An Attempt at Discipline.
The last item of Mr. Glasgow’s protest concerns the miracles of the Bible. As one illustration under this heading he refers to what Dr. Thompson has to say on the book of Jonah.
According to the latter, the possibility of the event (of Jonah’s being swallowed up by the whale) is at least subject to discussion. To this Mr. Glasgow replies “that all things are possible with God, and it would be presumptuous for us to say that a miracle could not be performed.” He then discusses (i.e. Dr. Thompson) the question of the allegorical interpretation. And he writes: “The time has passed when one’s belief in the historicity of Jonah and the whale can be made a test of orthodoxy . . . Others point out . . . there is no historical confirmation of the conversion of Nineveh, or exact historical details in the book itself, that some of the miracles are grotesque and useless.” And at the end Dr. Thompson asserts that he does “not care to argue the parabolic nature of Jonah.”
My personal chief objection to such teaching in a seminary is that it says nothing but suggests everything and the suggestions are entirely negative. In other words, although Dr. Thompson does not literally say so, it is plain that he does not believe the historicity of the book of Jonah nor the reality of the miracle of his being in the whale. Such teaching is insidious. If this is meant by the repeated statement that Dr. Thompson is an able teacher, I can agree. But again I maintain that it is characteristic of an able teacher, not to be negatively suggestive, but to state his own convictions clearly and definitely.
For the rest, if Dr. Thompson does not believe that the book of Jonah is historical and that he was three days in the belly of the fish, he must deny many more things. Such is always the case with Scripture. The Bible is one whole. If you deny one part of it, you must deny more until you have nothing left. And, of course, principally you must deny that the Bible is the inspired Word of God.
Thus it is also in this case.
Deny that Jonah was a historical person, that he was called to preach in Nineveh but refused, that God made him go anyway but through the belly of the fish, that he preached in Nineveh and the city repented,â€• and you must also deny what the Lord Jesus said about this entire history in Matthew 12:39-41: “But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise up in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” And the last part of this text, that about the preaching of Jonah and the repentance of Nineveh, is repeated inLuke 11:32.
Now, what follows if we deny the historicity of the book of Jonah? Many things.
1. That Jesus was in error when He spoke these words. If this was the case, then there is guarantee that he was not mistaken in regard to any other things He spoke. Then He cannot be trusted and we cannot believe in Him.
2. That Jesus knew that what He said was not the truth but that He catered to the popular notions of the people. This is just as bad as the foregoing if not worse. But in either case we cannot believe in Him.
3. That we must deny both the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and the holiness of His human nature, for it is inconceivable that the Son of God in holy and sinless human nature should either err or deliberately speak an untruth.
4. That we deny the resurrection of Christ. For Christ, in the words quoted above definitely states that even as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, so the Lord must be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. If the one is not true, then the other is also not a fact. But why, pray, is it more difficult (apart even from the fact that the Bible presents it as history) to believe that Jonah was in the belly of the fish than to believe that Christ rose from the dead? Is not the latter a far greater wonder than the former?
5. The only other conceivable possibility is that Matthew was mistaken and that Jesus never spoke these words. But this is equally bad as the other possibilities, for then we attack the infallible inspiration of the gospel according to Matthew and, of course, the infallible inspiration of the whole of Scripture. And then we have nothing left: no Word of God, no Christ, no gospel, no salvation.
Thus we see where we ultimately land when once we begin to deny part of the Bible.
Mr. Glasgow summarizes his protest as follows :
“1. I have here submitted Dr. Thompson’s own record as written by him to ‘clearly reflect’ Dr. Thompson’s true ‘attitude towards the Bible.’ This ‘is not ‘hearsay’ or what ‘somebody said’ â€•but are Dr. Thompson’s own statements.
“2. I have set forth some of the clarion declarations of Dr. Benjamin B. Warfield, who Dr. Lacy declares was followed by Dr. Strickler and Dr. Johnson, and whom these professors of Theology at Union, together with Dr. Smith who followed them, required all of their students to study and master. I submit that this unequivocally establishes the ‘historic position’ of our church on these vital issues.
“3. I have set forth in direct contrast the statements of the Bible and of our Standards for direct comparison with the statements and necessary and obvious inferences from Dr. Thompson’s own statements.
“4. We are a ‘Confessional Church.’ We declare our unqualified, normal and sincere acceptance of that Confession. Unless we desire to support the position of the Southern Presbyterian Church, we are free to go to the church of our choice. Simple honesty with the world and with our homes, who send their sons to our Seminaries, demands that our teaching conform to that Confession. These homes have a right to believe that our Seminaries and Professors teach the historically known and accepted interpretation of that Confession. This is not ‘theology’â€• it is just plain common honesty.
“5. I have declared that evasion, equivocation, and ambiguity, have no rightful part in the methods of teaching employed by our Seminary Professors. The Church has a right to know, and if necessary to investigate through its courts and ascertain what is being taught in our Seminaries, and the fundamental policies being followed. I again maintain that the Assembly (and I believe a supporting Synod or Presbytery) has a right to make such an investigation as it sees fit and that, Dr. Lacy’s declaration is an amazing declaration : ‘On Constitutional grounds, I object to an inquisition by a General Assembly.’
“6. I have set forth FACTUAL DATA which supports the charge against Dr. Thompson as evidencing our obligation that he be immediately relieved from his position of influence as Professor.”
Thus far the protest. What became of the matter?
First of all, according to the report, a committee was appointed to investigate the charges made by Mr. Glasgow, and that, too, at the request of Dr. Thompson.
According to another report, written by one who agreed with the charges made by Mr. Glasgow; that committee consisted entirely of men who were in favor of Dr. Thompson, and who determined “to whitewash the whole charges without even the formality of an investigation.” Besides, it was decided that no transcript of the record of this examination would be furnished’to Mr. Glasgow “as this would furnish ammunition for further ‘persecution.’ ”
Again, Dr. Thompson was invited to meet with the committee that were to investigate the charges made against him, but he refused on the ground that “he did not feel that such a Committee was a competent body to examine him on these matters.”
Further, the committee, in its report, stated from the outset that one was not obliged to agree with and conform to the Standard of the Church in every detail. This may, in itself be true, but then the question arises naturally what belongs to the details and what to the essentials. The charges made by Mr. Glasgow certainly cannot be regarded as minor details.
The conclusion of the Committee’s report is as follows: “In view of the above findings, it is the judgment of this committee: First, That Mr. Glasgow has not established his contention that Dr. Thompson is disqualified for having a place on the faculty in the Seminary in the Southern Presbyterian Church.
“Second. That Dr. Thompson, who has served the Church faithfully and acceptably as a professor at Union Theological Seminary for more than twenty years, in addition as pastor, author, teacher and Presbyter, is in spirit as well as in mind thoroughly loyal to the Scriptures and to the Standards of the Church; that he is entitled to the love and confidence of the Church as a Christian gentleman, a scholar, an author, and a servant of the Master, and that his presence on the faculty of Union Theological Seminary is a distinct asset to that institution.
“Third. That Dr. Thompson’s Confession of Faith is an excellent summary of Christian belief, and should be published in our Church papers for the inspiration and guidance of others.
“Fourth. That this investigation (Book of Church Order, par. 183) does not find any grounds for the institution of process against Dr. Thompson by the Presbytery.”
I need not comment further on this report. There is nothing to comment on except that it is perfectly evident that the committee did not consider the charges by Mr. Glasgow against Dr. Thompson and certainly whitewashed the whole matter. The reader will understand why the caption of these articles is: “An Attempt at Discipline.”
The attempt failed. But the end is not yet. And I hope that I may hear further about the case.
As To Being Protestant Reformed
I will, the Lord: willing, write more under the above mentioned heading. But this time I have space only to answer a question put to me by the Rev. Wm. Haverkamp in De Wachter of Jan. 5, 1960.
The brother read my article in The Standard Bearer on the name “Protestant Reformed.” And at the close of his article he asks a question as follows: “Een opmerking: Ds. Hoeksema maakt niet duidelijkwaarom voor het woord ‘Reformed’ ook nog het woord Protestant geplaatst moet worden. Is het niet vanzelfsprekend, dat een kerk die staat op de basis van de gereformeerde belijdenisschriften oak staat op de basis van de protestantse reformatie in de zestiende eeuw?”
I may briefly put this question in English for our readers that are not acquainted with the Dutch. The question is whether the addition Protestant is not superfluous seeing that a Reformed Church naturally stands on the basis of the Protestant Reformation.
Briefly, I would answer as follows:
1. First, I like to answer with a counter-question. In the name Christian Reformed is not the addition “Christian” superfluous seeing that to be Reformed already implies to be Christian?
2. Secondly we added this in distinction from all kinds of Reformed churches in this country as: Free Reformed, Christian Reformed, Reformed Churches of America. And we did not wish to leave the conceited impression that we considered ourselves the only Reformed Church in the country.