I was assigned to write a report on “Trends in the Church” for my Bible course at Central Christian High School in Grand Rapids. It was understood that this would mean trends in the Christian Reformed church even though I am now Protestant Reformed. While I was doing my research on this assignment, I read an article on “Mixed Marriages” by Rev. H. Veldman, which was printed in the Standard Bearer. This article spoke of the hidden dangers that exist in a marriage in which one person is Christian Reformed and one person is Protestant Reformed and the Protestant Reformed partner joins the Christian Reformed Church. These dangers and differences in the Christian Reformed Church are not always noticed to their full extent before a marriage of this sort takes place. Therefore, I decided to use my paper for an article in the Beacon Lights. Hopefully, this will show some of the many differences that do exist between the two churches.
I would also like to add that I did not write this article because I want to give a negative picture of the Christian Reformed Church for some personal reason or other, but to let things be seen as they are.
Of the many trends or changes taking place in the church I decided to narrow my report down to just one trend. I chose the subject of church worship because it is a very basic part of Christianity. A change in worship will naturally result in a change of many other phases of the Christian life. Through church worship or more specifically, the preaching of the Word, the Christian receives the spiritual food that is so necessary for him to walk in Christian faith. If this food fails to provide the sinner with what he needs, it will also affect his walk in life.
The social gospel is definitely not a nourishing food for the Christian. What does the term social gospel mean to me? It does not merely mean sermons on the racial problem, the plight of the poor and other such problems. It is any sermon which is not preached purely and solely from the Word of God. How can any sermon which has a purpose of giving a solution to horizontal problems rather than vertical refresh the sinner spiritually? Besides, how can I be told to express my love for God to my neighbor when I’m not even told about the love of God? If I have the love of God in me, I won’t need any sermons on the racial problem to tell me to love my neighbor. This love follows naturally when I have the love of God.
“You have to accept Christ because then you will be happy” is a common phrase used to propagandize the Gospel. Christ is referred to as “cool” and the best friend you could have. Accepting Him is lightly called beautiful and groovy. In a Young Adult Worship Service at La Grave Ave. Chr. Ref. Church, a woman announcing “God’s Farewell” concluded by saying, “God says it’s a pleasure to serve you. God says, ‘Come again.’”1
In these cases, is not God being asked to serve man so that man may selfishly receive these things such as happiness for himself?
I think the change in church worship is a cause for the many other changes that are taking place in the church today. When church sermons deal with the social problems of the day and God serving man rather than man serving God there can be little doubt as to why dancing, movies, free love and other worldly entertainments have taken such a hold on the young people.
I would like to have you read for yourself what a Chr. Ref. minister calls worship. His text is from John 4:24. “God is a Spirit; and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth.” He said it was difficult to define worship because you can’t analyze it when you stop to think about it because then you’ve stopped worshipping. Not being able to define worship, he gave examples of worship. He said, “If a boy or girl says, ‘I love you’ and the other responds with love—that’s worship.” Next he emphasized that there is not a set time for worship. He said, “There are no special songs, places, no special liturgy and no special dress for worship.” He wound up by saying “Anything natural to you must be worship….If you do something not natural to you…you’re a hypocrite.” He stated that “worship is intercourse, marriage and a love affair.”2 His speech was well received and he was thanked by a song entitled “Thank you”, which was written by the W.C.C.
This type of sermon is neither uncommon nor can be said to typify the Chr. Ref. sermons, but for any minister who is allowed to speak like this and still be in good standing in his denomination surely must show the true character of that denomination.
Is it then any wonder that the youth of this church complain about not getting anything out of the sermons and resort to their own underground churches? It certainly is no surprise that they feel the need for something different. Because this change in preaching and worship took place and is taking place so slowly (with one thing leading to the other), the average person has been lulled along by it because it is somewhat undetectable. It is no wonder that these young people did not turn to God’s form of worship but to the Devil’s.
I believe the Protestant Reformed Church preaches the pure Word of God, but let this article be somewhat of a warning. We will have to FIGHT with the whole armor of God to keep it as such.
1. Excerpt from the News Bulletin of Association of Chr. Ref. Laymen, Dec. 1968
2. Excerpt from the News Bulletin of Association of Chr. Ref. Laymen, Dec. 1968
Originally Published in:
Vol. 29 No. 10 February 1970