There are times in life when there is danger in too much speed.
There are also times when there is certainly danger in delay.
When one’s house is afire, it is surely dangerous to delay calling the fire department, for example.
The same is true ecclesiastically speaking. When one’s ecclesiastical house is in danger of destruction, it is certainly dangerous to delay taking the proper measures to preserve it. If such measures are too long delayed, that house will certainly topple.
This is the danger for the Christian Reformed Church from the delay in dealing with what has come to be known as the “Dekker. Case.” Actually, of course, there is not really a Dekker Case; for there is no protest or appeal pending before Synod’s committeead hoc, but only an overture and a mandate to investigate or study. Hence, in the technical sense there is no “case” against Prof. Dekker. Nevertheless the issues created in part by Prof. Dekker (and in no small part, of course, by the Christian Reformed Church’s own Three Points of 1924) are very really before the churches and before Synod’s’ study committee. These issues are fundamental. Very simply put, they are these: 1) Whom does God love, all men or only His elect? 2) For whom did Christ die, for all men or only for His elect?
Any Reformed man will detect at once that these issues are fundamental.
Besides, Prof. Dekker has connected these issues,—quite properly, I may add—with the matter of the church’s proclamation of the gospel. The question, therefore, is: what must be preached by Christian Reformed ministers and missionaries? And what more fundamental issues could there be than that? The questions at stake are concerned with the very heart of the gospel and the very foundations of the whole structure of the Reformed truth.
It is safe to say, therefore, that the ecclesiastical house of the Christian Reformed Church as a Reformed denomination is in danger, in danger of being destroyed down to its very foundation stones. As an institution, comparatively large and influential and growing, it may seem to be in no particular danger; but as a Reformed denomination, the Christian Reformed denomination is in mortal danger.
Why, then, the delay?
That there has been and is delay is evident. Let us remember that the Dekker Case is almost three years old already. Once, at the Synod of 1963, the attempt to bring it to the attention of the churches failed utterly. In 1964 a study committee was appointed. Since that time nothing has been done. The 1965 Synod passed without a report from this committee and without any action on the case. The denominational publications make no reference to the matter.
Will this committee perhaps take as many years for its study as Dr. Daane suggests? I was afraid of this when Synod set no deadline for the committee and when it was suggested from the floor at the 1964 Synod that the committee need not report at the 1965 Synod.
I do not know what reasons may or may not have been given for this delay. Nor do I know the motives behind it, whether fear of a show-down, deliberate intent to stall, or a naive and mistaken attempt to be fair.
I do know this, that the house is afire.
I know this also, that there is delay.
And I know this, that the delay is dangerous in the extreme. The fires of Arminianism have been kindled and are blazing fiercely.
Nor are the issues so complex that the delay can be justified.
The only complexities there are have been artificially created by the Three Points, with reference to which the study committee’s mandate was plainly written.
But for a Reformed man who knows Scripture, who loves the truth as it is set forth in our confessions, and who is in thorough agreement with Dordrecht’s declarations? The answer is simple, and it can be stated in two words: the elect!
This is the only Reformed, the only true, answer to both of the questions at stake in the Dekker Case.
There is only one element that is amazing, tragically amazing, about the whole lamentable history of the Dekker Case. That is this, that in a denomination of a Reformed name these matters can even be called in question.
Would that the Christian Reformed constituency, ministers and members, whose hearts still beat warmly for the Reformed faith would become aroused sufficiently to be valiant for the truth!
The delay must end, or it will surely prove fatal.