It has through recent years become increasingly apparent that the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands are straying far from the truth of the Reformed faith. Magazine articles and books have brought some of these indications to the attention of those in our own country. And reports from people who have traveled to the Netherlands confirm these suspicions that all is far from well.
But things are far worse than many of us imagine. This appears clearly from an article which was written in Tot Vrijheid Geroepen (March, 1967) in which a letter was quoted which was sent to all the Consistories of theGereformeerde Kerken by a group which apparently is similar to various groups in denominations in our own country — groups of concerned members of the church who bemoan the heresy rampant in their denomination. The entire article we quote (The translation was graciously provided by Prof. H. C. Hoeksema):
UNREST IN THE GEREFORMEERDE KERKENThe society of “Gereformeerde Verontrusten in Nederland (Reformed Alarmed Ones in the Netherlands),” whose seat is in Harderwijk, has addressed a letter to all the consistories of theGereformeerde Kerken in the Netherlands, in which letter it mentions expressions of ministers and professors of the Gerefovmeerde Kerken which give occasion for serious unrest and alarm concerning the maintenance of the authority of Scripture and of the confession. The letter follows in its entirety.
To our great alarm the authority of Scripture and the confession are increasingly being attacked in our churches. According to II Peter 1:19-21 and II Timothy 3:16 the basis of our faith is the infallibility of Holy Scripture, which is inspired by the Holy Spirit. In that Scripture there are words spoken by men. Nevertheless these words are God’s Word in this sense, that God caused them to be included in the Scriptures, so that we are certain that these men indeed spoke them even as Scripture records them. But when our new theology speaks of a word of man in scripture, it means thereby that parts of Scripture are not inspired by the Holy Spirit, but are accounts of fallible men.
In Gereformeerde Weekblad of Sept. 16, 1966, Prof. Koole writes that the Bible is ancient Western historiography, of which one may not expect that it is absolutely exact. In Opdracht enDienst of January, 1966, Drs. T. M. Gilhuis mockingly calls the serpent, Balaam’s ass, and the fish of Jonah the three saving animals, about which we must not take the stories literally. But Christ and his apostles Paul and Peter inMatt. 12:40 and II Cor. 11:3 and II Pet. 2:16 establish those stories as historical facts. Then these witnesses, who are above suspicion, have adapted themselves to the mind (mening: opinion, meaning) of their contemporaries or they said these things in their ignorance. Prof. Bakker alleges the latter concerning Paul in Geref Weekblad of October 14, 1966, when he writes that Paul in II Cor. 11:3 gazes against his own horizon (tegen zijn eigen horizon aankijkt).
Dr. F. L. Bos ventures to declare in Trouw of January 8, 1966 that Paul views the creation account about the bi-unity (twee-eenheid) of man and wife through colored glasses. What is left in this way of the Biblical doctrine that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God?
Dr. Kuitert is a grave threat for our church. At the convention of the society of Christian scientists of April 20, 1963, he said that Genesis 1 is an account borrowed from Babylonian myths, that God’s creation, from the beginning on, never was good, and thatGenesis 3 surely would not be an account of facts. According to a report of the meeting (assembly) of theChr. Paedagogisch Studiecentrumof Oct. 5, 1966, he there made such terrible statements that the following conclusion is allowed: According to Prof. Kuitert there has been no Adam, no Eve, no paradise without sin and death, no fall (Fyiese Kerkbodei of Nov. 11, 1966). According to Trouw (May 13, 1966), Prof. Kuitert declared at Kampen’s School Day that one cannot say: “Because it is in the Bible, it really took place.” Therefore he could also say there: “I can very well agree with it, that in the time of Joshua Jericho did not exist.”
In “Feestbundel voor Prof. Berckouwer” Prof. Polman denies reprobation from eternity. According to Prof. Rothuizen in Centraal Weekblad (June 12, 1966), homosexuality is not sin. When the homosexual writer Van het Reve compares God with a little donkey with which fornication is committed, then that is not railing blasphemy, according to Rothuizen inTtouw of October 15, 1966, but he finds Van het Reve to be in many respects a Christian writer. In the Groninger Kerkbode of January 9, 1965 the Rev. Zwanenburg departs from the doctrine of original sin.
According to Trouw of May 9, 1966, Prof. H. Ridderbos said: “The Bible has no authority when it comes to the formulation of a definite cosmogeny (wereldbeeld; literally: world-picture) or when it comes to a particular style or when it comes to pronouncements on history.” In the Nieuwe Haagse Courant of May 7, 1966 he wrote: “We are more and more understanding that the real authority of the Bible lies in its content and is not a formal authority.” Apparently Prof. Ridderbos means that this way: One may no more say that one must believe Scripture because it is God’s Word, but one must trace the content of the Bible in order to make out what is credible (trustworthy) and what is not.
Now Prof. Ridderbos understands that this brings one into difficulties. For if A discards a part of the Bible, and B twice as much, and C thrice as much, what is then credible? According to Trouw (May 9, 1966) Prof. Ridderbos gives the following solution for this problem, that the fallible church, which is under the guidance of the Spirit, must determine what must be believed. Practically speaking, then, the Synod, i.e., the professors, decide. But if now a former synod declares that Genesis 3 must be taken literally and a following synod declares that Genesis 3 must be taken figuratively, which Synod is under the guidance of the Spirit? We, alarmed ones, say: the first, for the Synod is only under the guidance of the Spirit if it obeys God’s Word. But the new theology says: the second, for one must take into account modern science. The only safe guide which the Spirit uses is no club of fallible professors, but God’s infallible Word.
Now Prof. Kuitert and other theologians of the new trend say that the facts of salvation must be believed. Why? Because Scripture mentions these facts of salvation. But if Jesus teaches the doctrine of the atonement for our sins through his blood in Matthew 26:28and if Paul preaches the resurrection of Christ in I Cor. 15:4, why must I believe that, if the same Jesus and the same Paul tell something in Matt. 12:40 and II Cor. 11:3that is not true?
Professors and ministers have solemnly declared at their entrance upon office that they believe that the doctrine contained in our confessions agrees in all respects with the Word of God. They have promised not to teach or to write anything contrary thereto, that they will bring any possible objections against this doctrine to the attention of consistory, classis, or synod, that they will keep silence until the latter have made a pronouncement and will submit to their judgment, under the penalty of suspension in case they act contrary to this promise.
We urgently beseech you, office bearers, to draw your conclusion from the above.
The World Council of Churches has in its midst officebearers who deny the Christ. The World Council takes sides with the communist countries. In view of these facts we beseech you on the basis of the Word of God to oppose joining the World Council. We beseech you to do the same, just as much on the basis of God’s Word, with respect to the ascribing of the special offices to women.
In view of all the preceding, we beseech you, office bearers of our Geveformeerde Kevken, to maintain unabridged the authority of Scripture and the confession. Moreover, we would point you yet to the admonition of the elders in the Form for Ordination to be as watchmen over the house and city of God and to take heed to the maintenance of purity of doctrine. Therefore we also beseech you to drop all unnecessary ornamentation in the services for public worship and not to allow the preaching to degenerate into a chatty little essay of twenty minutes.
W. Van Veen,
Middenlaan 6, Harderwijk
This article demonstrates vividly how far things have progressed in the Netherlands in the direction of error. Yet, the Christian Reformed Church, a sister denomination of the Gevefovmeevde Kerken, is principally not so very far removed from the errors spoken of in this article. The only difference, perhaps, is that (as has been true over the years) the Christian Reformed Church lags a few years behind her sister. But she is rapidly closing the gap.
The article quoted above speaks of the denial of the infallible inspiration of Scripture. Apart from the fact that the truth of creation and the flood has been consistently denied in Christian Reformed circles, the truth of inspiration is also being attacked.
In the Standard Bearer of December 15, 1966 I called attention in this column to the denial of creation and a universal flood made by J. K. Van Baalen in the columns of the Reformed Journal.
In the November, 1966 issue of the Calvin Theological Journal Prof. B. Van Elderen writes an article on “New Perspectives in Biblical Research”. After giving a very general testimony of what he believes by the statement “The Bible is the Word of God” in which he makes no reference to infallible inspiration, he goes on to say:
The doctrine of organic inspiration maintains that God used these authors in their settings and environment with their knowledge, culture, cosmology, view of reality. We must recover these elements in order to understand their writings, and often archaeological and historical research are the means of recovery.
In other words, it is essential to define the Sitz im Leben of a given author. This Sitz im Leben should include the author’s culture, education, understanding of reality and also the purpose, intention, emphasis and recipients of the document.
The same idea is set forth by Prof. John H. Stek in the same issue of the Calvin Theological Journal in a review of two books dealing with the subject of creation. Stek writes:
was written, not for a few, but for the many and, consequently for the “common man.” But it was written for the “common man” of Israel at a given time in Israel’s history. Its mode of speaking is therefore, very much historically conditioned, and far more than the Hebrew language stands between the modern reader and
. Three thousand years of human history, including many cultural revolutions of which the last is but the most radical intervene.
The whole point which these men are making is that Scripture was written by men and for men who had serious misconceptions and mistaken notions of many subjects. They greatly misunderstood the nature of the work of creation and had no access to modern scientific discoveries. Their writings were influenced by the times in which they lived, and the errors prevalent in their times pervaded their writings — including the writing of Scripture. Scripture must therefore be corrected by us who know so much better than they did what is right and what is wrong. But what does this do to Scripture’s infallible inspiration?
The letter quoted above speaks of the fact that reprobation is being openly denied in the Netherlands. But this is being done also in the Christian Reformed Church. H. Petersma recently wrote a series of three articles in the Reformed Journal which were intended to be in support of the position of Prof. H. Dekker. But in these articles on the subject of “Predestination” the truth of election is grossly corrupted and the truth of reprobation openly denied. A brief quote from these articles will illustrate this.
What about God’s reprobation or rejection? Does election not logically imply rejection? . . . Does not election really mean selection? . . . Israel’s election, though sometimes misunderstood by the people themselves, ultimately meant their being called for service to the other nations. Therefore it was not a case of the other nations being forever excluded, but of God’s electing Israel on his way to the others. Election in the biblical sense does imply service, but apparently it does not imply rejection.
The same was true of an article in the Reformed Journal referred to in the December 15, 1966 issue of the Standard Bearer in which Prof. L. Smedes all but denied the existence of hell.
The letter of these concerned members of theGerefovmeevde Kerken speaks of the violation of the Formula of Subscription. This too is being done in this country. We called attention to an article in The Banner some time ago in which a Christian Reformed Church minister spoke of how the Formula of Subscription is being violated. And this violation of the Formula continues.
The article closes with a plea to fight the decision to join the World Council of Churches. Also in the Christian Reformed Church there are many who advocate membership in this antichristian organization.
I say again, the Reformed Churches here in this country are only a few steps behind their sister congregations in the Netherlands. And surely the awful errors exposed in the letter quoted will soon be prevalent in the Christian Reformed Church unless they repent and return to the faith of Scripture and the Confessions.