In our last installment we showed how this truth meets with bitter protestations and the methods of attack against it. Very frequently, the one who opposes this truth is almost wholly ignorant of what it is all about, hardly knowing what he is up against. Usually, his ignorance is the result of failure to enlighten himself on the subject. He has made not even a cursory study of the matter. What little scrutiny he may have given it has been darkened by the veil of prejudice which blindfolds him. It makes no difference to him whether you can prove that election is the fountain of holiness and good works. He only wants to do ways with it. For it throws too strong a searchlight on his inferior, humanistic gospel.
Among the bitterest and most unrelenting enemies against the doctrine of election are the Romanists. They are among the oldest protagonists of “free willism,” and salvation by works and human merit. The Roman Catholic Church with its Dogmatic Decrees of the Council of Trent has never ceased to oppose sovereign grace and divine predestination. Not by the gracious power of a preached gospel, but by power-politics and by humanistic, even secularistic, ecumenism, Rome strives to be the one-world church. Then the liberal, modernistic and radical so-called Protestant ecumenists, themselves deniers of predestination and sovereign grace, lead their dead, apostate churches to ultimate union with Rome. She, compared to other church bodies in the world, has both political and ecclesiastical power uncomparable, and, in addition, enjoys more prestige than any other organization in the world. Her power increases when so called Protestant pulpits preach the things which give her aid and comfort and advance her interests. She is delighted with the modern prophets of mass-evangelism and of the charismatic movement, who preach fallen man’s power to accept Christ and believe, rather than God’s eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus before the world began. Pretenders to Protestantism attack or undermine the doctrine of election, using the same objections against it that came from the ultramontanist church back in counter-Reformation days.
So the enemies of this truth have always raged against it, and regard the proclaimers of it as downright wicked. When such ire and epithet fall upon you for the truth’s sake, take it as an indicator that you are on the right track. As the book, The Holy War, describes them, modern election-doubters are Diabolonians who know how to misrepresent the truth, but are unable to disprove it with evidence and argument. They can caricaturize the truth, but they are unable to debate it. Also, as already shown, for years in the past there has been an underground movement in the Presbyterian, Reformed and Calvinistic churches to subvert this truth. Arminianism in the churches has always led underhandedly to Modernism. Now, today, we see openly how Modernism leads to socialism, and, it should be equally plain, to communism. More and more, the opposition comes out into the open. Read Ernest Gordon’s The Leaven of the Sadducees, where you will see how Modernism and Socialism ruined the originally Christian colleges and universities by infiltration. Now these evils are much more out into the open. We need not go very far afield to prove this.
Recall, for example, the publication put out by students of Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, known as The Chimes, in its April 22, 1966 issue. There it is stated, “The faith of our fathers . . . is plainly out of date.” This means that the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is out of date; that Hebrews 11 is out of date. The implication is that the covenant God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is not the God of the living, but of the dead, hence that God, too, is out of date. The meaning is also that our later and Reformed fathers of Dordrecht are long out of date. Their doctrine belongs under glass in the museum. To go on: “If archaic theological methods still dominate the Seminary, that is too bad—too bad for the Seminary and too bad for the denomination.” If anything, this means that Calvin, Calvinism and the Reformed Confessions are passe, defunct and “too bad” to be maintained in this enlightened (?) age. With such a modernist spirit in the seminary, it will soon pervade the churches. It is an old saying, but it hits the nail on the head, “As goes the seminary, so goes the church.”
“Perhaps systematic theology was meaningful once; and perhaps it will be meaningful again some day. But now it is harmful. We Christian Reformed people are so used to thinking in terms of election and reprobation, predestination and free will, redemption, justification, providence, and all the rest that our religion has been reduced to theological fence-tending.” In the Belgic Confession we have what we may call systematic theology. But it is all meaningless now, and detrimental. It is a positive threat to the existence of the church—it is dangerous. This sounds much like the Dewey-philosophy, inimical to divine authority, regarding it as an alien standard, along with all “structured” or “organized religion.” This is also a deliberate attack on what the Reformed have always called Cor Ecclesiae, the heart of the church, which is the central dogma of predestination in its positive and negative aspects of election and reprobation. Here, too, is a slur against the heart of the gospel, namely, redemption and the foundation truth of justification by faith. Also here is insult to all Reformed ministers and officebearers who sign the Formula of Subscription and so swear in the name of God that they will preach, teach and defend these doctrines against every lie repugnant to them. Such oath-bound men are thus branded “harmful.” But the brazen, anti-intellectual striplings go on: “With our thought gone sterile, strait-jacketed by remote abstraction, each with its own parcel of proof-texts, our moral behavior has become legalistic and fundamentalistic . . .” Years ago, Arminians and liberals accused believers in the three great Reformed Confessions as being hyper-Calvinist. But now if you still hold the confessions, you arelegalistic. Now you are not “hyper” any more, but quite a bit less, “fundamentalistic.” Theological thinking, of the Reformed calibre, according to these adolescent experts, is sterile and strait-jacketed. Why? Because there is a lack of fresh presentation in the preaching? Or because of a failure to develop the Reformed truth? You know that’s not their meaning, They mean that there are still a faithful few who still think according to the faith of our fathers, as exemplified in the Canons of Dordt. But creeds are sterilizing factors in the church, you know. So the enemies of creeds and Reformed symbols have always ranted.
What did these youthful wonders recommend to the churches? “To begin with, chuck every theological abstraction—the entire symmetrical system—and start theologizing all over again.” Here’ is proof that there is an element in the younger generation that wants to be rid of the Reformed Confessions. They would jettison the Reformed cargo, drop its banner and sail under a false flag to turn the church into a “peace corps.” It is insult to the Spirit of grace, who throughout the ages led the church into all the truth, to do away with the Reformed Faith and to start from scratch. It is subterfuge to speak of “theologizing all over again.” They do not intend to theologize. Theology they despise. They mean to philosophize, to theorize, to “demythologize,” to romanticize, to hallucinate. They would turn the church into a dreamery.
“Second,” they go on to recommend, “learn to read the Scripture like any other book.” If we did, we would not continue daily with it, as the Christian does and plans to do throughout his life. This inept recommendation is deep-dyed Modernism. The Christian cannot read the Scripture like any other book simply because the Scripture is not like any other book. Any other book is a natural book. The Scripture is the only book that is a supernatural book. You cannot read a supernatural book like a natural book, for that would be to deny the supernatural, and treat it like a mere natural book. You cannot read the infallible Word of God like any fallible word of man. You’ve got to read it as it is—the very unique, incomparable, verbally inspired Word of God. Nor can the Christian read the Scripture like any other book simply because he cannot deny his own faith. As a Christian, one of his basic presuppositions is that all Scripture is God-breathed. It is an article of his heart-centered faith to believe that they are “holy and divine Scriptures . . . they are from God . . . the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in allrespects. Neither do we consider of equal value any writing of men . . . with those divine Scriptures.” They alone are “the truth of God,” and “the truth is above all; for all men are pf themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself. Therefore we reject with all our hearts, whatsoever doth not agree with this infallible rule, which the apostles have taught us, saying, ‘Try the spirits whether they are of God’ . . .” (Belgic Confession). The Christian cannot read the Scripture as any other book simply because he cannot read it as the natural man. He cannot confess, “Inspired it is,” and at the same time treat it as something purely human.
“If the Old Testament picture of God shows a marked change from Genesis to Psalms to Malachi, we ought to admit that, rather than trying (sic) to reconcile the variant concepts . . .” This insinuates the evolutionary philosophy of God, the German rationalistic theory of God. In Genesis God is conceived according to man’s early ignorance as a bestial boor who demanded human sacrifice (chap. 22). In the Psalms He is conceived but little better, as a vindictive imprecating tyrant. Whereas, in Malachi we come closest to that advanced concept that the one God is the universal father, of all men (Mal. 2:10). So runs the old Modernism, as it is taken up by the “now” generation. Even where we may speak of arestraint of sin, as in the case of Abimelech (Gen. 20), there is still resistance to truth. There is more of this collegian folly we intend to examine, but it must follow in the next installment, the Lord willing.