The last time I called the attention of our readers to a little pamphlet entitled: “Popular Phraseology Considered” written by Principal C. Breed of the Strict Baptist group. I promised to finish in this issue the complete quotation of this pamphlet. The second part of this pamphlet has to do with the expression “Accepting Christ.” The writer continues as follows:
“II. Arising out of the conception of a Gospel offer there is a type of phraseology variously expressed as “accepting Christ,’ or “making a full surrender,” or “giving the heart to Christ.”
“(a) With regard to the first of these, it has already been noticed that acceptance of the offered salvation is treated as essential to the obtaining of salvation. It has also been observed that the quickening of the Spirit is evidently the actual beginning of an experience of salvation. Christ made this clear to Nicodemus, ‘Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ But this new birth is a secret operation of the Spirit for, ‘the wind bloweth where it listeth and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth, so (like that) is everyone that is born of the Spirit.’ The sinner may know the time of his conversion, or when he was first conscious of the Lord’s work within, but he does not know the moment of his secret quickening. The seed may lie dormant a long time before starting into activity, (I would put a big question mark behind this last statement—M.S.) In short, in the matter of regeneration, the sinner is completely passive: he neither welcomes it, nor oppose it—he knows nothing about it-until afterwards. But it cannot be denied that a regenerate soul is already redeemed, though that fact may not yet be published in the conscience. If a man is brought into a hospital in an unconscious or dying condition, and is given an injection of some saving drug and recovers, what would be the point of asking whether he accepted what the doctor had done? If a sinner when- dead in sin is quickened by the Holy Ghost, by the injection of a new nature, (I would say—”Heart”—M.S.) what is the point of asking his acceptance of the gift of life which he now possesses?
“(b) In the case of the other two phrases, the kind of person intended as needing to ‘surrender’ or to ‘give the heart’ to Christ, is clearly not an incompetent sinner, but one who is able to stand alone against the grace of the Spirit. One popular Arminian preacher declared at a great meeting in the Albert Hall, ‘The armies of the Lord of Hosts halt at the gates of the city of Mansoul and invite its surrender.’ This teaching is open to the serious charge of inventing an incompetent God. If it should be said, as it has been said, that the Spirit must give the sinner grace to surrender, then the answer surely is, let us be done with this trifling with the truth, and instead of begging the sinner to surrender let us rather beg the Spirit to impart grace to the sinner.
“III. Among the terms relating to preaching the Gospel which need scrutiny are the words, ‘evangelical,’ ‘evangelistic,’ and ‘evangelise.’
“Many persons who use these terms in a popular and rather thoughtless manner, would do well to study their meaning with the help of an English dictionary. The verb ‘evangelise’ means simply ‘to make known the evangel or Gospel.’ The adjectives ‘evangelical and ‘evangelistic’ mean respectively, ‘pertaining to the Gospel’ and ‘intended to evangelise.’ These terms then have no reference to the preacher’s audience, but to his preaching. If he preaches the Gospel, he is evangelical and he evangelises, whoever his audience may be. If he does not preach the Gospel, he is not evangelical and he does not evangelise, whatever may be the composition of his audience.
“Certain services are now being described as an ‘evangelistic campaign’—a phrase which has been lifted from outside sources. Why must certain services be designated evangelistic as distinct from others? Is it that the other services are not evangelistic? This would be serious for surely every preaching service should be evangelistic. The fact is that these terms have been dragged from their rightful places and made incorrectly to refer to preaching to unconverted only, as if the words had reference to the nature of the audience. Q all means let the Gospel be preached to the unconverted, who can be found inside the Chapels as well as outside, but let all preaching be the pure Gospel of Christ. Only so is it evangelical.
“The foregoing examples must suffice to illustrate the dangers of the speaker-hearer relation. Some of these cases are instances of the wrong use of terms which have a correct employment; others are cases of terms which are wrong anyway in a Free Grace scheme of things:
“The terms and phrases noticed are tending to become current in Strict Baptist language, and as far as those of Arminian origin are concerned, their use has a subtle tendency to convey to the mind almost unconsciously their original import. Once the terms are admitted, the doctrines they connote are likely to follow. This would seem to be particularly the case with young people who are, not versed in the niceties of theological language.
“Calvinism has no need to borrow or import terms from other systems of thought. It produces its own technical terms and phrases. It has no need to ransack the theological world for secondhand words or thought-forms. Once let an Arminian term, like the wooden horse of Troy, be admitted into our thinking and speaking, and the resultant tragedy will be such that another Reformation will be needed to save the Denomination.”
Though we do not agree with all the phraseology the writer of this pamphlet uses as I have noted in the parentheses above, we do nevertheless agree whole-heartedly with his condemnation of the phraseology he claims is being imported into his denomination from Arminian sources. His is not the only denomination that has experienced this importation. In our American-Reformed church world these importations have been long in use.
We especially liked the thought he expressed when he said: “Calvinism has no need to borrow or import terms from other systems of thought. It produces its own technical terms and phrases, etc.” The trouble is that those churches, including his own, which purport themselves to be Calvinistic, have and do import these foreign terms and phrases. And the deceptive aspect of this fact is that the immature and less-informed constituency in these churches accept these terms as being Calvinistic. How thankful we as Protestant Reformed people may be that we have been spared so far this insidious evil, and that from our pulpits sound forth the full-orbed Gospel of Christ without these false admixtures.
“Missionary Activity in the Prot. Ref. Churches.”
A brother sent me a copy of the “Canadian Reformed Magazine” dated October 3, 1956, in which appeared an article in the rubric called: Mission. This article treats of “Mission activity in the Prot. Ref. Churches.” With the latter, the writer evidently means the schismatic group that left the Protestant Reformed Churches recently, but still calls itself Protestant Reformed.
I cannot take the time to translate and quote the entire article, nor is this necessary. Let me briefly repeat in my own words the gist of the article and make a few comments.
Rev. L. Selles, the author of this article, first compliments the schismatic group on its missionary zeal. He informs his readers that the Prot. Ref. Churches have never had a foreign mission field of their own, but had only conducted so-called Home Mission work. But sometime ago two young teachers, members of these churches, went to the island of Guam to teach for the government in the public school located there. While there they became interested in a mission established by a certain Rev. Wade of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church who was connected with the Navy. These teachers conceived of the idea of the Prot. Ref. Churches sponsoring this mission on Guam, and immediately contacted the consistory of First Church of which De Wolf is minister, and this consistory in turn contacted the Mission Committee of this group which studied the matter and brought the case to their synod.
In the meantime, so we are informed, Rev. Wade had finished his stretch with the Navy and evidently had informed the Mission Committee that he would like to return to Guam under the auspices of the Prot. Ref. Churches to continue the work in the Mission. The synod decided that under the auspices bf the Mission Committee the churches would sponsor the Mission. One or more churches were appointed to raise the salary of the missionary, and by free collections the rest of the expenses would be obtained from the churches.
So far, so good! according to Rev. Selles.
But now, it was at this point when something happened with which the Rev. Selles could not agree. The “Prot. Ref: Churches” did something uncomplimentary.
They hired an Orthodox Presbyterian minister who was loaned to them by, the Presbytery of California for mission work on Guam, and this on the basis of the Three Forms of Unity plus the Westminster Confession. Isn’t that strange? asks the Rev. Selles. How can they do that if they reckon with Articles 27-29 of the Belgic Confession?
Yes, Rev. Wade is a man who has repudiated Arminianism and heartily subscribes to the truth of God’s sovereign grace and unconditional election, according to Rev. Kol, says Rev. Selles; but if that is so, he continues, isn’t it the first task of the church to join themselves with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church? And if this is not possible, then shouldn’t they at least be one with Rev. Wade? And if this is impossible, then the whole business is out of order. You cannot, standing on two different church scaffolds, build the walls of Zion. Such is the contention of Rev. Selles.
I have nothing against the criticism of Rev. Selles. I agree with him. But he should not speak of the group that left us as being Protestant Reformed.
The Protestant Reformed Churches would not do mission work that way. Only those whose mission zeal has run away with them so much that they are willing to blindly forsake principles all along the line to give vent to their zeal, would do this. Not the Protestant Reformed Churches violated the sound principle Rev. Selles referred to, but an independent group of schismatics led by a group of schismatic ministers. Let Rev. Selles make this correction in the next issue of his periodical, the Canadian Reformed magazine.