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Dear Rev. Hoeksema:

God’s Word teaches us that women must keep silence in the churches, I Cor. 14:34, and that the women must not teach, nor usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence, I Tim. 2:12. We also believe that national and state affairs must be ruled and governed by men only. In the light of this how would you explain that women teach in our own church school, seeing that church and school are so closely related? Sometimes a woman is principal. And how about women teaching Sunday school classes?

Yours in Christ,

Mrs. Ted Huizenga

P.S. You may answer in The Standard Bearer.

ANSWER:

This is a very good question and it is worthy of a more elaborate answer than I can give in the present issue of The Standard Bearer. But I have so many contributions already that I must needs be brief. I would answer as follows:

1. First of all, I would say that the text in I Tim. 2:12 must be interpreted in the light of I Cor. 14:34. In the latter passage we read: “Let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak, but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” The women, therefore, may not speak in the churches, i.e., in the public assemblies.

2. But the Christian School and also the Sunday School are not assemblies of the church, nor are they directly under the church, but under the parents.

3. Moreover, there are many examples of women teaching and of helping the apostles. For this I may refer to Rom. 16.

4. Finally, I would call attention to the fact that, especially as long as the children are small, it is usually the mother that teaches the children and keeps them under discipline. This she does, not without, but under the authority of the husband. And if she is a widow she is certainly called to do this all alone.

—H.H.


Elect or Reprobate?

Dear Editor:

In one of your controversial books which bears the name God’s Goodness Always Particular, and under the subtitle, “The Long-suffering of God,” you refute the argument of your opponent who imagines to find support in the parable of the unmerciful servant of Matt. 18:23-35 for his theory of the general longsuffering of God; by presenting the unmerciful servant as a wicked person who was surrendered to eternal torture. Now you write on page 248 paragraph 2, the last sentence as follows: “But this interpretation of the parable cannot be maintained for a moment.” And again in paragraph 3: “For let us not overlook the fact that the longsuffering or mercy which the lord of the parable shows his servant consisted in this that he remitted all his debt.” Again on page 249, paragraph 7: “But also the presentation that the unmerciful servant in the parable is an ungodly man, a person without grace, . . . cannot be maintained; for this, if we apply the presentation of the parable, leads to the conclusion that God first forgives the sins of the non-elect, but after repents and imputes them unto the same reprobates. And this is impossible.” Now you further state that the main element in the parable is the fact that the lord forgave his servant his debt. Now to pass by this element (as your opponent does) of the remission of all the debt by the lord to his servant, “the whole parable loses its significance,” par. 3. And in par. 3 you write: “But for this reason the servant of the parable certainly must represent some one else than a reprobate wicked, that is consigned to eternal desolation. We merely read that ‘his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors till he should pay all that was due to him.’ Matt. 18:34. If we read the context . . . it will become clear to us, that the servant in the parable is a child of God, who for a time lives in a relation of unwillingness to reconcile and to forgive his brother, and who is delivered to the tormentors for a time, by which is meant as long as he refuses to reconcile and forgive he himself will not taste the forgiving grace of God,” par. 4, pp. 248, 249.

Now 17 years later, in volume ten of the “Heidelberg Catechism,” “The Perfect Prayer,” treating the limiting clause of the fifth petition of the “Lord’s Prayer,” you also refer to the same parable. But here you give the very opposite version of the servant in the parable. Here you present him not as a child of God, who as long as he refuses to reconcile to his brother, will not taste the forgiving grace of God; but as an unbeliever and reprobate, who is finally cast into hell. For you write under the subtitle, “A Serious Limiting Clause,” p. 169, par. 1, as follows, “We must emphasize, therefore, from the outset, as will become very evident in the rest of our explanation of this parable, that the unmerciful servant was never sorry for his sins, that he never tasted the grace of his lord, that he was not a believer, but evidently an unbeliever and reprobate.” And again at the bottom of p. 171 and p. 172: “Thus, the unmerciful servant is a picture, not of one that first tasted the grace of God and believed and then fell away, which is impossible, but of the reprobate unbeliever, that indeed heard the proclamation of the mercy of God in the preaching of the gospel, but never tasted God’s mercy for Himself. And the final result is that when the last day of reckoning comes, he is held responsible for his debt, expected to pay all that he owes. He is delivered to the tormentors, since he has nothing to pay, this means forever. He is cast into hell.”

Now I don’t believe that the Chr. Ref. Church has succeeded in converting you to their fancy double-track theology. But I surmise that at the time you were treating this limiting clause of the fifth petition you were not aware of the first mentioned explanation, otherwise I am sure you would have made mention of it. But as yet, I am not ready to say that the servant in the parable is a reprobate unbeliever, for if we consult the context we find Jesus spoke this parable to His disciples, to His elect people. Matt. 18:35.

Now Rev. Hoeksema I believe you can do us all as readers of The Standard Bearer a great service by answering the following question: What caused you to make such a radical change?

Yours in the cause of the truth,

Albert Bleyenburg

Grand Rapids, Michigan

REPLY:

In seventeen years one gets older and wiser.

If in your diligent search for discrepancies in my writings you find some more, I would like to have them.

—H.H.


Editor of The Standard Bearer:

I was a delegate to the January Classis, 1962, and to the reconvened session in February. I was in agreement with the decision of Classis, and I still am. At present, I am troubled because of the editorials inThe Standard Bearer concerning this matter.

In the first place, I was surprised to see that it was being published. And I am not at all pleased for the following reasons:

1) After the February Classis I had hoped that an earnest effort on the part of our ministers would be made to contact Rev. Veldman and to personally strive to convince him of the untenable position of Southeast Church. I fear that this was not done, and if not, I say we erred. The editorials on this matter and especially the remarks do not encourage brotherly discussions.

2) I do not believe that it was necessary at this early time to hang our wash on the line for all to see, whether clean or dirty. After the whole issue is settled and the last appeals, if any, have been answered, then the facts should be published, and then too—only the issues.

3) The remarks in your editorials and in Prof. H.C. Hoeksema’s articles, in my estimation, do cast Southeast consistory and pastor in a bad light as does the Rev. Veldman complain. We would not want to make public our own personal shortcomings and so we should deal with the brother. Even though it is true that Southeast consistory and pastor placed themselves in a bad light, nevertheless, I say, why tell it abroad?

In the second place, I am distressed by the repeated remarks I hear, that neither you, Rev. Hoeksema, nor Rev. Veldman visit each other to discuss the issues at stake. Is it so that among brethren we cannot seek out one another, and in love, strive to come to mutual and scriptural agreement? If not, I am afraid of the future of our churches. And our churches have a cause worth every personal effort and sacrifice because our churches have the cause of Christ. Rev. Veldman and his consistory and congregation are our brothers and sisters in Christ. They deserve and need and desire all our love and patience and prayer. We must leave nothing undone to show them the error of their present position. If it please the Lord to turn Southeast Consistory from their present stand, how wonderful that would be. We will not say that I have won and you have lost, but that the spirit of Christ has prevailed.

Finally, now that the whole issue has been placed inThe Standard Bearer, I want to see Rev. Veldman have all the space he desires, to present his arguments on his stand of which he is so convinced. I hope Rev. Veldman does not attack anyone’s person. It is our prayer that by the grace of God our present troubles will be resolved on a high plane of spirituality. When all is said and done, may we be able to say before God and His Church that we have not arrived there by default.

Your brother in Christ,

Dewey Engelsma

Remarks in the above contribution:

1. The Classis, in discussing the different protests in this case did not go in executive session. It, therefore, was a public matter and, therefore, I had a perfect right to publish it in The Standard Bearer.

2. Moreover, I did not only have a perfect right to publish it, but it certainly is a matter that concerns all our churches and not only Classis East.

3. Because it is not a private, but a public matter, I cannot and may not discuss it privately with the Rev. R. Veldman.

4. Of course, the Rev. Veldman has the perfect right to explain and to defend his view of the matter in our magazine.

—H.H.


“The Hymn Question”

Dear Rev. Hoeksema:

The reading of a hymn this morning prompts me to write this article. The hymn was written by my late husband, and is based on Romans 8:29-31a: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things?”

Here follows the hymn, to be sung to the tune of Psalter No. 303.

BEFORE THE LORD IN GLORY

1. Eternally before His face

God all His own did see:

Predestined in His sovereign grace,

His image they would be.

Conformed to that of His dear Son,

Most wonderful made,

And image that reflects the One

On Father’s face displayed.

2. Among the brethren, gathered ones, 

Standing before the Lord,

The Son, The Firstborn thus becomes,

Ordained by mighty Word.

Before He earth’s foundations made,

Long ‘fore we ever knew,

Our Sovereign God these plans had laid,

To make us children true.

3. And whom he did predestinate,

Them He had also called

From darkness, in His light to wait, Before His face enthralled.

But how should we, who darkness were, 

By nature born in sin,

Before the light of God appear,

We who are vile within?

4. ‘Tis wonderful, beyond compare,

That matchless love of God!

He justifies the ones who were

The called, through the blood.

The Firstborn Son to earth did come,

His life in death to give;

The only true, Begotten One,

That we with Him should live.

5. And yet the plan is not complete; 

There’s more to still be plied.

The just, with holiness replete,

Must yet be glorified.

What shall we of these things declare?

What shall we, children, say?

We, who in glory crowns shall wear?

We’ll praise Him day by day!

After reading it, I wondered how any one could possibly object to singing these words.

I have followed and studied the articles on the “Hymn Question” in our Standard Bearer with great interest. I found that some of those who do not favor hymns in our churches seem to think that those who do favor them want to do away with the Psalms. God forbid that this should be true. The Psalms have been our guide and comfort through all life’s journey, and they will continue to be so. Many hymns, based on Scripture, have likewise been a source of comfort and joy to us.

What possible objection can there be to singing hymns that are based on Scripture? Some of the hymns quote Scripture literally, while others express basic truths contained therein. This cannot be said of all the numbers in our Psalter. Think of No. 4, a versification of Psalm 2: “While yet in mercy He is near, Delay not, lest His anger rise.” And there are other wrong versifications. We may and do sing these numbers in our services. But may we not sing, “Oh love of God, how strong and true,” and the following stanzas? (Psalter Hymnal No. 341). This hymn, together with many others are sung in our homes, at our programs and hymn sings. The question arises, “If we can sing these hymns in our ‘homes, and other gatherings, to the glory of God, why must they be excluded from our divine worship, where our voices unite in praise to our God?”

Some of the articles on the “Hymn Question” left the impression that those who favor hymns want to sail in Arminian waters. They want to elevate man. Nothing is farther from the truth. Emphasis has always been laid on the fact that we must have only those hymns that exalt God, and make man very small.

Another objection raised against hymn singing in our churches is that this will cause the church to depart from the truth. It should be plain to everyone that this reasoning is absurd. The singing of hymns which are based on Scripture cannot possibly cause a church to deteriorate. Was hymn singing in our churches the cause of departure from the truth by those who left us in ’53? We know better. We have experienced that those who prior to ’53 no longer desired sound doctrine did not want sound hymns either; but they clamored for Arminian hymns. Surely we must all agree that there can be nothing principally wrong in singing Scriptural hymns in our churches.

Yours for the welfare of our churches,

Mrs. D. Jonker


REPORT OF THE WESTERN LADIES’ LEAGUE MEETING

Our spring meeting was held on the afternoon of Friday, April 13 at Doon. An organ prelude was played by Mrs. Tim Kooima. Mrs. William Kooiker, our president, then led US in singing two Psalter numbers, including our theme song, number 298. She then read from Scripture a portion of Acts 4 and led us in prayer. After a word of welcome to those present, the previous minutes and treasurer’s report were given. Election of new officers was held with the following results: Mrs. J. Kortering, president, Mrs. Art Verhey, secretary and Mrs. Tim Kooima, Vice-all.

Rev. B. Woudenberg was introduced as our speaker with the theme, “Communism in the Christian Church” as his topic. Scriptural reference was Acts 4:32. Communism is a political philosophy which sets forth the idea that no one has any right to a greater reward for his labor than anyone else. It was set forth approximately 100 years ago by Karl Marx and was occasioned by the unfair practices of that day to take from the poor and give to the rich. Marx himself tasted of extreme poverty in his life and decided to draw up a plan whereby everyone would receive equal rewards in life—have all things in common. He decided this should be done through a dictatorship using force. It would destroy all who opposed the cause and would take all possessions under state control to be used and distributed as the state saw fit.

Many have tried to compare this system of philosophy with the practices of the early church in Jerusalem which developed very soon after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost when for a short period thousands were being added daily to the church. Being filled with new zeal, this new church was united with love and one faith. There in Jerusalem for a short time the mutual love of Christianity demonstrated itself bountifully as all earthly needs were shared in common.

Although this might strike us as being similar to the ideal goal of communism, it is really in absolute opposition. Communism is an atheistic philosophy which recognizes nothing but the material world and is built upon the sinful lust of man for carnal riches. In contrast the early church, recognizing God, shared its material goods in rejection of earthly wealth and carnal riches. It actually rejected the sin that communism exploits and lived out of the love of God.

In our day Russia is an open advocate of Communism, but it may also be found in our country in the form of labor unions, graduated taxes and subsidies. This philosophy is growing in the world and we must recognize and oppose it, not setting our hearts upon the things below, but following the principles found in the early Christian church.

An offering was taken for The Standard Bearer after which Rev. G. VanBaren interestingly answered the questions “Should women cover their heads in church?” I Cor. 11:5, “What is baptism for the dead?” I Cor. 15:29, and “In time of difficulty may we pray for what we humanly desire?”

As their special number, four ladies from Edgerton took part in a round table discussion. Our retiring president thanked all those who took part in the afternoon’s activities. Psalter number 369 was sung and Rev. Woudenberg led in a prayer of thanksgiving. After the program we enjoyed a social hour and lunch served by Hull, our host society.

Mrs. Bert Brands, Reporter