The tumult and shouting of the American political campaign of 1964 have long since died away. New situations are developing to occupy attention, challenging us with their principles and compelling us to take our position. While the fires of conflict kindled throughout the world blind our eyes, legislation to implement the Great Society is slowly but inexorably hammered out. In all this the committed Christian must find his way. And basically the question for him is that of always and everywhere serving his Lord in obedience to the Word.

All this sounds so simple. Yet Scripture, while giving us guide-lines for the Christian response, does not spell out specific choices in today’s situations.

This fact, so often ignored or misunderstood, has produced our confusion. Strange as it may seem to the outsider, the believing community finds itself repeatedly rent with contradictory convictions and conduct. Some argue vehemently that we can be faithful to Christ in matters political and social only by adopting the conservative platform. Others are equally insistent that obedience to God demands the liberal response. The former appeal to God’s leadings in history that have provided patterns for a kind of stability, justice and order so sorely needed in an apostate world. The latter urge us to open our eyes to the painful reality that every human response stands under God’s judgment and requires ongoing reformation.

What many well-intentioned believers forget is that the choice between conservative and liberal is for the Christian no true choice. Here there is not the radical distinction that Scripture commands us to make. Note how close, for example, are Republicans and Democrats in their basic approach to the problems of the day. There is the muting of all shape and line and color, so that the end-result is the tattle-tale gray of relativism. Those who in some measure recognize this are much tempted to sit on the sidelines and cry, “A plague on both your houses.” Thus by default without any ringing testimony from those called to be Christ’s witnesses—the nations traditionally acknowledged as Christian are bartering away their heritage for a mess of humanistic pottage. Ours is a secularized, man-centered world that pays the God of heaven and earth little more than lip service. And nothing will accelerate this process faster than the attempt of many Christians to strike a balance between conservatism and liberalism in Christ’s name.

We commit this error by our failure to realize that conservatism and liberalism—as these have developed as more or less well-defined parties in the social, economic and political orders of the Western world—are actually Siamese twins. They spring from the same stock. They are impelled by the same life-spirit. They are completely dependent upon and oriented to each other, so that the one without the other dies. Perhaps this explains why in the United States there is such grave concern with preserving the traditional two-party system. For the Bible-grounded believer to draw the line of demarcation between conservative and liberal on this score is to become guilty of a gross misjudgment. Both are essentially man-centered. Both reject the norms of God and stay their hopes on man. Both develop their theories, also in the political order, £rom such abstract ideas as justice or order or love. Both appeal for support to the course of human history, the one inclining to glorify all that seemed good for man in the past and the other insisting that the imperfections and injustices that stain the story of mankind clamor for change. And to the uninitiated both sides seem to have a reasonable case.

Is there any way out of this dilemma?

To be sure there is. It has been provided by the Lord who is concerned with this world and its fulness. But the only way to escape the dilemma is to listen obediently to His voice, His inscriptured Word, which is the norm for man’s life in the present world. The choice is never between conservative and liberal: it is between the voice of the living God and the voice of men cut loose from the life-giving Word. In all Our choices—political as well as personal-this is the issue. And not until the believing community begins to understand and believe this, can it hope to speak significantly in the present confused world situation.

Before we can do something constructive as God’s people, we must see where the lines are drawn. So long as we suppose that Christians exert their best influence by joining up with either conservatives or liberals to support their programs and hopefully provide a bit of Christian coloring, our witness will be muted. Even more. it may well be distorted. Let us make no mistake on this score. Both groups are more than eager to enlist the support of Christians. They are interested in garnering workers and funds and votes. But they patently have little use for the Biblical witness that we are called to proclaim, “To the law and to the testimony! if they speak not according to this word, surely there is no morning for them.”



Shared time is the educational plan by which children in Christian and Jewish schools may attend the government’s schools part time and at government expense in order to be instructed in certain subjects. For example, perhaps a Christian school that does not have the financial means for chemistry lab or typewriters or shop could make arrangements whereby its pupils could spend an hour or two in the state schools for instruction in these courses. Such a plan is already in operation in many cities in the United States. Now with the passage of President Johnson’s educational bill, it will become a prominent feature in American life. How should a Christian evaluate it?

The Christian may never be satisfied with shared time as the ideal solution or ultimate answer. Christ is King over all of life and should be recognized as such. None of life should be secularized, that is, abstracted from God and the Bible—not even shop, typing and chemistry labs. Shared time is based on the unbiblical concept of a part-time God—a God who is necessary and valuable for only part of life. Because the Bible teaches a totalitarian God, i.e., a full-time God, shared time can not be the ideal solution.

Yet education is better than no education, even if the education is non-Christian. In psychiatry the ideal is Christian counseling. But if there are not enough psychiatrists imbued with the principles of Christian counseling, experience has proved that non-Christian counseling is better than none at all. Likewise, if there are not enough interested Christians in a particular community to have a Christian school, then obviously it is far better that a child should be given a non-Christian education than that he remain ignorant of even the most rudimentary matters of life. What is true of education in its totality is also true for it in its parts. It is possible, for example, that some students are particularly gifted along lines of shop work. Their education should be developed according to their talents. If the Christian school has so much of a financial burden that it cannot provide instruction in shop, then it should attempt to participate in a shared time program whereby the school child can develop his talents. Or if a Christian school system is woefully inadequate in the area of languages,o then it would be almost mandatory for some students to participate in shared time if language courses were available in nearby schools. It is not inconceivable that the quality of instruction in a Christian school could be so mediocre and so secularistic (thus neither education nor Christian) that a child should be placed in a top·notch non-Christian school where he at least receives an education.

Although shared time may be used as a temporary measure in an emergency, as an ultimate answer it contradicts the Christian principle that all of education should be God-oriented. There is a real danger that even a temporary use of it may lull some non-thinking Christians into the unbiblical concept that some of life does not need to be Biblically oriented.

The final Biblical answer is not shared time, but shared taxes.



Our Lord Jesus Christ has commanded his disciples to preach the gospel. It is a great privilege to be the bearer of good tidings. We readily agree with the prophet when he says: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings of peace; that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” The understanding of the good tidings of salvation readily leads to the admonition, “Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.”

However, we should face the question how this beauty of the gospel can be seen and appreciated. The glorious beauty of a diamond can best be seen against a dark background. So it is with the beauty of the gospel. Unless we look upon it against the background of sin and righteousness and judgment its beauty escapes us.

The Heidelberg Catechism is right when it teaches that in order to enjoy the comfort and the peace of the gospel it is necessary to know how great my sins and misery are. The love of God fails to impress us unJess we realize that we are accursed. There must be a crying out of the depths, if we would see the glory of God in Jesus Christ. Sad to say, this emphasis is often lacking in the presentation of the gospel. Unless we learn to say: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death,” we shall never be able sincerely to declare: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”



Dr. Harry Boer does not like the Reformed doctrine of reprobation, as it has been taught by Calvin, Bavinck, Kuyper, Berkhof, Hodge and Dijk, among others. In two articles in tIle Reformed Journal (March and April, 1965), he questions the Biblicalness of this doctrine, even though in his ordination vow he promised he would neither “directly or indirectly” contradict the Canons of Dordt by “public teaching or writing.”

In his second article he quotes Calvin as calling the decree a “horrible decree.” But this is a horrible mistake on the part of Boer, one that Armil1ians have often made in their antipathy to the Biblical doctrine of reprobation.

Charles Wesley wrote two hymns lampooning this “horrible decree.” The Dutch poet Vondel wrote a poem Decretum Horribile, in which he pictured a mother with two children in her arms: one child raised up for heaven and the other destined for hell. Franz Delitzsch falls into the same error in his exegesis of Proverbs 16:4.

However, the author of Rock of Ages, Augustus Toplady, explains Calvin’s meaning admirably when he writes: “I would willingly imagine that Mr. Wesley is not so wretched a Latinist as to believe that he and his subaltern acted fairly in rendering the word Horribilis, as it stands in the above connection, by the English adjective horrible. Though there is a sameness of sound, there is no necessary sameness of signification in the two epithets. We have annexed a secondary idea to the English words ‘horror’ and ‘horrible’, which the Latin horror and horribilis do not always import” (Complete Works, 1869 ed., p. 274). To prove his point he quotes Cicero, Virgil and other Latin authors. Then he states: “Calvin therefore might well term God’s adorable and inscrutable purpose respecting the fall of man decretum horribile, i.e., not a horrible, but an awful (one producing awe), a tremendous, and a venerable decree.”

It is in The Institutes (III, xxiii, 7) that Calvin uses this term. He writes: “The decree is awesome, I confess,” i.e., “Decretum quidem horribile, fateor.” That the word horribilis does not mean horrible as Boer translates it is evidenced from Calvin’s use of the same word in connection with the majesty of God. In Ill, xx, 17, while dealing with prayer, he writes: “For as soon as horribilis Dei maiestas (God’s awe-producing majesty) comes to mind, we cannot but tremble and be driven far away by the recognition of our own unworthiness….” Just as Calvin did not mean to say that the majesty of God is horrible, so he did not say that the decree of reprobation is horrible.

Contrary to Dr. Boer, the doctrine of reprobation is Biblical and awe-inspiring. None of God’s actions are horrible.