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This is being called forth in these times of crisis. Whenever there is a rise in a powerful world state which threatens men’s lives, then also there arises the threat to their faith in God and in His Son Jesus Christ. That is the teaching of the Word and of history. It was clearly taught in the recent history of Nazism and now again some of the figures which gave a startling testimony in a decadent society of the world prior to World War II are giving strong testimony over against Communist Russia. They are giving that as they are directly concerned with the Russian Octopus.

Time Magazine featured an article on Bishop Otto Dibelius, and speaks of him as the leader of a 400 year old church community, the Marienkirche,the church of Martin Luther. On their front cover Time pictures Dibelius upon the background of the broken gammadions, the swastika cross of the Nazis, which has behind it a Red Octopus, and above it the Cross of Christ. It conceives of the true relation of the cross of Christ as we are taught to see it every Lenten season and as it has just been impressed upon us again in the Resurrection. The cross of Christ towers over the wrecks of time, and these wrecks are not the buildings, but the ideals of men.

Otto Dibelius is one of Germany’s few consistent fighters against the totalitarian state. The German state can no longer claim, he maintains, divine sanction. Far from being a God-blessed state of St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans, it, in Dibelius’ opinion might conceivably change itself into another state mentioned in the New Testament—the godless, seven headed monster of St. John’s Revelation.

Other things are said about this man’s opinions. It is also stated that they have been criticized by Karl Barth as not being theology. Our point in this comment is not to consider the opinions of these men as to what constitutes the relation of the church and state. Our purpose is merely to show that a witness is being made again against a Communist regime. That shows that our calling as church is always being forced upon us by our Lord Jesus Christ who wills that His issue come to the foreground in all world issues.

One sentence of Dibelius was placed at the head of the article in Time, which I think is very arresting and which I shall quote without comment, to conclude my comment on the Church’s witness.

“He has not made life easy for me. On the contrary. It would have been more comfortable to be without Him than to live with Him. He puts burdens on the soul, which one would rather let pass by unheeded. He exacts a great deal with His demands. And when one thinks that the cross is not so dread, which His children take upon themselves, then comes the moment when it grows very dread indeed . . . Report of Jesus of Nazareth.”

But, I cannot refrain to add that though it is so, it is not so; it is as Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 

Another place of Witness:

From Newsweek, an item appears of a little interest for us in our apparently easy American life. The news carries headlines today of the possible Korean peace. Such will enable us to continue our eating and drinking … but our witness will always be called forth wherever we are.

“Grace before meals”: A young couple came into an Indianapolis restaurant and sat down in a booth. One of them took up a card and showed it to the other. Then they made silent use of it and like thousands of others took it home.

“Printed on the card were five prayers (Roman Catholic, Jewish, Lutheran, Episcopalian and Methodist), to be said at grace before meals. The age old custom of asking God to bless food and thanking Him for it was getting a tremendous boost. The Indiana department of the American Legion had started the movement in February as part of the “back to God” movement. By last week 23,000 cards had been distributed to restaurants, hotels and luncheons.

And in Monaroneck, New York, Rev. Wm. F. Fairman of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran announced that 25 restaurants had agreed to print different versions of grace in Catholic, Protestant and Jewish, right on their menus.”

This is passed on to you to show a trend. It does not mean that we must join such a movement. Our witness is clearly laid upon us as individuals wherever we find ourselves, and our strength is not in a movement.

Disorderly Conduct

Among the youth. There is disorderly conduct among all members and classes of our society. There is public unashamed indecency and crime. But this time we are concerned about the conduct of youth. There is especially the problem of the youth in our L. A. area. It is discerned in public in many ways. Not only the indecent dress and the vain actions of the youth. There are the immoral conduct and indecent scenes that are becoming the common filth of our society, here at least and undoubtedly in other parts of our country. And our newspapers “play up” the subject.

This is not something to which we can close our eyes. The ones who are engaged in training the youth have had the problem for a long time and finally have asked for a meeting of the Christian leaders of the community to present their problems, to seek for advice and to seek for their cooperation to combat this evil.

The church lives in the world and there is always a measure of imitation among the church youth of the world. Parents and educators must be on the alert for the dangers and must not take everything for granted. The infection is deeper into the life of the church youth than is imagined.

We can see how the future generation of the world is going to more ungodly than the present generation. They resort to narcotics to stimulate them into their ungodly living. Beasts they are and through the judgments of God it becomes more manifest that the world is ripening itself for the final judgment.

Especially in the church the demands of the God’s Word must be clearly and thoroughly preached. The parents must bring the precepts of Christian living to the youth. And a Paul then exhorts the children, “Children, obey your parents.”

So only can there ever be a “solution” to the problem that faces the church world today. The preaching of the Word is the only means. This preaching must be followed up with Christian discipline.

 

Report by Adlai Stevenson

Those who have enjoyed the mind and diction of the defeated presidential candidate and his graciousness in the recent campaign will want to read his report of his round-the-world trip.

His report appears in the magazine Look. This does not mean that I recommend the magazine itself, but it does mean that the articles appearing in the magazine are worthwhile for a student of world history.

These articles are written in a most pleasant style, easy to follow not only but enjoyable reading material. Besides they contain very reveling insights into the political and economic situations of the Asiatic countries.

 

Medicine

Time magazine reports startling accomplishments, some of which we read with skepticism, of medicine. In the recent issue they reported an operation of transplanting a gland. After this operation upon a woman, we read their report, “Ten days later, and again four months, tests with a tiny dose of radioactive iodine and a Geiger counter showed that the oddly placed thyroid was functioning. Irma Miller has needed no more thyroid extract or calcium injections. She is going to be married and Dr. Sterling is going to give the bride away.”

Upon reading this I was impressed with the pride that is taken in the accomplishments of science. They make a time of it when the operation is first successful. We should wait and see the final results of the “machinations” of science. At least the result upon the men of the world is not such that they praise the Maker and Ruler in humility. Men are blinded to the real failures of mankind to lead men to the truth. To the believer in the Word of God, with its sober judgment of the work of men, this praise of science is repulsive.

 

Dear fellow soldiers:

This is in the nature of an open letter to you servicemen. Having been requested to write upon a subject of interest to the service men I choose this means to chat with you about current events, which I hope will be of interest to you.

My first event is our recent trip to Iowa to attend the Classis in Sioux Center. Of course, you fellows can understand that I cannot relate the matters that came up for attention in this brief letter. If you are interested you ought to consult the church papers for the official reports. There are impressions that one receives which are not found in official reports, and that is the matter about which I wish to write.

One thing that was impressed upon me by the conversation with elders and ministers and by my observation of things in general is the fact that there is trouble in our churches. That ought to be expected in our churches because wherever Christians are serious about matters of faith and conviction there is inevitable clash in the church militant. The trouble is serious however, when there is not the faith that our only King and High Priest, Jesus Christ, is going to see us through this difficulty. You fellows in the service realize that that firm conviction is necessary to have peace of mind. When you face the matter of induction and battle, your only comfort is that you belong to Him and that He will cause all things to work together for good. Without that faith you are not good soldiers. Speaking to the soldiers of Christ Paul says, “endure hardness”.

Another trouble with trouble is that there is often a failure to determine or to state the issues. It is always necessary to analyze the case, to seek understanding of both sides and finally to express an impartial judgment upon the case in hand without having imposed other issues produced by our fears and imaginations.

In this connection it was impressed upon me too that we should heed the admonition of Paul, to be followers together of Paul, and mark them which walk so as ye have us as an ensample. By our associations with certain Christians we learn to gain the right perspective upon matters that take place in our church life and also in our personal life. Certain individuals are only able to inflame us and lead us into deeper bitterness by their malice and slander. Others are able to lead us closer to God; they seem to stand aloof from all small things and yet have a way to dissolve the little troubles.

Such a character I met in Hull, Iowa. She was Grandma Gritters, mother to our Rev. Gritters. This month she is eighty years old, and she is still keen of mind and spirit, one whom many old and young in her neighborhood have cherished for her Christian spirit and wisdom. Her conversation was seasoned with salt and it brought me into contact with one who has been connected with the organism of the church many more years than you young soldiers or any of us.

One thing among other things that I shall remember was her remark about someone’s loss of a dear one. To such a one she had remarked that it was hard to bear such a loss at first but that one will get used to it after a while. She spoke from the Christian hardness that the Lord gives to His children from His abundant grace. It was not a hardness which had its sufficiency in the flesh, or which spoke in a fatalistic vein. It came from a humble and quiet spirit which trusted in God’s goodness and wisdom with all things.

Fellows in the service, you must have had experiences of separation which many of us have not experienced. You too can appreciate the sentiment of this old lady and can thank God for the strength He has given and will give in the days that lie ahead.

The second event which occurred during my visit to Iowa and which is now being treated in the news comments that I am reading is the death of the ruler of Soviet Russia. The death of a world ruler impresses me so much with the inescapable fact that there is a Ruler who rules from everlasting who doeth all His good pleasure.

Again this was news in our papers. Although it was reported last month in our newspapers, I thought it of such significance that we can devote space to it in our Current Comments.

This time anti-semitic propaganda and persecution broke out in Russia. That there was persecution and mass-murders in Russia is not a new thing for us. But that it was directed against the Jews caused us to take notice. It was repeating the same pattern as the Nazi’s hatred of the Jews and their plains for world domination. It again impressed us with the plight of the Jews since the Bible times.

The Jews are descendants of Shem. The Shemites, Semitic peoples, in the Old Testament were the recipients of the blessings of Shem. Noah had said of Shem, “Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant.” Of Japheth Noah said, “God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem.” These prophecies were spiritual for if we consider the actual history of the Shemites, it shows that the reverse is true.

In the New Testament times it is startling to read the record of the persecution of the Jews.

August, A. D. 70 — Destruction of Jerusalem: 1,100,000 Jews killed.

A.D. 132-135—The defeating of Bar-Kochba: 500,000 Jews killed.

May to July, 1096—12,000 Jews killed in the Rhineland, Germany.

November, 1290—Expulsion of all Jews (over 16,000) from England, under the threat of punishment by hanging. Permission to return only after 370 years.

April to Autumn, 1928—100,000 Jews killed in Franconia, Bavaria, and Austria.

September 1306—Expulsion of 100,000 Jews from France under threat of death.

August 1492 — Expulsion of 300,000 Jews from Spain by the Inquisition.

November 1648 —Slaughter of 12,000 Jews in Narol, Poland by the Cossacks.

1648-58—Death of about 400,000 Jews in the Russo-Polish-Swedish war.

1939-45—Murder of many hundreds of Jews during the years of the second world war.

This list you will find in The Dawn of World Redemption, by Erich Sauer, page 119. Probably all the Jewish persecutions are not listed here. The above list, however, is impressive enough. And with the present beginning of Jewish persecution in, Russia we cannot help but ask ourselves, why? For undoubtedly the Russian hatred is not just a passing hatred. It will gather force and again we shall read of its force of destruction in the near future.

Some always point to the Jewish people themselves. Their character and manner of living becomes obnoxious to the peoples among whom they have been dispersed since the earliest times. That is given as the cause of their persecution. Without a doubt it occasions an outburst of persecution, but it cannot be the underlying reason. Essentially they are not more obnoxious than some other peoples.

That the Jewish nation has been scattered over the earth and had become the “tormenting thorn of the world” is to be traced to its rejection of the Christ. When they cried out, “His blood be upon us and upon our children,” then the curse of God predicted began to be fulfilled upon them.

It is now a fact that they are a nation. But shall it become the permanent home of the Jews from all over the world, and shall the curse of God upon them be lifted? Not until there is a return to Christ. That is not yet the principle of the Jewish nation. God shall gather His people from among the Jews, of course.

This persecution of the Jews ought to be a matter of deep humiliation for all peoples, and for all Christians. Paul speaks to the Gentiles in Romans, exhorting them to deep humility in view of God’s rejection of the Jewish people.

In Romans 11:20, “Well, by their unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear: 21, for if God spared not the natural branches, neither will he spare thee.”

These letters stand for the United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and is an organization of the United Nations.

Since its inception in 1946 the UN has added to itself an impressive list of organizations. I have before me a list of eleven specialized agencies which were set up upon the basis of their own constitutions and brought into relation to the UN. They concern such affairs as labor, banking, agriculture, food, refugees, health, communications, postal system, and even meteorology.

To my mind the United Nations and the UNESCO are important organizations in our present world, which shall obtain a measure of success. They are born out of human idealism not only, but also out of the world situation with its global interests, dangers, and interdependence. Often the League of Nations is pointed to as a failure to which the United Nations is also doomed. It does show that ultimately all such fail, but it does not show that there is not a measure of advance in each one; the point of development to which each succeeding effort shall rise. From indications it seems to me t:hat already we can see how that the UN shall have greater success than the League. It carries within itself, however, the seeds of greater dissension and disruption, and its fall shall have great repercussions in the world if it is not displaced by another attempt of mankind to organize for security.

Among the organizations of the UN UNESCO is the most important it seems to me.

From Julian Huxley, the first chairman of the organization, (who committed suicide last year) we learn from his booklet about UNESCO that its aims are to serve the United Nations, that is be international, and secondly it must foster and promote all aspects of education, science, and culture in the widest sense of those words. He further explains that because of its internationalism it is debarred from accepting certain principles or philosophies. Among those he has in mind are, Islam, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Unitarianism, Judaism, and Hinduism. After mentioning other philosophical principles and outlooks from which UNESCO is debarred he mentions that finally it would be debarred from an exclusively or primarily other-worldly outlook. His proposal of a philosophy for UNESCO is an evolutionary humanism. In his conclusion he states that the single aim of UNESCO is to help the emergence of a single world culture. Although he realizes that there are two philosophies of life at present, that of East and West, individualism versus collectivism, he believes that these opposites can be reconciled.

Such an interpretation of the aims and program of UNESCO by one of its leaders is very revealing of the trend of our present world leadership of thought and action. All our present American life is connected with the ideology of the UN. Our labor organizations and political parties, our cultural life, and even our religious life will be drawn into its orbit. In 1952 UNESCO addressed an enquiry into the teaching of Philosophy to the national commissions of its cooperating countries to determine the influence of philosophy on the individual and society. This shows that it is progressing on action.

This idea of the UN is the age old attempt of mankind to preserve itself.

After the flood, early civilization sought security and renown in its tower, symbolizing collective security. Its boast that it would reach to heaven was meant with all the sinfulness of their self-will. Today the space ideas of modern man (Cf. the last Beacon Lights) are parallel.

The collective security of this Babel society was struck by the Lord in its most vital part, its language. Language is one medium of culture. That the Lord struck that medium signifies that he separated them in their cultural aims, the very vital part of their collective security. Ever since society has tried to recover from that wound and there was a healing from disunity. (Revelations 12).

Strangely enough its first attempt after Babel was its greatest as to its cultural unity, and glory. As to its force and power its greatness was not reached until the kingdom of Antichrist which would do wonders. (Compare the image in Daniel).

To a certain extent we can see the pattern in the UN and its important organization UNESCO. As UNESCO gives leadership to the UN its success will become more manifest, and its advice and “direction’’ will find its way to the educational and religious life in which the Christian finds himself called to bear witness to the kingdom of God.

This year 1953 brings in the new administration. What it brings with it in the political field is hard to say. Without any question there will be some changes of policy, and with respect to the international scene it may cause a better relation and understanding with our allies and a worse relation with Russia and her satellites. Notice how we write “may”. There is no prediction possible, for such things are in God’s hand and unpredictable. The question whether the administration will deal righteously with the many problems which face the world. Rather surprising it is that Mr. Eisenhower chose a union leader for the labor position in his cabinet. It is another indication to me that we cannot predict the course of events. Our expectations for the future are often shown up to ourselves by the Lord as very foolish and selfish. He calls us to face crises and issue and to witness for the truth in every sphere of life.

And the Church?

Our question about the future of the church is naive from a certain viewpoint. We know that there is nothing new under the sun. We shall experience the same struggle in the church world as we have in the past. Through all the opposition of the gates of hell, Christ shall build His church. Nevertheless there shall arise new situations in the struggle of the Church. We may and ought to discern the signs of the times. We must watch for the signs of the false church. It shall arise in new  forms and it requires vigilance on the part of the watchmen of Zion. While we are called to seek the unity of the faith, the false church may pretend and boast of its better way of unity, and deceive many. In its calling to proclaim the everlasting Gospel the Church is always in danger of becoming worldly minded. It is necessary for the church to be filled with the consciousness of the last hour and the coming of Christ to proclaim the message with that proper urgency. Then too, we are warned that we must watch for internal strife, which weakens the church. (Galatians 5:15).

Though the world boasts of new things that it shall bring to pass, the Church believes with joy and confidence that the Lord Jesus Christ, the worker of miracles, shall come and is now coming, to bring the new thing to pass, which He has promised since He ascended into the heavens —the new creation wherein righteousness shall dwell.

And Science?

When the world faces the future it invariably looks to men of science. Science plays its role in the Apocalypse, both the State and the False Church, the two beasts that arise in time, look to science and call men to worship it.

Though it is fantastic, even beyond the imagination, men of science now are speaking of their conquest of space. Time magazine featured its cover and leading article with the subject of Space Pioneer, and asks the question, Will man outgrow the earth? Its leader boldly states, “Within the next 10 or 15 years the earth can have a new companion in the skies, a man-made satellite which will be man’s first foothold in space.

A sobering statement appeared in an article on medicine. It concerned itself about the “flu”. It reads, “The influenza pandemic which raged around the world in 1918-19 was the third great plague in recorded history (the others: the Black Death (bubonic plague), which ravaged Europe and Asia in the 14th century, and the scourge which swept Europe in the 17th century.) Nobody ever isolated the microbe that caused it, and recent attempts to find the supposed virus in long frozen corpses of Eskiom victims got nowhere.” Then there is a statement about the influenza vaccines. “Influenza vaccines today are often made worthless because the virus changes its nature and defeats them. The trick is to beat the virus to the draw and have a suitable vaccine ready before a virulent strain can start an epidemic.”

A New Version

Since the publication of the new “Revised Standard Version”, I had intended to make a few comments in Beacon Lights about it. This is an interesting subject and warrants a more lengthy consideration than can be given in these few lines.

The version is authorized by the National Council of the Churches of Christ and published by Thomas Nelson & Sons. For this reason it is severely criticized by many who maintain that it is the work of liberal scholars and the promotion scheme of the publishers.

I have not read the version, but have read the criticism of the New Testament revision by Oswald T. Allis entitled “Revision or New Translation?” This is worthwhile for you to read.

It is my opinion that the King James Version remains the best for our public usage. It has preserved the meaning of the original to a remarkable degree but has also a beautiful and majestic style which is so far not surpassed by other translations. The Revised version it is true, is more accurate in certain instances, but it does not have the beauty of style which is also necessary for our grasping of the Word of God. The inaccuracies of word translation do not distort the truth in any way.

We always must remember that there are no infallible translations and any one which is given out as the best because of new discoveries in the language, as this version is, ought to be a warning signal to us. Considered soberly it is not true, that new discoveries of the last years warrant a new translation.

There is a danger in the modern speech translations if they are used as standard versions. They are however, helpful, in studying the Bible along with our King James Version and American Revised version.

A passage which is a good example in this Christmas season to point out a difference in the translations and how other translations help us to gain the meaning is Luke 2:14. In the King James Version we read, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” In the other modern speech translations, and the American Revised we read, “And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.”

 

The Messiah

Throughout our country among religious groups there seems to be a growing interest in the rendition of Handel’s “Messiah”. In our circles in the west there has not been the same interest as in Michigan, but also here it is growing. Last year an oratorio society was formed and gave the Messiah in our neighborhood to a large audience. Just as I was preparing to make my comments for the month of December a paper came announcing the preparation for and the dates of the rendition of the Messiah next month.

There is no doubt that the Messiah is great music and that the selections from Scripture serve beautifully to give the Word of God about Christ’s birth. It can and does serve to impress us all with the deep meaning of Christmas. Certain passages of God’s Word are sung and heard in the world, in the church world today, that call attention to God’s sovereign wrath and just judgments in an impressive way, which otherwise would not be heard in certain pulpits. How some can “enjoy” such a rendition as they do is strange. It is only possible to “enjoy” the oratorio without having fear and trembling when one ignores the words of Scripture or relegates them to myths of ancient literature.

It seems to me that there is a certain strange interest in the “Messiah”. There is an overemphasis on its importance. It may be explained by the lack of interest in God’s Word and a desire to escape the truth by an appreciation of the beauty of music.

To enter into the depth of the truth of Christ’s birth and the Word of salvation we need the lively preaching of the Word.

Our Christmas worship must be more than lip and ear and soul service. It must be the true service of the heart. Let us seek for the truth with all our heart in prayer and as pastors and flock earnestly strive to possess the deep significance of the Incarnation by exegetical study and worship.

From the quietness of the meeting of God and His people through the preaching of His Word,—not from the quietness of the music hall—, we shall go forth into the din of the false Christmas spirit, into the noise of the shop and street, into the trouble of the turmoil of sin and sorrow with a peace of God that passeth all understanding.

Last time in the October Current Comments your attention was called to the Christian voter. The important thing in October for the American public was the campaign for presidency, and the choice to be made in November with the ballot. At least that was the important thing before the public mind. It also is such for the Christian voter’s mind as he looks at his task as citizen.

When you read this issue of November the election is a thing of the past. It will have been determined for us who will be the next president of the United States.

Reflecting a bit upon the American scene and even that of the world I perceive a rise in demagoguery. A demagogue is defined as a speaker who seeks to make capital of special discontent and gain political influence. This is more evident with T.V. There is direct contact with the masses and everything is made of it to promise the masses their desires. Because of T.V. and radio there is a proportional rise in interest in government and in the realization of the power of the masses by the people themselves. I am reminded of Acts 12:3, 21-23, “And when he saw that it pleased the Jews, (that Herod had killed James, L. D.) he proceeded to seize Peter also.” “And upon a set day Herod arrayed himself in royal apparel, and sat on the throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people shouted, saying, The voice of God and not of man.” The world and our country is in need of good rulers. After election day and after the taking of office the Christian’s duty as suppliant for the rulers comes to mind. We read in article 36 of our Belgic Confession, that it is the Christian’s bounden duty with respect to those in authority “to supplicate for them in their prayers that God may guide them in all their ways, and that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” This is according to the charge of Paul to Timothy, “I exhort, therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men; for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity.”

The apostle is referring to public prayers of the church as is also evident from verse eight. It must be clearly understood, from the nature of prayer that such must be made with all sincerity, from the heart. The reference is never to formal, blind repetition without purpose. It also goes without saying that the apostle does not teach here something contradictory to his other teachings of God’s sovereign election. Nor does he teach that we should pray for salvation for all rulers without distinction. Verse 4, “who would have all men to be saved” does not mean all individuals. Weymouth translates more correctly in his New Testament, “who wishes all mankind to be saved.” The Belgic Confession correctly interprets the text as referring to the duty of the Church to pray for those in authority that God may guide them in all their ways. That follows from the text which says that supplication should be made that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life (quiet and peaceable, A. V.).

What is that purpose and motive of this public prayer? It does not imply that the Christian life must be an idyllic, pastoral life, a life, far removed from the maddening crowd. We are in this sinful and sin-cursed world and our calling is not to seek a false, selfish isolation for ourselves nor for America. We are called into war, into hospitals and death scenes, into a life of public corruption, a life among publicans and sinners, into an age of appalling responsibility and judgment. Our tranquil and quiet life is not outward therefore. It is not ordained for us and especially not for our youth and children. And we are not taught to seek such in itself. Such cannot be in harmony with godliness and gravity.

Our quietness and tranquility is within ourselves. In the storms and stress of life through prayer and such prayer as is here commanded, we have the peace which passeth all understanding.

How is this effected through our prayers? Surely we are thus submitting ourselves to rulers and acknowledge publicly that all their talents and powers are from God above. We show publicly that we are not Anabaptists or revolutionists, as the Belgic Confession point out. We also as Church of Christ on earth point the civil rulers to their calling to rule in justice and punish evil doers. (Romans 13).

Having prayed for righteousness in civic affairs through the rulers in godliness and gravity we shall have persecution, but we shall also have peace. We shall be persecuted even for well-doing, but shall count it an honor.

As the Church grows into its calling, the antithesis is revealed.

During these months of electioneering, this fervent spirit to show the voters that a certain individual and party is the only one to vote for and expect better times, the Christian cannot help but ask himself about his calling to vote in the coming election in November. There are points of interest in politics that even captivate the Christian as citizen. The speeches and events take up part of our conversation. Some of you have seen and heard the conventions last summer and are now listening to the speeches that are being made and the contests for seats in Congress by certain individuals who have been prominent in Washington but must now fight hard to keep their position.

In considering our calling to vote we probably confront ourselves first of all with the question, Shall I vote at all? It may be that, neither one of the nominees for president meets with approval and this decision may be that it is better not to vote. The question may also a rise from a deeper cause. Often I ask myself shall I vote for any of the candidates for office if they cannot assure me of their Christian principles of government may I vote as a Christian? There are some groups of Christians that maintain that as a church principle, that they cannot engage in politics and cannot vote unless there is Christian government. Such a position I consider incorrect although I have much sympathy for it and feel that it is a stand more in harmony with Christian life than the passive take-it-for-granted attitude of many. It seems to me that when we vote we do not have to say that we stand for all the principles of the party and the candidate. That is not implied in the vote. If the candidate is non-Christian our voting for him does not mean that we approve of a non-Christian government. As citizens the right to vote is give us. The parties and candidates are presented and we exercise that right and express what and whom we consider to be the preference of the given.

Another question that confronts us is, How shall I vote? With this question I do not mean to consider the choice it-self, for whom we shall vote? That decision should be left to the individual and is not the main consideration in articles which seek to help make the correct choice. Our concern in this question is with motives and purposes of our vote. Here is the important question, shall I vote for an individual and a party which satisfies my interests? That is the motive and purpose of the American voter today, namely to gain his particular advantage in the American commonwealth. There are the sectional interests, the class interests, the race interests that are struggling for power and recognition today and the parties appeal to them and try to please them all. It ought to be evident that it is not Christian to vote as an American citizen from personal and private interests. It is not Christian to vote for a party that favors the farmer above the laborer, or the labor unions over against the capitalists. We should exercise our vote so that we show preference for justice and fairness in legislation. We should desire a man and a government that rules according to law and justice wisely, and not a government that is ruled by other pressures, it ought to be evident to the discerning mind that such is beyond our present expectation. Probably our vote is made by considering the choice, which pressure group do we consider the preference under the circumstances.

In connection with this motive of satisfying the selfish interest is the motive to seek material prosperity itself. Of all motives that is certainly carnal and not Christian. Our government should not seek to appeal to our bellies in these days of world crises. It seeks to influence other peoples and nations with the American dollar. We are led to seek the wealth of America above all virtue. The luxury that we have and desire for more ease that it stirs up is the cancer that eats at the foundations of our civilization. To vote for a government which appeals to that desire of the people to live at ease and enjoy the “good life” for its own sake is to hasten the day when the travail of the judgments shall come upon us.

What is our expectation of the vote of the people? If we have voted for the better, shall we expect the better to be the choice of God? We must understand that in the will of God’s providence it is not always the better that gains office. His choice is David, Christ who now rules through all rulers. He puts in office to accomplish His will. He put in office Hazael, Caesar, Hitler, Stalin, Roosevelt, Truman and our next president.

 

Since the days of Hitler the name of Martin Niemoeller has drawn the interest of Christians. His latest trip to Moscow has evoked much criticism. It was with these things in mind that several of us took an interest to hear him when he spoke in, the Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles.

His, speech was to explain why he accepted the invitation of the patriarch of Moscow, to come to Moscow. In the first place he gave as his reason, his desire to bring the gospel that God is willing and able to save. He considered it the greatest danger of the church of Russia that it would fall into despair concerning this truth and deny Christ as the only ruler. He was not so concerned, he said, about persecution. He brought out that God has postponed the Judgment day and that we must seek to show our love for all men. For Christ died for Adolph Hitler and Stalin too he said, or he did not die for Martin Niemoeller. We have no right to look upon any one as long as he lives as lost. We must hate sin and sinful systems but not the sinner.

His second reason for his visit to Moscow was that the church stands for peace and not for war. He does not believe at all in the principle that through war we must seek peace. The first two world wars took many lives and the next war will destroy all the rest. Therefore it is impossible to conceive of war as an instrument of peace.

His third reason was that he had an invitation from the Christian Church. In this connection he confronted himself with the question: Is the church of Moscow an instrument of Bolshevism or is it an instrument of Christ? Although the Russian Church is not a free church like ours, he believed it was not a propaganda instrument of the Bolshevist state. He based his conclusions on his observation of several things. First of all when they attended a gathering he was startled by the fact that they were preaching. For a very long time the Russian Orthodox Church was not preaching the Word. Now he observed they were preaching the Word again. Also when he was asked to speak for five minutes he spontaneously continued to speak for forty minutes instead of five. Although they did not understand his speech, they knew he was preaching the Word and he felt their responsive enthusiasm, as if they knew what he wanted to tell them. His conclusion, therefore, was that that was a congregation of Jesus Christ, and the Russian Church is not a dying church. Moscow with its seven million people had about seven or eight hundred churches in 1918. During the second world war and shortly thereafter there were twenty left. Now again there are found sixty churches in Moscow.

It is not my purpose to offer a critique of Martin Niemoeller’s speech or theology. It is very evident that there are several statements with which we cannot agree. We cannot agree with the statement that Christ died for Hitler or Stalin. Although Niemoeller added that as long a sinner lives we may not look upon him as lost, which is true, that does not warrant the statement that Christ died for them. Such a statement is equivalent to saying that Christ died for everyone,— universal atonement.

I wish to point out that the message would have been more correct according to the  Scriptures if Niemoeller had presented it as Paul did to Timothy. In I Timothy 1:15 we read, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” We may emphasize that Christ died for all sinners. But that does not give us the right to say that certain individuals are sinners. It takes the grace of God to classify ourselves in the class of sinners. We never heard Hitler or Stalin say that they were sinners and that they sought salvation in Christ. The murderer on the cross did; it is recorded for us to know and to hear the judgment of Christ, “today thou shalt he with me in paradise.” And Jesus said that He came not to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.

A very common question may be asked and it really is the same question that Niemoeller asked about the Russian Church. We often hear the question, is such an one a minister of Christ? Niemoeller asked whether the Russian Church was an instrument of Christ. We may probably turn it around and ask whether Niemoeller is an instrument of Christ, when he preaches universal atonement.

When he or anyone preaches an error he is not serving Christ when he does
so. Nevertheless Christ may use him in his service. Christ may use men such as Balaam to serve Him. With respect to Niemoeller it did not seem that he knowingly falsified the truth of the Gospel. He was not a liberal who denied the blood of Christ. Christ uses that man to preach the everlasting Gospel that there is salvation in Christ alone. That among other things warmed my heart to that speech of Niemoeller.

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