Professor Dekker on God’s Universal Love

The december 1962 issue of The Reformed Journal contains an article by the Reverend Harold Dekker, Associate Professor of Missions in Calvin Theological Seminary, under the title “God So Loved—All Men!” That piece has created a considerable stir in the Christian Reformed Church and beyond. To date the editors of at least three religious periodicals, De Wachter, The Banner and The Standard Bearer, have commented on it. The Reverend Herman Hoeksema has roundly condemned Professor Dekker’s views as “rank Arminianism,” and the editors of the official Christian Reformed weeklies, too, have raised serious objections. Following is a review of that article.

The writer confesses that the making of this evaluation has not been an easy task. Nor has it been pleasant. As he sees it, the article concerned excels in neither precision nor consistency. But he has striven in a brotherly spirit to place the most favorable construction possible on what was written.


Professor Dekker is on solid Biblical ground when he teaches that God loves all men. Not only is it correct to s peak of “a favorable attitude of God toward mankind in general,” as did the 1924 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church in tho first of its three declarations on the subject of common grace; that favorable attitude may unhesitatingly be denominated love.

It is indeed regrettable that, in his zeal to substantiate God’s universal love with Scripture, Dekker has taken the term “world” in John 3:16 quantitatively rather than qualitatively. He says: “Whether taken as the cosmos or as the human race, ‘world’ in this passage clearly covers all men.” A far more profound and satisfying interpretation was given by B. B. Warfield in a sermon on that text. Said that eminent theologian: “The key to the passage lies … in the significance of the term ‘world.’ It is not here a term of extension so much as a term of intensity. Its primary connotation is ethical, and the point of its employment is not to suggest that the world is so hig that it takes a great deal of love to embrace it all, but that the world is so bad that it takes a great kind of love to love it at all, and much more to love it as God has loved it when he gave his Son for it. The whole debate as to whether the love here celebrated distributes itself to each and every man that enters into the composition of the world, or terminates on the elect alone chosen out of the world. lies thus outside the immediate scope of the passage and does not supply any key to its interpretation. The passage was not intended to teach, and certainly does not teach, that God loves all men alike and visits each and everyone alike with the same manifestations of his love; and as little was it intended to teach or does it teach that his love is confined to a few specially chosen individuals selected out of the world. What it is intended to do is to arouse in our hearts a wondering sense of the marvel and the mystery of the love of God for the sinful world—conceived, here, not quantitatively but qualitatively as, in its very distinguishing characteristic, sinful. And search the universe through and through—in all its recesses and through all its historical development—and you will find no marvel so great, no mystery so unfathomable, as this, that the great and good God, whose perfect righteousness flames in indignation at the sight of every iniquity and whose absolute holiness recoils in abhorrence in the presence of every impurity, yet loves this sinful world—yes, has so loved it that he has given his only begotten Son to die for it.”1

That God loves all men may be implied in the term “world” of John 3:16, but that is not the point of this verse. And, God being infinite in all his attributes, the love spoken of in John 3:16 is infinite; but to deduce from the infinity of God’s love that he loves all men is an obvious absurdity. One might as well make the deduction, as the church father Origen did, that God loves also the fallen angels. The sum total of the men who have lived on earth in the past, who are living here today, and who remain to be born is finite. H the number of the fallen angels be added, the sum is still finite. But the infinite simply cannot be measured in finite terms. Eternity minus a billion years remains eternity.

On the other hand, Dekker is on indisputable ground when he cites Matthew 5:43–45 and Luke 6:35 in support of the thesis that God loves all men. The former passage reads: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.” A painstaking study of that Scripture by Professor John Murray and the late Doctor N. B. Stonehouse, both of Westminster Theological Seminary, is contained in a pamphlet on The Free Offer of the Gospel. Say those scholarly exegetes: The disciples arc to love their enemies in order that they may be the sons of their Father; they must imitate their Father. Clearly implied is the thought that God, the Father, loves his enemies and that it is because he loves his enemies that he makes his sun rise upon them and sends them rain. This is just saying that the kindness bestowed in sunshine and rain is the expression of divine love, that back of the bestowal there is an attitude on the part of God, called love, which con· strains him to bestow these tokens of His lovingkindness.”2 God, then, loves not only his friends but also his enemies. He loves all men. In that sense his love is universal.


It is impossible to square with each other before the bar of human reason the teaching of election, implying pretention, and the teaching of the universal and sincere offer of salvation. That God, who from eternity chose certain persons, and only those, to eternal life, would in all sincerity offer eternal life to all who hear the gospel and assure them that it is his desire that they accept that offer, strikes us human beings with our puny minds as contradictory. For that reason the Arminian upholds the latter of these teachings at the expense of the former. Apparently for the same reason some uphold the former and reject the latter. Both are in error, for Scripture, which here, as at many points, far transcends human reason, teaches both unmistakably. At this point, as at all points, human reason must be subjected to the divine logos.

Dekker is quite right in insisting on the universal and sincere offer of the gospel as a manifestation of God’s universal love. Such Scripture passages, among others, as Ezekiel 18:23 and 33:11, as well as II Peter 3:9, are clearly relevant. Dekker’s quotations from Calvin and the Canons of Dort are manifestly to the point. He might have gone on to quote Herman Bavinck. Said that prince of Dutch theologians: “Although it is true that through calling salvation becomes the portion of but few, as everybody must admit, yet it has great value and significance also for those who reject it. It is for all without distinction proof of God’s infinite love and seals the word that he has no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but therein that he live.”3 Commenting on II Peter 3:9, Murray and Stonehouse assert discerningly: “Repentance is the condition of life; without repentance man must perish. But the will of God that man be saved expressed here is not conditional. It is not: I will give you salvation if you repent but: I will that you repent imd thus be saved.”4 And in view of his subsequent criticism of Professor L. Berkhof, Dekker would have done well to point out that Berkhof, too, upholds unqualifiedly the universal and sincere offer of the gospel. He speaks of the general call of the gospel as “revealing the great love of God to sinners in general.”5


In his attempt to relate the universal love of God to the death of Christ Professor Dekker expresses sharp disagreement with the late Professor Berkhofs presentation of the Reformed doctrine of limited or particular atonement. It must, of course, be granted that, with the exception of the inspired writers of Holy Writ, no theologian is beyond criticism. Calvin is not. Kuyper and Bavinck are not. Hodge and Warfield are not. Berkouwer is not. Neither is Berkhof. And yet, in the present context it becomes evident that as dogmatician Dekker is hardly worthy to stoop down and unloose the latchet of Berkhofs shoes.

True it is, as Dekker points out, that in his writings Berkhof occasionally leaves the impression that the salvation of the elect was Cod’s sole design in the death of his Son. If I may say so, I caned attention to that fact in For Whom Did Christ Die?6 However, Berkhof himself corrects that inaccuracy when he states that all the fruits of the atonement, also those which do not issue in salvation, were, of course, designed by God. Of various general blessings of mankind, resulting indirectly from Christ’s atoning work, Berkhof says that they were not only foreseen by God, but were designed by him as blessings for all concerned. Boldly he avers that all that the natural man receives other than curse and death is a result, albeit an indirect result, of Christ’s redemptive work.7 Evidently Berkhof was struggling with the term design, much as Charles Hodge was when he wrote his Systematic Theology.8It follows that Dekker has no right to say, as he does, that “seemingly, Berkhof did not recognize adequately the complexities of the concept of design with reference to the atonement.” Of that complexity Berkhof was manifestly aware and he strove hard to do it justice. To deny that is to do Berkhof an injustice.

Nor is Dekker fair to Berkhof when he says: “Scriptural evidence used by Berkhof is…brought into question by the fact that Scripture speaks also of the death of Christ as being ‘for every man’ (Heb. 2:9), ‘for the whole world’ (1 John 2;2), ‘for many’ (Matt. 20:28), and ‘for all’ (I Tim. 2:6).” The reader is left with the impression that Berkhof in his presentation of the doctrine of limited atonement has neglected these so-called universalistic texts. As a matter of fact he has dealt seriously with them.9

In support of the Reformed doctrine of limited atonement Berkhof, like Reformed theologians generally, adduces such Scripture passages as John 11:11, 15, Acts 20:28, Matthew 1:21 and Romans 8:32–35, which teach consecutively that “Christ came, suffered and died to save ius sheep,” “his church,” “his people” and “the elect.” The light manner in which Dekker brushes these proofs aside is truly alarming. Admitting that they teach that Christ died for his sheep, his .church, his people, or the elect, he goes on to say: “But about the possibility that he may also have died for others these passages say nothing.” He proceeds to attempt to reduce these passages as proofs for the limited atonement to an absurdity. Dekker fails completely to view these portions of Scripture in the light of Jesus’ saying, recorded in John 17:9, that he prayed only for those whom the Father had given him and not for the world. On this Scripture Geerhardus Vas has commented in his mimeographed Dogmatics: “The high-priestly work of the Mediator is one whole, the various parts of which cannot be separated…It follows that Christ has wrought reconciliation for all those, and for those alone, for whom he intercedes and prays to the Father, for the one is merely the completion and execution of the other.”10 And Bavinck has said: “The sacrifice is the ground of Christ’s intercession; the latter therefore extends as far as does the former.”11 As a matter of plain fact, those for whom Christ died are in Romans 8:31–34 identified with those for whom he intercedes. Christ is there said both to have died and to make intercession for the eject. It needs also to be noted that Dekker has apparently overlooked the precise and rich meaning of John 11:11, 15, Acts 20:28, Matthew 1:21 and Romans 8:32–35. These passages do not say that in a general way Christ by his death meant to bestow certain benefits; they say specifically that he meant to bestow the benefit of salvation. In fact, they assert that the death of Christ makes salvation certain. More precisely still, they declare that the death of Christ saves. Now obviously it saves only those whom the Father has given him; that is, the elect. Precisely that makes the Reformed doctrine of limited atonement glorious. The atonement is indeed limited as regards the number whom it was designed to save; it is unlimited in its saving power. It actually saves all those whom it was designed to save. Small wonder that not only Berkhof cites the aforesaid passages in support of a definite atonement; a great company of Reformed theologians does so in unison.

Dekker says: “Limited atonement as construed by Berkhof is apparently more a logical inference from the doctrine of election than a Biblically demonstrable doctrine.” That statement is nothing short of amazing. As was shown, Berkhof bases his doctrine of limited atonement squarely on Scripture. And Scripture itself relates this doctrine to election in the most direct and emphatic way in the jubilation: “If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us an things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justfieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of Cod, who also maketh intercession for us” ( Rom. 8:31–34). The Canons of Dort, which Dekker quotes approvingly, also stress the obvious truth that election and limited atonement stand and fall together. Say they: “For this was the sovereign counsel and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation; that is, it was the will of God that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation and given to him by the Father; that he should confer upon them faith, which, together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death…”12 In short, election and limited atonement are not two distinct doctrines; they are two aspects of one truth.

In the interest of God’s universal love Dekker tries to improve on Berkhofs doctrine of limited atonement. Does he succeed? Let us see—Dekker insists that the atonement is, and was designed to be, unlimited in its sufficiency. So does Berkhof. Beyond dispute, Christ’s death is “abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.” “And, whereas many who are called by the gospel do not repent nor believe in Christ, but perish in unbelief, this is not owing to any defect or insufficiency in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the cross, but is wholly to be imputed to themselves.”13—Dekker contends that the design of the atonement is unlimited as to “the availability of salvation for all men.” Just what he means by “the availability of salvation” he does not make clear. Does he refer to what Reformed theologians are wont to call the “suitableness” of the atonement? Berkhof would, of course, agree. Certainly, what was suitable for some was suitable for all. Possibly Dekker has in mind the view propounded by the so-called Marrow-men of Scotland, that Christ is “dead for all” and therefore “available for all.” Such theologians as James Hog, Thomas Boston and the Erskines taught that, while God’s electing love is special and results in the salvation of the elect only, in his universal giving love God makes a grant to all and that grant is the foundation for the universal offer of salvation. However, the Marrow-men firmly rejected the proposition, for which Dekker pleads, that Christ “died for all.” And as for Berkhof, although not himself a Marrow-man, he upholds the universal offer of the gospel as emphatically as did the Marrow-men. Can it be then, that, when speaking of “the availability of salvation for all men,” Dekker means that by the death of his Son God has made salvation possible for all and, having done that, leaves it to each individual to avail himself of that opportunity of his own free volition? That is hard to believe; for that would indeed be rank Arminianism. According to the February 1 issue of The Banner, just come to hand at this writing, Dekker says he means that salvation is available to all in the way of repentance and faith. Of all theologians Berkhof would be the last to dissent.—Dekker teaches that God wants the gospel preached everywhere and desires that all to whom the gospel comes accept it in faith. Apparently he regards this as a fruit of the atonement. Whether it is that is a question to be answered with great care. It is not correct to say that the death of his Son so softened the heart of God as to render him willing that the gospel be proclaimed to all men and that all men to whom the gospel is proclaimed be saved. Yet it is evident that there would be no gospel to proclaim if Christ had not died. Charles Hodge calls the atonement the “ground” of the universal offer of salvation.14 That aside, Berkhof is not a whit less zealous for the universal and sincere offer of the gospel than is his critic. Bcrkhof asserts emphatically that, when God calls the sinner to accept Christ by faith, he earnestly desires that the sinner do this.15—Finally, Dekker teaches that the design of the atonement is limited only as to the efficacy of the atonement. At this point Berkhof’s teaching far surpasses Dekker’s. They agree that the atonement is limited, and was designed to be, in its efficacy as to the number of those who are saved. To Dekker’s credit his statement must be recorded that Berkhof “has faithfully and cogently set forth the essence of the historic Christian view that as far as the actual salvation of men is concerned there is a limitation of numbers which is embraced in the eternal purpose of God and in the design of the atonement. When it comes to the efficacy of the atonement there can be no doubt that its existential limitation is to be explained ultimately in terms of the sovereign disposition of divine grace.” However, Berkhof does not stop there. According to him the Reformed poSition is not merely that Christ died to save only the elect but emphatIcally that he died in order certainly and actually to save the elect,16 Now that is the very heart of the Reformed doctrine of limited atonement. In its inmost essence it is positive rather than negative. To be sure, it insists that Christ died, not to save all men, but to save the elect only. But above all else it avers that Christ’s death effectually saves the elect. At this crucial point Calvinism differs sharply from Arminianism. Calvinism far surpasses Arminianism in its evaluation of the atonement. The Arminian says that Christ’s death made possible the salvation of all but effects the salvation of none; the Calvinist insists that Christ’s death effects the salvation of all whom it was designed to save. The Calvinist upholds the efficacy of the atonement in a sense in which the Arminian denies it.17 For that reason, let me say, there is much to be said for the term particular or definite atonement in preference to the term limited atonement.


The most serious error in the article under consideration is that the love of God for men in general is identified with the love of God for the elect. Room is left for only a quantitative difference. The truism “God’s love is love. It cannot be something else” in no way justifies that identification. Nor is identification too strong a term for Dekker’s position. He states emphatically: “By no strain of exegesis can God’s redemptive love be confined to any special group.” Significantly that is said of God’s redemptive love. And in spite of the plain fact that Jesus ascribed the exercise of agape to the unregenerate when he said that sinners also love those that love them (Luke 6:32), the rhetorical question is put: “Where in Biblical language or concept is there a qualitative difference within love as  agape?”

Here, to be sure, it behooves us all to exercise exceedingly great care. Let no one presume to differentiate in a manner approaching exhaustiveness between the love of God for some and his love for others. By all means let us beware of the sacrilege of attempting to analyze the heart of the Infinite. But that God’s self-revelation in Holy Scripture differentiates sharply between his love for the elect and his love for the non-elect permits of no doubt. The Bible tells us: “Whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). Knowledge here means love. 1n love God chose some to salvation. There is electing love. There is also non-electing love. There is saving love; there is also divine love that does not save. God declared: “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Rom. 9:13). Paradoxical though it is, without hesitation it may be said in the light of Matthew 5:43–45 that God loved Esau too. But assuredly he loved Jacob with a love with which he did not love his twin brother. The elect were chosen in Christ (Eph. 1:4). That is to say, God loves his elect with the love wherewith he loves the Son. Therefore we sing:

Let me more clearly trace Thy love to me, See in the Father’s face His love to Thee, Know as He loves the Son So dost Thou love Thine own, Thy love to me, Thy love to me.

Dare we say that God loves the non-elect with that love? The Apostle Paul exulted: “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38, 39). Is it not self-evident that he was glorying in a love that is peculiarly the portion of believers? The Apostle John has told us that in the night before his death, “when Jesus knew that his hour was come…having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). Undeniably, he loved “his own” with a love with which he did not love “the world.” The love which Paul had in mind when he spoke of “the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20) is correctly described by Geerhardus Vas as “love excelling” and “love supreme.”18 And the same meticulous Herman Bavinck who described the love of God evinced in the universal and sincere offer of the gospel as “infinite,” makes the bold assertion: “One cannot and may not say that God has loved all men, at any rate not with that special love wherewith he leads the elect to salvation.”19 God’s people truly are a peculiar people whom God loves with “a peculiar love,” as Charles Hodge was wont to say.20

What makes the identification of God’s love for men in general with his love far the elect an exceedingly serious matter is that it opens the door to numerous grave theological errors. It breaks down the distinction between particular and common grace. The basic tenet of the doctrine of common grace is that God loves all men. But if he loves all men with the same love, there is no qualitative difference between God’s love for men in general and his saving love for His own people. Here may be recorded a declaration of the 1959 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church addressed to certain Protestant Reformed churches: “The doctrine of irresistible grace would indeed be jeopardized if we held that the grace shown to the elect is the same as that shown to creatures in general. We would then be guilty of the error of the Arminians, who think that all men enjoy the same grace.21 Arminianism teaches that Cod loves all men with the same love, that by the death of his Son he has in that love made salvation possible for all, and that whether or not salvation shall become actual in the case of a given individual depends on the use which that individual does or does not make of his unregenerate will. Universalism goes a big step farther. It teaches that God loves all men alike and that consequently in the end all men are bound to be saved. There is today a powerful resurgence of that ancient heresy. Nels F. S. Ferre of the Vanderbilt University School of Religion is but one of its many present-day exponents.22 The present writer would not be misunderstood. He is not charging Professor Dekker with Arminianism, much less with Universalism. Yet it must needs be said again that to identify the divine love for all men with God’s love for his elect is to invite the gravest sort of heterodoxy. The history of Christian doctrine demonstrates that conclusively.


Dekker finds fault with those who “place a taboo…on any statement by a missionary to unbelievers such as, ‘Christ died for you.’”

That Christ in a sense died for all men need not be denied Certain non-saving benefits accrue to all men from the death of Christ, and Christ certainly meant that to be the case. God so designed. With an eye to that fact Charles Hodge said: “There is a sense, therefore, in which he died for all,” although he hastened to add: “And there is a sense in which he died for the elect alone.”23 Then why did Bavinck. who is noted for his precision, warn that, although his death brings some benefit indirectly to all men, “one cannot and may not say that Christ died and satisfied for all”?24 And was not William Cunningham clearly right when he observed that to tell every man that Christ died for him is “a mode of preaching the gospel never adopted by our Lord and his apostles”?25 This problem is not difficult to solve. The statement “Christ died for you,” when addressed indiscriminately to the unconverted, is grossly ambiguous. It bypasses the primary design of the atonement, the salvation of the elect. In an environment in which Arminianism and Universalism are rampant, as they are in these United States of America and in a great many other lands besides, it is hound to prove misleading. In numerous instances the person addressed will conclude that Christ by his death designed to save him. But no one can tell him that with certainty. Now in the presentation of the gospel there is neither need nor room for ambiguity. It must be unequivocal. The sinner must needs be told what Paul and Silas told the jailer at Philippi: ‘“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). He is to be told that Christ died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6); that God makes to every ungodly person a bona fide offer of salvation if he repents and abandons himself to the Christ crucified; that God urgently invites him to repent and believe because he does not desire the death of any but the salvation of all; that God will not merely be pleased to save him if he repents and believes but, in the words of Calvin, that “God desires nothing more earnestly” than that he would repent and believe and thus be saved.26


In the oft-repeated words of the great Abraham Kuyper of the Netherlands, “grace is particular.” When he said that, he had obvious reference to saving grace, not to common grace, on which he wrote three large volumes. Particularism is summarized in the so-called five points of Calvinism: absolute predestination, limited atonement, total depravity, irresistible grace and the preservation or perseverance of the saints. But there is also a Christian, and one may say a Reformed, universalism. The universal love of God and the universal offer of salvation are examples.

Christian particularism and Christian universalism are complementary truths, of which, by the way, there are many in Scripture. In dealing with complementary Scriptural truths it behooves us to keep a proper balance. This does not mean that we are to soft-pedal either truth in the interest of the other. Nothing of the kind is meant What is meant is that we are to present neither in a way that goes beyond Scripture, and that we are to stress neither to the detriment of the other. What is also meant is that, when, as is often the case, the two constitute a paradox, that is to say a contradiction to our way of thinking, we are to accept both uncompromisingly and give to each its full Scriptural emphasis. The presence of a proud strain of rationalism in each of us often makes that difficult. It requires a childlike faith in God and his Word.

Professor Dekker is of the opinion that the Christian Reformed Church is emphasizing particularism to the detriment of universalism. Hence his charge: “The doctrine of limited atonement as commonly understood and observed in the Christian Reformed Church impairs the principle of the universal love of God and tends to inhibit missionary spirit and activity.” Now that indictment is both sweeping and severe. In fact, it is hardly less than shocking. Such an accusation demands conclusive proof. But the professor has failed to offer that.

Are we, then, to conclude that the Christian Reformed Church has no need to be reminded of Christian universalism and that in writing on God’s universal love Professor Dekker was, so to speak, carrying coals to Newcastle? That is something else again. It may safely be asserted that the Christian Reformed Church is in constant need of being reminded of universalism as well as particularism. Because of the fact that the two cannot at every point be harmonized before the bar of human reason, the danger is ever present that one or the other will be neglected or even denied. Because of the prevalence of Arminianism in American ecclesiastical circles generally, the Christian Reformed Church is in very real and continuous need of emphasis on particularism. That the Christian Reformed Church has a real and continuous need of having universalism emphasized is likewise beyond doubt. Just how great these two needs are no one can say with complete certainty. Matters of that kind cannot be measured precisely. But both needs surely are actual.

Will the reader pardon a personal reference? Some four years ago Eerdmans published a study by me on the question For Whom Did Christ Die? It upholds unreservedly particularism against consistent universalism, Arminian universalism and Barthian universalism, but the concluding chapter is on Scriptural Universalism. That chapter deals with the universal suitableness and sufficiency of the atonement, common grace, the universal and sincere offer of the gospel, and even the ultimate salvation of the world, an aspect of Christian universalism on which the article under discussion is silent. In 1961 the Baker Book House published my God-Centered Evangelism. It contains a chapter on God’s Sovereign Election and Evangelism but also one on God’s Infinite Love and Evangelism. Of course, in writing those books I had in mind not only the Christian Reformed Church, but I certainly had it in mind too. I have a sermon on Salvation by Grace, in which of necessity particularism looms large, and another on Christian Universalism. Both of them I have been privileged to preach to Christian Reformed audiences.

Far be it from the present writer to find fault with Calvin Seminary’s Professor of Missions for undertaking to set forth Christian universalism and to do so with vigor. To assay that is decidedly laudable. Whether this attempt of his is characterized by theological balance—that is another matter. I keenly regret having to record the persuasion that such is not the case. In identifying God’s love for all men with his love for the elect Dekker has gone beyond bounds set by Scripture and has greatly overstated the case of universalism. And, as for particularism, he has undermined it by the selfsame identification as well as by denying tile relevance of several manifestly pertinent passages of Scripture, and, although not rejecting particularism, he has fallen far short of doing it justice.

The Christian doctrine of particularism and the Christian doctrine of universalism are both of them glorious. Each is glorious because each manifests the glory of the great God. But that glory, the glory of the Infinite, shines. forth most resplendently when these two are viewed, not in. isolation from each other, far less in opposition to each other, but, as in God’s self-revelation, in harmony with. each other, a harmony which by virtue of its very perfection. passes human understanding.

1. The Saviour of the World, Hodder and Stoughton, pp. 120–122.

2. p.6.

3. Gereform.ccrde Dogmatick, IV,7.

4. The Free Offer of the Gospel, p. 25.

5. Systemntic Theology, Eerdmans, pp. 457, 460ff. See also L. Berkhof, De Drie Punten in Alle Deelen Gereformeerd, Herman Kuiper, Calvin on Common Grace, pp. 222–224, A. C. De Jong, The Well-Meant Gospel Offer R. B. Kuiper, For Whom Did Christ Die? pp. 84-95, and God-Centered Evangelism, pp. 21–28, 36–38. F’or a serious effort to disprove the universal and sincere offer of salvation see the article Rank Arminianism in Calvin Seminary by Herman Hoeksema in the Feb. 1, 1963 issue of The Standard Bearer.

6. pp. 80f.

7. Systematic Theology, pp. 438f.

8. See II, 545.

9. Systematic Theology, pp. 395–397.

10. II, 154.

11. Gereformeerde Dogmatick, III, 528.

12. II, 8.

13. Canons of Dort, III, 3, 6.

14. Systematic Theology, II, p. 545.

15. Systematic Theology, p. 462.

16. Systematic Theology, p. 394.

17. See Bavinck, Gereformeerde Dogmatiek, III, 529f.

18. Dogmatiek, II, 152.

19. Gereformeerde Dogmatiek, III, 530. Cf. IV, 7.

20. Systematic Theology, II, 550.

21. Acts of Synod, 1959, p. 111.

22. See his The Christian Understanding of God, Harper and Brothers, pp. 236f.

23. Systematic Theology, II, 546.

24. Gereformeerde Dogmatiek, III, 530.

25. Historical Theology, II, 344.

26. Calvin’s Commentary on Ezekiel 18:23. See also J. K. Van Baalen, Niewigheid en Dwaling, p. 175; my For Whom Old Christ Die? p. 94; and the chapter on “God and the Message of Evangelism” in God-Centered Evangelism.