REACTIONS TO LIBERALISM
The Standard Bearer has carried many articles in its columns which demonstrate the increasing liberalism in the Gereformeerde Kerken in the Netherlands. Men like Prof. Kuitert, Prof. Augustijn and Drs. Baarda lead the way in introducing in the Church the most liberal views. But there are those who raise their voice in protest. From the December 17 issue of the R.E.S. Newsletter we quote the following:
Like many a church today, the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands have an ‘association of concerned.’ They claim that a “great landslide is on the move in the Reformed Churches.” There are also those who are troubled about how the ‘concerned’ express themselves and make charges against persons in the church.
Meetings were held in October in Middleburg and Urk by a group of ‘concerned’ Christians. Miss T.E.N. Ozinga, who helped organize the meeting, reported the following:
“On October 3rd a meeting organized by a local committee in which five Reformed denominations were represented was held at Middleburg, Zeeland, The Netherlands. The meeting was presided over by the Rev. Paul Van Til, senior pastor of the Reformed Church of Middleburg. The speakers were: Dr. Arntzen (Reformed): “Freedom of Exegesis”; Dr. Douma “Reformed Liberated): “God’s Revelation in Word and Fact”; Rev. Op den Velde (Christian Reformed): “Adam, the fast Man and Head of the Human Race.” Each spoke for 15 minutes on his topic under the general theme (‘The Authority of Holy Scripture.”
“The Free University came into special focus because Prof. Augustijn, Drs. Baarda and a number of student supporters had come to Middleburg by special coach.
“The organizing committee had hoped for a good discussion between the panel and the Zeeland audience, but the main discussion occurred between Prof. Augustijn, Drs. Baarda and the three panel members. It was striking that the two Free University lecturers did not take time to subscribe at any point to the Reformed position set forth by the panels.
“Dr. Arntzen had referred to an article written by Dr. Augustijn in answer to Prof. H. N. Ridderbos’, criticism of the “Reliability of the Gospels” (by Drs. Baarda). At the time Prof. Ridderbos refuted academically both Drs. Baarda’s N.T. study and Dr. Augustijn’s views (Gereformeerd Weekblad, May/June 1967). The two professors, though they did not change their views, took no offence at Prof. Ridderbos’ rebuke. However, at the Middleburg meeting Prof. Augustijn showed himself deeply hurt by Dr. Arntzen’s words. He said, “I do not recognize myself from the account given by Dr. Arntzen.” There was an absolute shortcircuit between the two. . . .”
In reply to questions by Dr. Arntzen and Dr. Douma, Prof. Augustijn said he did not believe that Adam was the first man. Nor did he believe Christ’s resurrection body was identical to his previous body. Particularly at this point the discussion was confused and confusing. . . .
At a rally at Urk the association of the concerned” listened to Mr. H.W. Maaskant who made a strong appeal against the “growing stream of unbelief.” “Whoever wants to solve the problem of Scripture with a criticism of Scripture will pay the price of his belief in Scripture,” he observed.
The meeting sent a telegram, according to Kerknieuws, to the Curatorium of the Free University to express “concern and indignation” at the statements of Prof. C. Augustijn, in particular with regard to the historicity of Adam.
The same issue of Kerknieuws reported that a society was organized to publish a new Christian newspaper. The new organization “Koers” finds the present Christian dailies “generally Christian; broadly ecumenical and strongly world conformists.” Earlier a new radio association had been formed in protest to the Christian radio association now operating.
In response to the expressions of concern, Prof. R. Schippers answered in Vrije Universitietsblad to 26 persons who had written in to explain that they could not longer support the Free University, He expressed regret that so many of the concerned persons who live so close to the Free University understand so little of what is going on in the church, in Christendom today and in the world.
Following meetings in Middleburg and Urk, four week-end conferences were organized in the northern provinces to reflect upon the teaching and life of the Reformed churches.
A feature article in Centrall Weekblad by the Rev. J. Overduin spoke of the two kinds of concern in the Reformed Churches. Mr. Overduin found it “oppressive” that many in the church view sin, guilt and the sense of sin as strange entities and feel little need for grace in Christ. . . .
There is more; but this is sufficient to give some general idea of the form opposition is taking in the Netherlands to the liberalism running wild in the Church. As we read these various news items, our reaction is along two lines. First of all, we have great sympathy for those who are fighting against the evils in their Church. Especially is this true because the battle seems so hopeless. And the hopelessness of the battle is to be found in the fact that there is no willingness to discipline those who teach heresy. Where discipline is gone, the battle is lost. But secondly, our reaction is one of mild surprise. Not surprise that the battle is being fought at all, but rather that the battle is being waged in what appears to be minor skirmishes. It would seem that the deadly seriousness of the errors being taught in the Gereformeerde Kerken would require greater vigor and more forthright opposition than the above article suggests is actually taking place. But perhaps it is difficult to tell from our side of the ocean.
CONTACT BETWEEN THE C.R.C. AND THE CANADIAN REFORMED
We have recently read in the church magazine of the Canadian Reformed Churches the latest which their Synod decided on contacts with the Christian Reformed Church. Some of these decisions are of interest.
The issue was whether Synod would appoint Deputies to continue contact. There were overtures for and against. The overtures against continuing contact listed several objections:
1) That the Christian Reformed Church had not entered into the Appeal of the Canadian Reformed Churches sent in 1963. This appeal had to do especially with the fellowship the Christian Reformed Church maintains with the Gereformeerde Kerken. This was a major issue in the whole debate.
2) That the Christian Reformed Church “had adopted a new approach to Church-correspondence and Ecumenicity on the basis of a theory of “pluriformity” of the Church, in which ALL existing Churches, even the Roman Catholic Church, are called ‘Churches of Christ’ and ‘parts of the one and indivisible Body of Christ'”
The arguments for continuing contact were:
1) The fruitfulness of previous contacts. Obstacles have been taken out of the way; especially the obstacles of the Conclusions of Utrecht (1908) and the Three Points of Common Grace (1924). Not everyone, however, was happy about the way in which these obstacles were removed.
2) The new Church Order of the Christian Reformed Churches was essentially what the Canadian Reformed Churches wanted.
3) Since contact had been started, it could not suddenly be cut off.
The one big issue therefore, remained the contact between the Christian Reformed and the Gereformeerde Kerken. The Synod was agreed that contact could not go on if this matter was not dealt with. Hence the final decisions included these elements:
1) “1908”, “1924” and the new Church Order need no longer be discussed. These obstacles have been removed.
2) The new deputies were instructed to put, before any thing else, the issue of contact with the Gereformeerde Kerken to the Christian Reformed delegates. If the Christian Reformed Church would not discuss this matter, contact had to be discontinued.
3) In case the resolution of point 2 was successful, the Deputies had to bring up the matter of the principles of the Christian Reformed Church to Church-correspondence.
Our readers will recall that the obstacles of “1908” and “1924” were removed by the Christian Reformed Church by declaring the Conclusions of Utrecht no longer binding and by taking approximately the same decision on Common Grace which was taken in the De Wolf return. Hence, it seems that the Canadian Reformed Churches are ready, at least in a measure, to submit to the decisions on Common Grace. To these Churches, the real obstacle is contact with the Gereformeerde Kerken. It is not surprising that this should be the issue. It is from the Gereformeerde Kerken that the people of the Canadian Reformed Church were expelled. It would be a denial of their separation to join with a Church which maintains fraternal relations with the Gereformeerde Kerken.
SEMINARY STUDENTS NOT INTERESTED IN THE MINISTRY
We have before us an interesting quote from Lutheran News which we give without comment.
Rev. Lester Kinsolving, a liberal Episcopalian minister who rejects the Christian doctrine of Hell wrote . . .: “New York’s Union Theological Seminary announced recently that less than one quarter of its graduating class planned to enter the parish ministry.
“This should have sent a shock wave rolling through the churches, especially as it was disclosed in a time when more men are leaving the parish ministry than ever before.”
Other liberal seminaries, such as Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, are experiencing the same problem. An increasing number of graduates are simply not interested in becoming parish pastors and foreign missionaries. Why should students, who are taught that the heathen can be saved without Christ, be interested in mission work?