Our churches split on a very definite doctrinal issue. In the August issue of the Reformed Guardian, Vol. II, No. 3, Page 13, we come across the amazing statement that, “Our churches did not ‘split’ on any doctrinal issues, that of conditions or any other point of doctrine, but solely on church political issues.”
Such an amazing statement may not go unchallenged, for it deceives and covers up the real basic doctrinal issue which is behind the whole sad history through which we have gone recently.
It unjustly casts the blame upon us and makes us look like an evil, conspiring group—while actually they are the ones who met from time to time and conspired—that corrupted the church order in order to cast lout in an illegal way those who were doctrinally one with us.
We wrote last time—and not in malice or sarcasm—that even their own do not know anymore upon what it is that they can depend, and that they change their tactics with each new emergency.
We mean every word of that.
And we will show from their own mouths that this is actually true.
Last time we showed along general lines how their church political view is presented as Presbyterian when it fits best in the defense of their case and that when they want to get away from the real meaning of the Church Order, and notably Article 31, they defend the Congregational form of church government.
The very same thing is true about the doctrinal issue. When there is a certain class of people they have to try to convince and win for their side, they maintain that there is no doctrinal issue involved, as in the quotation above. But when they approach a different group that is so very outspoken in its hatred of election and of the sovereignty of God, and in its love of the Liberated conditional theology, then they speak quite differently.
You have but to compare the writings of these men over a very short span of time and you will find what we said to be true.
In the Concordia of less than a year ago, November 19, 1953 to be exact, Rev. Kok published a letter which he sent to the Reformed Journal to defend himself against the accusation of Dr. Daane that they with the conditional theology and with Rev. De Wolf’s statements are taking one step back to the Christian Reformed Churches.
He makes this astounding statement and thereby tells Rev. Blankespoor that in the Reformed Guardian of August 1954, he is not guarding truth and justice by his statement about there being no doctrinal issue. He writes, “Not those who now disagree with the Rev. H. Hoeksema have changed their doctrinal position, but in denying all use of the term ‘conditions’ in the matter of salvation, the Rev. H. Hoeksema has recently changed his doctrinal position, and has thereby not only taken a theological step further away from the Christian Reformed Churches, but has taken a theological step away from the historical Reformed position, and has caused a shameful breach in the Protestant Reformed Churches.” (The italics are ours.) But note that a theological position has caused the breach.
There is more in this statement of Rev. Kok than at first meets the eye. We will not take the time, now, to do any more than to point out one important element. Rev. Kok, in this paragraph, maintains that they with the statements of Rev. De Wolf still have the “historical Reformed position.” The Christian Reformed Churches, according to this paragraph departed from that historical Reformed position. And we, by denying conditional theology, have gone even farther from that historical Reformed position than then Christian Reformed Churches. For lie says that we have taken a step “further away from the Christian Reformed Churches” by our recent position.
We are, in Rev. Kok’s estimation, guilty of more false doctrine than the Christian Reformed Churches were when in 1924 they adopted the theory of Common Grace.
But Rev. Blankespoor comes to our defense, less than a year later, and says that, though we are so very evil in our church polity, we have no different doctrinal position than they. Who do you believe?
That Rev. Kok’s answer to Dr. Daane does not hold at all and that Dr. Daane is absolutely correct in his assertion that Rev. Kok et*al with their conditional theology have taken one step back to the Christian Reformed Churches is evident from a little closer look at that amazing paragraph of Rev. Kok. He admits that the Rev. H. Hoeksema took a “step further away from the Christian Reformed Churches.” “Further away” means that the first step in ’24 was away from the Christian Reformed Churches. It means that Rev. Kok admits that by rejecting the theory of “Common Grace” the Rev. H. Hoeksema took his first step away from the Christian Reformed Churches. You agree with that step, do you, not, Rev. Kok? It was a step in the right direction, was it not? And now he took, not another step, for that could be in the wrong direction, but you say a “further” step “away” from the Christian Reformed Churches. It must be, then, in the same direction.
Does Rev. Kok not prove Dr. Daane to be correct that the Rev. Hoeksema purified his doctrine? And Rev. Kok et al by their defense of the heretical statements of Rev. De Wolf did not remain where the Rev. Hoeksema was with his first step but went back a step toward the well-meant offer of salvation to all who hear.
But whichever way you look at that statement of Rev. Kok, he certainly maintains that a doctrinal difference between us and them is the cause of the split, or breach, as he calls it.
Those who follow Rev. Kok and Rev. Blankespoor simply have to choose which one of their men they will believe.
Then, too, Rev. Doezema is not at all ashamed to publish to all the readers of Concordia that he has changed his doctrinal position since he wrote on the book of Galatians. He made it clear that he considered it a virtue to be able to change your mind on doctrinal matters after further study. But he also made it clear that the split in our churches is due to a doctrinal difference.
Perhaps most glaring of all the proofs that there is a doctrinal issue is the fact that this whole matter began with the differences of opinion concerning the heretical statements of Rev. De Wolf. We claim that, in their literal form, they are contrary to the plain teachings of the Scriptures and the Confessions. Those who left us insist that as they stand, in their literal form, they are not to be condemned as teaching anything contrary to the Scriptures and the Confessions.
That is a doctrinal difference is it not?
And we split upon that issue long before any of the church political action was taken which is now so severely and unjustly criticized. It is Rev. Blankespoor’s opinion that all our action is from a church political viewpoint corrupt. He is entitled to his opinion. But let him tell us what became the occasion for our “corrupting” our church political set up. We, so he claims, followed a wrong church political procedure both with Rev. De Wolf and with himself and Rev. Knott and Rev. Kok. But why did we follow that procedure? Did we corrupt the Church Order because Rev. De Wolf had begun to write a series of articles on the Church Order with which we could not agree? Did Rev. De Wolf follow a certain church political procedure for which the consistory called him to task? Or do the official records of the Consistory of First Church and of Classis East, do the facts show that what started the whole thing was protests concerning a doctrinal issue?
Rev. Blankespoor, we said, is entitled to his opinion. But he must produce factual evidence to say that our churches split “solely” on church political issues. (And when he dies speak of church political issues, he must not ignore important church political issues, facts like June 1, which preceded June23, and Classis West, September 1953, which preceded Classis East, October 1953.) “Solely” rules out the whole occasion for the split. It ignores the whole seven days of discussion in Classis—to say nothing about the weeks and months in First Church’s consistory—about a doctrinal issue. If it is solely a church political issue, why did we spend so much time on the doctrinal question of a conditional promise to all who hear the gospel? Why did he together with Rev. Kok and Rev. De Wolf feel the need of making long speeches, on the floor of Classis to defend those statements of Rev. De Wolf? If doctrinally we were not split, let him and Rev. De Wolf publish their condemnation of those statements of Rev. De Wolf. Let them say with us that there is no defense for them in their literal form, that they militate against all that the Scriptures and the Confessions teach. Otherwise we can never agree that the “split” is “solely on church political issues.”
But that is not all. Why did they reject the Declaration of Principles as quickly as they possibly could, when it was adopted to defend our churches from the Liberated Doctrine? We adopted it to defend ourselves against a false doctrine. They apparently welcome that doctrine, and lowered the bars.
Why do they show so little interest, especially among the clergy, for instruction in Protestant Reformed Christian Schools? Indeed, excuses before men can be manufactured. But before God to whom they promised that to the utmost of their power they would help or cause their children to be instructed in the doctrine of the Protestant Reformed Churches there is NO excuse when He has prepared the way. And if we are not split on a doctrinal issue, then the doctrine according to which instruction is given in the Protestant Reformed Christian Schools is also their doctrine. What about it? Why did your children not return to a Protestant Reformed School?
Finally there is the testimony of their own followers that it is definitely a doctrinal issue. One of those who left us criticized one of our sermons by asking where we get the idea that faith is the bond that unites us with Christ. Mind you, that is a doctrine taught in the Protestant Reformed Churches as long as they have been in existence! A thing stated literally in Lord’s Day 7! Of course, if you deny this truth and add, as this individual did, that faith is simply believing, you can come more readily to the idea of faith as a condition to salvation. Make it first the work of God whereby He engrafts us into Christ and you have no room for conditional theology. Another individual who left for doctrinal reasons stated over the telephone “. . . even though we do not believe the same way you do, we do not . . .” And one expressed, as his reason for leaving to join them, his dissatisfaction with the preaching—the preaching, mind you, is doctrine—because he heard enough about God’s works and now wanted to hear about man’s. He told us that we could preach that sovereignty of God and that election and reprobation once in a while but most of the time we should approach our text from the viewpoint of man.
These are welcomed with open arms by those who say that our churches did not split on a doctrinal issue.
The issue is “solely” church political?
We deny that, and we will go one step further.
All these criticisms of our preaching and of the doctrinal stand of our churches is the result of the “missionary” activity of those who left us. It is the fruit of the writings begun by Rev. Petter, who first dared to introduce into our circle the doctrine of faith as a condition. It is the fruit of the defense raised against the heretical statements of Rev. De Wolf and of Rev. Kok. It is the fruit of all the criticism of the contents of the Declaration of Principles. And because it is the result of the “missionary” activity of those who left us, those who utter such speech are received with open arms.
But then they must not say that the doctrinal issue has nothing to do with the split so that it is solely a church political issue.
We urge them in the name of God riot to continue to walk in this error. Let them come out clearly and openly with their different doctrine, and then let the child of God measure their teachings with the Scriptures and with the Confessions.
And if Rev. Blankespoor is doctrinally agreed with us and condemns unequivocally those statements of Rev. De Wolf as insults to the living God and as Liberated Conditional theology that may not be defended, then let him tell us. Then all church political differences and “injustices” can be discussed and be dissolved.
Then there is hope of a reunion of those who are doctrinally agreed. Then there must be a reunion of those doctrinally agreed.