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All Articles For Editorial

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As indicated when we ended our previous editorial (Jan. 1, 2021), we intended in this editorial to quote Witsius’ conclusion to his book Antinomians and Neonomians. It is a conclusion worth quoting in full, one written in an irenic spirit but with firmness, laying down what must characterize Reformed theology in the interests of gospel preaching if it is to remain fully biblical. Witsius has deep insight into what must be preserved and insisted upon if the gospel of grace is to be fully preached, which means not neglecting the exhortations unto godliness (commands unto all good works) that must...

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We concluded our last editorial (Dec. 15) with a lengthy quote from Witsius’ book Antinomians and Neonomians.1 His assessment of the controverted material was, “In the matter [of the disputation I was asked to assess], there is that [which] I approve, and what I disapprove” (161). What he approved was the antinomians’ desire and goal, namely, “that men may be called off from all presumption upon their own righteousness, and trained up to the exercise of generous piety, which flows from the pure fountain of Divine love” (161). An admirable and proper desire. But there was that which Witsius did...

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We come to the heart of the antinomian controversy in England in the late 1600s, that which was most ‘warmly’ disputed among the Protestant theologians and in their congregations, namely, “the utility of holiness,” as Witsius labels it.1 This is simply another way of referring to good works and their place in the life and salvation of the redeemed: their benefit, their usefulness, their incentive, and even in what sense they are necessary. It was an area of dispute (one that has always retained that potential) because of what Rome made of good works, namely, meritorious works. A whole misbegotten...

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We continue our consideration of Herman Witsius and his little book, Antinomians and Neonomians.1 The book is a treatise dealing with controversial issues that sorely divided the Protestant churches in Britain, issues that the English theologians sent to Witsius, seeking his help in answering and, hopefully, resolving. The issues ranged from what the imputation of man’s sin to Christ meant for His sinless character and person; from whether faith and repentance were really even necessary for the elect, seeing they were united to Christ from all eternity by God’s decree; to the need in the preaching of stressing the importance...

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In the next few editorials we will be quoting Herman Witsius and offering some comments on those quotes. Who was Herman Witsius? A renown Reformed, Dutch theologian of the seventeenth century (1636- 1708). He was a younger contemporary of the better- known theologians, Gijsbert Voetius and Johannes Cocceius—that is, better known to us. In his day, Witsius was as well known and respected as either of those men for his piety and biblical learning. In fact, what added to his reputation was his attempt to reconcile Voetius and Cocceius in their bitter differences over various issues theological and political, though...

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The Reformation is the work of God, not man. God reforms His church. God raises up men of understanding, courage, and strength for the purpose of using these men for church reformation, just as God raised up judges in the Old Testament. But even then, reformation begins in the heart of such men. The Spirit works a personal conviction of sin and unworthiness, a strong faith in Christ, and the assurance of salvation. The Spirit works in these men godliness and integrity. And God uses them in His time and way. No reformer sets out thinking that he is God’s...

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Last time I emphasized that good catechism teachers will teach with covenant goals in view. A good catechism curriculum is one thing, and the PRCA have a very good curriculum. But using it properly is quite another thing, and the effort required for that is greater than one might think. Using the curriculum without covenant goals may result in merely filling the heads of the church’s children with biblical knowledge. Important as knowledge is (Hosea 4:6), imparting biblical knowledge without covenant goals promotes ‘historical faith,’ the kind of false faith even the devil has. Knowing about God and knowing God...

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It is October, now, and for most of our churches the season of catechism instruction is underway. In the Reformed tradition, the churches’ children are catechized in all the truths of Scripture, both its history and doctrine. This tradition holds catechism as a biblical demand, a demand so important that if parents do not send their children, the parents become objects of church discipline. But our parents do send their children, and with gladness. From age six until their late teens, for 25 or 30 weeks per year, for an hour each week, the covenant children come to church to...

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In the August 2020 editorial, I pressed home the Reformed conviction that decisions of ecclesiastical assemblies are “settled and binding.” What a consistory, classis, or synod decides is the end of the matter; unless, of course, someone brings good objections to the decision in an orderly way. Otherwise, the matter is finished and is binding upon all church members. The importance of that can hardly be overstated. It is the decency and order required by Scripture and our Church Order. Ignoring it is indecency and the disorder of chaos and schism. ‘Deliberative’ How these settled and binding decisions are made...

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We can truly say about our good Christian schools, “The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad!” (Ps. 126:3). The more I think about what God has given us, I want to say this. Even the heathen, if they would look at our schools carefully and judge honestly, would say, “The Lord hath done great things for them” (Ps. 126:2). We have twenty good Christian schools, in which communities of like-minded parents and supporters are banded together to teach the covenant youth the world and life view they embrace, teach all the subjects of the curriculum...

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