The Offer In The Preaching
In the periodical De Waarheidsvriend (The Friend of the Truth), June 5, 1975, page 271, the official organ of the Hervormde or State Church of the Netherlands, is an article which discusses the offer in the preaching of the gospel. We will quote briefly. The writer realizes what a struggle it has been to maintain God’s sovereignty and to honor the responsibility of man. It grieves him, however, when the well-meaning offer is denied. Why? He writes as follows, and we translate:
But also the salvation of man is at issue. How many people have doubted until their last gasp whether they might claim the promises of God because it was not sure that these promises were meant for them, whether God also meant them with the offer of His grace. How many people there are also today who, because of this, are in spiritual want, consciously or unconsciously.
What shall we say? Of course, there is nothing new in this attack upon those who deny the offer of the gospel. We do not understand how anyone can be in want unconsciously. We fear that the writer ascribes this doubt to the sinner’s failure to accept this offer because he does not know whether it is meant for him. However, we assure him (and we, too, reject this presentation of the gospel as an offer) that if the gospel be preached in all its fullness, that there is rest for the weary, bread and water for the hungry and thirsty, that this word of God is sure and that it never fails, that the weary will surely find rest and the hungry and thirsty will surely eat and drink. However, if my salvation depends upon my acceptance of an offer, then the salvation of a sinner certainly becomes very uncertain and then doubts will surely plague and torment him. Anything that is dependent upon the choice of a sinner can never lead to certainty.
Professor Kuitert And The Woman In Office
In Waarheid en Eenheid (Truth and Unity), a periodical of those who are disturbed in the Netherlands because of conditions in the Reformed Church, appears an article with the above heading in the issue of June 21, 1975, page 4. We quote and translate:
An interviewer asks:
A much used objection is: whoever begins by placing Genesis upon an uncertain basis (op Zosse schroeven), must surely end with the resurrection (we assume this means that this truth, too, will become uncertain H.V.).
Prof. Kuitert answers:
The error in this reasoning appears to me that people think that something is certain because it is written in the bible. I think we must begin with this. However, we do not believe in the biblical announcement because the bible says it, but because we have heard it in its content because we have experienced it as the word of God. Something is not certain because it is recorded in the bible and therefore it does not become uncertain when you say: we can no longer go along with it in this way. As example, I would name the reformed synod, which allows the woman in office. However you may interpret it, in the New Testament this is not only inconceivable, but it is even emphatically contradicted in certain epistles. When nevertheless the synod does allow the woman in office, then it certainly does not place the gospel upon an uncertain basis? I would not know why. Unless one naturally anchors such a faith in a view concerning the bible. Then I would answer: the last anchor of your faith surely does not lie in a certain view of the bible? Your faith is anchored in God Himself Who, in the final analysis, addresses man. From where otherwise comes your final assurance? To say it with the old psalm versification: I have myself heard it out of His mouth.
We agree with the following criticism of this view of Prof. Kuitert as it appears in this same periodical and follows immediately upon it:
We now make the following observations. Prof. Kuitert asserts that the woman in office is expressly contradicted in the N.T. I believe he is completely correct, as far as the teaching office is concerned. From this it is abundantly clear that already for a long time the evil is increasing in our churches, and that the question of woman officebearers, yes or no, must finally be answered with the question: how do you actually approach the Bible? What is this for me? God’s infallible Word or not? If not, then I would no longer speak over any text of the Bible. Yes, but so Prof. Kuitert declares at the end: ‘I have myself heard it out of His mouth.’ I would thereupon ask: How then?
A special revelation? Inner enlightenment? A very strange assertion in the mouth of Prof. Kuitert. Must we now establish that the rationalism of Kuitert and fanaticism lie very close to each other?
And we would add the following. Of course, we do not believe something only because it is in the Bible. The Holy Spirit must surely work this faith in our hearts. But, we may certainly not believe something that is contradicted by the Bible. God does not speak in us apart from the divine and infallible Scriptures.
How To Read The Bible
Lester De Koster, editor of the Banner, has written a booklet entitled: How To Read The Bible. We read the following on page 20:
For example, God knows whether His creation was done quickly, say in six days of twenty-four hours each, or over long periods of time. Some men are curious to know. Much time and argument is spent trying to decide between creationism and evolutionism. God knows. But His Word does not bother to settle the issue.
So, there you have it. In this booklet we are instructed how to read the Bible. God knows whether He has created the heavens and the earth in six days or in six periods. But, the Lord has not told us. The Word of God does not bother to settle the issue. I assume this means that you may read the Bible as you please. However, the Bible does bother to settle this issue. I refer our readers to Gen. 1, Ps. 33:6, 9, Heb. 11:3, the fourth commandment, Exodus 20:8-11, and many other passages. I remind the editor of the Banner of the Scriptural truth that this is understood only by faith.
Fear Of Schism In Missouri Synod
In Christian News, of Monday, July 21, 1975, appears the following which bears upon this subject:
ANAHEIM, Calif. (RNS)—Theological conservatives of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod set the stage for what is feared will be a wide split in the denomination when they passed a resolution demanding that if any district president cannot in conscience abide by regulations concerning ordination, he should resign.
The resolution passed after extended debate by a vote of 626-466. It was directed specifically at eight district presidents who have ordained uncertified graduates of Seminex (the seminary of the moderates or those who advocated a liberal interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, H.V.), in violation of the Synod’s by-laws.
Immediately after the action, eight district presidents who were the targets of the resolution read a statement saying that they would remain in their offices unless the people of the districts themselves say they should leave. They declared that their call to the office is divine in nature and not subject to legislative action of the denomination’s national meeting.
The presidents preside over eight districts that have a total of 586,638 of the 2.8 million baptized members of the denomination. “Moderates,” who generally back the dissident district presidents in their stand, have estimated that as many as 25 per cent of the Church membership will bolt the denomination, probably within a year.
A staff spokesman for Dr. Jacob A.O. Preus, president of the Synod, believes that fewer than 50 congregations will withdraw from the denomination because deep-seated loyalties to the Church will preclude a wholesale walkout. The mood of the 1,120 delegates seemed resigned to the fact that some kind of split is now inevitable.
A key passage in Resolution 5-02 said that if a district president “cannot in good conscience uphold the constitution and bylaws of the Synod, which he has sworn to do at the time of his installation, and cannot refrain from ordaining or authorizing the ordination of candidates for the holy ministry who have not received endorsement for ordination through the duly authorized Synodical process, then the said district president, for the peace and the good order of the Synod, shall resign from the office of district president.”
Another provision declared that if such district presidents do not resign “they shall be commended to the pastoral care and discipline of the Synodical president, assisted by the Council of Presidents, for the solution of this matter.”
A final provision said that if pastoral care, and discipline have failed to secure from each district president involved his compliance with the resolution or he refuses to resign, “the Synodical president, after consultation with the Council of Presidents, shall inform the said district at least 60 days before the beginning of the next regularly scheduled district convention, that a vacancy exists in the office of said district president, and that the said district is to elect a successor for the unexpired term in harmony with this resolution and according to said district’s procedures.”
In connection with the above quotation, our comments will be brief. We will not comment on the ecclesiastical procedure set forth in this quotation. Our comments will concern these splits and schisms. Splits and schisms are always painful. It hurts when brethren with whom we have been associated in the battle for the truth deviate from and reject the fundamentals of the Word of God. However, one thing is sure: it is better for a church to part with those who err than to retain them in the fellowship of the church. The glory of God and the purity of the church demand this. It is better for these “wolves” to be outside the fold of the sheep than within the fold.