Before I proceed to offer our readers more information concerning the schism caused in the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands, I want to say a few words of clarification in regard to a statement I made in the previous issue of our paper, and on which the Rev. H. J. Kuiper reflects in The Banner of Sept. 14, 1945. The, editor writes:

“When we explain the nature of the objections which the schismatic group made against the official stand of the Reformed Churches (and of our Church as well) on the significance of the covenant of grace for the children of believers, it will become clear how utterly inconceivable it is that the Christian Reformed Church should react to the position of the Schilder group as Rev. H. Hoeksema predicts in the Standard Bearer of September 1 when he writes:

“ In fact, as we receive more and more items of reliable information, we came to the conclusion that it will not be an easy matter for the Christian Reformed Church in honesty to determine with which part of the divided Church they will maintain the relation of sister churches.’

“On the contrary we make bold to say that after the Protestant Reformed Church learns that Dr. Schilder made no objections against the decision on Common Grace by the Netherland Synod of 1942 (a decision which agrees in every essential with our Three Points of 1924) it will no longer feel sympathetic toward him. Nor are we at all sure that Rev. Hoeksema will feel inclined to agree with the covenant conception of Schilder cum suis; namely, that the blessing of the covenant is purely an external one so that all who are in the covenant receive its full blessing. At all events there is not the slightest possibility that the Christian Reformed Church will hesitate for a single moment to reject that position.”

A few remarks:

  1. First of all, we may be thankful that the Rev. H. J. Kuiper admits, though only indirectly, that he was wrong when,, writing prematurely on the matter, he suggested that the schism in the Netherland Churches concentrated around Schilder and common grace. The wrong impression that was left is, at least, removed. And. that is the main thing.
  2. Let it not be deemed presumptuous by the editor of The Banner when I caution him once more not to rush into print with strong expressions of opinion, until he has the official documents and information from both sides, and thoroughly digested it. He may have to alter his stand once more.
  3. That I felt personally attracted to Dr. Schilder I will not deny. However, so were many of the leaders in the Christian Reformed Church. And my sympathy for Dr. Schilder was not based on the conviction that he agreed with us on the matter of common grace, although after he gave us a hearing, and especially after the meeting in the Pantlind, he seemed to come closer to ns. And there may be several reasons why he did not protest against the decisions by the Netherland Synod on common grace. I will suspend my judgment until I know all the facts.
  4. I agree with the Rev. H. J. Kuiper, as far as I can judge now, that it is not very likely that I will agree with the covenant conception of the Liberated Churches. Nor do I agree with the stand taken by the Netherland Synod in this respect. The discussion of this point must wait till later. It is my conviction that the decisions of Synod were taken prematurely, i.e. before the questions involved were fully discussed.
  5. I am quite sure that the Rev. H. J. Kuiper states the position of the Liberated Churches incorrectly and quite ambiguously. This, I think, I am in a position to prove even now. And I hope to clarify this point fully in the near future.
  6. My statement that it would not be an easy matter for the Christian Reformed Church in honesty to determine with which part of the divided Church they would remain sister churches, was not made rashly, but was rather well motivated before my own mind. And here is my explanation of this motivation:

a. Fact is that the Liberated Churches do not take the stand that they cannot live in fellowship, i.e. in the same Church communion, with those who take the stand that all the children born within the scope of the covenant are to be considered regenerated until the opposite appears. But they want freedom to believe and maintain their own view on this matter. This the Synod denied them by raising the compromise conclusions of Utrecht 1905 to a dogma, binding upon all ministers and candidates for the ministry, and other officebearers as well as members. Those that were not in harmony with the synodical decisions had no longer a place in the Reformed Churches. As far as I know, the Christian Reformed Churches never took this stand.

b. Fact is, too, that the covenant conception of the. Liberated Churches, as far as I can judge now, is essentially the same as that which for many years was taught by Prof. W. Heyns in the Theological School of the Christian Reformed Churches. He taught this at every opportunity, in his Gereformeerde Geloofsleer, in his Genadeverbond, in his Catechetiek, and his Liturgiek. And I am sure that a large number of ministers have thoroughly imbibed his teaching, and that his covenant conception is widely taught and preached in the Christian Reformed Churches.

c. Now, I have no doubt, and never had, that for ecclesiastical reasons the Christian Reformed Churches, will remain sister churches with the synodical group in the present schism. But if they will judge honestly, will they not have great difficulty to decide that they agree with those who make the decisions of Utrecht strictly binding, and leave no room for those who adhere to the Heynsian conception of the covenant?

But about this question more later, D.V.