During a recent after-recess program, our society, Hope P.R.Y.P., decided the topic of enlisting in the Armed Services should be revisited, clarified, and discussed. There was a lively discussion and many solid pro and con arguments were presented.
The discussion began with clarification of the issue. Such questions as: What is joining or enlisting in contrast to being drafted? How many years is an enlisted man obligated to stay in service; how about a draftee? Is there a difference in obligation between the two? If I don’t join, will I be drafted anyway? At what age are young men now being drafted? All these questions were adequately answered by various members of the society.
Then as the blood began to warm, the ideas and thoughts came from every direction, hot and heavy. Some were for enlistment, others against it; many would not express their final judgment. Perhaps they were undecided.
The main or principal argument for enlistment was largely practical in nature, thus making it important, no doubt. It was felt by some that it is desirable to complete one’s military obligations before going ahead in life and securing permanent employment, securing a higher degree of learning, knowledge, and wisdom, and or finding one’s lifetime companion and mate. It was insisted upon that many problems and difficulties arise when these processes are interfered with.
It was acknowledged by the opponents to enlistment that these problems do arise. However, they felt these problems should be dealt with when they arise, they should not be prevented. This is an example of the deep philosophical issues our various societies can become engaged in. The opponents to enlistment are opponents on the basis of principle, they feel. They felt it was wrong to join the Armed Services on the basis that it appeared to be an intentional removal of one’s person from the body of Christ of which that person is a part. The opinions were frozen upon these two ideas. The young people appreciated the closing remarks of our President, Rev. H. Hanko, who generally confirmed the opinion of those who opposed enlistment. It was my impression that with a little prodding, Rev. H. Hanko would have agreed that there are instances in which it is better for a person to enlist at a young age. However, he is convinced that the exceptions are few and far between and the general rule should be NO ENLISTMENT.
Out of The Earth – r.h.
E. M. Blauklock – Eerdmans – 92 pp. – $2.00
This book is evidence of the value and virtue of Christian scientific investigation. Archaeology, which is the study of past human life as revealed by artifacts and writings of ancient people, is the content of this book – especially as it relates to the New Testament of the Bible. This book gives “naturalistic” evidence for the historical accuracy of the Bible. Archaeology and the Birth of Christ, Archaeology and the Saying of Christ, Archaeology and the Death and Resurrection of Christ, Archaeology and the Apocalypse are examples of the many fine topics discussed in this book.
Professor Blaiklock, M.A., LITT.D., is a professor of Classics at the University of Aukland, New Zealand. He is a scholar of high competence who is a frequent contributor to respected, scholarly periodicals.
It was indeed a pure joy to read this book and a purer joy to appraise it for recommendation to others. The reviewer voted unanimously to recommend this book to all who take an interest in their own spiritual and intellectual growth. For it is written for all to read and understand. The book scores high in readability; its style holds the attention of high school students as well as the sophisticated intellectual.
This is a revised and enlarged edition. Every chapter has been revised and expanded. New chapters have been added. If you had the opportunity to read it before, read this edition also for it is even more valuable and fascinating.
The Christian in the world today believes that he knows God in a very special and pure, non-pagan way. God chose to reveal Himself to man. Whatever other means there are of knowing God, that is through nature, or because of the moral law within us, or from the glimmerings within man himself, God can only be known as the father of Jesus Christ through and by means of the Scripture. And only in the Scripture can we know Him as our Father in the Covenant relation with Him.
There is something special in specifically Christian revelation. First, it is special in its location; this revelation is found only in the Bible. Second, it is special in content. It does not teach us to find God in science and observation of nature directly, but rather it gives us the specific knowledge that God gave and gives salvation to His own through His son, Christ Jesus.
The Christian revelation is different in other ways also. Revelation occurs every time something unknown is made known. We can judge our observations in the light of the Bible, which gives new life in the study of Scripture, as well as the study of natural occurrences. Another difference between Scriptural revelation and revelation in general, is that in ordinary revelation, the thing revealed is passive, it is discovered, we observe it. While in Scriptural revelation God who is revealed also does the revealing.
There have been those in the Christian era who have denied the validity of the Bible. Immanuel Kant, the greatest modern thinker, who lived during the 18th Century claimed that the only way we can know God is through the experience of our moral conscience. He said morality leads to religion and a moral legislator – God – that other than ourselves which makes for righteousness. In the 19th Century a preacher by the name of Friedrich Schleiermacher also rejected the Bible. He reflected on Himself and said He felt an incessant dependence, and this dependence was on someone called God.
In spite of the bits of truth for which they stood, they missed it. They missed all of it. They missed the central thrust of the purpose of God. They did not acknowledge Christ as the Son of God whom God sent into the world to save the faithful. Thus they lost the heritage of the New Dispensation. And thus they lost their Lives.
Headlines in both large and small newspapers, over the radio, in all sorts of magazines and in every medium which reaches the masses shout about “juvenile delinquency.” These references are frequent, condemning, and accusing as they make the term “teenager” synonymous with such words as criminal, delinquent, evil-doer, destructive, and many more derogatory names given to wrongdoers as they picture the misbehavior of today’s youth in communities throughout the U.S.
Currently, no social problems arouse so much attention as that of juvenile delinquency and as is true in so many intricate problems, no one solution is in sight or at present even plausible. That delinquency is a cause for concern is true. The problem is complex and contradictory. In accordance with common belief, slums do breed delinquency. Yet many good citizens began their lives in slums or under slum conditions. Rejection and over-protection by parents has contributed to make the list of delinquents longer, but many children who suffered these experiences are not delinquents. Children from “rich” homes as well as “poor”, from “right” neighborhoods as well as the “wrong,” have gotten into trouble. It is the contradiction of empirical observations which gives the psychologists and sociologists particular difficulty in prediction.
How must we as clergy, teachers, parents, and teenagers view these individuals whose behavior is contrary to our values and mores? Are they normal or abnormal; are they just plain naughty, bad, or wicked or are they sick, ill or diseased. The answer is simple and reasonable. An old geometric axiom can be applied here: the whole is equal to the sum of its parts. Or as the Gestalt psychologists put it: the whole of the personality entity is equal to the sum of its parts. So that if one part is stricken or diseased it affects the whole personality. Thus if a person has delinquent behavior, which is, incidentally, not considered normal, that behavior affects the whole, which must then also be considered abnormal.
But now that we have established the status of the delinquent we peer around the corner and find that the common law tells us that we do not condemn persons who are mentally or psychologically unable to “keep straight.”
Now the problem is, do we condemn them or help them. That is, do we use our time and energy to help them, or do we consider them lost and condemned before God forever. We shall for practical purposes (not absolute) dichotomize and establish two levels in the social realm; that of a God-man and man-man relationship.
Since we do not and cannot know God’s eternal will and good pleasure let us not (Romans 14:13) therefore judge one another anymore, but rather judge this, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. We must strive for the rehabilitation and correction of the offenders with all the gifts of love God has given us, and then we may know that we are not a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. We must strive for the rehabilitation and correction of the offenders with all the gifts of love God has given us, and then we may know that we are not a stumbling block to our brother. The rest is up to the ethical motivation God has given him for his behavioral change. We know that every tongue shall confess to God and every man will give account of himself to God.
Because we are Christians, a reflection of our God-man relationship is directed toward our relationship with other men so that we react with true love and sincerity.
Since we know there is reason for all behavior, must we say one man to another we can excuse this individual for his antisocial behavior because we know it is due to certain psychological and environmental stresses and strains? Reasons do not excuse. Man is responsible to God and society. If he is not able to abide by the law and rules he may not have the privileges of a free man in society.
It is indeed with caution that I bring into the open the topic of psychology in the magazine for the covenant youth of the Protestant Reformed Churches. But I think we can all agree that it surely is time that this discipline is seen in all its stark reality, without the hostile biases of those in our circles who have written about, or spoken of it in such foul ways.
Let us take a glance at the “impact of psychology on Christianity.”
Perhaps first we can get a better and clearer picture of the concept of the unconscious. The theory is relatively new in the realm of theological thinking. Thus it has not been completely integrated into the concepts of theological thought, although I might add that it is generally accepted.
Mental life is theoretically divided into three parts: the conscious, preconscious, and the unconscious. The conscious is much smaller than generally supposed. It is made up only of ideas and feelings present in immediate awareness. Other mental content is easily recalled to consciousness, content which is only temporarily absent from central consciousness – the preconscious.
Quite different, however, is the unconscious. It is the greatest segment of the mind, a huge reservoir which contains all of our primitive impulses and desires which we dare not express (perhaps analogous to our totally depraved nature). These forbidden or socially disapproved impulses from the unconscious constantly strive to cross the threshold into consciousness. But because the “concept of the self” (ego) is unable to cope with these unacceptable feeling, the ego pushes them, as it were, from consciousness, thus producing conflicts within, which, if serious enough, result in neurosis.
This brings us to the concept of mental illness. Not many decades ago, people believed that emotional and mental illnesses were due to the possession of demons. Psychology has taught us that demon possession is no longer found, in general, in the world today. Psychology shows us that each mental disease entity has a definite symptom complex or group of symptoms by which it can be identified and distinguished from all other disease. Many theologians contend that the demonic period existed only during the time when Christ was on earth.
Working then from the idea of the possibility of mental and emotional disorder, we may assume there are “mental laws” which govern the mind, just as there are physical and moral laws and that these mental laws must be observed to attain and maintain mental health. I think we will all agree to the idea that parents are obliged to try to bring up their children to be mature, well-adjusted persons. There have been many observations of the parent-child relationship which have given us clues to the formation of mental laws. A specialist in personality reports that excessive punishment typically results in revolt, possibly with delinquency, submission and withdrawal marked by daydreaming and other escape devices; or outward submission, with smoldering inward antagonism. All have bad effects on personality development. However, I must add at this point, that appropriate punishment with the child being easily able to associate the punishment and the misdeed will in no way affect a normal child adversely.
There are also concepts of the accepted and rejected child. In general the accepted child will prove emotionally stable, well socialized, calm, and interested in things. The rejected child, on the other hand, will show emotional instability, restlessness, indifference, and antagonism.
A mental law which indeed can be useful for all of us can be found in Ephesians 4:25, 26, 27. “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one with another. Be ye angry and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.”
Can we now say “just as faith without works is dead; so prayer without proper observance of mental laws can be in many cases useless?”
It is my prayer and supplication that we may have keener insights into the processes of the mind, enabling us to praise and glorify our Almighty God with our whole being; body, spirit, and MIND.
Originally Published in:
Vol. 19 No. 7 October- November 1959
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