Insight on the News
“Pray Now, Pay Later”
● The phrase “pray now, pay later” appeared in a headline of the Philadelphia “Inquirer” in reporting on a church experiment due to go into effect shortly. A group of ten U.S. religions, including some major Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist and Baptist denominations, have decided to try church collections by credit card. The experiment, sponsored by the National Council of Churches, will encourage participating church members to authorize credit-card transfers of a specified contribution to their church each month. The idea, a Council spokesman says, is that “this will provide the local church with regular income whether or not the local congregation is in attendance,” especially in “off-seasons,” like summer vacation time. The report on the experiment says that those joining the program will be “giving unto business what belongs to business—a profit.” How so? “Participating banks will charge 65 cents a transaction, and the credit card companies will rake off 3 percent of every donation.” Obviously someone benefits, but how much spiritual benefit is the modern churchgoer getting?
Scientist and Belief in God
● Sir Isaac Newton, the English scientist who lived in the 17th and 18th centuries, developed the mathematical system of calculus, made major discoveries as to the nature of light and the laws of gravitation. The “Encyclopædia Britannica“ calls his book on “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy” “one of the most important single works in the history of modern science.” Recently, a new publication entitled “The Religion of Isaac Newton” makes even clearer the profound respect this renowned scientist had for the Bible as God’s Word. His intense interest in the Creator did not develop in his old age. Rather, it was the subject of thought and research from his youth upward.
A review of this new book, published in the “Scientific American” magazine (August 1975), says that “for Newton . . . there were two ways to examine the universe God had made, one through the book of nature, the other through Scripture.” Newton gave the following as his standard for studying each of these: “Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things. . . . He is the God of order and not of confusion.” (See 1 Corinthians 14:33.) Those who fancy themselves to be of scientific mind would do well to think of that when they incline to dismiss as unworthy of credence the Bible’s simple, straightforward account of creation, including the creation of the first human pair, its history of the origin of sin and of the provision of a ransom for mankind.
The review points out that Newton “cared nothing for the subtle substances of the Trinity [the unscriptural belief in three coequal Gods in one]. His all-powerful God was bound up with plain words, the words of Scripture, and not with philosophical abstractions.” In the early 1690’s Newton produced a manuscript endeavoring to prove that trinitarian passages in the Bible were latter-day corruptions of the original text. Research since his day demonstrates the rightness of his view, particularly as regards such texts as 1 John 5:7, acknowledged today even in Catholic translations as containing spurious words added to the original in an effort to support the Trinity doctrine.
Foundering Church in France
● In France, where 85 percent of the people are Catholic, a new survey reveals that regular Mass attendance has dropped by more than one fourth since 1971. In that year 22 percent said they attended regularly; only 16 percent do now. The survey also reveals that only about a third of the French Catholics agreed that Jesus is “really living” today, while the other two thirds either disagreed or gave no opinion. Calling the survey’s results “disturbing,” Archbishop Robert Coffy, chairman of the French bishops’ committee on the sacramental pastorate, pointed to a major source of the problem, saying: “It must be recognized that we are doubtlessly responsible—we the bishops, the priests and also the (religious) activists.” Christ Jesus said that a tree is known by its fruits—if the fruits are not good, neither can the tree be. (Matt. 7:16-20) What does the Church’s fruitage in France show?