Having read the pamphlet, “The Christian Reformed Church’’ what it teaches, written by Rev. H. Baker, Missionary at large, of those churches, I would like to make a few comparisons with that, in connection with our own Churches.
In his introduction, the Reverend makes plain that this Church was established in the United States of America in the year 1857; and that its historic confessions originated soon after the great Reformation of 1517. They are the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dordt.
The Missionary begins with God, and that is a good beginning indeed. God must be the center of our whole life, and it must be the predominant factor in all our activities to serve him. Now, the Christian Reformed Churches teaches that God is One, three in persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That the Bible is preeminently His self-revelation from which men learn to know God unto their salvation and His glory.
Creation is no Evolution; but all things were created by the Almighty God, and governed by Him. Man in Creation is a rational, moral, and immortal being, by nature totally depraved.
Christ is the Savior, the Son of God; equal to the Father in all things. The law is the divine revelation of His will for all rational creatures, and it serves to bring man under the conviction of sin and to lead him to Christ.
On page 9 we read: that to all who hear the gospel, God offers salvation in the way of faith and repentance. The Rev. draws the conclusion that that is so, out of the gospel narrative, Mark 1:15; Mark 16:15. Now the Rev. Baker should know by this time that God is God and no man, and He never offers anything, and at any rate not in the plan of salvation, for it is a free gift of God’s grace merited by Jesus Christ; and if God had it only in His hand, there is not a sinner who will ever grasp for it. And Mark 1:5; 16:15 do not teach an offer of salvation, but it comes with the demand, preach the gospel and repent ye and believe. Neither do you find it in the confession, nor in the catechism; neither in the Canons of Dort.
It is good Reformed doctrine to say that Regeneration consists in the implanting of the new life in man by God through His Holy Spirit. Conversion is not a mere reformation of habits but a change wrought by God, and by faith the sinner relies upon the promises of God and thus embraces Jesus Christ who is an Atoning Substitute for the sin of mankind. We are justified on the basis of the finished work of Jesus Christ, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and therefore enabled to live a godly life.
The Chr. Ref. Church also teaches that God elected a people unto eternal life, and that there is an eternal security for that people in Christ, who is their Intercessor, so that they can never fall away from faith and grace. They also maintain that there is an invisible Church which consists of all true believers, and that this invisible Church becomes visible in the fellowship of those who profess the true religion. They baptize children of believing parents, and the Lord’s Supper is for them a sign and seal of the broken body and the shed blood of Jesus Christ. They also warn to live a Christian life in the midst of the world, and prayer is for them the chief part of the thankfulness which God requires of His children.
Now, if some members of the Chr. Ref. Church read this, they will say: what is the matter with this doctrine? Are we not sound in our Creed? Why is it that some say that we are connected with Arminius and Pelagius?
Well my dear Chr. Ref. readers, it is this way: The Rev. Baker is not honest in his dealings with you. He should have written: In 1924 the Chr. Ref. Church had a controversy with some ministers of our Church. We knew they were Reformed, but we could not use them anymore and so we deposed them, and also their consistories, and now they name themselves Protestant Reformed; which they are. Of course we had to add some to our confession. Only three points. They are in short:
1. That God is gracious to all, and more particularly in the preaching of the Word. God wants all men to be saved. We have proven this from Scripture, and from our Confession. However, the Prot. Ref. brethren maintain that that doctrine is false. They say, there is no general offer of grace. God chose His own and them only, and for those Christ suffered and died. God worked all things after the counsel of His will. For the Reprobate the outward preaching of the gospel is no more grace or favor but a savor of death unto death.
2. The second point teaches that God sustains sin in the life of the individual, and in society. He restrains the devil and all our enemies, that without His will they can do us no harm. Now, our opponents say that Scripture and our Confession do not speak of a restraint of sin, but by His power and providence God governs all things, and gives to all His creatures existence, power and talent, and so there is room for the development of sin and grace in the organism of the human race.
3. In the third point our Synod declared: that the unregenerate though incapable of doing any saving good, can do civic good. There are glimmerings in man of natural light, whereby he retains some knowledge of God. He knows the difference between good and evil, and God renews the heart, influences man so that he is able to do civic good. However, the Prot. Ref. Churches maintain that neither our fathers, nor Scripture teaches that the natural man can do any good; for all that is not of faith is sin. I refer you in particular to the “Drie Scheuren In Het Fundament Der Gereformeerde Waarheid.”
Maybe some of our readers will say, why bring this up again? Why not live in peace together? Because the Rev. Baker is of the opinion that his church is as sound as when it was established in the year 1857, and that is not the truth. It is misleading. If this was correct then there would not be Prot. Ref. Churches today. In 1857 the brethren in the Chr. Ref. Churches were sound in doctrine. In 1924 they knew the truth as yet, but they thought more of the doctrine of Common Grace.
(To be continued)