In the January 1st issue of the Standard Bearer Rev. H. Hoeksema, on p. 149, reflected briefly on the writing of a Nova Scotia pastor in which the latter commented favorably on the pamphlet A Triple Breach written by Rev. Hoeksema years ago in which he showed clearly the error of The Three Points of 1924.
Undersigned was the recipient of two copies of The Contender, a paper written by the above referred to minister, one of which contains the quotation which Rev. Hoeksema made. Not only the Rev. Hoeksema, but also the undersigned was amazed at the clear cut appraisal the Rev. Malcolm R. MacKay made of the Reformed doctrines of unconditional election and reprobation and his sharp denunciation of the Arminianism implied in the Three Points of 1924 as well as that of The Free Offer of the Gospeldefended by the Profs. Murray, Stonehouse, and Van Til of the Orthodox Presbyterian Seminary of Philadelphia.
I know our people will rejoice with us in reading a few more excerpts of the articles written by Rev. MacKay. In this and the next issue of the Standard Bearer we wish to give you rather lengthy quotations of his writings and ask the manager of the RFPA to see to it that these copies of the SB be sent to the Rev. M.R. MacKay, 240 Albert Street, New Glasgow, N.S., Canada. With Rev. Hoeksema I say it is indeed refreshing to note that there are still the seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.
Rev. MacKay devotes two issues of The Contenderto the subject: “All To The Praise Of God’s Glorious Mercy And Justice.” The two passages of Scripture which he uses as basis for this theme are: II Cor. 2:15, 16, “We are unto God a sweet savor of Christ in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life.” And I Pet. 2:7, 8, “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone (Christ) which the builders disallowed the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence even to them which stumble at the Word, being disobedient, whereunto also they were appointed.”
Concerning these passages the Rev. MacKay writes:
“In the words of our text we find two classes of people referred to namely, the elect and the non-elect, or the redeemed and the reprobated. They are spoken of here with reference to the gospel of Christ and His headship over the Church. They are those in whom the gospel produces either eternal life or eternal death, according to the words of the apostle Paul. Or, they are those to whom the Rock that is Christ becomes either the cornerstone of the church, or a stumbling stone (rock of offence) over which they are precipitated into hell, according to the words of the apostle Peter.
“Everyone who accepts the Bible as the infallible revelation of God recognizes the solemn fact that there are these two classes of people—the elect and the non-elect or the redeemed and the reprobated—and that a great gulf -fixed separates them from each other spiritually, although physically, in this world, they are intermingled, and commonly are found even in the same families. In considering the composition of the human race, no greater error can be made than to identify or confuse the physical unity of the race (“God hath made of one blood of all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” Acts 17:26a) with the spiritual destiny of men. These two things are by no means equal to each other. Although the whole human race is, alike, born ‘dead in trespasses and sins,’ yet this original ‘unity’ in sin and death does not long continue, God, by His eternal decrees of election and reprobation (damnation) divides the fallen human race into the two portions which are mentioned in the words of our texts. Thus we see that the fond theory of the spiritual oneness of the human race, especially as taught by the modernists, is shipwrecked upon the rock of the decrees of God. Not only the human race is thus divided, but also the hosts of angels. Paul refers to the ‘elect’ angels (I Tim. 5:21), indicating that by the sovereign will of God some angels ‘kept their first estate’ while the rest did not, but fell into sin under the leadership of Satan and. lost their heavenly status. See Jude 6 and II Pet. 2:4. Hence, let us resist to the death the modern craze (as in the World Council of Churches, the United Nations, etc.) for the superficial and unreal unity of all mankind. This urge towards unity denies or rejects, ignores or minimizes, conceals or confuses the sovereign will of God who has eternally separated the human race into two distinct portions, the elect and the non-elect, the redeemed and the reprobated.”
From the above quotation the reader will observe what Pastor MacKay is driving at. On the one hand, he would maintain the doctrine of God’s sovereign election and reprobation; while on the other, he purposes to militate against the pernicious doctrine of modernism which would destroy this doctrine. This becomes plainer still in the next three paragraphs of his first article, which he entitles: “Break Down This Distinction At All Costs! Cries Satan.”
“Often we have referred to the false modernistic doctrine of the universal spiritual fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man. At one stroke, Satan has deluded a large portion of Christendom into thinking that there is no eternal separation from God in hell and that literally every human being will finally arrive in heaven. Thus Satan, through modernism, has succeeded in breaking down in the minds of many the distinction between elect and non-elect, or between redeemed and reprobated.
“Always the chief attack of Satan against God and His kingdom centers upon the two decrees of predestination and reprobation. (MacKay evidently means by predestination—election—M.S.) These two stand or fall together . . . . . A moment’s reflection will show why this is so. If God chooses certain people but not all, for heaven, it goes without saying that however you may think about it, He does not choose the rest. And from this follows what is doubtless the most solemn aspect of all, namely, that since God does not choose to save these people, He does not intend to save them. Or, in other words, His sovereign purpose is not to save them but to turn them over to eternal judgment. Thus we are brought to believe that reprobation is far more than a mere negative thing—not choosing—; it means that God has a positive purpose in regard to these people, and that is to manifest through their reprobation the glory of His sovereign justice.
“It is this positive purpose of God in reprobation that men hate, and ‘rebel against more than any other particular point in the whole Bible. For anyone to try to accept predestination (election—M.S.) without accepting reprobation with it, is to give God less ‘credit’ than he would give to a wise man. If a prominent man chooses certain people of his acquaintanceship to share his choice benefits, but not others, it is equivalent to saying that he has a particular reason why he does not choose those whom he passes by. But there are those who would like to believe that God chooses certain people for salvation, but they close their eyes to the, idea of God having any’ particular or positive purpose to accomplish in not choosing the rest. It ‘boils down’ to this: there is a tremendous aversion in men to the truth of eternal justice in God. If this could be removed from the Bible, the human race would rejoice over it more than anything else in relation to God. But try as hard as he can, man cannot get rid of God’s justice. It is always there as an attitude of God’s person to speak to him of sin and of righteousness and of judgment to come. Nevertheless Satan turns his biggest guns upon the truth of God’s eternal justice which is particularly manifested in the damnation of the non-elect in hell.”
In the next section of his first article Rev. MacKay, writing under the heading: “God’s Eternal Justice Is Revealed, Not Concealed,” remarks that “even among those who profess to believe in the eternal justice of God, as manifested in the damnation of the reprobate, a strange attitude is often reflected . . . . God’s justice as revealed in the decree of reprobation (damnation) is something, they insist, that we are not supposed to inquire into too deeply, but rather keep away from, as from an awesome, secret power that is liable to do us great harm or even destroy us. This is just about what the attitude towards God’s eternal justice amounts to in the thinking of many Presbyterian and Reformed men . . . They are trying to adhere to the historic and Reformed doctrine of reprobation on the one hand, and are attracted by the false modern tendency (as in Arminianism and Modernism) to reduce the holy love of God to a soft sentimentalism which God is said’ to display toward all mankind indiscriminately, thus breaking down the Biblical distinction between God’s holy electing love in Christ toward the redeemed, and His burning, condemning wrath upon the lost for their sin. That this is no mere imagination is seen in the enthusiasm with which they are developing the false theory of a ‘favorable attitude’ in God toward the non-elect or reprobate.”
After pointing out how this “strange attitude” is quite contrary to the Scriptures and the Westminster Confessions, the Rev. MacKay proceeds to attack the doctrine of Professors Murray and Stonehouse as, set forth in a pamphlet entitled: “The Free Offer of the Gospel,” as well as the declaration of the Synod of the Chr. Ref. Church in 1924 as formulated in The Three Points. He considers this “strange attitude” to be more subtle and dangerous than the out in the open battle against avowed Arminianism and Modernism. He does not hesitate to say that those who have this “strange attitude” have their “sympathies with Arminianism, even though they are within the Reformed ‘fold’ and claim to believe in the decrees of predestination and reprobation. It is this which makes the struggle so subtle, difficult and dangerous. It is this which may well explain why so many ‘Reformed’ men for a long time have been praising out-and-out Arminians as ‘fine, earnest Christians.’ It is this which may well explain why so very few ‘Reformed’ ministers have been willing to take a real stand against Arminianism. It is this which may well indicate that those who actually hold the true Reformed faith are only a fraction of those who profess to hold it.”
We must stop here because our space is filled. But let me say in closing that our hat goes off to this “Contender” for the truth way up there in the North East extremity of this hemisphere. We love every word he has written, and we say “Amen.”
Next time, the Lord willing, we will tell you what he has to say about Common Grace expressed in The Three Points, and his judgment of “A Triple Breach” written by Rev. Hoeksema.