Our Calling to Go Forward

Below follows a copy of a letter that the writer wrote to one of his dear friends in our midst on Jan. 15th, 1950. And since the text of this letter is more fitting even today after only one year of history, he ventures to proclaim it to all our Churches as a testimony that the Synod of 1951 is in duty bound to go forward and adopt the proposed declaration of principles.

Your welcome letter of Dec. 24th last was received and we were very glad indeed to receive it. Old friendships as they are based upon the tie that binds certainly must continue. And as we stand within the walls of the Protestant Reformed Churches, where unity of faith and confession must manifest itself, where old friendships ever remain fresh and new. For the Old Fathers so truthfully taught that when heresy enters in at the door, love flies out through the window, and schism is always the result of heresy. And the fact that men do fail to think alike upon the cardinal confessional standards of the Church Institutional always results in disunity and schism.

That is why I am thoroughly convinced that it is God’s will that barriers and sharp lines of demarcation continue to exist at the four corners of the denominational life and confessions of our own Protestant Reformed Churches, and that we shoulder to shoulder continue to develop the truth as we have received it, in the historical lines of the Reformed Churches.

Beautifully do you state when you say in your letter that maturity develops the consciousness of

the extremely high calling of the Church. True it is especially when we view the Church from the universal holy catholic aspect, in which the universal body of Christ lies hidden in the denominational churches in the midst of the world. The picture often rises in my mind of a thermometer, an upright glass with a hollow center through which some medium sensitive to heat and cold flows. The more sensitive the Church is to the truth, the higher the plane of confessional truth, and thus the higher the recording registers upon the denominational thermometer. The question then comes, what is our calling, for we confess, I confess that we belong to the Protestant Reformed Churches, because we believe that in their confessional standard they are nearest to the truth as it is revealed in God’s Word. Right we are and as such we are thoroughly convinced that we are at the top of the ladder in the confessional standard of the Church, and that it is our calling to continue to develop this truth as God has revealed it to us.

Thus our calling never ceases to be, but always continues to be to call our Brethren to repentance, and to come out from among those who ecclesiastically and confessionally are erring from the truth, and to come to the full confession of the Truth as we have it in our Churches, for the Scripture says that in unity of confession the Holy Catholic Church comes together. We therefore never come to a stage in which we can say, our calling is completed, no more do we need to cry against the errors of those who stand lower on the confessional thermometer, who are sinking deeper and deeper into error, it is now time that we forsake them and go to the heathen.

Neither are we as Protestant Reformed Churches called to fuse into one, and knit together that which on the confessional thermometer lies on different range scales. For therein exactly God calls the Church, the Institutional Denominational Churches whom He placed on the highest confessional scale to be faithful in calling the whole Church out from among error, from all the churches, that there may be unity of confession, and that the Holy Catholic Church may come together in one confession. This calling is never realized by fusing all the denominational churches into one church at the cost of truth and by compromising with the confession.

The strength of a denominational ecclesiastical communion of Churches lies exactly in its unity of confession. That is why all the Reformed Church Fathers always warned against heresy and disunity of confession which destroy love and bring schism in the Church.

We are thus thoroughly convinced that all the officebearers signatory to the formula of subscription of the Protestant Reformed Churches are bound to faithfully defend teach and preach the confessional standards as they are based upon the Word of God, in the Protestant Reformed Churches. And they are called to do this with all their might inside of and outside of our Churches.

Secondly, since it is the peculiar calling of the Protestant Reformed Churches, to develop the doctrine of Sovereign Grace, as God sovereignly bestows this upon His elect children only, in distinction from the false doctrine of common or general grace upon the wicked reprobate, which the Christian Reformed Churches elevated into an official dogma. By this action the Christian Reformed Churches became guilty of a great schism in the body of Christ, and occasioned the organization of our Protestant Reformed Churches.

Therefore our very organization was based upon a denial of the three points or tenets of doctrine which the Christian Reformed Church dogmatized as their official doctrine. Our very organization was a protest against these three false tenets with all that was implied in both the preaching of the word and the sacraments. We became a protesting Reformed church, protesting that the confessional standard of the three forms of unity of the Reformed Churches as these are based on the Scriptures, had no room for these three false tenets adopted by the Christian Reformed Churches.

Now after 25 years of history in the development of our Churches in which we deny the principles embodied in the three false tenets adopted by the Christian Reformed Church, we hear clamorings and see writings in which men want to understand the Liberated when they teach that God well-meaningly promises, to all children head for head, in baptism, the objective right to the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, conditioned upon accepting the promise by faith.

Here we have the same false doctrine of 1924 again raising its head, only from a slightly different viewpoint. Then the lie centralized around common or general grace, and the well-meant offer of salvation on the part of God to all that hear the preaching of the Word. Now it centralizes around the promise in baptism, but essentially they are one.

If it is true, and I am thoroughly convinced that it is true, upon the basis of Scripture, that God hates the wicked every day, is never favorably inclined to them, causes the sunshine and the rain and all the fatness of the earth to work to their destruction, then it is equally true that He does not promise them what the Liberated try to establish in their dogma of baptism, when these same reprobate wicked receive the sacrament of baptism in infancy.

Our calling as Protestant Reformed Churches is to go forward. Not to go backward. Not to deny what we have already established as truth at the cost of our separation, and which has become the cause of our existence as a separate communion of Protestant Reformed Churches.

May God give grace and wisdom to the delegates of our 1951 Synod, upon whose shoulders rest the burden of preserving our precious heritage as Protestant Reformed Churches.