This article begins a new CURRENT EVENTS AND COMMENTS column which will appear every month in Beacon Lights. The writers are to be Donald Jonker and Mark Hoeksema, who will attempt to convey to the young people a picture of what is going on in both the religions and in the secular world and then add a few pertinent comments.
A short time ago Calvin College’s semi-annual fine arts review, the 1966 Loci, was made public. The contents of this booklet include drama, poetry, art, stories, and sculpture. This booklet is supposed to be representative of all the work done in these fields at Calvin; it is also supposed to be the best work available.
Calvinism, on which Calvin College is supposedly based and from which it takes its name, uses as its standard and rule the Holy Scriptures. From Scripture we learn that all things that happen, and indeed all things, fall into one of two categories: they are either Christian or carnal; either right or wrong. The way we determine and measure this is to ask the question, “Is it done to God’s glory?” If it is, good; if it is not, it is wrong.
God created the universe with certain laws with regard to form and order and demands that we obey these laws. But man has perverted and misused these laws for his own lust of the flesh and pride of life. I think this is true with regard to especially the literary arts in Loci. We have the calling to glorify God—in I Cor. 10:31 we are commanded, “…Whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God”—and the discerning reader will not find this on the pages of the Loci. Some of it is blasphemous; it has no Christian tone or mood; hence it has no meaning for the sincere believer. Let me use one short poem for an illustration. It reads as follows:
THE PRISON IN DORDRECHT
The bleak red building in Dordrecht
Where our faith was formed in canons,
Now a prison with windows white barred
Against the gray sky and the puddles
In the street. Green moss climbs
In stagnant haste up the solid walls
Where prisoners and a one-time faith
Long for release. One old dirt bearded
Face appears in the white of the window
And looks out on the angular twist of street,
A fine slope of hill to the corner where
a Dutch woman stretches to stroke clean
her rain washed house in the fog, oblivious
of the day or time in her hurry.
The author begins by comparing the building where the Synod of Dordt met to a bleak prison. He goes on to say that “a one-time faith longs for release,” implying that our traditional faith expresses in the canons really is no faith and should be gotten rid of. These are the lines and phrases which are most objectionable. The poem is not Christian, and we must be on our guard for this sort of thing, young people!
Along a more positive line, there appeared an article in the September 9, 1966 issue of the Banner entitled, “Ecumenical Encounter on a Sunday Afternoon” by editor John Vander Ploeg. In it he sounds a warming against the false conception of the ecumenical movement, which, in his words, doesn’t know whether it’s going up or down. He tells of hearing that both we and the Roman Catholic Church are climbing a mountain, one on each side. “But we’re heading for the same place on top.” He then contends that if we are so gullible as to agree with this, we have lost all sense of direction as to genuine ecumenicity.
Rev. Vander Ploeg goes on to say in his next editorial, “consistories, now it’s up to you,” that although the last Christian Reformed Synod could very easily adopt a whole set of directives concerning “the film arts,” it was thought impossible to say anything definite about the question of limited atonement, membership in the WCC, and the historicity of the Genesis account of creation. The synod set up committees to study these issues, and he says uncertainty such as this with regard to these important matters is not reassuring. That’s an understatement!
Rev. Vander Ploeg closes with advice to individual consistories to study these matters and to give a good account of themselves when asked. I think this article was well-written and got its point across, namely that the C. R. Church should quit delaying and start working on something important. Perhaps Editor Vander Ploeg could give the consistories some editorial leadership and guidance in these studies.
About a month or two ago there appeared in the daily newspaper several articles concerning man’s attempt to “crack the genetic code.” Scientists think they are coming closer to the solution to the problem of how to control heredity. They will be able not only to determine in advance what a person will be like, but also to regulate his characteristics, so they say. Hence, they can create a man with heretofore unheard-of intelligence, physique, and personality. In other words, they will create the super-race, the type of man the Bible describes as the anti-Christ.
However, I don’t think that God will permit them to succeed in this completely, because if they did, they would be appropriating to the creature powers which belong only to God. This is another evidence of the pride of life; man is trying to play God. The measure of iniquity is fast becoming full. We must read the signs of the times and watch and pray for the second coming of Christ, when we shall live with Him in everlasting perfection.