* Not Anabaptist but Reformed was a pamphlet written by Danhof and Hoeksema in 1923 as a “Provisional Response to Rev. Jan Karel Van Baalen Concerning the Denial of Common Grace.” Translated here from the Dutch by seminarian Daniel Holstege. Previous article in this series: March 1, 2009, p. 256.
After Rev. Van Baalen has proven that we differ radically from the Anabaptists on the doctrine of grace, and thus, according to his own spoken judgment, his attempt to brand us as Anabaptistic has failed, failed completely, he comes at it from another side. Once again it must be chanted by way of the little “World Flight” ditty that we are Anabaptists. To say that it had to do only with the doctrine of grace was not good enough. Therefore this: “But both have this in common, that they only know of one grace, and therefore they utterly condemn the world and cannot see any good in it.”1
Now, the author had not demonstrated that this was actually the view of the Anabaptists. It was not implied in the words that were quoted. But we will grant that this is true. Then the question is this: does it apply to us? Will brother Van Baalen ever demonstrate this?
We would like to take the word “world” once in the approximate sense in which you take it, namely, in the approximate sense of “nature.” (You surely will not take it ill of us that we condemn the “world” in the sense of the wicked, which “world” Scripture always warns us against?) Then we ask, brother Van Baalen, where have you ever heard us say that we want to go out of the world? And we will even tell you frankly that you will exert yourself in vain if you look for something resembling that in anything that has appeared from our hand. Where have you ever heard us claim that we must avoid all kinds of civic institutions, that we must not occupy any governmental office, or that we may not wage any war?
That seems to be roughly Rev. Van Baalen’s notion of our view, as appears from his quotation of Westerbeek Van Eerten on pages 81 and 82.
However, the brother can be assured that this is absolutely not our view. Our position is just the opposite. We do not want to go out of the world at all. It is exactly our intention not to abandon any area of life. We have called God’s people exactly to occupy the entirety of life. However, we want this people of the Lord, His covenant people, not to forsake or deny her God in one single domain. His people are called to live out of grace in every domain, out of the one grace through which they were incorporated into Christ and through which they love God, so that they keep His commandments.
This is what we have written and preached. And Van Baalen could certainly have known this. In fact, already in the Banner of June 12, 1919 we wrote:
Also, the child of the Kingdom does not go along with this identification with the world as he strives to manifest himself in every domain of the life of that world. This is indeed his clear calling. In industry and commerce, in science and art, in state and society the citizen of the kingdom may never fail to manifest himself by drawing back into the closer sphere of the church as such. Then he would have to go out of the world whereas it is his calling to be in the midst of it.
“World flight,” therefore, does not apply to us, brother, as you yourself will certainly now admit. If you take “world” in the sense of “nature,” then you will certainly see that we do not separate nature and grace but wish to live everywhere out of grace. And if you take “world” in the sense of the wicked, then we do not take flight, but we fight the good fight until the very end so that no one may take our crown.
So up to page 82 of his pamphlet he still has not proven anything at all.
And with this before our minds, we note that the author leaves a most strange impression, which we would rather not describe, when he asks, “Now does the reader want even more proof?” (p. 82). Apparently the author himself is under the impression that he has already given more than enough evidence. Whatever else could be added, therefore, would be redundant. There is so much proof that we are Anabaptistic that the author can be generous in providing it.
But our answer to that question would have been, “Yes, brother, we have not had any yet. It still has to come. You have not yet proven anything at all except for the opposite of what you wanted to prove!”
But the reader will have it. And we will follow this proof very closely.
Kuyper wrote that the doc trine of common grace is “of paramount importance exactly for the present juncture of time.” He says that this doctrine is an “indispensable part of the Reformed confession.” He says he has “proven that particular grace cannot do without common grace for a moment, and demonstrated how the great work of God’s grace in Christ presupposes the fruit of common grace in all things.”2
Good, brother! We will not criticize any of that right now. But what do these quotes have to do with your subject, “The Denial of Common Grace, Anabaptistic?” Nothing, am I right?
We have come to the middle of page 83; still no proof.
But now there comes something that looks like it. Dr. Bavinck wrote, “the second ones (Anabaptists) despise gratia communis and know of nothing but grace.”3 And this does not apply to us either. We despise nothing. When Dr. Bavinck writes that the Anabaptists despise gratia communis, he is referring to the natural gifts that the Anabaptists actually despised. This has nothing to do with our view. And the second phrase of this sentence applies to us even less. It is not true that we have “nothing but grace.” You can surely sense that there is an essential difference between the view rendered by the words “he knows of nothing but grace” and the view stated with “we know of only one grace.” And therefore, even if a word from Dr. Bavinck was decisive proof, this still does not apply to us.
We are at the bottom of page 83.
Still no proof….
The chapter is coming to an end. With the greatest suspense the reader asks, “Is it still coming?”
Yes, of course!
There are still two quotations from Dr. Kuyper.
The first quotation: “And with just one more small step you emerge imperceptibly with the Anabaptistic viewpoint…. Then science becomes unholy…” (p. 83). This is a disappointment: it does not apply to us. We do not take that small step; nor does it lie within our way of thinking. We do not consider science unholy, only unbelieving science. We wish to live out of grace and keep God’s commandments also in the domain of science.
The second quotation:
This Anabaptistic standpoint (namely, the shunning of everything that is in the world as absolutely sinful) which is still defended in many circles under the name Reformed would have never been taken in if the confession of common grace had lived continuously in the midst of the churches (pp. 83, 84).
Now we have already clearly demonstrated that we never preached this Anabaptistic shunning. We have preached the scriptural notion of separation from the wicked world.
But still, apart from this, the proof so greatly sought after that we are Anabaptistic is not in this quote either.
Just pay attention, reader.
In the words quoted above, Dr. Kuyper says that whoever maintains the viewpoint of common grace is kept from the Anabaptistic shunning. Whoever believes in common grace is not an Anabaptist. But it is not stated that all who do not believe in common grace are Anabaptistic. Just read the quotation one more time. That is how it appears. Everything that walks on two feet is not a horse. But everything that does not walk on two feet is not yet proven, therefore, to be a horse. There is a lack of logic and distinction here.
And then once again all this is concluded with the call to repentance: “Once again, acknowledge that you have gone astray.”
Now then, brother, we have gone astray. We have wandered about in your pamphlet. And we have come back from it with a sigh of relief!
For yourself and also for us, brother, (for we do still feel a sort of solidarity and joint responsibility as preachers in the same denomination) if you ever write again, conduct a more thorough study, consider your subject a bit better, and then supply a bit better work. We still refuse to believe that this is the best you can offer.
1 Van Baalen’s pamphlet, p. 81.
2 Quotations from Kuyper’s De Gemeene Gratie cited on pp. 82-83 of Van Baalen’s pamphlet.
3 Quotation from Bavinck’s De Algemeene Genade cited on p. 83 of Van Baalen.