In one of the Dutch papers, in de rechte straat, (Nov., 1969) there is reported a tragic instance of the sad state of affairs in the Gereformeerde Kerken, an instance at the same time of the reckless manner in which certain leading figures express themselves publicly to the detriment of the churches. This incident involved Dr. J. Lever, biologist at the Free University of Amsterdam, and one of the leading protagonists of the theory of evolution in the Dutch churches. The above-mentioned magazine quotes from an interview between Prof. Lever and a certain A. ter Braak which was carried in Jong Gereformeerd, a paper for young people of the Gereformeerde Kerken (somewhat equivalent to our Beacon Lights or The Young Calvinist). I will quote this interview in translation:
“J. Lever: I like to go to church.
“A. ter Braak: Why?
“J.L.: In the first place, because I can’t be disturbed by the telephone; secondly, because I find it pleasurable to sit there with my children; and thirdly, because I like to hear a worthwhile sermon.
“A tB.: Mention an example.
“J.L.: I find it pleasing when a sermon deals with current events of our daily life.
“A tB.: Such as, for example, Vietnam and Czechoslovakia?
Not only did this interview have a place in Jong Gereformeerd, but the above excerpt of it was quoted in the rather sensational Dutch daily, Trouw.
The Rev. J. Hegger (Editor-in-Chief of in de rechte straat) has some pertinent comments on this excerpt. First of all, he writes about the matter itself as follows:
“You see, when I read something like this, I find it to be terrifying. In the first place, for Prof. Lever himself. Is this the fruit of faith? How entirely differently the Heidelberg Catechism speaks about the reasons why we ‘especially on the Sabbath, that is, on the day of rest, diligently frequent the church of God,’ namely: ‘to hear his Word, to use the sacraments, publicly to call upon the Lord.’
“Is it not a mockery of the Word of God when you give as a reason: I go to church, where God’s Word is proclaimed, first of all, because then I can’t be disturbed by the telephone? Must the proclamation of the Word of God serve to counter-act the ringing of the telephone? Why doesn’t Lever take the phone off the hook for an hour if he wants, to get some rest? Above all, has our observance of the Sabbath-rest sunk so low that we are continually phoning one another on Sunday?
“But perhaps it is understandable. For if Lever finds a sermon to be worth the bother on Sunday especially if it deals with actual events such as those of Vietnam and Czechoslovakia, then he does not really seek God’s Word any more.”
A little later in the same article Rev. Hegger makes the following point:
“What a beautiful opportunity Lever had to answer this question with a testimony concerning the preciousness of the Word of God, which, though sometimes proclaimed with weakness, is so great because in it God Himself directs Himself to us, admonishing and comforting, as the God of wrath and of mercy. In that Word is life and light and power and peace. Why did he not talk about the assembling together of the Church of God, which in spite of the sins and the smallness of spirit which, alas, cleave to us, is nevertheless the manifestation of the people of God, with whom God has concluded His covenant in the blood of His Son?”
And then Rev. Hegger points out that this kind of propaganda serves to chase the youth out of the church. Writes he:
“In the second place, I find this expression of Lever so terrible because it is published in Jong Gereformeerd, the organ of the Federation of Reformed young people’s societies. For in this manner you chase our youth out of the church. They will say to reason No. 1 of Lever: ‘I am not bothered by the telephone, hence . . . ‘; to reason No. 2: ‘I don’t have children yet, hence . . .’; to reason No. 3: ‘I’m not interested in politics’ or: ‘I can get more thorough information about Vietnam and Czechoslovakia elsewhere than in church on Sunday. Hence . . . I just don’t go to church on Sunday.’ It is not pleasant to have to write thus, but neither is it pleasant to have to hear such language from someone who claims to be a professing Christian. Things of that sort are painful; and I am convinced that that pain does not simply arise from personal feelings, but because I love God’s Word and find it sad when anyone writes thus about the eternal, glorious Word of God by which a believer is begotten again (I Peter 1:23) through the operation of God’s Holy Spirit.”
With these sentiments of Editor Hegger we are in hearty accord. He is certainly correct as to the substance of the matter when he puts Lever’s “reasons” for church attendance in the light of what our Heidelberg Catechism teaches us in connection with the Fourth Commandment; and by so doing, Hegger exposes the wicked, superficial, flippant attitude betrayed by Lever. And he is also correct as to the ethics of Lever when he points out that by such talk Lever “chases our youth out of the church,”—something which is all the more serious because of the fact that the Gereformeerde Kerken are particularly troubled by the fact that especially the younger generation is forsaking the means of grace, so that in many instances the second service on Sunday is attended by only a few of the older folk.
But there is more involved here.
Here you have a clear illustration that doctrine and morals go hand in hand. Still more, here is a clear illustration that false teachers not only propagate false doctrine, but also lead the church in immoral, lascivious ways.
True, Dr. Lever is not a theologian or a minister. He is a biologist. But he has been a leading spokesman—be it from a scientist’s point of view—of those who have been striving, and to no little degree succeeding, to foist evolutionism on the Reformed people in the Netherlands, and that in the name of faith in the Word of God. In November and December of 1968 he delivered a, series of radio lectures (now published in the book entitled Waar Blijven We?) which were broadcast by the Netherlands Christian Radio Association. The stated purpose of these lectures was to bring to the attention of the general public in an understandable way the relation between Christian faith and modern natural science, to remove misunderstandings, and to present the viewpoint that both [Christian faith and natural science] can actually be of essential significance for the progress of mankind. All this, however, is a deceitful euphemism for the actual purpose of those lectures, namely, to popularize the theory of evolution and to deceive God’s people into thinking that evolutionism is quite in harmony with Scripture. And thus he has been a teacher of false doctrine.
But there is another aspect to this phenomenon of false teachers which is frequently ignored, if not contradicted. That is the matter of their own ethics and of the immoral ways in which they seek to lead the people of God. You understand, of course, when I use the term “immoral” in this connection, I am not thinking exclusively of sexual immorality, but of immorality in general, that is, of that which is contrary to God’s commandments. And the Biblical picture of false teachers is such that it consistently portrays false teachers not only as having evil motives, but also as seeking to lead God’s people astray in their life as well as in their doctrine. This is, for example, the picture of false teachers which is painted in II Peter 2, which speaks not only of the “damnable heresies” but also of the “pernicious (lascivious) ways” of false teachers. There is, of course, good reason why these two go hand in hand. It is impossible to grow good moral fruits upon a tree of corrupt doctrine. Soundness of doctrine and uprightness of life go hand in hand; and corrupt doctrine and an immoral walk go hand in hand. Soundness of doctrine is the basis and the root of uprightness of walk; and by the same token, false doctrine is the root of, and must needs bear fruit in, a walk contrary to the precepts of our God. It is, of course, possible in some instances, and then only for a time, artificially to hang some fruits of external and apparent good works on such a tree of corrupt doctrine; but even these are only shining vices. And ultimately it must needs become abundantly plain that from the root of corrupt doctrine can only spring corrupt works.
The example cited earlier in this article is, I say, a clear illustration of this point. Notice:
1. Dr. Lever himself adopts and teaches the false doctrine of evolutionism. (false teaching)
2. He then goes about in a very smooth manner, using language which gives the impression of discussing an entirely legitimate question. (that of the relation between the Christian faith and natural science), to deceive the people into accepting an alleged harmony between evolutionism and Scripture. (unethical, practice)
3. He then, by way of an interview in a young people’s paper, leads in pernicious ways, publicly belittling and caricaturing church attendance and the preaching of the Word, and furnishing especially the young people of the church a thoroughly rotten example.
Dr. Lever is by no means the only one who is guilty of this. As far as the Netherlands is concerned, anyone who follows reports in the Dutch papers or anyone who has been there for a visit will be able to tell you of the rapid degeneration not only in doctrine but also in Christian life that has befallen the Dutch churches. And one can notice repeatedly that the same group of men who are promoting the “new theology” in the Netherlands are the men who are also placing their stamp of approval upon all kinds of radical moral departures. From these same false teachers come such things as the desecration of the Sabbath, recommendation of street rebellion, recommendation of and praise for homosexual writings, etc.
Moreover, in the present course of events in the Netherlands there are at least two sound reasons for this close connection between corruption of doctrine and corruption of morals. The first is that the doctrine of Holy Scripture is at stake; and when you forsake the objective standard of the absolute authority of the Scriptures, you have completely lost your moorings, both doctrinally and morally. The second reason, closely connected with the first, is that the specific false doctrine which is being embraced in many quarters in the Netherlands is the philosophy of evolutionism. And the latter is in its very nature destructive of all morality. The philosophy of evolution and the doctrines of grace (and I have in mind especially now the grace of sanctification) mix like fire and water.
What is the solution?
Basically, it is a very simple one: the resolute rooting out of all false doctrine and the casting out of false teachers.
If that is not possible by reformation form within, then there is only this alternative: reformation by separation. Any other course is fatal!
And this is true in America as well as in the Netherlands!