Religious World Trends

Religious trends and developments from various churches and denominations.

By F. H. YOST, Professor of Church History, S. D. A. Theological Seminary

Catholic Position on Tradition

It is a truism that the differences between the Roman Catholic and the Seventh-day Adventist are fundamental and basic. An excellent illustration of this is found in the following statement from a Catholic weekly:

"There is this difference between a Bible Chris­tian and a Catholic—the former believes all that is written in the Scriptures, and the latter be:ieves all that and more. . . In the Catholic Church we are not guided solely [sic] by the Bible, but by the Bible plus tradition."—Our Sunday Visitor, Oct. 27, 1940, art.. "Let's Be Fair," by Nicholas C. Schneiders.

The paragraph occurs in an article in which the author calls attention to the American's boast of the spirit of .fair play, and then states that the Catholic is not fairly used by non-Catholics in the United States. He cites in proof the misunderstanding that the Roman Catholic Church maintains that only members of its communion can be saved; that everyone to be saved must be baptized; that the absolu­tion of a priest can bring forgiveness to the Catholic without sorrow for sin. While seek­ing to refute these charges, Mr. Schneiders considers also the charge that the Catholic Church does not accept the Bible as the sole rule of faith, and in this connection makes the frank admission that calls forth our comment.

The Catholic Church is essentially a historic church. While it recognizes the simplicity of apostolic beginnings, it admits and glories in the changes and accretions which have pro­duced the Roman Catholic Church of today. Developments approved by the church are divinely ordained. Whatever has been taught and written with the approval of the church is of divine origin. Thus the inspired stream of tradition has been poured forth.

The Catholic believes that the Bible is an inspired fountain of truth, but that the stream of tradition is of equal validity. The Bible may be read, but it may not be privately or individu­ally explained or interpreted. Scriptural truth may be understood only in the light of tradi­tion. The Catholic understands that by allow­ing personal Bible study and interpretation, the Protestant churches have fallen into a trag­ically divided condition, in which their spiritual vitality has been sapped and their energies have been diverted and dispersed. Only the Catholic Church itself, through the inspired tradition of the past and the ecclesiastical authority of the present, may interpret Scripture.

All this the Seventh-day Adventist denies. The Bible is his sole rule of faith. To him, as well as to every other true Protestant, the con­cept of a weight of tradition standing along­side the Bible, and of equal authority with it, is repugnant. He studies the Bible for himself under the guidance of the Spirit of God, and by the power of the Spirit applies its teachings in his life. Unity with his brethren is secured by his reception of the unifying presence of the Spirit of God, and by his acceptance of his duty to propagate a message of truth, which is found in the Bible and is timely and essential to a world about to witness the return of its Lord.

Methodist Concept of Evangelism

Exceptional emphasis on evangelism is given by the Methodist Christian Advocate for September 4. The urge to deeds, not words, has a wholesome lesson for us as well.

 But the Methodist concept of evangelism should not be missed—a two-week "revival," "preaching mission," "retreat," or "evange­listic session," with an urge to work on consti­tuency and Sunday school rolls to find "who should make decisions and unite with the church." Note the editorial:

Many resolutions have been adopted by annual conferences which have urged the cause of evangelism in the strongest terms. Ringing addresses on the subject have been delivered at almost every church gathering. Books have been written on the subject by some of the foremost leaders of the church. The Methodist Church has a great commission on evan­gelism as one of its major boards. We have done almost everything about evangelism except actually doing it.

The Christian Advocate is greatly interested in publishing an honor roll of all those churches that will officially  agree to hold, sometime between now and Pentecost Sunday, a two-week meeting which shall be organized around the evangelistic purpose. It makes no difference what name is used for the meeting—"revival," "preaching mission," "retreat," "evangelistic session"—so long as the central purpose of the effort is to bring men to a decision for Jesus Christ. We are not interested in the formal method, the workers employed, or the techniques. Our con­cern is that the people and their pastors shall enter into this effort in deadly earnest, according to the time and the method best suited to their local situ­ation. . . .

Let pastors begin now to make their plans. Send to the commission on evangelism for helps. Start work on the constituency rolls. Study the Sunday school rolls to find those who should make their decisions and unite with the church. Let there be an active committee on evangelism in every congre­gation.

Use whatever method seems best adapted to the community in which you work, but at least decide on some method and do something. We have done all the talking that is necessary. Now let's be about it!

With us, evangelism is vastly different. With a full-rounded, reformatory message to give, three months rather than two weeks are needed. We must never forget the far-flung implications of our concepts of evangelism in an apostate age. Thoroughness and complete­ness must be our watchwords. We would call Methodism's two-week efforts in churches, re­vivals. And these, too, we should, not neglect.

Catholic Version of Commandments

An unwitting disclosure of current Roman Catholic use of her version of the ten com­mandments appeared in the gravure section of the Washington (D. C.) Sunday Star for August 31, 1941, under the general title, "Learning the Ten Commandments—in Jail." One picture discloses a robed priest conducting a class in religion for criminal youth committed to the Cook County, Illinois, jail. The caption says, "Their general unfamiliarity with the ten commandments is the first shortcoming he starts to correct." Compulsory classes in re­ligious education were recently inaugurated by Warden Sain, Catholic classes being conducted in the morning, and Protestant classes in the afternoon, with six hours a week required.

An unwitting disclosure, however, appears in the lower picture, where one of these boys, at blackboard drill, is writing the command­ments, from the fourth downward. The photo discloses the following:

"IV  Honor thy father and thy mother.

"V   Thou shalt not kill.

"VI  Thou shalt not commit adultery.

"VII Thou shalt not steal."

Designed to show Catholic religious develop­ment and her stress of the last six command­ments, it discloses at the same time the muti­lated Catholic form which is being taught—dropping the second commandment, on image worship, and making the abbreviated Sabbath commandment the third, etc. Rome does not change, but her influence grows. Her rela­tionship to the fourth commandment is un­altered, which alone reveals the creatorship of God, man's relationship to God, His law, and His Sabbath memorial, which is the basis of all human morality. This current incident may well be cited. And others will be observed, if we are on the alert.

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By F. H. YOST, Professor of Church History, S. D. A. Theological Seminary

November 1941

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