Wise and Prudent?

My attention was called to a curious reference to my name in the Sunday School Guide of April 12, 1942. In an article by the Rev. Bert Brouwer of Muskegon, Mich., discussing the value of “evangelism,” the author goes out of his way to condemn my views of the true preaching of the gospel in distinction from that “hawking” of Christ that is so prevalent in our country today, and is characteristic of much of the Arminian preaching both within and outside of the Church. He quotes a paragraph from my little pamphlet entitled “Jesus Savior and the Evil of Hawking Him,” makes no attempt honestly to criticize the contents of that paragraph, or the views set forth in the pamphlet as a whole, virtually draws the conclusion that I believe in no form of “evangelism,” and then flatters himself as follows: “For myself, I am quite content that our own Reformed Churches have gone into neither extreme. We believe in evangelism. What Christian can do otherwise?”

I have no desire at present to enter into a discussion with the Rev. Brower on the point in question. I will be glad to do so, if the writer will take the trouble to examine my views as set forth in the pamphlet from which he quotes, and to criticize them honestly, instead of making a very superficial and misleading reference to it, as he does now. He does not discuss my conception of true preaching, nor honestly presents to his readers my views on so-called “evangelism.” Neither does the Rev. Brower clearly define his own views on the subject. I am rather inclined to think that his views differ radically from mine, not only on the question of what true preaching ought to be, but also on some other fundamental principles of the Reformed truth; and, what is worse, I am afraid that his views, if they were examined, would also prove to be in conflict with the Confessions of the Reformed Church. Not only does he suggest that every member of the Church must be an “evangelist”, and that it is not only the instituted Church that is called to preach, but he also expresses views on what he considers true “evangelism” to which no truly Reformed man could subscribe. Writes he: “That only is true evangelism which wins a soul for Christ, which reaches out for a verdict and an answer and an acceptance of Christ. Some ministers preach and never convert a soul. . . . Why preach, or why teach, unless you can lay the burden of the Gospel as well as the joy of salvation upon those who listen?” It is not true that only the evangelism which “wins a soul for Christ” is true; it is not true that any minister can convert a soul, though he preach day and night; it is not true that the Rev. Brower or anyone else can “day the burden of the Gospel and the joy of salvation” upon any hearer. If the Rev. Brower really desires to discuss these matters with me, I will be glad to do so.

However, this is not the point of this article. I know not whether the Rev. Brower was fully aware of the implications of what he wrote, but twice, at least, he classifies me with the reprobates. He does so, first, when he writes: “But Rev. Herman Hoeksema of the First Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids belongs to the ‘wise and prudent’.” Now, the Rev. Brower is fully aware, as is evident from the rest of his article, that this phrase “wise and prudent” is taken from the thanksgiving of the Lord Jesus which is found in Matt. 11:25-27. Now, it must also be evident to the Rev. Brower that the “wise and prudent” in that prayer of the Lord are the wicked reprobate, from whom God hid the mysteries of salvation even under the preaching of the Lord Himself. Here, therefore, the writer classifies me directly with the reprobates. The second time he indirectly puts me in the class of non-Christians, when he first makes plain to his readers that I belong to those extremists that do not believe in (his type of) evangelism, and then continues: “We believe in Evangelism. What Christian can do otherwise?” I would appreciate it very much if the Rev. would take me out of that class. He pleads for a ministry with a great passion for souls, and leaves the impression that he is such a minister himself. But if there is such a deep and ardent passion in Mr. Brower’s soul for others, why can he not reserve a little passion for me, enough, at least, to refrain him from putting me in the category of the reprobate “wise and prudent?”