In the last issue of our Standard Bearer I referred to an overture by classis Orange City in regard to the Dekker case which was before the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church that met last June. I promised that, as soon as I had official information of the decision of Synod in this case, I would inform our readers about it. But, at the time of this writing, I still do not have this information.
What I write here, therefore, is based on unofficial information, which is as follows:
1. A committee was appointed to serve the Synod with advice in the matter.
2. This committee could not agree on the matter. Hence, they returned to Synod with a majority and a minority report. I asked for copies of these reports, but thus far I did not receive them. However, it seems quite sure that the majority report advised Synod to act according to the overture of Orange City and have Prof. Dekker submit to an examination by Synod, while the minority report was of the opinion and advised Synod to express that there was no cause for any such action.
3. It seems that Synod finally decided to return the overture to Classis Orange City in order that they might explain and furnish sufficient grounds for their overture.
If this be true, the matter is, of course, postponed for another year. As the Dutch has it, “het is op de lange, baan geschoven.”
As soon as I have the reports and the official decision, I hope to inform our readers.
Single Or Double Track Theology?
We were discussing, in our last Standard Bearer, the articles in “Torch and Trumpet” by Emeritus Professor R.B. Kuiper on the theme: “Is the Glory Departing?”
First of all, I wish to make a few remarks on this theme which is put in question form.
1. In the first place, when Kuiper speaks of the glory of the Christian Reformed Church he refers to his “double track theology.” He does this, too, in distinction from our so called “single track theology.” Evidently, according to him, also Arminianism believes in a single track theology, but their theology is false universalism.
2. What is meant by double track theology? First of all, according to him it means that the theology of the Christian Reformed Church is eminently scriptural. It is biblical: “Its scripturalness is the essence of the theology of the Christian Reformed Church.” Of course, this does not mean much, for all heretics say the same thing. Arminianism also appeals to the Bible to prove the free will of man and the will of God to save all men. The Baptists, too, quote Scripture for their denial of infant baptism. In other words, the statement that the scripturalness of the theology of the Christian Reformed Church is the essence of the theology of the Church stands itself in need of proof. In the second place, according to Kuiper, the scripturalness of the double track theology of Kuiper consists in this, that, on the one hand, it maintains wholeheartedly the truth of sovereign grace or the doctrine of predestination, while, on the other hand, it teaches the sincere offer, on the part of God, to all men without exception. On the one track of Kuiper’s theology runs the train of sovereign grace and election and reprobation while on the other track, runs the train of what Kuiper calls “biblical universalism.” This is, indeed, a paradox or rather a profound mystery, but Scripture teaches both and, therefore, we must accept it. Human logic denies this, in fact, cannot possibly accept it; but faith always bows before the Word of God. I will come back to this presently.
3. But, secondly, since 1924, the glory has, indeed, departed from the Christian Reformed Church. This is my answer to the question which Kuiper makes the theme of his article in “Torch and Trumpet.” Even if we understand by the theology of the Christian Reformed Church Kuiper’s “double track theology,” this is true. Many, if not the majority of the Christian Reformed people and ministers do not care one whit for Reformed theology and doctrine. This is evident from many facts, both doctrinal and practical, such as the question concerning the infallibility of Scripture, the question concerning the universal love of God to all men, the question concerning divorce, the question concerning membership of the worldly unions and even of the lodge. The Christian Reformed Church is no longer interested in the truth, specifically in Reformed truth, it is much rather interested in becoming big, large membership and big buildings. And it is very worldly minded. And I claim that all this has become the case especially since the Synod of 1924 that adopted the “Three Points” and the theory of “common grace.” Besides, it adopted not only the Kuiperian version of “common grace,” but also its Arminian form. This is the reason why Prof. R.B. Kuiper has no ground to stand on in his criticism of Prof. Dekker. Dekker teaches that God loves all men; Kuiper teacher the same thing. Does not the “First Point literally express that “there is a favorable attitude of God to humanity in general and not only to the elect?” What is the difference between God’s favor and His love? There is none. Besides, the Second and Third Points afford ample ground for the co operation of the Church and the world, for they teach that through the common grace of God sin is so restrained that the world and the unbelieving reprobate can do much good. And, therefore, I maintain that especially since 1924 the Christian Ref. Church has departed from the truth and from the way of the truth, both doctrinally and practically, and I answer the question which Kuiper makes the theme of his article in “Torch and Trumpet” with an unqualified YES: the glory has indeed departed from the Christian Reformed Church. But now let us proceed.
As I mentioned in my former article on this subject, Kuiper discusses the error of Arminianism, which, according to him, is universalism and this is based, not on Scripture, but on human logic. Of this, i.e., of human logic instead of Scripture, the fathers of Dordt must have nothing. They believed, to be sure, in predestination, but also in the sincere offer, on the part of God, of salvation.
On this I wish to make the following observations:
1. According to Kuiper, while the Remonstrants base their Doctrine on Human logic, the fathers of Dordt base their doctrine on Scripture no matter how the Scriptures may apparently contradict themselves. The latter, namely, that the Scriptures, as far as we can see, imply a contradiction when, on the one hand, they teach unconditional election and reprobation, while, on the other hand, they maintain the sincere offer of salvation, is what Kuiper teaches.
But is it true that the Remonstrants base their doctrine on human logic? I do not believe it.
Let us quote, for instance, the first article of the Remonstrants. It reads as follows:
“That God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost shall believe on his Son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and the obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the gospel in John 3:36: ‘He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see I life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,’ and according to other passages of Scripture also.”
Is this based on mere human logic? Their logic may be faulty as far as their interpretation of Scripture is concerned, but it surely is not based on mere human logic, but on the Scriptures, as is evident from the text they quote at the end of this article.
The Canons do not agree with the first article of the Remonstrants, not because it is based on logic, for they themselves use logic, and, naturally, reason logically, but because the Remonstrants present a wrong interpretation of Scripture. Say they in Canons I, 6:
“That some receive the gift of faith from God, and others do not receive it, proceeds from God’s eternal decree, ‘For known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the, world,’ Acts 15:18. ‘Who worketh all things after the counsel of his will,’ Eph. 1:11. According to which decree; he graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe, while he leaves the non-elect in his just judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy. And herein is especially displayed the profound, merciful, and at the same time the righteous discrimination between men, equally involved in ruin; or that decree of election and reprobation, revealed in the Word of God, which though men of perverse, impure, and unstable minds wrest to their own destruction, yet to holy and pious souls affords unspeakable consolation.”
This, to my mind, is logic based on the Word of God.
And listen further to the logical definition which the Canons give, on the basis of Scripture, of the decree of election in I, 7: “Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, he hath out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of his own will, chosen, from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault, from their primitive state of rectitude, into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom he from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect, and the foundation of salvation.”
Is not this logical reasoning without any expressed or implied contradiction and reasoning that is based on the Word of God, as will be evident if we read further in the same article of the Canons?
“This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than others, but with them involved in the common misery, God hath decreed to give to Christ, to be saved by him, and effectually to call them and draw them to his communion by his Word and Spirit, to bestow upon them true faith, justification and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of his Son, finally to glorify them for the demonstration of his mercy, and for the praise of his glorious grace; as it is written: ‘According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.’ Eph. 1:4, 5, 6. And elsewhere: Whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he justified, them he also glorified.’ Rom. 8:30.”
All this is, indeed, logical. It is a logic that is based on Scripture. For it is Scripture itself. And there are no contradictions in the Bible, as Kuiper would have it. It is not a question of logic, still less of contradictions in Scripture. It is, therefore, not true that Arminianism is logical, or based on logic, while Reformed truth is illogical. The truth is never contradictory. No human mind can grasp contradictions. But the truth is a question of exegesis or interpretation of Scripture.
But of this next time, the Lord willing.