The Church Should Stand for Something

Biblical Exposition and Homiletic Helps

L.C.K. is an associate editor of the Ministry.

were much interested in a profitable article by Hugh Thomson Kerr, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, printed in the August 12, 1943, number of the Presbyterian. The article begins with these significant words, "We thank God that the Presbyterian Church does stand for something." This sentence struck a responsive chord in our hearts, as we thanked God that the Seventh-day Adventist Church also stands for something. Our church has a high standard indeed, and as we continue to raise the standard of the min­istry of this church, we rejoice that we are building on a solid foundation. However, we can well afford to learn from the experiences of other Christian bodies, and this article has some excellent points we wish to quote for emphasis. The writer states:

"The Presbyterian Church is a disciplined church, and down through the centuries it has stood up to the world, the flesh, and the devil and championed the truth as it is revealed in the gospel. Holding the whole body of Christian doctrine in proper balance, the Presbyterian Church, however, has given its own doctrinal emphasis."

Here follows a discussion of the Westminster Creed in the light of rationalism. Next, the authority of the Scriptures over the creed is presented. But most of all we note a signifi­cant emphasis on the Holy Spirit's power to witness to the truths of the presented word of God. We agree with the writer that the Bible must be the infallible rule of faith and practice. We wish, however, that this church might take a firm stand on some of its doctrinal positions which cannot stand the scrutiny of Scriptural truth.

"The Presbyterian Church has stood for the su­premacy of grace. The Calvinistic hymns sing of grace. The theme of Presbyterian song is 'nothing in my hands I bring.' The doctrine of humanism, or secularism, leaves the doctrine of Calvinism unchallenged, and the modern return to an understanding of the tragic sense of sin is a return to the doctrine of Calvinism, which proclaims the unworthiness of the human heart and rests the hope of redemption upon the grace of God alone. We get no further than Plato if we forget that Christ and He alone is the world's Saviour.

"Men are constantly making the same mistake. They expect rationalism to discover God. They hold conversations about God that deal with metaphysics but leave out Christ. The Presbyterian Church is Christ-centered and is therefore evangelistic, mis­sionary-minded, and ecumenical.

'It would be difficult to place in order the empha­ses here suggested, and it may be well said that in­stead of being placed last, the emphasis of the Pres­byterian Church upon the authority of Scripture should be placed first. The Presbyterian Church sub­mits its creed and its conscience to the judgment bar of Scripture. It is there truth is tested and also life, and yet it is no formal or autocratic authority to which the Presbyterian system appeals, for according to the Westminster Creed the authority of Scripture consists in 'the inward work of the Holy Spirit bear­ing witness by and with the word in our hearts.' To often the witness of the Spirit has been forgotten. 'God alone,' says Calvin, 'is a sufficient witness of Himself in His own Word, so also the Word will never gain credit in the hearts of men, till it be con­firmed by the internal testimony of the Spirit.'"

The writer of this article, in quoting Calvin, states a:n impressive truth which is good Sev­enth-day Adventism as well as Calvinism. There must always be the witness of the Spirit to in­flame the heart to obedience, as well as the mind. He alone will unlock "the meaning of sealed things." Men may declare God's com­mandments, but God's power must provide the strength to walk in them. May we as the mes­sengers of God's last warning message realize the significance of this truth. We must preach the immutability of God's holy law, but we must also have the unction from on high to impress men to fulfill it.

"'They indeed may utter words, but theY cannot give the Spirit. Most beautifully do they speak, but if Thou be silent, they inflame not the heart. They teach the letter, but Thou openest the sense: they bring forth mysteries, but Thou unlockest the mean­ing of sealed things. They declare Thy command­ments, but Thou helpest us to fulfill them. They point out the way, but Thou givest strength to walk in it. They work only outwardly, but Thou instruct­est and enliglitenest the heart. They water, but Thou givest the increase. They cry aloud in words, but Thou impartest understanding to the hearing. Let not Moses therefore speak unto me, but Thou, O Lord my God, the everlasting truth.' "

Again it is of value for us to note the stress being placed by the Presbyterian Church found­ers on an educated ministry and an intelligent laity. It is evident that the work of the min­ister is to keep abreast of knowledge. "The pastor's office is to convince, . . to feed the flock," and "to keep off the wolves." He should be a reader. Skill in logic is not to be despised, but character and conduct especially must enter into the examination of candidates for this holy office.

"The examination of ministers took up a great deal of the time of the [Westminster] assembly, and the question concerning the educational qualifications of the clergy was thoroughly examined. Here are some conclusions: 'A man must be able to read his Greek Testament.' All our learning lies in Latin books.' I am of the opinion that the pastor's office is to convince. He must be able not only to feed the flock, but to keep off the wolves.' The times are learned and demand a learned ministry.' We may think the place obscure, yet it may have knowing people therein.' In the discussion of the assembly these problems are frequently referred to in connec­tion with the education of the minister : 'What au­thors he hath been versed in.' What skill he hath in the tongues and logic.' Trial of his knowledge in the chief grounds of religion.' Trial to be taken how he can work upon consciences.'

"Not only did they inquire into the educational qualifications of the clergy, but also into their char­acter and conduct. This was their position, 'It hath ever been our course in the examination of ministers to consider first of their lives and to be fully satisfied touching their conversation.' The Presbyterian Church has always stood for a qualified ministry and made provision for it."

Yes, the church "stands for something"!

Fellow workers, let us exalt the high standards of Adventism and aim to make our ministry a calling. of the Bible and a mission of the Holy Spirit.                                                        

L. C. K.

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L.C.K. is an associate editor of the Ministry.

November 1943

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