FILTER BY:

The evolution of the institutionalized church has not only given us a fine, tra­ditional order of worship and a some­what questionable practice of budgeted church management. It has also neatly woven a distinctive societal demeanor into our way of life which, if individual­ly and collectively energized properly, proves to be a real help toward Christian living. Society life as we know it af­fords us the means and the manner for developing closer intimacy with those of the same household of faith and for the enrichment of the heart and mind of the believer. Membership in our church so­cieties provides opportunity to enjoy the fellowship of other Christians.

Fellowship defined is the communion of comrades—the association of equals in a sphere of common interest. We who are devoted in our society affilia­tions are blessed with the communion of Christian comrades. Our fraternal study of the Scriptures—the predominant as­pect of society endeavor—helps us grow in knowledge and grace. The discus­sions of practical questions after recess assist us in the broadening of our com­prehension of the issues of life. We are guided towards a better understanding of the principles involved in the art of Christian living.

Generally speaking, such a characterization as above is applicable to all our Young Peoples societies. We pray, too, that such a delineation will typify the 1951 Convention as it has those of other years.

However, now as always, the caliber of our societies and their annual conven­tions is contingent upon a number of factors each of which can have a marked effect upon our meetings. The useful­ness of a society as a means to glorify God and its ability to help us live better Christian lives is conditioned upon the extent to which they are present.

The basic factor involves the question of motivation. When the motivating de­sire to be a member of a young peoples’ society is first and foremost one of seek­ing to honor and serve the Lord and it is kept in the foreground at all our meet­ings they are good meetings, worthwhile to attend, truly enjoyable. It is when our presence at a meeting is not con­sciously directed by this proper incen­tive that we begin to fail. In the measure that we allow any other motive to pro­ject itself our meetings suffer.

Any society or group of societies, like a chain, is as good as its weakest mem­ber. One member, misguided in his mo­tives, attitudes and thinking can make the whole group suffer. How easy it is to see these things in others. How often can it be seen in ourselves?

Delegates and visitors who are now planning to attend the Kalamazoo Con­vention this month should have no other incentive to go than to render praise to God through communion with others who love Him and they must be prepared to carry through this desire in all the meet­ings and activities of the Convention.

It is an old saying that well begun is half done. If we can truthfully say we will attend in this proper disposition of mind and heart we are well begun.

In all likelihood this June issue will find its way into the hands of our read­ers just at the time our 1951 Synod will convene in our Fourth Church. To all of us the annual Synod registers the con­clusion of one and the beginning of an­other ecclesiastical year. Every phase of our denominational church life is here reviewed and appaised; committee re­ports are studied and acted upon, im­portant decisions are reached.

For the most part the impact of the decisions taken by any Synod lives on through the years to color the thinking and guide the deliberations of those that follow. Synods write history—church history. The Synod of 1951 should be no exception.

In fact it would be difficult, we believe, for anyone not to agree that this year’s annual meeting of the Protestant Re­formed churches on its broadest ecclesi­astical level—with its agenda numbering well over 90 pages—will be a singularly important gathering.

In all probability, with all the import­ant matters before Synod and with inter­est running so high, we believe some special arrangements will have to be made to accommodate the large group of our people who will wish to attend Synod’s meetings. We urge this matter be given special consideration in view of the large attendance at the February session of the January Classis (East) which filled to overflowing the largest basement room in Fuller Ave. Church.

We also want to suggest to all of our young people to improve on every op­portunity they might have to sit in on these interesting meetings. You will surely find them diverting but above all, we are convinced, they will prove to be very stimulating and beneficial. And besides, to see and hear the delegates as they express themselves earnestly and sincerely on matters of utmost concern to them and to the churches in general far surpasses the reading of the concise —strictly for the record—history which the Acts provide.

On the evening preceding the official opening of the 1951 Synod which will occur Wednesday morning, June 6, a synodical prayer-meeting will be held. We especially call attention to this im­portant meeting and again urge all our people to attend.

How fitting it is, and how Reformed, that as we once again take up the im­portant tasks concerned with the govern­ing of the institutionalized body of Christ that we come together first of all to confess our dependence upon Him Who has established us and to express our humble thanks for all His tender mercies. How becoming it is that we manifest unitedly the desire to be led in our thoughts and motivated in our every act by the power of the Spirit.

With the earnest prayer that our 1951 Synod may be permeated with the love of Christ and love for His brethren and that it may be used of God for the con­tinued extension of His kingdom and the preservation of the truth of His Sover­eign grace and mercy we commit the delegates and their advisors to His keep­ing.

Music has the power to stir the heart and soul of man. For centuries poets, in extolling its sweet compulsion, have dwelt on the delight of comprehending the intricacies of this universal language of mankind.

Soft music soothes the tired mind. There is music which can strike fire from the heart of men and tears from the eyes of women. Music, it has been said, is the Prophet’s art, the speech of angels. It is a gift of God.

Songs of praise and adoration have been rendered to the Lord throughout all the long centuries of the history of God’s people. In the Scriptures we read of the morning stars singing together and all the sons of God shouting for joy. The Psalmist urged the people to sing a new song and to bless Jehovah’s Name with singing. The people of God, in times of distress and in rapturous joy, are moved to express in the concord of song their communion with a faithful God

While suffering the torture of the stock in a cold jail cell—their backs raw and bleeding—Paul and Silas passed the time in singing the Paschal hymn. Angels sang at the Incarnation. The new heav­en and earth will be filled with the songs of the redeemed who will eternally praise and worship God.

Yes, Christianity is a singing religion! It is an easy thing for the child of God to sing. We have so much, so very much, in which to rejoice. In our church­es we have an order of worship in which congregational singing forms an integral part.

Beacon Lights regularly sponsors Singspirations. In our Sunday Schools much time is given over to singing.

But, in spite of all this, we have a stilted singing culture. It takes very little serious introspection to see that this in true. Can the situation be remedied? The problem demands our concern.

At present in our Protestant Reform­ed worship services we use only the Psalms. We completely disregard all the other passages of Scripture which so readily lend themselves to song. Good, sound hymns based on gospel truth are never used officially by us. Let’s ask ourselves the question—Why? What pos­sible reason can there be for the restric­tion of all our praise and worship in song to the use of the Psalms alone?  I know of none.

An odd, confusing, twist is also given this puzzling picture when we hear our ministers use the words of a hymn in their sermons to elucidate a thought. The hymn used, however, cannot be sung in our churches. Our organists freely use hymn melodies in our services but our song leaders are directed to keep from using them in our Singspirations.

This editorial is in no way intended to reflect on the good use our present Psalter serves. We do wish to draw at­tention, however, to the fact that the Psalms are nevertheless limited in their scope. Our Sunday worship services and all our other gatherings not in the least reflect the rich and beautiful New Testa­ment teachings which are pre-eminent in the Christian faith. This condition is most readily apparent at particular seasons of the year, such as Easter, Ascension Day, Pentecost and Christmas. The Psalmist, writing in the days of the shadows was indeed possessed of great vision and prophetic insight. However, having never experienced except by anti­cipatory faith the reality of a Risen Savior and the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit within him, he could not grasp, as can we, the fullness and beauty — the sense of fulfillment — our salvation gives to us today. The church of the New Dispensation, as it seeks to praise God for its redemption and to ren­der Him thanks for all His goodness, has the further revelation of all the Apostolic writers and the fruit of the work of the Spirit in its midst. Today this further inspiration and historical material has no influence in our act of singing praise to God. It makes no con­tribution at all to our singing culture on the Lord’s Day in the church worship services nor in our societal life. It should not be this way nor does it have to be.

We need a Hymn Book—a good selec­tion of sound, worshipful hymns to round out our singing culture. We need a body of spiritual songs with a New Dispensational emphasis to meet our present spiritual needs and desires which our present Psalter alone can never give us. The Open Forum will happily publish any constructive suggestions as to how a Protestant Reformed Hymn Book can be brought into existence and into proper use in our circles.

Can you help?

There still exists in our circles a cala­mitous underestimation of the gravity of the problem with which our churches are now contending as regards the confes­sional standards upon which our churches are grounded and in which lies the future of the true church of Christ upon this earth. Just now, without a doubt, our churches stand at the crossroads. Our people must wake up to this fact.

At the time the December editorial, entitled “Speaking Plainly”, was written we dared to hope that the dark appraisal of the present state of affairs within our denomination which we gave just pos­sibly might not have been as severe as it appeared to us. Now I am convinced the sober truth is many of our people still have not come to the realization that reluctance to become vitally concerned with the issues of the day could easily spell out DEFAULT in the struggle to maintain the purest interpretation of the Word of God.

Ask yourself the question, friend. Are you genuinely aware that at this very time several primary principles of our doctrinal concepts have been brought under a cloud of uncertainty and doubt in the attempt to develop a conditional theology and a presentation of the gos­pel which would be more widely accept­able? Face squarely, if you will, the fact, too, that within our fellowship now there are those who unhesitatingly chal­lenge the Protestant Reformed concep­tion of the covenant and who consider themselves at liberty to make propa­ganda for a Liberated view which we as churches long ago repudiated as ad­verse to our own confessions.

Recent developments have further served to complicate things. In the lat­est issue of the Standard Bearer the Rev. Vos, and with him the Reverends Hoeksema and Ophoff and others also, are by implication accused of harboring the ‘prevalent sin of a loveless orthodoxy and a heresy-hunting dictatorial spirit’. Our last Synod, in the February 1st issue of Concordia, is charged with having breached the principles of the Church Order, of following a disorderly and unethical procedure and of neglect­ing its sacred trust. The Synod of 1950 is labeled hierarchical.

The fact is Synod did not in the least evidence any such hierarchical motives or grievous malfeasance. We are happy and thankful to God that the Reverend Ophoff has been able to completely dis­honor such unwarranted allegations. For our part we deprecate any attempt by anyone to cloak the warm-hearted, zeal­ous Reverend Vos in a mantle of ‘love­less orthodoxy’. Such a distortion of the spiritual character of Rev. Vos would be an absolute injustice to his record of consecrated service in our churches. This applies equally as well to the Reverends Ophoff and Hoeksema. I know these men well and am convinced of their deep concern for the truth and for the welfare of the church of Jesus Christ. I know them to be preachers of “the word of truth, by the power of God by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.”

They are the men who, from the very beginning of our existence as churches, have been the staunchest defenders of the heritage which we as churches dearly love and intend to hold on to as a dis­tinctive Reformed body. These are the men who want no amalgamation with those who would corrupt our peculiar profession as the truest manifestation of the church of Christ.

These are the men who do, however, seek the fellowship and communion of every child of God in this world who confesses the Name of Jesus Christ and who is willing to be completely subject to the absolute sovereign grace and pow­er of the Almighty God. As Protestant Reformed churches we earnestly attempt the carrying out of the mandate of Christ to preach and to teach to all who hear what Christ has commanded con­cerning all things. It is the truth that in Canada the Liberated immigrants by and large do not embrace our truth in all its fullness and beauty. We must remain firm in the conviction that their conception of the covenant is tainted with Heynsianism and therefore mili­tates against the Scriptures and our Confessions. The Liberated, of course, disagree with this contention. It thus remains our Christian obligation and privilege to persuade them of their error.

But we are very much misunderstood by them in this and even by some of our own people who have become afflicted with what I choose to call a ‘laissez-faire’ attitude towards doctrinal purity. Firm­ness and loyalty to principle on our part has been construed by them to be evi­dence of spiritual coldness and lack of Christian love. Our honest hesitation to readily admit the Liberated into full com­munion without properly safeguarding our spiritual welfare is to them derisible, and is given support within by such charges as ‘loveless orthodoxy’.

Is it not the truth, however, that ac­cusations of this nature have often been applied more or less generally to those who preach a distinctive Protestant Re­formed approach to the word of Truth? And although we readily admit the sin of a ‘loveless orthodoxy’ does at times threaten the church we cannot permit any such inference to be drawn against the pastors we have mentioned without speaking up to deny it.

The sin of dead orthodoxy, on the other hand—the legalistic piety which arises out of formalism born of adher­ence to traditionalism,—is a preponder­ant problem in our churches today as well as in every other Reformed church group. Dead orthodoxy breeds well on the reactionary effects of distortion and misunderstanding of the doctrinal tenets of our faith which are found to arise when the line between truth and error becomes finely drawn and difficult to dis­cern. Those who are unwilling to see the cause and effect of the struggle for the retention of the truth become dis­interested and half-hearted. Let us be­come aware of this and guard ourselves against it.

Thus let us view the Declaration of Principles, with its highlighting of the peculiarities of the Protestant Reformed truth, while serving its primary function as a guide to further missionary en­deavor, as rendering also a beneficent effect among ourselves towards the re­vitalization of our approach to the prin­ciples of our faith. Any such forward step as this which offers to promote a clearer insight into the riches of our heritage should he welcomed and em­braced with joy and gratitude. Let us accept it for what it is: a guide to the believer in his office as minister, mis­sionary and individual in the pursuit of the goal of living out the commands of God to keep ourselves unspotted of the world and in all things seeking out the glory of God and His Name and our sal­vation in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Well, men, this month Beacon Lights gets underway a new department which will concern itself primarily with you and your interests. Right off we ought to tell you the general idea is to use this space to the best advantage in keeping you posted on things back home and to help you keep in touch with all the other fellows from our churches who are in the services.

The Publication Committee dares to hope this strictly G.I. Department can help bridge the gap between you and us and we intend to keep it going just as long as we can do that kind of a job. To get the Mail Bag started and to keep things rolling we have asked Miss Jane Schipper of Grand Rapids to take com­mand. You’ll hear more from her later.

But right now, as we start from scratch, we need a big lift from you. We have at hand a fairly complete list of your names and have set up a skeleton staff to check up on your current mail­ing addresses. By the time our next issue goes to press we should have all the fine details worked out and we’ll pass the information along to you. But for now, if you do change your address, please let us know by writing either Miss Jane Schipper, 913 Adams St., S. E., Grand Rapids 7, Mich, or Miss Thelma Jonker, 1210 Wealthy St., S. E., Grand Rapids 6, Michigan.

And as of right now please start writ­ing those letters and sending those pic­tures to the Beacon Lights Mail Bag. However brief you want to be please let us in on what things are like where you are and how you are getting on. Not only the folks back home—who are even now peeking over our shoulder—, but also the other fellows in service will be able to follow you around. Share with us, if you will, the things you see and do as you tour the world for Uncle Sam. In turn we’ll all stay closer together in these troubled days.

It is true, isn’t it, that the impact of the events of our times affects us all? For the second time in less than a dozen years our entire pattern of living is about to be controlled and directed by the ef­fects and influences of a rigid wartime economy. In all probability the so called emergency period will last considerable longer than any like period before and will leave more permanent marks on our way of life than any in the past. Al­though it is quite possible a total war within our lifetime is not inevitable, everything seems to point to a global conflict soon. Thus the gnawing fear of a large-scale war is very much in evidence throughout much of the world. In fact, a general feeling of weakness and helplessness in the wake of a head­long plunge in chaos seems to grip our modern civilization.

Just as fear always springs from ig­norance so in these turbulent times man is very really afraid of what is about to happen. Whether in uniform or not the world communicates this fear to us. We, too, are all confronted with indi­vidual situations which the stress and strain of life today brings about. Today, if ever, we certainly need to be mentally, physically and spiritually strong to meet our problems without fear as to the out­come.

You know, there’s an old Welsh proverb which says there are three things that give hardy strength: sleeping on hairy mattresses, breathing cold air, and eat­ing dry food. Your life in the service then ought to make for a strong consti­tution if my recollection of the rigors of sleeping on an army bunk and the general output of the Mess Hall serves us correctly. But it takes more than such things as food and air to keep a man strong and free of fear. The world, in strengthening itself for war, is striv­ing to build up physically and economic­ally. As Christians we know it takes more than that to be really strong and to remain that way.

The Christian, wherever he may be, needs spiritual exercise and a regular program of wholesome spiritual activity in order to be strong. You who are now in the service need it, too. You need your Bible, your prayer life and the fellowship of other Christians. Beacon Lights, in every way it can, will attempt to provide this kind of stimulation, both in what we do with the Mail Bag and as we continue to publish the other depart­ments with their usual emphasis on prac­tical Christian living. And so, fellows, with all this in mind we appeal again to you all to keep in close touch with home and with Beacon Lights and, of course, our other church papers, too.

Life in the service is vastly different than most folks at home imagine, isn’t it? Many of the temptations they talk about really don’t exist at all, while other temptations the folks never thought about are very real. It is true, however, that temptation does confront you and it appears very often in very unfamiliar forms. Our prayer is that you may be kept strong in faith and in hope.

Faithfully yours,

‘The Protestant Reformed Churches believe that, in obedience to the com­mand of Christ, the King of the church, to preach the blessed gospel to all crea­tures, baptizing, and teaching them to observe all things which Christ has com­manded, it is the explicit duty and sacred privilege of said churches to carry out this calling according to the measure of our God-given ability.’

‘We believe that this missionary ac­tivity includes the work of church exten­sion, and church reformation, as well as the task of carrying out the Gospel to the unchurched and heathen. However, we are convinced that our present duty lies primarily in the field of church ex­tension and church reformation.’

The above quotations, comprising the preamble to the Constitution of our Pro­testant Reformed Mission Committee, must necessarily be the starting point for any evaluation one might make of our present missionary program and our denominational extension program. If we concede the words ‘our present duty’ to include the foreseeable future, we have then a specific mandate to guide the activities of our churches in this connection.

Since its inception, our Mission Com­mittee, our missionaries and our churches generally have carried on this type of program and we have given it sound support. It was this mandate that led our Mission Committee to take up the work among the Liberated, to commence preaching and teaching with men and with means. The result of this faithful labor was the organization of two new Protestant Reformed Churches there, each one consisting of a large number of believers who desired an ecclesiastical home and the fellowship of other Pro­testant Reformed Churches, which we gladly extended to them. This fruit of our missionary labor gave us much to be happy for and to thank and praise God. But this once bright picture has dark­ened.

* * * * *

Just recently the Hamilton congrega­tion suspended its pastor, the Reverend Herman Veldman, a faithful ambassador of Christ, who has always served our churches with zeal and consecration, who is today one of the most capable exegetes we have in our circles and who is a thor­oughly sound and sincere Reformed prea­cher. Dear readers, is there still anyone of us who dares to ask where there exists any threat or danger to our churches?

This most regrettable act on the part of Hamilton’s consistory in depriving Reverend Veldman of his pulpit has lucidly proven the dire need for the De­claration of Principles by which we must be guided in our labors among those who do not embrace the distinctive truth we treasure. It is plain, is it not, that our Mission Committee lacked an ade­quate measure by which to determine the advisability of proceeding to church organization when the request to do so was treated? In my heart I am con­vinced that had the Declaration of Prin­ciples existed earlier, this most recent Hamilton episode would never have oc­curred, the very probable reason being that Hamilton would not as yet be in our communion of churches. In all likelihood, our missionaries would still be there laboring among them, patiently pro­pounding our truth to any immigrant or group of immigrants who indicated re­ceptivity to our doctrine and a favorable, interested disposition towards our chur­ches.

Upon its adoption, the Declaration will be a further means—a real help—to our Mission Committee, our Committee for Correspondence and to anyone else who wishes to readily see and adequately comprehend the manner in which we are distinctive and  just how it is that we have arrived at the firm and unshakable conviction that we do possess the pure truth of the Word of God. Rather than hinder our association and correspond­ence with the Liberated element of the Reformed Churches as we labor among them, under the mandate of the preamble and the command of Christ, the Declara­tion of Principles will implement the work and assist us in the reforming and extending aspects of our mission pro­gram.

In our last editorial we expressed the considered opinion that we personally viewed with alarm the apparent dis­inclination of many of our people to seriously concern themselves with the issues now under discussion by our lead­ers. We made an appeal for sound and sane thinking, for a serious approach, and a forthright treatment of each im­portant aspect of the various questions involved. We humbly urged this ap­proach upon everyone, including our ministers, and expressed the desire for contributions from our readers in this connection. We refer you to the Open Forum for the two replies we have re­ceived up to this time.

There is just one other matter which we ought to mention here, although we cannot help but feel the majority of our readers are charitable enough to sense it for themselves, but for the sake of avoiding misunderstanding we bring it up now. Without any qualification I wish to state that I in no way feel qualified to set at rest any of the big ques­tions of the day. Neither do I feel that it lies within our province to tell our leaders what they should do officially in dealing with such important matters as we brought up in our last editorial. We do, however, keenly feel a responsibility to call the attention of all Protestant Reformed people to the seriousness of the issues at hand and to voice our own con­cern for the welfare of our Protestant Reformed denomination when and wher­ever we feel its future to be in jeopardy.

In passing let us also bear in mind that in the church there will always be people who will evidence morbid dis­interest in the welfare of the church. There are even some shallow ones who delight in “picking” at our ministers and other writers who have the courage to speak up for their convictions. They are usually the ones who continually criticize everything and anyone. Among others these persons seem to regard the present— controversies in abject horror. And the pity of it is they communicate this inhi­bition to others who, without such a re­tarding influence, would very likely de­velop a real concern for the well-being of the church. However displeased we may be with them, we must bear with such people.

On the other hand we do know, too, that there exists, in the hearts and minds of some of those who are genuinely con­cerned for the spiritual welfare of the church and its defense of the truth, a severe distaste for “disturbances and conflicts” in our denominational life. They are quick to point out the need for peace and the command to “love one another”. They make an honest effort, a well-meant effort, to patch things up this is well. We undoubtedly need more of it in our circles today than ever before.

But, friends, let us not in all this disregard the essential element of the spiritual life of the sincere church mem­ber which demands a readiness to speak out for the purity of the truth which our church confessionally must uphold. To keep still for the sake of harmony when the very ground we stand on is question­ed would be travesty. To fail to remain loyal to our Confessions, and keep still when the intent and authority of them is challenged, would be outright sin. This is what we must realize today.

Did Christ, in all His ministry, ever turn aside from dealing vigorously with questions concerning the truth? We, to, must certainly deal firmly and directly, with any departure from the Confessions, which are based upon the Scripture. The Confessions are our doctrine, and doctrine is truth.

Our Confessions plainly state that God’s promise is unconditionally for the elect only. Our Confessions, state, too, that the gift of faith is received from God, and the fact of it proceeds from His Eternal Decree. Our Confessions state that “the errors are rejected of those who teach that faith, holiness, godliness, and perseverance are not fruits of the unchangeable election unto glory, but are conditions. . . .” Our Baptism Form fur­ther tells us “. . . .the Holy Ghost as­sures us to be members, of Christ, apply­ing unto us that which we have in Christ. . . .”

How clear it is from the foregoing that the assurance which we have that we possess everlasting life in Christ comes to us through the work of the Holy Spirit, and that this further gift of God—THE ASSURANCE OF THE FACT of redemption, sanctification, etc., —-comes to every believer through the instrumentality of faith! And so it is that we have not only a rich promise but the beauty of it all is that through faith God manifests to us that we always were saved in His Eternal Counsel. Cannot we also then comprehend that faith is therefore not a condition that is required unto salvation, a requisite upon which is predicated the realization of the prom­ise of God?

Faith is rather the efficacious means which enables the children of God, the saved and elect ones, to walk uprightly before Him working out their own salva­tion in fear and trembling. “Faith”, says the Netherlands Confession, Article 22, “is an instrument that keeps us in communion with Him in all His benefits.”

Whether our people, and particularly our young people, realize it or not, the awful fact is that the very foundations upon which our existence as a distinct group of churches are grounded are in great danger of being uprooted and torn apart. This is no mere platitude. Much of the material published in the most recent issues of both the Standard Bearer and Concordia should have served to fin­ally awaken all of us to this alarming situation. Without question there are ominous signs in our ecclesiastical sky which can very easily be recognized as the harbingers of troubled times ahead for the people of God who love the truth and who are willing to defend it when distortion and misconception threatens its purity.

But, dear reader, have these things struck home with you?

For a considerable period of time now we have followed the discussion between our various ministers involved in the de­bate on the term and concept “condition” and have carefully noticed also the atti­tudes and positions assumed over against this issue by our people. The result of this watchful waiting has been a grow­ing, fearful awareness on our part that unless each and every member of our churches who is afflicted with a dis­inclination to concern himself with these questions begins to take a serious view­point—and is adequately stimulated into, thinking long and hard about them—we are in grave danger of losing our pre­cious Protestant Reformed heritage by default.

Another compelling reason for the need of much deliberate concern for the basis upon which we are organized as churches has been dramatically brought to light in the unhappy situation which has arisen in Canada by virtue of cur missionary concourse there among the immigrants. We cannot help but feel the lulling ef­fects of a “laissez-faire” attitude among many of us relative to doctrinal purity has contributed greatly to the woeful picture across the border.

A third challenge which presently con­fronts the Protestant Reformed churches is the Brief Declaration of Principles formulated by our last Synod. This mag­nificent document, setting forth in un­ambiguous language the fundamental tenets of our Protestant Reformed ap­proach to the teachings of Scripture, is now under consideration by all our churches and has become the subject of detailed scrutiny by our ministers and others writing in our church papers.

With these vital matters thus at hand how can anyone who claims to love the truth and the beloved cause of our Pro­testant Reformed churches sit idly by, leaving such things for “others’’ to evince or uphold.

This writer, in taking cognizance of all these significant happenings on the de­nominational scene—each of which will assuredly leave indelible imprints on the pages of our church history—proposes (D.V.) to begin a series of editorials on the several subjects mentioned, with the thought in mind that the very nature of our magazine with its emphasis on the practical side of our Christian living, may lend itself in some measure to the need of the hour.

We make bold to offer the humble sug­gestion, or plea rather, to those of our ministers, too, who have kept silence on these pressing matters, to frankly voice their thoughts on these subjects. While we appreciate the meditative attitude of some who wish for more time to allow their own thinking to “crystallize” we cannot help but feel the time has come to openly discuss these all-important topics. The practice of making vague allusions to matters of such primary con­cern should by now be giving way to a forthright treatment of the issues at hand.

We remind our readers again that the Open Forum will welcome any contribu­tions pertaining to these issues which reach us. We reserve, of course, the edi­torial right to comment and will be pleased to attempt to answer any ques­tions which are presented.

We and all our countrymen will be called upon this month to observe a day of national thanksgiving. Generally speaking, most Americans will be doing so with mingled feelings of insecurity and fear of the changing times in which we live. It is a foregone conclusion that overshadowing any superficial thankful­ness a wicked man might conceivably have, for his harvest or for his present high living standard, will be the anxiety and fitful apprehension for a world torn wide with international strife and the jitters of war.

One can readily imagine a worldly per­son being glad for whatever things he possesses and enjoys. Such a primitive reaction is a part of man’s innate nature. It is unthinkable, however, that there can ever be any semblance of genuine gratitude in the unregenerate heart of the wicked who see neither rhyme nor reason in the turbulent course of chang­ing time.

It is only when one has within himself, by the grace of God, the basic compre­hension of the meaning of things that he can be thankful for the change and the results of change which the order of time brings about in this world. Such an as­surance a Godless world has never known. We can rather epitomize the dark philo­sophy of the wicked man in the words of Omar Khayyam, the Persian bard who wrote:

Into this Universe, and Why not knowing,

Nor Whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing:

And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,

I know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing.

Thus has the world placed its destiny in the hands of fate. Small wonder it is then that as the basic structure of western civilization begins to crumble and change the worldly man fears and trem­bles. Those who know nothing but the vain deceit of man see no hope or mean­ing in the swift chaotic tempo of our times. For them the changing times offer little for which to be thankful.

But let us—fellow Christians who know the Lord our God—rejoice this month and every month, in the hope and vision which is ours in Christ. In Him we can conceive of all physical and spiritual change to be the manifestation of His Will and the working out of His Eternal plan. Even the titanic social-economic upheaval now in progress in the world is a thing to bring thanks to the lips of the child of God.

When we know that every movement of the finger of time is controlled by the

God of heaven and earth to work out the salvation of His people and the glory of His matchless Name, we can render true thankfulness for all things. Thus as thankfulness can only arise from the heart which possesses a saving knowledge of the Eternal, Sovereign God, let us give thanks.

Trait and Trend ….

Nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm; it moves stones, it charms both the heart and the mind. Nothing great was ever accomplished without it.

Enthusiasm—its presence and effect— its glowing warmth and lively zest vivid­ly marked the wonderful beginning for a successful year of society activity which was made during the days of our 1950 P.R.Y.P.S. Convention! From the very opening moments of the Inspirational Mass Meeting, when with one invigorate voice we sang the praise of God, to the concluding, solemn moments late Thurs­day evening during the singing of the parting hymn ‘Till We Meet Again’, we saw and knew enthusiasm.

Yes, there is a world of talking we could do about the Convention, about the speeches, essays and debates which were given. But, for the most part, these things have to be personally attended to be fully enjoyed, and besides they are treated elsewhere in this issue.

There are, however, two outstanding impressions which we noted during the Convention which might be mentioned here. The first concerns what probably can be called a state of mind—or better still—a state of heart.

Our young people showed that they love the truth. They wanted to hear it and to talk about it. During all our meetings and discussions one could read­ily sense the feeling of loyalty and under­lying devotion that rightfully should characterize a generation with so rich a heritage to apprehend.

Now, of course, youth often fails to fully realize its God-given opportunities. We hasten to add, too, that we as Chris­tians are all weak and do so often fall short of what we could be and we ought to be. But, nevertheless, one could see in the faces of our young people, as they met together in Convention, a readiness to serve the Lord and a hopeful, God fearing attitude towards the challenge, of the future.

The second thought which occurs to us at this time also augurs well for the cause of youth and the future of our churches in general. It is the almost sanguine interest our ministers evidence for the problems, and affairs of our young people. At every Convention meet­ing there were five or six ministers pre­sent and at the banquet you couldn’t count them all on both your hands. So it just can’t be said our ‘dominies’ are out of touch with the young people. They most certainly are genuinely con­cerned for the welfare of our Protestant Reformed youth.

Here, in passing, one could express the thought that there are those times when some of our pastors seem remote disconnected from the hard, cold reality of the day. That this is true in some instances we do not doubt and the possi­bility of it leads us to the consideration of the unenviable position of the young men who today stand face to face with the prospect of five, ten or more years of enforced military service.

These young men were present in all our meetings this year at Second Church; many will probably be across the sea when our current society year closes. For their sakes—as well as for the entire membership represented in the Conven­tion this year—we can be truly thankful our Convention theme was so aptly chos­en and treated. We can be thankful, too, for the ministers who spoke this year and for their down-to-earth awareness  of the reality of modern times.

 

Pre-Eminence ….

There is little we can say about the Reformation that has not been said be­fore. This statement stands in spite of its hackneyed echo.

What other event in our church history save the birth of our own Protestant Re­formed churches has as much attention directed to it? The many tomes con­cerning it would in themselves form a sizable library. Whether our people, particularly our young people, have read even a fraction of them is another ques­tion.

We must admit to the fact that Luther was quite a man. We have read much about his boldness and his indomitable courage. He is quoted as saying at one time, “Tell your master that if there were as many devils at Worms as tiles on its roofs, I would enter.” And he very likely would have done just that.

Reformation Day and the person of Martin Luther have an important place in the celebrations of our churches. All this is well. And as we approach another remembrance of this historic event and the man who was used of God to bring it about, we most certainly should let the emphasis point to the hand and the might, the power and the glory of the Lord Himself who uses the man and the hour to serve the cause of the coming of His Kingdom.

For an interesting and instructive art­icle on the Reformation, with a sound ap­proach to its observance in this manner, we refer our readers to the Christian Living department in this issue.

 

The Empty Forum ….

Just as you would not have a fox be judge or jury at a goose’s trial, those of us on the staff feel hardly able to ap­praise the results of our work with Beacon Lights. That’s a job for others. And far better it would be if you, dear reader, would help along by telling us what you like or what you think you’d like in this magazine.

The Open Forum exists for the open discussion of current issues and as a voice for our reader’s opinions. Although we are in the dark most of the time we trust the gradual progressive changes we con­tinue to make as we go along—both as to format and content—are pleasing to the tastes and needs of those whom we serve.

But it would still be nice, we think, to occasionally hear from some of you dur­ing the course of the year. And what’s more, friends, we won’t even hold you to the old saw “Admonish your friends privately, but praise them openly”. The Open Forum will print whatever you write, either-wise.

Perhaps the foregoing bit of whimsy (we really won’t get many letters any­way) contrasts rather sharply with the serious, all-important aspect of our job in publishing Beacon Lights. We, too, must never, never overlook the primary function of this as well as every other kingdom endeavor: “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

The Christian is placed in many different circumstances while on this earth. Some are characterized by hardships and trials, and others are full of joy and peace. How should the Christian respond? Throughout the Bible there are numerous times where God’s people sang in response to their various circumstances. Singing in response to God’s ordering […]

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The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon to his young adult son. Solomon’s purpose in writing Proverbs was “that the generation to come might know them [God’s wonderful works]…that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Ps. 78:6–7). Throughout the book, Solomon […]

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The group of churches that John writes to in this trio of epistles had recently experienced a split because of doctrinal controversy. We do not know the exact content of the error that these false teachers were spreading, but it is apparent from John’s writing that their teaching somehow denied the truth of the incarnation—that […]

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Jael: An Example of Christian Warfare

This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. Jael lived during the era of the judges. Deborah the prophetess was the judge who served Israel at the time of Jael. During this time, the Canaanites under the rule of king Jabin […]

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Indiana Mini Convention Review 2021

One of this year’s “mini conventions” was hosted by Grace and Grandville Protestant Reformed Churches at Quaker Haven Camp. Located just over two hours away in northern Indiana, the camp was a perfect fit for the 120 kids and 15 chaperones who attended. A total of twelve different churches were represented: Byron Center, Faith, First […]

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

At the point that this edition of Beacon Lights arrives in the homes of our subscribers, most young people in the Protestant Reformed Churches will have been sitting under the catechism instruction of their pastor or elders for more than a month. If our readers are honest, that observation probably comes with a (quiet) sigh […]

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Tennessee Young People’s Retreat 2021

The 2021 Tennessee young people’s retreat was held August 9 to 13 by Providence, Hudsonville, Unity, and First (Holland) Protestant Reformed Churches. The retreat took place at Eagle Rock Retreat Center in the city of Tallassee. It was about an eleven-hour drive, give or take a bit due to stops for food and restrooms. Though […]

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