In the Standard Bearer of August 1 the Rev. A. Cammenga blames the undersigned for the appearance of an article with comment by Mr. K. Feenstra in the issue of July 1.
Writes he: “I am sorry to note that the contribution of Mr. Feenstra in the July 1st issue of the Standard Bearer was approved for publication without any comment.”
And again a little further on in the article he writes: “And the Standard Bearer, on the other hand, has erred in that Mr. Feenstra’s accusations were published without comment.”
I contend, however, that the Rev. Cammenga is mistaken in his judgment. He must remember that the Standard Bearer assumes no responsibility for anything that a contributor writes. In fact, it has been the policy of the Standard Bearer from the beginning that the Standard Bearer editorially assumes responsibility only for the articles that the editor writes, and not for the writing of the associate editors. Each one is strictly responsible only for his own work.
It is possible, of course, that a certain article that is sent in by a contributor cannot be published and is rejected because of bad form. The style or the spelling may be so impossible that it cannot be published. But even this is hardly ever done by the Standard Bearer, I think that if the Standard Bearer is to have an open forum, the forum must be left as widely open as ever possible. If we leave it to the discretion and the whim of an editor whether an article shall be published or not, the danger is, of course, that the Standard Bearer becomes a closed paper, as was the case with the church papers of the Christian Reformed Churches in 1924 and the years immediately preceding. And therefore it has been my policy in the past, as anyone will admit that will take the trouble to peruse the pages of the Standard Bearer, to leave the open forum as widely open as possible, with the understanding, of course, that every contributor assumes responsibility for his own contribution.
The Rev. Cammenga, however, suggests that I should have added my own comment on Mr. Feenstra’s article. But the brother must remember that it was not for me to do this. When the contents of any contribution is directed against me or against the truth as such, it is proper for me to comment on said contribution. But that was not the case here. The article of Mr. Feenstra was criticism of the writings of the Rev. Petter, And it was not my calling, nor, in fact, the calling of the Rev. Cammenga (though, of course, he has the perfect right to answer Mr. Feenstra, if he wishes to do so), but it is the calling of the Rev. Petter to reply to the criticism of Mr. Feenstra of Redlands.
However, if the Rev. Cammenga chooses to do so, he may write again in reply to the contribution by Mr. Feenstra that appears in the present issue.
The story is being circulated that I grossly misrepresent the views propounded by the Rev. A. Petter. It is even said not only that I misunderstand him, but also that I intentionally distort his views. This last statement is, of course, a lie, pure and simple.
Let me emphatically state here that I have nothing personally against the Rev. Petter; or, to state it positively, that I esteem him as a brother, and I challenge anyone to point out to me where in my articles I have written anything derogatory to his person. It is not his person, but his views that I did, and still do, oppose, and that, too, without any personal motives, but for the love of our Protestant Reformed truth.
As for misunderstanding the brother as some aver that I do, I must grant that possibility in the abstract. But in the concrete I must most emphatically deny it.
In the first place, I believe that I am able to understand English terms. And to me the term condition always denotes a prerequisite, whether to receive something or to have someone do something for anyone. In that sense I must understand the term in the sentence, “Faith is a condition.” Nor can I grant anyone the right to use the term in a different sense than that of the usus loquendi.
Besides, the main issue of our controversy, namely, that faith is a condition, is nothing new, but represents a view that has been proposed and still is maintained by many that call themselves Reformed.
And finally, in my articles I have openly asked the Rev. Petter as well as others to show me in what respect I misrepresented him. Neither he nor anyone else has made the attempt. Hence, I cannot believe that I do misunderstand the brother.
If anyone is guilty of misrepresentation, it is not I, but the Rev, Petter. Repeatedly he has made the attempt, and that, too, in spite of my emphatic denial, to represent me as if I too believed in conditions. And the same is true of the controversy he had with the Rev. H. Veldman and the Rev. G. M. Ophoff.
Some would prefer to keep this controversy out of our papers and from the eyes of the public.
But why, pray?
In the first place, we must not forget that not I, but the Rev. Petter started this controversy in public in Concordia. It was he that began to defend parties instead of parts of the covenant, thus virtually proposing a relative difference between the Creator and the creature. It was he that defended conditions in the covenant of grace and that spoke of the covenant of works. And he it was that maintained that faith is a condition unto salvation. Now certainly these public propositions defended in Concordia could not possibly go unchallenged or be answered in private. What is taught in public must be publicly weighed in the balance.
But aside from this, can we as Protestant Reformed people no longer stand sound controversy about the truth? I do not believe it. And at any rate, I cannot possibly agree with those that would bar all controversy from our public discussion. As long as we avoid all personalities and hatred and carry on our debates only with a view to the truth, to defend it and to develop it, controversy is certainly for our benefit and to our instruction.
And therefore, with malice toward none I will continue to fight for our Protestant Reformed truth, both by the spoken and the written word as long as God leaves me in this tabernacle.