(Editor’s Note: Again a printer’s mistake crept into the previous installment of this translation of “De Geloovigen en Hun Zaad.” The beginning of a new chapter was not indicated at the bottom of the first column on page 403. This should have been entitled: “Chapter II, Arminianism Injected Into The Covenant.” This chapter is now continued. HCH)
This is no less the case with Question 74 of the Heidelberg Catechism, which is also cited by Prof. Heyns in support of his view.
There we read:
“Are infants also to be baptized?
“Yes: for since they, as well as the adult, are included in the covenant and church of God; and since redemption from sin by the blood of Christ, and the Holy Ghost, the author of faith, is promised to them no less than to the adult; they must therefore by baptism, as a sign of the covenant, be also admitted into the Christian church; and be distinguished from the children of unbelievers, as was done in the old covenant or testament by circumcision, instead of which baptism is instituted in the new covenant.”
Also here the professor makes the same comment as he did in connection with the Prayer of Thanksgiving in the Form for the Lord’s Supper. The answer here distinguishes between the meriting and the application of salvation. But the professor goes somewhat farther and asserts that we must distinguish between the right of possession and the right of application. To give the right of possession is to bequeath the benefits of salvation, thus teaches Prof. Heyns; but the right of application is not yet the application itself. One can indeed have the right to the possession of the benefits of Christ; he can also have the right to the application of those benefits; and yet he may not become partaker of that application itself.
But we observe at once that this presentation certainly is not to be found in Question 74 of the Heidelberg Catechism. The 74th Answer says only that to children as well as to adults the application by the Holy Spirit, as well as the objective redemption from sin, is promised. The distinction which is made by Prof. Heyns we certainly do not find in Question 74. And besides, we may point out that the professor here makes a very dangerous separation between the work of Christ and the work of the Spirit. One can have the right to the application of salvation and yet never receive salvation. Where does one obtain the right to the application of salvation? Only in the blood of Christ. Christ’s work is the ground for this right of possession of which the professor speaks. The presentation of the professor comes down to this, therefore, that one may indeed have in Christ the right to salvation, and yet never actually receive that salvation. One must, of course, then also accept the idea that Christ has shed His blood and merited that right for all who are historically in the covenant. And thus we arrive again in principle at the doctrine of universal atonement, aChristus pro omnibus. We do not write this to injure and offend the ex-professor. If the matter were not so deeply serious, we would not want to elaborate upon it. But now the matter may not be stated differently than it really is. The conception of Prof. Heyns, which has already for a long time gained acceptance in the Christian Reformed Churches, is thoroughly Arminian. And it is to be deplored that the churches have for long years countenanced it, that the professor has corrupted the mind of the churches with this Pelagian doctrine and has directed their thinking in Arminian channels.
Matters become even worse when the professor turns to our Baptism Form. The section of the Form which he has in view and from which he quotes reads in full as follows:
“Secondly, holy baptism witnesseth and sealeth unto us the washing away of our sins through Jesus Christ. Therefore we are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. For when we are baptized in the name of the Father, God the Father witnesseth and sealeth unto us, that he doth make an eternal covenant of grace with us, and adopts us for his children and heirs, and therefore will provide us with every good thing, and avert all evil or turn it to our profit. And when we are baptized in the name of the Son, the Son sealeth unto us, that he doth wash us in his blood from all our sins, incorporating us into the fellowship of his death and resurrection, so that we are freed from all our sins, and accounted righteous before God. In like manner, when we are baptized in the name of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Ghost assures us, by this holy sacrament, that he will dwell in us, and sanctify us to be members of Christ, applying unto us that which we have in Christ, namely, the washing away of our sins, and the daily renewing of our lives, till we shall finally be presented without spot or wrinkle among the assembly of the elect in life eternal.”
What does Prof. Heyns want to make of this beautiful portion of our Baptism Form? He wishes to make a distinction between the work of the Spirit, on the one hand, and the work of the Father and of the Son, on the other hand. Of the Father it is said that He reallyadopts us as His children and heirs, that He reallyestablishes His eternal covenant of grace with us; of the Son, that He really washes us in His blood from all our sins, and incorporates us into the fellowship of His death and resurrection; but of the Spirit, not that He dwells in us and sanctifies us, but that He will dwell in us and sanctify us. On that willing of the Holy Spirit, in distinction from the doing of the Father and the Son, Professor Heyns wants to put all the emphasis. And then the meaning is supposed to be that also here again the application of salvation is presented as conditional. By virtue of the covenant of grace the Holy Spirit indeed grants the right to the application of salvation; but it is not said that He will also actually apply salvation to the covenant member. This willing of the Spirit becomes reality only when the covenant member consents to the covenant.
Now it ought to be plain that this is not the intention of this section of the Baptism Form. How would it be possible thus to separate between the work of the Father and the Son, on the one hand, and the work of the Spirit, on the other hand? If the Father establishes an eternal covenant of grace with us and adopts us for His children and heirs; if the Son washes us in His blood from all our sins and incorporates us into the fellowship of His death and resurrection; how then could there be any doubt whether the Holy Spirit would also make us actual partakers of all of salvation, dwell in us and sanctify us? That is simply impossible! That is not a distinction, but a separation of the work of the Father and the Son and that of the Holy Spirit. It is also evident then, that when the Baptism Form speaks of a willing of the Spirit, this is not intended to present the application of salvation as conditional; but it is simply in harmony with the peculiar character of the work of the Spirit. That work of the Spirit is continuous; it stretches out into the future, even to everlasting perfection. This is not true of the establishing of the eternal covenant, of incorporation into Christ, of the adoption unto children, of becoming a partaker of the fellowship of Christ’s resurrection. All this is the work of a moment. But the work of the Spirit, or, rather, the work of the Triune Covenant God as it is wrought in us through the Spirit of Christ, is abiding, is a continuing process, goes on until we shall be presented without spot in the assembly of the elect. Thence it is that with a view to the future of the covenant member it is said that the Holy Spirit will dwell in us and will sanctify us to be members of Christ. In all this there is nothing strange.
(to be cont.)