The March, 1966 issue of the above named magazine marked its fifteenth anniversary. Said anniversary is particularly observed (appropriately for the Journal, I think) by a lead article entitled, “As We See It After 15 Years.”
Any regular reader of our Standard Bearer will know that I am a regular and interested reader of theReformed Journal. But he may also guess that I am not about to congratulate the Journal on its anniversary or on its anniversary issue, except, perhaps, that I might congratulate the editors for usually stating their views rather frankly and, on the whole, rather articulately. The trouble is that in my opinion theReformed Journal, for all its frankness and articulateness, represents what I would call the “liberal wing” of the Christian Reformed Church. With its liberalism I am in radical disagreement. And therefore when I face the question, “Shall I praise you in this?” my answer must be, “I praise you not.”
So much for amenities. I was rather certain that theJournal and the Standard Bearer understood one another apart from the above.
My interest, however, is in the prognostications of Dr. Henry Stob’s anniversary article. Among other introductory remarks there is the following paragraph:
None of us knows for sure what particular challenges the future will bring, nor what form our obedience to Christ shall have to take when the challenges come, but standing in the present and scanning the future in the perspective of the past it appears likely that the Christian Church—and as one of its servants, thisJournal—will have to face the following issues in the coming years. These issues are here set forth in the ecclesiastical and theological context in which the Editors and the Journal itself moves—that of the Christian Reformed Church and of Reformed theology in America—but we believe the issues in substance confront the Christian Church in America generally.
Dr. Stob then proceeds to mention a total of thirteen of such issues and to make a few comments about each.
My editorial space for this issue is already more than used up; but I must make a few preliminary comments, with the promise of more detailed treatment in the next issue, D.V.
In the first place, when I look at the list of issues, I would venture to predict that the Journal looks forward to a rather stormy course in the future, but also that we may expect some interesting and provocative writings from the Journal’s editors. For example, we may expect more on Biblical inspiration, on “theistic evolution,” on the doctrine of the eternal decrees, particularly that of reprobation, and on the issues of the Dekker Case and 1924.
In the second place, it strikes me that many, if not all, of the issues mentioned are issues very much on the foreground at present in the Netherlands in theGereformeerde Kerken. It becomes more and more evident in the “old country” that there are serious issues under discussion and that there is a very serious difference of opinion which may perhaps be classified as a conservative-versus-liberal difference. In this connection I ask the question, “Quo vadis, whither goest thou?” Does the Journal want to go in the same direction as many “liberal” theologians in the Netherlands?
In the third place, it appears to me that there is a plea for open and free discussion of these issues which is also characteristic of many in the Netherlands. Frankly, I fear that it is the kind of discussion that will “discuss you to death.” That is, it seems to be unlimited discussion, discussion not limited by the confessions or by ecclesiastically binding decisions. This would be tantamount to complete doctrinal liberty.
In the fourth place, the Standard Bearer will not be a mere observer of these discussions, but will critically join them. Dr. Stob does not limit the “ecclesiastical and theological context” of these issues to his Christian Reformed Church, but includes “Reformed theology in America” and even the “Christian Church in America generally.” We of the Protestant Reformed Churches (not “Church,” Dr. Stob) are very definitely part of that “ecclesiastical and theological context” of “Reformed theology in America.” We shall, therefore, join in the discussion, but always strictly on the basis of Scripture and the Reformed confessions.
Judging from past performances, moreover, it may be expected that the Journal, which is now past its fifteen anniversary; and the Standard Bearer, which is well past its fortieth, will not very likely be on the same side of the fence.
Nevertheless, we hope that the Journal will pay attention. It has not always done so in the past. In fact, it has some unfinished business which reaches back as far as the very beginnings of the Dekker Case.
But if the Journal listens not, we expect that others will. And we believe the Standard Bearer also with respect to the issues proposed by Dr. Stob will continue “to bear the standard.”
I will go into more detail next time, D.V.