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Classis West met in regular session in Doon, Iowa, on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 1954. Our number was again small. However, we were happy to have a delegate from our Lynden church in our midst, Deacon A. VandenTop. Hence, five churches were represented.
In the Banner of September 10th we read a rather interesting review of Dr. J. Daane’s recently published book, titled: The Theology of Grace. Dr. L. Berkhof in his review gives the book some severe criticism. He really accuses Daane of being too philosophical and highly speculative. Berkhof claims that this is so evident that he is afraid most of his people will find the book hard to read. Also Berkhof sharply criticizes Daane, and that almost ironically, for his misrepresentation of the conceptions of Dr. C. Van Til, whom Daane takes to task in his book.
The question of the authority of Synod or Classis is a very significant one that presses for attention repeatedly throughout the history of Reformed Churches. The question itself we purpose to discuss extensively in connection with later articles in the Church Order but we cannot refrain from commenting upon it here because: (1) Article 15 specifically speaks of “the consent and authority of the synod or classis” and (2) it is a burning issue throughout our recent history as churches.
A very crucial question it is, therefore, as to how this assurance is attained by the elect. And the Canons teach that the elect obtain this assurance of their eternal and unchangeable election, “not by inquisitively prying into the secret and deep things of God, but by observing in themselves with a spiritual joy and holy pleasure, the infallible fruits of election pointed out in the word of God,—such as a true faith in Christ, filial fear, a godly sorrow for sin, a hungering and thirsting after righteousness, etc.”
Finally, continuing to quote Irenaeus, we submit to our readers the following rather lengthy quotation which is remarkable because it enables us to understand why the seeds of the later Roman Catholic doctrine of the Mass and of the real, be it bloodless, sacrifice of Christ were sown in this early period of the Church.
Our churches split on a very definite doctrinal issue. In the August issue of the Reformed Guardian, Vol. II, No. 3, Page 13, we come across the amazing statement that, “Our churches did not ‘split’ on any doctrinal issues, that of conditions or any other point of doctrine, but solely on church political issues.” Such an amazing statement may not go unchallenged, for it deceives and covers up the real basic doctrinal issue which is behind the whole sad history through which we have gone recently.
There are times and times in the life of a Christian. And not less is this true of apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastors and teachers, while they labor as Christ’s gift to the Church for the perfecting of the saints, and the bringing them, under God, to the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God!
Then Isaiah the son of Amos sent into Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord, God of Israel, Whereas thou has prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, this is the word that the Lord has spoken concerning him: (Vss. 21, 22b). It again shows how that the secrets of the Lord are with them that fear him. If the God-fearing king has taken the Lord’s side against Sennacherib, the Lord now also takes the side of His servant against the blasphemer to deliver him out of his clutch.
We cannot do without them. And therefore there is in our hearts a certain measure of desire for them, which is perfectly legitimate: for we are earthy, and have need of earthy things. We want them, expect them, look for them, and strive to acquire them in the way of God’s precepts. We need bread to eat and clothing to cover us, a home to shelter us. And we need the means to obtain these. Moreover, we crave for health and strength, that we may go about and labor. We hunger for friendship and love, for happiness and liberty.
I still want to come back to, that sentence of the reply to the protest of brother Meninga by the former consistory of the First Church of Kalamazoo: “And therefore, it may be true, but certainly not the truth.” Camouflage and evasion of the definite truth of Scripture and the Confessions always characterizes heretics. And this sentence surely shows all the earmarks of camouflage and evasion.