Much space has been devoted in various publications of late concerning the problem of the morale of our armed forces. All of us realize the importance of this factor in an organization like our Army. Courage, enthusiasm, and zeal are extremely necessary to military success.
In the issue of August 18th, last, “Life“, famous pictorial weekly, published an article entitled: “This is What the Soldiers Complain About”. In it are recorded the findings of a staff reporter, after his investigation of conditions in a sample Army division. Based upon interviews with some four hundred privates from five different regiments, this staff member concluded that due to dissatisfaction with officers, lack of equipment, and a shortage of proper recreational facilities, the average soldier in the Army was not enjoying himself at all.
Perhaps these things are true. It remains a question, of course, whether this survey of one division can serve as a proper basis for an opinion concerning the morale of the entire Army. “Life” admits this in its editorial comment, when it says: “Whether the morale situation ‘Life’s” reporter found is typical of all the new soldiers, “Life” does not attempt to say.” Personally, we agree with the editor of the “Standard Bearer” that if the situation is as described, it is “perfectly understandable”.
However, it is not in the fact as such that we find so much interest as far as “Beacon Lights” is concerned. Here we would rather be informed as to the attitude Christian Youth must assume toward the situation. May we be discouraged and disheartened by the seeming futility of things, whether military or otherwise? To this question the Reverend H. Hoeksema replies as follows in the “Standard Bearer”, issue of September 1st, 1911:
“However, I do not write this to justify the attitude of the men in the camps as expressed in the report of “Life’s” staff member.
Certainly, it may not be the attitude of the Christian. He may be depressed and discouraged, especially with a view to the prospect of spending two and a half years of his young life in the army. He, too, may lack enthusiasm for our part in the present war. He may long for the day that he will be discharged and may return home. He may hate the idea of an alliance with Russia. We can understand this. We feel for him and pray for him.
But he does not rebel, nor talk in a spirit of rebellion, nor suggest that he will “go over the hill”. His morale may be affected by circumstances, it cannot be destroyed by them. It is rooted in principle. Therefore, it is fundamentally steadfast.
And the principle is that he must be and is willing to be in subjection to authority, to the powers that are placed over him, for they are of God. And for God’s sake he respects authority and obeys.
The responsibility he leaves to the government. He cannot be held accountable before God for whatever part our government may take in the war. They, too, are accountable before God.
But he may look upon his place in the army as assigned to him by his God. And in that position he is called to serve his God by being in subjection to the higher powers.
He walks in faith, even in the army. And the morale of faith is always good.”
God forbid that we try to solace our brethren in the service with any other message!
* * * * * * * * * *
Editor De Jong on State Support for Our Christian Schools:
In the September, 1941 issue of the ‘’Christian Home and School Magazine”, Editor A. S. De Jong presents an editorial under the title, “Sphere Sovereignty — or State Support”. The editorial pertains to the subject of the support of our Christian day schools, with a view to the present system of public, state supported schools of our land. It seems that a certain Mr. Alger Paauw in a recent issue of this magazine championed the idea that our schools should also share in the funds collected by our government for the education of children. According to Mr. Paauw “the present situation is unfair, un-American, since ‘all citizens are not equal beneficiaries of the public funds collected under compulsion’.”
Mr. Harold Tilma, a Grand Rapids merchant, makes an objection to this stand. His claim is that any “system of state aid for our Christian schools violates the principle that parents are responsible for the education of their children”. He advocates the separation of all schools from the government, and would “allow our citizens to support the school in which they desire to have their children educated or with whose ideals they are in accord.”
The editorial in question is a commentary on these conflicting theories. In reality. Mr. De Jong takes up the cudgel for the latter idea, which he labels “sphere sovereignty”. This is evident from the following excerpts:
“That the parents are responsible to God for the training of their children may be taken for granted by us, since this is taught by God’s general and special revelation in unmistakable terms. To the fathers, as heads of the family, the Lord gives command to train the children in the fear of the Lord: to the government He gives command to execute justice and equity. The Lord does not empower the government with totalitarian authority over the lives of those over whom they rule.
To the government God gave charge to see to it that within the nation all the variegated spheres of life, operating by means of the indispensable authority required for the unmolested performance of their God-given functions, shall be protected against obstructive interference on the part of antagonistic forces. To preserve equity in the functioning of the principle of sphere sovereignty so that each sphere may work unmolested, and at the same time respect the sovereignty of all those that function in other fields of activity after the ordinance of God, the Ruler of all —that is the divinely ordained business of the state.
This fundamental idea being accepted, it follows that a government which takes charge of the school-education of the children of the nation, thereby oversteps its own God-given boundary of authority. Only in case parents prove to be willfully neglectful, when they refuse to provide for their children the required school-education, has the state authority to compel these children to a state school.
Since in our country the state has taken it upon itself to provide public education for all children, leaving room for education by means of private schools, and does demand that all citizens pay tax to cover the expense involved, it appears that our government violates the principle of democratic equality: of equal rights to all and special privileges to none. The citizens who desire for their children an education different from that provided by the so-called “neutral” school, and who take the trouble, and go to the expense of building and maintaining private schools for their children, have a perfect right to ask that the state allocate from the public school fund, in the name of democracy, a proportionate share of them. Or, they may insist that the state cease to operate public schools, and instead of that, demand that parents themselves must provide schools for own ideals and principles. In this their children in accord with their case the state would be obliged to provide public education only to such children whose parents, for one reason or another, failed to comply with the state’s command in this respect.
From a practical standpoint, the first course might prove to be more expedient. But would this course not favor the tendency to leave things pertaining to the character of the work of the subsidized schools: their courses of study, administration, discipline, etc., into the hands of a government whose ever increasing tendency to regulate all their business after the current political instinct of totalitarian uniformity, would frustrate the thorough application of the very principles which prompted the establishment of our Christian schools?
The second proposed plan to correct the present unjust policy of forcing citizens that feel duty-bound to provide Christian schools for their children to pay also for the public schools, is that the state demands of its citizens to teach their children on their own private initiative, in schools that must meet general standards set by the government. This plan appears to be in accord with the Biblical principle that requires respect for the sphere sovereignty of the parents in regard to the education of their children, on the part of the government.
Will it not be advisable to strive for this ideal, even though the first- mentioned method appears to be more practical, i.e., more likely, to obtain the consent of a majority to our people?
This column reserves further comment, in the hope that our societies will consider this a good topic for an “after-recess” discussion. It is imperative that we interest ourselves in the problems of Christian education. May we look for further comment?
* * * * * * * * * *
“American Council of Christian Churches” Organized:
With large headlines the “Christian Beacon”, fundamentalist weekly, announces the organization of a new church federation. No doubt you are aware of the fact that an organization of this type has been in existence for some time. It is known as the Federal Council of Churches, and is composed of the larger “Protestant” bodies in this country. Needless to say, the emphasis has been along the lines of the “New Theology”, or Modernism.
Wednesday, September 17, 1941 saw the formation of a new group under the name of the American Council of Christian Churches. As a protest against the Federal Council, its desire is to rally all those believing in the Gospel of redemption in the blood of Jesus Christ under a common banner. The new council was formed by concurrent action of the Bible Protestant and Bible Presbyterian denominations.
The opening paragraph of the statement issued by the Council at the time of its formation is indicative of its true character. It reads:
“We are thankful that we live in free America. Too long the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America has assumed to speak for all Protestants. It has, in fact, been a general instrument of soul-destroying Modernism. Its ‘social gospel’ is actually ‘another gospel’, sometimes hardly to be distinguished from outright communistic propaganda. It has gone far afield into political and economic activity. America needs spiritual leadership. She needs Jesus Christ as never before, not theories of social welfare. The shed blood of Jesus Christ alone can wash away sin. We need a revival desperately, but it can never come until men confess their sins, repent, and put their trust in Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son. The Holy Spirit, speaking through the Scriptures, can give the blessing, security, and comfort for which men’s souls cry.”
We wonder if this new council will presume to speak for all “Protestants” outside of the fold of the Federal Council of Churches. Certainly we cannot be presented as in any way sympathetic with its desire to present “Jesus Christ” to the nation as the panacea for her ills.
This would also make an interesting discussion for some societies. Further analysis of the Constitution of this organization reveals even more interesting things. If anyone desires this document for further study, he can obtain the same by addressing his request to the Managing Editor of “Beacon Lights”.