I had first thought to leave it to the alertness of the reader to detect in what respect the text quoted in the preceding editorial was only partially quoted. But then I thought better of this, because the omission of part of that text really goes to the heart of the issue, namely, universalism. It is, after all, universalism which forms one of the key principles of the adherents of the social gospel.
The text, of course, occurs in the context of the parable of the sheep and the goats, a parable of the find judgment, in Matthew 25. There, in response to the question of the righteous, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?” the King replies: “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
You see, the key words “my brethren” were omitted in the quotation cited in the preceding editorial. And this omission points to a tacit universalism.
But lest anyone imagine that this omission and this universalism were the mistaken expression of an immature and over-enthusiastic seminarian, or were perhaps due to the inaccurate reporting of a newsman, let me correct such an impression. This sort of thing is openly preached,—not merely by seminarians, but by mature ministers,—and it can be preached with impunity.
Essentially, of course, this is the same universalism maintained by Prof. Dekker and tacitly approved by the Synod of 1967.
But I have documentary evidence that this idea was preached by a Christian Reformed minister from the pulpit of one of the Grand Rapids churches on this very passage of Matthew 25:31-46. You will recall that in this passage a separation is made between the “sheep” and the “goats.” But in this sermon the separation is denied, as follows:
“It is at this point that we are ready for the climax of the whole picture—climax of this powerful picture of triumph and tragedy which is sketched in terms of cosmic judgment. The Judge waves His hand towardthe entire group present (italics mine, HCH). He announces softly to the blessed—To whomever of these,—these least my brethren, you did it, you did it to me. . .”
You see, this preacher did not omit the words “my brethren.” He explained them away by making “my brethren” the entire group present, that is, the sheep and the goats!
And a concrete instance of what this means is expressed in the following quotation:
“Jesus, however, embraced them. We may be repelled by Castro, and Khrushchev, by the late Marilyn Monroe, and Sophia (Loren), by Billie Sol Estes, and Bobby Baker, by Soekarno, and Nkrumah. The Son of Man, however, says concerning them one and all—To whichever these least my brothers you did it, you did it to me. And to whomever of these least you did it NOT, you did it not to me.”
I could quote more. But this is sufficient to show what kind of principle is at the basis of the social gospel that is proclaimed and practiced in the Christian Reformed Church.
It is later than many think!