The editor of The Standard Bearer has also forwarded to me a letter from a Rev. Arie Blok of Everly, Iowa, and we quote:
Editor in Chief of The Standard Bearer
Dear Rev. Hoeksema,
I am a minister in the R.C.A. and have recently become a subscriber to the Standard Bearer because even though I do not agree with everything I read in it, I do appreciate your point of view. In the issue of October 15, 1975, which reached me today there is an article in the section “All Around Us” (p. 536). There in an editorial comment regarding abortion I read the following comment.
Today we hear much of the movement to save the unborn child upon the ground that such a child has a right to live. This ground we must reject. The “right to live” is certainly not a scriptural principle. The sinner has a right to nothing. While it is undoubtedly the intent of Rev. Veldman to point out that opposition to abortion on a humanist basis is something quite different from an opposition to abortion on Biblical principles, which sees the sanctity of human life as given by the commandment “Thou shalt not kill,” and in the injunction of Genesis 9:6 (Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man.), I feel that a basic error is made with the statement that “The sinner has a right to nothing.”
While this is true as regards the situation of a sinful man before God, who is too pure of eyes to behold iniquity; it is very wrong in the way it is used here, because the distinction between the First and Second Tables of the Law is lost sight of. When the Bible speaks of man in his relationship toward God, man is and always remains a sinner. (Yes, after justification, man is still defacto, a sinner.) But when it comes to man’s relationship to his fellow man, Scripture does not hesitate to speak of “innocent blood.”
If we see what a consistent application of “The sinner has a right to nothing” would do in common applications we can easily see how false the premise is as applied to the’ second table of the Law. Suppose that someone were to steal my automobile, the principle that “A sinner has a right to nothing,” would prevent me from reclaiming it. Self-defense, in case of an attack upon my person could not be justified, because the only justification for self-defense is that a person has a right to live.
While the idea of a “right to life” often arises out of a humanist rather than out of a Biblical orientation, it is not right to reject the idea of a right to live on that account. In the humanist orientation we are dealing with degenerate derivative (should be “derivative?”—H.V.) of Biblical principles, degenerate because God is not acknowledged, nevertheless, to reject the idea of a “right to live” on the part of the embryo not only ignores what is implied in Amos 1:13, but ignores that sinful people like ourselves have “rights” not because we are worthy of them, but because our God is a just God who judges the cause of the innocent, even when the “Innocent” is a sinner, as in the case of Amos 2:1, where the Moabites are condemned for burning the corpse of the King of Edom into lime.
Yours in Christ’s service,
w.s. Arie Blok
First, I am glad that the Rev. Blok is a subscriber to our Standard Bearer. I also appreciate his writing to the effect that he, although not agreeing with everything he reads in it, nevertheless appreciates our point of view. And I also appreciate that the Rev. Blok recognizes the intent of the undersigned, namely that the opposition to abortion on a humanist basis is something quite different from an opposition to abortion on, Biblical principles, which sees the sanctity of human life as given by the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” and in the injunction of Genesis 9:6. Incidentally, my thanks to the writer from Everly, Iowa, because of the good spirit of his letter. I hope to reply to him in the same spirit. Of course, if my answer fails to satisfy Rev. Blok, he is free to write again.
I believe that I must maintain the position that we must and may not oppose abortion upon the ground that the child has the right to live. I do not wish to oppose this evil as also the world would oppose it; I do not wish to join with the world in its opposition to it; I would oppose this terrible sin only upon the ground of Holy Writ.
I had written that “the sinner has a right to nothing.” Perhaps I should have written: “Man has a right to nothing.” This is what I meant. That he has a right to nothing is not because as a sinner he has forfeited it, but because he, as man and as creature, never had this right. Rev. Blok writes, and I quote: “While this is true as regards the situation of a sinful man before God, who is too pure of eyes to behold iniquity; it is very wrong in the way it is used here, because the distinction between the First and Second Tables of the Law is lost sight of.”
I assume that the brother means that I do not have this right because, in my relationship toward God, I am a sinner, God is too pure of eyes to behold iniquity, and I have therefore lost this right. However, when it comes to man’s relationship to his fellow man, Scripture does not hesitate to speak of “innocent blood,” and I do have this right.
Now, in the first place, that a man has a right to nothing is based upon Scriptural passages such as: Psalm 24:1, Psalm 50:10, and Haggai 2:8. These passages speak, I believe, for themselves. That the Lord is the Sole Proprietor of heaven and earth and everything in them is because He is God; that I have a right to nothing is not simply because I am a sinner but because I am His creature.
Secondly, the example of the theft of an automobile does not hold. If it were true that I could never reclaim my stolen automobile because it was never mine, then it is just as true that the thief may not have it because it was never his. So, this reasoning surely does not hold.
My possessions and life are “mine,” as far as my neighbor is concerned, only because the Lord has allotted them to me. The heart of the eighth commandment is exactly that I am a steward and never an owner. All things, including my life, are not given to me but loaned to me. A thief proceeds exactly upon the assumption that what he has is his and he also craves the possessions of his neighbor. Fact is, every man is a thief (I am speaking now of the second table of the law), even though he never lays his hands upon any goods of his neighbor. He is a thief by nature, apart from regenerating grace, because, hating God and his neighbor, he says of what he has: “all this is mine.” And I must be content with whatever the Lord has allotted to me, and may surely never lay my hands upon whatever the Lord has allotted to my neighbor, be it his goods or his life.
It is exactly the error of socialism that man views himself as an owner. Abortion is surely a great evil. But I wish to oppose it, not in conjunction with the world and as the world would oppose it, but distinctively, upon the basis of the Word of God. I believe that I have also answered, by implication, what the brother wrote about Amos 1:13 and Amos 2:1. Perhaps I should say that I need not discuss now these passages quoted by the brother from Iowa.
Permit me to make one more observation. Rev. Blok refers to the two tables of the law. We must never separate these tables of the law, place them next to one another. The law of God is one. Jesus emphasizes this in Matthew 23:37-40. The love of God with all our heart, etc., is the great commandment, not the greater or the greatest. And the love of the neighbor is like unto it. This does not mean that there is a similarity between them, but that the love of the neighbor is like unto it in the sense that it is like unto it essentially; it is the same. The love of the neighbor is never anything else than the love of God as revealed to the neighbor. We do well to remember that the natural mind is not subject to the law of God, and this, of course, also refers to the second table of the law. Of course, our love to the neighbor, be he wicked, will always be a “one way street.” It will never be a bond of fellowship. And, as the Saviour also teaches us in Matthew 5:44-45, when we love that wicked neighbor he will hate us and persecute us. But the two tables of the law are always one.