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Dear Prof. Hanko, 

After reading the Standard Bearer of Jan. 1, 1979, I felt like talking to you. The reason is the book review about “Daylight”, by Rev. Andrew Kuyvenhoven. You wrote: “Most are not of exegetical nature, but are rather brief meditations ‘hanged on’ a given text: all tend to be practical rather than doctrinal. They can be read with profit by those who enjoy devotional literature.” 

After I read this I felt worried and concerned. 

We here in Edmonton came out of the Christian Reformed Church in 1975. We read before much of Rev. A. Kuyvenhoven’s writings. We learned how he taught the two-sided covenant. 

I will quote from a Family Altar, Feb., 1971: “The coming of Christ divided the Jewish nation into two groups. One group accepted Jesus as the Messiah, the other group rejected Him. 

“A battle raged between these two groups about who could call himself a real child of Abraham. . . . By a life of faith the sons of Abraham show that they have believed the gospel. . . .” 

Here is a minister who believes the world and life view of the Neo-Calvinist. Is this really literature to be recommended? If it is not doctrinally sound, how can it be devotional? 

The most modernistic C.R.C. churches here, which are now called “community churches” because they do not want to be called confessional churches, they use Rev. Kuyvenhoven’s writings. 

Rev. H. Hoeksema wrote in the Reformed Dogmatics, p. 768: “It is of course true that the doctrine of eternal punishment seems very severe and harsh to our natural sentiment and human feeling. But let us not forget, in the first place, that it is not our human sentiment but the clear teaching of Holy Writ that may be the only standard for our faith and doctrine. 

“Secondly, we must also remember that even our human sentiment is sinful, and that we certainly cannot summon the holy and righteous God before the bar of our feeling without going far from the path of truth.” 

When Rev. H. Hoeksema answers Dr. Hepp in “Van Zonde en Genade”, p. 237, he writes: “We are not concerned about a word. We are not engaging in a verbal dispute. We are fighting against a world and life view of which Dr. Kuyper gives an example in his book, ‘Common Grace’. That view is no good and is not Reformed; not only in the sense that it deviates from what is stated in our Confessions concerning the sinner who is dead in sins and iniquities, but also because it deviates from the fundamental line of the Reformed faith in the historical sense.” (Translated.)

When we read some of the writings (in our papers), then I ask: Is there really Neo-Calvinistic teaching among the Protestant Reformed members?! Are we blinded? 

It is hard to describe how dangerous this teaching and the results are. We went through this all and do not like to experience it again. 

I talked with my children about the danger of Rev. Kuyvenhoven’s teaching. They also know that God’s covenant is one-sided. This is Scriptural. But if in the Standard Bearer Rev. Kuyvenhoven’s writings are recommended, what will our answer be to our children? 

A devotional booklet not based on Scripture is misleading. 

‘Therefore thus saith the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face’ wax pale. But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.” Isaiah 29:22-24.

And doctrine is life! 

Wishing you the Lord’s blessings, 

Your sister in Christ, 

Mrs. F. Tolsma 

REPLY 

Although it is true that I recommended the book by Rev. Kuyvenhoven for those who enjoy devotional literature, this recommendation by no means must be interpreted as a blanket approval of all that the book contains. In our book reviews we often recommend books which are worth reading even though they must be read with discernment. We assume our readers possess such discernment and that all the writings of men are compared with the infallible standard of God’s Holy Word. 

Your remarks about Neo-Calvinism, however, need a bit longer reply. It is certainly true that the bilateral conception of the covenant held so widely within the Christian Reformed Church is a view not according to the Scriptures. But I have not seen anything in the writings of any of our people which suggests such a bilateral view of the covenant. So far as I know, the unilateral and sovereign nature of the everlasting covenant of grace is held among us without exception. 

But it is not, I think, this which you mean by Neo-Calvinism. I have an idea that you probably refer to writings which speak more of the relation of the Christian to culture. Your reference to Neo-Calvinism is probably a reference to the views of the A.A.C.S. so widely promoted in Canada and in this country. I do not think it necessary to get into this question in detail. But I want to assure you that, so far as I know, there is no sympathy for this Neo-Calvinism in our Churches. Nor is there any sympathy for the world and life view of Dr. A. Kuyper as developed in his three volume work on common grace. 

Nevertheless, we must remember too that we firmly believe that this present creation is God’s world, ruled and ordered by God. And God calls His elect people to labor in this present world antithetically and for the cause of the kingdom of heaven. 

I appreciate deeply your concern about these things, your willingness to write, and your evident concern for the truth of the Scriptures.