Undersigned is substituting in the editorial department, temporarily due to the fact that our esteemed and beloved editor, Rev. H. Hoeksema, suffered a stroke on Monday, August 10 and, at this writing, has been hospitalized for a little more than a week. For our readers’ information, let me say that the stroke was light, or moderate, producing a partial paralysis of the left side. However, at present (this is written August 19) Rev. Hoeksema is making an excellent recovery and hopes to leave the hospital, D.V., by the end of the week. It is not possible to say now in how far and how soon he might be able to resume some of his labors. Meanwhile, our Lord, Who does all things well, is Rev. Hoeksema’s confidence and stay also now. And to Him he and we commit the way in faith.
The Standard Bearer deadline had to be met nevertheless, and therefore some substitute arrangements were hurriedly made. Rev. Hoeksema’s discussion of the Dekker Case will have to wait for the time being; but I will offer some information and comments on related matters. The Reverend M. Schipper, who, by the way, has promised to be a regular contributor to that rubric in the coming volume year, graciously consented to contribute a Meditation for this issue, thus relieving me of that duty. Welcome back to our pages, brother; and, Thanks!
I also take this opportunity, regretfully, to say farewell and thank you to the Rev. G. Vos, who after many years has laid down his pen as a Standard Bearercontributor. Though he did not know it at the time, he would not have been able to contribute a meditation to this issue even if he had not resigned. For our brother Vos has been hospitalized also—first with pneumonia and then with a prostate condition which required surgery. Though seriously ill, he also appears on the way to recovery at this time. And he also is mindful of Father’s love and well-dealing in his present affliction.
May our God bless these two veteran servants, and, if it be His will, keep them in our midst yet for a time.
Change of Climate?
In the department “Uit en Voor de Pers” (De Wachter, July 28, 1964) the Reverend William Haverkamp, who is also acting editor of that organ, comments on theStandard Bearer’s report of the Rev. H. Hoeksema’s lecture at Calvin Seminary on the subject “Particular Throughout.” After quoting in translation my report of the occasion, he also cites the introductory paragraphs of, Rev. Hoeksema’s lecture, but gives the following general characterization of the entire lecture: “Whoever is acquainted with the writings of Rev. H. Hoeksema since 1924 will find nothing new in this lecture.”
Rev. Haverkamp then goes on to make a few remarks about what I called an extraordinary event, without commenting further on the lecture. These remarks will be of interest to our readers; and I will quote them in full in translation, and then add a few comments. Haverkamp writes as follows:
“Everyone knows that there has come in the last years a change of climate in our theological school with respect to speakers who are invited at various occasions. About thirty years ago, when undersigned was a student, there came at most once someone from the circle of Westminster Seminary. Now that the climate has changed and communication is improved, we found it nice that also Rev. Hoeksema was invited to speak. Hoeksema, as was to be expected, did not mince words and gave a clear explanation of his peculiar standpoint.
“And now will there presently come also an invitation once from the Protestant Reformed Seminary to one of our men?”
Thus wrote Rev. Haverkamp.
My comments are as follows:
1. I find it nice that the Reverend Haverkamp thought it nice that Rev. Hoeksema was invited to speak at Calvin Seminary. Perhaps this also constitutes a change of climate?
2. As far as Rev. Haverkamp’s evaluation of the lecture is concerned, I would suggest three things. In the first place, I consider it rather complimentary when he writes that whoever is acquainted with the writings of Rev. H. Hoeksema since 1924 will find nothing new in this lecture. That is a good testimony to Hoeksema’s consistency, as well as to his perseverance in the truth. Personally, I would dare to improve on that statement and to say, “Whoever is acquainted with Hoeksema’s preaching and writing since the beginning of his ministry (pre-1924 as well as post-1924,) will find essentially nothing new in this lecture.” And, of course, brother Haverkamp’s mention of the clarity of Rev. Hoeksema’s presentation is also complimentary. Clarity of thought and presentation is always a virtue, and without it a speaker’s views cannot very well be understood. In the second place, it ought to be noticed that Rev. Haverkamp’s evaluation is a testimony against and in contradiction of those who left our Protestant Reformed Churches in the controversy of 1953. They frequently voiced the claim that Hoeksema changed his views. Haverkamp is evidently not of that opinion, for, according to him, this lecture represents nothing new in Rev. Hoeksema’s teachings since 1924. Well, it must follow, then, that the De Wolf group, whom the Christian Reformed Church embraced a few years ago, were the ones who changed. In parentheses, let me add that I wish men like Rev. Haverkamp and others who believe that we are still the same Protestant Reformed Churches that we always were would stand up and testify of this in their own Christian Reformed Church: then perhaps we would get our synodical archives back once. In the third place, however, I must nevertheless comment that Rev. Haverkamp’s evaluation is not very much to the point. After all, the real question is not whether there was anything new in Hoeksema’s lecture. I would reply to that: knowing Hoeksema, what did you expect? But the real question far more important and serious for Haverkamp, for Calvin Seminary, and for the whole Christian Reformed Church is: did Hoeksema in his lecture present the truth of Scripture and our Reformed confessions?
3. As far as that “change of climate” is concerned, there are several comments to be made. First of all, I agree that there has been some kind of change of climate. I suggested this in my earlier editorial note. It certainly is true that in years gone by it would have been considered unthinkable that Hoeksema, the heretic, be invited to speak at Calvin Seminary. Rev. Hoeksema and we all are appreciative of this change, thankful too, especially to Professor Dekker, both for the invitation and the warmth of his reception, and also happy that we have the opportunity to present the truth. In the second place, however, I notice that Rev. Haverkamp does not analyze this “change of climate.” What is the nature of the change? What are its causes? What is its purpose? And what will be its effects? These are rather important questions, especially with regard to a denomination’s seminary. And brother Haverkamp and the Christian Reformed Church should certainly confront these questions. Is the change merely due to the passing of the years and the fact that the present faculty of Calvin Seminary represents the second generation since 1924? Is the change merely due to a kind of spirit of academic freedom, a broadminded willingness to hear what the other fellow has to say—whether that other fellow is Hoeksema or R.B. Kuiper or a man like Markus Barth? Or—and this. we would sincerely hope, because we love the Christian Reformed Church and long to, see her stand anew on the basis of the truth—is, the change due to a genuine desire to discuss the truth, to get down to the basic issues of the Reformed faith, and a willingness to be convinced of it on the basis of Scripture and the Three Forms of Unity? I say again: the latter is to be hoped, and, if true, then we will certainly doubly welcome an invitation to speak out.
But let me assure Rev. Haverkamp and all the Christian Reformed Church that any time that any of our Protestant Reformed men receives such a no-strings-attached invitation to speak, he will surely accept it, whether that invitation is official or unofficial, whether it comes from a Calvin Seminary professor or from other Christian Reformed groups or individuals, whether it is an invitation to speak in the comparative privacy of a classroom or at a public gathering. We are willing, too, to have discussion and questions, just as at Calvin Seminary. That has always been our policy as Protestant Reformed. It was our policy at the Pantlind Conference at the time of the late Dr. Schilder’s first visit to this country. It has been our official policy expressed in more than one letter of admonition which our churches sent to the Christian Reformed Synod. We welcome the opportunity. No matter what the change of climate really consists in, it cannot be harmful to speak out and to have a good, basic discussion of the issues. And: it might be helpful!
Need I add that I say these things with all good-will?
4. Rev. Haverkamp ends his comments with the question whether there will be an invitation forthcoming to one of their men from the Protestant Reformed Seminary. As far as the faculty is concerned, I may freely say that we would gladly return Professor Dekker’s invitation. We would like to hear him explain his views and answer our questions. Perhaps such a meeting can be arranged. Then let Professor Dekker also “geen blad voor de mond nemen, en een duidelijke uiteenzetting van zijn eigen standpunt geven.” And I am sure that Rev. Haverkamp would be welcome to attend.
The Christian Reformed Synod on the “Dekker Case”
Our editor promised in the August 1 Standard Bearer that as soon as the official report, on the “Dekker Case” became available, he would inform our readers. That report is available, and I will quote it in full as it appears in The Banner, July 10, 1964, pp. 9, 10, under the title “Limited Atonement.”
“Synod decided to appoint a committee to study, in the light of Scripture and the creeds, the doctrine of limited atonement as it relates to the love of God, the doctrinal expressions of Professor Harold Dekker beginning with and relative to his article entitled ‘God So Loved All Men,’ and other related questions that may arise in the course of their study, paying specific attention to:
“1. Whether the nature of the atonement and the decree of election allow for the validity of making a qualitative distinction between the general love of God and his special love for the elect.
“2. Whether there is scriptural evidence that the universal love of God includes any intent to bring about the salvation of the non-elect or to perform any redemptive act on their behalf.
“3. Whether the nature of the atonement as satisfaction reveals the universal love of God.
“4. Whether the teachings of the Canons of Dordt warrant the use of such concepts as universal atonement and limited redemption.
“5. Whether the efficacy of the atonement is determined by the good pleasure of God in distinction or abstraction from the love of God.
“6. Whether ‘the doctrine of limited atonement as commonly understood and observed in the Christian Reformed Church impairs the principle of the universal love of God and tends to inhibit missionary spirit ‘and activity.’
“7. Whether it is consistent with the genius of the New Testament evangelism to say to each and every man, ‘Christ died for you, and whether this statement is productive of confusion and misunderstanding in this generation of universalism and Arminianism.’
“The grounds for the above decision are:
“1. A mandate to study these matters will allay much of the unrest which prevails in the churches.
“2. Such a study will help clarify the Reformed witness to our generation.
“3. This study may assist Professor Dekker in carrying forward his own work of carefully examining the various matters which he has raised.
“4. This carries forward the spirit of the report of the board of trustees which reads, ‘After the discussion (with Professor Dekker) the board concluded that there are issues worthy of further inquiry, and it trusts that future exchanges of research and opinion on these issues will be profitable to the church.’
“5. A study of this nature is requested in the overture from the consistory of the First church of Orange City.
“It was decided that a committee of seven members is to carry on this study, and that this committee is to consult frequently with Professor Dekker in order that a spirit and relationship of full and free exchange may exist between the professor and the committee. The committee is authorized also to seek the advice and counsel of the professors in the departments of dogmatics and exegesis at Calvin Seminary. The committee is to make every effort to bring a report to the Synod of 1965. Members of the committee are: Dr. John H. Bratt, Rev. Adam Persenaire, Dr. Alexander C. De Jong, Rev. George Gritter, Rev. John C. Medendorp, Jacob De Jager, and John W. Borst.”
Thus far the quotation from The Banner.
From other sources as well as from personal observation, I can report:
1. That the above was actually a kind of substitute proposal. Earlier the Committee of Pre-advice had come with the advice, which, however, was not, I am informed, based on the Formula of Subscription, that a “theological discussion” be held with Professor Dekker on the floor of Synod. This advice met with so much opposition, however, that the committee itself asked to have the matter recommitted. This was done, and the above proposal came to Synod later.
2. It is correct that this entire matter was disposed of by Synod in about a half hour, with very little basic discussion. What discussion there was centered on less significant details, such as when the committee must report, etc., and little or nothing was said about the mandate or the grounds. The decision was also virtually, if not completely, unanimous.
3. I consider it an indication. of the spirit of the decision that an amendment to add Professor Dekker to the committee to investigate Dekker’s teachings, rather than merely mandate the committee to consult with him, garnered a good many favorable remarks and votes, though it failed to gain a majority.
For the present, I will not comment on this decision, except to say that it is obviously a case of “Hurry up and wait.”
The Dogmatics Project
Some months ago the Standard Bearer carried complete information about the aim of the Publications Committee (associated with the RFPA) to publish in one large volume the dogmatics of the Rev. H. Hoeksema. (See Standard Bearer, May 1, pp. 358, 359.)
It is not our usual policy to editorialize on projects and drives of various organizations. But because this project is associated with the Reformed Free Publishing Association and because it is so near to the life of our churches, we will do so this time. The aims and the needs of the Publications Committee and especially of this first project, namely, to publish the dogmatics, ought to be held before our people. I dare say this is even underscored by the present illness of Rev. Hoeksema and the undeniable reminder that he will not be always with us, and that therefore his writings—especially his dogmatics—ought to be preserved and therefore published.
First of all, how is the project coming? The last information which I received was that our treasurer had on hand approximately $3000. This is about half of the $6000 goal that was set. It is perfectly obvious that the committee cannot go ahead when the minimum cost of the project is not even underwritten or guaranteed. And I want to emphasize that this $6000 goal is the bare minimum. There is no padding in that figure. Hence, the answer to this question, how is the project coming, is: at present it is bogged down for financial reasons. Perhaps this is due to the “summer doldrums.” I hope the reason is no more serious than that, and that with the beginning of fall activities in the churches also this project will get a quick boost.
Secondly, what must be done?
I would suggest two things in answer to this question:
1) In general, all of us must get behind this project to the best of our ability and help go over the top in the drive. Pledges, outright gifts, and underwriters are needed. An average contribution of only $10 from 600 families would assure reaching the $6000 goal. But if only 100 people would come across with $60 each, or 60 with $100 each, or 30 with $200 each, the goal would also be reached. And mind you, you do not even have to give the money outright. You may, of course; and it will be put to good use, and besides will be tax deductible. But underwriting, that is, allowing the Committee to use $100 or $200 of your money until they realize their investment upon publication of the book, is just as good. But the money is needed! Please! Do not leave it to the other fellow; yoursupport, small or large, is essential. Let us flood the treasurer with mail!
2) I know, from personal contacts, that more than one of our churches has sent in nothing as yet. The local committees in charge of steering the drive in the various churches should get busy. I would not be surprised if there are several of our people waiting to come across with large sums—if only your committee would come around and collect or help make out the pledge. By all means, let us put our shoulders to the wheel!
Need I emphasize how valuable a publication like “H.H.’s” dogmatics will be? Ask any of our ministers or students whether there is any of Rev. Hoeksema’s writings that is more worthy of publication. There has never been a dogmatics like it produced by the Reformed community. Our own people—and I mean all of us, not just ministers and students—can benefit greatly from this master-work. It will serve as a clear and complete statement of our Protestant Reformed doctrinal position to the Reformed community at large. Others, outside our churches, for example, ministers in the Reformed and Christian Reformed Churches, have inquired as to if and. when the dogmatics will be published.
Right now I could think of no project that is more deserving of the support of a11 our people throughout our denomination than this one.
Consider it your personal responsibility, will you?
For your convenience, here are the instructions to follow:
1) Make out your check, money order, or pledge either to the Permanent Committee for the Publication of Prot. Ref. Literature (P.C.P.P.R.L., for short), or to Thomas Newhof, Treasurer. Do not forget to indicate whether you are making an outright gift or only underwriting.
2) Mail your contribution to: Mr. Thomas Newhof
2317 Leonard St, N.E.
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49505
3) Be sure to include your own name and address for the committee’s records.