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Inflation Strikes Our Magazine!

Of late almost every religious periodical I have read has been complaining about the whopping increase in mailing costs which was imposed by the Postal Service. And I figured that it was only a matter of time before our Board would also have to face the reality of such an inflationary increase. 

Well, it has happened. 

Our Business Manager telephoned me the other day with the bad news. He informed me that the last issue to be mailed under the old rates cost $73 to mail, while the first issue to be mailed under the new postal rates cost $105 to mail. That is an increase of $32, or almost 44%. Multiply that $32 by 21 issues, and the result is a total annual increase of $672 in our mailing costs alone. 

But that is not all of the bad news. The Board of the R.F.P.A. was also informed that our printing costs went up by 11% as of the first of January. However, while one might place a half dozen question-marks behind the inflated rates of our none-too-efficient postal service—in vain, of course—the increase in our printing costs from Wobbema Printing is not unjustifiable. 

Nevertheless, facts are facts. And our Board has had to face these facts. 

The inevitable conclusion to which the Board came was that the subscription price of our Standard Bearermust be increased from the old rate of $9.00 per year to $10.50 per year. This new price of $10.50 goes into effect as of March 1. 

Naturally, the Board hopes—and I as editor also hope—that this increase in price will not result in a loss of subscribers and readers. Even at the price of $10.50 per year the Standard Bearer is still a bargain. Compared with most other magazines—and I am speaking now only of numbers of issues and size, not of quality of content—the Standard Bearer is nearly at the bottom of the list as far as price is concerned. Besides, as I intimated, all magazines have been saddled with the increase in postal costs. Small comfort, perhaps you say; I still have to pay the $10.50. True, but it does help to put matters in proper perspective. 

Meanwhile, may I also urge both individuals and churches to continue and to increase, if possible, their generous free-will gifts to the Standard Bearer. Over the years these gifts, I think, have pretty well kept pace with the inflationary spiral; and we hope this continues. For without these gifts, it is safe to say, the Standard Bearer could not continue to be published—at least, not without more than doubling the subscription rate. Hence, please continue to help!

The GKN on the Authority of Scripture

After a lapse of several issues, in which we had to pay attention to other matters, we now return to our systematic review and critique of the Report/ Decision of the Gereformeerde Kerken on the nature of the authority of Scripture, a report appearing in translation under the title, “God With Us.” I consider that title, by the way, beautiful though it is in itself, as a rather ironic title for such a miserably Scripture-denying report.

And while I am on the subject of the Report/Decision in general, let me add some remarks of a general character. In the first place, my general evaluation of the Report/Decision is that it is abstruse and vague, very difficult to understand in many parts. This very thing has made me hesitate even to discuss it in ourStandard Bearer. I have tried to explain as simply as possible some of the positions taken by the Report. But there are many passages of the Report that I myself have difficulty in understanding. Perhaps it is because I am not sufficiently learned; and I suppose some would praise the Report for its high learning. But for my part, I do not consider this aspect of the Report a plus. The truth is simple, able to be understood and apprehended by any child of God. And to me, the very abstruseness and vagueness of the Report/Decision should constitute a warning against its acceptance. In close connection with this, in the second place, I find it difficult to understand why the Report/Decision was published and spread abroad in the GKN. Maybe the intent was to dazzle people by its brilliant learning. But I assure you that a report of this kind is certainly of no help to the general membership of the church in enabling them to understand the doctrine of Holy Scripture. When one compares this lengthy and complicated report with the simple and clear statements of Scripture itself and with the clear articles of our Belgic Confession, he is spontaneously inclined, I think, to be suspicious of the Report/Decision and to ask why it takes so many words and such complicated explanations to express the truth concerning Scripture’s authority. Or was the very intent to befuddle the general membership of the churches and to induce them to leave these matters to the learned theologians? 

By way of review, let me remind you that we are busy with Chapter IV of the Report, entitled “The Nature of Biblical Authority.” There are several sections in this chapter. And we have already looked ahead, in part, to Section 3 and given some concrete illustrations of the way in which the Report denies the historical reliability, or trustworthiness, of the Bible. But Section 2 constitutes the basic section of this chapter. It deals with “The Ground of the Bible’s Authority.” We have discussed previously the segment entitled “God’s Word in Human Language.” The last segment of this section is entitled “The power of the Spirit,” and it supposedly deals with the subject of the testimony of the Holy Spirit concerning Scripture. In the Report this section is summarized as follows:

Yet the authority of the Holy Scripture does not rest solely on the recognition of inspiration. We would never come to the recognition that the true, authoritative Word of God comes to us in the Bible if we did not surrender ourselves to the Spirit of truth Who opens our understanding and heart for this confession. 

However, just as little as the Spirit has passed people by on the giving side (the speakers and writers of the Bible) exactly so is it the case on the receiving side (the hearers and readers of the Bible). The Word must be received by us to have truth and authority not only for times long past but also for us. Also in the understanding and acceptance of the truth of the Scriptures man is thus actively involved.

On the surface, this summary may appear to be rather innocent. Yet in the light of the explanation given in this section it is by no means innocent. This section is based on and promotes the so-called relational view of the truth which is set forth in the very beginning of the report. According to this view, remember, there is no such thing as objective truth, not even in Scripture itself. Thus we read in this section: “Neither the individual believer nor the church as a fellowship of believers can in its own power come to the recognition of the divine truth which is contained in the Scripture.” Notice: divine truth is “contained in the Scripture.” Scripture is not from beginning to end the written record of revealed truth. Along this same line we read in the next paragraph: “One should not consider Article III of the Belgic Confession apart from Article V as we said in Chapter I: ‘the Holy Spirit is active both in the inspiration of Scripture and in the hearts of the people, and (note this, HCH) the revelation of truth is not existing if one of these aspects is lacking.’ ” Now this is important. For we must never forget that Holy Scripture is, objectively, the testimony of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. When you deprive Holy Scripture of this objective character, as the Report does, you deprive the testimony of the Holy Spirit of all of its content. There simply is no testimony of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers apart from those Scriptures. And yet the Report says that there is no revelation of truth if one of these aspects is lacking. Under the appearance, therefore, of loyalty to Articles 3 and 5 of the Confession, the Report presents something that is utterly foreign to the Confession; it means to leave it to man to determine what is the revelation of the truth that is wrapped up and hid somewhere in the Scriptures. 

In the second place, it should be noted that this section is critical of the Belgic Confession in Article 5. It states: “Honesty requires that it be said that here also the Reformed tradition in general has attributed to human beings too passive a role. It is possible that that was not the intention. (Compare the statement, ‘the very blind are able to perceive,’ a sentence which was later added to Article V.) The impulse to convert, the recognition of the truth of revelation comes most certainly from ‘the other side’, that is, it proceeds from the Holy Spirit. But this impulse must immediately be responded to by a conversion on our part. Faith cannot exist without that element of joyful surprise, of impulsive turning toward the voice of the Beloved Who calls us from where we did not expect Him. To believe is to fall into the arms of God.” Again: “It is true that the first action proceeds from the Spirit; for no field brings forth fruit if there is no Sower. But the work of the Spirit also remains fruitless if there is no reaction on our part. The Word must be accepted by us (Mark 4:20).” It should be noted that this is entirely different language than that of our Belgic Confession when it comes to the testimony of the Spirit. In the Confession all the emphasis is on that work of the Spirit, not on man’s response. The emphasis of the Report is man-centered. It smacks of Pelagianism. The emphasis of the Confession is God-centered. Just read that confession. The title of Article 5 is: “From whence the Holy Scriptures derive their dignity and authority.” The article reads: “We receive all these books, and these only, as holy and canonical, for the regulation, foundation, and confirmation of our faith; believing without any doubt, all things contained in them; not so much because the Church receives and approves them as such, but more especially because the Holy Ghost witnesseth in our hearts, that they are from God, whereof they carry the evidence in themselves. For the very blind are able to perceive that the things foretold in them are fulfilling.” 

How simple and plain! We believe without any doubt all things contained in these books. Why? The Holy Ghost witnesseth in our hearts—always, remember, in connection with those Scriptures themselves—that they are from God. 

If only the Report had clung to the language of our confessions!