That there is a determined movement afoot to swing churches of the Reformed community into the mainstream of modern, antichristian ecumenism is a fact which no one can deny. Evidence of this is the fact that in the Netherlands the Gereformeerde Kerken have already officially declared that there is no obstacle in the path of membership in the World Council. Evidence of this is in the fact that in our own country voices are raised in the Reformed community in favor of the WCC and in favor of such movements as COCU.
But there is also an alarming trend toward favoring a return to Rome.
One comes to expect this, of course, from churches and church leaders who have long since forsaken the principles of the Reformation and who have come to despise in their hearts really everything for which the Reformation ever stood. Moreover, once a church has forsaken the truths of the Reformation, there is not only no principal reason why that church should not return to Rome; but also it may be argued that honesty,—if indeed one may speak of a certain honesty, or frankness, in wickedness,—demands such a return. Such a church, in all honesty, should not only arrange a reunion with Rome in the modern fashion of ecumenical arrangements; but it ought to crawl back to Rome on hands and knees with humble apologies and confessions and beg to be taken back into “The Church.”
But let it be said again: one comes to expect such pleas for return to Rome from modernistic ecumenism. It is the logical and inevitable outgrowth of the principles of false ecumenicity which govern such movements. And it ought not to surprise any discerning Christian that in those ecclesiastical circles where this false ecumenism reigns supreme there are increasingly numerous attempts at contact with Rome in both the lower and the higher echelons of the churches. So numerous are such attempts and so uncritically do those of the supposedly Protestant camp curry Rome’s favor and friendship that sometimes it begins to seem not impossible that when the false prophet of the book of Revelation shall be finally realized in history, he will have a distinctly Roman Catholic character. There was a time, of course, when leaders of the Reformation did not hesitate ‘to identify the pope and the papacy with the Antichrist. In later times, Protestantism discerned that while indeed Rome and its pope could hardly be denominated theAntichrist, they could be’ characterized as Antichristian, that is, as being principally Antichristian in their manifestation and as moving toward and helping toward the final realization of the beast and the false prophet. But today again, when one takes note of the unholy alliance that is being attempted between modernistic Protestantism and Rome, the thought at least flits across one’s mind that in the ultimate realization of Antichristendom’s false prophet Rome may indeed have a very definite place.
All this is not written in order to attempt to prophesy concerning the future; but it is indeed written by way of warning that we ought to be alert and ought seriously to discern the spirits in the present. It is written in the awareness of the truth of the proverb, “in ‘t verleden ligt het heden, in ‘t nu wat worden zal.” That is: “In the past lies the present, in the ‘now’ the ‘what-shall-be.'”
In this light, it is doubly alarming when also in the Reformed community the cry begins to be heard for a return to Rome. Yet this is the case. And this cry is arising in none other than the sameGereformeerde Kerken who have declared that there is no obstacle in the path of membership in the World Council of Churches!
In the Dutch paper, Tot Vrijheid Geroepen, (Dec. 1967), there appears an article from the pen of a J.R. Van Oordt which pleads almost plaintively for a new reformation. In order to enforce this plea Van Oordt points to the deformation which is permeating the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands. He speaks, and not without reason and proof, of an attempt to “liquidate the Reformation.” One of the instances of this deformation and this attempt to liquidate the Reformation cited by Van Oordt is this cry for a return to Rome. He writes (translation mine):
It is alarming that in this framework from the protestant side an already familiar view of Rome with respect to ecumenicity is established. One of the men of learning in the protestant camp of today, one of the present-day Reformed leaders, Dr. H.M. Kuitert, has declared as his conviction that Protestants would have to return to Rome in order to be able to come to what he has called: “the unity of the total Christian church.” As motive for this Dr. Kuitert adduced: “Rome is the church with the oldest rights.” The professor added to this that according to his conviction the institution of the papacy would not be the greatest obstacle. “If it would concern Pope John XXIII, he could easily be our boss and then we would also indeed view him as Cod’s representative on earth.”
An alarming expression from a man who according to his ecclesiastical “visitor’s card” presents himself as a descendant of Calvin.
Dr. Kuitert is the spokesman of that Protestantism which, having set its sights toward Rome, is today busy liquidating the Reformation.
There you have it!
This is a voice from the theological faculty of the Free University of Amsterdam. And it is more than coincidental that from the same quarter from which emanates much of the criticism of Scripture and the so-called new exegesis, which is fundamentally a denial of the Reformational “Sola Scriptura,” there also emanates this cry for a return to Rome.
It may seem almost unbelievable, but here is the evidence.
Mark you well, this is a voice which comes from the sister denomination of the Christian Reformed Church in this country, the same sister denomination concerning which The Bannerrecently refused to publish criticism from the pen of Dr. Louis Praamsma.
The Standard Bearer can certainly agree with Mr. Van Oordt, however, that it is time not only for criticism but for a new reformation in the Netherlands. If the Reformed faith in the Netherlands is to survive, it is high time that some begin to heed Van Oordt’s poignant plea for such a new reformation.
And there must be more than articles. There must be reformatory action!
Meanwhile, let us watch the situation in our own country very carefully. It is well known that theGereformeerde Kerken, and especially the Free University, have had a strong influence in Reformed circles here. Sometimes it is suggested that the churches in this country are about ten years behind the trends in the Netherlands. I doubt this; at any rate, this time-gap is fast closing. But there are here, as well as in the Netherlands, many of the same disturbing efforts which indeed amount to a striving to liquidate the Reformation. And its, time, high time, here also that those who keep watch over the heritage of the Reformation must more than ever stand shoulder to shoulder, praying for the renewing operation of the Holy Spirit.
Reformation is an on-going calling!