Letters to the Editor

One notices with keen regret that the General Synod of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands has decided by an overwhelming majority vote (64 to 2) to set aside the historic decision of 1926 against the views of the Amsterdam dominic, Geelkerken. and others who held that the accounts in Genesis 1–3 need not be accepted as simple history. It may be said that ‘this decision does not concern the authority of the Bible but only its interpretation. But we must not overlook the fact that the question in 1926 and again today was and is, “Is one free to ‘interpret’ what the Bible says to have happened as not having happened?” The Synod in 1926 said, “No!” This Synod (1967) has said, “Yes!”

Although the Synod has, in effect, declared that it no longer maintains Biblical history as authentic, it has tried to belittle the consequences of this drastic decision by saying that “the authority of Holy Scripture must be respected by the church,” and that the teachings of the confessions should be maintained. The decision on the latter point (as reported in Calvinist Contact) was3 that at the same time, that which is articulated verbally in the Confession of the church concerning the origin of sin and the effects of the fall into sin…clearly expresses the fundamental meaning which the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament ( i.e., Romans 5) attribute to this history and therefore should be maintained by the church as being of essential importance for the proclamation of the gospel.”

When the principle of the trust· worthiness of God’s Word in matters of fact has been abandoned, how can one with any consistency or conviction continue to tell people that its authority must still be respected in matters of faith? When the church leaves to each individual or assumes to itself the right to determine what in the Word of God is important enough to be taken as authoritative and what may be “interpreted” as false, is it not obvious that the Reformed principle of the sovereignty of the Word of God has been abandoned and that either the Roman Catholic principle of the sovereignty of church decrees or the liberal one of the sovereignty of human reason has taken its place? It seems to me that by this decision the Reformed Churches are now welcoming back the liberalism that from their denominational beginnings they attempted to exclude. Their action compels one to raise the question whether other Reformed churches who still want to remain uncompromisingly loyal to the Word of God may continue to maintain relations of mutual confidence with them as “sister” churches.


Rev. Peter De Jong is pastor of the 1st Christian Reformed Church of Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

22 Normal Avenue Montclair, New Jersey 07043, Editor TORCH AND TRUMPET

Dear Brother in Christ:

This refers to the article by Dr. Remkes Kooistra “Now Synod Is Over” in the December issue of TORCH AND TRUMPET, regarding Synod’s decision last August on the views of Professor Harold Dekker of Calvin Seminary relative to the doctrine of limited atonement. I would express hereby disagreement with the thesis that “All Is Over” and with certain other statements made by Dr. Kooistra.

Synod by this decision has imposed upon the Church a facade of unity obtained at the expense of vital and important truth. The deciding vote was a muffled one and was not unanimous. At least one minister registered protest and there were many negatIve votes. Among true Calvinists in the Church this action has engendered a deep and underlying disaffection which will not be easily assuaged. Liberals and compromisers may hail it as a “miracle” but committed Calvinists and lovers of the Reformed faith recognize this decision as a surrender to the forces of defection. Actually the issues at stake are too vital and basic to admit compromise. Accordingly the Church is now split into two opposing factions and it is questionable how long they can continue under one roof. The reason for this rift must be laid squarely at the door of Professor Dekker and his supporters, since they are the originators and promoters of the doctrinal departure from what the Church has previously believed.

Despite Martin Woudstra, the Dekker issue involves a lot more than just “fixing a leaky roof.” The heart of Calvinism is affected by denying limited atonement. Also the moral integrity and discipline of the Church in upholding and enforcing ordination vows. Likewise the perennial question, what are we paying for? For example, what ethical right has an ordained minister, foresworn and appointed to teach and preach the Reformed faith as generally believed, to use Church funds and equipment to promulgate doctrines different from that which the donors intended? Synod by condoning such action destroys confidence in the doctrinal and moral integrity of the highest body of the Church. This constitutes spiritual wickedness in high places, causing the Lord to with. hold his blessing. What is equally tragic is that no evidence is forth coming of repentance on the part of Professor Dekker for violating his ordination vows as he continues to teach and preach his doctrines contrary to the rules and regulations of the Church. Real Christians cannot long tolerate such a situation regardless of how many votes are piled up sanctioning it. For without discipline our denomination will have lost one of the main distinguishing marks of a true church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Consider for a moment the supreme importance of the doctrine of limited atonement. Standing at the center of’ the celebrated five points of Calvinism, it is the key stone of the arch. Deny this and the entire structure of sovereign grace, election and predestination falls. Professor Dekker asserts positively that “the atonement is inherently universal” and “when I say ‘Christ died for you’ to any man, I mean to say that Christ has actually suffered for his sin and has in this sense expiated his guilt,” although not effectively. Salvation to his mind is not to be ascribed to the efficacy of the atonement as such, but rather to the operation of the Holy Spirit. By maintaining that the atonement is applicable but not efficacious to the non-elect, Professor Dekker identities himself definitely with Arminianism and is guilty of the God dishonoring concept that Christ suffered and died in vain for the larger segment of humanity. Whatever else this is, it is certainly not Calvinism, and must therefore be considered as definitely anti-creedal. For Synod to condone such teaching in the Seminary compromises the Church’s poSition as being truly Reformed. Christ gave his life “a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28) and many is not all. For Professor Dekker to teach otherwise is to fly in the face of Scripture. Christ died for his own and not for others. He died for the Cosmos as entity but not for all individuals. God cannot exact the same penalty twice. This is the only proper way to mediate universalism and particularism in the atonement.

Viewed in this light the results of Synod’s decision are anything but “meager.” Rather they are catastrophic! Doctrinal integrity is destroyed both for Calvin Seminary and the Church. Discipline is undermined and the door opened to all manner of doctrinal defection. A basic dishonesty is sanctioned by allowing Professor Dekker to continue to disseminate his teachings without let or hindrance and by imposing no penalty on his violation of ordination vows. Such ruling gives free rein to tendencies toward humanism, universalism, Barthianism evolution, Arminianism, World Council of Churches, ecumenism and fallibility of Scripture, which are already too sadly evident in our midst. By refusing to make any extra~creedal pronouncements on this issue, to avoid “hindrance in seeking unity with other Reformed churches,” ecumenism becomes established Church policy, peaceful coexistence the highest objective and the voice of conservatism effectively muzzled in the Church.

The Dekker decision is more than a “compromise.” It means the destruction of our doctrinal distinctiveness, which forfeits our basic right to exist. It surrenders the heart of Calvinism and betrays the heritage of our posterity in this apostate age.

It goes without saying that such a decision is anything but “satisfactory” to anyone but liberals and compromisers. Where is the man to stand in the breach?

Yours for the preservation of our Reformed faith,




1823 Sunrise Drive Anchorage, Alaska 99504

Letter to the Editor TORCH AND TRUMPET

Dear Editor:

1 understand the complaint of Mr. A. Tazelaar in his Letter to the Editor, November, 1967, and I sympathize with his feeling but not with his conclusions. Some of our sermons are only expanded outlines, prosaic and lifeless. That is regrettable. But dull sermons should not condemn Bible doctrine.

Who doesn’t wish that all our preachers could teach by unforgettable stories as Jesus did, produce miracles as Elijah did, and convert a continent as Paul did? God could make them do that. He could have made James or Stephen do that. Yet some think every Christian is a failure if he is not a Paul, and even worse, they think Paul did it all by a “method” by preaching the “simple gospel.”

Paul didn’t think the gospel was simple. He wrote books about it and then said it was “unspeakable” and “past finding out.” Jesus talked to some devout Christians who didn’t understand Bible doctrine and called them “Fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.”

Concerning John 3:16, people say, “It’s so simple. Just come to Jesus.” Nicodemus came to Jesus. And he didn’t find the gospel simple. So many who read that chapter don’t understand any more of it than Nicodemus did. He at least listened to Jesus’ teaching, his doctrine. Many get to 3:16 and quit reading right there, saying, “That’s all I need.” But they need it all.

David said, “Happy is the man that meditates in the law of the Lord day and night.”

A. T. desires theology-free Graham-style gospel preaching. I grew up among fundamentalists, the “Just believe, Come to Christ, Heart not head” variety. I love them. But they have a contradictory, illogical, fragmentary hybrid gospel.

A. T. says, “The Lord demands obedience before understanding.” That means, “Don’t look at your road map until you reach your destination.” David said, “Give me understanding and I shall keep thy law; yea I shall observe it with my whole heart.” It is precisely understanding that God demands. In Martin Luther’s phrase, “God did not make heaven for geese.”

The heart in the Bible usually means the ruling purpose directed by the understanding and intelligence. Rarely does the word mean the emotions as it does in modem usage.

The groups who prattle, “No book but the Bible” usually publish the most books.

And those who cry, “No creed but Christ” may well be asked “What Christ?”

I’ve tried these other Christian philosophies and I for one prefer the whole complete everlasting gospel that took 66 books to write out.

The Reformed churches are not in danger of offering too much teaching, but they are in peril of teaching too little. Those who cut out part of God’s message, John says, “shall be taken out of the book of life.”

Why should we try to ride on half a horse?