Rev. Zwier has taken notice of my accusing him of horribly and deliberately misrepresenting his opponents in his recent articles appearing in De Wachter.
His reply reads as follows. (I translate):
“In this article I wish to reflect with a few words upon the correspondence of a few brethren, who have voiced their agreement with what I wrote in recently appearing articles about the sectarian commotion of the Protestant Reformed Churches, who, as I pointed out, are engaged in a kind of mission work which is no mission work.
“One of them made the remark that it has now become plain to him, that the group which separated itself from our church shows all the marks of a sect.
“Now this is strong language, which I did not use. The readers will recall that all I said is that I gladly classify them with the churches, but that it in no wise can be said of them that they are not in some measure guilty of sectarian commotion.
“But the answer that was given to this in The Standard Bearer, in which an attempt was made to surround this sectarian commotion with the halo of a holy crusade, would pretty nearly bring me to the conclusion: My correspondent is right.”
Let us pause here. The expression of agreement on the part of the “few brethren” with Zwier’s appraisal of our mission work seems to have pleased the reverend. It would be better for him if he would pay less attention to what the “few brethren” say and more attention to the dictates of fair dealing—of a kind of dealing that we have a right to expect from one who wants to be known among his fellows as a Christian man.
That reply in The Standard Bearer came pretty close to bringing the reverend to the conclusion: My correspondent is right. But I feel certain that there was a voice in the reverend’s heart—the voice of conscience—that said, “My correspondent is wrong and I likewise.” Yet the reverend wrote that he was nearly brought to the conclusion: My correspondent is right. Does the reverend’s writing this perhaps indicate that he was offended by the truth?
Let us continue with the reverend’s article:
“Let it be remarked further that I do not deem it necessary to again go into the matter. What I have written, that have I written. And it has not been proven wrong by what has appeared in reply to it but rather substantiated.”
“What I have written, I have written.” Indeed! How brave, this man Zwier! How unmovably firm! What moral courage! What tremendous risks the man takes by his refusal to alter his appraisal! What might not his steadfastness cost him! His name and position in his church. Perhaps the reverend will give us another exhibition of his undaunted courage by placing the readers of De Wachter in a position to pass judgment on the merits of “that reply” and of all our replies through his publishing them in his magazine!
The reverend continues, “Why should we therefore continue to engage in polemics?” The reverend means to say that nothing would be gained thereby. However, I do not agree with him. The manner in which the reverend deals with his opponents being what it is—thoroughly dishonest—such a prolongation of the debate would be productive of much gain (?) for him. Eventually his readers would become thoroughly convinced that we are exactly what he claims us to be, namely, unredeemable heretics and schismatics, a sect. So reverend, just continue!
Now the reverend once more, “I know for certain that in general our readers do not like it. Therefore I am not going into that which in the last number of the above-named magazine was sent to my address. The honor was again mine, that two articles of nearly seven pages were occupied with my writing in this rubric.”
That was no honor to you, reverend. For what has been making our devoting so much space in our magazine to your articles necessary, is your pernicious habit of distorting our views so shamefully.
And finally this, “Real typifying is the second article, signed G.M.O., which again ascribes to me all kinds of things I did not mean. Do you wish an example? The writer attempts to make his readers believe that in my article of May 2, on “The Image of God in the formal and material sense” I taught the following, ‘Yet something remained to man of his original righteousness and holiness.’ Of course, I refuse to answer such a mean accusation. He who has read my article knows better.”
So the reverend tells his readers that the accusation was mean, thus false and untrue. And his readers well know this. For they have read his article. True they have. But Zwier is careful not to place under the eyes of his readers my proof of the charge. So the readers will have to take Zwier’s word for it that it is so. And all his undiscerning readers, many of whom are ignorant of the content of the Three Points and of what constitutes the real issue in the present controversy (this latter none of them know. Even Zwier doesn’t [?]) and unaware of what they imbibe when reading Zwier’s articles, will, of course stand amazed at what I accused him of in our magazine. They will stand amazed also on this account that in his article Zwier causes his false doctrine to step forward with the truth as its companion. With what emphasis Zwier asserts that the natural man is totally depraved! With these strong affirmations under their eye, and failing to apprehend the implications of those statements in the article that set forth the wrong doctrine, and not having been placed by Zwier in a position to pass judgment on the merits of my proof, Zwier’s readers will say, “What may be ailing that G.M.O. Oh that Zwier’s regard for fair dealing were as strong as his skill for penning articles designed to discredit his opponents is great!
No reverend, the accusation is not false. It is true. The article to which you refer contained the necessary proof. And this proof was amplified by me in an article appearing in the last number of The Standard Bearer. (An article, it is true, you had not yet read, when you penned your article now under consideration).
I will now offer still more proof that the accusation is true. In the last number of The Banner and under the caption “Translation of The Three Points of Common Grace” I read the following (from the pen of Rev. H. J. Kuiper,) “Last week we repeated a former announcement of our intention to make some comments on the decisions of the synod of Kalamazoo, 1924, regarding the questions that had arisen in connection with the doctrine of Common Grace. Recent events in our circles and sentiments expressed in correspondence which we have received have convinced us that it will be useful to offer some explanation of those decisions, commonly called the Three Points. We deem it advisable to preface our comments with a translation of those decisions, to which very few of our readers have access. . . .
“Concerning the second point, touching the restraint of sin in the life of the individual and in society, the Synod declares that, according to Scripture and the Confession, there is such a restraint of sin. This is evident from the quoted Scripture passages and from the Belgic Confession, article 13 and 36. . . .
“Note of the editor: The following Scripture passages are referred to. . . .
“The same Reformed writers are quoted as under the first point:
Van Mastricht, II, p. 330: “God, however, moderates the severity of this spiritual death and bondage: (a) internally by means of some remnants of the image of God and of original righteousness. . . . to which things is added an internal restraining grace. . . .”
Mark this statement, “Internally by means of some remnants. . . . of original righteousness. . . .”
Now mind you, this line from Mastricht’s pen Synod quoted to give to its second point the weight of the authority of Mastricht. Hence, the teaching which this language sets forth Synod and thus also Kuiper and Zwier made their own. This teaching Zwier also adopted. Never has this statement of Mastricht been challenged by any of the brethren. This gives us all the right in the world to say that also Zwier is addicted to the view that man after the fall retained some of his original righteousness and holiness. Through their having made this statement in question their own, the brethren, including Zwier, tell us exactly what they mean when they say that man has retained some remnants of the image of God, namely that man has retained some of his original holiness, and thus not that he has retained merely some remnants of natural light.
It seems as if Rev. Kuiper felt that when reading the statement in question many of his readers would be struck by amazement; for he wrote, “Let us add that the Reformed fathers quoted by Synod were Reformed theologians of the highest caliber and of undisputed soundness.”
Indeed! But let me tell Kuiper and Zwier that the doctrine set forth by the statement in question is a lie. If the brethren now admit this, they will so discredit Mastricht as to make it impossible for themselves to continue marshalling Mastricht to the defense of their second point. Point me to another father, famed as a Reformed theologian of undisputed soundness, in whose works the statement in question is anywhere to be found. What the Synod did, it seems, is to comb the entire field of reformed literature for just the kind of a statement they wanted and thought they had need of. And they found what they searched for—in that work of Mastricht.
So it is indeed true that the issue in the present controversy is exactly whether man after the fall retained a remnant of his original holiness and righteousness through common grace.
Let the reverend Zwier now say whether I falsely accused him when I said of him that the view to which he is addicted is that man after the fall retained through common grace a remnant of his original holiness. And this, I feel certain is also the reason he told his readers that his opponents deny the very existence of small remnants. The reason is that his opponents refuse to say with him that what man has retained is a remnant of his original holiness and thus that they insist that all that man retained was a remnant of his natural light.