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To the Editor of Beacon Lights,

In the February issue of Beacon Lights there appeared an article written under the heading “A Christian’s Responsibility toward the Environment” by Neva Doezema.

The title alone made us curious to read. It sounded familiar language. After reading it, we wondered how an article like this could appear in a so-called Protestant Reformed magazine because, after reading it, we came to the conclusion that this must be taught somewhere. We are sure that the foundation for this article is the view of the so-called Reformed World and Life View. But far removed from a true Reformed view. When in the so-called Reformed World is written or talked about the “Reformed World and Life View” the word “Reformed” mislead many-as it did us- because it is not Reformed but Arminian.

To give an example taken from the Banner, March 16, 1979, page 18: there Rev. H. Van der Kam in “Reflections” writes the following: “It may not be correct to equate a Reformed World and Life View with the whole Counsel of God, but it certainly is an attempt to do justice to all the teaching of the Word of God, etc.” –Let the reader look it up. To explain this mystery, we could also say: The whole counsel of God (which we confess in the three forms of unity) – The Reformed World and Life View (confessed in the three points of 1924). With other words: God’s Sovereignty over against man’s responsibility.

But do we believe that man’s responsibility stands over against God’s Counsel? We certainly believe in man’s responsibility but that is included in God’s Counsel. That is the responsibility for our sin. Are we still Protestant Reformed people when we make that Reformed World and Life View our confession? Is it possible to sign the declaration of principles and at the same time confess the Reformed World and Life View? Let us not be fooled! We should not let A.A.C.S. men be the example for our learning. If Dr. A. Kuiper, Dr. Bouma, Dr. Waterink, Dr. Brillenburg-Wirth, Groen van Prinsterer, etc. were Reformed in their teaching, why was there the split in 1924? Because these men were Neo-Calvinists and according to our Protestant belief, not Biblical. Do we really forget the past and go back to the same old error?

Salvation is never through the good service of man, but is only and alone through the suffering and death on the cross of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, which He accomplished for His people and which He also applies by His Spirit through the Word. The Word alone-not through the service of man. When God’s children live in this world they know that God is Sovereign and that the whole creation must serve to bring the church to glory (not the other way around-like in the article) and at the same time, that also creation will be delivered from sin. These are interwoven and not two separate covenants.

If so, we fall into error. When we do not discern rightly between common revelation and special revelation we do not have a right view. To quote a little part of the last part of the article, “We are here for a short time and have been called by God to care for His creation. God reveals Himself to us through His creation (Psalm 19: l) and we must not make a mockery of that special revelation. God has made us kings over creation and we must use, not desecrate the honor He has bestowed on us.” Here creation is called “that special revelation.” We call that common revelation. But in God’s special revelation the Word is only salvation. Psalm 19 and all the rest of Scripture is special revelation. And out of the Word we understand creation, not what we see before our eyes. Compare Calvin Inst, Book II, Chapter 11, paragraph 19: “But since we are intoxicated with a false opinion of our own discernment and can scarcely be persuaded that in divine things it is altogether stupid and blind. I believe the best course will be to establish the fact not by argument but by Scripture. ”

Interesting and worthwhile for all young people to study this. When we believe the Reformed World and Life View, we make common revelation a common grace. Let us search the Scriptures and say with the psalmist: “Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord even they salvation, according to thy word. So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproached me for I trust in thy word.” Psalm 119:41 & 42.

 

Reply by Neva Doezema

 

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth… And God saw everything that He had made and, behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1: 1, 31. In the beginning God’s creation was very beautiful, majestic, and perfect. God looked at it and saw that it was good and perfect.

With the fall, however, came sin. Man fell and creation suffered and still is suffering under the effects of man’s sin. Romans 8:22 “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” Creation is marred with smog and filth produced from industries made by sinful men.

A Christian has a calling to live in this world to God’s glory and honor. A Christian also has the ability to appreciate God’s power and might in creation. Psalm 19: 1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.”

God reveals His glory and greatness through creation and this fact alone means that we as Christians should honor God’s creation. This revelation however is not a saving revelation. Romans 1:20 “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made even His eternal power and God head; so, that they are without excuse. ”

Anyone, even the wicked, viewing creation cannot help but be amazed at the wonder, order, and majesty of it. Creation, though it speaks of God’s glory and greatness, does not reveal or show to man salvation. God’s saving grace revealed in the preaching of the Word is the only means of salvation. Titus 3:5 “Not by works of righteousness which ye have done, but according to his mercy he saved, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

We as Christians may take heart from Paul’s words in Ephesians 1: 10 & 11 “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one, all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” Our inheritance as Christians is the new heaven and earth. Revelation 2 1: 1 “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.”

Jesus says in John 14:2 “In my Father’s home are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” We are here on this earth for only a short time. We know that our eternal resting place will be much more beautiful and holy. We may look forward to that with joy and anticipation.

For the time we are here, however, we are called to do good works. We do not do this to merit our salvation, but as fruit of God’s saving grace in us. Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.” The regenerated Christian by grace will seek to keep God’s commands while on his pilgrimage here on earth.

“A Christian’s responsibility toward the environment” involves a very personal commitment. A Christian must realize that he alone will never be able to clean up all the air, water, roadsides, or forests. Trash and especially pollution are here to stay. The modern advances of the society we live in make it inevitable. This, however, does not absolve us of our responsibility. A Christian must look critically at himself and ask the question: What effect do I have on God’s creation when I touch it?

Consider yourself driving a car. Do you throw out candy wrappers, cigarette butts or packages, soft drink cups, or fast food cartons? If so, you are not living up to your responsibility of keeping God’s creation beautiful. God did not create His wonderful outdoors for us to dump trash in.

You may say: I never dump or throw trash from my car window. Good! Pat yourself on the back and then consider this: Do you save aluminum cans or the glass bottles your family uses to be recycled? Do you choose to buy glass bottles instead of plastic ones which are a petroleum product? Do you turn your thermostat down to 68, 67, 65, or 64 degrees? Gas and oil you know are irreplaceable resources which God has given us to use. We should do our best not to waste them.

Do you walk, bike, or ski places if possible? Do you try hard to be patient and form car pools for basketball games, work, or any social event? Do you drive 55 mph on the highway? Do you buy a real fur coat instead of an imitation one made with petroleum (Here’s your chance ladies!) Petroleum is irreplaceable, whereas animal fur is reproduceable.

Our responsibility to God’s creation includes plants and animals. Are you a hunter out for a good time, or do you use what you shoot wisely to its full capacity? Are you careful of plants when you visit woods or deserts? Do you leave plants where they are, or do you uproot them maliciously or for your own use? Forests and deserts were created by God and are delicately balanced according to His wisdom. Man tampering with this balance can only harm it.

Home owners have a responsibility. Have you considered solar heat? The sun is a limitless source of energy given us by God to use to its fullest advantage. Is your home insulated to prevent heat leakage and therefore save gas? Have you installed reflective film on your windows or dual-pane glass to insulate?

Many of you may say: “What’s the exhaust from one car more or less? What’s one degree more or less? There’s no difference.” Of course you’re partly right. You probably have as an individual no effect; but all the same you are with your one car adding to pollution however minutely. Think about it. You yourself have no noticeable effect to help clear the air, yet I think you must look at a much smaller portion of God’s creation. That part of which you touch! The part God has given you to be king over. You should do your level best to keep it clean and to use as wisely as possible before God.

When teaching children of their responsibility toward God’s creation, you must first instill in them appreciation for the beauty God has put there. You must talk about Creation and how God looked upon it and saw that it was good (Genesis 1:31). Would He say that now? Look at trees, majestic mountains, green grass, fast flowing streams and rivers, and all the animals with children. Point out their beauty and uniqueness. Talk of the majesty of the bald eagle or the toughness of a coyote. Each animal has been created uniquely through God’s wisdom for its place in creation.

Children have to be taught not to throw out trash or paper from cars. It is easy for them to imitate wrong actions of others. They should be taught that when they are finished with a snack, the wrapper must be thrown in the proper-place and not on a schoolyard or playground.

Older children understand the effects of man and industry on the environment. Textbooks about environment and the care of it should be used. There are excellent textbooks available to teach children about their environment, pollution, and solutions to the pollution. These books reflect the worldly trend toward seeking a cleaner environment and give man’s solutions to help clean up the mess. Children should learn this, but it should be taught with the emphasis on keeping God’s creation which He has given to us clean, not as the world teaches, to achieve an utopia here in this world. We are merely strangers passing through and know God has promised us a better land (Revelation 21:1). Our responsibility lies to God, not to ourselves, even though we receive the benefit of a cleaner environment.

The world teaches ecology and beautification of this present polluted trashy mess for their own good. Polluted air can kill you (this applies to cigarette, cigar and pipe smokers especially) so it must be cleaned up. Trash is ugly so it must be picked up or never thrown. The world is seeking a heaven here on this earth. They are frantically trying to find remedies for the utter mess they have made on this beautiful earth. We, as Christians, should join this effort, but not for that reason lest we be disappointed also. We are here for a short time and have been called by God to care for His creation. God reveals Himself to us through His creation (Psalm 19:1) and we must not make a mockery of that special revelation. God has made us kings over creation and we must use, not desecrate, the honor He has bestowed on us.

Teaching is…

—being called “Miss” for the first time in my life, and then having a first grader tell me that she doesn’t believe I can be a “Miss” because I look like a girl. That was the first day. I could tell they had great confidence in me.

—being told that I was beautiful when I wore a yellow ribbon in my hair and that I ought to wear it more often.

—making angel fish out of hangers and tin foil and having most of them turn out looking like hangers covered with tin foil.

—making vases from old jars, mask­ing tape, and shoe polish. They turned out fantastic—just like antiques.

—keeping a lizard in an aquarium and feeding it live flies caught off the manure pile from the side of school by eager, willing young hands.

—losing the lizard for two weeks in the bookshelves and finding him (finally!) crawling up the wall to the ceiling.

—letting the lizard go because it must have been starving—his sides were caving in.

—trying to pull a first tooth and getting blood all over.

—birthday cakes shaped like foot­balls, sailboats, and snowmen.

—making brownies (They begin with B) and eating them while they were still warm.

—explaining why 5037-4028=1009 and not 1011. (How many times have I said 7-8=1 is wrong.)

—correcting. A good example:

“I seen this car…”

“No, I saw…”

“I did too! I seen this car…”

“I saw! Not I seen!”

“Ohh! O.K. I saw this car…”

—listening to the retelling of the Bible stories. “The good guys were fighting the bad guys and the good guys were winning.” (Did I really tell it like that?)

Teaching is all this plus more.

Teaching is also…

—hearing a first grader in April beg to read the Bible after recess for noon devotions. Something which would never have been possible in September.

—listening to a fourth grader volun­teer to tell tomorrow’s Bible story with confidence.

—a third grader praying his own prayer before lunch using his best English.

—watching a bean plant sprout and grow and teaching God’s power.

—singing Psalter numbers in the morning and listening to proud solos.

—remembering God. His name begins with G.

Teaching is above all else…

—working with God’s chosen cove­nant children and parents in Hope Christian School of Redlands.

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