It may be rather presumptuous on my part to write on this subject, and I may be trespassing in another’s territory, but I feel constrained to utter a word of warning and encouragement to our young people in this matter. According to the congregational statistics on page 7 of the Church Directory of Fuller Ave. for 1946, we find that in the past year 28 individuals left that congregation and that 3 were received. Undoubtedly, young people were in the majority of these that left.
“Why shouldn’t she leave your church, you left your church when you were married”, it was recently protested by a member of another denomination to a member of our churches. “A girl should always go with the man.”
“But he belongs to the . . . . church.”
“Well, it doesn’t make so much difference, does it? That is a church too.”
And in another case, where the young woman belonged to a different denomination, the matter of which church they would attend was not discussed until the young couple was married, and then it was stated to me that they were going to see which church they liked the best. And a strict attitude over against the situation was protested with, “Don’t be like that.”
Shame on us!
The question of the purest preaching of the Word of God and of the sacred obligation to affiliate with the most faithful manifestation of the true church, is no longer considered. Change in church membership for principle reason is almost unheard of. Church has become a matter of indifference and of social importance. The vitality of those who were willing to die on the scaffold, and suffer imprisonment, who were willing to endure the stake and the rack, for what they considered the purest manifestation of the truth, is no more. This generation has fallen into a spiritual apathy, without enough moral backbone to say,
“I dare to be a Daniel,
I dare to stand alone,
I dare to have a purpose true,
I dare to make it known;”,
without sufficient acumen to recognize the difference between truth and error, and without the stamina, vigor, or the quality of endurance to say, “Here I stand, so help me God, I can do no other.”
Shame on us!
Shame on the parents who have failed to impress on us the particular significance and undoubted privilege of membership in a Protestant Reformed church; on the parents who have failed to make a Christian home, with all that implies, for us; who have failed to take us on the knee in our early youth and educate us in the things concerning the kingdom of heaven, who have not insisted that we attend church and catechism regularly, who have failed to exercise the proper discipline and authority over us and left us to shift for ourselves, who have failed to watch the friends we made, and neglected to insist that we pick out a Protestant Reformed young man or young woman to be our life’s partner or insist that we do not leave the church.
Young man, young woman, don’t be like that. Be cognizant of the grace of God which has given you a place in the fellowship of the Protestant Reformed churches. Look around you in selecting a mate. The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. And if you do select a Christian partner from another denomination, have enough moral courage and spirituality to insist that he or she come to your church. Do not lightly cast aside the truth. Religion is not a vain, impersonal, dead, thing which has no vital place in your life. The Word of God, and the pure preaching of the Word of God, must be the very center of your life, and the decisions you make, be motivated by it.
Do not lightly change your church membership!
I had always considered after you expressed yourself in Beacon Lights, to write on the matter of a Youth Center, but I was too busy at the time. When the original article appeared I did not form an opinion in my own mind, but I thought about the various things involved in such a project and have come to some conclusions for myself. I personally think we should have some sort of Center. I suggest some central place with manual training and machinery for the boys, sewing and other activities for the girls, some ping pong tables, maybe even a bowling alley, and a “coke” bar, with regulated hours for Protestant Reformed youth. Such a center might even have some sort of gym which could become the center for athletic activities on a wider scale and of ball teams. Such a set-up could be regulated by a committee of men from various churches and in no way conflict with society and catechism schedules.
Perhaps in this way some waywardness in our own circles would be avoided. It would be “some place to go”, and provide an outlet for energies which are now expended in other less profitable ways. I realize that there are also dangers connected with such a set-up, but the advantages might be sufficient to offset them.
With Christian Greetings,
Edw. J. Knott.
We thank Mr. Knott for his expressions. I do not believe that he presents any new arguments but rather enlarges and gives direction to thoughts which were expressed in embryo state in former contributions. For that reason we feel it proper to forward these expressions to our readers.
Once before an article with the same title appeared in Beacon Lights, which maintained that our doctrine, our confession, should not be a mere intellectual formula, but a living, vital, all-possessing factor, in every phase of our life. It was further pointed out that the home and even the church itself, in a measure, were responsible for the deplorable conditions present in the church generally, and among our own church group. Nor have conditions, in our opinion, changed.
We have existed as an organized church group some twenty years. During that time we have enjoyed sound doctrinal preaching. We have made doctrinal advances. We have been able to train our own ministry. New congregations have been added. We have our own publications and papers. Many books have appeared and even radio has been used rather extensively to acquaint people with our point of view. We have advanced in a Protestant Reformed way on many fronts.
But there are some fronts on which we neglect or refuse to advance in that same Protestant Reformed direction. There are some departments of life which we do not make Protestant Reformed. There are some things of another way of life that we would rather keep. Membership in worldly associations and unions, and defending such affiliations, lack of interest in kingdom causes, low spirituality in certain instances, refusing to maintain a sharp antithesis between the church and the world, participation in worldly pleasures and amusements, and more particularly, for this article, neglecting to fulfill our covenant obligation to our children by sending them to schools based on Protestant Reformed truth, is not strange among us.
I realize I am writing in a young people’s magazine, but with good reason do I broach this subject here. This is a matter which mostly concerns us, for some day we, too, will be faced with the question, “Will I, before God and the congregation, be able to answer ‘yes’ to the question, ‘Do you promise and intend to see these children instructed and brought up in the aforesaid doctrine, or help or cause them to be instructed therein, to the utmost of your power?’” And we, we young people, being awake to our privileges and responsibilities can begin “to help and cause them” even now by supporting an effort to obtain our own schools. And notice that I wrote “schools.” This plea is not only directed to the congregation to which I belong, or even only to the congregations of the Grand Rapids area, but to all our congregations, to all our people, to all our young people, wherever possible, to make an attempt to establish Protestant Reformed schools.
The Roman church works out its doctrine as a way of life, not neglecting any phase, including the education of their children. What about us? Isn’t our doctrine as much as, and more, emphatically more, than Catholicism, a way of life? Why do we then neglect so vital a phase of that way of life as the consistent education of our children in that way of life?
The home, the church, the school, must be an integrated triangle, which for the most part it is not now, the school being out of line. They must become for us a mighty means in making our doctrine truly a way of life. It must become evident in business, in industry, in casual meeting, in our home life, in our pleasure, in the way we educate our children, in the manifestation of ourselves in daily life, as well as in our church life, that God, in His grace, has given us a beautiful and all-embracing revelation of the truth. Let us re-dedicate our homes, consecrate our church, and establish our own schools that we may truly be prepared to wage the good fight.
An illustration I shall never forget is the one of the circles. Looking at Christianity in general, over against the world, it will make a large circle. When one, however, begins to look for elements of orthodoxy, that circle begins to get smaller; and the more orthodox a church becomes the smaller circle it forms. We are a very small circle. And who knows, maybe even we are too large. But the point to the illustration is this: the smaller the circle, the closer to the center it is, which is the truth. How close to the center of that circle are we willing to stand with its privileges and responsibilities? How willing are we to make our doctrine a real WAY OF LIFE?
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6.
I thought I should write a word to tell you how the plans for the Young Peoples’ Federation Convention are coming. The committee has met several times and the plans and suggestions discussed at these meetings are interesting.
As you know the Convention will be held August 30 and 31. On Wednesday afternoon we hope that registration and assignment boarding can be completed. That evening the inspirational mass meeting will be held. After opening remarks by our Federation President, Rev. Wally Hofman, and a group of songs by the Radio Choir, Rev. H. Hoeksema will lecture on the topic, Christian Liberty, which is also the general theme of the Convention and which will also be treated in various aspects by our other speakers, Rev. A. Petter and Rev. G. Vos.
Thursday morning an outing is planned where breakfast will be served. The afternoon program includes the speech by Rev. Petter, Federation business, election of officers and anything else the Board decides to bring up. And, of course, refreshments.
Thursday night is, of course, the big event: The Banquet! Rev. Vos has been secured as speaker, and other interesting numbers arranged. We have reserved Oakdale Christian School Gym which holds 250 people easily, and we would like to fill it. All the young people and young married people are reminded that this is a “must” Ag. 31.
The convention has been planned as a response to popular demand. When the Board decided not to have a Convention the Societies said that we should. And so we shall. But . . . . who is coming? ? ? How many can be plan on? ? ? We have no idea on how many to figure on. So-will the secretary of each society or some other responsible person please write and tell us.
- Who are the delegates from each society.
- How many are coming, both delegates and visitors.
- And any proposals which are to be discussed at the Convention.
Please do this immediately. It is very important! Send your information to:
Miss Harriet Doezema
1000 Watkins St., S.E.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
And we hope to see you all there!
Some years ago I wrote an oration in which I believed constituted dangers to our Christian schools. Alliance with the public school, dishonesty, and conformity were among the things listed. But now, I think, although these dangers have not been removed, we must face a greater threat. And that is a spirit of worldliness, which seems to have invaded not only the school but even the church.
When a Christian student, attending a public vocational school thinks it is better for him to be in the public school system because he does not face the temptations there that he would in the Christian school, I think it is time to investigate. And such an investigation would prove that the student is not wholly mistaken in his judgment, because we would find, under a mask of piety much corruption. And the most tragic part of the situation is that the authorities are unaware of or unwilling to remedy the evil.
A short time ago while “loafing” in the boy’s room during an open period at the College I attend, we overheard some of the lower classmen discussing various movies they had seen. And it has become evident that attendance is general among the students and frequent, although it is a Christian college and there is a rule prohibiting theater attendance. Profanity is common and the general spirituality is low. A person isn’t quite “right”, however, if he objects to these things.
This, however, seems to be a condition all too frequent among our so-called Christian students of high school and college age. Ones heart bleeds when one sees the pitiful spiritual conditions among them. The only criterions seem to be: How can we enjoy ourselves? What shall we do? The sober, level headed Christian young man and woman is almost the exception.
Even the church has not escaped. Under the impetus of war and modernization process always takes place and it is now proceeding rapidly. Knowledge of the truth, and interest in the church is slight. People have other interests, and apart from going to service on Sunday and perhaps attending a business meeting during the week, they are content to leave well enough along. The church as a vital, living factor in their lives seems to be gone.
What is the reason? Where can we put the blame? I think the church itself must assume a good share of it. For in the preaching, and otherwise, the emphasis has tended to be placed on a system of doctrine. Especially in our own church is this true. And under this systemization many of the deeper spiritual joys have been lost. I think the situation we face today is partly the result of doctrinal preaching having “gone to seed” in practical life. On the intellectual level it is fine, but in practical life it has not been supplied.
On the other hand the home has also degenerated. How many, even Protestant Reformed families have a time set aside for devotions? How often do we discuss spiritual things? On the contrary, in our world of hustle and hurry, our homes have become merely a place to hang our hats, grab a bite to eat, and a place to hurry away from again. No longer do we find a family life of the caliber when it was centered about the sitting room table or the old coal stove. And with the sitting room table and the coal stove has gone that spiritual life founded on an integrated and devoted family life.
Not that I am pleading for a return of those relics of a bygone age but I am interested in the return of a system of doctrine to become a way of life. If anyone has received the impression that I am opposed to doctrinal preaching, he is mistaken. On the contrary, the very opposite is the truth. But I maintain we must have practicable doctrinal preaching. As faith without works is dead, so also, is doctrine become purely intellectual dead. Our doctrine must become, must be a way of life. It must be and it should be for us a vital, living factor, a vibrant, vigorous, pulsing thing, a determining, reckoning factor in all our life. And if it becomes thus many of the above evils will disappear. Our lives will then become consciously dedicated to God, the church will become a living reality in our lives, and our homes will again be bulwarks of truth and bastions against the storm.
Often I have looked envyingly at the so-called fundamentalist churches and wished we could have meetings with the same crowds and enthusiasm they do. I have often wondered whether we couldn’t incorporate some of their enthusiasm into the reformed system. Certainly we have more to be enthusiastic about than they. But we are always so staid, and it is always so difficult to get people to come to something special. I submit that we need more enthusiasm and energy in our churches. We need, in a reformed way, more of the fervor that is characteristic of many fundamentalist churches.
There are those, however, who feel this is impossible and unnecessary. Comments would be interesting.
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