Sober Discernment

Dear Editor:

May I have a few lines in Beacon Light’s Open Forum to comment briefly on two articles appearing in the August-September issue?

The first article is entitled “Sober Discernment”, written by Rev. H. Veldman. Without indulging in the discussion of the subject matter of this article and refraining from commenting on the article in totol, I direct attention to the final sentence of the article which reads: “We must always be careful, especially when we instruct the youth.”

With the statement we have no quarrel. Its truth is axiomatic. For emphasis we would underscore the word “always”. And the reader will understand that we do not here contradict the truth of Scripture found in Philippians 4:6 for “carefulness” does not in this writing have the connotation of “anxiety” as it does in the aforementioned text.

Carefulness is a virtue. Its opposite is carelessness, a vice. It denotes “attentiveness to support and protect” (Webster) and involves “watchfulness, cautiousness” (Thorndike). I deplore the lack of appreciable evidence of this carefulness in the article mentioned. In publicly criticizing another’s writings, is it carefulness to inject into a brother’s writing foreign issues? Is it carefulness to discredit another’s writing by setting up straw men and then knocking them down? Is it carefulness to neglect the brother’s objective writing and then proceed to attack on the basis of one’s own “fears”? (suspicions)

Such practices are not conducive to sound journalism and neither can this be characterized as “sober discernment”.

The second article to which I have reference is that of Mr. J. Kalsbeek on “The Convention in Retrospect”. I refer particularly to the brother’s description on page 6 of that which, in his judgment, caused the 1964 Convention to “sadly miss its goal” and further causes him to question the propriety of future conventions. I believe Mr. Kalsbeek has soberly discerned our youth’s behavior in the last convention and is to be commended for the courage of his expression in sounding a much needed warning to the present generation. The brother evinces a sound sense of values that is sorely obscure in our times. What he writes gives cause for alarm and brings a great heaviness and deep sorrow to the heart. However, we cannot escape the pains of that sorrow by ignoring reality.

We must face the facts which briefly are these:

(1) Our doctrine is priceless. Our heritage of truth is glorious. We are unable to limit or define the value of the treasures committed to our trust and embodied in the phrase: “The Sovereignty of God”.

(2) History is replete with warnings and examples of the truth that this heritage is unconditionally preserved for us and our generations only in the way of faithful adherence in life and confession to the responsibilities endowed upon us by virtue of this trust. Failure marks backsliding and apostasy and is indicative of a lack of grace sorely needed. Faithfulness is the product of grace that evinces true gratitude for and zealous devotion to the Lord’s heritage. Its manifestation confirms Divine favor and then all is well, notwithstanding the evidence of temporal things. We cannot then manifest in our living the spirit of “pleasure mindedness, worldly mindedness, materialism, etc.” and expect the continuance of THE TRUTH in our midst. We must be sober, watchful, spiritually consecrated and vigilant unto every good work, seeking the things that are above and put God’s Cause first, last and all the way between.

(3) Pulpit and periodical must unceasingly not only expound the truths of our heritage for our instruction, but also continuously emit the clarion call to repentance, to turn, as Mr. Kalsbeek put it, “from all outward appearance, from materialism to spiritualism”. And the Word must be implemented with the discipline instituted by Christ Himself for the salvation of His people.

I write these words on Reformation Day. May the spirit of true reformation rekindle our hearts, as parents, as youth and children, dispelling all apathy and re-consecrating us to the untiring service of God’s Cause and Kingdom.