FILTER BY:

“Key ’73” — Catching name for a reli­gious program, isn’t it? The year 1973 is to be a key, a key to be used to unlock the love of God within the church and cause it to overflow and envelope all people in North America. 1973 is to be the great and memorable year of evangelism, the sharing with all others the meaning of true forgiveness and love of God. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for even-one to become so en­thusiastic and “on fire” for Christ? Before you get too excited, let’s examine what Key ’73 really has in mind.

The theme of Key ’73 is “Calling our Continent to Christ.” The theme is taken from Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” Key ’73 is promoting all congregations of all denom­inations to (1) work separately developing their own programs, (2) work simultan­eously during 1973 for maximum impact, (3) work cooperatively using national tele­vision, radio, and the press. The emphasis is placed on “doing your own thing” and all doctrinal differences are quickly and eagerly over-looked. The strategy of Key ’73 is to use the congregation, the link between the individual and the community, in ultimately obtaining the whole continent for Christ. But the work must first start with the “man in the pew” working at the congregational and community level. No massive move­ment in evangelism can be envisioned with­out his involvement and cooperation.1

Key ’73’s format includes six different phases, the first of which is already com­pleted. Phase One was labelled “The calling of our continent to repentance and prayer.” December 15—January 17, 1973 was dedi­cated to prayer for the extension of God’s Kingdom by millions of people. At 12:00 noon on those day s, every-one was supposed to set aside whatever they were doing and pray for Key ’73. This time was supposed to be signaled by the ringing of church bells, blowing of car horns and city sirens. On January 6, a television special on wit­nessing was shown to millions of people all over the country. Phase Two began January 1 and is to last until Easter. This phase is to concentrate on evangelistic Bible studies. Copies of the Gospel of Luke and Acts are to be distributed to every home in North America and home and church studies are emphasized. Phase Three will be direct evangelistic confrontations on streets, in homes, and on college cam­puses. March 7 through Easter will be spent in training for witnessing and on Easter day there will be another T.V. special celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Phase Four, which will carry through summer, also contains more televi­sion specials and witnessing through travel­ing teams of skilled musicians, artists, etc. in parks, shopping centers, and resorts. Youth is emphasized in this phase. Phase Five, and the month of September in partic­ular, is dedicated to the presentation of the gospel at every state fair and additional community contact through mass media. The final phase begins with Thanksgiving and ends with the beginning of 1974. The main emphasis will be the true meaning of Christ­mas, opposed to the secular celebration, and a big television special describing 1973 events and calling for continued commit­ment.2

Rev. W. Smedes, Minister of Evangelism of the Christian Reformed Church echoes the opinion of the CRC when he states that there is no danger in participating in Key ’73. Key ‘73, according to him, is not designed or intended to create another ec­clesiastical movement or to force groups into some new church union. “Evangelism Thrust,” the Christian Reformed version of Key ’73 is doing its part in communicating the gospel message to others through its workshops and study groups. College com­mittees at Calvin, Dordt, and Trinity are working out ways to bring out evangelism on their campuses. 3

Now, the question may arise— What is the Protestant Reformed denomination

contributing to the Key ’73 program? If the answer is nothing, why not?

Over 130 denominations have pledged their support in the greatest evangelistic movement ever planned to sweep the country. Among these are Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholics, Church of Christ, and Christian Reformed, just to name a few. All of these are working hand in hand to spread the “good news.” In this group we have some which scorn the divinity and atonement of Christ, and some which reject the blessed truth of sal­vation through grace. The main emphasis is going out and seeing how many lost souls one can save. As David E. Kucharsky stated in the October 27, 1972 issue of Christianity Today, “Many of us have long thought of someday trying to do something really significant for God. Well, 1973 is the year!”

Could the Protestant Reformed Churches cooperate with others with whom it is not in agreement? Could we work with those whom our Confessions so strongly warn against? Professor H. Hanko made it all clear when he gave the following example in the May 15, 1972 issue of The Standard Bearer:

I may desire to raise a large amount of money for the Cancer Fund. To do this, I enlist the aid of the Mafia. I cooperate with them in this venture and say before all the world: I and the Mafia are raising money for the Cancer Fund. I explicitly disavow the philosophy of the Mafia and I disassociate myself from their “method­ology.” But I ask no questions. If they choose to raise such money by means of extortion, murder, robbery, that is their business and I shall not inquire into their methods. It is sufficient that we are co­operating together. Anyone would im­mediately have serious and legitimate questions about my moral standards. Co­operation necessarily implies some meas­ure of approval.

Even though the emphasis of Key ’73 is on cooperation, with each denomination working separately toward the same goal and no doctrinal compromise, I fear that this is only the first step toward that final union in the establishment of the anti-christian church. It is really frightening to see it even beginning now, under a seem­ingly pious cover. Let us pray that God gives us grace to withstand the trials, doubts, and decisions ahead and that we continue to witness to others through our walk and conversation of God’s great LOVE.

 

Footnotes:

  1. Tract from “Back to God Tract Com­mittee.”
  2. Ibid.
  3. “Evangelism Thrust News,” Christian Reformed Board of Home Missions.

Let us imagine for a minute that one of your parents was a victim of an automobile accident in which he or she suffered severe permanent brain damage and would never be able to breathe or have his heart beat spontaneously ever again. Would you tell the doctor to put he or she on a respirator and cardiac pacemaker to keep him “alive” as a vegetable, or would you tell the doctor to turn off the sustaining machines and let the heart and lungs stop operating “natur­ally”?

What would you do if your 89-year old grandmother had a terminal illness and was in much pain and suffering? Would you tell the doctor to keep her alive as long as possible or just make her comfort­able and not prolong her misery by giving her medication?

These, and instances similar to these may have to be faced by us sometime in our future years. What complicates matters more these days is that there is no clear definition of physical death. Death had been traditionally defined before as the permanent cessation of a spontaneous heart beat and respiration. But medical science has rendered this definition almost meaning­less now with the development and per­fection of artificial sustainers, such as the respirator and cardiac pacemaker. Vital body functions may now be prolonged al­most indefinitely by the use of artificial means.

Science had to think of a more correct definition for physical death. It was decided that death actually occurs in steps and follows a specific pattern. The first step is said to be clinical death. Clinical death takes place when the body’s vital functions of respiration and heartbeat cease. Unlike any of the other steps in the sequence of physical death, clinical death can be re­versed. An example of this would be a drowning child. He could be pulled out of the water with all signs of respiration and heartbeat gone, but with the help of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and/or external cardiac compression be revived with no damage. But if clinical death occurs for too long a time, the next step sets in. This is brain death. When the brain dies, the body becomes a vegetable; inactive, passive, and unthinking. Before the age of machin­ery, even partial destruction of the brain meant certain death, but now man can be kept alive by having a machine or other artificial device take over the function that the destroyed part of the brain was re­sponsible for. I know a man who is not able to breathe at all on his own; and if his respirator was ever turned off, it would only be a matter of minutes before he would die. Partial brain impairment no longer means death.

If the entire brain is destroyed through the lack of oxygen, biological and cellular death follow close behind, thus completing the entire death sequence. Man., through his own inventions, has complicated phys­ical death so much that he even has dif­ficulty in defining it and is now caught up in many relating moral problems. It is easy for us to become so involved in these problems and questions that arise that we completely lose sight of the real giver and taker of life — GOD. Man has become so powerful, or so he thinks, that he now has the strength to control life and death. We must never fall in the trap of trusting in man instead of God. Job spoke a profound truth when he confessed, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

“For a number of years Christian Science was presented to me, and I was opposed to it and very strong in my opposition. Then came a time when I was left with three small children. I felt very much alone and lost. I turned to a friend who asked me if I would talk to a Christian Science prac­titioner. I said Yes, and this was the turning point in my life. I do not remember much of the conversation but I do remember that I was loaned a copy of Science and Health by Mrs. Eddy (founder of C.S.). I was given citations to study that gave me a new awareness of God’s government in my life.

The need at the moment was for some­one to take care of the children. Soon I met a young woman who was a student of Christian Science. She and her mother were willing to take the children. This was the beginning. The young woman later became my wife.

Through the years there have been many other evidences of Cod’s care. I was healed of smoking through the desire for church membership. I have been healed of burns on my hands and the effects of having the end of my finger caught in a grinding wheel. In the later instance, through treat­ment by a practitioner and my own prayer­ful efforts, there never was any pain, and there is no evidence of an injury to my hand.

I am most grateful for membership in a branch church and The Mother Church.

Class instruction has meant much to me, and is always a source of inspiration.

William Howard Clark”1

The above is one of the millions of testi­monies that attest to Christian Science healing. Others have been cured from pneumonia, pleurisy, tonsillitis, nosebleeds, and numerous other physical ailments. Christian Science healing has even worked for a farmer who was having problems with milk fever in his dairy cows. Sound a little strange and unbelievable?

The first time I ever really became aware of a cult called Christian Science was dur­ing our last convention in Colorado. The first day of the convention was spent in

Loveland and we were given quite a bit of the afternoon to do what we pleased. A group of us went for a walk and came upon a small house with the door open. A sign said that all were welcome to come in, so we did. There were racks full of books and pamphlets written by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, and books by many other Christian Scientists covering the walls of the rooms. We had a good discussion with the lady in charge, but we all went away laughing in­side. The Christian Science beliefs were so completely different from ours and were to the point of being ridiculous. I have al­ways been interested in finding out more about other religions, so I decided to do a little research on Christian Science and pass my knowledge on to you.

I found that Christian Science is a reli­gion based on the words and works of Christ and that it draws all its authority from the Bible. Christian Scientists believe in one supreme and infinite God and acknowledge His Son, Christ; The Holy Spirit; and man in God’s likeness and image. They acknowl­edge the atonement of Christ as the revela­tion of God to man to show the way of man’s unity to God. They also believe that Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection help man to understand eternal life, the allness of Soul, Spirit, and the nothingness of matter.

The purpose of the Christian Science re­ligion is to bring salvation to all. This salvation includes breaking away from the bonds of evil which deny the perfection of God and of man in His likeness and image. Therefore, they conclude, sin, sickness, sor­row, selfishness, ignorance, fear, and all material-mindedness are all mortal errors and should be corrected and overcome by a scientific understanding of God.2

The Christian Scientists say that God is divine, perfect, and immortal. He created a true, spiritual universe, including man. God’s universe cannot change from good to bad, therefore, there can be no sin. It is God’s will that man be a perfect image of God Himself and to live forever in har­mony and perfection. They say that death is only the wearing out of the material body but the soul remains to roam on this earth after physical death. Sickness and all the problems of the world come when man loses sight of his identity with God and Truth and Love. Mrs. Eddy says about this, “If the body is diseased, this is but one of the beliefs of mortal mind. Mortal man will be less mortal when he learns that matter never sustained existence and can never destroy God, who is man’s Life.’’3 Doctors, drugs, and operations will never be necessary if man keeps this in mind. This fact was illustrated in The Christian Sentinel, one of the periodicals printed by the Christian Science churches. The article tells of a young man who had acute appendi­citis and was scheduled to enter the hos­pital for surgery. The young man’s mother, who was a Christian Scientist, was informed of her son’s illness and immediately asked a Christian Science practitioner to help him through prayer. The practitioner went and talked to her son and finding that he de­sired Christian Science help began treat­ment at once. The practitioner knew that matter and its so-called laws could not cause inflammation or pain, and that no material surgery was necessary. A doctor later examined the young man and found his condition had improved so he post­poned the operation. The following day he was released from the hospital, completely well. 4

I do not feel that I can rightfully say that all the testimonies of healing by the Christian Scientists are fake, but I also can­not say that they occurred because the patients concentrated on God and truth and that made them well. I know God would not work in that way. I often think that many sicknesses are psychological and maybe this is how some of the people be­came well. I am sure a Christian Scientist would vehemently object to this.

But leaving that aspect of Christian Science, and looking at the basic beliefs of the religion, I feel that they are entirely wrong. They claim to use the Bible as authority but it seems to me that they take out bits here and there to support their beliefs and then just close their eyes to the rest. Otherwise, how could they possibly say that there is no sin, that man is perfect? They take away the beauty of the death of Christ on the cross and the whole revelation of God’s Word. How do they explain what God did to His servant Job?

Getting acquainted with another religion and its beliefs always makes me thankful for the church I belong to and the truths that it teaches. I think all of us should be­come a little more educated in other reli­gions. Through this learning, our own faith is strengthened.

 

Footnotes:

  1. Christian Science Sentinel, Volume 74, Number 3, Christian Science Publishing Society, pp. 1309-1310, July 22, 1972.
  2. Facts About Christian Science, Christian Science Publishing Society, 1959, pp. 2, 3, and 6.
  3. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Eddy, Mary Baker, pg. 425.
  4. Christian Science Sentinel, Volume 74, Number 30, pp. 1292-1293.

Have you ever seen a blind person trying to make his way across a busy street with only a white cane or seeing-eye dog as his guide? Have you ever thought of the utter despair and helplessness he must feel at times? Imagine not being able to see the sky or the flowers or the faces of loved ones. NOTHING. All is darkness.

Close your eyes tightly for a moment and we’ll try to experience some of the feelings a blind person might have . . . . Noise is all around us, coming from all directions. I hear children’s voices over there. They sound happy. I wonder what they are doing? I hear the sweet melody of a bird. I wonder what kind it is? Maybe there’s a tree over there with a nest in it. I hear a motorcycle driving past, a dog running and barking. Let’s go back to the house. But in which direction is the house? We’ll begin to walk anyway. Slowly now, we have to keep our arms out in front of us so we don’t bump into anything. Oh, we tripped and fell over something that feels like a tree branch. I think we have had enough of being blind.

Now open your eyes. The brilliance of the sun is blinding for an instance. But after our eyes get used to it, we can again see! We can see the sky, the flowers, and children playing. We see each little blade of grass, each petal of the flowers, each freckle on the children’s faces. We can run and jump. Oh, what a beautiful day! How great it is to be able to see!

You may ask now, so what? I can see, I am not blind. I do not have to be told of what I can actually see.

I believe it is possible, though, to be blind even though our eyes may be able to “see.”

Our lives today in this modem age are very hectic and busy. So many of us are just content to exist, to merely be able to survive in this rat-race. But do you ever take time out to look around you and see, really SEE? I don’t mean merely stop, glance around and say you’ve taken a look. I mean, do you notice the glory of God in everything you see? One does not have to search hard to find it for it is apparent everywhere. All we have to do is use our eyes. Not only our physical eyes, but also the pair of spiritual “eyes” God has given us, his children. Then we are no longer surrounded by darkness, but dazzled by the brilliance of His glory in everything — from the awesome grace of the majestic moun­tains to the minute and articulate art of an ant hill. I wonder if that is the way the composer of this song felt when he wrote these words:

 

“This is my Father’s world,

And to my list’ning ears

All nature sings, and round me rings

The music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world;

I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas —

His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world.

The birds their carols raise,

The morning light, the lily white,

Declare their Master’s praise.

This is my Father’s world:

He shines in all that’s fair;

In the rustling grass I hear Him pass.

He speaks to me everywhere.”

 

I will leave with you this short prayer: Dear Father, keep me from being blind to thy beauty. Open my eyes so that I can truly SEE.

All around me sat young people bubbling over about the work of the Spirit in them. Every once and awhile such exclamations as “Praise the Lord” or “Thank you, Father” penetrated the air. I had never seen anything like it. Here were kids my own age filled with the praise, joy, and love of God in them. God was just their whole life. They couldn’t keep this special feeling to themselves, they had to share it with everyone. One girl voiced the experiences of the whole group of some fifteen people. She said that she had been saved for as long as she could remember. She had been brought up in a Christian home and gradually became aware of her salvation when she got older. Many limes she had experienced a spiritual “high point” during which her love and faith for God had really been strong. But after every high point came the low points and it seemed to her that each low had been getting lower. She reasoned that true faith should not fluctuate in this manner. It was at this time that she heard from some friends about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. She was told that after this baptism God be¬comes the center of your life. The object of your very existence on this earth becomes praising and glorifying Him. This was what she wanted so very much. One night she prayed fervently all night that, if it would be God’s will, the Spirit would fill her. That same night, she said, God answered her prayer and she was filled with the Holy Spirit. The radiant look on her face told her audience of the joy that filled her then and that continued to fill her after her baptism. She said that she spoke to God in tongues since then also. She didn’t understand what she said but was given the interpretation by God through one of her friends. This showed the complete way God had not only taken over her tongue, but her mind also. Others in the room confirmed her experience and said that now that they were filled with the Spirit they always had the desire to pray and continually read and search the Bible. They had to find more about God and its message to them.

I came away from that meeting feeling dazed and confused. That girl had really made an impression on me when she had told about her “highs” and “lows.” My faith experiences the very same thing. I’ve always wished that I could be filled with love for God all the time instead of having it come and go. I had understood that this was part of my sinful nature and that I would never truly feel the love of God completely all the time until that love was perfected in heaven. But the joy that filled those at the meeting was real and something I would love to have all the time, too. They cited many instances in the New Testament when the apostles and believers were filled with the Holy Spirit. They used such passages as Acts 2, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Mark 16:17, and 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 to justify the speaking in tongues. How was I to condemn such people, when the Bible seemed to justify everything they were doing? I was really troubled.

I began to search the Bible for the answers. I came across Acts 5:38 and 39, where we read of Gamaliel, the Pharisee, telling the Jews to “. . . refrain from these men [apostles] and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” Was this meant as a warning for me to quit questioning the baptism of the Spirit and the speaking in tongues and to wait and see what became of the movement? Was I really “fighting” God? But something kept pressing me onward. I read a good book by Robert G. Gromacki called The Modern Tongues Movement and studied many articles written on the baptism of the Spirit and the speaking in tongues. Throughout all of this research I trusted in God to help me arrive at the right conclusion.

I learned that there are really only two groups of people in this world; Christians who have the Spirit and unbelievers who do not. There is no third group of Christians who have not received the Holy Spirit. This truth is clearly taught in Romans 8:9 where we read, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” This verse reveals the opposite of what was said at the meeting. If a person is truly saved, he already has the Spirit in him and has no need to ask to be filled with it. But then I asked myself about the beautiful joy that came along with this “baptism” of the Holy Spirit. Was it a means to end the spiritual low points that Christians experience? I don’t think so. I don’t believe that wonderful feeling is a lasting one. The sinful nature of man will, as usual, demolish it. I use David as an example. He had strong faith and was very close to God but he still sinned just as we do and experienced his low points of faith, also. This was revealed in many of the Psalms that he wrote. He was troubled and grieved many times because of his sins and was not always joyful and did not always praise God. What reassurance, though, that there will be “high points” that bring us even closer to God and that give us a taste of the eternal joy that we will experience in heaven!

I still had the question of private speaking in tongues unanswered. Does God still give the gift of tongues as discussed in I Corinthians 12 and 14? Robert G. Gromacki had a very good point which he made in his book. He said, “Since the New Testament was not written and since there were few apostles and prophets around, God revealed Himself and His truth through these gifts. [Gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 — word of wisdom, working of miracles, speaking in tongues, etc.] Once the New Testament was completed and circulated, the need and purpose of these gifts were removed. Thus, some spiritual gifts must be regarded as temporary, limited to the apostolic era, while others are a permanent part of church life …. If the gift is permanent, it will be seen throughout all of church history because the church couldn’t function apart from it.”1 This explanation can be used in understanding the gift of speaking in tongues. This gift was very prevalent at the time of Pentecost and a short time after¬wards. God had sent this gift at this time to show that His gospel was to be spread to all nations, Jews and Gentiles alike. But the gifts of tongues was not a permanent part of church life. In the post-apostolic era, speaking in tongues ceased as a normal activity of the believers. Justin Martyr, Origen, Irenaeus, and Augustine all testified to this fact. The only occurrences at this time appeared among the Montanists, who were condemned by the church. During the Middle Ages and the Reformation period, certain Roman Catholic saints were said to have spoken in tongues. But the Catholics had a tendency to exaggerate the accomplishments of their saints, so these accounts are questionable. There is no proof that the great reformer, Martin Luther, spoke in tongues. Then after the Reformation period, a rash of tongue-speaking incidents occurred among the Quakers, Mormons, Jansenists (Roman Catholic group) and other similar groups. Our modern-day Pentecostalism has grown out of these.2 1 think, as Gromacki stated, if the gift of speaking in tongues was permanent, we would be able to find it throughout the whole history of the church. There would be no reason, that I can see, to have it used by believers now unless there is someone or something behind it beside God. Some say it is satanic, others say it is psychological or even artificially produced in some instances by the person himself. I know now that God does not give the gift of speaking in tongues anymore.

What a learning experience this whole thing has been! I’m convinced now that God sends different movements such as the tongues and Holy Spirit movement to test His people. I discovered so many things in the Bible that I never knew were there before. My faith has also been strengthened. I can tell people better, now, what my salvation means to me. Isn’t it beautiful the way God teaches His children? I will leave you with this prayer from Psalm 25:4 and 5: “Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.”

Footnotes:
1. Robert G. Gromacki, The Modern Tongues Movement (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1967), p. 118.
2. Ibid., p. 28.

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This ad was found recently in one of our local college newspapers. It is a good example of the increasing acceptance and popularity of a world action – abortion.

Professor H. Hanko has written a series of articles in The Standard Bearer concerning the questions facing us on the abortion issue (August, September 1, September 15, and October 15, 1971 issues). It will help to read his and other churches’ opinions on the major questions “What is life? When is the fetus said to be alive and become a person instead of a mass of tissue?”

I agree with Professor Hanko that an unborn child becomes a living person right at the moment of conception. This can be shown from several passages in Scripture, a good example being Psalm 139:13-18: “For thou has possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.” David, in this Psalm, speaks of himself as a person who was formed and shaped in his mother’s womb by the mighty hand of God. Abortion, then, becomes a violation of the sixth commandment in that it is the killing of a live child.

An important question which arises from this is, should an abortion be allowed if the baby is likely to be born deformed or mentally retarded? I believe that we still have no right in killing the fetus. God, in a sense, has His own abortion – a miscarriage. It is a “safety measure” used by God in taking care of a baby that would otherwise be born abnormal. When a retarded or misformed baby is born, it is because God wanted it this way, for reasons sometimes beyond our knowledge or understanding. We have no right to take things into our own hands and have an abortion. If God had wanted that baby not to be born, He would have used a miscarriage or some other means to prevent its birth. Abortionists, in promoting and encouraging the killing of a misformed fetus are, in a sense, trying to make a perfect race. The root of this idea is, of course sin.

Another situation may arise when a girl becomes pregnant after being raped. Again, I feel that an abortion should not be allowed. No matter how much the girl may hate the baby and what it stands for, she may not kill it. She may, as an alternative, put the child up for adoption after it is born if she cannot give it a mother’s love. My view is not the view held by many other people, one of them being German Protestant Theologian Joachim Beckmann. He is quoted in the Time magazine as having said that he believes the embryo is alive from conception, but firmly insists that certain circumstances – such as pregnancy through rape – allow for abortion just as killing is permissible in war.

The only circumstance I feel that would justify abortion is if the life of the mother is endangered. The choosing here is between the life of the child and the life of the mother. I believe the life of the mother should be saved over against the life of the child.

I do not have all the answers to the questions about abortion. Scripture does not give any clean-cut answers, either, to guide us. But if killing an unborn child is legalized, what is to stop the world from killing all old people or criminals or even every second person in the world? The abortion issue is another sign God has given to tell us that the end of the world is quickly approaching. Let us look at the abortion controversy for what it is, and continue to watch and prepare ourselves, for we know “neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man Cometh.”

 

Originally Published in:

Vol. 31 No. 8 December 1971

The summer of 1971 is rapidly coming to a close. Vacations will soon be over, schools will resume their classes, and jobs will return back to normal. It is at this time I would like you to stop and think back on the past summer’s activities.

This summer probably held many pleasant experiences for each one of you. Many have gone traveling with their families and had very enjoyable vacations. New people were met and new friendships arose. Some may be lasting, others may not. Throughout all of these memorable experiences, you changed and matured in your thinking. People had their influence on you and you had your influence on them. “You may have learned how to live better with people and share a part of yourself with them. You may have broadened your outlook on life, also. But through all this, you grew.

Mingled in with the good experiences of summer were also the bad ones. These bad ones were sent to help you appreciate fully the good experiences and not to take them for granted. These bad experiences were a big part in your growth this summer. They taught you how to cope with the problems that daily life brings.

So far we have just been talking about intellectual growth. But now comes an even more important question – Have you also grown spiritually during this summer? Many young people from other denominations were busy this summer working on SWIM, Youth for Christ, and passing out Bibles and pamphlets. Did you obey your calling to witness of God’s love in you to your friends and acquaintances when the opportunity arose? Did you experience memorable activities that enriched you spiritually this summer? And, above all, have you grown richer in the faith and knowledge of God?

The summer is almost over. But the beautiful season of autumn will soon follow it. Your life will be full of these changes of seasons and of mental, physical, and spiritual changes also. The change that will always be of greatest importance to you is that change that occurs in your heart. It is the calling and should be the prayer of every Christian that he may be strengthened and grow in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. It will do you well to pattern your life according to the word GROWTH:

G Go to God in prayer daily.

R Read God’s Word daily.

O Obey God, moment by moment.

W Witness for Christ by your life and words.

T Trust God for every detail of your life.

H Holy Spirit – rely on Him to control and empower your daily life and witness.

Originally Published in:

Vol. 31 No. 5 August/September 1971

At the time of the writing of this article, religion has found its way into much of our modern-day music. Such songs as “My Sweet Lord,” “Amazing Grace,” “Put Your Hand in the Hand,” and the controversial rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar have become best sellers. Why do these songs, which are so different from the popular drug and sex oriented songs, have such an appeal to today’s youth? Also, what is the motive of the artists in producing such songs?
To help answer these questions I decided to take one of these works separately and study it, trying as I progressed to understand exactly what the artist was saying. The work I chose was Jesus Christ Superstar, a rock opera written by two Englishmen, Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice. The opera is said to portray Christ’s final days on earth in contemporary language and music.
To understand the meaning of the opera, its content must first be studied. The opera opens with Judas Iscariot speaking of his feelings toward Christ. He states that when he first met Jesus he had a great admiration for him and looked up to him as a great man. But now it was bothering Judas that Jesus had fooled the people by claiming to be the promised Messiah and causing large crowds to follow him. Judas was afraid that the Romans would see this, interpret it as an uprising, and come down and crush them. This fear was also found in the conversations of Annas, Caiaphas, and a priest:
“Annas:
‘What then to do about Jesus of Nazareth Miracle wonderman, hero of fools?’
Priest:
‘No riots, no army, no fighting, no slogans’
Caiaphas:
‘One thing I’ll say for him – Jesus is cool.’
Annas:
‘We dare not leave him to his own devices His half-witted fans will get out of control.’
Priest:
‘By leaps every minute – he’s top of the poll.’
Caiaphas:
‘I see bad things arising – the crowd crown him king
Which the Romans would ban,
I see blood and destruction, our elimination
Because of one man . . .For the sake of the nation
This Jesus must die’:
Jesus tries to explain to his disciples his purpose for coming to them but they are shown in the opera to be stupid and confused men. Mary Magdalene, portrayed as a prostitute, begins to realize that there is something different about Jesus and his message to the people but still looks at him as being “just a man”. All Judas understands is that he must be rid of Jesus and save Israel from possible destruction, therefore he goes and bargains with the Pharisees to betray Jesus. The last Passover supper Jesus had with his disciples is lightly touched upon with the familiar words of the Lord’s Supper changed in this way”
“The end . . .
Is just a little harder when brought about by friends.
For all you care this wine could be my blood
For all you care this bread could be my body
If you would remember me when you eat and drink . . .
I must be mad thinking I’ll be remember – yes
I must be out of my head!
Look at your blank faces. My name will mean nothing.
Ten minutes after I’m dead!”
A larger section follows that is devoted to the feeling of agony and doubt Jesus felt in the garden of Gethsemane and the betraying kill of Judas. After Judas betrayed Jesus, he slowly went mad and accused God of using him to accomplish his purpose. Just before Judas killed himself he screamed out to God, “YOU have murdered ME.”
Jesus is sent to Annas and later to Caiaphas, who questions him about his statement of being the Christ. During this time Peter denies Jesus three times. Caiaphas does not know what to do with Jesus so he sends him to Pilate. Pilate finally washes his hands of the whole matter and decides not to stand in the way of a “misguided martyr.” This doubt and frustration Jesus supposedly experienced is found in these words of his”
“I have got no kingdom in this world – I’m thru, thru, thru
There may be a kingdom somewhere – if I only knew.”
The final scene is of Jesus crying out on the cross and giving up the ghost. The opera ends with beautiful soft music which I took to portray the rising of Christ’s spirit into heaven, but which actually was a funeral dirge.
After studying this opera, I was confused and did not know what to think. I had to admit that it did sound blasphemous and seemed to make our Lord no more than a frustrated man who died for his beliefs. This very fact was reflected in the title, Jesus Christ SUPERSTAR. But I wanted to give Weber and Rice a chance, I couldn’t accept the fact that they could be mocking “Christ as the opera seemed to indicate, Instead, I said that they were representatives of some of the young people who today are trying to determine a purpose for their existence in a world so filled with evil. I made the mistake of reading my own beliefs into the words of the opera instead of letting it speak for itself.
Then one night I read Isaiah 5 and came across God’s words in verse 20, “Woe unto them that call evil good.” Was this God talking to me concerning Jesus Christ Superstar? My answer came that same week. I received a copy from my minister of a news bulletin of the Associated Christian Reformed Laymen. “In it was a quotation from the Chicago Tribune, November 21, 1970, which quoted Tim Rice, the author of the lyrics of the opera, as saying, “We ourselves don’t believe Christ was God but a fascinating man with colossal influence for 2,000 years. The story of Christ as a man is more interesting than Christ as God.” All that time I had been trying to justify two men who did not even believe that!
I now believe that we should condemn Jesus Christ Superstar for what it is, utter blasphemy against the name of our God. Let us pray to God that He may give us strength and faith that we may not be deceived and led astray by such anti-christian ideas. Remember Paul’s words in Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Originally Published in:
Vol. 31 No. 3 May 1971

With the possible exception of speeding on the highways, possession of drugs is almost certainly the most widely committed crime in the United States. It is said that as many as 20 million Americans have at one time or another tried drugs. The Pentagon states that about 30% of the U.S. troops in Vietnam and over 50% of undergraduates in several large universities have tried marijuana.1
You may ask, “What do these facts and statistics have to do with me, a Protestant Reformed young person?” This is a good question and one, I think, that should not be overlooked.
Protestant Reformed youth are curious and love excitement and adventure, just as all young people do. This curiosity may be pricked when reports of drugs and their effects are heard. It is reported that by taking drugs, a person may experience a state of euphoria, with different objects taking on new shapes and colors. New smells and sounds may flood the senses and new thoughts about oneself and his relationship to other arise in the mind.2 Don’t reports like these stir up excitement in you? Wouldn’t it be fun to try drugs just once? When thoughts like these arise in your mind, the words of God in I Corinthians 6:19 and 20 must be remembered. “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have in God; and ye are not your own? For ye are brought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” This is one of the many ways that Satan employs to tempt a child of God and, through the grace and strength of God, we must reply, “Get thee behind me, Satan.”
But curiosity is not the only reason for experimentation with drugs. Pressures and tensions are also basic reasons. Protestant Reformed youth, like all other young people of our generation, also feel the pressures that come from living in this busy age. There is no getting away from them. There are pressures in school, at our jobs, in society, and sometimes even in our own homes that may plague us. Other times life in general makes us depressed. It is natural to want to be rid of these crushing feelings but is it natural to turn to drugs as a deliverer? To a child of the world it may be. Drugs such as barbiturates are said to be able to attain a feeling of well-being and security. Other drugs help the taker to become more relaxed and get him away from the tension and pressure of everyday living.3 What more could a person ask for? Oh, yes, it is stated that a bad “trip” can occur and also psychological dependency but those are just the chances a person has to take. It is also illegal to have some drugs in your possession and could cause a person to end up in jail. But this, again, is just one more hurdle that can be jumped. How can a Christian answer to these temptations and how can he cope with all the pressures and tensions that are part of life on this earth?
The answer is found in prayer. Go to God with your problems. Go to Him with the assurance that he will hear you and provide peace and tranquility in your soul in His own way. It is wonderful how He can lift the pressing burden from off your shoulders and onto His own. Remember His promise that He has given you in Psalms 55:22, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee; He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”
FOOTNOTES
1. Reader’s Digest, “The Drug Scene,” Dec. 1970, pp. 88.
2. American Medical Association, The Crutch That Cripples: Drug Dependence.”
3. Ibid.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 31 No. 1 March 1971

In this past week thousands of people, including small children, have died in Pakistan because of a cyclone which struck there. Forty-three people have died in a tragic airplane crash. Many more have just died recently from car accidents. Will you be next?
Has it ever crossed your mind that tomorrow you may not be living anymore? God may call you home at any time, whether you are prepared or not. This idea may not seem pleasant to you. Maybe you have finally saved up enough money for that beautiful car you’ve ben longing to have. Or maybe you have gotten that special girl or guy to finally notice you. Would you be willing to leave all that you have, all that you love here on this earth, for death? Some may say, “Oh, I won’t die now. I’m too young and busy and can’t be bothered by it. Wait until I become old and gray and then I will think about death.” But death cannot be put off like that.
Instead, we must be eager to leave this wicked world. We should not love life here on this earth and all earthly material things. As Paul says in I Corinthians 6:19, “What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” We are not here for our own personal glory and pleasures, but only to fulfill God’s purpose in us – to praise and glorify His Name. If we keep this in mind, death is beautiful and not something to be feared. For it is only through death that we shall come to live with our Savior, Jesus Christ, and praise and glorify God forever.
Will you be next to die? Are you ready?

Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No. 9 January 1971

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

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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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