With this issue, the Standard Bearer begins running the translation of a seventy-two page pamphlet written in the Dutch by the Reverends Henry Danhof and Herman Hoeksema. The title in Dutch isNiet Doopersch Maar Gereformeerd. It bears no date, but it was almost certainly printed in 1923. The Reverends Danhof and Hoeksema were at that time respected ministers in the Christian Reformed Church.
The title indicates the authors’ conviction that the rejection of common grace is Reformed. Ministers within their denomination had charged them with being Anabaptist. In particular, the well-known Rev. Jan Karl Van Baalen had written a pamphlet in 1922 on this issue entitled The Denial of Common Grace: Reformed or Anabaptistic? (De Loochening der Gemeene Gratie: Gereformeerd of Doopersch?). Rev. Van Baalen’s answer to this question was—definitely Anabaptistic.
The Revs. Danhof and Hoeksema penned their pamphlet in response to Rev. Van Baalen. As their introduction indicates, this pamphlet is not their complete testimony concerning the evils of common grace. They note that “the positive development of our view is yet to come.” That other (coming) work was the book Sin and Grace (Van Zonde en Genade), recently translated and published by the Reformed Free Publishing Association.
Why print this pamphlet?
The question must be faced, What is the profit of the SBprinting a translation of such a work, written in a different era of the church, for a different denomination (CRC), and with a specific purpose, namely, to refute another pamphlet?
Several reasons can be enumerated for why the editors and staff of the SB consider this endeavor to be of sufficient value to translate and print the work. First, there is historical value for members both of the Christian Reformed Church and the Protestant Reformed Churches. This pamphlet sheds light on a particularly crucial period of our church history—the period leading up to the events of 1924. The PRC consider this important for obvious reasons—it is their beginning. As for the CRC, it is rather surprising how frequently the writers and theologians of the CRC—still today—describe 1924 as a very significant event in their denomination. Much of the historical record of those events remains only in the Dutch language. The translation of this work of two key players adds to the body of material accessible to the English reader, and thus sheds light on the ecclesiastical history of the 1920s.
Secondly, the dramatic events of 1924, like all historical events, had a context. Significant events can be evaluated properly only if the context is known. The conflicts of 1924 occurred in the context of the Janssen case. The (CRC) synodical and classical decisions of 1924 are the aftermath of the Janssen affair in many respects. This pamphlet of Danhof and Hoeksema demonstrates the doctrinal connection that exists between the Janssen affair and the controversy over common grace, which led to the deposition of the authors and Rev. George M. Ophoff in 1925.
Finally, the pamphlet is worth reading because it answers an old charge that is leveled against the PRC yet today. The charge is that a denial of common grace makes the PRC guilty of world-flight, ala the Anabaptists. This is a slander. As Danhof and Hoeksema write in the introduction below, “The charge of Anabaptism must not be thrown any longer. In the last few years people have been much too eager to fling this mud . . . . [I]t is time to put an end to this superficial criticism.” The pamphlet indicates that the Anabaptist, world flight mentality has been rejected by the PRC from the start.
Our thanks to Mr. Daniel Holstege, a second-year student in the seminary of the PRC, for his work in translating this significant pamphlet.