I RESPECTFULLY DECLINE TO ANSWER…
The man who likely has heard these words more often than anyone else is Senator McLellan, the watchdog of the u.s. Senate on graft, corruption and racketeering. Call to mind Billy Sol Estes, now behind bars, and Bobby Baker, still strutting about the town of Washington as the paragon of virtue. Now the latest ripple on the placid sea of labor relations concerns certain union officials, currently summoned before this committee to answer a few questions. We all know that these unions have huge welfare and pension funds, ostensibly for the benefit of members of the unions. Naturally, because they are contributed (extorted might be a better term) by the laborers. Now it seems that the McLellan Committee has evidence that some four million dollars of these funds have disappeared and been deposited in foreign banks. McLellan finds it difficult to believe that this money was taken out of the country for the benefit of those who have contributed. In fact he has good reasons to believe that these funds, or at least a large part of them, are on the personal accounts of union agents.
RecentIy, I watched the disgusting debacle of the hearing on T.V. Everyone of those summoned had just one answer to every question asked. “I respectfully decline to answer on the ground that it will tend to incriminate me.” Without exception they pleaded the fifth amendment.
Let me say at once that there are undoubtedly honorable union agents. Yet it cannot be denied that many are of questionable repute. In view of such goings on we would expect our President and politicians to be a bit reluctant to insist on the repeal of Section 14B of the Taft-Hartley Act. But not one word from anyone of them, from the President down; not one word of condemnation or warning about the exploitation of the laborers by their own union bosses. State’s rights? Who cares about them anymore. Conscientious objectors? Don’t mention such people. Everyone ought to knuckle under the whiplash of the federal juggernaut or else.
This, then, seems to be the Great Society. The repeal of Section 14B has just been passed by the House. No debate was permitted. No amendments were recognized. The Great Society reminds us of the description of Babylon’s destruction recorded in Revelation 18. How the people bewailed the calamity that befell that city—destruction of her riches, treasures, art, merchandise of gold, silver, precious stones, pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet. That was the luxury of the welfare state. Yet the writer at the end saw something that had been overlooked. He states casually, almost naively, “And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.”
Now the reader may agree or disagree with these convictions. But don’t ask the writer any questions because “he respectfully declines to answer on the grounds that it may tend to incriminate him.”
EVANGELICALS AND THE W.C.C.
Recently we received a booklet on this subject written by the Rev. J. Graham Miller and the Rev. Arthur G. Gunn, both leading members of the Westminster Fellowship in the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand. We believe that it is good for us as members of the Reformed Churches to listen to what these brethren, whose own church is a member of the World Council of Churches, have to say about this subject.
Mr. Miller. whose article is entitled “The Ecumenical Movement—Threat or Blessing?,” is very critical of the W.C.C. His views can be summarized in the following points. (1) There seems to be no recognition of the work of “the enemy” (Matt. 13:25) in the ecumenical movement of today. “In view of the parable of the tares it would appear unscientific, unhistorical and culpably negligent to leave the stealthy activity of the devil out of our reckoning.” (2) Just as in the days of the Crusades every one shouts “Deus vult—God wills it,” and it is felt immodest to question the rightness of the ecumenical idea. But is it God’s will to do it in the way of the present W.C.C.? The author’s answer is an unambiguous No. (3) From the beginning there has been too little emphasis on the doctrinal aspect and it is still largely neglected. “The writer’s personal experience on Church Union committees and in ecumenical discussions is that insistence upon orthodox Christian doctrine is regarded as tedious and wearisome and even as a deliberate attempt to delay progress; while an appeal to the text of Scripture is as often as not countered by tile remark, such symbolism is unacceptable today.” (4) Is the unity advocated by the W.C.C. the scriptural unity? How can tIris be, if the doctrinal aspect is neglected? The author recalls the words of Augustine: “It is by believing that we become one, perfectly one.” (5) The W.C.C. is reversing the Reformation of tile 16th century. It speaks of itself as the New Reformation, but this is clearly at the expense of the truth rediscovered by the Reformers in the 16th century. (6) The author’s personal experience at a conference held at Christchurch was that leading personalities in the ecumenical movement (Drs. Niles and Fleming) foster a new syncretism, i.e. a mixing of Christianity and nonChristian religions. Dr. D. T. Niles, e.g., declared: “Don’t call anybody a non-Christian. A Hindu has a saving encounter with Christ. He is neither a possessor of Christ or possessed by Christ… This is the way we are going (in S.E. Asia). We are concerned not so much about the ‘uniqueness of Christ,’ we are concerned about the ‘universality of Christ.’ This is a shift from Paul to John.”
Mr. Gunn’s views, expressed in the article “A Positive Approach to the Ecumenical Movement,” are basically the same. He begins by pointing to the tremendous impact of the ecumenical idea in our day; from 1925–1964 37 smaller or larger unions have taken place, while at this moment 38 more unions are being negotiated. He then discusses the various factors which have led to this fabulous upsurge of ecumenicity and shows that most of them are of a purely practical (and basically secular) nature, such as: we need one another in this age of growing materialism and secularism, we can be much more efficient if we unite, we are stronger over against communism, etc. But are these factors enough? Is the modern ecumenical movement scriptural? The answer is a clear No. At the same time Mr. Gunn is very realistic. “One thing is certain: we cannot stop this world-wide flood towards union. The above arguments, full of holes as they are, are being driven home by the powerful propaganda machines of the W.C.C. and the R.C. church. The church union movement will prove to be irresistible in our generation.” What then can we do? Restricting himself to the union negotiations, in which his own church is engaged, he says: Our very urgent task is “to insist that all such unions, as they take place, must be unions IN TRUTH, that is, union in accordance with the Holy Scriptures. The task of the evangelical is to keep on pointing to this TRUTH, which can never be changed; and to keep on insisting that this TRUTH is a far more important thing than union.”
That same week we received the January 29 issue of Christianity Today, an evangelical magazine in America under the able leadership of Dr. Carl F. H. Henry, one of the most influential evangelical scholars today in America. This particular issue was wholly devoted to appraisals of ecumenism by leading evangelicals. Reading through the various articles I was struck by the fact that basically all these appraisals voiced the same criticism, which we mentioned above. Prof. Addison H. Leitch, whose own church is a member of the W.C.C., speaks for all the other contributors when he mentions the following points. (1) The W.C.C. touches rather gingerly on the whole field of theology. The whole tendency is towards the least common denominator. If the councils deal with theological issues they do it in the liberal rather than in the conservative or orthodox direction. (2) Although the W.C.C. constantly disclaims the name ‘super church,’ it constantly speaks and acts on behalf of all the participating churches and all the churches are constantly affected by these combined statements and actions. (3) As to social issues the is decidedly ‘liberal.’—Another author queries the method of evangelism, becoming increaSingly popular in circles. “Is evangelism the changing of the social structure by a powerful ecumenical church bringing pressure upon the state and upon legislators, or is evangelism personal as Christ redeems the individual and redeemed men redeem society?” The reply of many people to this question might be: this is a false contrast. Still, it draws attention to the fact that more and more the emphasis on personal conversion and salvation seems to recede and all emphasis is placed on a new ‘social gospel’ approach.
It is striking, how all these criticisms agree with that expressed by several synods. The Australian Synod of Geelong 1962 declared that affiliation with the W.C.C. was impossible because of “the ecumenical tolerance and dogmatic indifference which is predominant within the W.C.C. and which is shown in: a. the attitude of the Council towards its basis; b. its view of the unity of the church; c. its striving after church unity.” This decision is fully confirmed by the above criticisms, which all come from persons whose churches participate in the W.C.C. and who have personal experience in W.C.C. committees and organizations.
Do you remember what these letters stand for? My memory is a bit hazy, since I do not remember whether the abbreviation indicated an actual labor organization or not. Still it was a slogan; and if not actually “red,” it certainly was “far left.” It antedated the bolshevik revolution by a few years. After that it was not heard of again. It designated: The Industrial Workers of the World. But somehow the slogan didn’t “take,” and soon it came to stand for I Won’t Work! This slogan was forcibly brought back to mind when reading an article in the May issue of Nation’s Business, entitled “What’s Happened to the Will to Work?”
Here is an extensive survey by people “in the know” of actual conditions pertaining to employment. It covered most representative areas of the United States. Many jobs there are but no people to fill them. We are told that “Grocery stores seek stock boys, barber shops want men to shine shoes, cab-fleets need drivers, lettuce growers advertise for help in the fields, service stations lack enough attendants and families are looking for maids and yard men.” Many jobs for less skilled or unskilled workers are available, but workers are not to be found. Jobs of all kinds go begging. The director of the National Employment Association, Theodore C. H. Wilson, says, “Our welfare system has produced a whole group of people who not only don’t work, but won’t work.”
And why work when one can collect $50 a week, $55 in California, in unemployment compensation? Governor Brown of California wants to make it $65, but labor leaders consider him a piker and want to raise it to $80. Whether people quit or are fired for gross misconduct, unemployment compensation is there for the taking. Women can collect unemployment during a temporary lay-off to have a baby. The article tells of a man in a Detroit unemployment center standing in line with two small children. He had been laid off and tended the children while his wife worked. He was collecting unemployment compensation. When his period of compensation runs out he will perhaps look for a job. Then his wife can quit and collect unemployment checks. New laws are being considered which actually could encourage more loafing. And this comment is interesting: “Actually, the average jobless American is not a married man or chief breadwinner of a family. Less than half of them fit that category. Only about one in twenty unemployed bothers to go to a private employment agency to find a job.” There is no doubt that the welfare state, or The Great Society, is creating leeching and loafers.
Do not misunderstand. No one can object to unemployment compensation for someone who is out of work through no fault of his own. If this comes through an act of God, sickness or physical disability, society should come to his aid. Presently we are living through another industrial revolution. Automation is throwing thousands of people out of work, the firemen on railroads are a good example. Society does owe such a living during a period of readjustment and retraining. But this is very different from what is told us in Nation’s Business.
We have a very interesting situation in Chicago at this time. Sit-ins and civil rights marches are promised every day for quite some time. The issue? Certain people want the superintendent of public schools fired because he refuses to bus the children out of their neighborhood to force integration. And, we are getting accustomed to this, clergymen of prominence head the parades. But, you ask, what has this to do with I.W.W.? Just this: It seems safe to say that many if not most of these demonstrators are on relief. Apparently they belong to the “I Won’t Work” clan. Where do they get time for these daily demonstrations? Preachers who lower themselves to this rabble-rousing and lawlessness are a disgrace to their profession and do despite to the cause of Christ. Instead of sitting in the streets it would better if they stood on the curb and proclaimed the apostolic injunction, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread,” 2 Thessalonians 3:10–12.
If the history of the various civilizations teaches us anything, we should take warning. AIl began in simplicity; then strength came through hard work. But thereupon followed luxury, the lust for ease, licentiousness, corruption of public officials, the death of patriotism and the death of ideals, and at the last complete disintegration.
“There is the moral of all human tales, Tis but the same rehearsal of the past. First, freedom, and then glory—when that fails Wealth, vice, corruption—Barbarism at last. And history with all its volumes vast Hath but one page.”
Remember the I.W.W.? I Won’t Work!