Sometimes it is well-nigh impossible to believe that certain person write what they write, or, if they have written it, that they believe what they write, or that they even seriously and carefully analyze what they write.
Thus it is with Dr. Jerome De Jong’s miniature tirade in Missionary Monthly (March, 1970, pp. 73, 74) under the title, “The Conservatives’ Edge On The Holy Spirit,” with the sub-title, “About Campus Crusade.” In this little article, which is very little about Campus Crusade and very much a venting of his wrath against critics of Campus Crusade, Mr. De Jong inveighs against our Rev. Harbach and The Standard Bearer, as well as against a Dr. Charles Woodbridge and Christian Beacon, and even slightly against Rev. Wm. Heynen, who wrote on Campus Crusade in The Banner. The latter, however, was apparently too long ago; and so Rev. Heynen and The Banner are forgotten, after brief mention, in the De Jong’s article. Besides, it would not be very good diplomacy to criticize The Banner in Missionary Monthly, would it?
By his own admission in the article, Pastor De Jong’s original purpose was “to observe how Campus Crusade looks to me.” But he became side-tracked. In fact, he really never got on the track again. For the entire first half of his article is a polemic against critics of Campus Crusade in which he never discusses Campus Crusade whatsoever. And in the second half of his article Mr. De Jong writes only three brief paragraphs which might at all be said to contain his observations about Campus Crusade, while he continues in an equal number of paragraphs to spew out vitriolic criticism against critics of Campus Crusade.
Now I find all this difficult to believe. To begin with Rev. Harbach’s rather calm and well-documented series of articles about Campus Crusade, I find it difficult to believe that Dr. De Jong even writes what he writes. De Jong is, of course, at liberty to disagree with Pastor Harbach. But he does not have to get up a head of steam about it. Why does he not follow Mr. Harbach’s example and furnish us with a calm and well documented defense of Campus Crusade, based, of course, on Scripture and the Reformed confessions? Secondly, I find it difficult to believe that De Jong himself believes what he has written. I find it difficult to believe that De Jong believes that Harbach equates human. responsibility with free will, for example; and my reason is that it is plain as the sun in the heavens from what Rev. Harbach writes that this is not true. I find it difficult to believe that De Jong believes that innuendo about The Standard Bearer and Christian Beacon being bed-fellows; and my reason is that it is plain as the sun in the heavens that Christian Beacon is of the same Arminian character as, Campus Crusade, while De Jong knows very well that The Standard Bearer is a staunch foe of all Arminianism. But above all, I find it difficult to believe that De Jong himself believes that Rev. Harbach has committed the unpardonable sin, as De Jong accuses him; and my reason is that De Jong first sounds a. warning that other writers should not fall into the same error. For this reason, in the third place, I find it difficult to, believe that De Jong has even seriously and carefully analyzed his own writing. If he had done so, he would have come to the same conclusion which I reached in the title of this editorial, “Physician, heal thyself!”
The trouble is, it seems to me, that Dr. De Jong has a fixation.
Sometimes I think he has a fixation about playing nurse-maid or baby-sitter. For he seems to enjoy finding bed-fellows for others,—especially, it seems, for The Standard Bearer and its Protestant Reformed writers. (The reader will perhaps recall that he once upon a time tried to put me to bed with Bob Jones, too.) Now let me assure Mr. De Jong, once for all, that The Standard Bearer is in need of neither a baby-sitter or a bed-fellow: not the former, because The Standard Bearer is of age, and not the latter because it has the warmth and fellowship of all who are Reformed, and that too, in a comfortable and roomy—that is, a Reformed—bed. But if I may turn psycho-analyst for a moment, what might be the cause of Dr. De Jong’s fixation about bed-fellows? Is his deepest problem, perhaps, the fact that he himself has some rather strange bed-fellows, and that too, within his own denomination of the Reformed Church in America? Surely, I need not enumerate the various kinds of bed-fellows which Dr. De Jong has in the RCA bed. But I would repeat, “Physician, heal thyself, if thou wouldest be free from this bed-fellow fixation!”
Nevertheless, I do not think this is Dr. De Jong’s deepest problem.
For he has another fixation, a more serious one. This is a fixation about wild, non-ecclesiastical, Arminian movements. They are, it seems, special pets of Jerome De Jong. He frets and fumes when the Billy Graham movement is criticized, as we well know. And now it appears that Campus Crusade is also a De Jong pet; he reacts sharply and has a long memory when it is criticized. Or is the problem this, perhaps, that Dr. De Jong has a fixation about critics, especially Reformed critics, of these Arminian movements?
In the first place, of course, Dr. De Jong proceeds on the assumption that these movements are a “work of God.” Twice he refers to Campus Crusade as such. Now this is exactly a begging of the question. De Jong assumes that which must be proved. Certainly, instead of engaging in a tirade, De Jong would do much better to engage in a calm, well-reasoned, well-documented analysis of Campus Crusade,—either to prove that the movement is not Arminian, or to prove that Arminianism is indeed a work of God. But he ought not to assume that which needs proof. And of real, solid proof there is nothing in his entire article.
Then, in the second place, with an appeal to Matthew 12:31-32, which speaks of the sin against the Holy Spirit, the unpardonable sin of attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to the devil, De Jong lays the heavy charge against critics of Campus Crusade that they are guilty of this very thing. Writes he:
Before I discuss the matter of Campus Crusade, there is a passage in the Bible I would like to bring to the attention of all critics of this movement. It is
It is the famous passage of the sin against the Holy Spirit set in the context of those who evaluated the work of the Lord Jesus as that of being the work of the devil. It must be very clear, therefore, that this passage certainly means, in part, that it is unpardonable to call that which is of the Holy Spirit something devilish and blasphemous! I would not want to stand in the unhappy position of the writers to whom I have referred (Dr. Woodbridge, Rev. Harbach, and Rev. Heynen, HCH) of calling an evident work of God the work of the devil. Jesus’ severest critics were the most learned theologians! Paul himself makes it clear that “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost.”
Now as far as I can read Rev. Harbach’s writings, he certainly accused not a single individual of the Campus Crusade movement of committing the unpardonable sin, but he criticizes the tenets and the method of Campus Crusade severely, but with good documentation. It is not my purpose to defend Dr. Woodbridge; but even in the quotation which Dr. De Jong makes from him I cannot read that he charges Campus Crusade or its leaders with the unpardonable sin. And if my memory serves me correctly, the Rev. Wm. Heynen did not do so in his critique in The Banner. Yet Dr. De Jong can level this heavy charge against critics of Campus Crusade. What must one think when a supposedly Reformed man, instead of following the course of calm debate and discussion on the basis of Scripture and the confessions, hurls a charge like this against another Reformed man? One thing is certain: it makes debate of the issue impossible and futile, both for De Jong and for the objects of his criticism. For how futile it is to debate with one of whom you are convinced that he has committed the unpardonable sin: he can neither be brought to repentance nor to forgiveness. And how spiritually impossible it is to debate with one who charges you with the unpardonable sin: for he considers all your debate as having its origin in the devil. And is this not exactly the thrust of De Jong’s rather sarcastic title above his article, “The Conservatives’ Edge On The Holy Spirit”?
And yet, in the third place, Dr. De Jong concludes his article with the following:
I plead with all critics. Before you criticize a work of God because of jealousy on your part or guilt please. consider
. I conclude by taking Dr. Woodbridge’s statement as my own: I denounce every obvious affront to the dignity of the Son of God! This, gentlemen, you who severely criticize Campus Crusade have done!
To this I add: Physician, heal thyself!
Your name, physician, is “Reformed.” Those whom you criticize (as far as The Standard Bearer is concerned) are also Reformed. We are Reformed according to the testimony of those who cast us out. And all our critics have through the years had a good many bad things to say about us; but they have never said we are not Reformed; and they certainly have not been able to show that we are not Reformed. I believe—and you are supposed to believe, according to your name—that the Reformed faith and the Reformed cause are the evident work of God. And yet, when a Reformed man on a Reformed basis criticizes what is obviously and, I dare say, even admittedly, an Arminian movement, you rush to print with not an iota of proof and accuse him of committing the sin against the Holy Ghost.
Physician, follow your own advice: for you plead with all critics, do you not? “Before you criticize a work of God . . . please consider Matthew 12:31-32.” But this will not solve your problem, Dr. De Jong. I seriously urge you to make up your mind once, and act accordingly. Cut out all these general mouthings about “evangelical Christianity” and complicating things theologically and making the old-fashioned gospel more simple, etc. You should make up your mind whether you want to be Reformed or Arminian. If Arminianism is an evident work of God, then abandon the name “Reformed” which you now bear. If the Reformed faith is the evident work of God, then abandon your fixation about these Arminian movements. You see, according to our confessions the two are not compatible. And it is always a puzzle to me that a man who bears the name “Reformed” can be as vitriolic as you are over against Reformed foes of Arminianism.