In The Banner issues of March 12, 19; April 2, 16, the Rev. H. J. Kuiper is writing a series of editorials under the general theme: God and man in salvation. And as subheads he has chosen the following titles: 1. Did Christ die for all men? 2. Christ died to save His people. 3. Christ died to save “The World”. 4. Did Christ die to save all?
If the Rev. Henry Kuiper would have poured his wine unmixed, I would have drunk of it and savored it. But as it is, he has poured out a miserable mixture, and I cannot drink it.
Judging from the very suggestive titles, he had a marvelous opportunity to instruct his readers in the undoubted catholic faith such as we as Reformed people confess it in the midst of a lying world. I said there that the titles are very suggestive. And they are. They seem to shout their very answer. To the first title I would shout: No! Christ did not die for all men. To the second I would offer a thankful Amen: Christ did die to save His people. To the third I would say: I like those quotation marks on the words “The World”. They show a tendency, and the right one at that. And to the fourth one I would have answered whole-heartedly: Yes, but then I mean by all, all God’s elect people in Christ Jesus the Lord.
But the Rev. Kuiper has botched it. He has poured out a mixture. He has not been true to his calling. He seems to fight the Arminian, and I am afraid that most of his readers will applaud him, and remark about his able defense of the Reformed truth, although the poor, deluded sheep have not seen how he is guilty of the same things he accuses the Arminian of. And I would want my present readers to know that I am heartfelt sorry for this state of affairs. I would love to see the whole Christian Reformed Church(es) embrace the Reformed truth, and not the miserable mixture which Kuiper pours us.
It is clear from his introductory remarks that there are many in the Christian Reformed Churches who are departing from the soundly Reformed doctrine of particular atonement. Attend to the following, and I quote Kuiper from his first article:
“We shut out eyes to facts if we think that this doctrine (namely, universal atonement, G.V.) is not making an impact on the minds of our Reformed people. It is being dinned into their ears daily over the air; they hear it in evangelistic meetings which they sometimes attend; it greets their eyes on billboard gospel messages and in other religious advertisements; it finds expression in many hymns smuggled into our churches through the purchase of popular song books by Sunday school officials, leaders of church societies, and mission workers. Would we could add that all who have a part in this are able to recognize such Arminian hymns and avoid them!”
One thing I want to point out to our readers about the above paragraph which is rather striking. I have in mind the last sentence: “Would we could add that all who have part in this are able to recognize such Arminian hymns and avoid them!” This from the man who has played a major part in the introduction of hymns in public divine worship. This from the man who was appointed again and again to prepare the hymns for the Christian Reformed Churches. This from the man who has included in his hymnals countless hymns with Arminian tendencies. And he dares to attach an exclamation point to that sentence.
The same is true of this series. He warns against Arminian tendencies, and worse, but at the very outset he incorporates that rotten, God-provoking doctrine.
Attend to this piece of human philosophy which you may find on the first page, starting in the first column, of his first article where he intends to go to war against the Arminians! And I quote:
The Cross and The World
“What complicates this question is that there is a sense in which it can be said that Christ died for all mankind. All men receive temporal benefits from the death of Christ. Not only do many unsaved persons enjoy the fruits of Christian civilization. None of the earthly blessings which God bestows on the world would have been given apart from the cross of Christ. The enemies of the cross of Jesus do not realize that God would not have suffered this sinful world to exist nor any human beings to live on this earth after Adam’s fall, except for the work of Christ on the cross and for the Church which that cross called into being.
Reformed theologians, practically without exception, hold that even the reprobate receive some of the fruits, the lesser fruits, of the death of Christ (Calvin, Kuyper, Bavinck, Hodge, Dabney, Berkhof and many others). Perhaps none has put it stronger than that penetrating theologian, Dr. R. L. Dabney. Though he defends the Reformed doctrine of limited atonement uncompromisingly, he also speaks of a special and a general design in Christ’s satisfaction. Regarding the latter he declares: “Along with the actual redemption of the elect, it works out several other subordinate ends. There is then a sense in which Christ ‘died for’ all those ends, and for the persons affected by them.”
What are those general ends? What are the blessings which even the reprobate receive from the death of Christ? Dabney answers: “A reprieve of doom for every sinner of Adam’s race who does not die at birth …. And this reprieve gains for all many substantial, though temporal, benefits, such as unbelievers, of all men, will be the last to account as benefits. Among these are postponement of death and perdition, secular well-being, and the bounties of life” (Systematic and Polemic Theology, p. 528 ff.)
In these words, by the way, Dabney touches on one important angle of the doctrine of common grace. Opponents of this doctrine have often challenged us to explain on what basis a righteous God could bestow his grace on the reprobate. That basis in the case of the elect is the vicarious atonement of Christ. But there can be no legal basis for common grace, they say, because Christ died only for the elect. Our answer is that all the mercies which God bestows on sinful mankind flow from the Redeemer. There is no grace, special or common, apart from the Savior’s cross. That grace does not begin at the cross, is not generated at the cross, so to speak. On the contrary, that grace precedes the cross, it is first. It also calls for that cross since grace cannot be imparted unless the demands of divine justice are met. That grace is like a heavenly stream which can reach men only through the channel of the cross as the instrument of the stern justice of God. Apart from that cross the elect cannot inherit salvation; apart from that same cross God’s justice would demand immediate eternal punishment for all the sons of fallen Adam.”
So far Kuiper.
I would like to have you notice that although he uses text after text when he arrives at the pure part of the present mixture, he does not let the living God speak at all when trying to teach his people the lie of common grace. Perhaps we will have to put that on the credit side of Kuiper. If he would have quoted texts in order to prove the lie of common grace, as is done altogether too often, we add insult of God to injury to God. Yes, we will credit him for the fact that the only witnesses he has for his philosophy is the WORD OF MAN. And he especially calls on a man by the name of Dr. R. L. Dabney. Sorry, never heard of him. But I did hear of God. And I am glad that you did not try to set His glorious name under the fallacy of the above paragraphs.
Let us see:
Note first the words at the beginning of the above piece which are placed in italics. There is a sense in which Christ died for all mankind. And it is plain that Kuiper means all mankind, head for head. And the sense is also specified. It is that all men may have temporal benefits. The italics are Kuiper’s So Jesus died and suffered untold agonies so that every man may eat some bread and drink some water. Christ went to God, offering His precious blood, through the Eternal Spirit, in order that man, wicked, reprobate, godless man might prolong his days on earth? Later, Kuiper calls these temporal benefits blessings, earthly blessings, and the italics are mine.
Would the Rev. Kuiper please tell us where in God’s Word the word blessing is ever used for the things that the reprobate wicked receive? In the meanwhile I would like to have the Rev. Kuiper explain his stand on common grace in the face of a very plain text such, as we find in? There we read: “The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: but He bless- eth the habitation of the just.” We read there: the house of the wicked. So you have the proper setting for the so-called temporal benefits or blessings. His house is his body, soul, family, beasts, plants, barns; all his possessions in the midst of the world. And the Holy Ghost states here, and in many like passages, that His curse inhabits all his household. And remember here that His curse is the cursing God Himself. All day and all night the living God walks alongside of this man, and He tells him continuously: I curse thee! Where is that introduction of Rev. Kuiper at this juncture. How can he super-impose his philosophy on this terrible picture of Proverbs?
But there is more. And worse.
In the fourth paragraph above he simply states that the mercies of God which He bestows on sinful mankind flow from the Redeemer. And in the subsequent reasoning it is crystal clear that he includes the reprobates as recipients of the mercies of God.
Now Holy Scripture has told us what the concept of mercy is. It is the love of God toward His people that are for the time being in great misery and distress, and which longs to deliver them out of all their distresses, and, thirdly, which determines to deliver them at His own good time out of their troubles. That is the mercy of God. And the Bible nowhere at all connects this wonderful virtue of the mercy of God with the reprobates. But Kuiper simply writes that the mercy of God, or rather, mercies of God flow toward the reprobate through the Redeemer.
That last thought he tries to work out later. And the thing gets worse.
He has heard our objection to their theory of common grace, to wit, that there is no legal basis for common grace. Kuiper will answer that charge. And here is his answer. You can control me and see if I do him injustice. If words mean anything at all, Kuiper states above that there is an eternal grace in God, a desire which is eternal, to be good, to bless and to bestow benefits on the reprobate. But that eternal grace toward the elect, and to the reprobate, (Kuiper combines the two in his reasonings from all eternity,) that eternal grace cannot find an avenue to the human heart and life except through the pathway of strictest justice. And that way is the cross. Both for common and for particular grace, the cross of Jesus, and His eternal death, are the legal ground. It is very bad indeed.
And all this terrible philosophy he offers the Reformed public without a shred of Scriptural proof. He does not say: Thus saith the Lord, but: Thus saith Kuiper.
Well, I reject it, and I hope many of his readers will.
In fine, it is exactly reasoning such as is found in the above paragraphs which leads the people of God astray. When you teach a God who from everlasting is moved with pity for the reprobate, it is only one more step to say and teach, and live: God loves the reprobate!
But there is more, although I must wait until the next issue.