It took courage to write your editorial on radicalism in the PRC (Editorial, Sept. 15, 2018, p. 485), and I thank you for it. There is no doubt that your writing arose out of your love for our churches and their future welfare.
You rightly point out that these tendencies have been in our churches since their inception. I trace the origins to the existence of two very different worldviews that were imported by the Dutch (and a few German) immigrants who formed the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) and subsequently the PRC. The Afscheiding group were known to be pietistic isolationists who simply wanted to be left alone. No doubt they loved the Reformed faith and were particularly zealous in bringing the church back to the Synod of Dordt. But, they did not engage society and the world around them. This was particularly evident in the Christian schools they established when they arrived in America. The purpose of these schools was to teach the Bible, the catechism, and the Dutch language. Then came the Kuyperians. Abraham Kuyper wanted the world opened up to the Christian believer. Even though he came up with the wrong answer as to how to do that—common grace, he wanted believing folks to live a full, God-centered, antithetical life on this earth. Two competing worldviews that, to my mind, exist to this day in our churches.
What is the solution? Balance in one’s thinking. Radicalism is extreme thinking, not balanced in its view of the church nor in its Reformed worldview. I had to learn that balance for myself. My early days in the church might well have been characterized by radicalism. But I believe that God placed me with the right people at the right time to create that balance. I am grateful for it.
To our pastors (especially those recently ordained), I encourage you to develop that balance in your teaching and preaching. Work to develop an irenic spirit and to practice a biblical, Reformed ecumenism. Our churches will be better for it.
Blessings on your work in the seminary.
Jon J. Huisken