LET’S MATCH CALVINISTS AND ROMANISTS!
A round table discussion of Calvinistic ministers and Roman Catholic priests—now there’s a thought.
I have just finished reading The II Vatican Council and the new Catholicism by Berkouwcr. The author, quite characteristically I think, makes too many concessions to the enemy hut nevertheless spells out the general concensus that a fresh breeze is blowing from the West. Evidently Rome is taking a new look at the Protestant Reformation. Some scholars arc saying that the Council of Trent (the counter-Reformation spearhead) both received and gave out a wrong impression of the Reformation.
We also hear that Rome does not intend to surrender to the Reformation on such precious truths as “salvation by faith,” “salvation by grace alone,” and “the Scriptures only.” We sincerely question the truth of such statements but the fact that they are being made should make grand and fruitful material—not for an “open-end discussion,” but for a mutual searching of the Scriptures. What a glorious prospect! I venture to say that more progress would be made in such a clearly-delineated study than could be made with the hodge-podge of Liberals, Fundamentalists and devotees of other “Isms” that make up the so-called Protestant Churches of our day.
History teachcs that churches do not change their course, but individuals in them may have a genuine conversion. Among the undesirable trends within Rome today there is undoubtedly a small current turning to the Word of God. Perhaps we can say there are the beginnings of an inner Reformation. What disturbs me is to sec these “seekers” from Rome being welcomed to gatherings of Liberal ministers. Suppose there are priests searching for the light of God’s Word? What must be their dismay in finding the Protestant liberal church further away from the Word of God than Rome ever was!
Calvinists, break down your walls. Go talk with Christ’s sheep wherever they may be found. In utter surprise a priest said recently, “I never knew there were others than Pentecostals and Liberals in the Protestant Church.”
For the real presence of Christ in the mass, some suggest the word transignifjcation instead of transsubstantiation. Listen, men of the robe and collar, Calvin would speak with thee!
ROBERT K. CHURCHILL
THE GREAT SOCIETY
Human sin led to what Milton called “Paradise Lost.” But God in his mercy provided guilty Adam with a taper of hope. Since then “Paradise Regained” is our ideal.
Tn 1516 Sir Thomas More wrote Utopia, picturing an ideal but indefinitely remote country. Now “utopian” is used to characterize any ideal social or political scheme whether practicable or not. When President Johnson set forth his plan for “the Great Society,” one prominent senator dubbed it “a blueprint for Utopia.”
The word “great,” with its overtones of pride, may well be subject to reservations. Our president repeatedly says that we are “proud” of things, But “God resisteth the proud” and “by pride cometh only contention” (James 4:6; Provo 13:10). Already many peoples are envious of our prosperity and suspicious of our power. Pride must not further sully our image.
Yet to many in our land “the Great Society” carries much appeal. Who really wants to oppose it? Also, it is a very inclusive watchword. Practically any proposal can find a place tinder it. It plans to provide something for almost everybody, keeping its eye seemingly on sizeable blocs of voters. Many of its benefits arc not based on real and proven need, since proving need would violate “human dignity” according to the most ardent champions.
These different projects will be tremendously expensive and will grow in cost as various undertakings develop. A swelling stream of taxes is needed and will be collected by the federal government. New bureaus with competent heads, many employees and vast facilities will arise to take their “bite.” We do well to remember that nothing from Washington is free, Folks only get back what folks send in, and by no means all of that. An official study. made recently, estimates that under present laws the federal government will be taxing up to 165 billions of dollars annually. Will the party in office manipulate that power to remain in office? Meanwhile even more “government handout” is planned. By encouraging people to look for more aid from Uncle Sam, their character, attitudes and habits are changed. The spirit of industry, thrift and prudent management, together with self-reliance, deteriorates. And loss of sound character is fatal to any society
the party in officc manipulate that power to remain in office? Meanwhile even more “government handout” is planned. By encouraging people to look for more aid from Uncle Sam, their character, attitudes and habits are changed. The spirit of industry, thrift and prudent management, together with self-reliance, deteriorates. And loss of sound character is fatal to any society—
“Ill fares the land to hast’ning ills a prey; When wealth accumulates and men decay.” Today we see grave wrongs abroad—a mounting crime rate, organized disobedicnce to law, bold immorality, the breakdown of many homes, violence and death on the highways. Self-and family-controls are often lacking, and that in a time when many insist that they “never had it so good.” However, folks don’t become good by having it good. The fundamental issue is not what men have but what they are.
In the United States we profess to be a nation “under God.” Our motto is “In God we trust.” This being so, we must hear God saying to us that “righteousness exalteth a nation” and that “justice roll down as waters and righteousness as a mighty stream” and that “the work of righteousness shall be peace” (Prov. 14:34; Amos 5:24; Isa. 32:17). Then our programs will be based on right and not on consensus; on justice for all and not on vote-getting.
To what are we as Christians called?
God bids us pray for our land, even as we sing, “Protect us by thy might, great God our King!”
He commands us to stand firmly for obedience to law, “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers.” We are to “give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”—in conscientious voting, due participation in civic programs, and aid to law-enforcement agencies.
In this nation we are to be “salt” and “light.” God’s people are his “great society” even now in principle, in program, in progress and in promise. By so living in this nation, loving our neighbor as ourselves, reaching out a helping hand to all his need whether material or social, cultural or spiritual, we shall be better citizens used by God to demonstrate something of his better society.
Only then will “the good society” here and now point upward to the society above when “they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.”
THINGS TO LIVE BY
Most people are concerned about what they’ll have to “live on”; many striving also for enough to “live it up.”
Many fear what they’ll have to “live with“–toils and hardships.
Nobler souls ask what they have to “live for.” For them life-motivation adds life-meaning; worthy quest means higher zest.
Then comes the question about what to “live by.” Life needs way-marks, especially spiritual life. As we prize and use our highway markings, so the soul needs guide-posts, standards for its guidance,
As the mariner guides his ship by the fixed stars, so God’s child guides his life, faith and thought by God’s sure Word. “To the law and to the testimony! if they speak not according to this word, surely there is no morning for them” (Isaiah 8:20).
Our time-honored, Bible-grounded creeds serve as additional markings on the Christian “way.” In relation to our faith the Reformed Standards serve to clarify, to unify, to testify, and to fortify! As they grew out of historical needs, so history also firmly testifies to their enduring values.
In their fidelity to God’s Word they share in the enduring relevance and the lasting values of that Word. Their great truths and emphases, Bible-derived, continue to be things to “live by.”
But Satan, the great falsifier, together with his followers moves both subtly and boldly to obscure life’s true way-marks, Wreckers are displaying false lights on the shores of time.
God’s people urgently need to be very sensitive to any covert or overt chipping away of the authority of God’s infallible Word. Also to any undermining of our Bible-based creeds.
Surely, ours is a time for earnest watching over the things we “live by”!
…AND REAP THE WHIRLWIND
Shortly after World War II, Jean-Paul Sartre, the philosopher-playwright wrote in explanation of existentialism’s slogan Existence precedes essence, “Thus, there is no human nature, since there is no God to conceive it. Not only is man what he conceives himself to be, but he is also only what he wills himself to be after this (his) thrust towards existence, If existence really does precede essence, there is no explaining things away by reference to a fixed and given human nature. In other words there is no determinism, man is free, man is freedom.”
In the early fifties Albert Camus began his The Rebel with these words, “There are crimes of passion and crimes of logic. The boundary between them is not clearly defined. But the Penal Code makes the convenient distinction of premeditation. We are living in the era of premeditation and the perfect crime. Our criminals are no longer helpless children who could plead love as their cause. On the contrary, they are adults and they have a perfect alibi; philosophy, which can be used far any purpose—even for transforming murderers into judges.”
In March of this year Richard Thorne, the non-student leader of an off-campus Sexual Freedom them life-motivation adds life-meaning; worthy quest means higher zest.
League in the vicinity of the University of California at Berkeley, justified the activities of his group with these words, “Man will only become free when he can overcome his own guilt and when society stops trying to manage his sex life for him.” What he means should be clear to all: man will only be free when society allows him absolute and complete freedom, recognizing that man is freedom.
The philosophers have taught their lessons well. They had their seedtime; we are reaping the harvest.
NICK R. VAN TIL
ADVICE FROM THE CHURCH
Let it never be said that the Church is indifferent to the foreign policy methods of the U.S. government. Proof for the Church’s concern has come from two important sources: the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches. These two bodies have advised, urged, and recommended changes in U.S. foreign policy, notably with reference to the war in Viet Nam.
Recently at Geneva, the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches adopted a resolution on the Viet Nam war. The document serves advice on a cessation of bombing North Viet Nam and a future withdrawal of U.S. troops, and it contains an appeal to North Viet Nam to stop infiltrating South Viet Nam. Likewise, the General Board of the National Council of Churches adopted a policy statement on Viet Nam during its December 1965 meeting. When this Board met again in February 1966, it addressed itself once again to the Viet Nam conflict.
lndisputably, the Church has a duty to fulfill towards the civil government. However, in view of the spiritual nature of the Church’s duty, the Church may never prescribe political and military policies which the government should pursue. In the words of the Westminster Confession, “Synods and Councils are to handle or include nothing but that which is ecclesiastical; and arc not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or by way of advice for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrates” (Art. XXXI, Section IV).
What, then, is the duty of the Church? The Church at large must daily pray for an end to the war in Viet Nam. And the Church must pray that guidance be given to the President of the U.S. and the leaders in North Viet Nam. If church councils wish to adopt resolutions, let such resolutions be directed to Christian believers everywhere to pray fervently for peace. Such prayers are more necessary and fruitful than pronouncements on specifically political and military matters which obscure the church’s proper calling.