I further quote from the reply by the former consistory as follows:
“b) The classis erred when it stated that ‘the first (statement) teaches a general promise of God to all that hear.’
“1. This is erroneous because the statement of the Rev. De Wolf does not use the word ‘salvation’ at all, but it says ‘shall be saved.’ The two statements are not identical, and may not be assumed to be such. By making this substitution the protestants and the May classis evaded the force of the Biblical expression ‘shall be saved’ and tried to force into the words of Rev. De Wolf ‘salvation’ in the comprehensive sense, including regeneration, faith, and the Holy Spirit. We must keep the Biblical expression used, and then, if one desires to lay in them regeneration, faith, and the Holy Spirit to elicit from these the damaging conclusion, that they certainly come into literal conflict with the Bible which says:
“a. ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.’ Mark 16:16
“b. ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.’ Acts 16:31.
“c. ‘Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved:’ Romans 10:13. Taking the literal words, as we are obligated to do, we find comparable statements in the writings of both the protestants (Standard Bearer, Vol. 21, p. 434 Geneda Geen Aanbod, p. 108; Rev. Hoeksema uses this kind of an expression looking upon the past where history has already proved the counsel of God by the irreversible outcome. He writes, ‘O that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways, Ps. 81:12-14. There does follow upon this text all kinds of promises of God, entirely conditional and contingent upon these verses. The Lord should have subdued their enemies, and caused them to triumph over them, that hate them, fed them with honey from the rock and the finest wheat.’ Een Kracht Gods tot Zaligheid, p. 170).”
Let me say, first of all, that I cannot possibly understand what in this connection the quotation by the former Consistory of Kalamazoo from my book, “Een Kracht Gods Tot Zaligheid,” has to do with the whole matter, except that they always like to quote me by hook and by crook. In this book I exactly emphasize that the gospel is no general offer of salvation, but is particular and only for the elect. Following that which the former Consistory of Kalamazoo quotes from that book I wrote (and I translate):
“But of an offer you do not read a single word. How the esteemed editor of De Wachter can read in these words a general and well-meaning offer of grace is a riddle to me. If you read the text in connection with the verses that follow, then it is plain that we are taught here the following:
“1. That God’s people had not been obedient to the voice of the Lord and did not want Him.
“2. That therefore He delivered them into the good pleasure of their own heart and caused them to walk in their own counsels.
“3. That this would have been entirely different if the people of God had walked in His ways and had heard His voice. Then God would have subjected their enemies to them and would have fed them with the finest of wheat and satisfied them with honey from the rock.
“This latter can also be expressed as follows: God promises His salvation to those that walk in His ways and listen to His voice. And the last are always only the elect. What therefore you have in these verses is nothing else than an announcement of the curse over those, that do not walk in His ways, and a particular promise for those that do so. I kindly ask the Rev. Keegstra to elicit anything else from these words than a sure promise of God for God’s obedient people.”
Once more I say that it is a mystery to me how the former Consistory of Kalamazoo can possibly quote these words in support of, or even in comparison with, the statement of De Wolf that God promises to every one of you that if you believe you shall be saved. It literally has nothing to do with it: In fact, what I wrote in “Een Kracht Gods Tot Zaligheid” stands in direct opposition to that statement of De Wolf.
Secondly, however, the former Consistory of Kalamazoo does not prove their contention that the Classis erred when it stated that “the first statement teaches a general promise of God to all that hear.” This judgment of the Classis has nothing to do with the question whether you take salvation in the comprehensive sense of the word or in the narrower sense of future salvation. Fact is that the Rev. De Wolf stated: “God promises,” and that he applied that promise of God to “every one of you:” If that is not a general promise to every individual hearer that was in his audience at the time, I like to know what it is. It is true that he added “if you believe.” But this does not alter the fact that the promise of God was made general, and that the condition was to be fulfilled by the hearers. Anyone that reads this statement will admit that it means that as far as God is concerned, He will save all the hearers. It is a most general offer of salvation to all. But whether they will actually be saved has nothing to do with the promise of God, but with the will of the individual hearers. Such is the meaning of the first statement, and no one can elicit anything else out of it.
The rest of this paragraph I will not quote. It simply would be a waste of time and space. I will simply inform the readers that it contains nothing but a long quotation from my pamphlet, “Calvin, Berkhof, and H.J. Kuiper, A Comparison.”
The last part of the reply of the former Consistory of Kalamazoo to brother Meninga deals with the second statement of the Rev. De Wolf. I will first quote this part of the reply to the end.
“2) The second statement:
“a) The classis also erred in finding cause to condemn statement two of the Rev. H. De Wolf:
“l. Classis erred in substituting ‘translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son,’ in the place of the original phrase: ‘enter the kingdom of God.”
“2. Classis erred in assuming that ‘entering the kingdom’ is always to be understood as including its initial entrance by regeneration, or ‘regeneration in its narrower as well as in its broader sense.’ This is contradicted by such Biblical statements as:
“a. ‘From the time of John the Baptist the kingdom of heaven is forcefully assaulted and forceful men take it by force.’ Matt. 11:12.
“b. ‘Strive to enter in at the strait gate.’ Luke 13:24.
“c. ‘Not everyone that sayeth Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.’ Matt. 7:21.
“3. These passages clearly show that it is wholly arbitrary to define the expression ‘entering into the kingdom’ as always referring to the initial entrance by regeneration.
“b) The idea is also found in the early writings of the protestants, Rev. H. Hoeksema, see Standard Bearer, vol. 12, p. 435, where he also speaks of, besides an initial entrance, a continual, a daily entering.
“c) This same is found in the writings of the Rev. G. Vos: Standard Bearer, vol. 13, p. 67.
“3) With respect to the so-called grounds from Scripture and the Confessions which the classis adduced, it should be pointed out that these grounds do not prove that the statements are per se heretical, but that said grounds can only be used to condemn the statements as distorted and reconstructed by the protestants, Rev. Hoeksema and Ophoff, and by the classis.
“c. That the consistory is not upholding any statement or supporting any heresies.
“1) That is plain from a and b.
“2) It must also be understood that much of the present separation and distress in the churches is not caused by the statements as such, but by the illegal and church political wrong actions of Rev. Hoeksema and the men that follow him, even to the point of deserting the Synod of the Prot. Ref. churches.
“d. That the Consistory has not left the communion of the Prot. Ref. Churches. The recognition of the Rev. De Wolf and his consistory as the only and legal consistory of the First Prot. Ref. Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan was not an act of schism or separation but an act of right and justice.”
In answer to all this, let me briefly state the following:
1. That the Classis did not err in substituting “translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of His clear Son” in place of the original phrase “enter the kingdom of God,” because it simply was never guilty of such a substitution. In its final decision the Classis said: “The second teaches that our act of conversion is a prerequisite to enter the kingdom of God.” It did not substitute anything, therefore, but quoted the literal statement made by the Rev. De Wolf. It is true, it added to that the perfectly correct explanation: “which means that we convert and humble ourselves before we are translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.” But it is entirely untrue that the Classis substituted anything whatsoever.
2. The former Consistory of Kalamazoo tries to interpret the statement made by the Rev. De Wolf as referring to a gradual or repeated entering into the kingdom of God. For this it quotes texts that have nothing to do with the whole matter, and that simply reveal that the Rev. Knott and his former Consistory are themselves confused and do not understand the Scriptures. If they challenge this statement, I will elaborate and prove it. If not, I will not take time and space for it at this time. But as far as the interpretation itself is concerned, I want to make the following remarks:
In the first place, it is not true at all that in the sermon preached by the Rev. De Wolf he made any distinction whatsoever between the principal and the repeated, or gradual, entering into the kingdom. All he had evidently and emphatically in mind is to put over his conditional theology. That he made a distinction between the principal and first entering into the kingdom of God and the repeated, or gradual, entering into the kingdom is an after-thought, and that too, not by himself, but by those that erroneously interpret his statement. His entire sermon certainly emphasized that our act of conversion is a pre-requisite to enter the kingdom of God without any distinction whatsoever.
In the second place, I want to point out that even if we refer to the gradual entrance into the kingdom or to the repeated entering in, the statement is nevertheless heretical. For even then our act of conversion is never a prerequisite to enter. Pre-requisite means that which is required beforehand. And we can never convert ourselves before we enter into the kingdom of God in any sense of the word. Always our act of conversion takes place within the kingdom of God, never before we enter. It may probably be said that it is through our act of conversion that we consciously enter into the kingdom, after we have been translated from darkness into God’s marvelous light. But it can never be said that our act of conversion is a prerequisite to enter in.
3. The former Consistory of Kalamazoo also simply states that the grounds which Classis adduced from Scripture and the Confessions, to prove that the second statement by De Wolf was heretical, are no grounds to condemn the statement, but only the statement as it was distorted by the protestants, and by the classis. This, of course, is a mere statement. And the statement is certainly not true. The grounds adduced by Classis as well as by the protestants both from Scripture and the Confessions certainly prove that the statement by De Wolf that “our act of conversion is a prerequisite to enter the kingdom of God,” is heretical. And I challenge the former Consistory of Kalamazoo to prove the contrary, particularly in the light of 1 and 2 above.
In the light of all that we have written about the reply of the former Consistory of Kalamazoo to brother Meninga, it should be very plain to all that can read that the former Consistory of Kalamazoo is certainly upholding the heresies preached by the Rev. De Wolf and condemned by Classis. Nor it is true that the main issue in the present separation is church political. On the contrary, it is certainly doctrinal, and concerns the heresies of the Rev. De Wolf and those that support him, including the former Consistory of Kalamazoo. That we deserted the legally called Synod of the Prot. Ref. Churches is so ridiculous that no one will believe it. Not we, but Classis West and all its schismatic actions were the cause of the separation.
And therefore, I conclude that the former Consistory of Kalamazoo has certainly left the communion of the Prot. Ref. Churches, as is evident from the fact that they recognize De Wolf and those that follow him as the legal Consistory of the First Prot. Ref. Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in spite of the fact that this consistory was condemned by Classis and that the true and legal representatives of the Consistory were received by Classis in October, 1953. Moreover, I am convinced that the former Consistory of Kalamazoo does no longer teach the true Prot. Ref. doctrine. And I predict that this will become evident more and more, as time advances.