Clasping a Viper to the Bosom (5)

(Correction: I erroneously identified Dr. Konig, the theologian whose work I am currently criticizing. My South African correspondent wrote me: “There is only one matter in your article that needs correction, and I would like to point this out. Dr. Konig is a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa (Die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk in Suid-Afrika—N.G.K.) and this has no links with Potchefstroom University which is connected with the Reformed Church in South Africa (Die Gereformeerde Kerk in Suid-Afrika) a completely different denomination. The latter is a secession from the former. The Theological Seminaries of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa are connected to the University of Pretoria, and also the University of Stellenbosch. Dr. Kijnig is a graduate of the University of Pretoria, and has no links with Potchefstroom. It seems that this theological decline has its source in the Theological Faculty of the University of Pretoria, (N.G.K.) where Konig also wrote his doctorate.” Thanks for the correction! My apologies to any persons or institutions who may have been offended by this unintentional error. Nihil humanum alienum mihi est.)

It would be interesting, and also worthwhile, if time permitted, to enter detailedly into the numerous, very obvious errors in Dr. Konig’s presentation of the doctrine of election. Personally, I do not hesitate to say that the Reformed and Confessional doctrine of predestination cannot be recognized in Konig’s view; in fact, he seems to go out of his way to deprecate the Reformed view, usually doing so by way of first creating a caricature of that view. However, our interest in this present series is in the doctrine of reprobation and its denial; and we shall concentrate on this matter. 

First of all, there is one more facet of Dr. Konig’s notes on election in the Old Testament to which we must give our attention. In a sub-section about rejection in the Old Testament we find the preposterous suggestion tha election can change to rejection, pp. 18, 19. This suggestion is made with an appeal to Saul’s being rejected as king after he had first been chosen, I Sam. 15:23 and I Sam. 10:24. Appeal is also made to the account in II Kings 17:20 in connection with the rejection of the ten tribes, and to II Kings 23:27 in connection with the removal of Judah and the casting off of Jerusalem. Bear in mind that Dr. Konig wants to get rid of the idea that there are two kinds of ‘people in the world, elect and reprobate, and that these are fixed by an immutable decree of God (Konig speaks deprecatingly of “two static groups.”). The obvious difficulty is that Kijnig simply ignores the fact that Israel is God’s chosen people organically, and that God’s election and reprobation cut directly across the generations of Israel. It is basically this same error which leads him to appeal to Romans 11 (of all passages!) to make the simplistic statement that when the chosen people rejected the Messiah, they too were rejected. This statement all by itself is in flagrant contradiction of the literal teaching of Romans 11: “I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.” (vss. 1, 2) 

When we turn to Dr. Konig’s study of the New Testament teaching concerning election, we find the same strong aversion for the doctrine of sovereign reprobation, and along with this, a very flagrant twisting of the Scriptures in their plain meaning. And again, as surely as it is impossible to speak of the subject of reprobation without saying something about election, Konig wrests the doctrine of election. Let me call attention to a few items. 

What happens to the well-known words of Matthew 22:14, “For many are called, but few are chosen”? Dr. Konig here faces, of course, the obvious fact, in view of the truth that only few are chosen while many are called, that there must be many who are not chosen, that is, reprobate. Here is his explanation in a nutshell: “The issue of the parable is: they could come; they were not only invited, but were repeatedly and urgently called (22:3 ff), but they would not come. This is the reason why they are not chosen.” Or again: “It is completely contrary to the meaning of these parables to allege that those who have been invited (called), could not come for the simple reason that they have not previously been elected by God. The impact of the parables is: they are called, they can come, but they would not.” And this is exegesis of Holy Scripture? 

Another illustration of such devious misinterpretation of the Scriptures we find in connection with Judas Iscariot. Konig writes: “The view that Judas was the odd man out from the beginning but was tolerated by Jesus among the disciples, or that Judas was ‘elected’ by Jesus for the purpose of betraying Him, is completely foreign to the message of the Gospels.” He denies that Judas has been predestined to be the betrayer and to be lost. And every passage of Scripture which teaches this is simply waved aside. Fortunately, the author calls attention to the fact that Calvin and Augustine view Judas as one who was predestined to perdition; at least, therefore, the reader can discern that Konig does not stand in the tradition of Calvin and Augustine, whose company I prefer. But what happens to the Scriptures? In John 6:70we find Jesus saying, “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” Dr. Konig agrees with those translations who change the “and” to the adversative “yet.” Among these is such a notoriously Arminian version as Good News. In other words, Judas’s being a devil stands over against Jesus’ choosing of him. Of the expression “that the Scriptures might be fulfilled,” which plainly carries the implication of a predetermined measure, Dr. Konig offers no explanation in connection with the sin of Judas. And what about the words of John 6:64? There it is reported: “For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.” Dr. Konig has a rather novel way of getting rid of this passage: “This ‘from the first’ probably refers to the time when Jesus first became acquainted with the disciples individually, or when He elected them (Luke 5:13) as disciples (apostles). This, however, does not imply a predestination that Judas had to deny Him, but it does imply that Jesus was aware from the first of certain inappropriate motives in Judas, and He knew that if someone from His own circle were to deny Him, it would be Judas. But this does not exclude the fact that Jesus through His fellowship with Judas as well as by His preaching in general, offered Judas the opportunity to overcome these wrong motives, and to follow Jesus in sincerity.” In other words, Jesus was discerning enough to figure out that IF someone from His own circle were to deny Him, it would be Judas! Again: this is exegesis? A child can detect that Konig’s statements and Scripture’s statements are by no stretch of the imagination the same! 

In this connection we should also note a serious omission in Konig’s discussion of passages in John. He omits mention of two important passages which enemies of the truth of sovereign reprobation must needs find difficult. The first is John 10:26: “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.” According to all that Konnig has stated in the preceding, this text would have to read: “But ye are not of my sheep, because ye believe not.” This, however, is NOT what the text says; it says the very opposite. The second passage is John 12:37-41, where there is reference made to that frequently quoted section of Isaiah 6: “But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.” Notice that the inability to believe (they COULD NOT believe) is here ascribed to divine blinding of the eyes and hardening of the heart. 

Our discussion must be interrupted until the next issue. 

However, let me conclude by repeating my warning. To embrace this denial of reprobation is like clasping a deadly viper to the bosom. To harbor such heresy can only mean the doom of the churches which tolerate it, whether that be the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa or any other church.