About Advertising and Fishing

The reproduced advertisement and accompanying note were inserted in an article by the Rev. Dirk J. Hart, minister of evangelism for the Christian Reformed Church. 

Sometimes one hardly knows whether to laugh or to cry about things that are said about our Protestant Reformed Churches and their activities. The problem is created by the fact that there seems to be something rather sillily desperate about an insert of this kind. And what does one do in a case like that—laugh at the silliness, or cry about the desperation? 

For one thing, someone connected with The Bannermust have made it his concern to save that Protestant Reformed ad, clipped from the Kentwood Advance, for a year. 

For another, there is no reference in the ad to Reformed and Christian Reformed church members; but this is supposed to be evidence that “the Protestant Reformed churches still seemed to conceive of evangelism as a fishing expedition among Reformed and Christian Reformed church members” last year. 

For another, there would appear to be a presumption in the accompanying note that somehow or other Reformed and Christian Reformed waters are off limits for Protestant Reformed evangelism, as well as that we have changed our mind about evangelism, so that now we “are concerned to seek the lost.” 

Now, in the first place, if The Banner was looking for evidence of Protestant Reformed “fishing” in Christian Reformed waters, it might have found better evidence, I think. For during the past two years a similar Canons Class has been conducted right in the hallowed halls of the Calvin College Fine Arts Center, and the class was advertised on the Calvin campus. The college authorities kindly gave us the use of a fine classroom upon the request of one of our students at the college. We appreciated this provision very much. 

In the second place, one wonders why this ad was considered fishing in Reformed and Christian Reformed waters. By the same token, I could consider an advertisement by a Christian Reformed church in the Kentwood Advance, or even in the Grand Rapids Press (as, for example, on the Saturday “church” page) as fishing in Protestant Reformed waters. After all, there are plenty of Protestant Reformed people who read such Christian Reformed ads. 

Besides, in the third place, are Reformed and Christian Reformed waters off limits for Protestant Reformed evangelism? If so, by whose dictum? Let me assure The Banner that our Protestant Reformed Churches always have and still do consider it part of our mission calling (call it “evangelism” if you will) to call Christian Reformed people back to the pure Reformed faith and away from the errors which began in 1924 and which especially in recent years have borne fruit in such gross errors as the denial of particular atonement and the denial of predestination. Not by any means has our mission work been confined to Reformed and Christian Reformed people, but neither has it ignored and excluded them. 

In that connection, in the fourth place, The Bannermust not leave the impression that there has been a change in that regard and as though the articles of Missionary Houck take a different position. The Rev. Houck may respond for himself, if he so desires. But permit me to point out by means of a brief quotation that the Rev. Houck includes Reformed people in the scope of evangelism. He is writing (Volume 59, pp. 89, 90) about “Presenting the Gospel to Strangers,” and he says the following: “Sometimes the stranger is an unbeliever. Other times he is a Christian, in need of further instruction. He may even be someone who thinks that he is a Reformed Christian. ” (italics added)

In the fifth place, The Banner in the Rev. Hart’s article appears to be promoting “friendly evangelism.” I ask: would it not be the height of unfriendliness deliberately to exclude any Christian Reformed members from our evangelism, especially when we believe that they err seriously with respect to the Reformed truth and that their own church is apparently no longer able and willing to instruct them in the Reformed faith? Is it not, besides, Biblical to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel? In that connection, I would also point out that in the light of recent decisions, trends, and writings in the Christian Reformed Church, some sound instruction in the Canons of Dordt is not by any means the least need! 

Postscript. The article by the Rev. Hart contains many errors about our Protestant Reformed Churches and evinces little acquaintance with our mission or evangelism labors. I suggest that the Rev. Hart could profitably do a little more homework before he breaks into print about the PRC.