I shall now proceed to examine into the truth of the innuendoes of the Rev. Kuiper against our missionary.
Let me first of all ask the editor of The Banner to make a sincere attempt to appreciate our Protestant Reformed view of the work of our missionary.
He complains that the Rev. Kok creates dissatisfaction and disturbance in the Christian Reformed Churches.
I frankly reply that such is his calling. And no fair-minded Protestant Reformed man will deny this. In fact, such is the calling of any missionary, whether at home or abroad. A missionary that does not cause disturbance in and dissatisfaction with existing conditions in the field in which he labors, is not worthy of the name.
The trouble is, of course, from the Rev. Kuiper’s viewpoint, not that the Rev. Kok creates disturbance and dissatisfaction, but that he chooses the Christian Reformed Churches as the field of his activity. Let him, however, not blame the Rev. Kok for this. He is officially commissioned to do exactly this. It is the conviction of the Protestant Reformed Churches, that their God-assigned duty directs them, first of all, to the Christian Reformed Churches as their field of labor.
It is, therefore, inevitable that our home-missionary, if he performs his labors faithfully, must become a center of disturbance and create dissatisfaction with the doctrine of the “Three Points” in the Christian Reformed Churches.
I can very well appreciate the fact that to the Rev. Kuiper as well as to the Rev. Zwier and others this aspect of the missionary-work of the Rev. Kok is a thorn in their flesh. They naturally look at the matter in a different light than we do.
But let the editor of The Banner make a sincere attempt to see, at least, our view of the matter.
We are convinced that the Christian Reformed Churches in 1924 departed from the Reformed truth by adopting the well-known “Three Points.”
In 1924 we openly declared that we considered it our duty before God and our conscience to explain to the Christian Reformed Churches, in which we then still had a place, the error of those “Three Points.”
We had a quarrel with mother.
The Christian Reformed Churches denied us the right, within those churches, to combat those errors, and placed us before the alternative: keep still or be expelled.
We refused to keep still, and they expelled us.
Cannot now the Rev. Kuiper, and also the Rev. Zwier, understand, that we still consider it our God-given calling to quarrel with mother, to show her the error of her way, to lead her back to the ways of the pure Reformed truth? The fact that we were expelled from the fellowship of the Christian Reformed Churches could not possibly alter our calling before God. When we were still within the Christian Reformed Churches we pledged ourselves to expose the heresy of the “Three Points”; now we are outside of the fellowship of those churches, we still are faithful to that pledge. The only difference is that, while, as long as we were within the Christian Reformed Churches, mere ecclesiastical power could prevent us from carrying out our pledge, this power is powerless against us now.
Hence, we earnestly attempt to fulfill our peculiar calling: to show the Christian Reformed Churches the error of their way and lead them to the truth of our Reformed faith.
This creates disturbance. That is inevitable.
But let the Rev. Kuiper and Zwier and others consider that it is a fair battle. We fight openly, with fair means, that are perfectly proper in the cause of the truth to employ the means of the spoken and written word. And they are means which also the Christian Reformed brethren may employ. Let them, then, wherever our missionary appears and labors, oppose him by these same means, not by backbiting and slander. Let them debate with our missionary and show their people, that the “Three Points” are pure Reformed doctrine, and that the contentions of the Rev. Kok are false. The result we reach so far, to which also the Rev. Kuiper must agree if he will only consider the matter from the viewpoint of all fair-minded Protestant Reformed people, is that the Rev. Kok faithfully performs his duty if, by means of the openly spoken or written word, he creates disturbance and dissatisfaction with the “Three Points” in the Christian Reformed Churches.
There is nothing extraordinary in this.
All churches that are expelled or return to the confessions always do the same thing.
It would not be difficult to prove that in the early part of the second half of the nineteenth century and since that time, the Christian Reformed Churches followed the same practice with respect to the Dutch Reformed Church or Reformed Church of America.
The recently seceded Presbyterian Church follows the same method with respect to the Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A.
We do the same thing in the Christian Reformed Churches.
The Rev. Kuiper may object, that we have no reason for this missionary activity in their churches, seeing that they still profess the Reformed truth. The Rev. Zwier may write, that similar activity was justified when the Christian Reformed Churches tried to show the Reformed Church of America the error of their way; and is perfectly in order when the new Presbyterian Church performs its extension work in the Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A.; but that, when we perform our calling in the same way, it all of a sudden brands us as a sect.
But, in all fairness, do not the brethren understand that this is only a point of view on their part, and a very partial one at that?
We are convinced that the “Three Points” are a departure from the Reformed Confessions. And we consider it our peculiar calling to fight for the maintenance of the pure Reformed truth, and to show the Christian Reformed Churches the error of their way.
When we create disturbance and dissatisfaction in the Christian Reformed Churches, it is with the Arminian errors adopted by them, and in the interest of the Reformed truth.
Let us, then, appreciate one another’s viewpoint and fight an honest battle.
Bearing in mind, therefore, that it is the Rev. Kok’s calling to create disturbance of a false peace, and dissatisfaction with the errors of 1924 in the Christian Reformed Churches, let us examine into the insinuations of the editor of The Banner against him.
Did he employ fair means or foul?
I will produce evidence.
On Aug. 22, 1938 the Rev. Kok sent the following circular letter to the Christian Reformed people in Manhattan: (I translate from the Dutch)
“To all lovers of the Reformed truth,
“Beloved brethren and sisters in the Lord
“The undersigned approaches you with the serious question whether you are acquainted with the ‘Three Points’ the Synod of 1924 added to our confession. Briefly these ‘Three Points’ are as follows:
“Point I. That, besides saving grace, there is a certain favor or grace which God shows to all creatures, hence, also to the ungodly that reject Christ.
“Point II. That all men are somewhat improved by a general operation of the Holy Spirit which is not regenerating.
“Point III. That by virtue of this improvement all men are able to do the good before God in matters civil.
“Because it is our sacred conviction that these ‘Three Points’ are in conflict with all that is revealed in the Word of God, the Churches in which we are born and raised have denied us a place. Let no one say that this is slander and falsehood, for I witness before the Lord that this is the truth.
“Over against these ‘Three Points’ we openly declare before you and the churches, that according to the Word of God it is established:
“That, outside of saving grace, revealed in Christ, there cannot be a certain favor or grace of God towards the ungodly that are disobedient to the Son, but on the contrary, the wrath of God abideth on them, John 3:36.
“Secondly, that the heart of an unregenerated sinner is and remains wholly corrupt, unless he is regenerated by the Spirit of God. By nature the imagination of a man’s heart is only evil continually, Gen. 6:5; Mark 7:21, 22.
“Thirdly, that the natural man is incapable of any good, so that even in things natural and civil he can do naught else than sin and increase his guilt. Rom. 14:23. Here the apostle teaches that all that is not of faith is sin.
“The purpose of our sojourn in your midst is to point out to you and to the churches the danger implied in the doctrine of ‘Common Grace’; not to destroy but to cause the Church to return to the old reformed confession of God’s sovereign grace. Brethren, pray for us. It is our daily prayer that the people of God, also in this vicinity, may earnestly investigate these matters, in order that not the error but the truth may have the victory to the praise and glory of His grace. If you desire to receive without cost the sermons on Rom. 9, 10, 11, we ask you to fill in and return the enclosed postcard. A beautiful treatise of these important chapters of the Word of God. These sermons are in the English language.”
“Your servant in Christ,
“Bernard Kok, V. D. M.”
I consider this letter, which was written at the very beginning of the Rev. Kok’s stay in Manhattan, important evidence.
In the first place, because it plainly reveals that our missionary was entirely faithful to his calling.
In the second place, because it proves that he used no foul means to persuade the people, but openly announced the purpose of his coming and labors.
In the third place, because this letter contains neither misrepresentation nor distortion of the facts or of the truth.
And, finally, because it gives the lie to the insinuation of the editor of The Banner, that “this person rode through the church as though he was its pastor.” In this letter he openly and publicly announces himself as the missionary of the Protestant Reformed Churches and definitely states the purpose and character of his labors. Surely, the Rev. Kok made personal calls in the Christian Reformed Church of Manhattan. That is his calling. And it is a fair means. But no one could, after he wrote a letter as reproduced above, pass through the congregation as though he was its pastor. That, therefore, is proved to be a lie of the Rev. Bratt and of the Rev. H. J. Kuiper.
Rather is the Rev. Kok to be commended for his honest, open, and above board methods.
The editor of The Banner writes that the Rev. Kok “even had the effrontery to come to the consistory meetings.” This is written at the close of the mention of a series of “meetings” which the Rev. Kok “attended.” He attended “all the meetings in the Christian Reformed Church. . . and even had the effrontery to come to the consistory meetings.” We receive the impression that the Rev. Kok not only “rode through the church as though he was its pastor,” but that he also imposed himself upon the consistory as though he were one of its regularly installed members, perhaps, even its president.
Now, what is the matter? thought I.
Is the consistory of Manhattan such a gathering of nincompoops, that they allow anyone, particularly one that rides through their church as though he were their pastor, to “attend” their meetings, and, perhaps, dictate to them what should be done? I am rather sure, that no one need try to put over such a trick in my consistory. He would find the way out more quickly than he discovered the way in. Does not the editor of The Banner realize that he insults the consistory of Manhattan by putting it on so thick?
Or is, after all, our missionary, perhaps, gifted with dictatorial abilities, equal to those of Hitler or of Mussolini? Perhaps, we had better confer upon him the title of “Il duce” or “Der Fuhrer,” and meet him henceforth with the Nazi salute and the shout “Heil Kok!” How vivid a picture one who has a little imagination receives in his mind as he reads these words of Kuiper’s editorial! I can see the imposing figure of our missionary sailing unexpectedly into the consistory meeting of Manhattan’s officebearers, deposing their president and himself take his place, and cowing with his dictatorial eyes everybody into submission!
What a man!
But let us return to cold reality.
What was this “effrontery” of our missionary?
Here is the evidence. He wrote me as follows:
“As far as the effrontery of going (not ‘attending’) to the consistory is concerned, the following. When my brother preached here last summer he compared me to a snake behind the backs of the minister and officebearers. Thus I went through the congregation, according to him. Therefore, I went to the consistory to inform them concerning the purpose of my coming; and that it was my purpose to point out the errors of 1924 and to propagate the truth, and that in my labors I was constrained only by the love of Christ, and not by any personal animosity. More than one elder commended me for coming to the consistory.”
O, but what a different picture we now receive of our missionary from that called before our imagination by the Rev. Kuiper’s editorial! Now I see the friendly and honest figure of the Rev. Kok, knocking for admittance at the door of the consistory-room; I see some elder open the door and turn back for a moment to his brethren to report that the Rev. Kok is there asking for a word with the consistory; I hear the president say “let him come in”; I hear our missionary deliver his message; and I can tell by the faces of the consistory members that they are all convinced that this man is not a sneak, and that they admire him for his openness.
Yes, yes, the representation of the editor of The Banner is a downright lie.
The Manhattan consistory-members are no nincompoops, and the Rev. Kok did not act dictatorially!
Emphatically (in italics) the editor of The Banner informs his readers that our missionary called a meeting for the purpose to deliver a lecture on the Christian School and (here follow the words in italics): “before consulting the consistory of the Christian Reformed church sent out a letter announcing that the meeting would be held in the basement of that church!”
When you read this, you naturally ask the question: and what did he do next? Already you visualize “il duce” Kok, with a company of black-shirts marching against that basement of the Christian Reformed Church and taking it by storm.
But hold on, brethren! Let not your imagination run away with you! For, I have evidence that this also is a lie. Yes, yes, a lie.
I will produce the evidence.
On Oct. 24, 1938 the Rev. Kok wrote in a circular letter the following (I translate from the Dutch):
“In connection with Reformation Day the undersigned will, in the near future, deliver a few lectures
about Christian Instruction for our children. Well may we seriously consider this matter, when more than two thirds of our children are deprived of the privilege of Christian instruction. Can we give account of this before God?”
In a similar letter, written on Nov. 2, 1938 our missionary wrote (this time the original is written in English):
“Every true Christian is vitally interested in the Christian education of his children, not only because he seeks the very best for his children, but also and chiefly because it is a divine injunction. It is a matter which concerns not only the parents of children of school-age, but every child of God. Never may we entrust the education of the seed of the covenant to the State, but it is primarily our duty, and woe be unto us if we entrust God’s little ones to the Christless and Godless instruction of the Public School. D. V. we will deliver a lecture on this vital issue next Wednesday evening at 7:45 P.M. The text of our subject will be based upon Proverbs 1:7: ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.’ As we expect every Christian to be interested in this vital issue, we will ask the consistory for the use of the large room in the basement of the church; otherwise this meeting will be held in our own auditorium. We urge you for God’s sake and our children’s sake to attend this meeting. It will be a lecture entirely devoted to our Christian School. An offering will be taken for our Christian Schools.”
One more quotation to prove my point. This time from a letter dated Nov. 7, 1938:
“We are very sorry to announce, not only that the consistory has seen fit to deny us the use of the basement for the purpose of giving a lecture in behalf of Christian Instruction, but also that they saw fit to meet on the same evening that the lecture was to be held. Therefore, in order to make it possible for all to attend, we have postponed our lecture to Friday evening, Nov. 11 at 7:45 P.M.”
The matter is plain. Even the Rev. Kuiper will have to admit that he wrote a lie when he published in The Banner that our missionary announced that this particular meeting would be held in the basement of the Christian Reformed Church before consulting the consistory.
Fact is, that he never announced that the meeting would be held in said basement.
Fact is, too, that he announced that he would ask the consistory for the use of the basement.
Fact is, again, that he did ask the consistory for the use of the said basement.
And fact is, finally, that the consistory refused.
Now, finally, what is the truth about the Dr. Schilder episode? The Rev. Kuiper writes that “this same minister (Rev. Kok, H.H.) served notice on the consistory that it must invite Dr. K. Schilder to come to this community or else he would be called to do this.”
Now, I am not in a position to inform the readers what sort of a “notice” the Rev. Kok did “serve” on the consistory. But we happen to know enough about this matter to present the truth.
We know, for instance, that in Manhattan the consistory, intimidated by the boycotting article of the Rev. H. J. Kuiper in The Banner brought the question of inviting Dr. Schilder to speak, before a congregational meeting, where, after considerable discussion, the matter was tabled! Nothing was done.
We know, too, that in a circular letter, dated Nov. 22, 1938, the Rev. Kok wrote as follows:
“According to the Church papers Dr. K. Schilder, theological professor in Kampen, will pay us a visit in America. It is also our desire that the consistory here invites him to lecture for our people.”
It appears that, thereupon, the Rev. Kok and others also, sent a request to the consistory of Manhattan that they invite Dr. Schilder. This was apparently refused or not acted upon, for in a circular letter, dated Dec. 21, 1938 the Rev. Kok wrote:
“If the consistory persists in its refusal to have Dr. Schilder speak here, we will try to make arrangements for one or more lectures here by this eminent scholar and theologian.”
I also happen to know that the Rev. Kok during the Christmas season made arrangements with Mr. Eerdmans for lectures by Dr. Schilder in Manhattan. And it was not till after this that the consistory of Manhattan turned about and also asked Mr. Eerdmans for lectures by our guest from Kampen.
I fail to see the “deplorable tactics” our missionary followed in this case.
The deplorableness, it seems to me, must be sought wholly on the side of the consistory.
May I give the Christian Reformed Churches some sound advice?
Would you paralyze the activities of our missionary?
There is only one way: retract the “Three Points.”