There is something in the lessons of history which we should not leave unnoticed to the readers of ourStandard Bearer. History often repeats itself on certain points. Especially on the point where the liberty of the believers in Christ is at stake.
The leaven of Phariseeism always wills to creep in.
Jesus did not say for naught: beware of the leaven of Phariseeism!
Dr. Herman Bavinck gives a very succinct and accurate description of this evil in the churches of the Reformation, speaking of the history of Dogma, when he discusses the subject: Faith and repentance. (Geioof en Bekeering)
In these days where men like Rev. Hubert De Wolf stress the activity of faith as a “prerequisite” and as a “condition” it is well to listen to the evaluation of Dr. H. Bavinck of the English and Scottish practicists.
Writes the late Dr. H. Bavinck on page 93, Volume IV as follows:
“Under the influence of the English and Scottish practicists a continued line of men arose, who complained about the bad state of affairs in the church, the corruption of morals, and announced the judgment of God, which they recognized in all kinds of woes and of wars, and who expected salvation and deliverance in a reformation of the heart and life. They reminded the rulers of the land and the ministers in the church to perform their duty, and urged all to serious and pains-taking self-examination. Uprightness in walk, membership in the church, birth from believing parents, baptism, confession, Lord’s, Supper are not sufficient.
“He who has no more reaches just short of the truth. . .
“Others took stronger issue with what they called “letterknowledge” and uttered the sigh: O Lord deliver us from the letter which murders thousands, and place the stamp of Thy Spirit upon it. These labored for a practical, a sentimental-experiential life and Christendom.
“But even those who did not fall into this extreme no longer placed regeneration before baptism in practical life; they had very little confidence in the so-calld Evangelical repentance and insisted on a brokenness of heart, conviction of sin and the feeling of misery as the conditions for obtaining part in Christ and His benefits and placed justification and regeneration after faith!” (Italicize, G.L.)
It’s the old, old story of error, isn’t it, dear readers. One has but to turn to Rev. De Wolf’s articles in the “Reformed Guardian” to see this same error of the English practicists, and the “Oud Gereformeerden” in Netherlands and here. It is an old and persistent error, but it is not Reformed! This last observation rings a bell in me. I’m reminded of the remark of Rev. A. Cammenga, when I asked him in the presence of Rev. C. Hanko whether he regarded the church on earth as “potential candidates for heaven and hell”? He then said: “Wat denk je dat ik oud gereformeerd ben?”
Just a little syllogism:
1. The practicists (oud gereformeerden) place justification and regeneration after faith. Faith is the condition of salvation with these neonomists.
2. One has but to see the great attempt on the part of the Reformed Guardian to defend “faith” as being “before” salvation, to see in which direction they are moving in their defense of “conversion is prerequisite to enter the kingdom,” Rev. A. Cammenga included.
3. Ergo: Let every reader draw the conclusion. Also Rev. De Wolf and Rev. A. Cammenga.
If these erstwhile. Protestant Reformed preachers do not wish to fall under the verdict of the late Dr. Bavnck let them repent. What is this verdict?
“In this way (of these practicists) the peculiar tendency and teaching (richting) of the Rationalistic and Moralistic School was positively prepared in the order of salvation (Ordo Salutis), which was followed by nearly all the Eighteenth Century theologians. Leaving the principles of the Reformation they joined forces with the Socinians and the Arminians and taught that faith, whether it be considered as assensus or as confidence (fiducia) in a measure, cannot justify, but that it was the fountain of virtue as it included the new obedience.”
A little excerpt from Dr. H. Bavinck. Against a “little leaven”!
He that readeth let him take note!
The Ladies’ League meeting was held October 20, 1955, at Hudsonville Protestant Reformed Church. The meeting was opened by singing Psalter number 290 and Psalm 116, after which our president, Mrs. F. Harbin, opened with prayer and read Malachi I and II. A word of welcome was extended to all the ladies present. A ladies’ trio from Hope Church sang for us, and the president then introduced the speaker, Rev. H. Hoeksema, who spoke on “Confession and Promise” as based on the second and third questions of the Baptism form.
Every time a baby is baptized the entire church, as well .as the parents, make a promise. Ever since the Baptism .form was composed in the 16th century it has always been a subject of severe controversy. The phrase, “doctrine taught here in this Christian church” was left out of the early forms; but in 1615 and 1619 the Synod of Dordrecht maintained this clause exactly as it is in our present form. Scripture is not doctrine but the Church elicits the doctrine from Scripture, and the Church through its leaders systematizes this doctrine. All elements are expressed in the Baptism form for it confesses total depravity, and, in the second part, it so beautifully expresses, “God the Father establishes an eternal covenant of grace with us”—no condition, no invitation. No one is included except the elect. The Holy Ghost assures us that He will dwell in us. Our part, in the covenant of God is not collateral with God’s part but it is always simply the fruit of the work of God. The baptism form looks to the spiritual seed only—always.
2. Promise is the answer to the third question. The age of discretion starts at birth. Our children must be instructed positively according to Protestant Reformed doctrine in the home, in catechism, sunday School, and Christian School. We are very grateful for our Protestant Reformed Schools, but we must not be satisfied with what we are doing; we must strive for our own schools also in higher education, knowing that our work shall not be vain in the Lord.
After this instructive talk opportunity was given to ask questions relative to the speech. While singing a Psalter number, a collection was taken for our Adams Street and Hope Protestant Reformed’ Schools. The ladies’ trio sang another selection, and Rev. Hoeksema closed with prayer. Our evening ended with refreshments served by the ladies from Hudsonville Church and the Priscilla Society of First Church.
We thank God for the precious truths He has revealed to us and pray for grace to be faithful that-all things may be done to the glory of His Holy Name.
Mrs. Peter Decker, Reporter
The fall meeting of the Western Ladies Aid League of Protestant Reformed Churches which was held at Doon, Iowa on October 12 was opened by singing our theme song, Psalter No. 295, and Psalter No. 313. Then our president, Mrs. H. Veldman opened with prayer, read Romans 12:1-16 and extended a word of welcome.
The minutes of our spring league meeting and the delegate board meeting were read and approved as read after which the financial report was given by the treasurer. Our speaker for the afternoon was Rev. H. Veldman who spoke on the topic “Personal Dedication and Consecration” based on Rom. 12:1-2. He first explained the difference between dedication and consecration. Our task of consecrating does not mean to consecrate ourselves to the betterment of our world, of society, and of humanity itself. We must not consecrate ourselves to ourselves, our husbands, our children, and our homes but to God and to God alone who revealed Himself in Scripture in order that He alone may be praised and glorified. The task of consecrating cannot be performed of ourselves but only by the mercies of God Who gave us a renewed mind.
It is our calling as Protestant Reformed ladies and mothers to: 1. consecrate ourselves by knowing the truth therefore, the Protestant Reformed truth, 2. consecrate ourselves by discussing these things with our husbands and instructing our children in these things; 3. consecrate ourselves in the sphere of education.
Our self-consecration is possible only by the mercies of God. Be ye not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. Rom. 12:2a. Proceed not in ourselves but proceed in prayer. May His grace lead us in all we do unto His glory and praise.
After Rev. Veldman’s edifying speech a musical number was given by the Hull ladies.
Then Rev. Heys conducted our Question Hour. He very capably answered the questions handed in by each society. After each question the audience was given opportunity to ask questions.
The Edgerton ladies then favored us with a musical number.
We sang some Psalter numbers while the offering was received for Children’s Retreat. Mrs. J. Heys, our vice president, closed with prayer.
A delicious lunch was served by the Doon ladies at the conclusion of the meeting.
With grateful hearts to our merciful God for a spiritually filled afternoon of Christian fellowship we returned to our respective homes.
Mrs. T. Jansma, Reporter
In the Editorials of the “Reformed Guardian,” Oct. 10, under the topic: “Plainly Speaking” . . . Edward Knott’s soul was moved as he was listening to some of the passages of Mendelssohn’s oratorio, Elijah, and particularly when he heard a portion of Isaiah: “Be not afraid, for I am thy God, I will strengthen thee.” And as Knott was struck by these words the matter of his churches came to his mind; and no wonder.
Knott is positive that his churches have a right of existence, although some in their midst are not so enthusiastic about it. There is a shrugging of the shoulders, a refusal to go along, a failure to face the future, whatever it may be in the way of obedience to our heavenly Father, confidently and resolutely.
However, that should not surprise you, Knott. Your future is not only dark, but there is no future at all for your churches, for the simple reason that they do not exist. And don’t make your members believe that you have that right, and that your so called churches are the living continuation of the Protestant Reformed Churches, as you put it. Knott continues his oracle: “We took a position in 1924.” And now Knott reveals himself as one who does not belong by us anymore. Listen: “That position does not belong to one man alone, or the group that follows him.” Did that man ever reveal himself as such, Knott? When you were a student, Knott, you esteemed that man very highly, it seems. And you know that that man, who was your Professor then, never put himself upon the foreground, but was meek, and still is, by the grace of God. But that teacher you seemed to love then, you hate now. And with hatred in your soul toward your former Professor—who never did you any wrong, but always sought the best for his students, and still does, and instructed you all in the Protestant Reformed truth, and carried you all upon the wings of prayer before the God of Sabaoth—don’t you remember that anymore?
You say, as long as the Lord gives us breath we will maintain that truth. You have not the truth but propagate the lie. A conditional God is an idol and that preaching is idol worship.
Never say again, Knott, we have a right of existence. Classis and Synod denied you that right; and the Grand Rapids Court looked through your scheme. What you call your churches, they are out, and hopelessly entangled in your own confusion which you created yourself, and the Protestant Reformed truth, which you as preachers of the gospel have preached amongst us, you never loved.
It is the height of folly, Knott, to speak of a Mission program. As you know, the Church does Mission work.
And to re-establish the Theological School? What boldness of speech! Who in the world will be the teachers? Unless Kok can teach church polity and maybe Houwerzyl doctrine. Vermeer is out; collector he is.
And then to say: forward in faith, in the confidence that the Lord gives us a place. I suppose that is the faith before you are in the kingdom of God. Remember, the Lord did not give you a place. He will not strengthen you as you think He will, for He is the God of truth and He hates the lie.
Let me inform you, Knott, that our future looks bright. Praise the Lord! We have two Professors whom we love, and our missionary may see fruit upon his labors.
Again we might say, “And what you don’t hear!” First we, as churches, were sold down the stream to the Liberated churches, by Kok, and De Jonge. Then the “Hate Hoeksema-Ophoff” campaign was subtly carried on in the dark. Following that, was that iniquitous “Cross-Bill,” and the testimony in the Lawsuit in Civil Court. These corruptions are legion!
And what SOUND do we hear today? THIS: “We (namely Kok et alii) believe the same as you (the Prot. Ref. Churches, H.V.P.) do; there is not much difference!” Factually, then, my breath stops deadcold for want of the proper words, lest I should sin by writing the wrong thing, which I loathe to do. Thus, instead of expressing something angrily, I will try to accept Kok’s assertions at face value for what they are worth, in the light of FACTS as we have experienced these, since 1948. Taking it as a premises, which Kok now classifies as: “Believing the same as we do . . . there isn’t much difference;” and thus joining the two as ONE PREMISE, then it is safe to make these deductions:
If Kok (and those with him) have ever signed their own death warrant, then they have done so NOW! For, they show that they NEVER HAVE BEEN PROTESTANT REFORMED, and after all that has been said and done, Kok, etc., FRANKLY TELL US: “We understand NOTHING of the Protestant Reformed Doctrines, nor Church Order.” From all that Kok, et alii, have revealed to us in the recent past, it is plain that: THEY BELONG WITH THE LIBERATED, OR WITH THE CHR. REF. CHURCHES, but NOT with us! LET US BEWARE of this honeycombed philosophy of Kok and others who are now casting their white robes of innocence over the dirty page of the history of our recent breach, of WHICH THEY ARE THE CAUSE. Now Kok tries to change the Leopard spots of iniquity with his soft-soap philosophy and wishes to join hands, and let bygones be bygones. But, before we, as Protestant Reformed Churches entertain such notions, we better see a good doctor and have our heads examined. Naturally, we care not what Kok and the schismatics NOW think. Kok’s “Conscience” has weighed HIS PLIGHT, and HIS KINGDOM (or “Sovereignty in own domain”) and it is NOW found wanting. So, Kok’s career often changes. 1924: “There is NO Common Grace!” 1948: “God’s promise is for all” (Liberated). I advise Kok’s “Conscience” to GO TO HIS FRIENDS, THE LIBERATED, because Kok and his “Conscience,” and the Protestant Reformed Churches are two direct opposites and are, by no means, alike. And Kok’s present contention is the final proof of that. HE KNOWS NOTHING OF OUR DOCTRINES NOR CHURCH ORDER. Would we KNOWINGLY take another chance TO WRECK THE REMAINING REMNANTS of our churches, just to give Kok et alii a job? God Forbid! LET LJS BEWARE OF KOK’S HONEY-COATED CORRUPTIONS, lest our end be worse than it ever has been before.
Yours in Christ FOR THE TRUTH.
H.A. Van Putten