A Pastoral Directive for Preachers

Forty years ago (1924) the Christian Reformed Church, in synodical session at Kalamazoo, Mich., adopted the well-known “Three Points,” declaring its conviction that Cod manifests “a certain kind of grace” to all men.

What seems to be less well-known is the serious pastoral warning which the synod appended to its declaration. Herein we find a deep awareness of the church’s calling to remain true to the historic Reformed faith, especially in preaching, and to set its face as flint against any obliteration of the antithesis between sin and grace. faith and unbelief. world and church.

So urgent and up-to-date is this pastoral directive, that we believe its significance has been heightened rather than lessened during the decades which have passed. For the Reformed congregation as well as preacher this is a touchstone by which soundness of doctrine and godliness of life may well be measured.

Since synod has declared itself on three points which were attacked by the denial of common grace and thereby has condemned the complete repudiation of this truth. she feels constrained at the some time to warn our churches and especially her leaders against all one-sided propagation and thus misuse of the doctrine of common grace. In this respect there exists a danger which cannot be denied. When Dr. Kuyper wrote his monumental work on this subject, he showed that he was aware of the danger that some would be seduced thereby to lose themselves in the world. History has already demonstrated that this danger was more than imaginary. Also Dr. Bavinck has called this to mind in his DOGMATICS.

“When we consider tile spiritual tendencies (geestesstroomingen) of the present time which surround us, it cannot be denied that there exists a far greater danger for worldliness than world-flight. The liberal theology of the present day actually obliterates the boundaries between church and world. The great significance of the church is by many being sought increasingly in society (het sociale leven). In the consciousness of many the awareness of a spiritual-ethical antithesis is increasingly weakening and gives way to a vague feeling of universal brotherhood. Preaching moves largely on the periphery of life and does net penetrate to the spiritual center. The doctrine of particular grace in Christ is increasingly thrust into the background. There is a compelling drive to harmonize theology with a science which labors in the service of unbelief. By means of the press and various inventions and discoveries, which in themselves certainly are to be appreciated as God’s gifts, much of the sinful world is introduced into our Christian homes.”

Because of these and similar influences affecting us from all directions, it is imperative that the church guard the basic principle; and that she also in maintaining the above-mentioned points defent tooth and nail the spiritual-ethical antithesis. Never may she permit her preaching to degenerate to social treatises or literary reflections. Let her be vigilant that Christ crucified and resurrected always remains the heart of wrenching. Let her ceaselessly maintain the principle that God’s people is a peculiar people, nourished by the unique root, the root of faith. And with holy zeal let her continually summon our people and especially our youth, in preaching and writing: Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. With the blessing of the Lord this will safeguard our churches from a worldliness which benumbs all spiritual ardor and which deprives the church of her strength and glory.

Acts of Synod 1924, pp. 147–149, of the Christian Reformed Church