Clippings . . .

Introduction: This, we hope, will be a monthly feature of OUTLOOK. In it we will quote or summarize certain things which appear in magazines “of Reformed persuasion.” Our range is limited to those periodicals which appear within the Christian Reformed Church, the Protestant Reformed Churches, the Orthodox Presbyterian, Reformed Presbyterian, Presbyterian U.S., Reformed Church in America, etc. It is our hope in this fashion to let our brothers and sisters in all churches professing the Reformed Faith know that we are hearing what they have to say, that we do react to their offerings, and that sometimes we have something to say in response.


“LDK” is the rather new editor of The Banner (“official organ of the Christian Reformed Church”). His full name is Lester De Koster.

“ACRL” is the Association of Christian Reformed Laymen. I can’t be a member. Because I’m not a “layman.” Dr. De Koster isn’t a member either, even though he is, by ACRL definition, eligible to join. I can’t join because I don’t qualify. Editor De Koster won’t join because he is anti-ACRL.

The Banner’s objections are not slight or minimal.

In fact, in this first attempt at journalistic polemics within the Christian Reformed Church, Dr. De Koster, sophisticated, clever, competent, gracious, shows that his patience with the ACRL people is very thin. His editorial is a bomb, and its intent is nothing less than the total annihilation of that “small but vocal” group which thinks itself to be the “self-appointed watchdog of ‘the Christian Reformed Community.’”

The ACRL is wrong in its method of working, says the cditor. He finds that method in the Constitution of the Association. That method is to hear reports of error in the CRC, disseminate these, and if substantiation can be found, then to urge the membership to process complaint and protest through the regular channels of the church. With typically devastating logic The Banner editor shows that this is biblically unethical. Dissemination, he argues, may only come if it is for the edification of the church. Otherwise one sins against the biblical injunctions which urge us to cover the multitude of sins, to protect the good name of the brother.

Still more: the ACRL has no right of existence. “By what right, and whose authority, may any group of us set ourselves up within the church as a semi· secret organization—with closed meetings, limited membership, and restricted circulation of its News Bulletin (all true of the ACRL)—to seek out ‘reports of error’ among our brethren, and to ‘disseminate’ these to whom we will?” Or, “Where does the Bible authorize the formation of self-appointed groups within the church to seek out and disseminate reports of error?”

The sin of the ACRL is false accusation, I take it. (If not false accusation, surely this editorial would be somewhat overstated?) That is an identifiable (9th commandment), censurable sin.

Finally, the ACRL is really a group of incompetents (this refers principally to its leadership, I suppose). De Koster says:

Its militance is undoubted, but its understanding of the Reformed Faith in ways that reflect the thought of Calvin is open to serious question. And far from being militantly “positive,” the ACRL is known principally for what it is militantly against; while as to being “timely,” the ACRL too often reflects the narrowest, least imaginative, most fearful and uncreative mind in the Church.

Positively, Editor De Koster says that “the way to overcome particular error is through consistorial admonition and discipline; the way to overcome error in the church at large is not by compounding this through procedural error but by transcending defects in thought or teaching by resounding and persistent reaffirmation of what the Reformed heritage really is.” That, he adds, is his policy for The Banner. “The pages of this magazine are wide open to every ‘positive, militant, timely’ application of Calvin’s Calvinism to every modern problem.”

Response – I find it very difficult to respond to this editorial. I’m afraid that it will not quiet the storm nor still the troubled waters which it reflects.

The presence of such an organization as the ACRL is a much-to-be-deplored fact within the Christian Reformed community, indeed! I would like to believe that the officers and members of the Association would be quick to admit as much.

If De Koster’s editorial were merely a reminder that everyone within the Christian church ought to be scrupulously honest and fair and brotherly, especially on occasions of protest and complaint, it would be easy to applaud with enthusiasm. All of us who have been in the arena of church struggles during the past years might have a story to tell on this point. The reputation of “church politics” can sometimes rival that of some big city political machines for cruelty, heartlessness, and sheer inequity.

But The Banner editor’s editorial goes far beyond that point.

It is not my desire or intention to defend the ACRL. But I would like to raise a number of questions in connection with the attack upon it by The Banner editor. Maybe future editorials can consider some of these things (one has to find positive significance to gain attention from De Koster).

Is the editor sure that his presentation of the ACRL method is intended to be quite as unethical as described? Is the expression “found to be substantiated” meant to convey the idea that, if after dissemination substantiation can be found, people might then take proper procedures? Wouldn’t the officers of the ACRL be the rightful authorities as to the interpretation of their own constitution?

Another question: Isn’t it rather dangerous to suggest that the ACRL may not be in existence? If it were a rival church (doing something like some “underground church” groups in their counter ecclesiastical activities) De Koster’s objections would be most obvious. But isn’t the same question valid from the other side: By what biblical authorization would I condemn per se the existence of an organization which meets and works to keep its membership informed as to happenings in the church denomination to which its members belong? I realize: it would be much more pleasant if such organizations did not exist. But is it wise and/or demanded that they be condemned as essentially incompatible with church membership?

Again: Isn’t it both dangerous and unwise to speak of synodical authority in the way in which The Ba1lner editor does in this editorial? If I’m correctly informed, it is precisely because the ACRL people believe that synodical regulations (regarding the conduct of worship services, the administration of the sacraments, the Sabbath, etc.) have been treated very carelessly that they have mounted their effort. I’m afraid of the very appearance of the hierarchical spirit, and I can’t shake the impression that De Koster’s editorial is not altogether free from it. Do we really want to minimize local rule at the expense of greater centralized control?

Once more: Is it really valid to make quite such a rigid distinction between “self-appointed” and “elected” within the church of Christ? Is it fair as well as kind to speak of any group within the church as self-appointed watchdogs? Do we as avowedly Reformed, orthodox Christians speak so quickly about “heresy-hunting”? Does one really have to be an elder before he can believe that it is his responsibility to resist error of all sorts in the church? Doesn’t his office as believer authorize him to do that?

It will be interesting to see just how the controversy which this editorial might spark will go. For the ACRL people will surely receive from The Banner editor all the space required to defend themselves. I wish, however, that this one could have been avoided. We need more controversy today in the church like the proverbial “hole in the head”!


“Report 36” is the now well-known product of a CRC synodical committee, appointed “to study the nature and extent of biblical authority, and in particular the ‘connection between the content and purpose of Scripture as the saving revelation of God in Jesus Christ and the consequent and deducible authority of Scripture,’ to evaluate critically in the light of the above-mentioned study and our confessional standards the manner of interpreting Scripture presently employed by some contemporary Reformed scholars, and to serve the churches with pastoral advice in these matters” (1971-Agenda for Synod, p. 268).

The Report has caused no little alarm among conservatives in the Christian Reformed Church. Some of them feel that if it becomes the official stand of the church, the battle for orthodoxy and creedal integrity is lost.

Report 36, so far as we know, has been sent back by the 1971 Synod to the Committee (Professors Andrew Banclstra, Fred Klooster and Marten Woudstra of Calvin Seminary, Professors David Holwerda and Gordon Spykman of Calvin College, Pastors John G. Groen and Jacob Vos) for further delineation.

Editor J. J. Mitchell of The Presbyterian Guardian, published in the interests of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, has a well-written editorial in the May, 1971 issue on this Report under the title, “A New Approach to Biblical Authority or, Did that serpent really speak?”

Here is a summation of what the editorial says:

The report to the Christian Reformed Synod notes the existence of two quite different approaches to any question of biblical authority. To some, “the nature of biblical authority is simply and solely that it is divine.” That is the nature of God’s Word, “and that may not be qualified in any way. Questions concerning its intent, meaning, and applicability arise on the level of interpretation, not on the level of authority” (pp. 273f.).

Others, including the framers of the report (italics inserted), would see “the divine authority of Scripture (as) manifested only through its content as the saving revelation of God in Jesus Christ . . . ‘Nature and extent’ refer thus to the divine authority of Scripture as viewed in relationship to its content and purpose.” Scripture’s authority comes to us “through the history of revelation,” and “this history of revelation focused on Jesus Christ qualifies the authority of Scripture” (p. 274).

The first view on authority is correct, not became I happen to approve it, but simply because it recognizes the plain meaning of the word “authority.” Authority is the right and the power to command and accomplish. The authority of Scripture is the authority of God its Author who has all right and power over all his creatures.


Rev. Francois Guillaume has recently published in Calvinist Contact a list of striking quotations from current “Reformed” writers in “the old country.” For many of us it might seem strange to hear that so much dissatisfaction and disturbance is going on back there where grandfather used to live. We include a number of these statements here:

Prof. Koole in Gereformeerd Weekblad:

The Bible is an ancient Oriental description of history which one should not expect to be absolutely correct (Sept. 16, 1966).

Prof. Kuitert at a conference of Christian scientists, April 20, 1963:

Genesis 1 is a story borrowed from the Babylonian myths. God’s creation never began “good” from the beginning. Genesis 3 is probably not a record of the facts (As reported in Nederlands Dagblad).

Prof. H. Ridderbos in the Nieuwe Haagse Krant:

We are increasing our understanding of the fact that the real authority of the Bible lies in its contents, not in its formal authority (May 7, 1966).

Prof. Kuitert in Centraal Weekblad:

If a mother expects a child that she has not ordered she has the absolute right to request abortion. It makes me very angry to think that society can be against that. It has nothing to do with murder. (As a doctor) I would be very generous with my approval (Nov. 8, 1969).

Prof. Lever in a radio interview:

“. . . by way of a process taking millions of years, man has evolved from dead oceans which slowly on filled with algae” (July 1, 1969).

Dr. Peter G. Kunst in Trouw:

We are in a period of deconfessionalization, and if that process continues and expands in the Gereformeerde Kerken WE ARE NOWHERE” (July 18, 1970).

Let’s be quick to add that quotations of this sort are obviously sketchy and that we can not really understand any man’s position except we know the basic motifs and principles out of which he work.s On the other hand, it seems to me equally obvious that if one wishes to comfort and edify all the saints (including those who are not intellectuals, etc.), remarks such as these are not very helpful. And particularly those of us who have enjoyed the fellowship and ministry of a confessional church have great distress of soul when viewing the sad differences of opinion found within so many Christian communions today.


Most CRC people are aware of the presence of Insight (formerly The Young Calvinist). It is doubtful if most of us are aware of Credo, published in Canada. Its purpose is “to help youth understand and experience the continual newness of living out of the Word of God.”

Although I am sometimes “turned off by its typographical and editorial extremism (please remember who is talking!), I like Credo. In the June, 1971 issue I found several things that were very helpful. Reformed youth could profitably reflect on such articles as “How come you’re not married yet?” and “Shopping in God’s world.”

If you will risk the money on my recommendation, you can subscribe by sending $4.75 to Credo, P.O. Box 272, Surrey, B.C., Canada.

The June issue has a theme, Bodies by Christ, for Christ.

Conrad Vander Kamp (editor) writes a lengthy article entitled “King David, the Aswan Dam, and You.”

His point: we must not dam up the sexual drive, but rather make it move within the channels of God’s Law. We clip the following for your consideration:

So, as I said at the beginning: you’ve got to be careful. But it’s a funny sort of carefulness. It isn’t the attitude, of “a little of this but not too much, and a little of that but not too much.” It’s the kind of carefulness that says: whatever I do here will have far-reaching results. That’s how important people are in the creation. And since it’s so important I can’t possibly make up my own mind about what to do here and what not. But glory be to our Father, He’s mapped it all out for me. So all I’ve got to be careful about is that I follow the map. Then it will be impossible to do too much of whatever is to be done . . .

Doing it the Lord’s way means that you don’t lightly “pick up” a boyfriend or girlfriend. It may mean that you don’t pick one up at all . . . Doing it the Lord’s way means that jokes about adultery aren’t funny, like jokes about killing are not funny, and for the same reason . . .

A second very worthwhile article is “How Come You’re Not Married Yet” by Bonnie Greene. This is the first article in my memory in a Christian journal written by a younger person on the needs and problems of the unmarried girl. It pleads for understanding and help because:

The support of the group is at least as important today as it was during Paul’s day because of similar social problems: enticements to sin all around believers; the loneliness of being in a ridiculously small group whom most consider fools; and the impact of an entire culture which long ago turned its back on the law of God. With such pressures, we all need the support of the Christian community, whether married or single.

There is more in this issue which might profitably be quoted. Young people especially might be helped by it as they seek guidance on a very difficult moral problem in this immoral age!

John H. Piersma, contributor of “Clippings . . .” is pastor of the Bethany Christian Reformed Church of South Holland, Illinois.