Letters to the Editor


In the November issue of the TORCH AND TRUMPET, Rev. Peter De Jong had an article on “Quotas and Christian Giving.” As some of Rev. De Jong’s comments dealt with subjects this committee has spent many hours discussing, we felt that we could perhaps clarify some of the matters.

Rev. De Jong throughout his article refers to “per family quotas.” He expresses the opinion that because this is a “flat rate” it is “most unfair.” We would like to assure Rev. De Jong that the Standing Advisory Budget Committee in its recommendation to Synod each year never attempts to relate a quota to an individual family and that quota figures are used as guidelines to churches in determining average weekly budgets. No one has ever said or expected everyone to give the same amount. By nature, however, we are all sinful and need guidelines. Good stewardship requires us to get down to dollars, and no organization is able to operate successfully without financial guidelines.

Rev. De Jong appears to relate quotas to taxes. This is the first time we have run into this comparison. We have never thought in terms of taxes when discussing quotas. A quota is not a tax in any way. We believe, as did the Synod of 1939 and subsequent Synods, that the term “quota” is used to indicate the average amount per family recommended by Synod to the congregations for quota participation causes.

Rev. De Jong’s judgments on various approved causes and projects by past Synods and Classes are not a matter for this committee to comment on. However, we wonder if Rev. De Jong has some prejudices of his own that are coming to light here. We would urge him and all of us to look beyond superficial appearance into the reasons why these causes were approved for quota support before passing judgment.



I am glad that the Synod’s committee so emphatically supports two of the main thrusts of what I wrote regarding quotas: (1) that they were never intended to be “flat-rates”; and (2) that they are in no sense to be regarded as “taxes.” Obviously this implies that members or churches who because of reasons of conscience or economic hardship fail to meet them are not to be treated as “delinquents.” What more official endorsement could one ask on such a matter than that of the Synod’s Standing Advisory Budget Committee?



In last October’s issue in “Viewpoint” the Rev. Allan Dykstra attempts some answers to my article concerning the A.A.C.S. (Association for Advancement of Christian Scholarship) in its relations to our community. 1 am reluctant to continue fruitless argument but feel I must if possible clear up the confusion which is likely to follow in the wake of his comments.

May I first of all suggest that the difficulty experienced by most critical analysts of the “difference between the A.A.C.S. viewpoint and the ‘conservative’ outlook within the Christian Reformed Church” lies, in my opinion, in their failure to assess correctly the bases and implications of their own, position. This seems to be very true in regard to most of the arguments in Dykstra’s “Viewpoint.”

Count No. 1 – As their form indicates, the terms “liberal” and “conservative” are best used as adjectives. To use words as accusatory labels does not give them historical or principal meaning. History, be it theological, political, or economic history, indicates no distinction in principle inherent in the meaning of these terms. Examples of my assertion are so numerous that it is hardly necessary to give reference to a single one. I know some men, for example, who claim “conservatism” in theology who have a “laissezfaire” theory of economics after the order of the “liberal” Adam Smith. The followers of the “liberal” Adam Smith are generally recognized today, by the way, as “conservatives.” So a “conservative,” “fundamentalist” preacher, prominent on the American scene, is one of the strongest advocates of the “free enterprise system”!

Of such a dualistic view of life James’ epistle rightly asks, Can such faith save him? Now such a man’s theology may save him, though as by fire, but his politico-economic philosophy has certainly not saved our society. A theoretical science concerning the biblical plan of salvation, important as it is, has little value if the Christian community has no working program to save this creation so loved by God but estranged by sin (John 3:16 and Romans 8:18-21). My paraphrase of James is not good, of course, except that it recalls those who when they cry, “Defend the faith” seemingly mean only, “Defend our theology.” I’m quite sure that’s not all the Lord Jesus meant when he asked, When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth? A faith embodied in theology only is a dualism.1 Such a dichotomy between faith and works gains no more support from other scriptures than from James. Dualism considers theologizing as a “sacred calling” but relegates philosophy, even a working Christian one, to the “liberal arts” school as a “secular” area, after the manner of Aristotle and his medieval pupil Thomas Aquinas. In fact, it is the “liberating” spirit of the Renaissance that has secularized every area of life outside “the Church.” With such a humanistic concept, I’m sure, the good men of the A.A.G.S. desire to have no truck.

Count No. 2 – On this score again, I fear, ML Dykstra has misconstrued his own position and therefore violated the injunction of Matthew 7:1-5. I’m afraid it is Mr. Dykstra and not I who is found to be on the “liberal” side of the issue.

Count No.3 – I do not belittle the church when I give it only its rightful place in God’s economy and no more. Neither you nor I nor Rome nor the W.C.C. delineates the task of the church. Somehow Mr. Dykstra fails to understand plain language, or else somehow wishes to misquote me. The church is certainly God’s creation, but the family and the sabbath are two divine institutions which predate it and are therefore of first (primary) importance. Furthermore, by virtue of their creation by God, all these institutions of God are good, as Paul says in I Timothy 4:1-7 where the apostle expressly and severely condemns the false pietism that grew out of Greek dualism, found then as it is today in the church, and which taught then and teaches today that some creations of God are not good. This seems to be an idea similar to Rev. Dykstra’s when he insinuates that I am wrong in placing the church on a par with other institutions that he names such as “the family, or state, or labor union, or business men’s associations,” though the latter are “all human institutions after all.” I flatly deny Mr. Dykstra’s insinuations as being completely foreign to my thought. I believe with Paul that God in history has created these human structures of society, all for the good of man and therefore not to be rejected by us (I Tim. 4:4-5) but to be gratefully received and consecrated by our prayers and Word-directed efforts. Whose fault is it if, as Rev. Dykstra suggests, these institutions are not good; that is, Christ-honoring? The fault is not God’s! He has said, All things are yours; Ye are the salt of the earth; The meek shall inherit the earth. Our real problem is—Do we really know and care what the Bible says, or do we bring our own mis-conceptions to our reading of the scripture?

To say therefore that the church in its sphere (or quality of “good”—whatever that is) is superior to other creations of God is patently unbiblical and smacks rather of medieval Romanism or the sometimes totalitarianism of the modem ecumenical movement. Sphere sovereignty, an unfortunate choice of term as someone has pointed out, should not mean independence due to equality of power for only God is sovereign (independent) and all His creatures are interdependent as well as dependent on Him. Sphere sovereignty implies clearly spheres of responsibility. By nature of the present sinful condition of our world, therefore, the task of the church is of primary importance. Simply because men can be restored only through the proclamation of the Word,2 this is the supreme task of the “church-as-institute.” But we had better not just “gather around the Word”! “How Big Is Your Bible?” It’s too big to allow the “church-as-institute” to be the sole purveyor of the Truth. It can’t be done. The church-as-institute will never handle the job in the spheres of politics, economics, science, or the arts. It would be no “good” in those spheres. The church-as-the-spiritual-body (the community of believers) must live out that Word in all of life in order to build the Kingdom of God in all its structural ramifications.

I hope that I have made clear how being biblical is not necessarily consonant with being either “conservative” or “liberal.” We must test by God’s standard every spirit, even that spirit expressed in the historical traditions of Augustine, Calvin, and Kuyper. I would hope that we would all strive to be as reformed and as desirous of reforming our shattered society. That stupendous task will test the energies of all God’s people.

ARTHUR DAVIES, Holland, Michigan

1. See article in the October issue of TORCH AND TRUMPET, “Toward A Christian View of Science. How Big Is Your Bible?”

2. The church certainly does not “speak to the issues of life” on the basis of “revealed theology,” as Dykstra asserts. Rev. Dykstra illustrates what I said before, that some men equate the theology (human syntheses or doctrinal systems) of men with the divine Word of God. This is more than an absurdity; it is a grievous error which makes of theology not a queen but a tyrant, usurping the place of God’s Word and oppressing men today even as in the Roman Church of medieval times.


Dear Rev. Vander Ploeg:

I am referring to your editorial in TORCH AND TRUMPET “Secession is serious businces” (Nov. 11).

I gather from the sum total of the article (with which I totally disagree) that in your opinion the Christian Reformed Church sinned in 1857, when she seceded from the Reformed Church. This church at that time and still today can say (to use your own words):

“Officially, our doctrinal standards are still to this day intact. The Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dordt, Ecumenical Creeds (Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds) and the Form of Subscription embody the doctrine we profess to believe.” Would you please print this letter in TORCH AND TRUMPET [now THE CHRISTIAN REFORMED OUTLOOK! together with your answer whether my opinion of your article is correct, so more people can benefit by it.

Very truly yours



In reply to the letter of Mr. C. Veldman, permit me to call attention to the following:

1. Although Mr. Veldman is substantially correct that the Reformed Church in America has the same doctrinal standards as the Christian Reformed Church, it is not superfluous, for the sake of the record, to note that the former does not have the negative (Rejection of Errors) sections of the Canons of Dort. Dr. Fred H. Klooster writes: “Those churches which have accepted only the positive sections of the Canons, such as the Reformed Church in America, have greatly impoverished the confession by eliminating the section containing the majority of the Scripture quotations” (Crisis in the Reformed Churches, p. 89). Even though this was not an issue in 1857, it is a fact that should be recognized.

2. When our denominational forebears left the Reformed Church in America to form the Christian Reformed Church, they seceded from a denomination with which they had been affiliated for only seven years, from 1850 to 1857, one with which they were not fully acquainted at the time they joined that body.

3. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that our forebears affiliated with the Reformed Church in America in 1850 with a reservation. Dr. Henry Beets writes; “But when it came to the question of union an obstacle was encountered. Dr. Wyckoff [Reformed Church pastor of Albany from 1836-1866] writes: ‘At the classical meeting it was soon made known that the brethren were a little afraid of entering into ecclesiastical connection with us, although they believe in the union of brethren, and sigh for Christian sympathy and association. They have so felt to the quick the galling chains of ecclesiastical domination, and have seen with sorrow how exact organization, according to human rules, leads to formality on the one hand, and to the oppression of tender conscience on the other, that they hardly know what to say. I protested, of course, that it is furthest from our thought to bring them in bondage to men, or to exercise ecclesiastical tyranny over them. And I stated that they would be perfectly free, at any time they found an eccelesiastical connection opposed to their religious prosperity and enjoyment, to bid us a fraternal adieu, arul be by themselves again.’ That was a practical, typically American way of surmounting the obstacle encountered, although not according to Reformed principles of church government. But neither the men of the East, nor those of the West, were strong on that point. However…the Michigan Dutchmen accepted the reservation at face value and stored it in their memory (The Christian Reformed Church, p. 57). To be sure, this background to the secession of 1857 is also to be taken into account in the evaluation of that action.

4. Finally, the consideration to which Mr. Veldman calls attention is only one of the five considerations adduced in my editorial, “Secession Is Serious Business.” To give full consideration to this matter, Mr. Veldman and other readers are therefore asked to once again read the editorial in question.