom want the sword of the Spirit to cut through our own hearts and out of our own lives all that is contrary to God’s will. We know much more about how to wear the latest fashions than what it means to be dressed in Christ’s righteousness. Magazines, novels and television programs seem so much more fascinating than the Scriptures which alone can make us wise unto salvation. We simply take for granted that we are true believers, paying little heed to the admonition to “give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never stumble.”
A Reformed church, so we say, is always busy reforming itself.
But do we realize that this must begin in our hearts and homes? Only then will we speak convincingly also as church-members. Only then will all areas of life be devoted by us to the service of Christ our Savior-King. But this requires of us all a reformational rededication to live in all things in obedience to God’s truth. In his clear and brilliant book on Authority Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says so appropriately,
“The Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. We must therefore reject every supposed new revelation, every addition to doctrine. We must assert that all teaching and all truth must be tested in the light of the Scriptures…. We can build only upon this one, unique, authority.
“The choice for us today is really as simple as it was for those first Christians in the early days. We either accept this authority or else we accept the authority of ‘modern knowledge’ modern science, human understanding, human ability. It is the one or the other. Let us not be confused by the modern argument about a changed position. We are still left where believers have always been left. It is still ‘Christ or the critics’” (pp. 59, 60).
So long as the Word meets with doubt and disinterest, Christ’s church will not be renewed or revived. Instead, it will apostatize yet more irreparably in both its doctrine and its life.
We would not commemorate the Reformation in praise of great men of the past. Yet we thank God that through them he has been pleased to restore to men the saving and joyful knowledge of himself in Christ Jesus. Thus such commemoration requires the rededication of our lives to serve him according to his Word. Without its instructive and corrective power we can only go astray.
Will, then, the 450th anniversary of the Reformattion find us searching and studying the Scriptures? Will it find us praying that the Spirit may enlighten us to understand God’s will for our lives? Will it find us teaching our children, both by precept and example, the way in which they too must walk?
Without this our commemoration will be a sham. With this, we may confidently expect that in spite of man’s ridicule and opposition God’s truth will prevail in our lives to his praise and our daily joy.
As the annual Labor Day approaches, we of TORCH AND TRUMPET salute all those committed Christians throughout Canada and the United States who in the industrial arena of these highly-developed nations carry forward the banner of the Lord Jesus Christ without fear or favor.
Here, perhaps more than anywhere else in modern society, the battle for God’s truth is at its sharpest. Nowhere else is the Christian life-and world-view confronted with more open hostility, contempt and hatred. The so-called neutral labor unions cater to the flesh, as they continue to stimulate throughout our lands the pattern of class warfare and lure the unthinking materialistic-minded man of the streets with the promise of more money. How regrettable it is that many well-meaning people refuse to take this threat to the cause of the Lord seriously.
We would especially thank our God for the Christian Labour Association of Canada. Throughout the past fifteen years it has rendered heroic services to many Christian workers as these sought to give living expression to their faith in Christ in this field. Outstanding battles have been fought in the courts of Canada against the unscrupulous tactics of the large unions. By the goodness of our God assistance has come to them from unexpected quarters. Thus the name of this organization has become well-known throughout all the provinces and not the least in places of high authority. Our readers will undoubtedly be pleased to read the evaluation of this organization by one newspaper editor. Therefore we reprint an editorial which appeared on July 26 of this year in The Kingston (Ont.) Whig-Standard.
ON WITH THE BATTLE!
A recent country-wide public opinion poll showed that 71 per cent of those questioned in Canada believed that they should be allowed to work wherever they wished without belonging to a union. The same poll indicated that 67 per cent of the union members approached had the same opinion.
This poll was conducted by the Canadian Institute of Public Opinion, and even though there is good reason to take the results of such polls with a certain skepticism, since they are never really an adequate sampling when applied to a whole country, the figures do give some idea of the state of public opinion on this issue.
In any case the Christian Labour Association of Canada, an organization which has long fought the closed shop has taken the poll as a resounding affirmation of its position. Much to the disgust of the rest of organized labour in this country, the CL.A.C., which is not very large or powerfuL yet, has never wavered in its determination to fight to the end for its beliefs.
Gerald Vandezande, executive secretary of the C.L.A.C., speaking of the poll recently, said that “Politicians are supposedly elected to serve the people of the country… If they are sincere... they should introduce forthwith legislation abolishing every form of compulsory unionism and make it illegal to force Canadian workers to support a union as a condition of employment.”
The C.L.A.C., according to Mr. Vandezande, is about to begin a country-wide campaign to get Dominion and provincial politicians to enact such legislation. The union has about 3,000 members across the country, but it also works in conjunction with the Committee for Justice and Liberty Foundation which has fought several cases through the courts. The best-known of these is the C03e of the Orangeville metal worker, Dirk Hoogendoorn, fired for refusing to join a union or pay its dues. The Supreme Court of Canada finally heard his appeal but has not yet given a decision.
The C.L.A.C., unfortunately for its cause, bases its arguments mostly on religious grounds and this will impair the support it might otherwise receive. There are ethical and moral grounds which, if used properly, are sufficient reason for ending the closed shop system. But the C.L.A.C. militantly fundamentalist in its religious tone. sticks to its principles and manages to make life difficult for all who think it perfectly right that workers should be forced to form unions before being permitted to earn a living.
It promises to be a more and more bitter struggle and, if determination mean anything, the C.L.A.C. is going to win it.
PETER Y. DE JONG