THE FREE AND DR. KING
On October 20, 1965, the Free University granted an honorary degree to Martin Luther King. In doing so, it departed radically from its tradition of giving honorary degrees only to men who have made a definite contribution to the Calvinistic community or to internationally distinguished Calvinistic scholars.
It is good for Calvinists to recognize, as his promoter, Dr. G. Kuiper, expressed it to Dr. King,—“the great work that you are doing in the United States for the large group or people who are underdogs…” Calvinists should not hesitate to applaud work done to improve the lot of the Negro.
However, it must be recognized that much of Dr. King’s work is connected with the unscriptural practice of civil disobedience. His philosophy is that at times a good end may justify an evil means. For him civil disobedience is the violation of unjust laws that are “out of harmony with the moral law of the universe.”
Paul tells the Roman Christians that they must be in subjection to the powers that be, even the devilish Roman Empire. The United States is angelic in comparison to that Empire under which the Roman Christians lived. The only exception to Romans 13:1 is cases in which the government commands people to do evil, such as when the authorities commanded Peter and the apostles not to preach, or Daniel not to pray, or Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to bow down to an idol, or the Israelites to worship at Dan and Bethel.
In the present circumstances an injustice is often being done to the Negro, but he is not commanded by law to sin. Therefore, he has no Biblical right to disobey the laws of the land. It may sound pious to say that a person should violate unjust laws that are “out of harmony with the moral law of the universe,” but it is, rather, devilish.
And disobedience to God’s law—such as Romans 13:1—will also lead to anarchy, as was the case in the Los Angeles riots. In the keeping of God’s commandments is a great reward, but in disobeying them—by every man doing what is right in his own eyes—he will aid in his own civil destruction.
The Free was right in its concern about social justice, but is it possible in the case of King to separate his legitimate goal from his unbiblical means, with which his work is so intimately associated?
EDWIN H . PALMER
R I A
Two years ago, in reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling against Bible reading and prayer in the state schools, the organization Religious Instruction Association was formed. Its purpose, according to a report in the Sunday School Times (December 11), is to counteract “a popular but erroneous belief that the U.S. Superior Court has ‘banned the Bible’ from public schools” and to promote the legal study of the Bible in these schools.
Its Executive Director, James V. Panock, a former Illinois high school teacher, advocates the teaching of the Bible as literature. With the Bible as the basic text book, his class studied its effect on the arts, including other literature. “The Gospel,” he believes, “can come through in an objective presentation.” Here is another example of humanistic secularism in orthodox Christian circles.
Contrary to R I A, the Bible has been banned from the state schools. It has been banned for devotions. It has been banned as a source of principles fOr the study of subjects such as history, politics, civics and the sciences. It has been banned as a guide line in disciplining school children. It has been banned as a source book in discovering answers to the most profound educational questions: Who am I? How do I know? What is my goal in life? What is the purpose of education? It has been banned even in Mr. Panock’s literature class as a norm to evaluate the Bible’s influence on the arts, including literature.
The Bible demands that we do not simply teach about Jesus Christ as you would about buddha, or a donkey, or music. It demands that parents teach their children that Jesus Christ is the only way, the only truth, and the only life, and that buddha and Romish traditions are wrong. It demands that we do not teach the Bible in a “neutral,” “objective” way in the small area of the Bible’s influence on the arts, but it demands that its principles permeate all of the instruction and that they be taught as the gospel truth. To do less and to confine Jesus Christ to some innocuous subjects is to deny his complete Lordship.
EDWIN H. PALMER
Crimes of violence dot our newspapers in every major city in our land. I want to report a robbery that cannot be considered a crime of violence; but is just as real, and is far more devastating and subtle: the robbery of our Thanksgiving Day.
Last Thanksgiving Day, being providentially deprived of the bleSSing of attending the worship service, I turned on the T.V. It showed nothing that would make anyone dream that this was our national Thanksgiving Day; but on the contrary, all the major networks played up the Santa Claus parades from Philadelphia to New York to Toronto.
Do you remember the abortive attempt of the late president F.D.R. to advance Thanksgiving Day one week? For a couple of years some states held Thanksgiving the last Thursday in the month and others a week earlier. Congress ended the confusion by setting the date as the fourth Thursday in November. Why did Roosevelt do that? It was—I heard him say it—a plain question of dollars and cents. The shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas was too short. Up to that time the merchants held off their Christmas trade, advertising and Santa Claus parades until after Thanksgiving. Now all this has been changed. The Christmas season starts well before Thanksgiving Day. But from now on we may expect that the Christmas season will be officially ushered in on Thanksgiving Day.
The parades this year were in the main grotesque. And there were the majorettes marching to the jazzed up tune of Joy to the World. The whole nauseating business must be a stench in the nostrils of the Almighty. It seems that Satan has succeeded in robbing us of another of our religious holidays. He has taken Christmas with the commercialism, Easter with the pets and dress parades, and now he has annexed our national Thanksgiving Day to the Christmas rush.
“God is great, God is good And we thank Him for our food. Amen.”
For kindergarten children to pray this before they eat their cookies and drink their milk violates the doctrine of separation of church and state, the Supreme Court in effect ruled on December 13th.
Regardless of the constitutionality of this action, the decision does point to the systematic removal of the last vestiges of theistic influences in the governmental schools. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled in favor of unbelief versus belief in governmental schools. It jealously guards the freedom to ignore God, but it pulverizes the freedom to acknowledge God. The Christian knows that to ignore God in these most formative hours of a child’s life is to attack God. Silence is not neutrality. Silence is a rejection of God, who clearly reveals himself in nature to every person (Rom. 1:18ff.).
How long are theistic people (Christians and Jews) going to be forced to pay for the government’s religion a religion of humanistic secularism, a religion that is God-damned and that is against the deepest religious convictions of many. The United States is about the last major country of the Free World that makes this intolerable demand.
EDWIN H. PALMER
One of the strengths of the Christian Reformed Church is its practice of church visiting. Once a year, two ministers of each classis visit with the minister, elders and deacons of each church in that classis. Thus there is a classical check on the doctrinal and practical purity of the constituent churches. Without this custom the church would have had many more deviations from the Reformed faith than it does today.
However, this custom could be of even greater advantage if the examination could be conducted in a more natural manner than is often the case. Most of the time the church visitors mechanically read a set of questions. The Vice-President of the consistory has probably read the same questions ahead of time in a Church Order commentary and knows exactly what answers he will give. Instead of asking and answering these questions in a wooden manner, it would be more stimulating and revealing to let the guests lead the meeting into a natural, unplanned discussion of the various strengths and weaknesses in the church. Instead of asking questions that can be answered by “Yes” or “No,” the visitors could possibly ask such questions as: “What are the weaknesses of your church?”; “How do you supervise your members?”; “What is your solution in dealing with ‘oncers?’; “Tell us in detail how you go about family visiting.” If one is alert, these questions will in turn lead to a multitude of subjects.
By asking searching questions—not leading ones -and by refraining from talking too much, the visitors could help the consistories to be more introspective and to analyze their own strengths and weaknesses. Most consistories can solve their own problems and perform their God-given duties in a remarkable way if they are aware of them. Due to routineness and closeness to their work, consistories often fall into ruts and are not aware of their own problems and opportunities. Questions rightly put can be a catalytical force that leads consistories to intelligent thinking and forceful action.
EDWIN H. PALMER