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Response to “Ists and Isms”

Dear Editor:

I would like to make a few comments about the recent article in the Beacon Lights entitled “Ists and Isms.”  I wish to make a few comments on the definition of sect and the relationship of provincial tendencies to a sect.

First of all, the author does mention that there are many definitions of the word sect.  However, he prefers the definition of “a one-man affair”; that in all of its features it is a one-man affair.  The understanding that I get from the term sect, substantiated by Daniel (sic) Webster, is “one of the organized bodies of Christians; a denomination.”  From such a definition, we as Protestant Reformed Churches are a sect, a denomination, regardless of the fact that we as Churches never possess the belief that our denomination is the church militant (sic).  I cannot see that the word sect definitely possesses a humanistic tie; but rather a sect is an organized group having a common purpose and a common interest.

Secondly, the author writes: “Now a second obvious mark of a sect is her provincial tendencies.  In the end, of course, such a people find themselves alone.  They are entirely cut loose from the church world and in that church world they no longer have an influence.”  I understand that the obvious mark of a sect (a denomination) is her provincial (limited, narrow) tendencies, and that a sect will be alone in many respects.  But does this mean that she will no longer have an influence in the church world?  This can perhaps be answered by quoting a recent message on a church bulletin board near Fort Gordon, Georgia, where I am presently stationed, “The church that is not against something is seldom for anything.”  If we as churches are distinctive and have provincial tendencies, we will have an influence on the church world.  We must have provincial tendencies and for that reason we are given as we read in Ephesians 6:14-17 to put on the whole armour of God.

Frank Van Baren

Augusta, Georgia