Time will reveal whether our title is an understatement of the case or not. An overstatement it surely is not. The gate is open for an influx of all Arminianism!
Nor is it the expression of what we enjoy observing. Contrary to all the evil things that have been written to and said concerning the undersigned, we do not rejoice to see those who left us walking still further in their error. We would rejoice to see them review the whole case In His Fear, tightly close the gate and after repairing the damage done, keep with us a strong defense against all Arminianism and danger of Arminianism.
But at present the gate is open in that denomination that falsely calls itself Protestant Reformed and at the same time defends those literally heretical statements of Rev. De Wolf.
If they continue in that unyielding defense of these statements, its inevitable fruit will soon appear. In fact, now already, according to their own official stand they no longer have the moral right to deny any one of their constituency the right to use those statements of Rev. De Wolf as freely as he pleases. Officially they have never condemned them any more than he has. They have not officially, or otherwise, banned the use of such expressions.
Nor have they the moral right to deny any of their members the right to substitute the word “offer” for “promise” in that first statement of Rev De Wolf. Never have they made plain or even attempted to make plain that there is one degree less of Arminianism in saying “God promises every one of you that if you believe you will be saved” than in the statement of 1924 that “God sincerely offers salvation unto all who hear the gospel on the condition that they believe.” According to the official stand of both their Classis and Synod they cannot deny any of their members, ministers or students from believing or stating: “God offers sincerely salvation to all who hear the gospel if they will believe.” Nor may they lodge protests against anyone who preaches that “The preaching of the gospel is a well meant promise to all who hear that gospel.” For a promise that is not well meant is no promise. And to say that God gives promises that are not well meant is blasphemy. Let it be clearly understood that a conditional promise is always a proposition. God makes no propositions. He would cease to be God the moment He would make a proposition with the creature that depends upon Him.
But those that left us must expect in the future all manner of Arminian expressions in their circle. And, assuming for the moment, that they are sincere when they say that they still love the Protestant Reformed truth, if they would then in the future see the evil to which they opened their churches and make efforts to stop the tide of Arminianism, those who hold on to that Arminianism will find in the writings of the last few years in Concordia, Reformed Guardian and in the protests against the Declaration of Principles valuable material for arguments to defend the statements that substitute “offer” for “promise.”
Try it out once yourself.
Try them all, from the old and worn argument that if you do not offer salvation to all who hear upon the condition that they believe, you will make man careless and profane and deny the responsibility of man, unto the “apology” of Rev. De Wolf that you are sorry that people do not understand that you mean “offer” in a Reformed sense.
By the way, you can do that with any and all heresy, you know. You can simply say: you mean conditions in the Reformed sense! You simply mean offer in the Reformed sense. You mean civic righteousness in the Reformed sense. You deny infant baptism: but you deny it in the Reformed sense. You believe that the bread and wine change into the body of Christ; but you believe that in the Reformed sense. You believe in purgatory: but you believe that in a Reformed sense.
As long as you do not define that “Reformed sense,” give it no content, and evade all questions about what the Confessions called a Reformed condition, that is, indeed a convenient argument to use. Time will reveal that those who left us will have their own arguments turned upon themselves, if in the future they would still try to close the gate.
And if the schismatic action which was perpetrated to defend those Arminian statements of Rev. De Wolf is allowed to run its full course, they will find ultimately that the whole fence is down. And therefore our title is not and cannot be an overstatement of the case.
At the present moment, however, it surely is true that the gate is open. What is more the sad history of the last few years reveals that it was deliberately opened.
We have in mind with our title especially that the gate which makes possible affiliation with the Liberated and opens the doors of their churches to all the Arminian conditional promise and the loose, independentistic church polity of the Liberated is wide open.
It is that gate that we have in mind as we write these lines, and all those who have trouble seeing the awfulness of what was perpetrated in 1953 will do well to consider what we begin to write in this and following articles.
We challenge all those who left us to produce one bit of evidence that will prove that this gate is tightly closed and securely padlocked. We challenge all the defenders of Rev. De Wolf’s conditional theology to come out in print and even condemn the glaring Arminianism in Prof. Veenhof’s Appel. We challenge them to show us and the Liberated that by an unyielding defense of Rev. De Wolf’s statements theycan condemn Prof. Veenhof’s view of the promise.
Significant it is that when the Declaration of Principles was being discussed at the Synod of 1951 several of those who now defend Rev. De Wolf’s statements stated that although they could not subscribe to the statement in the Declaration that “the promise is unconditional” they did not want the Arminian conditional theology of the Liberated. Some stated that literally. Some at that time condemned Rev. De Wolf’s statements before he even made them.
Thus on page 127 of Vol. 28 of the Standard Beareryou will find a report of what Rev. Gritters said at that Synod about Prof. Veenhof’s Arminianism. He said that he did not need the Declaration to defend the truth. He said: “And when Prof. Veenhof says that God promises His salvation to all the children that are born in the covenant, head for head, I can find plenty of other ammunition from the Confessions to counteract this.” But why, Rev. Gritters could you not two years later findany ammunition to condemn and counteract the Arminianism of Rev. De Wolf’s statements which goes even beyond the sphere of the children born to covenant parents and says that God promises everyone? Look up this report of Synod and you will find more such statements.
Silence has fallen since.
It is an astounding thing, and an evidence of the true situation, that all through the defense of Rev. De Wolf’s literally Arminian statements, these defenders did not once condemn the conditional theology of the Liberated.
Condemnation by them of the Liberated doctrine has not once appeared in print since we began that sad chapter of trying to rid our own churches of this Arminianism as preached from our own pulpits by Rev. De Wolf and his supporters.
And under the multitude of words and pages written since Classis East condemned those statements of Rev. De Wolf, the second ground for demanding an apology of Rev. De Wolf has gone unnoticed. But it speaks volumes.
Classis decided: “We believe that it is necessary for us to state this in the light of our past experiences and history with the Liberated churches who use these Arminian expressions.” The italics are ours. Against that the defenders of Rev. De Wolf voted. Yet they never raised one argument or complaint about this ground. Deny it they could not. And they cannot today.
However, that reason for condemning the statements of Rev. De Wolf must not be overlooked or forgotten. We who preached in Chatham and in Hamilton, we who preached the Protestant Reformed truth there and witnessed faithfully concerning it, we who loved that Protestant Reformed truth and hated all Arminianism, we were severely criticized time and again. And time and again we ran into these statements such as Rev. De Wolf refused to condemn as being literally heretical.
And because they refuse to condemn these statements of Liberated, Arminian doctrine, the inevitable fruit will soon appear.
The gate is open.
We do not mean that all in their constituency are ready to embrace that doctrine of the Liberated or even to embrace the Arminianism of Rev. De Wolf’s statements. Many there are that are more than ready to do that. Many there are who say that we with our doctrine stand “in the way of the free course of the gospel.” They brand our preaching a “passive doctrine.” They falsely spread the silly notion that we cannot preach admonitions unless we also become conditional. Ever hear any of those statements made about us, Rev. Blankespoor? It is, indeed, a doctrinal issue.
But, even though all those who have been deceived into following this way of schism and heresy are not ready to subscribe to the Arminianism of Rev. De Wolf’s statements and of the Liberated conditional doctrine which these statements express, on an official level the gate is open.
Let those that falsely claim to be Protestant Reformed come out publicly in Concordia and the Reformed Guardian with the Protestant Reformed truth, the Scriptural truth that God’s purpose in the preaching of the gospel to the reprobate is never a gracious one but always is to harden them. Let them tell us and the whole Liberated world that they still stand there. Let them close the gate to all Arminianism and danger of Arminianism by so doing!
This they cannot do!
They cannot, first of all, because they would have to abandon Rev. De Wolf and demand of him that he apologize for the statement that teaches that the purpose of the preaching to the reprobate is to give him a promise that he can be saved, if he will believe. Try to harmonize those two, if you can! God has the gospel preached to the reprobate for no gracious purpose at all but to harden them in their sins. And God promises everyone—and that includes the reprobate—that if they believe they will be saved. On, their own pulpits they cannot any longer preach that doctrine of reprobation with all its significance without agreeing with us that Rev. De Wolf must retract that first statement. Their power in their own pulpit is gone, and it will soon become evident in their preaching.
We are constantly being assured that they preach election just as strongly as we do. That is not the point. Do they also leave a gate open for the reprobate? Do they preach this reprobation which says that God does not promise salvation, even conditionally, to the reprobate? Does anyone of their ministers DARE to stand before his people and say: Congregation, there is no promise for the reprobate, and we must never say or allow it to be said that. God promises everyonethat if they believe they will be saved, for that would be a promise of God to the reprobate; and He sovereignly has the gospel preached to the reprobate, not in order to offer or promise them anything but for this reason, namely, as was plainly the case with Pharaoh, to harden them in their sins. This is not simply the resultof that preaching to them. It is God’s purpose.
And we want to correct a typographical error which unintentionally we allowed to creep into our last article at this point. We want to do Rev. De Wolf justice. On page 120 of the last Standard Bearer the statement should read that Rev. De Wolf said “that he believed that he could say to any man that he met that God promises to him that he would be saved, if he believes.” The last issue had it thus: “that he said that he believed that he could say to any man that hemeant that God promises . . . .”
In the second place they cannot do this because they have gone on record as rejecting the Declaration of Principles which stands foursquare upon that truth when it says that the “promise is unconditional and for the elect alone.” And that statement was one of the most hotly contested of all the statements in the Declaration.
O, the Arminianism in Rev. De Wolf’s statements!
How dare they defend them and still call themselves Protestant Reformed?
How dare they call themselves Reformed?
An interesting question and an important one which we hope to present more fully next time is this: what moral right have those who left us to refuse the congregations of Hamilton and Chatam to come in through that open gate and belong once again to their denomination?
With what would they close the gate?
How could they do that and, still defend the statements of Rev. De Wolf?
What ammunition will you find in the Confessions, Rev. Gritters, that does not also strike a death blow to Rev. De Wolf’s conditional theology?