All Around Us

The Revolt Grows 

There are repeated attempts made to gain government support for private and parochial schools. And such support appears ever more appealing and desirable. The cost of education continually goes up. Taxes paid by all for the support of public education are rapidly increasing. Christian parents, caught in the bind between high taxes, growing tuition requirements, and inflation are tempted to gain some sort of relief—especially governmental relief. We pay—so why not gain assistance from that which is ours anyway? There is that real temptation to take whatever government has to offer. Perhaps we have already done that far too much. Government is making the people, and Christians, increasingly dependent upon it. Editorials in recent Standard Bearers have been dealing with the issue. Yet we are inclined to ask: "Is there any real danger?" Or ought we to ask: are we being enticed as "flies" into the house of the "spider"? 

The Presbyterian Journal of Feb. 22, 1978 reports editorially concerning some of the difficulty colleges are having with the federal government in connection with support they have received in the past. Some colleges have been fighting government edicts—but in each case, government officials base their restrictive regulations against colleges on the fact that they have received, directly or indirectly, government assistance. One case concerned Covenant College on Lookout Mountain:

This is what happened in the case of Covenant College, an excellent Presbyterian school located on Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga. The knight-errant from the Atlanta office of HEW saw a plaque on the door of a building—partially funded with federal money—which read, "To the glory of God. . . ." That did it. He (and the Atlanta office he represented) decided the plaque violated that phrase in the law originally passed by Congress which specified there would be no "discrimination based on . . . religion." So the plaque must come off, the Atlanta office said. 

In the Covenant College matter—and in increasing numbers of other situations—school officials decided that enough was enough. The plaque stays—they said in effect. And the Atlanta office backed down.

Another reported case is that of Hillsdale College in Michigan. In this instance it was not even a matter of the college receiving any sort of direct aid. Only because individuals attending the school had received governmental assistance, the government determined that it had the right to demand of that college conformity to certain regulations. The college refused on principle. The outcome is still uncertain—and the real danger is clearly evident.

(The) latest school to get its back up against HEW's unfair practices is little Hillsdale College in southern Michigan. Hillsdale has been informed by HEW that it will get no federal funds in any form because it is in violation of the law. What is the issue? Hillsdale has refused to sign a statement saying it will not discriminate on the basis of sex. 

Mind you, Hillsdale does not now discriminate on the basis of sex. Some 45 per cent of its students are women. But as a matter of principle, the school refuses to swear in writing that it will not do what it never has done. And it has received no federal funds except in the form of government aid to students, as individuals. 

The outcome of the Hillsdale affair remains in doubt. . . .

The "Wiersinga Controversy" in the Netherlands

A certain Dr. Wiersinga in the Reformed Church in the Netherlands has publicly taught views on the atonement which are utterly foreign to Scripture and the Reformed creeds. What to do with such a person is the cause of continuing dispute in the Reformed church. The Calvinist Contact of Feb. 3, 1978 reports the following from the RES News Exchange:

The consistory of the Reformed Church of Amsterdam has stated its agreement with the pastoral writing on the atonement issued by the last Synod of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands in response to Herman Wiersinga's teachings. . . . 

Initially the Amsterdam consistory had taken issue with Synod's judgment that Wiersinga's views were inadmissible. The consistory had been charged with the responsibility of seeing that Wiersinga did not push his views in his official capacities. 

A synodical committee was appointed to talk with the Amsterdam consistory at the beginning of this year. The consistory explained at the meeting with the committee that it stood wholly behind the view of the atonement as expressed in the synodical report Verzoening, what it reacted against was what it took to be the first stages of discipline against the person of Dr. Wiersinga. A conflict was thus averted when the synodical committee explained that Synod had not intended to bring disciplinary procedures to bear on Wiersinga, it only wished to reject his teachings. Like all consistories, the Amsterdam consistory has to guard against the propagation of teachings contrary to the confessions, and not allow Wiersinga to "push" his views. 

Discussion on the floor of Synod centered on what the word "push" meant in the Synod's charge to the consistory: whether it meant that Wiersinga had been completely forbidden to speak on the subject. A deputy explained that Wiersinga had only been forbidden to propagate his ideas in preaching and catechetical instruction. Synod resolved that it is the task of the Amsterdam consistory scrupulously to oversee Dr. Wiersinga in this matter and to continue the discussion with which it has been charged. 

The consensus of Synod was that now Dr. Wiersinga and the consistory of Amsterdam be left at peace for awhile. Delegate Rev. H. Borgers added that Wiersinga, then, should cooperate in keeping the peace by not publishing another book on the subject. He felt that the synodical curb on Wiersinga should have been interpreted to apply to his writing also.

So, a heretic remains within that Reformed church—though obviously not the only one. And, so it seems, as long as he does not preach his heresy or teach it in catechism, he is free to do as he pleases. He may publicly teach this heresy, he may still write of it, he may continue to undermine the doctrines of the church openly—just so he does not do this on the pulpit. One wonders how a "confessional" church can long remain such when it plays so fast and loose with Scripture and confessions. If this is the extent of "discipline," the situation appears hopeless. 

Life Without Television 

Often people will say that they can take it, or leave it—television, that is. But can they? An interesting report and some conclusions are presented in Calvinist Contact of March 3, 1978.

A man walks up to your front door, rings the doorbell and smilingly offers you $500 to keep your television set turned off for one month. You would laughingly accept the offer and wait for the 30 days to end so that you could collect this bit of easy cash. 

Seem far-fetched? Not really. The Detroit, Michigan News made that offer to 100 families in that city recently. They told them simply to keep away from television for a month and they would receive $500 in cold cash. 

A few families managed to survive a few days, some a week, and most of them were pulling out their hair in frustration after a couple of weeks. The result? Only five families managed to collect that $500. 

But the worst of it was that most of the families began fighting, bickering and arguing. They simply couldn't take the "pressure" of being together as a family for a month. They presumably watched three or four hours of television a night. National figures have it as high as six hours a day. But take that away from a teenager or a mother or father and they have to look at other alternatives. 

. . .We are victims of the world and we don't even realize it. It is not surprising that we are concerned about "worldliness". That concern has certainly been expressed in this matter of social dancing at a Christian college. . . . What is really disturbing is that we spend our energy looking at this dancing situation while our very lives are ruled by a force which is much more dangerous—the television. 

We need more time for ourselves as families and as husbands and wives. The "Detroit 100" couldn't cope with that family situation. It proves that spouses don't talk to each other any more and that children don't get to know their parents, except during commercials when they all make a mad dash to the kitchen for some potato chips. 

. . .It would prove interesting if a number of households would care to unplug their television set for a month, not even watching the evening news or the Waltons. The end result? A healthier family life. (Writer: Keith Knight)

There are some important thoughts in the above. How little we really think of what we are doing to ourselves and our families when television is used—sometimes without any discrimination! It might indeed be well to evaluate, as a family, and in light of the Word of God, our own use of television. Each program must be evaluated: can this be viewed to the glory of God? What is all of this doing to our own families? Is the world using this instrument to instruct our children far more than we ourselves do? Is it detracting from our society life, from our reading of Scripture and from prayer, from our "family altars"? Is this inculcating into our lives a materialism and an insensitivity towards sin that is so common with the world generally? 

And could you turn it off—completely—for one month? I'd almost "dare" you to try it—and to find a proper spiritual alternative for the benefit of the whole family.