We have gathered here today, as Protestant Reformed brethren and sisters, to celebrate Rev. Hoeksema’s 25th anniversary as minister of the Word of God. Surely, no higher calling can any mortal have than to be minister of God’s Word. The connection between this anniversary and our Standard Bearer is not difficult to see. Of these 25 years he has labored now almost 16 years as Editor-in-Chief of our well-known semi-monthly standard of the truth of the Holy Scriptures. Besides, the Standard Bearer surely represents his untiring efforts in the proclamation of the sovereign grace of God which we love. Hence, as president of the Board of our Standard Bearer, I, in the name of the Standard Bearer, wish to congratulate Rev. Hoeksema upon this joyous occasion, his 25th anniversary in the ministry of the gospel. And, furthermore, I wish to express to him the gratitude of our paper, our hearty appreciation for all his labor which he might ever willingly do by the grace of God.
It is well at this time to refresh our memory with respect to the birth of our Standard Bearer. Why do we have our own paper? At times the answer has been given that the Standard Bearer came into being because the reverends Danhof, Hoeksema and Ophoff were cast out of the Christian Reformed Churches. This, of course, is not true. It had been determined to print a theological paper of our own already before the Kalamazoo Synod of 1924. The birth of our paper and the case of Dr. Jansen are historically inseparably connected. At the Christian Reformed Synod of 1920, Prof. Jansen, notwithstanding the grievances brought against him at that time by the Calvin seminary professors, had been upheld. Or, to state it more correctly, he had not been condemned. The Synod declared that the charges brought against him had not been proven, that therefore it had not been shown that the professor was guilty of anti-Scriptural and anti-reformed teachings. This decision of Synod, of course, was anything but satisfactory. It was merely negative. And the churches, because of its negative character, would never be able to be at ease with respect to the instruction of Prof. Jansen. To this Rev. Hoeksema called public attention shortly after the Synod of 1920. He wrote that the synodical decision was merely negative, and contended that Synod could have arrived at a positive declaration if they only would have properly examined the teachings of Prof. Jansen. To this charge of Rev. Hoeksema Dr. Jansen replied. However, instead of answering the charges, accusations of our leaders, he wrote that the reason why Rev. Hoeksema had written against him as he did must be sought in the difference between them relative to “Common Grace.” However, during the years, 1920-1922, the professors of Calvin, apparently because of personal hostility against Dr. Jansen, supported the reverends Danhof and Hoeksema. And at the Synod of 1922 at Orange City, Iowa, Prof. Jansen was finally deposed.
This, however, did not restore peace to the churches. Prof. Jansen, to be sure, had been deposed. But his friends became active. They now assumed the offensive against Revs. Danhof and Hoeksema, and in favor of Dr. Jansen. The deposed doctor’s accusation, that Revs. Danhof and Hoeksema did not belike in “Common Grace,” was again revived and brought to the fore. Especially the Rev. Jan Karel Van Baalen was active in this respect. Brochures were written by both parties. At this time, in the fall of 1923, our men, directed by means of “De Wachter” a request to their opponents, asking that a meeting be held to settle all differences between them, if possible. This request remained unanswered. Also at this time, our men sent an article to “De Wachter” for publication, in which they stated their objections, against the teachings of Prof. Jansen. However, the Publication Committee refused to publish this article unless it were changed, and added that a long discussion was not desirable. This is the historical occasion of the birth of our Standard Bearer. When it had become evident that Revs. Danhof and Hoeksema stood alone, that the church papers of the Christian Reformed Churches were closed to them, it was decided to print our own paper, in which our convictions with respect to God’s absolute sovereignty could be published and set forth.
If now we are gathered here today truly to celebrate Rev. Hoeksema’s 25th anniversary in the ministry of the Word of God, we can do so by rededicating ourselves to our wholehearted support of our Standard Bearer. This we will do, this we must do if we truly appreciate that which he, by the grace of God, has meant and still means unto us. Surely, we will not trust in an arm of flesh. This, however, does not mean that we should not be grateful to God for that which we, as Protestant Reformed people, have enjoyed through the efforts of our leaders. Today we remember Rev. Hoeksema not merely as a man, but as one who by the grace of God has led us into a clearer insight of the truths of God’s Word. If then this appreciation lives in our hearts, the Standard Bearer will indeed remain our standard, our emblem, our bearer. I do not say this merely because I would speak a good word for our paper. But I do say this because it is well at this time that we pause and reflect and rededicate ourselves unto the principles for which we fought some 16 years ago. At that time we demanded this paper because it was our desire to be witnesses to the truth so precious to us. At that time we were filled with enthusiasm to such an extent that the financial burden connected with our own paper was a mere trifle. At that time we read and reread the articles, so that the desire was expressed that the monthly appearance of our paper was not sufficient. And in the light of the reaction among our people, the manner in which our paper was received, we can understand a statement of Rev. Hoeksema in one of his letters to the brethren in the west: “Het is heden eene lust om te leven.” I am afraid that conditions among us have changed. The Standard Bearer today has at times a hard row to hoe. The financial obligations appear at times a burden. This should not and need not be. Hence, let us on this occasion repledge ourselves to the cause we hold dear, rededicate ourselves to the Standard Bearer, as our emblem in the midst of the world and of Zion. Let us support our paper, not only financially, but also as the symbol of our faith and struggle, that God’s Name may be glorified and we may continue to be an actively protesting people in the midst of the world.
I thank you.