THE TIDE IS TURNING
There was a time when the great universities in this country were Christian institutions. Today the Christian witness that once was heard in all of these great centers of learning is being muted, or has already been silenced. Secularism is the new religion to which professor and student alike arc committed. The situation is truly alarming when you remember that it is to these secular institutions that our men and women must go in order to receive degrees of higher education. The climate of secularism is bound to invade the thinking of these students to a certain extent. Even though one has gone to Christian schools, and to a Christian college, he will still be influenced to some degree by the kind of philosophical bias that exists in these universities.
The question is, of course, what can be done about this situation? Some seventy-five years ago an answer was given by Dr. Abraham Kuyper in the Free University of Amsterdam. The purpose of that university was to have an institution of higher education that would be distinctively Christian so that men and women could receive degrees of advanced learning in a climate that was conducive to the furtherance of a vibrant Christian faith. The Free University has been and continues to be a living example that such a Christian institute is possible. But can that kind of thing work here, in North America? There is a group of dedicated Christian persons who believe that it can. The group is called the Association for the Advancement of Christian Scholarship, perhaps more well known as the Association for Reformed Scientific Studies. The amazing thing is that this group which is only about 10 years old, is about to see its dream of a Christian university realized. In October of this year, the Association hopes to open an institute for higher learning in the city of Toronto where a home has been purchased that is within walking distance from the huge University of Toronto, whose library facilities, etc., will be available to those who will be studying at the institute. Dr. Hendrik Hart and Dr. Bernard Zylstra, both with doctorates from the Free University of Amsterdam, have been appointed to teach at the new university. With this small beginning, the tide of secularism in higher education will indeed begin to turn. This is an endeavor that deserves the support of every dedicated Christian. It is through this kind of thing that the claims of our Lord Jesus Christ will be made in the field of higher education.
HENRY VANDEN HEUVEL
CONSISTENCY, THOU ART A JEWEL!
Of late, there has been considerable debate about the pros and cons of joining the World Council of Churches. The 1967 Synod also gave this controversial question some attention and took a rather positive stand against the W.C.C. Such a synodical decision should be no means end the current discussion. It would be most helpful, however, if the urgent need for true unity among Christian churches were considered within the wider context of God’s explicit and sweeping command to honour the renewing Word everywhere. To limit the scope and meaning of united Kingdom living to the church, is to invite the devisive spirit of dualism to rule.
If anything, Synod’s conclusions should stimulate all confessors of Christ to fresh study with a view to gaining clearer insight into our ecumenical task. By allowing the unifying Word unhindered play, we shall inevitably find the straight way. At stake is nothing less than the word and witness of Bible-believing people in and to a world which becomes increasingly estranged to the Gospel. Especially in this critical day, God’s covenant children are obliged to be precise, positive and prophetic. In unity of faith, the advocates of the one Kingdom must unashamedly articulate and manifest the one reformational life-perspective. Nothing less will really do if we wish to be publicly known by the Christian name in this strife-torn world.
Ecumenicity begins at home. Has it? It is no secret that thousands of Christian Reformed Church members, even deacons and elders, are also members and/or contributors of movements which have little or no real regard for the Truth. To top it off, too many ministers seem undisturbed about their flock’s secular affiliations. These political parties, trade unions, and employer organizations, to say nothing about the so-called “service” clubs and “public” schools, apparently think it quite normal to ignore Jesus Christ and His cosmic claims. They take the Word for granted and arrogantly carryon as if God is dead, does not exist, or has no right to expect anything but perhaps a short, formal and by all means, vague prayer (provided it offends no one) during a time of crisis or on an historic occasion. What is worse, the Christians supporting these man-centered movements seem to have no real difficulty with the blatant anti-Christian spirit these organization breed and breathe.
To add insult to injury, comparatively few church members seek a Christian alternative Or support fellow Christians in their challenging struggle for a reformational way of life. It even happens that people who attend the same worship service and sit at the same communion table on Sunday defend radically different viewpoints on Monday. Thus, we witness the sad spectacle that brothers of the same house lead conflicting lives. And the world watches and wonders….
What is so baffling is that at men societies, in consistories, at congregational and other ecclesiastical meetings, these same AFL-CIO, Chamber of Commerce, and secular party supporters stoutly maintain the absolute need for solid confessional agreement before the churches consider any concrete form of cooperation and ecumenicity (although it is startling to see how easily some churches agree to participate in various non-Reformed evangelistic crusades). When it comes to ecclesiastical issues, some of these same brothers quite properly insist on faithful adherence to Scripture and creed. Often, without even giving it a Christian thought, they do something far worse than joining the W.C.C., they join the ranks of outspoken humanists—movements which have no love for the Lord and His Law as it relates to labour and politic….
And far more dangerous, many a Reformed Christian will hotly argue that he should become involved in and support these secular unions and parties and then “witness.” Still others ignorantly insist that all men (should) think alike when it comes to bread and butter and bullets. Suddenly, without so much as batting an eye, obedience to the Bread of life is expediently exchanged for allegiance to the religion of neutrality and secularism. Consistency, thou art a jewel, indeed!
While giving serious thought to our ecumenical calling as Christian Reformed Church, we, as people called to practice and promote the communion of saints always, had better learn to become consistent and complement our Reformed ecumenical talk with a truly corresponding walk, namely, with Christian communal, social and political action. In this Scripturally directed way the world shall see and experience something of the unity we enjoy in Christ. The world would probably be more impressed by a genuinely ecumenical walk than by a lot of ecclesiastical talk. Word and walk should harmonize. Faith in Christ without following him spells death (James 2:20). We, with all who live out of the Word, are commanded to be “a letter that has come from Christ…a letter written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God…”
Let’s faithfully preach and practice Christian solidarity with all who daily seek the Kingdom and its righteousness. Let’s have done with compromise and contradiction by getting rid of dualism and discord once and for all! Let’s abolish our double standards and in singleness of heart serve the Lord, regardless of the consequences.
May Labour Day mark the beginning of a new era in Reformed ecumenicity; for the sake of the Gospel and for all who should see and hear it—also in labour and politics!
Let’s rise to the challenge, as one man!