Annual Meeting

This year‘s annual meeting of the Reformed Fellowship was held at the Twelfth Ave. Church in Jenison and the banquet at the Christian school. At the brief business meeting it was reported that A. Besteman, S. De Young, H. Vanden Heuvel, and R. Van Putten were elected to the board.

Leestma on Reprobation

Featured in the afternoon meeting was an address by Rev. Rein Leestma of Lynwood, Ill., on “The Reprobation Issue in the Christian Reformed Church.” Rev. Mr. Leestma is pastor of the calling church of Dr. Harry Boer one of our missionaries in Nigeria, who has for some years been finding fault with the doctrine of Reprobation as it is confessed in our churches’ creed, the Canons of Dort. Dr. Boer who first, in violation of the promises he made when he was ordained to the churches’ ministry, publicly attacked this doctrine, has now submitted his formal objection or “gravamen” against this teaching of the creed. Such an objection should first be brought to the Consistory to be examined and judged by that body and only thereafter may it be properly appealed to the Classis and then to the Synod. Article 28 of the Church Order states that “A major assembly sha1l deal only with those matters . . . which could not be finished in the minor assemblies.”

The speaker pointed out (1) how, in plain violation of this rule of the Church Order our 1977 Synod decided to accept as legally before it and publicize through its Acts this gravamen against the creed which had never been submitted to the Consistory or Classis. The Synod, by itself disregarding its Church Order in this way makes it possible for anyone to attack any point of the creeds. “We ought not to be surprised if more and more in the church be moved to despair because ‘nobody seems to know anymore what we are to believe, not even the leaders in the church.’”

The speaker showed (2) that what is involved is not some “little” paint called reprobation which can be detached and treated in isolation from the whole body of Christian doctrine (as the gravamen proposes to do). This gravamen involves nothing less than “our understanding of the nature of God and His relationship to us and our world” and “the program of his redemption . . . unto salvation in Jesus Christ.” The paint under attack is not (as the gravamen misrepresents it) “some presupposition formulated by theologians but rather the precise declaration of God,” “who worketh all things after the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11). “The gravamen doesnt like the idea that this proceeds from the eternal decree of God but this is precisely the point of the issue. Is God sovereign in all things or is He not?” The creed acknowledges the problem that arises because God “who worketh all things after the counsel of His will” is also “in no way the cause of sin.” Trying to “escape from this problem always results in some kind of reduction in the scope of God’s decree or a re-definition of God and His place in the world.” The speaker showed how this rationalistic way of trying to escape the problem robs us of all the comfort which we are taught to derive from acknowledging the power of God. It is alleged that the doctrine of Reprobation robs God of His freedom. The exact opposite is true. Trying to make man‘s decision supreme does that.

The gravamen (3) plainly misrepresents the creed as teaching that reprobation is the cause of unbelief, a view which the Canons explicitly reject as the kind of teaching “the Reformed Churches . . . detest with their whole soul.”

(4) The creed speaks of the “express testimony of sacred Scripture that not all, but some only, are elected . . .” [This is what the creed says because this is what the Bible says.”If the texts are to be explained in the way that the gravamen explains them then the result will be universal election, universal atonement, resistable grace, salvation determined by the will of man and the continuous possibility of the eternal loss of the saints.” “What is really involved here is the sovereignty of God and His glory and . . . the assurance of our salvation and our peace in Christ Jesus.”

Palmer on the Course of the Church

In the evening Dr. Edwin Palmer spoke to a large crowd in the big 12th Ave. Church building. Dr. Palmer is the secretary of the committee which for some years has been translating the New International Version of the Bible. He first spoke of the discussion between him and The Banner editor in which he has been maintaining that we need to recognize the difference between the Bible as God inspired its writers to write His infallible Word and our present translations and copies which need to be studied and corrected in an effort to bring our versions as close as possible to those inspired originals.

In the body of his speech he considered the direction in which he sees the Christian Reformed Church going. Expressing warm appreciation for its traditionally Reformed orthodoxy, which he, coming from a liberal background had learned to value, he, like many others, is concerned about the church‘s present course. He sees signs of our following the liberal course in which the larger Presbyterian bodies and our mother churches in the Netherlands have pre· ceded us. He cited such developments as current attacks on Reformed doctrines by L. Smedes and H. Boer, the latter‘s attack on the inerrancy of the Bible, the appointment of P. Holtrop to Calvin‘s faculty after he had attacked propositional truth, pressure to copromise the churches‘ opposition to divorce and waning church attendance as evidences of such deteriorating conviction. With the boldness and vigor to which Gideon was called we must work for correction. That will require (1) personal piety and commitment to Christ as our Savior, (2) prayer, which God promises to answer, (3) relaxation in the sense of not being anxious because we know God is still in control, and (4) fighting for truth while remembering to do so in love, being ready to name names and take on institutions where that is indicated. And dont fall for the temptation to become tired and quit.

The large attendance and obvious interest in the meeting was another evidence that moves us to thank. fulness for the grow ing support being given to the Reformed Fellowship in its efforts to promote and defend the Biblical Faith.



From a news item in thc Sept. 28 Presbyterian Journal (pp. 5, 6) we learn of one of the ways in which government aid can endanger the Christian character of a college which accepts it. Covenant College is a well-known Christian institution under the auspices of the Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod, located on Lookout Mountain, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. The new Presbyterian Church of America had begun to consider taking joint control of that institution with the other church body. Negotiations regarding such a proposal have now been postponed for one year because of an unresolved dispute between the school and the U.S. Office of Education regarding the effect of federal aid on the right of the school to maintain its Christian testimony. The Assembly of the P.C.A. was informed that “a representative of the Atlanta office of the U.S. Office of Education was not only insisting that buildings erected with federal aid not be used for religious purposes, but that even a plaque including ‘To the Glory of God—in the Name and For the Sake of Jesus Christ’ must be taken off the library.” Covenant College president Marion Barnes reported that in their latest contacts, federal inspectors had made more stringent demands than the officials with whom the college had negotiated at the time of the original loans.

‘“When the buildings were erected, we were told that their primary use must be non-sectarian,’ he said. ‘We now have been told that no sectarian use is permissible and apparently the word sectarian means the same thing as the word Christian to these officials.’

Dr. Barnes noted that the federal inspectors were not impressed with the information that all college courses were taught from a Christian perspective. Their concern, he said, seemed to focus upon those courses in which the word Christian appeared in the title of the course.

As to the disposition of books within the library itself, Dr. Barnes said that the Atlanta inspectors apparently are willing to allow books on Christianity to be scattered throughout the shelves, but objected to collecting any such books in special sections of the library.

“‘We already have decided that we can remove classes associated with religion from the premises of the library and gymnasium,’” president Barnes said . . . ‘But we intend to make a fight over that memorial plaque which honors one of the principal donors, in whose name the library was dedicated.’”

Consider the implications of this development for our Christian schools which are under increasing pressure to seek government aid in these times of rising costs. And consider too what it shows regarding the Anti-Christian movement in our traditionally “Christian” and nominally free society.