Recently “Concordia” and other of our church papers have either commented upon or given excerpts from the book entitled “Van Kust Tot Kust”. It is to be hoped that this very interesting book may be read by all of our people who are able to do so. It is really fun to read—sometimes even funny; sad in spots, highly descriptive and informative. You will learn many things about America which you probably never knew or at best have forgotten since you laid your school history books aside. The author who writes under the pen name of Rudolph Van Reest is not satisfied to touch upon an incident here and there but rather, goes back to its origin and the circumstances surrounding the event he describes.
As an example, he not only visits a negro church in California, but on the following Wednesday night accepts the invitation of the Negro minister to visit at his home. From him he obtains the history of the American negro—slave ships, Abraham Lincoln—the civil war, right up to the present race struggle as we see it today.
When you lay this book down you will exclaim, “Why that fellow has been everywhere and has seen everything in America!” Name any phase of our life, with one exception that occurs to me at least, and you will find that he has either mentioned it or, as is more probable, has explored and delved into it. Political, economic, educational, theological, Hollywood, nudist’s camps, American Indians and that also in detail, transportation systems, culture, etc., etc.
Would you like to know what a Hollander thinks of “democracy” compared to their rule by a queen? You will find it there. Would you like to know what they think of our school system? He will tell you in plain words. How about Indonesia and the “slave labor’’ there. Let him tell you how he answered a Chicago newspaperman about that. It’s a story I’ve found worth repeating to others.
And, through it all he tells the story of our churches, no, not only the churches of America, that too, but of the Protestant Reformed Churches. You may travel with him and in your mind say, well, now he’s coming to such and such a portion of Iowa. Let’s see, Rev………. is there. Wonder what he’ll say about him. A few more pages will give you the answer.
And finally, you have completed the circuit. You have seen him take his leave at Newport News and have read his touching eulogy when he sights the land of his nativity. And, after that long descriptive trip you can leisurely sit back and say that you have enjoyed yourself.
However, there are some things with which I am not entirely in agreement and I do not think we can always agree when he repeatedly tosses in the remark, “But, that is America!” Understand me well, I do not say that he deliberately misinforms his countrymen. That would be doing him an insulting injustice. But, I believe that he saw America through Dutch eyes and with all that that implies. Allow me, at the risk of wearying you with many words, to give some examples.
- He describes the Mormons, their origin, etc., and when he tells of the death of their leader, he says that he was lynched in typical American fashion. It is not a typical American fashion to lynch folk with whom we disagree. It is very unusual and I believe that the number of people who have thus met their death is proportionately very small and is restricted to a few southern states. Hollanders, if you read that statement of his, don’t believe it. Rest assured that you may come here and your chances of being hauled out of jail and hanged to a tree are practically nil. To more clearly understand that this is not typically American I have secured the figures on lynching in continental U. S. for the years from 1882 to 1947 which is the latest year available at this time. Let me quote for the years from 1939. We find the following numbers and they include all races and colors: 1939—3; 1940—5; 1941—4: 1942—6: 1943—3; 1944 —2: 1945—1; 1946—6; 1947—1. Our present population is 131,669, 275. You may figure the percentage for yourself. But, does it look like a typical American custom?
- In his criticism of our school system he finds that our children play so much, do not have home work—even find time to clerk in stores—all of which does not lend itself to learning the names of the rivers of India! And yet, I find that practically all the countries of the world send students to study in our universities and not primarily to learn the American game of football!
- He drove past a nudist camp in California. He tells about the National Sunbathers Ass’n. He says that these camps are quite common in America. One of our people to whom I related this said, “Oh, oh, those Dutchmen over there will think that half the people in America run around naked, and the other half are Protestant Reformed!”
- Somewhere he visited a hospital. He says that there are no restrictions. You may walk anywhere in the building even though the patient is being cared for in his personal needs by a nurse. My knowledge of hospitals is limited to perhaps a half dozen Michigan cities but I am sure that he can’t do it here. I dare say that almost all of you have at one time or another been courteously asked to leave your friend—visiting hours are over.
- I cannot understand the strong patriotism which besets him. His eulogy of Fatherland, which some derisively might call a “reclaimed swamp” is pathetic, it is my contention that a Christian is not nationalistic. Whether he be Dutch or American is incidental. True, it affects his speech and habits and customs but essentially he is a New Jerusalem citizen. I cannot understand their keen interest in politics and national issues. He bemoans the fact that we have no Christian newspaper, no Christian party. No, we don’t. Neither do we have Christian buses. We do not have a Christian party—we are one. We also have a platform—a set of principles if you will and a Christian King. And our King does not flee before invaders neither do we ever wonder whether He will be victor for He is. You see Mr. Van Reest that we are preparing while traveling through America to go home to Father. My address is a tourist camp and those cars which you think are our idols are simply convenient means which Father has given us to convey our bodies because the distance would weary us.
- He leaves the impression that a maiden here can become a housewife simply by learning to operate a can opener. Now I know that that is more or less a standard American joke and I do not take offense. But Mr. Van Reest would be much surprised I suppose to find that not only daily newspapers but also scores of magazines devote space to recipes and exchange of recipes. C.P.H. Circles have for years issued a cook book composed of favorite recipes by its members. Christian schools have also adopted this plan. I dare say that the majority of American kitchens also contain neat little recipe boxes wherein are arranged in card-index system the favorite recipes of the housewife. My gastronomic needs are well provided for by an American housewife. That that is not always true in your country, I can very easily prove by personal contact with immigrants to Canada but that can wait for another time. Remember, I take no offense but again, that is not factual. Is it perhaps untrue that our American troops were the best fed of any during the late war?
- I find the greatest fault with the author when he repeatedly singles out exceptional and rare instances and adds, “But, that is America!’’ Were we to do the same with your country we could paint a very strange picture indeed. And of course we would not fail to mention the strange ways of Staphorst and glibly add, “But, that is Netherlands!’’
Let me close by quoting a stanza of the poem “America For Me” by Henry Van Dyke:
“I know that Europe’s wonderful, yet something seems to lack:
The Past is too much with her, and the people looking back.
But the glory of the Present is to make the Future free,—
We love our land for what she is and what she is to be.”
But, I repeat, it is a highly interesting book. A few of the errors are more amusing than harmful. We do not, for instances, use the expression “Jesus safes”. Undoubtedly he meant “Jesus saves”. The initials C.I.O. are the abbreviation of “Congress of Industrial Organization”. But, read the book if at all possible. It will be time which will be well spent.
If it be permitted for a mouse to squeak about an elephant, then I too shall make bold to record a few observations and remarks about the eminent theologian, Dr. Schilder, whom we were privileged to have in our midst and who has spoken and preached in our churches during the past few month.
This is by no means written by the undersigned because he feels himself so well qualified to make these observations, but rather, because we feel that our young people, due to the language question, have been deprived of much spiritual and intellectual enjoyment and some of these observations may serve as a stimulant and form the basis for discussion in your various societies.
We shall limit ourselves to one lecture, namely, “The Antithesis” which was delivered for the League of Men’s Societies at the Second Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids. And, since we took no notes but are relying solely upon memory, we shall of course, as always, be open for criticism should those of you who heard him find that we have misunderstood or misconstrued the thought.
First of all, the professor made clear that the definition of antithesis is something quite different from “distinction.” Distinction we find everywhere and in many things. Distinction has been created e.g. between man and beast, fish and fowl, etc. But that does not yet presuppose antithesis. For the word antithesis carries within itself enmity. Things may be distinct yet not at enmity one with another, but if they be antithetical they are necessarily at enmity. See Gen. 3:15.
Let us see how the professor would have us live this antithetical life. We were due for some surprise and thought-stimulating remarks. Some things we seldom hear and which tend to make one wonder whether or not we should accept them in full or with reservations.
First of all we were chided a bit that we do nothing in the various spheres outside our small church circle. We were told upon the basis “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” that we should get out in the world and make ourselves known. Not, he immediately added, that we might ever expect to become a powerful influence nor of course that we would presume to be able to reform the world but rather and primarily as a witness. We must become so vigorous that ultimately we shall be persecuted and slain. If we are tolerated it is because we have kept still. We have remained active only in our small sphere or circle of the church. I suppose he had reference to Rev. 11:8 as he noted that the two witnesses were slain in the street! They were not in their prayer chambers. They were, as he put it, downtown on the main street! There they testified and there were they slain!
And, how shall we translate this injunction into action? There are many ways by which this may be done. First of all, we should have our own Christian daily newspaper. He called our American Press—terrible! We should have our own labor unions. We should have our own political party and nominate our own candidates. Perhaps we will never succeed in placing a man in office, but the point is, we have laid down our testimony. While on the subject of politics, the professor referred to the fact that we should pray for the officers of the state and government. See I Tim. 2:1-3. Not, he added, for individuals of the government but praying for them as office bearers. See also Romans 13.
There are some, he said, who adopt the attitude that politics are all corrupt and who say “touch not, taste not, handle not.” This is not a Scriptural position upon the basis of Romans 13.
Does the task seem an impossible one? Where and how shall we start? Well, he suggested, we could at least do some studying and investigating. Our societies could very profitably devote part of their time thereto instead of arguing all night about a verse from the Bible!
How do these thoughts strike you, young people? Are we guilty if the professor is entirely correct? Have we been, as it were, leaning over backward? Have we been distinct without being antithetical?
It was our privilege to make some private interrogations concerning these things and we found the professor to be an amiable conversationalist adept at dismissing an argument with a single remark.
We contended that if we are to consider ourselves as pilgrims and strangers whose citizenship is in heaven and who are advised not to drive our tent stakes too deeply, for we tarry but for a night, we could not become very greatly interested in the temporal. This was countered by the remark that he who does many things sometimes commits an error but he who does nothing commits the error!
Someone else observed that he felt that it had exactly been Kuyper’s downfall when he became active in politics and that his later writings bore testimony to that fact. In other words, so the interrogator summed it up: isn’t it dangerous? “Dangerous? Yes, perhaps,” answered the professor, “but it’s also dangerous to lie in bed!”
Just one more observation which comes to me now. The professor made mention of the fact that they cooperate with others for definite causes. For instance, they cooperate with the Roman Catholics in their opposition to Communism and Socialism. Whereas in the public libraries one may find books advocating these “isms”, in the Catholic libraries one may find the arguments against them. He made clear that although they cooperated they did not compromise on their religious principles. Think this over. Can we do these things? Should we do them? When shall we start? If not, why not?
Speech delivered at a combined meeting of the Young People’s Societies of the First Protestant Reformed Church on February 25, 1947.
Chairman, members of the various societies represented here and Christian friends:
I do not know why I am here. I do not know what motivated your program committee to ask me and neither am I curious. I do not pretend to be a silver-tongued orator; not even a silver-plated-tongued speaker. Neither do I pretend to be wise or gifted with profound thoughts. And so, to me, it is somewhat of an enigma. But you know how it goes—those with creaky voices long to be great singers, the banker thinks he could do better as a farmer and the draftsman like to write more than draw and even accepts an opportunity to speak a few words instead of listening to those more qualified. And so I am here tonight and I am glad for this opportunity and trust that it may in some way be to our mutual benefit.
The subject about which we wish to speak may be summed up by the words, “Living Stones”. We hope that the simple things which we say may be applied to our individual lives and to the life of our denomination in general.
Did you ever carefully examine a house made of stone? Did you ever notice the various shapes and sizes? And did you ever marvel at the skill of the craftsman who so painstakingly and skillfully placed them in such an order that the result was a beautiful building, plumb, square and with a beautiful architectural design?
Have you ever imagined that at one time these stones were scattered over the countryside? Perhaps they lay in a farmer’s field and vexed him when they broke his plowshares. Angrily he picked them up and cast them together on a pile. They were a nuisance. He was a tiller of the soil and not a builder. He was only too glad when a contractor came by and offered to haul them away. How surprised he would have been had he seen the finished product. For these same stones which to him were a nuisance, could have been, had he the vision to see it, a beautiful farm home. And, could those stones have spoken, what might they have said while they were being berated and cast upon a pile by the irate farmer? Apparently they were of no use. A stone does not lend itself to conversion.
We are living in a day which is keenly aware that it must utilize waste materials. The meat packers boast that they use everything, but the pig’s squeal. Corn stalks and sugar cane, which in former years had been burned, have now been pulverized and used as insulation or cast into another shape to form decorative wall panelings. But stones? Oh, yes, some may be quarried, as marble, and used to make statue or tombstone; or lime stone may be pulverized and reconverted, but speaking in general and with an eye to the common fieldstones, stones are a nuisance, a breaker of the farmer’s plowshares and an awkward obstacle over which to stumble and stub our toes.
Too, they are such lifeless things. They support no plant life and the birds of the air find no supporting boughs or protecting leaves where in they may build their nest and lay their young.
So descriptive are they of inanimation that our Lord uses them as a figure in answering the Pharisees who object to the jubilation of His disciples with these words of Luke 19:40: “And He answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”
And again, so devoid of life and of life giving properties is the stone considered to be, that also, the devil uses it in one of the temptations of the Christ. We find it recorded in Matt. 4:3: “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread”.
And we are those stones—fieldstones—desert stones! We are those “good for nothing” stones, those plowshare-breaking stones, those stones which are a nuisance—stones which cannot even be used for that lowly and almost unmentionable purpose, namely, fertilizer. We are found scattered over the countryside and living in the field of the world, and the world in the cultivation of her field has broken her plowshares upon us. Openly she has cursed us as we lay in her way. That world has found no use for us. We are waste material in the absolute sense of the word—of less value than the dung hill. And so we have been cast upon a heap and thrown as an eyesore on the edge of the field. That world has not seen, cannot see and cannot will to see that that unsightly heap is a beautiful building; a building which is daily being erected and which upon its completion will be plumb, foursquare and of a beautiful architectural design.
We are those stones, my beloved Christian friends. We are those stones which have been reconverted by the Master Builder. He, of Whom the natural architect is a weak figure, had such vision for His own honor and glory that He did not happen to pass by and see an unsightly stone pile and decided thereof to erect a beautiful structure. Our election as stones for that building was not in that order. That would indeed be a weak figure, for that Architect has created and formed those stones from all eternity. Each year as the world busily tills her fields; new stones are turned up by her plowshares. Likewise, each year as we bear our loved ones to the grave, stones are added to that Church Triumphant. And that farmer, that world, cannot see that that stone pile is gradually being removed in order that the Master Architect may in time build that structure which He has conceived and planned from all eternity.
Think of this, young people, as you see your grandmothers and grandfathers, your mothers and fathers, your sisters and brothers, your friends and classmates, yes, even the infant of days being borne to the grave. For the Builder is in need of stones of all sizes and shapes—pebbles as well as the boulders must be used and each will perfectly fit in its ordained place in that building. That is also why when we weep, we weep not as the world which has no hope; for our tombstones are but stepping stones to heaven! Let us so view them and with the eye of faith rejoice that a constant flow of materials is being transferred to heavenly realms and finds its place in that beautiful structure which we in human language call the Church Triumphant.
But you are young people. Supposedly life lies before you. You stand as it were on its threshold and are busily engaged in the preparation and selection of an occupation. YOU are busy in the selection of a life’s partner….and this is but natural. It is proper and it is necessary. Life lies before you but remember, too, that it is not as certain as the fact that death lies before you. Medical science tells us that the human body soon has reached it physical peak. By the time we are scarcely twenty-five years old we have matured physically and from then on begins the state of decomposition. We cease to grow. We have by that time all the teeth we will ever have (we may have even lost some). All our physical organs are fully developed. Out stature is set. Then begins the period of disintegration which finds its end in the grave. Not much to boast about is there when we place our trust in the strength of the arm of flesh. Small wonder that the psalmists repeatedly call this to our attention. Remember, too, that the Lord delighteth not in the legs of a man!
Now, having been made aware of our condition as it pertains to this body of flesh, let us again direct our thoughts to the figure which forms the theme of our dissertation. The apostle Peter has something to say about stones. In his first epistle and thereof the second chapter, he portrays to us a beautiful figure. In verse 5 we are called “lively stones which are built up a spiritual house”. Christ, in verse 4, is called a “living stone” and in verse 6 a portion of Psalm 118 is repeated, viz. that Christ is the chief corner stone.
Time would fail us to make mention of all the references to this thought which may be found in Holy Writ. In Psalm 114:12, David petitions “That our sons may be plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace”.
Do you see the picture? Christ, the chief cornerstone, we as lively stones and the whole fitly framed together forming a beautiful temple! How true that it is not a temple made with hands, for who among the worldly builders would select such odd stones as we are and from them form a building? And who would select such a lowly figure as the Christ to be the chief cornerstone? Who would be able to find a suitable cement which would knit such peculiar stones together and fasten them so securely that the fiercest storms cannot make it crumble? Who among the worldly builders would think to cement stones with the mortar of faith? It is beyond human comprehension and understanding and the fool who can believe nothing but that which his hands can handle will laugh you to scorn. The very expressions “living stone” and “lively stones” are contradictions of all that is natural.
Having then established the fact that we are living stones, let us also endeavor to determine the responsibility which is ours by virtue of this truth. Are we willing to assume it? What shall we say when our Lord says to us “But whom say ye that I am”? Shall we say as did Simon of old “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”? And shall we rejoice that henceforth we shall no more be Simons, but Peters, rocks?
Do we dare be rocks, stones, field stones, desert stones? Are we willing to be found in the field of the world? Do we dare lay in her way and, if need be, let her break her plowshares upon us?
There are two ways whereby we may escape a fate which is so unpleasant to the flesh. Let us return to our original figure for a moment. Consider what might happen if that stone which lies in the farmer’s field could bury itself more deeply into the soil. Then it would no longer trouble the farmer. It would no longer lie in his way and cause him to be angry.
The second possibility lies in the fact that some stones are not sound. They are rotten stones. Very easily they are crushed, pulverized and become a part of the soil. They give the farmer no trouble, but neither are they of any use to the builder.
I have been given to understand that some of you are studying the history of our churches. That is indeed fine. There is nothing quite so deplorable as one who follows blindly, who asks no questions, presents no arguments, goes to the same church his parents did just because he has always gone there and finds his friends among them. Such an one will have but little to say when the world in her plowing unearths him. When the storms of persecution break over his head, he will either bury himself out of sight and look for a cyclone cellar in which to hide until the tempest is spent or he will reveal himself as a rotten stone, will be crushed and pulverized and become a part of that world and thereby erase himself from the role of the church.
That must be your reason for meeting here from week to week as societies. You may not stay in this basement. You may not come here merely to escape the storm. Your reason must be, if you are to be living stones, that you come here to be strengthened, to edify one another, to comfort one another. You must come here to be molded and shaped in order that you may fit in your proper place in that beautiful building. That must be the aim of your study of the Scriptures and the history of the church to which you belong.
You cannot stay here. Soon there will be a motion to adjourn and you will wend your way again on the morrow. You will find yourself in the field of the world. Tomorrow she will be busy plowing and you must lay in her way and break her plowshares. You must listen to her curse you and you must rejoice that you are counted worthy to be reproached for the Name of Christ!
Can we do it? Do we do it? Dare we do it? By nature, no! For altogether too often we find ourselves busily cultivating the world. We ape her ways and seek by every possible means to hide the fact that we, even as He was, are a rock of offense.
But, by grace, by a gift of that Builder who is fashioning us to take each his place in that church triumphant, we find to a greater or lesser degree that we cannot plan as the world plans, cannot build as she builds, cannot laugh as she laughs, for to us is the promise of Rev. 2:17 viz. “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna and, will give him a white stone and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it”.
Independence! A beautiful word! A word which immediately calls to mind many wonderful visions and highly desirable situations.
Independence! A goal which we strive for both as individuals and as a nation.
Independence! A shrugging off and a casting away of bonds of servitude and obligation. Oh, but to attain thereto! What freedom would be ours if we were but independent. No more would we then be obligated to ask for help from others. And how we strive for that goal! How paramount, so it seems, is independence.
Shall we look at a few illustrations before we proceed to analyze and define what we mean by a strange independence?
We all recall learning how some one hundred and seventy years ago the fathers of this country drafted that historical document known as the Declaration of Independence. The chains of servitude and obedience to the mother country had become irksome. No longer would they bow under what was felt to be the tyranny of the British. They would be independent and be responsible to themselves alone. Hence, the natural result of what is also an individual urge in the heart of man.
And again, to recall a recent case, during the last war (or perhaps more correctly stated “latest war”) one of our most critical materials was rubber. For, you see, again it was a question of dependence and we were dependent upon imports from other countries. And here, too, that desire for independence revealed itself and the research for suitable substitutes and synthetics was accelerated both from the standpoint of necessity and desirability.
Neither is there a dearth of evidence that this striving for independence may also be found in the individual. Take note, for instance, of the hard-working and industrious farmer. Is it only for that daily bread that he rises early and toils late? Is it only to lift that mortgage and acquire for himself a few of the luxuries of life? No. He has his eye on the future. He wants to be independent. He would acquire enough so that he will no longer be dependent on a fluctuating market price. He would not be dependent on a good crop, rain, sunshine and fertile field.
And the urban dwellers? Also in his breast is that urge for independence. How many are there not who would unfetter themselves from the chains of servitude be it in shop, office or business? How desirable they deem it to be free from the obligation of satisfying a capricious boss or pleasing their customer. Many of them dream of a day when they can move out of town and imagine that, with a few acres of land and some chickens, they would be independent! The city-man’s Utopia!
And neither is that urge for independence limited to adults. It finds its expression equally well, though it be in other forms, among all ages. Also the child learning to walk is delighted when he no longer needs to support himself by holding on to the furniture or mother’s hand. And young people too, look forward to their day of independence when they no longer need to rely for their support upon father and mother. Yes, even churches if they retain a healthy outlook should strive for independence especially in relation to the matter of supporting themselves in as much as that is possible. They too should not find it desirable to always and forever hold mother’s hand and never attempt to walk alone. The industriousness of the child who earns some of his own spending money and gradually increases his income so that he is able to aid toward the support of the family, is never to be condemned. Such a striving for independence is to be commended.
No doubt, but that the cause of at least some of the lethargy which grips us (could add an “e” to grip, and make the word serve a double purpose) is that we have in the past become so accustomed to our national policy of granting subsidies for almost every project imaginable and instead of visualizing Uncle Sam with striped trousers, we have, in our minds, clothed him in a red suit and whiskers! We would do well to rid ourselves of such conceptions and also as churches learn to stand alone. Even midgets and undersized livestock learn to walk, you know.
But, all this by way of introduction and lest I weary you with a multitude of examples, it would be well to analyze and define what is the strange independence which captions this article.
And then, our thoughts are not directed primarily to that basic urge of the individual for independence but rather to a new principle which gives us an independence which makes the former fade into insignificance. For it is the Christian and alone the Christian who according to the measure of his faith reaches a desirable degree of independence. The farmer, the city man, the child and the youth never attain their goal. Even tho they lift mortgages, retire to their “Five Acres and Independence”, relieve themselves from dependence on elders and learn to walk alone, yes, though they attain all this, yet are they dependent upon an innumerable host of conditions which they can never escape. All their life long they are dependent on air for their very breath and food for substance. The conditions are innumerable and defy escape, for thus has man been created and he shall never attain to that lying promise. “Ye shall be as gods.”
This Christian independence however is something wholly different. It does not find its origin in a carnal desire to shake off the chains of servitude. It is not dependent upon the conditions of his material state. It is unaffected by poverty or riches, for it is not of this earth earthy.
It is this independence which you young people so sorely need as you start out in life. For it is this independence which makes you able to stand not only but also assert yourselves and manifest by your walk and conduct that you are different and separate from the world. It is this independence which enables you to resist evil and flee temptation. It is this independence which makes you to know that the arm of flesh is truly an arm of flesh and that your strength does not lie in joining yourselves to a union or association and seek by combined endeavors to attain a materialistic goal.
Oh, it is a beautiful independence for it liberates and makes you free. Let the world do with you what they will, let them afflict and persecute. Let your old nature rise up and condemn you. Let even your works testify against you and yet, in that independence you will and can stand. Your spirit is free even though your body be in fetters. You may in a changeable world and under all circumstances be independent and with your sanctified heart and mind commune and enjoy the fellowship of your God.
Truly that in the eyes of the natural man is a strange independence. For its perfect attainment means that you are unaffected by conditions round about you. You do not fear as the world and nations fear; neither are you troubled and anxious about the future.
But that which makes this independence more than passing strange is also the fact that it is so utterly dependent for it reckons and it alone with the Maker, Giver and Sustainer of all things. And, whereas the natural man in his search for independence and in his foolish imagination believes that he has somewhat attained thereto and ascribes all things to his own cunning and ingenuity, the Christian knows that his independence did not spring from his own diligent search and labor but found its source and finds its sustenance in the God who has called him out of the darkness of sin and has given him a hope eternal and an utter disregard for that which is material in so far as it hinders him from attaining the goal set before him.
A strange independence for it is a completely conscious dependent independence.
Happy are ye if ye possess it!
Perhaps one of the things which will most plague you young people who have entered upon a life’s vocation in the midst of the world, is the matter of membership in a labor organization. And much has been written concerning this question, both by officials of the church and various laymen. High ideals have been set forth and have been ably substantiated by proof from Holy Writ. And I do not believe that anyone whose confession agrees with ours would care to gainsay the ideal. And that ideal is, briefly, that we are a peculiar people called to live as shining lights in the midst of the world and to manifest both by our walk and conversation that we can have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. For, you see, our hope is other than their hope; our aspirations and our ultimate goal is other than their goal. This we considered to be axiomatic.
But, without in the least bit intending to detract from this ideal let us take another approach which in no way detracts from the foregoing but rather would seek to appeal to you as an individual. Have you ever considered that by affiliating yourself with such an organization be it then a union, association or any such thing, you have willfully placed yourself in the embarrassing position of serving two masters? You have a dual allegiance in that particular sphere. It could even be likened to the sin of bigamy. And, to which “wife” will you harken? Upon which will you bestow your affection and filial devotion. Do you see the picture?
Your duty over against your employer is clearly set before you in the Scriptures. But now, you have also another master who will endeavor to direct your actions in a manner which may be diametrically opposed to that of the employer. To which will you harken? To which, of the two, do you owe allegiance? You know the answer as well as I and you know too that you must not harken to the comely mistress who will eventually dandle you upon her knees and seek to learn wherein your greatest strength as a Christian lies. She will entreat you, she will entice you and by flattery and promises will seek to ensnare you and alas, too late, you will discover that she will call in her Philistine henchmen who will pluck out your eyes and you will spend your days treading on her grist-mills.
Have you never considered that as a workman, even though it be in the humblest of positions, you are an individual with an individual mind and will and a dignity (in the good sense of the word) all your own? And will you cast that all away for the promise of material gain? Will you be delighted by Delilah and be flattered by her lips?
What happens to your individuality? It is well-neigh destroyed. No longer can you meet your employer as man to man. You are now not only a cog in the industrial wheel but you also have thrown overboard your individuality, prestige and dignity as a workman and craftsman.
You too have perhaps noticed that the sphere of influence of these organizations has been extended so as not only to include wages and hours and working conditions but now they also advise their members as to what they should eat and drink! And as a bunch of dumb sheep they do as they are told and when the price of milk goes up, they must boycott that product and you as a member must subscribe to it too. What will be the next step? Will it be, what clothes you shall wear, how many children you should raise and–to which church, if any, you should belong?
Oh, if only they would go so far. Then, it would be well! Well? Yes, that would be well. For then the issue would be crystal clear and would stand out, as it were, in bold relief. Gone forever would be all our silly excuses and arguments and the answer would not be in doubt. But, alas, it has not gone that far. The devil is no fool. Will you allow yourself to be enticed?
Think it over, young people, will you?
In the previous issue of Beacon Lights we were obligated to take note of the face that Miss Reitsma was resigning from a position which she so capably handled for a number of years. And to this publication it is a loss which only those who have been close to the work can fully appreciate.
The by far greater part of it, the monotonous part, the part requiring untiring devotion to duty and love for the cause, that part could not be discerned on the written page. It received but scant and sketchy recognition, yet, without it, the publication could not have continued. It was not by accident that we always managed to get the paper out on time. It was not by accident that there always appeared a feature article for every issue. It is not by sleight of hand or by accident that all these copies were addressed, changes made in addresses, recognition given to receipt of subscriptions and contributions. Those things require work,–hard work and work which very very few will voluntarily take upon themselves and–stick to it!
Time after time she has postponed other tasks and pleasures to spend a long evening at the printer’s to help us. Comparatively, I am a button-pusher.
The machinery was all installed when I stepped in two years ago. The wiring has been completed and the switch-board was all set up. All I had to do was to push the bottoms. Oh, yes, I’ll admit I pushed some strange buttons and sometimes fooled around a bit with the wiring just to see what would happen. And sometimes it appeared as though there were a short circuit and the sparks would fly. But then, we’d push a few other buttons and everything would come out right and the lights would go on again.
Sometimes we’d push a button supposing it would set off a charge of dynamite only to find it was a dead wire. But that was all right. Next month try another combination. Maybe that would prove to be a live wire.
And so, Miss Reitsma, as a button pusher to one of the original electricians, I say, thank you for all your help which you have so cheerfully given. If there is a reward in the satisfaction of having done a job well and to the best of your ability–you have your reward.
And may you as you embark for your teaching position in our school at Redlands, Calif., think back with pleasant memories upon your work as business manager of Beacon Lights.
“Say, Christian, have you traveled long
Upon life’s weary road?”
“No, only thirty years or so
I’ve borne my little load.”
“Say, Christian, has the way been hard
And filled with dark despairs?”
“No, I wouldn’t say exactly that
For I have One who cares.”
“Say, Christian, do you think that we
Shall gain the victor’s crown?”
“Oh yes, you may be sure of that
For One from heaven came down.”
“Say, Christian, do you wish that He
Would hasten His return?”
“Oh yes, but time must run its course;
That truth we all must learn.”
“Say Christian, what then must we do
Before we see that day?”
“That answer is not hard to find:
It is – work, watch and pray!”
Translation and Condensation by Mr. Geo. Ten Elshof
It was not without sorrow that Chiniquy left his congregation in Canada. For, as we have seen before, he was loved by all the churches which he served. His unselfish devotion to his flock and his ardent love for them had won him a place in their hearts. Truly he was a shepherd to his flock and went even beyond his common duty and obligation toward those whom he served. During the terrible epidemic of Cholera which swept throughout Canada and literally wiped out whole families, he took his place, disregarded the danger to himself and labored to his utmost without sleep for hours at a stretch in order to relieve and comfort the sick and bereaved. He trusted solely in his God to keep him and it also pleased God to preserve his life during those perilous days.
But now he had been called by his superiors to work in the Mississippi Valley basin and set up Catholic churches among the thousands of immigrants from France and Belgium who were speedily populating this region. On his way to Chicago he stopped in Detroit and conducted a series of four temperance lectures. However the drunkenness and immorality of the clergy at this place showed him that although they thought his temperance campaign was good for the common folk they felt that they themselves did not need to heed his words. Doubts entered his mind for he saw that the corruption of the clergy was universal and the more he travelled the more aware of it he became.
Nevertheless, he journeyed on to Chicago and went to the home of Bishop Vandeveld who was stationed there. It was decided to send Chiniquy to Bourbonnais which was a three day journey over the prairies from Chicago. A priest named Courjeault was stationed there and when he heard of Chiniquy’s intentions he became extremely jealous and later signed Chiniquy’s name to letters of abuse of the bishop. It was near Bourbonnais that he set up his first church. The place was named St. Anna. He personally took charge of the work to see that the colonists had houses for the winter. They also erected a meeting place which they speedily outgrew and it was twice necessary to make large additions to the building. Soon, however, Bishop Vandeveld called for him to go back with him to Bourbonnais to see the priest Courjeault. Here it was discovered that it was this priest who had written and published abusive letters under Chiniquy’s name. At the same time he was found guilty of having misled a young woman of the congregation. The town was in uproar against him so he was sent away and the woman was sent to a home which was especially built to care for the victims of the lustful priests. Again, even as oft before, he was shocked and an inner voice seemed to say, “Don’t you see that in the Church of Rome the Word of God is not followed but rather the word of man? Don’t you see that the vow of celibacy of your priests is a snare and an institution of the devil?” The full daylight of his conversion had not yet come but the dawn was indeed beginning to break.
After this incident many people asked him to show them in the Gospel where Christ has instituted the law of celibacy. “I shall even do better than that”, he answered, “I’ll give you the Gospel in your hands and you may read the truth for yourselves”. So he sent to Montreal for a large chest full of New Testaments. A short time later he re-ordered a similar quantity for New York. Truly, the Lord was here paving the way for a great conversion!
One Sunday in May in the year 1853 a small boy came running to Chiniquy’s house and cried, “Fire! Fire!” His church was burning. He dashed out with a pail of water but it was too late. Flames were everywhere and within two hours it was burned to the ground. Chiniquy and the bishop deducted that this dastardly act had been contrived by Courjeault and a certain priest named Lebel of Chicago. However, within an hour after the church was burned the people had pledged $4000 in cash and $5000 in labor and material to erect a church made entirely of stone.
Bishop Vandeveld came to console him on the lose of his church. He spent the night with Chiniquy and during the night he got hold of the communion wine and drank a whole quart. The next morning it was impossible to awaken him. Again Chiniquy was deeply grieved. Soon Bishop O’Regan replaced Vandeveld and promptly accused Vandeveld of having stolen $100,000. They both hired the best lawyers and fought the case in court. It developed that O’Regan was supposed to have received half of the embezzled amount and when he did not he accused Vandeveld of embezzlement!
Bishop O’Regan became notorious thru his lust for money. He stole costly robes from one of the churches, sold a church parsonage and put the money in his pocket and even sold the ground of a Catholic burial plot, bones and all, to men who needed the dirt for fill-in purposes. When Chiniquy agitated against his corruptions O’Regan, through false witnesses, had Chiniquy thrown in jail. His friends advised him to secure as a lawyer Abraham Lincoln who had the reputation of being the best lawyer and most upright man of that time. Lincoln agreed to take Chiniquy’s case and he was subsequently freed and the false witnesses were punished. O’Regan was so angry that he used all possible means to divide Chiniquy’s flock and had many false rumors circulated about him regarding his character. However, after a time, O’Regan was replaced by Bishop Smith. Because of these many false rumors Chiniquy found it advisable to go before the new bishop and take an oath of allegiance to the Church. I now freely translate the oath in its entirely: “My lord Bishop Smith, bishop of Dubuque and director of the bishropric of Chicago: We wish to live and die in the holy, catholic, apostolic, Roman church, and to prove this to your lordship we promise to obey the authority of the church according to the Word and commandments of God as we find them expressed in the Gospel of Christ”.
It is well to keep this oath in mind for it is, as it were, the last straw which caused Chiniquy to leave the Catholic Church. But more about that presently. This oath was accepted by the bishop and peace and harmony were apparently restored. However, two weeks later Chiniquy was called again to Dubuque to again face Bishop Smith. The bishop accused him of having fooled him with the oath of allegiance. “How so?” asked Chiniquy, “certainly it was written in good clear English and you read it several times before accepting it. How can you now say I have fooled you?” “Well”, answered the bishop, “you state here that you will submit on the basis of the Word and commandments of God as we find them expressed in the Gospel of Christ. I want this clause left out and you must submit without it or I shall be forced to excommunicate you.” What a struggle then took place in Chiniquy’s soul. He must decide between Christ or the church in which he had a place. The choice, as such, was not difficult to make and he flatly refused to sign on those terms. He was, of course, promptly excommunicated. Back in his hotel room in Dubuque he spent hours in prayer and struggled with his problem. He felt, of course, that his choice was the only possible one but what must he do? Where must he turn for he felt alone in the world. With trembling hands and a prayerful heart he opened his New Testament at random. His eyes fell on the words of Paul in I Cor. 7:23: “Ye are brought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.”
He returned to his congregation and they were already at the station awaiting his arrival for news of his excommunication had already reached them and they were eager to know the meaning of it. He bade them all to come to the church and there explained to them his conversion and how that now he could no longer be their shepherd. He asked them to arise and tell him to leave. But not one of them stirred. Suddenly it dawned on him that God could also convert their hearts even as He had his! Then he asked all those who thought it better to serve Christ than the pope to arise. As one man the entire audience arose and in that moment more than 1000 people severed the bands of the Roman Catholic Church! Within a few days 405 out of the 500 families of St. Anna were converted and a few months later a priest had to admit, under oath, that there remained only fifteen families in all of St. Anna.
Of course this sudden conversion and transformation brought with it some difficulties. Many still clung to a greater or lesser degree to the superstitions of the Roman Catholic Church. The first thing that Chiniquy did was to see to it that the people studied the Bible. This in turn spurred them with a desire to learn to read. He established day schools and held lectures exposing the false doctrines of the Catholic church. He had to teach them to forever cease worshipping their images or contributing to funds for masses for the souls in purgatory. He also felt it advisable to affiliate himself with a particular Protestant denomination. Hitherto they had called themselves Catholic Christians. But he did not want to be called a separate sect so they affiliated themselves with the Presbyterian church. At this time they numbered 6500 souls.
Space would not permit me to tell you of all his activities after his conversion. However, let me state that he was asked to come to Scotland to lecture. From there he went to Great Britain, France and Switzerland. Soon after his return he was again asked to come back to Great Britain and while there they asked him to write a book exposing Roman Catholicism. He did do and the book entitled “The Priest, the Woman, and the Confessional” enjoyed no less than seventy five publications and was instrumental in showing many the error of Catholicism. He travelled and lectured in many cities of Canada, went to the west coast to Oregon and Washington, the Sandwich Islands, Australia and New Zeeland. However, these were by no means pleasure trips. The enemy was besides itself with rage and almost every place he preached they had their henchmen lying in wait for him. Thirty direct attempts were made on his life and on many occasions he was painfully stoned and narrowly escaped death. In one place in Canada the mayor had to call out 500 British troops where with fixed bayonets escorted him through the streets to the place where he was to speak. In Australia one whole city was placed under military rule due to the uproar and fierce fighting between the Catholics and the Protestants which broke out when Chiniquy was lecturing.
At the age of seventy six, when Chiniquy finished this book, he felt that he has almost come to the promised land and that only the small river Jordan separates him from the new Jerusalem. He writes: “I hear already the great voice out of heaven, saying–“Behold the tabernacle of God is with men and he will dwell with them and they shall be his people and God himself shall be with them and be their God. He that over-cometh shall inherit all things.”
Asaph, I must complain about you. And though you have centuries ago been lain to rest in the earth, yet I would have a word or two with you. For, I am almost on the point of calling you a fool, but before I do so I would hear what you have to say in your defense.
You see, Asaph, we have one of your psalms in what we call the Bible. That is the word which we use to denote the Holy Scriptures, and since your time many other writings by inspired authors have been added. And we love those Scriptures and are indeed happy that our God has through the ages preserved these writings for us. For, we use them daily for our instruction, comfort, edification, rebuke and correction. And, since your time many have suffered greatly because of their steadfast faith in these things revealed to us in these Scriptures. And every Sabbath we sing songs based on the Psalms which must have been dear also to your heart. So much, then, as explanation for your benefit.
And now, Asaph, you would know the nature of my complaint? And you would perhaps consider presumptuous that I would at this late date question your wisdom and lodge a complaint against that which has been accepted by the church as a canonical writing? Very well, then, all I ask is an attentive and sympathetic ear and I on my part will reciprocate and listen with undivided attention to such explanation as you may have.
Very well, Asaph. But, allow me first to explain that since your time the material contained in the Scriptures has been neatly arranged in book form instead of long and cumbersome rolls. And this Book has been divided into two parts called the Old and New Testaments. Your writings find a place in the Old Testament under the heading “Psalms”. These are divided into 150 chapters and the chapters are in turn divided into verses. We find it very convenient to have them arranged in such a manner.
And the portion concerning which I complain and of which you are the author is known as Psalm 73 and it contains 28 verses. Listen to me then, Asaph, as I extract portions from the first sixteen verses and explain if you can. First of all, you confess in verse one that God is good to Israel, to such as are of a clean heart. A beautiful confession, Asaph, and one which I too am willing to make. But, in verse two, you say that you’re losing your footing and your steps almost slipped? How come, Asaph? And I find your explanation in the verses which follow. Permit me to touch on a few of the thoughts which you express from vss. 3 to 16.
You say that you were envious at the foolish when you saw the prosperity of the wicked? You say that there are no bands in their death and their strength is firm? They are not troubled and plagued as other men? They are proud, their eyes stand out with fatness? They are corrupt, speak wickedly and speak loftily concerning oppression? They set their mouth against the heavens and their tongue walketh through the earth? And because of these things Israel is persecuted? That Israel concerning whom you made that beautiful confession? And you say that they question as to whether God knows about it, yes, and whether there is even knowledge with the Most High?
Quite correctly, in verse 12, you state that these are the ungodly who prosper in the world and increase riches. And now, Asaph, I must speak a harsh word to you. For you really slipped and went down a long way in vss. 12 to 16. How dare you, Asaph, say that it has truly been in vain that you have cleansed your heart and washed your hands in innocency? Because, so you conclude, you have been plagued all day long and chastised every morning and you are hesitant to express what you feel should be said against the generation of thy children. And then in your despair when you thought to know this you found it too painful! That is as far as I read, Asaph. I could hold it back no longer. For that is not the way I learned it, Asaph.
Now, listen to me, Asaph. Could it be that you do not know God’s dealing with the world and with His people? How is it possible, Asaph, that, a weak and uncomely vessel in the Temple of God, should know those things which trouble you? Asaph, Asaph, listen to me! Do you not know that God is not gracious to the wicked? Do you not know that our God fattens them as sheep for the slaughter and that He has set them on slippery places? Can it be, Asaph, that you have never read the comforting and explanatory words of David in Psalm 37? I can very well understand that these things are too painful for you if you do not correctly understand God’s dealing with the world and with His people. And, Asaph, if you do not understand and never came to that understanding, you were a fool and life must always have been a puzzle to you. And, Asaph, you were not the only one whose feet were almost gone and whose steps had well nigh slipped. For many have gone down that same perilous and confusing way even one thousand nine hundred and forty six years after the birth of the Messiah. There are still many many people who will say that truly God is good to Israel but that He is also good to those terribly wicked men which you so aptly describe. And, Asaph, if you would still be stubborn and maintain your position in respect to this matter, then I on my part would feel justified in asking the question: Is there knowledge in the Most High? Come, come, Asaph, God is no fool. He cannot be mocked. Won’t you see it, Asaph? Won’t you confess with me that God is truly good to Israel? You’d better do that Asaph, or life will be a confusion and you can never hope to even somewhat understand the ways of the Lord.
What did you say, Asaph? You are going to complain to me? Very well. I promised to listen, didn’t I? What have you to say? Oh, yes, I heard you now. “You say I should read the rest of your psalm? They are vss. 17 to 28. Just a moment, and I’ll read them. There! Say, Asaph, That’s wonderful! I see that you have, as it were, reversed yourself. You have gone into the Sanctuary and understood their end. Oh, Asaph, I am glad with you. We agree perfectly. In vs. 18 you even say what I said, that God set them on slippery places. And when you understood, Asaph it was like awakening from a dream. You admit that you were foolish. And I am so happy that you have come to that conclusion.
I am sorry, Asaph, that I judged you so prematurely without reading all that you had to say. And I’m so happy that you wrote that Psalm. Why? Because all through the ages this same thing has troubled the church. Always there have been those who look to the outward state of the wicked and doing so they say that God is blessing them with rain and sunshine, wealth and health, lands and houses, wives and children, gifts and talents and have concluded that God is gracious toward them. And we, Asaph, in our generation, shall continue to pray that their eyes may be opened, that they may even as you and I, enter that sanctuary and find there that we were foolish and as a beast before God when we entertain such thoughts concerning the wicked. And when we truly understand, Asaph, it will be as a dream when one awaketh.
And so, Asaph, I’m sorry I condemned you so hastily. I can very well understand how you could fall into depths of despair and come to such foolish conclusions. For, that error still abides with us. But, dear reader, if it abides with you, will you go with me into the sanctuary of God, close your own mouth and the foolish utterances of your lips, and in that sanctuary be instructed and become wise?
Translation and Condensation by Mr. George Ten Elshof
Introduction: – Karl Chiniquy, a young man studying for the priesthood, has been disputing with his instructor concerning the vow of celebicy. Father Leprohon, his instructor, has vainly attempted to overthrow the Scriptural proofs which young Chiniquy sets forth. Last time we left him busily and successfully overthrowing the interpretation of his instructor concerning the words of Peter, “See, we have left all and follow Thee. . . .” Shall we again listen to this interesting debate?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Does not Paul state in I. Cor. 9:4, 5 ‘Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other Apostles and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?’ Clearly the words of Peter means that the Lord has attained first place in their hearts and all other relationships such as wife, sister or brother, father or mother have now a secondary place. Your argument concerning being like the angels, who neither marry nor are given in marriage is not as strong as it appears. If you will read the text you will find that Jesus says: ‘After the resurrection ye shall be as angels. . . . If the church had the same rule for us, after the resurrection as is now the state of the angels, we would have no fault to find. You say that the state of celebicy is the best insurance against the lusts of our corrupt nature, but aren’t you afraid that that is exactly the opposite teaching of I Cor. 7:2: ‘ Nevertheless to avoid fornication let every man have his own wife and let every woman have her own husband’? Is it not strange that God says to avoid fornication let man have his own wife and the church says to avoid it become as a eunuch?
At these words the instructor could contain himself no longer. Spring to his feet he said, “I am very sorry I let you speak so long. This is the most heretical teaching I have ever heard! Are you not ashamed of yourself when you give us your interpretation of the H. S. instead of that of the church? Has Christ promised to you or to his church the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? Are you going to instruct the church or must the church instruct you? It is true that Paul states that the apostles had wives with them but the church teaches us that there were holy virgins who travelled with the apostles, preparing their meals, washed their garments and kept house for them. It is Protestant ungodliness to think and to speak otherwise. Dear Chiniquy, you must repent and be sorry for your statements. Tomorrow morning you must appear before the priest and make confession of your grievous sins!” The instructor then left the room. Some of the students laughed and complimented Chiniquy for his brilliant defense and victory. Two students were so convinced that the instruction was so illogical that they quit the seminary. Chiniquy, however, felt badly that he had offended his instructor and the church so the next morning he made confession at the feet of his priest and on May 4, 1832 he took the vow of celebicy and was elevated to the office of under-deacon.
On September 21, 1833 he was ordained a priest in the cathedral of Quebec. He tells us how seriously he took this ordination and how earnestly he believed all the rituals and duties which he was now called upon to perform. When he was ordained he threw away his pipe and snuff-box feeling that they had no place in his holy service and consecration to the church. When people later asked him how it was possible for him to believe all this idolatry, he says that he knows not, but one thing I know, that I was blind but now I see. John 9:25.
It is impossible to give you all the details concerning the various charges which he held. Space would not allow it and from a doctrinal point of view they are not altogether essential. Let it suffice to state that he served numerous congregations in Canada. It was more or less customary at that time, even as it is now, that when a priest through his drunkenness and immorality acquired an evil reputation in the community his bishops would conveniently transfer him to another congregation where his misdeeds were not known, however such was not the case with Chiniquy. He walked uprightly and was believed by his followers.
While stationed at the Marine Hospital in Quebec he came in contact with Dr. Douglas. It was here that he became acquainted with the evils of liquor and very specifically so when Dr. Douglas performed an autopsy on a dead man who had been a drinker. He showed Chiniquy exactly how the alcohol affected the lungs, heart, vital organs and tissues. How it burned holes in the inner flesh and poisoned the entire body. Hereafter Chiniquy became an absolute prohibitionist and formed numerous temperance societies. He was for a time relieved from his office and devoted his time to the organization of temperance societies. He became noted for that throughout all of Canada and the U. S. He was even awarded a sun of 500 lbs. from the Canadian Parliament as a token of appreciation for his work. He became known as the Apostle of temperance.
It was during this time that the Mississippi Valley basin was being settled and Bishop Vandeveld of Chicago requested him to leave Canada and come there to assist in establishing Catholic Churches among the emigrants who were speedily populating that area and who, because there were but a few catholic churches, were all too often being converted to Protestantism. It was this Bishop’s goal to acquire this rich territory for the Roman Catholic church that she might rule there in all her power and majesty enslaving the people under the yoke of Rome. Chiniquy left Canada and went there. It is here that we first read of his doubts concerning the church he served and if you will bear with me I shall endeavor to continue from this point, D. V., in a future issue.
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 […]
As we examined the first eleven chapters of Genesis last month, we took note of the fact that the book of Genesis is theological, meaning it helps us to grow in our knowledge of God. In addition, we noted that the book of Genesis is historical, meaning that the events chronicled in it are the […]
Who am I? What is my purpose on this earth? Why is everything the way that it is? These are the kinds of questions that often trouble young people as they become more independent from their parents, enter the world of college or career, and make major life decisions such as choosing a spouse, a […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Although it’s been a couple of months since we’ve been immersed in news coming from Japan about the 2020/2021 Olympic games, it’s still worth considering how these events are understood in the modern worldview of our country. The “Top Story of the Day” on Monday, August 9 (at least according to my newsfeed), was how […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]