This issue of Torch and Trumpet introduces a number of changes, both in appearance and content, which have been under consideration for several months.
The reader will notice that nothing of value has been discarded but that many features have been added as regular departments. These were de signed to make the paper enjoyable and fruitful for a wider circle of readers, young and old. The complaint was often heard that Torch and Trumpet was too solid, too exclusively academic, and not sufficiently slanted to practical problems and current issues in Church and Kingdom.
This periodical will continue to pre sent articles of a more or less schol arly character but it will also offer material that has a more popular ap peal. Rev. Leonard Greenway begins his Devotional Studies in Ephesians
in this issue. His former Meditations have shown that he is well qualified to present articles of this sort. We expect to present, under the heading Timely Topics, our views on practical problems and current issues in the field of religion, more specifically as they relate to Church and Kingdom. Rev. Edward Heerema has agreed to answer questions by our readers. This new department will begin in the October issue. A number of our leading women have been or will be asked to contribute to the page which carries
the heading: As Ow’ Women See It. Space has also been set aside for con tributions by readers under the head ing The Reader Speaks. These arti cles should not exceed the limit of 800 words.
It will be a source of real satisfaction to the members of our men’s or ganizations and other societies in our churches that Dr. William Hendrik sen has consented to write on Studies in the Scriptures. His articles will be presented in outline form and suggest topics for discussion and give a brief exposition of the passages to be treated. For this season at least they will deal with the Signs of the Times and the Second Coming of Christ. Little has been written on these subjects in Reformed circles for the past few years. This department, too, will begin in October, when our Societies start their meetings for the season.
Dr. Hendliksen has one request to those who read Or study his outlines; namely, not to write him for further light on the matters which he will treat.
Other departments which have been featured in the past will be continued according to present plans. What They Are Thinking, by Dr. Fred Klooster, will alternate with From a Principal’s Desk by Walter A. De Jong. Book Reviews will appear as before. The final article of the Pillar series which Rev. Edward Heerema promised to write for the October issue, will deal with the subject of Pastoral Care.
We have a special request to our subscribers : Please send in your subscription money as soon as it is due. We make bold to urge this especially since the price is only $2.00 per year, which is far from covering the cost of producing this journal. The writers for Torch and Trumpet receive no remuneration; on the contrary, those among them who are members of The Reformed Fellowship Inc. also make a sizable annual contribution to the paper. This applies as well to the other members, some of whom have been contributing royally to the cause.
This suggests a final thought: the ideal of those who publish Torch and Trumpet is to enlarge our subscription list until this journal is self-supporting. Dear Reader, if you think well of our paper, will you please recommend it to your neighbors and friends? Also send us the names and addresses of those in your church or among your friends who might be inclined to subscribe. We shall be glad to send a sample copy to all for whom or by whom the request is made.
“MY TIME IS MY OWN”
John Doe celebrated his 65th birthday a year ago and decided to retire. No part-time job for him—no sir! Social security plus some income from judicious investment enabled him to live in comparative comfort. To retire means to retire, said John; it means to spend one’s remaining days in the un interrupted enjoyment of ease. To be sure, there were a few things to do in his yard in the summer season but these could be taken care of in the morning before coffee time. In the late Fall he and his wife now go to Florida to spend the winter there. That is really an easy life! No duties of any kind. After all, is not his time his own and is he not privileged in his old age to devote himself to the pursuit of some pleasure after nearly a lifetime of hard work?
What a life it was last winter! John could play shuffleboard morning and afternoon. He could have done so even during the evening hours if he had so desired since the courts were well lighted. But John was a sociable person; he loved to visit his friends and his friends loved to visit him and his wife in their rented home. And so they went the rounds evening after evening. The question how to spend the hours was easily solved. The tele vision set had remained at home up north, but John and his friends knew how to pass the time enjoyably; they loved to play games: Chinese checkers, rook, canasta. What a good life: to be able to say at last, after decades of hard work: “My time is my own.”
John is a Christian; but he does not have a consistent, full-orbed Christian view of life. He has never really understood the importance of the Scriptural truth of Christian Steward ship. No man really owns anything he possesses; God is the Owner. Man is merely the steward, the trustee, under God. That applies not only to man’s earthly possessions, his children, his talents. It is equally true of the precious gift of time. Our days, hours, minutes, and seconds are loaned to us by God and some day we shall be required to give an account to him of the way we have spent them.
As a Christian John is under stewardship obligations in a very special sense – not merely as God’s creature but also as one of the redeemed of the Lord. To him apply the words of that very simple but beautiful gospel hymn:
I belong to Jesus; I am not my own;
All I have and all I am Shall be his alone.
I belong to Jesus; He is Lord and King,
Reigning in my inmost heart Over everything.
We Christians were bought with a price. All we have and all we are was purchased by Christ: our souls, bodies, talents, possessions, and time. Some day he will require an accounting of what we have done with what belonged to him.
No sensible person would blame John for seeking a certain amount of pleasure and diversion and for avoid ing the tension of a busy life when the years of retirement came. In fact, all persons, of whatever age, need recreation. But we remain accountable to God for the manner in which we employ our fleeting hours and days. “Redeem the time,” says Paul; buy up the opportunities, as a more literal translation puts it. Spending all our time in idleness or play is un Christian, pagan, wicked.
John would be much happier if he spent some time every day studying the Bible, reading good religious literature, visiting the sick to speak a word of comfort, or engaging in some type of church or kingdom work.
In every period of life there is danger of forgetting that our time is not our own but God’s. But the temptation to squander or misuse it is particularly great in youth and in old age.
Far too little emphasis has been placed in Reformed circles on the important Scriptural truth of Christian stewardship. Let us inculcate it in our children and set them a good ex ample in the consecrated use of our time.
CALVIN COLLEGE AND THE CHURCH
Probably the most important deci sions of the 1957 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church were those that pertained to the future relation of Calvin College to the Church to which it owes its present existence and its remarkable progress.
The last of the five resolutions that were passed in regard to this matter reads as follows:
“That the Church possesses the de rived, though not inherent, right to exercise ownership and control of a college. This derived right is based upon the following concerns, each of which is Scripturally oriented:
“a. The responsibility of the Church for the spiritual nurture of its youth.
“b. The grave responsibility of the Church to the Kingdom of God.
“c. The close association of Church and education in the area of normative truth, which is especially a matter of importance in the relation of the College to the Church.
“d. The demands upon the modern Church to assert its distinctive position in a world of factionalism, sectarianism, and denominationalism.”
The final decision was as follows:
“Synod decides that under the present circumstances the Church shall continue to own and operate Calvin College.” To this decision were added five grounds stipulating under which circumstances the Church would consider surrendering the College to a society. These pertain especially to devotion to liberal arts college training, effective supervision over the religious caliber of the School, and financial stability and sufficiency.
We personally are thankful that Calvin College will remain a Church owned and Church-controlled institution, even though we realize that many of those who are interested in Torch and Trumpet believe that our College, as well as our primary, junior and senior high schools, should be under the control of a society. This is one of the issues on which there can be an honest difference of opinion among people of the Reformed faith.
As we see it, the four most weighty reasons why the Christian Reformed Church should retain the ownership of and control over Calvin College are the following:
First, the Church is under solemn obligation to determine what kind of training our future ministers of the gospel should receive. There is no certainty that it will be able to have full control over this pre-Seminary training unless it continues to own and govern the College.
Second, a society established to own, operate, and control Calvin College would necessarily be restricted to our people in Michigan and a few districts which can send their sons and daughters to Calvin more conveniently than to another College of Reformed caliber which might be established in the future. We do not believe that a strong, full-fledged college, which can command the respect of the outside world, can be sup ported adequately by the Christian Reformed families in such a restricted area. Wheaton College has been mentioned as a flourishing school, though it is not under church control. But the comparison with Calvin fails be cause Wheaton is an interdenominational institution and as such can find support from many more sources than would be possible for Calvin College.
Third, society control of Calvin College would scarcely be more than a mere fiction. It is almost that in the case of most of our Christian schools—if not all of them. The men who really control these schools are the schoolboards and principals. Society meetings—usually poorly attended do nothing else than elect the members of the Board, from a nomination made by the Board, and authorize financial expenditures. The members of the society have nothing to say about matters pertaining to educational policy and the character of the instruction . All this is supposed to b e beyond the competence of the ordinary layman. This would be even more applicable to a society whose membership is spread out over a wide area, in consequence of which only Admission to this school is on the basis of recommendation by the school principal and by performance on a specially prepared test. This en trance test, different each semester, and prepared specifically for this school by Columbia University, must be taken by every student applying for admission. It is a test in basic reading skills, vocabulary, spelling, and mathematical ability.
Dr. Meister and his school was the subject of an article which appeared in the Reader’s Digest of April, 1956, and he told me in a recent interview that he is gratified that the country is waking up to the need. He is receiving letters from all over the United States for information and advice, and Admission to this school is on the basis of recommendation by the school principal and by performance on a specially prepared test. This en trance test, different each semester, and prepared specifically for this school by Columbia University, must be taken by every student applying for admission. It is a test in basic reading skills, vocabulary, spelling, and mathematical ability.
Dr. Meister and his school was the subject of an article which appeared in the Reader’s Digest of April, 1956, and he told me in a recent interview that he is gratified that the country is waking up to the need. He is receiving letters from all over the United States for information and advice, and many cities are planning similar projects.
But all communities cannot do this either. We shall just have to plead for better teachers, better elementary schools rededicated to drill in fundamentals, for parents who allow less television and demand more study, for fewer complaints about home work, and for students who under stand that school is no picnic.
THE CHRISTIAN VIEWPOINT
Our educators are concerned be cause failure to keep pace with other countries may mean the difference between our survival or destruction. Christian people concur, but also have a higher motive. If the Lord bestows special gifts on certain individuals and we take it upon ourselves to pro vide the educational opportunities for these children, then may we be one sided in our concern for the one-talent servant? ‘What do you suppose Jesus would have said about the servant to whom five talents had been entrusted had he returned the five wrapped in a napkin instead of trading with them and earning more?
We may not waste time or money. We may not waste ability either. Let’s put our hand to the wheel to help the bright students be of greater value to society. In so doing, they will shine in greater glory for the God who made them.