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Getting Personal

A certain brother wrote to me last week calling my attention to an article appearing in the Reader’s Digest (February, 1954, page 63) which he thought pretty well describes what is going on lately with those who are in the consistory of the Rev. De Wolf. After reading the article, I agree with him. 

For obvious reasons we cannot quote the article, but we can say a few words about it. The writer informs his readers that it is a time worn trick in the lawyer’s bag to use the get personal policy when he has no case, no argument to bring against a defendant. The author quotes cases where this trick was used. The purpose of this method of attack is evidently to make the accused look ridiculous and be laughed out of court. But read the article for yourself. It is worthwhile if you really want to know what is going on with those who used to be with us and who are now trying through the courts to confiscate properties that do not rightfully belong to them. 

When one reads the Cross Bill entered by the De Wolf faction in the courts, which I am informed not even all his elders knew about but to which their names were nevertheless affixed, which was written evidently by a lawyer who could not find a reasonable argument for his case and therefore went to the bag to pull out this trick, one wonders how it is possible that they will stoop so low to get their end. No one in his right mind is fooled by this trick except those who are blind enough to use it. No judge who is worthy of the name will allow this trick to sway him, least of all THE JUDGE of all the earth, If only De Wolf and his group could understand this, and repent in bitter tears. But we hear of no repentance. How sad! 

Not Hoeksema, But Kok Changed 

In the January issue of the Reformed Journal (Vol. 4, No. 1) Rev. Daane writes on the subject: “Can the Gospel Be Preached to Every Man?” It is not our purpose to comment on what he has to say about this subject as such, for he evidently has more to say in future articles. We will wait, therefore, until he has concluded. 

Incidentally, however, he also answers the Rev. B. Kok, who had written a letter in criticism of Dr. Daane in a previous issue of the Journal. Our readers will recall that in the Nov. 1, 1953, issue of the Standard Bearer we quoted Rev. Daane as saying “Although they do not admit it, those of the Protestant Reformed Churches who now disagree with the Rev. H. Hoeksema have taken at least one theological step back toward the Christian Reformed Church.” Rev. Kok also read this article and this statement and sent a letter to the Reformed Journal registering his objections. It is to this that Dr. Daane replies. I am quoting only that part of the article that has to do with Kok. 

Dr. Daane entitles this part with the question: “Has Hoeksema Changed His Position?” He answers as follows: “Hoeksema’s willingness to recognize the validity of the factual conditional (If a man believes, God will save him), does not mean that he subscribes to a conditional theology. For it must not be overlooked that there is nothing conditional about, ‘If a man believes, God will save him’ as long as this cannot be addressed to any particular man. It is an abstract truth that cannot be applied to any particular man. Hence, acceptance of the factual condition does not commit Hoeksema to a conditional’ theology. 

“Rev. Kok believes that Hoeksema’s rejection of conditions is a departure from Protestant Reformed theology as Hoeksema himself taught it formerly. Consequently Rev. Kok thinks I am mistaken when I declare that those in the Protestant Reformed Churches who now believe in conditional theology have taken a step toward the Christian Reformed Church. 

“In both instances I think Rev. Kok mistaken. Hoeksema has not changed his theology, except in the sense that he has purified it. Consistency demands that Protestant Reformed theology repudiate conditions. This theology can retain conditions in the abstract, but it cannot retain the conditional as a means of interpreting and determining gospel address. Protestant Reformed theology has always denied that the gospel preaching is of the nature of an ‘offer.’ It must therefore deny that gospel preaching is of a conditional nature. It is not Hoeksema but Kok who has departed from the genius of Protestant Reformed theology. (I underscore.—M.S.) 

“Hoeksema has not always expressed himself consistently on the matter of conditions. This has provided those who differ from him with quotations and fuel for debate. But a few quotations and a bit of inconsistency ought not to becloud the real issue. And Hoeksema’s purification of his theology by a removal of some of the old leaven that clung to it, ought not to be presented as though it were a theological departure. Hoeksema sees clearly what Rev. Kok does not see: if the conditional is used to interpret the general preaching of the gospel address, then there is no reason for continuing to reject the Christian Reformed definition of offer as an actual offer of salvation to any man who hears the gospel. Rev. Kok should either repudiate conditions and make common cause with Hoeksema, or he ought to allow the leaven of conditions to lead him to accept the Christian Reformed conception of the gospel as an offer to any who hear the gospel, and return to the Christian Reformed Church. (I underscore.—M.S.) His present position is a half-way house. He denies common grace, but he holds to a conception of conditional gospel address which bespeaks an offer of the gospel to all who hear, and therefore of a grace which is common. His present theology is a theology of inconsistency: it is neither Protestant Reformed nor Christian Reformed.” (I underscore.—M.S.). 

So far the quotation relative to the Rev. Kok. It is crystal clear that not only the Rev. Hoeksema has seen clearly what Rev. Kok does not see, but also Rev. Daane. The prediction which Rev. Hoeksema made at a public meeting in First Church some time ago is coming true. At a mass meeting in which he answered questions relative to our controversy, he answered this one: “What do you think those on the outside of our churches will say about us?” His answer in part was: “I am sure that those of the Christian Reformed Churches and the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands will sustain me,” or words to that effect. Even though Rev. Daane will not agree with Hoeksema’s doctrine, he knows as well as all the rest who know anything about 1924 that Hoeksema has not changed, that he never believed in conditional theology and he never will. But Rev. Kok does not see this, and it appears that he never will. The more Kok writes in defense of his conditional theology the more I am convinced that he never understood our Protestant Reformed conceptions. If this is not true, then there is only one other possibility and that is that Kok repudiates the Protestant Reformed theology and desires to be Christian Reformed. Rev. Daane has hit the nail squarely on the head.

A Challenge to the Rev. J.D. De Jong. 

When the Concordia of January 28, 1954, arrived, we noticed an article “Miscellanea” with its subtitle: “Rev. Schipper And The News Items Of Hull,” written by the Rev. De Jong. He was commenting on an article I wrote in the December 15th issue of theStandard Bearer relative to a news item he had previously placed in Concordia regarding the split in Hull and about my labors in that place after the split. 

I just want to leave this challenge with him. Rev. De Jong will you please do me the favor of publishing inConcordia my entire article published in the Standard Bearer above referred to relative to your news item? I dare you to put it in Concordia in toto. After you have done this, you can make all the comments you feel necessary and I’ll try to answer them. 

I know you don’t like to have your people read theStandard Bearer, but I’m sure it won’t hurt them to read just my little article. If you refuse to heed this challenge, I shall have to conclude that there is “a moral issue involved.” 

A Symposium On Television. 

The January 15th issue of the Banner brought to its readers three articles written by as many ministers in the Christian Reformed Churches on their evaluation of television. At the conclusion of these short articles the editor briefly summarizes and compares the arguments these ministers presented. 

After reading the articles, we too have made some observations as to what they say: 

1. All three proceed from the assumption that television is here to stay, and therefore the Christian cannot avoid making some kind of a judgment concerning it. 

2. All three are not ready to say that a Christian home may not have a TV set. 

3. All three can conceive of a Christian home using the instrument, but with great discretion. 

4. All three are aware of the evil influences this instrument may have in the home, and warn against these influences. 

5. All three are afraid that most television viewers do not use the instrument with discretion. 

6. All three make mention of perhaps the most outstanding evil of TV, namely, that it is a time-wasting device. 

This is a summary of what Christian leaders have to say about TV. Would you also like to read a summary of what a man of the world has to say about television? The following are quotations taken from a clipping of the Chicago News, Saturday, November 17, 1951. The writer of the article is Jack Mabley, and the heading of the article is: “One Million Sets Here—TV Has Traveled A Long Way—But Where’s It Going? After 4 Years, It Still Caters To The Sponsor’s Fast Buck.” 

“The millionth television set was installed in a Chicago area home this month. Commercial television is four years old. It is time to ask some questions about this machine that is rearranging the lives of two-thirds of the population. 

Have programs improved in four years? No, they are getting worse. However, there are many on the air today—more than 500 out of Chicago stations alone in a single week—that because of sheer mass provide a fair number of worthwhile shows. Percentage-wise, the number of constructive programs has become deplorably low. But in quantity, there are enough to suit any taste. 

How are moral standards? Improving, largely because of public indignation at excesses of horror, brutality, and vulgarity . . . . Is the plunging neckline still plunging? No. The new gimmick is to have buxom young ladies overflow in strapless gowns. The technique is different, but the moral intent is still on a guinea pig level. 

Are programs good for children? Of 500 programs available to youngsters in a seven week period, perhaps 10 are decent enough that a conscientious parent would encourage his children to watch them. The remainder of the 490 range from amusing, harmless and indifferent all the way to nightmare-producing monstrosities that will teach children everything that has led to the moral decay of this age. 

Whether a TV set will be a constructive force with children is completely in the hands of the parents, and their regulation of TV is going to play a huge part in determining the moral caliber of the next adult generation.” 

The writer closes his article with this question and answer: “What has TV done for society in four years? Not much for, plenty to. 

The positive contributors of the Kefauver hearings, the good dramatic shows and the spasmodic opera and symphony telecasts have been offset by 30 minute commercials, the coarseness of Berle and other loud comedians, Howdy Doody, Murder at Midnight, and the 95 percent of all TV that is dedicated to only one thing—to make as much money as possible as fast as possible for the sponsor, the broadcaster and the talent.” 

What shall we say about television? It seems to me that if a man of the world is afraid of the instrument and holds it in serious question, it would be preposterous for a Christian to try to talk it good. No one in his right mind would say that the instrument in itself is evil. We Protestant Reformed people have learned long ago that sin is not in things, no more than grace is in things. But we hasten to add that the instrument thus far has been almost entirely under the control of the sinful and corrupt world. And until the instrument can be brought into the service of the kingdom of God, no Christian family should play with fire. 

Our observation has been that those who stand weakest in the church are the first to get the instrument in their homes. This speaks volumes. The one who has a strong sense of moral and spiritual values is the one who refuses to be caught with the TV craze. In connection with this we also observed that those who have a set are those who almost never attend your society meetings in the church, who are not subscribers to worthwhile religious periodicals, who cannot carry on a constructive discussion relative to matters of sound doctrine. They are the ones who are susceptible to every wind of doctrine. 

I agree with what one of the ministers in the Symposium writes in closing his article: “But for the present I believe that TV is potentially dangerous. We intensify rather than ease the problem of fulfilling the solemn vow made at the baptism of our children when in the presence of the people of the Lord we replied in the affirmative to the following question, ‘Do you promise and intend to instruct these children, when come to the years of understanding in the aforesaid doctrine, and cause them to be instructed therein, to the utmost of your power?'” 

I cannot believe parents are sincere when they take this vow, and then place their children before a TV set and allow them to drink in all the trash that comes from Hollywood.