Letters to the Editor


Dear Sirs:

In his article, “A Christian Reformed University?” (June 1970) Professor Philip Born warns that “this and next year Synod may have to make fundamental decisions regarding the acceptance of non-Christian Reformed students and faculty at Calvin.” His warning surprised me, in that while there has been considerable discussion of the matter of admitting non-Christian Reformed students, to the best of my knowledge the changing of policies with respect to faculty has not been an issue. My surprise increased when, apparently by way of substantiating his claim that the new admissions policy “does coincide…with the desire to have permanent non-Christian Reformcd faculty members also,” Professor Born refers in a note to my article, “Non-Christian Reformed Faculty at Calvin” (Dialogue, Jan. 1970), as well as to an editorial in the Feb. 13, 1970 Chimes.

I fear that your readers might get the impression, from this unilluminated reference to my article, that I expressed the desire to have permanent non-Christian Reformed faculty. On the contrary, I noted the fact (as evidenced in the Chimes editorial which Mr. Bom cites) that students often express resentment toward Calvin’s policies with respect to permanent faculty, and I went on to show why I thought that these feelings were ill-founded. As one who was not a member of the Christian Reformed Church before joining the Calvin faculty, I consider the matter of becoming a member of that denomination to be merely one formal, but nonetheless reassuring and important, declaration of one’s commitment to the distinctive witness to the historic Reformed faith which is found at Calvin College. My intention, for better or worse, in my article was not to recommend any substantial change in Calvin’s policies, but rather to suggest that we regularly invite non-Christian Reformed Christians to teach at Calvin on a visiting basis which would be compatible with our present policies.


RICHARD J. MOUW, Assistant Professor of Philosophy


Dear Sirs:

It was not my intention to imply that Professor R. Mouw, in his article, proposed tenure for non-Christian Reformed faculty members. I merely wrote that the proposal for non-Christian Reformed students coincided with a “desire” for similar changes in the faculty. Both Mr. Mouw and the Chimes editorial show that students desire a change in the policy of discrimination against those on the faculty who are not Christian Reformed.

The student editorial had the insight to realize that any change in student recruitment is linked to a similar change for the faculty. Why should Calvin College want more non-Christian Reformed faculty members? One basic answer is that non-Reformed faculty members could help attract non-Reformed students. Anyone who is attuned to the politics of administrating a denominational college knows that new policies are presented to the constituency in a subtle manner. First the faculty has only a few who are not Christian Reformed. Then the policy can be enlarged to have each department invite a visiting professor who is not Christian Reformed (see Professor Mouw’s article). When the administration can show that nothing drastic results from this influx, the final step of giving tenure can be proposed. It would greatly surprise me if this latter step has not yet been taken within a decade.

My observation was that a considerable influx of non-Christian Reformed students and faculty will change the character of the Christian Reformed college. The time may have come for the Board of Trustees to adopt its own policy governing non-Christian Reformed faculty members on a temporary and permanent basis.

I offer my apologies to Professor Mouw for any misunderstanding that may have resulted from my reference to his article.

Yours truly,


To the Editors of TORCH AND TRUMPET

I read “Reply to My Friend” of Dr. Peter Y . De Jong (TORCH AND TRUMPET, July 1970) with reactions that changed as I continued to read. My first reaction was a favorable one, for the editors stated in a preparatory note that the “reply” was written in an “honest and loving spirit that would promote unity and understanding.” Surely only good can come from that.

As I glanced down the columns and read the bold print headings I noted too that Dr. De Jong dealt with certain key aspects of the Association for the Advancement of Christian Scholarship (AACS): the role of philosophy, the dynamic Word of Cod, the nature of religion and the role of the church. These are crucial issues, whether one is considering the AACS or anything else, for they concern the very nature of the Christian life today.

My reaction changed markedly, however, as I read what Dr. De Jong had to say about these topics. It struck me strange that although he intended to give answers to his teacher friend who has a burden concerning the AACS, he gave very little concrete information about the Association. There is not one full quotation from the thirty more or less publications of the AACS. The “reply” leaves as many questions as the letter of the teacher. It also passes on much hearsay. This includes the following: The AACS leaders seem to be saying the same thing yet they insist that there are profound differences. They hold that unless one adopts the principles for critical theoretical thought as formulated by the Philosophy of the Law Idea one cannot rightly discern and act upon God’s will for all of life. One of the leaders took a very weak and vacillating position on whether the Bible is God’s Word in the sense commonly confessed in the creeds. Another wrote about the Bible and left many pertinent questions unanswered. Friends in the AACS have perhaps left the impression that speaking about the necessity of regeneration, repentance, and personal faith which issues in godliness is “pietistic leaven.” “Woe to anyone who does not day by day use the terminology which for many of them has become ‘the true language of Canaan.’” I read this and then glanced back at the editorial note above the letter. I must confess that I cannot detect the “honest and loving spirit” in every paragraph.

I especially regret that Dr. De Jong, after having begun a very worthwhile attempt to remove misunderstanding, did not refer to any published writings of AACS spokesmen, except in vague and very general terms. And he could so easily have done so. For instance, in the “black” Christian Perspectives volume, for which Dr. De Jong wrote the Foreword, there is much that explains one leader’s views on the Bible as the Word of God. Another publication is entitled, The Nature of Religion. Moreover, if Dr. De Jong or anyone else has real reservations whether the AACS accepts the view of Scripture set forth in the historic creeds of the Protestant Reformation, he should simply read the Basis Article:

The supreme standard of the Association shall be tile Scriptures of the Old and New Testament here confessed to be the Word of God in the sense of the historic Creeds of the Protestant Reformation.

In unambiguous words that allow for only one interpretation this article declares that the association accepts the Bible to be the Word of God in the same way as the Belgic Confession, e.g., does.

Dr. De Jong’s “reply” has contributed little to a meaningful dialogue with spokesmen of the AACS If had taken the AACS position sufficiently seriously he would have stated (at least briefly) its position in the crucial points he raised. If he had taken himself seriously, he would have given real guidance rather than spread hearsay. If he had taken his reading audience more seriously he would have given them de6nite information on which they could form a judgment. I fear that he has failed on all three points.

As I read on and neared the end of the “reply,” my reaction changed again, for there I learned that the lines were not written to stir up controversy but to find “clarification of what some claim to be profound differences.” Great! Let’s have all the clarification that we can possibly get. There are differences. I do not know how profound they are, but I am sure that they are significant.

I can overlook the hearsay too, provided the editors of TORCH AND TRUMPET sense, as many a reader must be aware, that this would be a most unsatisfactory place to stop. Obviously the editors want a response.

I would therefore request them to take the initiative to secure answers to some of the many questions that Dr. De Jong has asked and for which he confesses he does not have the answer. If he is seeking for clarification, no doubt there are hundreds of lesser men who are also searching.

If the discussion is allowed to stop here, with vague references to things reportedly uttered and heard, then we may expect only that rumor will grow, that misunderstanding will increase and that the unity that the editors seek will be harder to come by than is now the case.

I would accordingly suggest that you invite a serious, academically responsible, and constructive critique and analysis of the AACS position as it is there for all to read.* When such a critique appears, no doubt the spokesmen of the AACS will consider giving n meaningful exposition and reply.

Sincerely yours, PAUL C. SCHROTENBOER

*Publications of the AACS are available from Tomorrow’s Book Club, Box 10, Station 1, Toronto 10, Ontario.