“The Infallibility of Scripture Denied.”
That the infallibility of Scripture is denied by many in our day, or, for that matter in any day, is not at all surprising. Always there have been those who attempt to destroy the Word of God and dare to deny its inerrancy. But it comes as a shock to learn that there are those born and raised in Reformed circles who dare to take this position. This experience of shock was that of the managing editor of Torch and Trumpet, Rev. H.J. Kuiper, concerning which he wrote in the January, 1959 issue of that periodical. Writing under the above heading, he tells us he was deeply shocked recently to learn from two articles inStromata, an organ published by the Calvin Seminary students, and another in Chimes, a paper published by students of Calvin College, that the infallibility of Scripture has been denied by young men who wrote in these papers. The Rev. Kuiper informs us that it was the intention of the men who publish Torch and Trumpet to write on the doctrine of Inspiration, but because of what these students have written in denial of Infallibility of Scripture he was moved to write now on the subject.
Contending that “there is no doctrine so basic and fundamental as that of the infallible Holy Scripture,” Rev. Kuiper goes on to show not only that inspiration and infallibility are inseparable, but that the doctrine of infallibility of Scripture is also a dogma, i.e., a Bible doctrine “which the church has enshrined in its doctrinal standards and which therefore have official approval. From such doctrines no deviation can be permitted. The only legitimate way in which an officer or a member of the Christian Reformed Church is permitted to question any article or teaching of our creed is by way of gravamen. He must present his objections or difficulties to the consistory, classis or synod that the same may be there examined, and he must abide by the decision made. Meanwhile he is not permitted to teach or defend his deviating views either privately or publicly. Hence if it can be shown that the doctrine of the infallibility of Scripture is taught in our creed directly or indirectly, the publication of views which conflict with this doctrine becomes a most serious matter.”
Now it is not our purpose to show our readers what Rev. Kuiper produces in defense of the inerrant Holy Scripture, all of which clearly shows that inspiration and infallibility are inseparable. Rather, we wish to show our readers from Rev. Kuiper’s article how these two have been separated by those students to whom Rev. Kuiper refers, and that thus these young men present views which, to say the least, are amazing and brazen in Reformed circles. We quote that part of Kuiper’s article which presents the facts.
“Of late we have become almost inured- to shock by things written in certain periodicals that circulate especially in the Christian Reformed Church. But we were really shocked by two articles in Stromata, organ of our Seminary students and one. in Calvin CollegeChimes.
“These articles have caused grief as well as dismay. How we wish the three young brethren had consulted with their professors before publishing their doubts about Scripture. Having publicly committed themselves to deviating views about the character of Bible inspiration they will probably find it difficult to acknowledge that they have erred. We trust they do not have a closed mind on the subject, but are still willing to be instructed in the Reformed approach to Scripture.
“First year seminary student Marv Hoogland wrote an article in the September issue of Stromata entitled: ‘Infallibility Questioned.’ He defends the position that though the Bible is the inspired Word of God it is not infallible since it contains errors in matters pertaining to grammar, poetry, science, and history. It is infallible only when it teaches religious truths.
“This article was lauded in a contribution to Calvin College Chimes by William Brown. It states, for example, that Hoogland’s article is an example of the kind of clear critical thinking so much needed in the current atmosphere of uninformed polemic. Hoogland has had the good sense to question a doctrine that has become an idol of the Evangelical Tribe. We never thought we would live long enough to see members of the Christian Reformed Church vilified in one of our student publications for holding to the Reformed doctrine of the infallibility of the Scriptures.
“The third article referred to is another Stromataarticle, by J. Hoogland, the editor-in-chief, who has difficulty with the inspiration of poetic portions of the Bible; who also maintains that though the Bible is inspired it contains inaccuracies and mistakes in its historical and scientific references.
“There are many questions which come to us when we read and reread these articles. We shall ask only one at this time: Why are not the contributions to Stromatareviewed by Faculty members before publication? We assume this is not done. We cannot imagine Faculty approval of the two articles under discussion. We know that the material that appears in Calvin CollegeChimes is not submitted for approval. So we have been told. In our opinion it is reckless, from the point of view of public relations, to permit immature students to write what they please and publish it in their school paper without previous consultation with wiser heads. That applies to the Seminary as well as the College. We believe it is cruel to let promising students jeopardize their own reputations in the Church and their opportunities for future usefulness in the ministry by publishing their doubts about certain doctrines which they have just begun to study.
“The infallibility as well as the inspiration of the Bible is taught by all Reformed theologians. Great Reformed scholars like Kuyper and Bavinck, Warfield and Machen have defended both. Have the brethren mentioned above studied what these scholars have written on the subject, before they began to write? Why did they not first consult their professors in the matter?
“For some time it has been the intention of the men who publish Torch and Trumpet to write on the doctrine of Inspiration. The latest developments show that a discussion of this subject from its various angles is by no means superfluous . . . We have little room in this issue for a treatment of this very broad subject. But let it be well understood that there is no doctrine so basic and fundamental as that of the infallible Holy Scripture. If this bastion falls all our defenses of the truth of God have crumbled.”
This is certainly well said. But most likely, as the Rev. Kuiper also surmises, it is said too late as far as these young men are concerned. It is indeed amazing as it is shocking that young men who aspire to the ministry, of whom we would assume that they had a thorough Christian training in Reformed doctrine in
“The Perfection of God.”
Concerning the above subject the Rev. James Daane writes in the Dec., 1958 issue of The Reformed Journal. He is reflecting on the passage found in Matt. 5:48 where we read: “Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” He attempts to answer the question: “What is this perfection of God which must characterize His children?”
His answer in part is: “If we listen to the Scripture we learn that the perfection of God is much more than mere sinlessness. God is indeed sinless; in Him is light and no darkness at all. But this is negative statement. It says much; yet it is ‘much’ only in terms of the negative. It tells us what God is not. But statements which tell us what God is not, do not tell us what He is. The perfection of God therefore is by no means adequately defined by the statement that God is sinless.
“Only if we disengage our minds from the commonly held Hegelian notion that what a thing is not, determines what it is, will our minds be open to the Biblical teaching concerning the perfection of God. If we listen to this Sermon on the Mount we shall hear that the perfection of God is more than sinlessness, for we are told that the perfection of God exceeds the righteousness of scribe and Pharisee, publican and Gentile. These have a righteousness which is of the law, a righteousness which is definable as justice: an eye for an eye, love for those who give love, greeting for those who also greet. But the righteousness of God exceeds this . . . The perfection of God of Matthew .5 is that grace of God which goes beyond mere justice and goes out to the evil man, and not merely to the good man; to the unjust man, and not merely to the just man. In distinction from publican and heathen, God loves those who do not love Him and in distinction from scribe and Pharisee who would not lift a finger, said Jesus, to help the burdened, God loves the sinful and needy, the evil and the unjust, sending them rain and sunshine.”
Dr. Daane then continues by asserting that he is partly in agreement with Rev. L. Verduin who also reflected in The Reformed Journal on this passage of Matthew 5. Verduin, so Daane tells us, “asserted that this passage teaches that God loves ‘indiscriminately;’ If I understand him correctly, and may say so, I think I agree with what he means rather than with what he says in his use of the word ‘indiscriminately.’ It seems clear that he means that God loves the evil man as well as the good man, the unjust as well as the just . . .
“To describe this gracious perfection of God as’ ‘indiscriminate’ is to say that it is common to all men, that it includes the unjust and evil as well as the just and the good man; that it includes those whom the scribe etc. exclude. But this, it seems to me, obscures the nature of God’s gracious and unique perfection, namely, that it extends (in distinction from the righteousness of scribe etc.) to evil and unjust men, that is to sinful men. Once the nature of God’s perfection is clearly seen and understood, one can then, if he wishes, proceed to characterize it as indiscriminate, that is, something that is extended to all men.”
It is at this point that Dr. Daane places a footnote in which among other things he promises to show in another article whether or not Matthew 5 can be used as proof text for the doctrine of common grace. He then continues with the following which, of course, is quite interesting to us who are Protestant Reformed.
“One of the important arguments used by those who denied common grace was that the righteousness and holiness of God make it impossible for God to do anything but hate the unrighteous and unholy sinner. It was urged that God can have grace and love for the elect only, because only the elect (in Christ) is good and righteous and loving. The Biblical teaching that love is the bond of perfection was defined as the relationship of love between a perfect subject (God) and a perfect object (man). It should be observed that in this argument against common grace the perfection of God is defined in terms of a divine goodness for the good man, and love of God for those who love Him, a favor of God only for the righteous man. But is not this definition of God’s perfection the precise opposite of the definition that Jesus gives in Matthew 5? Indeed, does it not make the righteousness of God identical with the righteousness of scribe, Pharisee, publican and heathen Gentile? They, too, loved those that loved them, greeted those that greeted them. But in so doing they revealed that they had nothing of that perfection of God which expresses itself in the children of God when they love their enemies and bless those who curse them.
“If this idea of the perfection of God which underlies this argument against the doctrine of common grace is correct, then God’s righteousness does not exceed that of scribe and Pharisee, and God does not do more than publican and heathen Gentile . . .”
Naturally, when we read this several questions arose in our mind which we believe Daane ought to answer. We ask only three now: 1. What exegesis would Daane give to Colossians 3:14 where Paul gives a sort of a definition of love, which, says he, “is a bond of perfectness”? 2. Secondly, from what context did Daane obtain the explanation he gives of the position of those who deny common grace? It is our judgment that we have here again an example of his method of presenting charges without proof. 3. And finally, how does Daane harmonize his explanation of Matthew 5 with those passages of Scripture where God is said to hate the evil, and that He is wrathful over against the wicked?