When is the Christian Reformed Church going to rid itself of the unbiblical term and thought of “paying the church budget”? In most cases, the use of this term does not reflect the sacrificial, gracious giving of its members. When we consider how many hundreds of dollars most members give for Christian education in addition to many other Kingdom causes, we can only marvel and rejoice at what they contribute to the local church.

The term “paying the budget” is unbiblical and unwarranted. A Christian does not and cannot pay God or the church for anything. The word pay means giving something in return for services or products received, a just compensation for something received. It implies the discharging of an obligation incurred.

Obviously, the church member can never begin to pay for what he has received. God’s gifts are infinite -the unsearchable riches of Christ. Furthermore, they are gifts. They are not to be paid for. God does not want any pay. Nor can we give him any.

But God does want thanks. We may give God and his church thanks in the fonn of sacrificial gifts.

Thus let us refrain from using this unscriptural terminology of “paying the church budget” and speak instead of gifts to God and his church.



Erroll Hulse in his provocative little book on Billy Graham – The Pastor’s Dilemma calls our attention to the fact that the “crucial issue” of the Reformation was identified by Luther as that which came to expression in his famous written debate with Erasmus on “The Bondage of the Will.” In his book by that title Luther said to Erasmus, “You alone…have attacked the real thing…the essential issue…the hinge on which all turns…” (p. 319).

What was the fundamental difference between Luther and Erasmus? A review of their debate discloses especially two points of disagreement.

(1) Erasmus maintained that matters of doctrine were comparatively unimportant and that it was better to acquiesce to errors of doctrine than to disturb the peace of the church. Luther held that doctrines were essential to the Christian religion, for true religion was a matter of faith.

(2) Erasmus said that man had (a little) free will by which he could set out to seek salvation, while Luther maintained that man’s will was bound so that he could only be saved by God’s sovereign grace.

Is it not remarkable when issues arise in our churches today how many will take the view of Erasmus rather than of Luther—especially in their relative indifference to truth and concern for peace? Was not the resolution of the 1967 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church on the “doctrinal problem” a perfect example of that?



A few days ago, while attending a convention of a newly-formed Canadian labour union that is desperately trying to escape from the long tentacles of a large international union, I was seated beside a veteran trade unionist.

Before long I discovered that my neighbour was steeped in the class struggle mentality, who self. assuredly confessed his admiration for Karl Marx and his faith in the righteousness and ultimate triumph of the workingman’s cause.

My table companion had nothing but contempt for Christianity. “Sure, I believe in the man Christ. He was a good man, but what did the Christians do? They fought their religious wars and sided with the rich. They beat the Negro and told him to work hard, read the Bible and say his prayers. No sir, Christianity does not have the answer, but Marxism does. What can be more just than the rule that each shall give according to his ability and shall receive according to his need?”

This man did not mince words. He agreed that Marxism was a religion, and he was convinced that it would eventually be victorious and forever ban inequality and injustice from the earth.

It was all the more saddening that he was raised in the Roman Catholic Church. “Look at those countries where Catholicism ruled! They are generally poor, backward and exploited. I want nothing to do with the church.”

Of course, this man had his history all wrong, and he was unfair in his damning generalizations; his Marxist glasses made him see what his ideology dictated. He was wrong in rejecting the God of heaven and in accepting the false promises of a man-made theory; and Christians must unequivocally say so to those who make this choice.

But this confrontation again painfully drove home to me the Christian community’s frequent failure to meet the challenge of Marxism head-on. Indeed, Marx and his followers point the finger at much of what is and was wrong in the lives of Christians, and we—that is, the entire Christian community—had better repent.

What is more, we had better learn to understand the power of ideas, particularly of Marxism, and to realize that nothing short of an all-out, concentrated that is, unified—effort to confront our fellow-men with the redeeming message of Jesus Christ and its meaning for the totality of human culture will suffice. Otherwise, we shall find ourselves completely unable to cope with the powerful forces of secularism, be that Marxism or any other ism. We shall always find ourselves in retreat and on the defensive.

The hour is late, but it is never too late for those who believe. (Faith shall overcome the world.) Given a spirit of humility as well as a deep-down desire to seek the righteousness of Christ’s kingdom, by the grace of God and the light of His Word, the people of God may yet be instruments in the Lord’s hand to demonstrate the beauty and the joy of walking in the way of LIFE.

But the time for smugness is fast running out. Are we discerning the handwriting on the wall?





The ideal is religious neutrality. Do not take a stand for or against Cod in the public areas of life, like politics, labor, newspapers, magazines or schools. Since America is a religiously pluralistic nation, a positive stand for a particular faith would offend those who differ. Therefore, leave Cod out. Practice has shown that the teaching about God is not necessary for the Democrats or the AFL-CIO or The New York Times or Life or the state schools. Religious neutrality is possible and desirable in the public area.

So thinks the secularist.

But the secularist is wrong, unbiblical and blasphemous. The secularist is very religious. He is not religiously neutral. Cod stands in front of man every second he breathes. His message comes through loud and clear (Rom. 1:18 ff.). To pretend to be religiously neutral in the public areas of life is religion itself. To ignore God while he continually breathes down our necks is a religious hardening of the stiff-necked. At times silence is more vociferous than a verbal denial of God. Secularism’s so-called religious neutrality is religion itself—the religion of the anti-Christ.

Yet, every day Christians in America are need· lessly required by law to support this religion in the name of public school neutrality. To compel a man to support a religion against his conscience is jntoler· able totalitarianism. Such compulsion is a denial of religious liberty and should be abolished.

Citizens for Educational Freedom is actively working toward a remedy whereby this perversion of religious liberty would be rectified. To date it has made many concrete gains. All Americans—and especially Christian—should support its efforts.



A new cult originating in California has appeared on the religious scene. Called Satanism, the cult has founded the First Church in San Francisco and aims to build “churches and pleasure domes” throughout the nation.

At present, Mr. Anton Szandor LaVey serves the cult as high priest and, understandably, stands in sharp contrast to persons who bore this title in Biblical times. He dresses in black; that is, he lives in a black Victorian house, worships with his followers in a black-walled living room, adorns himself with a black velvet robe during the services, sports a black goatee, and drives a black automobile.

Borrowing many concepts from Scripture, the Satanist promulgates ideas which are, in effect, the very opposite of those taught by the Christian Church. From the subtle “Live, which is evil spelled backwards” to the dogmatic “Satanism is not for you if you are more concerned with spiritual salvation than with worldly pleasure,” the Satanic Church advocates and teaches indulgence.

As a Satanist you will learn to indulge in the so-called seven deadly sins. They all lead to physical or mental gratification, and were only invented by the Christian church to insure guilt on the part of their followers, as it would be impossible for anyone to avoid committing these sins. As a sop to the parishioner’s conscience offerings are made to their god through their church.

If you have frustrated your desires too long simply because our self-righteous society frowns upon these acts; if you would like the power to manipulate situations to your best advantage; if you have the courage to accept our invitation; join us! You might be surprised at the new life that will open up for you. Satan welcomes you who are alive and glad of it!

By means of charging an initiation fee of $13.00 per person and selling amulets, the Satanist tries to defray expenses which are incurred by furthering the cause of Satanism. The amulets, which must be worn by all members of the Satanic Church, portray the head of a goat within a five-point star. At the points of this star, Hebrew letters spelling the word Leviathan must be read counterclockwise. The word Leviathan, as is evident from several Biblical passages, refers to the old dragon, the serpent, Satan.

Members of the Satanic Church are given the opportunity to rise from the rank of disciple of Satan to the position of Witch or Warlock. The Witch or Warlock station is the first step up the ladder of the church requirement for Priest and Priestess. Whether LaYey’s theology is still developing or whether he made a slip of the pen is an open question, but at one point in his explanation of Satanism he claims that the servant of Satan becomes the master of Satan. Says LaYey, “As sorcerers and sorceresses we are strong. With our power and knowledge we now command our God, Satan.”

Although the antics of the Satanist do evoke much ridicule, the seriousness of LaVey’s movement can not be minimized with a laugh and snicker. Brazenly the cult’s high priest seeks to reach a gullible public through the use of modern media of communication. Already news articles on the First Church of Satan have appeared in leading magazines; also the “Tonight Show” presented a worship service of this Church over the nation-wide NBC television network.

Satanism definitely is one of the signs of the time which point to the coming of Christ. We do well to be mindful of the words of Paul spoken to the Thessalonians during the middle of the first century of our Christian era: “Let no man beguile you in any wise: for it will not be except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God” (II Thess. 2:3, 4).



To most Christians the name Pelagius has through 15 centuries come to be regarded as synonymous with heresy as it recalls the British monk who maintained that man is in effect able to save himself. Augustine, his famous opponent who taught salvation only by God’s grace, has come to be regarded as the great champion of orthodoxy. It is worth observing that at the time the controversy was in process these conclusions were by no means generally accepted or obvious. Pelagius, the personable, broad-shouldered monk with his exemplary life and earnest moral preaching created a generally favorable impression in church circles in Rome and even, it appears, on Augustine in North Africa in his brief visit there. When objections arose against his teachings, especially against his denial of original sin, and these were condemned by the Synods of North Africa, Pope Zosimus declared at Rome that Pelagius and his associates were orthodox, rebuked the North African bishops as trouble-makers and demanded that they retract their decisions. Instead of complying with the Pope’s order, the North African synod at Carthage in 418 again most emphatically condemned the teachings of Pelagius. Only after this persistent activity of the Africans was the Pope finally moved to reverse his policy and acquiesce to their condemnation of Pelagianism. And Augustine was kept busy for the rest of his life defending his teachings about grace against those who, following Pelagius, opposed them. What the later church has come to recognize as Augustine’s great fight for the Christian faith against those who threatened to destroy it was in his own time regarded by many as unpleasant and useless trouble-making.

Ours is not the first age in which the effort to maintain the truth of the gospel is more often viewed with annoyance than received with appreciation. We must, of course, remember that not all controversy is warranted and that we must seek the peace of Christ’s church, but we must especially beware of putting peace ahead of God’s truth. And we must, like Augustine and most others who have faithfully served the gospel, be willing to face unpopularity and criticism for the sake of it.