No “Double-Track” Theology
One of the more difficult elements in the “common grace” struggle in our history was the element introduced I believe by Van Baalen of the “double-track”. That this has indeed taken root in the Christian Reformed Churches is evident to me from, my own contact with various ministers of that denomination. That it must ultimately lead, if consistently applied, to the death of all dogmatics and all interpretation of Scripture is very evident to me.
Now the question of a “double-track” theology also arises in connection with our understanding of the theology of the “Liberated” churches in the Netherlands. The question of the “promise of the covenant for all” over against the irrefutable revelation of Election and Reprobation and the reconciling of these two raises the question, “Is there a ‘double-track’ perhaps?”
In this connection our attention fell upon a series of articles in “De Reformatie” under the title “De Beteekenis van de vrij making voor theologie en leven” by Dr. Bremmer. In this series Dr. Bremmer discusses the question of common grace and the view of Dr. A. Kuyper on this score. We do not have the room to “discover” this series for you but it is worthwhile reading if you would discover the thought on this subject.
However in an appendage “Substraat of Genade”? Dr. Bremmer refutes the position of several men on this same question and in this article we have, I believe, at least in as far as Dr. Bremmer is concerned, the answer to the question concerning a “double-track” theology. We quote from Dr. Bremmer:
“. . . .It is extremely difficult to analyze from these twenty pages what the author himself understands by the longsuffering of God. We would gladly have seen that he had expressed himself more concretely. However, he heartily endorses certain statements of others, and these statements do not leave a shadow of a doubt on this score. Thus he declares to agree with the Three Points of the Synod of Kalamazoo which speak of a favorable attitude of God towards mankind in general, and not only toward the elect.” And he endorses the position of Dr. Van Til who somewhere has written: ‘That God’s preservation of the unrighteous is evidence of His favor toward them, and that therefore there is some favor shown to the unrighteous in the fact of his preservation in this world.’
“If we consider all these statements then we are constrained to ask the question, what does the author understand by the longsuffering of God? Is it revelation of grace, or at least something intermediate between grace and judgment? For herein lies one of the most important points of the discussion. Dr. Berkhouwer protests that ‘the contrast between elect and reprobate is constantly intruding in the exegesis of the Scriptural passages as a principle of exegesis, also then when there is no sign of it in the text’, and he complains in this connection about ‘schematic exegesis which does serious injustice to the Scripture, and approaches it from the view-point of special prejudice’. But we in turn ask, is this reproach fair? May the dogmaticus, and the exegete, in the interpretation of certain passages of Scripture, leave out of consideration what the same Scripture elsewhere teaches concerning election and reprobation? (I underscore, J.H.) It is indeed commendable that the author rises to the defense of the concrete and anthropomorphistic statements of Scripture. But must not we, just because of the anthropomorphism in a certain passage, that speaks of God’s attitude over against the fallen world, also take into consideration other passages that speak of this matter. Just exactly in re an anthropomorphism it is thus, that the one figure or metaphor explains and compliments the other . . . Hence, in order to determine the attitude of God, in certain concrete cases, I shall have to give account of His election and reprobation. And when we do this, then this is not an intrusion of a strange principle of exegesis, but then we cleave to the old Reformed rule; ‘Interpret Scripture with Scripture’. . .
Thus it was also with God’s attitude which revealed itself unto the contemporaries of Noah. Exactly as we confess in the Canons of Dordt that God seriously calls through the gospel unto faith and repentance. But does this justify the conclusion, that there is with God, or to speak in the words of Prof. Berkhouwer, that there was in God’s heart a favorable attitude towards those wicked contemporaries of Noah? We do not believe a word of it . . .
“And when Prof. Berkhouwer speaks of the compassion of the divine heart in re the fallen world, yea, even writes in reference to the longsuffering of God over the contemporaries of Noah, ‘His heart beat in compassion during the building of the ark’, then we ask anew; but can we separate the beating of God’s heart from His eternal decree of election and reprobation? Would God’s heartbeat, even but for one second, in love and grace, over against those whom He has hated with an eternal hatred, and therefore shall hate unto all eternity?”
So far Dr. Bremmer.
For the translation of the above we wish to thank Rev. Kok.
I believe the article is plain in itself and speaks language with which we all can agree.
The Suffering of Korean Christians.
From the Southern Presbyterian Journal we take over part of a letter written by Mr. Ko Oon Yong, a young Christian in Conja, Korea, a clerk in the Chosun Industrial Bank there. Mr. Ko’s letter is dated, Chonju, Korea, November 7, 1950.
“It is almost six months since I saw you last. During the time almost everything was changed. Our city was under control of puppet government for ten weeks. North Korean Army flooded the city on the 20th of July. We, all of the Korean people, could clearly understand what communism was. They made use of the name of Justice. They said they were fighting for right. We looked at their hands: they were stained with blood, the blood of plunder, cruelties, murder, violation of chastity, instead of liberty for proletariat. They killed many peaceable citizens, regardless of age and sexes, especially policemen and Christians. My beloved brother was slaughtered by them. He was a faithful Christian. They took me for an American spy: so assaulted me, and I was nearly killed. They carried away all of my household effects for the reason of reactionary. I cannot help bearing a grudge against them. They lost 99 percent of the whole nation’s support: not only bourgeois support but also all proletarian support, even the farmer and the laborer. We Koreans shall never be fooled by their good-sounding slogans and propaganda…”
Church Merger with a slightly different slant.
In a recent number of the “Southern Presbyterian Journal” on of the contributing editors, Dr. Wm. C. Robinson is discussing the fact that the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Churches are at present contemplating a merger either with the United Presbyterian or with the Southern Presbyterian Church.
Now merger as such is hardly church news in these days of so-called ecumenicity and church merger. But what struck our attention is the attitude toward this particular merger reflected in the following words: “Now the larger Church is always willing to unite with the smaller. Thus it is no credit to our denomination that we are ready to receive our brethren who bear such a good name among up. We can, however, show our Christian consideration by taking care that in the plan of union we preserve the assets of their heritage…The most conspicuous testimony of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church has been the use of the Psalms in Christian Worship. This, as well as such spiritual assets as are better known to them than to the writer, ought to be conserved in the union offered them.”
“In the past Associate Presbyterian congregations have come into our Church with permission to use exclusively the psalms in their singing, and of course this privilege ought to be extended. But over and above that, our Church ought to be enriched as a whole by the addition of this testimony . . . Let the united Church gather in, not dissipate, the strength of the A.R.P. testimony!”
“Similarly, we hope that their fine emphasis on the Sabbath will tone up our observance of the Lord’s Day.”