The caption of this article expresses in brief the contents of an editorial in The Banner of Nov. 10, 1944. Basing his remarks on a sentence or two of very incomplete and hardly trustworthy information concerning the “discharge’’ of Dr. Schilder that appeared in a Dutch publication printed in London, England, the Rev. H. J. Kuiper reminds his readers of the warning he sounded against inviting the well-known brother from the Netherlands to speak in the Christian Reformed Churches at the time when he was visiting here, because of his alleged unsound views regarding common grace. The editor calls attention to the fact that, in his own opinion, he is now finally justified in his former action against Dr. Schilder, though at the time he was severely criticized for it. And he rather loudly shouts: I told you so!
The history of the last twenty years convinces me more and more that a sound course in Christian ethics would by no means be superfluous for some of the leaders in the Christian Reformed Church. A frantic determination to defend their own little church and their own pet notions, and a stubborn obsession with respect to the common grace theory, appear to distort their ethical judgment. The above mentioned editorial is a clear illustration of the truth of these statements.
Let us briefly consider the arguments of the editor.
He tries to justify his action against Dr. Schilder five years ago on the basis of a very scant report concerning the doctor’s discharge from the school in Kampen recently. Five years ago Dr. Schilder was invited by some Christian Reformed laymen to deliver some lectures here. He was a professor at the school of the “Gereformeerde Kerken” in The Netherlands in good standing. Those churches are sister churches of the Christian Reformed Churches in this country. There was no charge against Dr. Schilder. There was not even the slightest indication that he denied “common grace.” Yet, the professors of Calvin and some of the ministers of the Christian Reformed Church, of whom I have good reason to believe that the editor of The Banner was one, wrote him a letter in which they asked him not to come at that time. This I have from Dr. Schilder himself. When the brother ignored this appeal, and decided to come anyway, the editor of The Banner did not hesitate to throw suspicion on Dr. Schilder’s good name. The brother came. He preached and lectured. He never denied common grace. He never spoke against the ‘Three
Points/’ He did not attempt to create unrest in the Christian Reformed Churches. The Banner’s suspicions were proved to be false. The editor’s fears were proved to be unfounded. The action of the editor was certainly contrary to Christian ethics. Now, it should be plain to all whose judgment is not distorted that whatever may have taken place at the present time, and even if it should be true that Dr. Schilder is deposed as professor because of unsound views concerning common grace, cannot possibly justify the editor’s action of five years ago. At that time he condemned’ a brother unheard, and he cast suspicion on the name of a man in good standing in his own churches, against whom no one lodged an indictment of unorthodoxy.
But, secondly, what reason does the editor have to say: I told you so? A very scant report in Het Vrije Nederland. Can the editor be sure that Dr. Schilder is “ontslagen”? He cannot. Even if he should be “discharged,” does the editor know that this action was taken on the basis of Dr. Schilder’s denial of “common grace”? He knows nothing about it. And, finally, does the editor have data to prove that, if the “discharge” should be a fact, it was justified? Not at all. He takes it all for granted. And in order to be able to give his own action of five years ago a semblance of justification, he drags the name of Dr. Schilder through the mud once more.
One unethical action may seem to justify a former action of the same character. But two unethical actions do not make one good one.
The editor concludes with a: “Let us pray.”