Rev. Dick is pastor of Grace Protestant Reformed Church in Standale, Michigan.
All this leads us to the exclusivist, particularist position.
We have presented the religious stew, pluralism, and the mush, inclusivism. We have spit both out.
But now, what do we eat? What shall we eat? What food shall we publish?
Manna! Manna is the food of the gospel. It is Jesus Christ, the bread from heaven. It is the only wholesome, saving food.
Exclusivism promotes this Manna. It refuses to sell stew, or typeset mush. It publishes Manna only, and faith in Jesus Christ only as the only way to God. It is the promotion of one religion and the necessity of preaching that religion. It is the promulgation of the power of the gospel through which faith is worked and made conscious so that God’s elect repent and turn from idols and Buddha and Mohammed and works righteousness and cling by faith to the living God and the righteousness of Christ only for salvation.
Exclusivism is the promotion of biblical, historical Christianity.
Religious pluralism and inclusivism have men’s philosophy making their stew and mush and making it palatable to the proud masses who will stomach anything but one God. Exclusivism has the Word of God, a Manna for sinners who hunger and thirst after a righteousness from heaven.
Old Testament: all Manna! Not many gods, not many salvations, no stew or mush. Just Manna! For it testifies of salvation in the seed of the woman, Jesus Christ. It prophesies of the need of this: sin, great sin! It prophesies of the need of a divine and perfectly human Mediator and satisfaction through His blood. It prophesies; it typifies … Manna! Old Testament Scriptures: these are they which testify of Jesus!
New Testament: more Manna! Hear the proclamation:
*John 3:16: God, love, Christ, faith in Him! One way!
*John 14:6: The way!
*I Timothy 2:5: one Mediator!
*Romans 1:16: the gospel of which I am not ashamed!
*Acts 4:12: None other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved! None other name: preached against the Jews; in rebuke of Roman religions and Greek gods! None other name! in the face of the pluralism and inclusivism, the stew and the mush, the atheists, the polytheists, the skeptics, the philosophers…the whole nine yards of self-righteous religiously wicked men!
What of this Manna and the RFPA? What of exclusivism and the RFPA?
What is your calling? Serve up the Manna! Publish it! Herald it! Here and abroad!
You are in a unique position to do this. For you are, by the grace of God, particularists, exclusivists. The gospel you publish is a particular, powerful gospel!
Your stated purpose is, according to Article II of your constitution: to witness to the truth of the Word of God and expressed in the three forms of unity and to reveal false and deceptive views repugnant thereto.
Your doctrinal position is particularist: a position, a stance which guards against the mush and stew being served up in the ecclesiastical restaurants of the land.
Your watchword is Scripture alone, Christ alone, faith alone!
Your position is based on the truth of an exclusivistic, holy, sovereign God, who does not lovingly intend to be pluralistic, nor inclusivistic, but in holy hatred intends to cast into hell those He has reprobated by a sovereign decree in the way of their wicked rebellion! Who has not provided for the atonement of all men in a universal atonement! Who will not accept all men on the basis of their own self-established righteousness! Whose saving revelation is in the gospel only! Who is omnipotent and sovereign and who will now, and in the end, be exalted in the preeminent Son of His Love, our Lord Jesus Christ, the sole Mediator, whose is the only name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved!
Unique, your position!
It is the Reformed position!
Avowed Arminians, such as Clark Pinnock (editor of the book The Case for Arminianism, and himself a staunch leader of the inclusivist movement), and the semi-Pelagian false church of Rome have a soteriology of the weakness of the cross and of grace in the gospel, and of the ability of man to work a righteousness acceptable to God. Not surprising that they would posit other ways than Jesus to God!
Many so-called Reformed have capitulated, in principle, to pluralism. This they have done by their cheapening of grace and opening wide the mercies and cross of Christ to everyone. As Pinnock has reasoned: “If God really loves the whole world and desires everyone to be saved, it follows logically that everyone must have access to salvation” (quoted in Carson’s Gagging of God, p.289). This is why, I predict, that it will not be long, if it has not happened already, before the chickens of the common grace doctrine of 1924 in the CRC will come home to roost in the mush and then in the stew….
But you, the RFPA, are exclusivist! Be that! Continue to be that!
Be thankful for the heritage of the Reformed faith and the legacy of sovereign and particular grace. Feast on this! By no means “bite” into the stew and open your mouth for the mush, and by all means warn your readership about poison theology!
God, one God. Salvation, particular in intent and design, in fulfillment, and in the way to fulfillment.
Specifically, as to your writing:
I encourage you to treat this subject in a future special issue of the SB: Pluralism, religious stew, religious mush, manna!
Be bold and courageous and antithetical: sharp polemical pens writing all the counsel of God, all the doctrines of grace, including the offensive ones.
Be biblical pluralists, in the sense that we can be, recognizing the church universal among the nations and of all ages. We ought to be this in several ways:
First, republish the fathers’ writings. By all means! Herman Hoeksema’s writings, for example, ought to reprinted again and again, in this form or the other. It is good, therefore, that the Standard Bearer is publishing HH’s sermons on Romans!
But then remember, we live today, we publish today, and the Spirit leads us from yesterday to today. So encourage your writers to be faithful to the faith of our fathers, but not stuck on the past. I mean by this that today’s writers for the RFPA must not be mere mimics, writing, perhaps, canned clichés of clerics of the past. Today’s writers must give evidence of their own study, and constant development in the truth, and a concern, always, that the truth be applied to today and to today’s people. Your writers must show, by their faithfulness, their thoughtfulness, their careful, exegetical analysis, their timeliness…that they have been, not with men, but with Jesus!
Thirdly, recognizing biblical pluralism the RFPA will welcome and even solicit others of the Christian community, if they are biblical particularists with us, to publish their good work through us.
All this, this biblical pluralism, my friends, I urge you to consider because, in this day of apostasy, we certainly need true unity, and strength in unity, also in our publishing ventures, in order that we might be helped to stand strong.
Another thing, very important: publish in love. The accusation of people preaching “tolerance” is that those who are biblical are unloving. Let us prove the accusations false! Let us do this by humble demeanor and patient instruction. Let us empathize and not show grand pedantry and condescension, but realistically, lovingly appreciate the case; that most people have been raised on either mush or stew; and that there, eating right along with them but for the grace God, go we!
This love, the patience, the long-suffering, the firmness of love, we must show even to those who disagree with us. As for example, love was shown in the September 15, 1997 response of the editor to one who wrote disagreeing with our stance on particular grace. There was a (necessarily) firm rebuttal of error. But it was not mean. It was instructive. And it offered a good challenge to the man to go to the Scriptures himself, and to write again to prove us wrong if he can.
So let us love. Publish with love. Adorn truth with love, and love with truth. Let us not throw Manna at people, but present it humbly, in all its beauty, with loveliness! Let us have a winsomeness and a zeal for souls, never seeking to hoard this great meal, Jesus Christ, or to imagine that He chose the best when He chose us, but to share it as those who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good and gracious to us miserable sinners!
Let the RFPA’s message be: Manna! Manna by grace! Manna by love!
Not many will hear this message; many will reject this food.
Why? No appetite for it. No taste for it. Translation: no love for God in Christ. Even hate for Christ.
This antagonism to Manna was seen long ago. Cain hated Christ. Lamech hated Christ. The heathen who attacked the nation which declared God to be with them and with no other…they hated Christ. Carnal Israel in the wilderness which grew tired of the manna and longed for Egypt’s fare tired of Christ. Carnal Israel which attacked the prophets and forsook the Word attacked Christ and forsook His revelation.
Then Manna was crucified. Then the early New Testament Church was quickly infiltrated with heresy. Then there was a famine of the Word. Then were was a going after saints and popes…. Now … there is a mighty, devilish attempt to gag God, and to silence the publishing of the true gospel!
So, RFPA, your books may not sell. Standard Bearer subscriptions will be nothing compared to that of other magazines. People will protest the distinctiveness; some dissenting voices heard, even, from our own churches. You will be labeled and libeled as anti-progressive, anti-democratic, anti-Christian, and religiously incorrect! Or worse: you may be censored. You may be hauled off to prison. You may lose your lives!
But God, I believe, will bless you! For it is means such as the RFPA that He is pleased to use to feed His church! God will bless! And that is all that matters!
Witness the blessing already!
Increased sales and subscriptions as never before; people writing in thanking God for the feast; faithful writers; a faithful and gifted editor of the SB; a tireless and dedicated staff of the RFPA and SB…seeking ever to be Reformed and always Reforming as publishers according to Scripture’s revelation, both as to content and method, so that what is presented is true, and how it is presented can help to lead people into the truth.
So, RFPA: press on! Knowing the blessing of God!
Stand strong in the courage of faith. Print against the unbelieving media and the national and ecclesiastical “print elite” and its religious stew.
Be warned: Israel today is not above Israel of yesterday, who, given manna, grew weary of it, and developed a taste for mush, and then stew.
Be as Peter, who took a stand for Jesus and no other. Feast yourselves on the Manna, so that, in the publication of it, you will show to all that you have been with Jesus.
Be prayerful! Call upon God to be with you!
Be confident that God, even through you, is gathering the remnant of His elect which one day will feast at the marriage supper of the Lamb in glory, nevermore having to reject or even to smell the wretched religious stew of devils, ever more dining with Jesus.
Thank you for your attention, and may God, the one God, in and through the only Savior, Jesus Christ, bless and establish all your work!