To have our readers know all the truth about the case, and to do full justice to the Revs. De Jong and Kok, I publish the following letter:
Kampen 23. 8. 1949
Dear Uncle and Aunt:—
We have often said to one another: it is necessary that we write once again to Uncle and Aunt Hoeksema. It is already so long ago that an epistle from us crossed the ocean. And therefore we both climb in the pen in order to talk to you a while. As you will understand, the impulse to let you hear from us was strongly stimulated by what we read in the Standard Bearer. And about that I must first unburden myself.
Even before this I have had the intention to give you an impression relative our meetings with the Revs. De Jong and Kok. We have met them several times. We have talked to them very thoroughly about all actual questions. I also had the privilege once to hear the Rev. De Jong preach.
And then I will begin by assuring you that your churches could have sent no better men. Yes, I know indeed that they were not delegated, but, as a matter of course, no one in the Netherlands could or would isolate them from the churches of which they are members, and which they represented, even though they were not delegated.
The first thing I wish to tell you, and which I want to tell you particularly, is this, that these brethren by their appearance and by their speech might awaken among our brethren and sisters a profound conception and a grateful appreciation for your continuous struggle. You and your struggle were unknown here. Because of Schilder’s writings one obtained, indeed, some notion of what was going on in America, but now one heard it viva vox of men, who were concerned in it, and still are. They have pictured the apostacy in the Chr. Ref. Churches, and the deadly arminianizing tendency of the preaching and the theology, against which you had to struggle, and of which you finally became the victim. They have said very clearly who you are, and also what you and your brethren taught relative the covenant. With great gratitude and fervent love they have spoken about you and your work. They have succeeded to awaken the conviction of the churches here that the Prot. Ref. Churches are churches wherein the Lord is served, and who fight the good fight of faith in the demoniacal Americanized life with great fidelity and at the cost of great sacrifices. And they (the Revs. De Jong and Kok) did so without camouflaging in the least their conception relative covenant, promise, baptism, a conception which is entirely yours. That which I never expected, not even in my fondest dreams has happened: also because of their faithful and confidence-inspiring activity in a conference of delegates of churches, which had to deliberate concerning advice to be given to the emigrants, it came so far that in spite of their leaders, they generally came to the conviction: We may do nought else but advise our emigrants to unite themselves with the Prot. Ref. Churches.
Therefore it has greatly grieved me that the Rev. Ophoff has written about them as he did. This is indeed the worst that one can do to the brethren. I have felt that deeply. These men have, with all the love of their heart, in unquestioned fidelity, defended the cause of the churches, which churches to serve they count a grace given them from God, without ever diluting the truth of the matters before us. And now they are accused (because that is what it amounts to) that they have betrayed their churches. Now they are accused of an immorality, which, if it were true, would make them, in a word, low characters. Really, I cannot understand this! I vividly remember a conversation with Rev. De Jong about the School of your churches. With what appreciation he also spoke of Rev. Ophoff. About his hard work and keen perception and his honesty. And now this?
Neither can I understand how one, living together as brethren, and proceeding on the basis of a personal letter, which without permission from the sender might not be published, and without hearing the men whom it concerned, can utter such terrible accusations c.q. suspicions. Here is a spirit active which is not out of Christ!
I hope and pray fervently that this matter will be radically solved. I believe also that this must be done for God’s sake.
I hope also that this matter may be disposed of thoroughly and Christian-like, because of the fact that due to the untiring efforts of Schilder, Van Spronsen and others, the understanding of and the love for the Prot. Ref. Churches was on the increase. For that reason the article of Rev. Ophoff has had the effect here of a cold bath! And many ask themselves: Is it then entirely impossible for love, confidence, fellowship and sympathy to grow in the Church of Christ without having Satan mixing his poisoning work in them? No, of course, that cannot be: but those who are really led by the Spirit also then conquer the evil one and the evil.
I have not spoken relative the actual side of the question. You know how I stand on that score. I do not close my heart to anyone who holds to the eternal, sovereign election and reprobation. I detest every attack on the glorious truth that Salvation is from beginning to end exclusively and solely the work of God’s grace, the work of the Spirit. I desire the incessant preaching of the radical depravity of man and his total impotence unto good of any kind. And at the same time and for that reason I also hold that the promise and also baptism—the promise as spoken, revealed word, which never occurs without God’s demand, yes, which bears that demand qua tails in it; and baptism as the seal of that promise—is pledged unto the believers and their seed without exception. And I want to say with emphasis that the Revs. De Jong and Kok did not agree with it. And they said so openly. But at the same time they also saw that also we in all weakness fight the battle of the Lord in a perishing world.
And now I quit, Uncle. Forgive me this outpouring of the heart. My heart was very full. We had to experience these last years so much injustice and suspicion that one is set aflame when one sees how others are treated likewise.
May God give that it be not given to the devil to disperse the Prot. Ref. and our churches. He has broken up too much already these last years. May all come to that height which characterized the conference at Grand Rapids, where you could witness of Schilder, and Schilder of you: You are Reformed in spite of difference in points of view.
With hearty greetings,
P. S.—You have, of course, no objection against my sending a copy of this letter to the Revs. De Jong and Kok, inasmuch as the letter treats their case and person.
NOTE BY EDITOR:
When I read the above letter, I felt, first of all, that, in justice to the Revs. De Jong and Kok, it should be published. At the same time, however, I felt that there was need, more than ever, for Prof. Holwerda to speak. Hence I tried to get telephone connection with Prof. Veenhof. I was informed that the professor was out of town, and was asked whether I would speak to his wife. I hesitated at first but finally I recalled that Mrs. Veenhof is a very bright lady, and that she, undoubtedly would know what to advise me. In this I was not disappointed, for when after almost four hours of waiting (Prof. Veenhof has no phone at his house, and Mrs. Veenhof had to be called to another phone), I got contact with her, she managed somehow to have Prof. Holwerda right with her at the phone.
I asked her whether I might publish the letter of Prof. Veenhof, and she immediately gave her consent. Then I asked her whether she would ask Prof. Holwerda to write me, and to my surprise she replied that the professor was standing right at the phone. I then asked him whether he would inform me exactly what was said at the conferences with the Revs. De Jong and Kok, and he promised me that he would.
To this we now look forward.