Naturally, after reading Van Til’s criticism of my position over against Prof. Heyns, as set forth in my “The Gospel,” I once more turned to that booklet to discover whether I really wrote anything that might suggest such a fatalistic conception of man as a moral agent as Van Til attributes to me. And I must confess that I not only failed to find anything that might reasonably explain Van Til’s criticism, but that it seems to me that what I actually wrote should have been sufficient to convince him that my views are the very opposite from what he presented them to be. How the brother could possibly inform the public that I teach that “when a man obeys the will of God he in no sense really obeys; it is God that obeys in him,” I am at a loss to explain. He certainly cannot quote one item of my writings in support of that statement. I must kindly ask him to correct this rather serious error.
In the meantime, I can do no better than quote from the above mentioned booklet what I actually wrote on this matter. The booklet is written in the Holland language, and I translate:
“Apart from his imaginary Scriptural proof, Prof. Heyns also has some objections of a practical nature against those who reject the doctrine of a general, well-meant offer of grace and salvation. According to his conviction, the heresy of denying this doctrine of an offer is very serious, so serious that it ought to be opposed and rejected by us with all our might, no less serious than the error of Remonstrantism. We must, therefore, also consider for a moment these practical objections, on which this conviction of the professor is based, in order then to conclude by mentioning some practical objections of our own against the proposition of a general offer.
“The first objection mentioned by Prof. Heyns, is that, strictly speaking, on the standpoint of those who deny a general, well-meant offer of grace and salvation, one is compelled to deny that God’s commandments are well-meant, and have binding force. In order to make very clear in what wrong direction such a denial must necessarily lead us, the professor calls the attention of his readers to the illustration of a murderer. Someone committed murder. He committed this murder in accord with the counsel of God. Hence, God willed that the man should commit murder. Now, if you proceed from the logical proposition that God cannot will and not will the same thing at the same time, you will simply maintain the one fact of the unchangeable counsel of God, and say: God willed that the man should commit a murder; hence, it is impossible that He did not will it: the sixth commandment, Thou shalt not kill, was not valid for this murderer and is not valid for any murderer, is applicable only to those that never murder. And thus, logical consistency compels those who deny that there are two wills in God to deny also the general validity of the commandments of God. If there are not two wills in God, there is no general offer: this Heyns understands very well. But, he concludes, if there are not two wills in God, then there cannot be a law of God with general binding force.
“When I read this, I had to admit that the professor’s argument was rather ingenious: such a horrible presentation of our conception is, indeed, calculated to frighten the ‘inexperienced.’ Imagine, people will say, that Rev. Hoeksema of Grand Rapids teaches that God wills that men shall murder! A clear proof, indeed, that the denial of common grace is a dangerous heresy! Well may one abhor such an error like the pestilence! However, one can also put it on too thick. And although there, perhaps, are those that are sufficiently naive to swallow this, anyone that does a little thinking for himself will draw the conclusion that the professor must be guilty of a little exaggeration. In fact, the professor himself is so kind as to admit that we do not draw such conclusions as he presents. But, if we only would be consistent, we would necessarily arrive at such a monstrous conception as the professor here attributes to us!
“The reader understands, of course, that we not only do not draw such conclusions, but also that the Professor’s logic is not ours. The Professor asserted somewhere that through sin our rational faculty was so corrupted that we cannot trust our logic anymore. In view of the above reasoning of the Professor’s, I am almost inclined to believe it. But the truth is that we cannot permit the Professor to draw conclusions from our fundamental principles. He so distorts our reasoning that it actually appears as if his ‘consequenzmacherei’ is our way of reasoning. But he that looks below the surface soon discovers sophistry here. Heyns’ reasoning is somewhat similar to the well-known syllogism: 1. Is that your dog? Yes. 2. Is that dog a mother? Yes. 3. Then that dog is your mother! Or, as the enemies of the grace of God distorted the teaching of the apostle: 1. We are justified freely without works. 2. Hence, the more we sin, the greater becomes grace. 3. Let us therefore sin, that grace may abound!”
We will continue this quotation next time, the Lord willing.