My second observation is, that I am glad that Synod has spoken on this question of the Promise, its scope, its objects and its appropriation. Synod of 1951 was not stranded on the question of “conditions” in the abstract, but rather approached the question from the viewpoint of the Promise. Synod spoke not only of unconditional election, but also speaks of unconditional salvation which is ours by means of faith. That gave clarity to the question and cleared the atmosphere from misunderstandings.
But now the “debate” is again picked up by some of the brethren. It is picked up by brother Kok. 1 have many wonderful things that I could say about brother Kok. I shall never forget the particular kindness he has shown me in the past; he visited me in my deepest sorrows as none other. The Lord reward him.
However, in all candor I wish to state here as my conviction, that brother Kok does not do well in this matter of debate.
Why? Because the manner of brother Kok’s debate cannot be constructive. I wish to believe that you mean well, brother Kok. But that does not make it constructive. And all the talk in general about practicing more love does not help constructively in any way. I know it is the oil in the machinery of our hearts. And love is the fruit of the Spirit. But it does not guarantee correct building in Theological Science. The rule of faith is the Word of God. And this rule is laid down in the Confessions. When we lose sight of this we get off the track. And all the talk and intention and resolutions of love mean nothing until they crystalize in a return to the Law and the Prophets. Unless this is seen and done we simply go down in the maelstrom of subjectivism, that is, the sin of being our own rule of faith!
Now, I believe, that brother Kok does not want this subjectivism.
But it is a sin that betakes us when we do not perfectly have the loins of our mind girt up.
Also in connection with the manner of debate this is true. Our loins must be girt up in logical as well as in ethical truth. Rev. Kok fails in the former.
To do the latter is Rev. Kok’s privilege. And if Synod erred it is his holy calling to show this: then we can all profit by the gift of the Holy Spirit given to Rev. Kok.
In the light of the above consideration it is deplorable, that Rev. Kok seeks to show that Rev. Ophoff once employed the term condition.
Because in the manner in which Rev. Kok does this, the confusion that I and many lament, and which confusion Synod removed, is simply perpetuated.
I ask in all candor, suppose Rev. Ophoff did use that term in the past (which has not yet been pointed out) does that mean anything, does that prove that it belongs in the building of Reformed Theology and life as an essential element? Is Rev. Ophoff’s use of the term the standard of truth? If I am a contractor and Rev. Ophoff should work for me and if he should insist that ten inches is a foot, would that make it right? Of course not. Then why refer to him, and his writings of the past? Besides Rev. Ophoff has disowned any writing that should use the term in that sense. That is his right. But does that make it right? Not necessarily. Then why glean his writings from this viewpoint if we wish to build?
Did Rev. Ophoff ever use the term “condition” in the sense of a promise for all upon condition of faith? I do not have the time to investigate. If he did, show him, and he will gladly retract, he has told us.
So that is a closed chapter.
Opening it simply means, that we have evil communications that corrupt good manners.
Let us not be like the children that throw our cake in the mud and then beery the fact that it is dirty. Let us not raise confusion in the minds of our people and then bemoan the fact in dust and ashes that the people are confused.
Are you of those who say that you do not want the term “condition”? Well, and good. I too am not in love with the term at all, although no one can take it out of my vocabulary.
Are you one of those who say I don’t need the term, and I never use it? Well and good. Then don’t insist on its being a good term over against those who do not want it.
Has anyone hurt feelings over against the brother? Then there is . Have we hurt anyone’s feeling and done him injustice in the marketplace, let us remove it there.
However, let us not in the name of love fail to see the need of proper tools and methods in Theological Science and preaching. That would be a double catastrophe.
Our God is a God that exhorts us to be good workmen that need not be ashamed.
For Paul did not vainly write: “For other foundation can no man lay than is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble ; every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
Colleagues, read the blueprint.
In the line of the Reformed Fathers, let us build.
That will stand in that day.