At our house afternoon mail-call is always awaited eagerly. We never quite know what to expect. Sometimes the box contains much that is useless and uninteresting. At other times there are letters from family or friends, important periodicals, and even materials for this magazine. Today the contents of the mailbox were especially significant.
Today the contents of the mailbox were especially significant.
The first piece I picked up contained a pamphlet of 48 pages sent to me without comment by a friend of “Reformed Fellowship Inc.” It is entitled Biblical Missions versus Ecumenical Missions, as clear and comprehensive treatment of this subject in so small a compass as I have ever seen. Written by J. Philip Clark, professor of Christian Missions at Faith Theological Seminary, Elkins Park, Pa., its first page so intrigued me that I could not resist reading it from cover to cover.
Tn compelling and challenging fashion it deals with the deleterious effects which ecumenical theology as propagated by leaders of the W.C.C. is having on the Biblical understanding of the church’s calling to preach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to all nations. That this is a most serious matter for all Christian believers and congregations is, I trust, self-evident. Of particular concern, perhaps more to me than to some other readers, is Dr. Clark’s careful analysis and evaluation of the influential book on mission responsibility, Upon the Earth, penned a few years ago by Dr. Daniel T. Niles. Of such worth and weight is the presentation of Dr. Clark that we hope to comment on it at greater length in a future issue of the magazine. Meanwhile all readers interested in knowing what devastation is being wreaked by ecumenical theology on Christian missions as defined by leaders of the W.GG can procure a copy of this pamphlet from The Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, 246 West Walnut Lane, Philadelphia 44, Pa.
Thereafter I turned to the Federation Messenger for March 1967, publication of the Federation for Christian Reformed Men’s Societies.
Besides the usual material and an announcement of the annual convention to be held on April 26 and 27 this issue contained two articles dealing with the W.C.C.
The first by Dr. John H. Kromminga sets in context some of the facts concerning this movement, its organization and functioning. In his brief summary he raises some pertinent questions, “If not the World Council, then what? How is our concern to be manifested and expressed? How are we to show that we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church? Are we our brother’s keeper?” And appropriately he concludes with the statement, “These questions deserve more than an offhand answer.” The article by Prof. David Holwerda argues that joining the movement on its basis is permissible, because we join as “churches, not individuals” and no more is required than that we “recognize in the other churches elements of the true Church.” With this line of argumentation we cannot agree, since it fails to come to grips with the Biblical significance of fellowship which demand as its concomitant a separation from deviations in doctrine and practice which are persisted in. Since these articles reflect the convictions of several in the churches, they deserve to be read carefully.
The last piece of mail contained a Viewpoint contributed by the Rev. Jelle Tuininga, a former student and now pastor of the church in Grande Prairie, Alberta. It appears elsewhere in this issue. Since he deals with many of the same matters mentioned above-missions, the World Council of Churches, and the pervasive influence of ecumenical theology which renders so many insensitive to the true gospel—we mention it at this point.
Often well-meaning church members complain that they find it difficult to assess what is happening in the church. For such a complaint there is really no acceptable excuse. Throughout the entire world churches are in ferment. All these and many other issues are outlined and discussed and debated. Anyone who engages in some judiciously selected and broad reading need not be in the dark. Those who are devoted to the Christian gospel and the church which seeks to proclaim it faithfully will set aside some hours each week for reading. Then, and only then, can we pray continually and consistently that Christ’s church may remain true to her high calling in a confused and confusing situation.
Upon several occasions this magazine has called attention to a periodical which deserves a much wider reading-public than it has. The articles which appear in Calvinist Contact (in the Dutch language) and its English supplement “Christian Courier” are consistently clear and challenging. Here much of what goes on in the Canadian and Dutch ecclesiastical worlds passes in review.
In the issue of March 3 we find a brief editorial on “Kerkbesef,” a Dutch term which defies precise translation into the English language. It contains a plea for healthy, Biblical awareness of what it means to be church in the world.
“There are people pained and perplexed about the church. They don’t quite know what to do about this.
“In Church News we read that the Reformed consistory of Hilversum has opened its church parlors to young people who want to dance. Youth ciders arc required to supervise this. Why? Because dancing belongs to the calling of the church? Of course not. Although Church News gives no reasons, we risk supposing that the pressure on Hilversum’s consistory became too strong. One simply has to do something to keep young people in church….
“There arc others—and we meet them among us—who in their views concerning the Kingdom of God go so far, that they regard the church as a branch of the tree (trunk). The tree is then the Kingdom. The first concern is not the church—it is a branch. That which is important is the Kingdom—it is the tree. These people deserve commendation in that they work zealously for the Kingdom. But their view must lead to giving Christian organizational life the same place as the church.
‘1n both instances no justice is done to the unique place of the church. She is the congregation which the Lord Jesus gathers unto himself. Or to say it differently, she is the new humanity which God from eternity has chosen for Himself unto eternity. My church membership controls my entire life, or at least should control it….
“It is to be deplored when the church is ‘broadened’ in order to draw the young people. That is not necessary for the church. It is sad when the church is ‘narrowed’ and restricted to a branch of the tree (the Kingdom). The church is too big for that.
“To be sure, our life in the church is quite limited so long as we live in this world. But this does not obscure the fact that the church is very real. And she can never fade out of the picture. When all the rest falls away, when all our organizations come to an end, the church with her Head Jesus Christ abides indestructible.
“True church-consciousness is not a hobby! It is a precious treasure!”
– PETER Y. DE JONG