You write (Concordia for Sept. 29): “In our previous article we ended by saying that the danger toward Arminianism in the Liberated presentation of the covenant lay in the fact that election is not given the proper place.”
This is strange language, brother. If words have meaning, then the thrust of your statement is this: “The Liberated presentation of the covenant is not Arminian, but it inclines toward Arminianism.”
But that is not true. The presentation is Arminian through and through. As I have over and over pointed out, its principal tenets are two in number: 1) The promise of the covenant is given unto all the baptized, reprobate and elect alike. 2) God places the benefits of Christ’s cross in the actual possession of men (elect and non-elect) on the condition of (op voorwaarde van) faith and repentance.
This is unadulterated Arminianism, brother. For if the promise is given to all, all have a legal right to the benefits of Christ’s cross. And if so, Christ died for all. And the word “condition” in such a thought structure, must indicate a human will free in the Pelagian sense.
You continue, “Expressing this a little differently, we may say that the covenant (the Liberated presentation of the covenant, Rev. Petter means) is not seen to embrace and include also the elective elements.”
I ask, How can it, if the promise is given to all (elect and non-elect)? Such a doctrine is a flat denial of election and reprobation.
You continue, “For us it should be worth a great amount of patience and good-will to find wherein exactly we differ and where their error lies.” Do you mean to be telling us here that it is hard to see wherein we differ and where their error lies? But that is not hard to see.
They say, “The promise is given unto all the baptized, elect and non-elect alike.”
We say, “The promise is given only to the elect.”
They say, “The promises of God are conditional.”
We say, “The promises of God are non-conditional and unfailing.”
Is it now so hard to see wherein the difference lies between what they say and what we say? Is it so hard to see wherein according to our firm belief they err? Is it so hard to see that the two expressions conditional and non-conditional are contraries? and that to say that the promises of God are given to elect and non-elect alike is not equivalent to saying that the promises of God are given to the elect only? Nothing is easier than seeing wherein we differ and wherein their error lies.
You write, “This inseparable correlation of promise and demand is always added with emphasis by the Liberated. The brethren often express this by calling it a conditional promise. Dr. Schilder writes, ‘And thus in the unbreakable unity of promise and demand which God speaks to us in baptism, speaks in covenant language. Faith is indeed a gift of the covenant God, but it is at the same time a condition which he sets. A condition placed before us to arouse our sense of responsibility.’
But the Liberated maintain that the promise is given unto all. As was said, in union with the promise, so conceived, faith as a condition must imply a human will that is free in the Pelagian sense. Yet you go on to say, “Now this, taken in its narrow compass is indeed Biblical language. If this were all that the brethren meant by condition we could have no objection. We have before seen that the Bible speaks exactly that way.”
Are you not really telling us here that the covenant theology of the Liberated is contained in the Scriptures? You put the question, If this is all that the brethren meant by condition. . .’ But for us it is not a question of what the brethren mean but of what they say. And what they actually say and write, the covenant-theology one encounters in their writings, is not contained in the Scriptures.
In the sequel of your article you make this very plain to us. You prove conclusively that the teaching to the effect that the promise is given unto all is contrary to the Scriptures. It means that you say conflicting things: 1) The covenant theology of the Liberated is according to the Scriptures; 2) The covenant theology of the Liberated is not according to the Scriptures.
I just made the statement that you prove so conclusively—prove from the Scriptures—that the promise is given only to the elect, you write, “For that promise is not merely given to believers, as believers. It is in the first place given to Christ,; ; , and in Him to and for the elect. And this promise is in no way conditional. . . .”
I would endorse this statement from your pen one hundred percent, were it not for the fact that it contains a loophole. What this loophole is we will see in an article to follow.