There seems to be a common misconception abroad concerning the disturbances on our university campuses. It is the notion that the disturbances are generated by young people who have been “turned off” by the values of their parents. Recent studies as to the origins of the activists show that this is not the case.

The hard core of the S.D.S., for example, is not made up of those who are repudiating the idea.. of their parents. These agitators have been what Professor Albert H. Hobbs of the University of Pennsylvania calls “The Red Diaper Babies.” They are not repudiating the political ideals of their parents. They had the Daily Worker as their swaddling clothes. They had Marxism mixed with their pabulum. Their ideas are more an overlap of those of their parents than any kind of innovation. They do not stand in revolt against that which they learned while still in their rompers.

A generation gap might be represented by the son of a Calvinist minister turning evolutionistic naturalist with hopes of the perfectionability of man. It might be represented by the son of a “free enterprise” businessman turning champion of welfarism and government ownership. By contrast, Bettina Apthetker, one of the early troublemakers at Berkeley, is the daughter of Communist theorist, Herbert Apthetker. Stoughton Lynd is the son of leftist sociologist parents, Robert and Helen Lynd. Mark Rudel is the son of Mrs. Jacob Rudd who points with pride to the revolutionary activities of her boy.

Three swallows don’t make a spring, but in his book, Young Radicals, Kenneth Kenitson further negates the idea of a generational revolt. Concerning young activists he writes, “Each of those interviewed was brought up in a family whose core values were fully congruent with his radical activities” (p. 113). Jonathan Glazer in his article, “The Jewish Hole in Activism,” Fortune, January, 1969, having studied the Jewish activists at the University of Chicago, concludes that sixty per cent of their parents were highly “liberal” or “socialists.”

Most university and college administrators admit that there are conditions that call for some change. They also recognize the right of peaceful protest. The objections to the weaknesses of the “multiversity” as expressed early in the Berkeley troubles were valid. Very soon, however, the activists led this into a “free speech” campaign in which room had to be made for four letter obscenities and the violation of previous standards of decency. Thereafter, activism centered around Black Studies, objections to R.O.T.C., Marine recruiting, Dow Chemical recruiting and the ties which the universities have with defense research.

When one learns that the heroes of the S.D.S. activists are Mao Tse-tung, Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara, then one begins to suspect the sincerity of their espousal of causes associated with orderly change. They come across more as hard core revolutionaries who have a revolution that goes about looking for a cause. By attaching themselves to the various causes they beguile the unsuspecting less radical students, as well as some faculty dissidents.

The campus activists resemble Mao’s Red Guards. They may yet give as much trouble to their liberal progenitors. Thinking liberals are beginning to fear that they may not be able to inveigle their disruptive monster to return to its cage. What was to be a new breed of democrat (they use the S.D.S. label) turns out to be a new breed of totalitarian.

Amidst all the disturbance there stands the shame that a large number of students and faculty have not seen through the tactics and aims of the activists. Some have unwittingly or otherwise become part of the vanguard. Professor Herbert Marcuse of San Diego, California, while drawing his salary from tax money, proposes the withdrawal of toleration of free speech and assembly from groups and movements which promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism (ordinary patriotism is now chauvinism), discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, or which oppose the expansion of public services, social security, medical care, etc. In other words, all those who would not follow the line of thorough-going socialism and welfarism should be silenced. Activists hardly need more encouragement than that.

Sidney Hook, professor of philosophy at New York University, wrote perceptively in the April issue of the Saturday Review when he said, “The Trojan Horse in American higher education is the rickety structure of doctrinaire thought that shelters the S.D.S. even when it takes official responsibility for violent actions, gives it a free field for operation, retreats before the politics of confrontation, and either shrinks from applying fairly and firmly the rules of reason that should bind the academic community, or interprets them as if they had no more restraining force in times of crisis than ropes of sand.”

The secular academic community has so espoused academic freedom that it feels that it cannot take any absolutes to its bosom without being guilty of an adulterous association. What kind of chain did Professor Hook expect to be forged on our secular campuses where all is relative and no one dares to say, “This is it. This must stand.” Could he expect anything but a chain of sand?

On a recent Meet The Press telecast, President Pusey of Harvard deplored the fact that legislators are beginning to think in terms of a “get tough” attitude towards campus violence. He argued that in spite of the fact that the campus community wrongly lent support to the radical activists, the solutions should come from the campus community. But who is to protect the invested, to say nothing of the vested, interests of the public? Who is to initiate when those who should call the shots fall into the trap of decision by indecision? Who is to protect the public interests overagainst administrators like President Perkins of Cornell?

The Spock babies now sporting beads, beards and bare feet have come back to plague liS with the relativism which we rehearsed in their ears ever since their last baby burp. We sowed the wind and now we are reaping the whirlwind. We wanted the relativism of complete tolerance. Some of our offspring have opted for complete intolerance. We don’t like it. Where do we go from here?

“The world doesn’t need more dictatorships” as w. Stanford Reid suggests (Christianity Today, May 8, 1969). This seems to be the direction of the hard core activists. Dr. Reid continues, “Nor does it need amoral, humanistic democracy. It needs to have the Church once again call men back to repentance for their sins. Men must recognize that they are under God’s judgment for their rebellion.” Perhaps, the present campus violence constitutes part of that punishment. However, we need only read the book of Nahum to understand that this does not excuse the violence and rapacity of those by whom God’s judgments come.

The Christian student on the secular campus seems to be caught in a dilemma. Either he must join the forces of destruction or he must defend the establishment: an establishment which is capable only of such a metamorphosis as can take place within the limits of its own brand of humanistic relativism. Neither choice is a live option for the Christian. The prophet Isaiah pointed to the only alternative in a few summary words. “To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word there is no light in them” (8:20).


Prof. Nick Van Til is professor of philosophy at Dort College, Sioux Center, Iowa.


It used to be that ministers could annually go to the Christian Reformed Ministers’ Institute and be re-stimulated along Biblical, Reformed lines. Solid lectures by Reformed scholars on a wide range of subjects gave the ministers new food for thought. It was most valuable.

But now, it is popular to get scholars who may rip apart the Bible, as last year’s lecturer, Dr. Kuitert (although he thought he was honoring the Bible), or to get a film , such as The Pawnbroker for this year’s institute. Now there is nothing wrong in hearing an unreformed professor or a Catholic theologian, or seeing a film, such as The Pawnbroker—in fact, The Pawnbroker is a fascinating entertainment and study—but ministers can see it in the local movie house (or, if they are chicken, on TV two years later). But the precious time of a Ministers’ Institute ought to be taken up by something more constructive and stimulating than we have been having for the last couple of years.

It is important that ministers be aware of what is going on in the world of divergent thought, but, after such presentations, they need some guidance along Reformational lines in order to evaluate them properly. As it is, this observer heard too many ministers naively think that Dr. Kuitert’s latest fad against the Bible was fresh and wonderful.

Let’s have meat at the Ministers’ Institute. But let it be Reformed.



However tired you become of all this, there is this one certainty: “Through Jesus Christ we are more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37). I know that we have to look at ourselves time and again, doubting ourselves but firmly building on Jesus Christ. Again and again we have to smash our human certainties to pieces on the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ, who is our only comfort in life and death.

We need, more than ever, the gift of the discernment of spirits. Let us urgently pray that the congregations and we personally may receive this gift.

Let us also pray that the Lord raises more and more prophets and prophetic figures—people who ean clearly point as to where things have gone wrong, who have the gift to put into words powerfully the only way to salvation. Let our prayers surround such people, first that they may find each other across all church walls, so that it becomes ONE powerful testimony for the ONE gospel. Let us pray in order that these people, who are called to give guidance in this chaotic time, are not caught in the trap of pride and complacency. Let us pray that they may be examples of meekness, of a broken heart, and that they, at the same time, joyfully witness of the grace and the life that is given to us in Jesus Christ, merely by God’s mercy.

H . J. HEGGER, in On the Damacus Road