The Christian Reformed Church on Trial

“I don’t know what is wrong with our church, the way it has handled the ‘Dekker matter.’” That remark was recently made to the writer of these lines by a minister in the Christian Reformed Church who has served the denomination well in several churches and in various broader ecclesiastical responsibilities and is still in active service.

The feelings of this minister are shared by many in the church, ministers and others. There is widespread wonderment in the church. What is wrong? people are asking. Why is it taking the church so long to decide this issue? When Synod meets in June it will be four and one-half years since Professor Dekker wrote his first article on the subject in question. In that time the matter has come before Synod three times (in 1963, 1964 and 1966) but the church has not been able to deal decisively with the issue. And all the while the professor is permitted to teach his widely and sharply contested views to our upcoming ministers.

It is this widespread spirit of wonderment and puzzlement among the membership of the church that furnishes the warrant for the somewhat startling title of this piece of writing, The Christian Reformed Church On Trial. The church is on trial before its own membership. The church’s constitutional procedures are on trial. The church’s doctrinal integrity is on trial. And the church’s seminary is on trial.

At the same time it must be added that the church is on trial not only before its own constituency. It is also on trial in the broader Reformed community. The writer of these lines has discussed the merits of Professor Dekker’s views with a number of men of Reformed repute outside the Christian Reformed Church. These men have themselves read the documents involved and have invariably expressed themselves as critical of these views. Written statements by some of these men will be presented later in this article.

Constitutional Procedures

A most important document in the constitutional structure of the Christian Reformed Church is its “Form of Subscription,” found on page 71 in the liturgical section of the Psalter Hymnal. The average conscientious church member who takes words in their plain and direct meaning wonders what has happened to this important document in the history of the “Dekker case.” He wonders, for instance, why the provision that signatories to the “Form” (ministers, ciders, deacons, professors) will “neither publicly nor privately propose, teach or defend…either by preaching or writing…any difficulties or different sentiments respecting the aforesaid doctrines” of the Confession, Catechism or Canons has never been applied to Professor Dekker. In his first article (Reformed Journal, Dec. 1962) the professor made clear that he was disputing “the doctrine of limited atonement as commonly understood and observed in the Christian Reformed Church” and he was disputing the teaching on this crucial doctrine of Louis Berkhof, the man who was the leading voice in theological education at Calvin Seminary for many years. The church member wonders about all this. Does not our church firmly believe that “the doctrine of limited atonement as commonly understood and observed” in our church and as taught by Professor Berkhof is the creedally correct understanding of this important doctrine? Should not the church in theological self-respect and in keeping with the plain terms of the “Form” have challenged the right of Professor Dekker to air publicly his divergent views?

But let us set this aspect of the problem aside. Maybe we are on debatable ground. The signatory to the “Form” agrees to another procedure. He agrees “to be always willing and ready to comply. if at any time the Consistory, Classis, or Synod, upon sufficient grounds of suspicion and to preserve the uniformity and purity of doctrine, may deem it proper to require of us a further explanation of our sentiments respecting any particular article” of the creeds. Why was this rather plain provision never applied to Professor Dekker? the church member asks in bewilderment. And he presses his question the mOre in light of the fact that a Classis came to Synod in 1963 with just such a request. At that Synod the advisory committee recommended in a majority report “that Professor H. Dekker be asked by Synod to clarify his statements regarding certain points of doctrine.” The first ground given for this recommendation was that “This has been requested by Classis Orange City by appeal to the Farm of Subscription.” At the Synod there was no evidence of being “always willing and ready to comply.” Quite the contrary. A minority report by one member of the advisory committee asked that Synod “not accede” to the overture from Classis Orange City. Synod adopted the recommendation of the minority report on these grounds: “1. Classis did not supply adequate grounds for its charge. 2. Classis did not supply sufficient grounds for its suspicion.” (We cannot pause here to reflect on important questions of fact and procedure that this combination of grounds raises.)

Then, in 1964 the matter came before Synod again. And again the advisory committee recommended “that Synod conduct a doctrinal conversation with Professor Dekker” (Acts 1964, p. 54). But on recommittal this advice was changed to a request that Synod appoint a study committee with a broad mandate. Ground one for this recommendation spoke of “the unrest which prevails in the churches.” Was this unrest not present in 1963? In 1961 Synod acted in response to an overture from a consistory requesting Synod “to ask (according to our Form of Subscription) of…a further explanation of his sentiments concerning biblical infallibility” (Acts 1961, pp. 100–101).

Now let us consider these facts. In 1961 Synod acted at the request of one consistory, one out of 549, in the case of that consistory’s reaction to just one published article. In 1963 in his own defense Professor Dekker argued that “one Classis out of 32 ( 14 out of 585 churches) has expressed concern” (Acts 1963, p. 94). Is this the sort of thing Synod had in mind when it said that “Classis did not submit sufficient grounds for suspicion”? Classis Orange City in its overture declared that in its judgment “Prof. Dekker’s position conflicts with the creedal statement of articles 8 and 9 of Chapter II in the Canons of Dort” (Acts 1963, p. 456). Was not this fact in itself considerable ground for suspicion? Does a Classis lightly and without good reason render such a judgment on a man’s views? Furthermore, by the time Synod met in 1963 Professor Dekker had already written at least three articles on the subject in question (Reformed Journal, Dec. 1962, Feb. 1963 and March 1963). In his second article he indicated that he “certainly did not anticipate the amount of reaction which has come to my modest contribution.” Highly critical letters appeared in the columns of the Reformed Journal. Editorials appeared in the official church papers. A thorough and critical article from the respected pen of Professor R. B. Kuiper appeared in Torch and Trumpet of March 1963. And he dealt with it again in an article entitled “Is The Glory Departing?{ appearing in the same magazine in May-June 1963. What kind of evidence did Synod want in 1963 to establish the “sufficient grounds of suspicion” called for in the “Form of Subscription”? Why was so little evidence necessary in 1961 and why was so much evidence declared to be not enough in 1963?

There is one more point under this heading. As indicated above, the “Dekker case” came to Synod again in 1964, by way of overture from the First Christian Reformed Church of Orange City, Iowa. In its overture the consistory of this church requested Synod “to appoint a committee to study, in the light of Scripture and the Creeds, the doctrine of limited atonement as it relates to the love of God, giving special attention to the issues raised by Prof. Dekker in the Reformed Journal; and to subsequently declare its position relative to this matter” (Acts 1964, pp. 493–494). Please notice that this overture calls for “special attention” to the views of Prof. Dekker. To this overture Synod adopted the following as its “answer”: “That Synod appoint a committee to study in the light of Scripture and the Creeds the doctrine of limited atonement as it relates to the love of God, the doctrinal expressions of Professor H. Dekker beginning with and relative to his article entitled ‘God So Loves All Men’ and other related questions which may arise in the course of their study, paying specific attention to…” Then follow seven related doctrinal matters that call for “specific attention.” (The spelling of the title of Professor Dekker’s article is that of the Acts, p. 88.) The place that Professor Dekker’s views have in this mandate is noteworthy. It is almost incidental to a very broad theological inquiry, whereas the overture called for “special attention” to these views. Why this hesitancy to deal directly with the professor’s views? Why this gingerly approach? And the mandate? It calls for a major treatise in theology. It is completely understandable that the Committee that was appointed found this mandate quite unmanageable and had to decide to single out the two central issues in the discussion (Acts 1966, p. 438).

Indeed, the remark by the seasoned pastor quoted at the beginning of this article is most apropos: “I don’t know what is wrong with our church, the way it has handled the ‘Dekker matter.’” Our church has placed itself on trial so far as its constitutional and synodical procedures are concerned. The terms of the “Form of Subscription” have been reduced to virtual irrelevance in this case.

The Church’s Doctrinal Integrity

Following is a summary of Professor Dekker’s views on the subject at hand: God loves all men indiscriminately with the same redemptive-redeeming love. Motivated by and carrying out this love for all men Christ died for all men. However, only the elect are actually saved. In bringing this gospel of divine love to all men one can approach any person indiscriminately and say to him “God loves you” and “Christ died for you.”

With respect to these views thus briefly summarized the present writer cannot in good conscience see them as anything other than a maze of theological confusion and inconsistency. The judgment seems inescapable that if the Christian Reformed Church does not repudiate the central elements of Professor Dekker’s teaching, the character of the church as a solidly Reformed and creedally articulate church will be compromised. The Reformed faith as confessed by the church in her creeds knows nothing of a “universal atonement and a particular redemption.” In a paper prepared for Synod’s Doctrinal Committee the present writer expressed himself as follows:

“If Professor Dekker’s views on the extent of the atonement of Christ are to stand, the Canons of Dort, II, will have to be revised drastically, especially articles 8 and 9. To me it is inconceivable that one committed ex animo to the Canons of Dart can teach that Christ died for all men. This is completely apparent, it seems to me, when we take note of the language of 11, 8 and 9, especially those portions underlined as follows:

Article 8

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 all 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 only those, 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; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them, free from every spot and blemish, to the enjoyment of glory in His own presence forever.

Article 9

This purpose, proceeding from everlasting, love towards the elect, has from the beginning of the world to this day been powcrfully accomplished and will henceforward still continue to be acc~mplished, notwithstanding all the ineffectual opposition of the gates of hell; so that the elect in due time may be gathered together into one, and that there never may be wanting a Church composed of believers, the foundation of which ·is laid in the blood of Christ; which may steadfastly love and faithfully serve Him as its Savior (who, as a bridegroom for his bride, laid down his life for them upon the cross ); and which may celebrate His praises here and through all eternity.

I cannot understand how one can find in the above language a place for the non-elect within the scope of the redemptive-redeeming love of God in Christ. Likewise I cannot understand how one can find in the above language a place for the assertion that Christ died for all man. Whatever problems Professor Dekker may have in this area due to the fact and reality of God’s sincere offer of the gospel to all men, the answer to these problems must be found in some place other than the notion that God loves the elect and the non-elect with the same love and that Christ in exercising this love died for all men.”

In this connection we recall the language of the overture of Classis Orange City in 1963: “Since we believe that if God loves all men redemptively all men must be saved, Prof. Dekker’s position conflicts with the creedal statement of articles 8 and 9 of Chapter II of the Canons of Dort.”

It is here suggested that the views of Professor Dekker are subject to serious question on the following counts:

1. The special love-relationship between God (Christ) and the church, “the apple of his eye,” his “bride,” his “sheep” is jeopardized.

2. The grand central teaching of the Reformed faith, that of efficacious grace, the grace that actually saves, is gravely compromised by the teaching that all men, also the reprobate, are alike the objects of God’s redemptive-redeeming love in Christ.

3. By teaching that God’s redemptive-redeeming love is directed toward all men indiscriminately but only the elect are saved. the views under question undermine the glorious continuity of God’s saving operations from election in eternity to a definite atonement wrought at Calvary to the blessed perseverance of the saints unto eternal glory. (See Romans 8:29-30 and Eph. 1:4–6)

4. These views set up a disjunction between God’s love and God’s election. God’s love (which Professor Dekker insists throughout is “one”) is directed toward all men, whereas his election is for a limited number of men.

5. A strange confusion is present with respect to the Trinity. God the Father redemptively loves all men alike, Christ the Son died for all mell alike, but the Holy Spirit applies this love and this redemption only to the elect. What becomes of the oneness of the divine will and purpose? What becomes of the “oneness” of the divine love?

It is apparent that all of these points cluster at the very nerve center of our faith, that of saving grace. Therefore it is unthinkable that the church should continue to tolerate these views in its midst, yes, in its seminary where the leadership of the church is trained. The church is not a theological debating society. It is not an academic club. It is a “city of truth” which must be scripturally pure and creedally true. Therefore the proposal put forth by some that the report of the Doctrinal Committee become simply part of the theological literature of the church and no more is unworthy of serious consideration. The church must decide whether she shall remain a forthrightly Reformed church with her very special message of saving grace unimpaired. That is the issue at stake. The report of the Doctrinal Committee submitted to the Synod of 1966 was described by that Synod as expressing “substantially the Reformed tradition in the areas discussed.” And the report registers clear disagreement with the poSitions taken by Professor Dekker. Let that report, strengthened at points where such is needed, guide the Synod of 1967 to a decision that will clear the theological air of the Christian Reformed Church.

A common source of air pollution in theological discussions is that of writings which are seemingly persuasive but actually irrelevant. The current discussion surely is no exception. An illustration of such writing is the article entitled “From Which All Blessings Flow” by James Daane appearing in the Reformed Journal of February 1967. Dr. Daane’s point is· that since the blessings of common grace are for all men and these blessings are generally understood by Reformed thinkers to have their basis in Christ’s saving work, therefore it can and should be said that Christ died for all men. This is hardly to be disputed, provided the precise meaning is clear, but it is quite beside the point. Professor Dekker has not been talking about the blessings of common grace. He has been talking about the blessings of salvation. He has been talking about the primary intent of the atonement, not about bleSSings that flow from the atonement in a secondary sense. There has been no debate of any consequence on the point whether Christ died for all men in a secondary sort of way in that certain benefits come to all men generally due to Christ’s atoning work The point at issue in this debate is whether the atonement as satisfaction and penal substitution is intended in God’s love for all men alike, and whether Christ died as the perfect satisfaction and penal substitute for all men alike.

The Seminary On Trial

The Christian Reformed Church, by its prolonged delay in coming to grips with the views in question, has placed itself in a difficult position with respect to its main center of theological education at Calvin Seminary, the seminary for which the writer as a Christian Reformed pastor prays with his congregation almost every Lord’s Day. If the church should come to the decision that many in the church feel it ought to come to at the Synod of 1967, namely, that of repudiation of the main contentions of Professor Dekker’s views in the area under discussion, then the church is saying that for four and one-half years it has permitted seriously faulty teaching in its seminary. If the church does not repudiate these teachings, the Seminary will increasingly fail to have the confidence of a large segment of the church. Neither of these alternatives is especially attractive, but surely the former is to be preferred. Let the church frankly acknowledge that there has been faulty teaching in . its theological school over the past four and one-half years or more and take the steps necessary to correct the situation.

On Trial Before the larger Reformed Community

As indicated earlier in this article, theologians of Reformed persuasion outside of the Christian Reformed Church have interested themselves in the discussion of Professor Dekker’s views. And properly so, for these views gather at the very nerve center of the Reformed faith. The Christian Reformed Church has long enjoyed a reputation for doctrinal depth and faithfulness. What the Church does with respect to this important doctrinal issue is a matter of deep concern to all who love the Reformed faith. All who love the Reformed faith ought to be deeply appreciative of this broader interest and concern. This is ecumenism in its highest manifestation, ecumenism at the point of scriptural and creedal fidelity.

Knowing of this broader interest and concern, the writer of these lines felt it might be helpful to the church to see in print the evaluation of the views in question by some of these men of Reformed persuasion outside the Christian Reformed Church. Such men can be expected to give a thoroughly objective appraisal. Therefore statements have been obtained from three of these men and a fourth has referred to a series of three articles written on the subject in 1965. All have given their consent to the use of their names. Bearing on this request and the accedence of these brethren to it is the fact that the issue coming before Synod is not judicial, involving a person and his status. The issue has to do simply with evaluation of certain views openly published in an independent magazine.

Johannes G. Vos on Dekker’s Views

First of all we have the testimony of the Rev. Johannes G. Vos, long known for his clear thinking on matters of faith. The Rev. Vos is a minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (Synod) and is professor of Bible at Geneva College at Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. He is a son of the noted Reformed theologian, Geerhardus Vos. Rev. Vos writes as follows:

The views of Professor Dekker on the love of God and the atonement, as expressed in his published articles, manifest his deep sincerity and his earnest zeal for Christian truth. Nevertheless I am constrained by my conscientious convictions to regard these views as erroneous. In my opinion Professor Dekker fails to grasp the Reformed Faith in its .organic wholeness as a system of which each basic element is essential to the integrity of the whole.

Professor Dekker’s distinctive views impress me as essentially Arminian in tendency if not in character. I regard them as incompatible with the historic Reformed standards which I personally have vowed to accept and defend. In particular I would cite the Westminster Confession of Faith, III. 6, as follows:

“As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.”

The Reformed Presbyterian Testimony, a more recent standard than the Westminster Confession, states (X. 3):

“Christ did not in any sense suffer for the sins of all mankind, nor did he lay down his life to make an atonement for an indefinite number of sinners. There is indeed an infinite sufficiency in his sacrifice to save the whole world, had it been designed to produce that effect; but in the purpose of God, and in the undertaking of Christ, it was not contemplated that he should make atonement for any except those who were elected in him to everlasting life; these only he represented, and these only shall be saved through his redemption.” (Adopted 1806).

The Testimony of Roger Nicole

Next we have the evaluation by Dr. Roger Nicole,

Professor of Theology at Gordon Divinity School at Wenham, Massachusetts. Dr. Nicole, known by many for his devotion to the Reformed faith, has just completed all the work for the Ph.D. degree at Harvard. His thesis is entitled “Moses Amyraldus (1596–1664) and the controversy on Universal Grace: First phase (1634–1637).” Dr. Nicole’s statement is as follows:

The position of Professor Dekker does not appear to be new in the history of Christian doctrine. Specifically, it has been advocated in almost precisely the form which Professor Dekker has given it by Moses Amyraldus (1596–1664). Amyraldus felt that he could propound this view while remaining faithful to the Canons of Dort. He judged that his position was in better keeping with the Scriptures and with the statements of Calvin than the generally received Reformed doctrine of definite atonement. History has proven, 1 would judge, that he was mistaken in this respect and that his point of view represented a dangerous deviation which may well have been an important factor in the ultimate grievous weakening of Reformed thought in France. Inevitably the view which a man holds concerning the scope of the atonement exerts an influence upon his outlook on the nature of the atonement. Specifically a universal scope which does not issue in universal salvation leads logical minds away from the penal substitionary bearing of sin by Christ. Thus a relaxed view in one area leads to weakening at the roots of what may perhaps be called the nerve center of the whole Christian faith.

I would deem it unfair to accuse Professor Dekker in terms of all the logical implications which one discerns in his position, but I would judge that the church must be vigilant to assess what these might be in order to render its verdict. In my opinion the report presented to the Synod of 1966 is a very notable help in this direction.

Gordon H. Girod’s Evaluation

A third witness is the Rev. Gordon H. Girod, minister in the Reformed Church in America and pastor of the Seventh Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Rev. Girod is widely known for his fearless and forthright advocacy of the scriptural, the Reformed, faith, both in preaching and in writing. He appraises the views of Professor Dekker as follows:

The view that Christ died for all men destroys the objectivity of the atonement. The Reformed Faith has always held that our Savior actually paid the price of sin for some men, namely, the elect. He bore their sin, their guilt and their penalty. Therefore the Reformed Faith also holds that God will surely bring them. to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ (irresistible grace), and God will keep them unto the end (perseverance of the saints).

If Christ died for all men, but only some men are saved, then his death actually paid the price of sin for no one.

This view, that Christ died for all but only some are saved, has rightly been labeled “inconsistent universalism” by Professor R. B. Kuiper in his book, For Whom Did Christ Die?

While the above reaches to the heart of the matter, it should surely be noted that Dekker’s views have far reaching ramifications. One of them would be the death of the Christian school system.

John Murray on the Extent of the Atonement

Finally we have the judgment of the man who filled the chair of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary for many years with distinction and effectiveness. Professor John Murray, who retired from his professorship at Westminster in January of 1967 and now lives in his native Scotland, excels as a devoted exegete of Holy Scripture, deals with theological subjects exhaustively and is utterly fair in debate. In reply to the request for a statement on Professor Dekker’s views he referred to the three articles he wrote for TORCH AND TRUMPET in 1965 (see issues of March, May-June and November) on the subject “The Free Offer of the Gospel and the Extent of the Atonement,” although he expressed willingness to prepare a new statement if asked to. The following comments are taken from these articles:

When we speak of the atonement we must always have in view the categories in terms of which the Scripture defines what we have come to speak of inclusively as the atonement, namely obedience, sacrifice (expiation), propitiation, reconciliation, and redemption. The question of extent is bound up with that of nature. For the question is: for whom did Christ vicariously render the obedience, offer sacrifice, and make propitiation? Whom did he reconcile to God and redeem by his blood? The Scripture often uses brief formulae such as he “died for us,” he “died for the ungodly,” he “died for the unjust,” he “died for our sins” or simply he “died for sins.” The meaning of “died for” must be derived from the categories already mentioned. Hence the extent of “died for” cannot be any more limited or more inclusive than that of the categories and so the question may also be stated in the terms: for whom did Christ die?…

It is apparent…that the atonement has an entirely different reference to the elect from that which it sustains to the non-elect on the highest level of their experience. It is this radical differentiation which must be fully appreciated and guarded; it belongs to the crux of the question respecting the extent of the atonement. The difference can be stated bluntly to be that the non-elect do not participate in the benefits of the atonement and the elect do. The non-elect enjoy many benefits that accrue from the atonement but they do not partake of the atonement.

It is here that the precise meaning of the categories is bound up strictly with the extent. The non-elect are not partakers of the obedience of Christ, nor of the expiation Christ accomplished by his sacrifice, nor of the propitiation, reconciliation, and redemption Christ wrought. .If they are not the partakers, they were not designed by God to be the partakers and, consequently, they are not included among those for whom the atonement, in its specific character as defined by the categories; was designed. This is but to say that it is limited in its extent. The atonement was designed for those and for those only who are ultimately the beneficiaries of what it is in its proper connotation. And likewise, when we think of Christ’s “dying for” in the substitutionary terms which are its proper import, we must say that he did not die for those who never become the beneficiaries of that substitution; he did not “die for” the non-elect.

The love presented in the gospel is as specific as is the gospel itself….It is only in Christ that this love and the riches of grace involved can be known and experienced. To this love Christ invites when he invites sinners to himself. But only those who respond are partakers. It is not therefore a love that may be declared to be the possession of all indiscriminately or, more pointedly stated, to be love in which all are embraced. There are various ways in which this distinction may be stated. Sinners to whom the claims ot the gospel come are not asked to believe that God or Christ loves them with this differentiating love. The faith the gospel demands is not belief of the proposition that Christ loves them with this love. The gospel demands that they come to Christ and commit themselves to him. In coming to him they will know his embrace and with him they will know his love on the highest plane of its exercise. This way of stating the case is parallel to what is true of election. Sinners do not come to Christ because they first believe that they have been elected. They come to Christ and only then may they believe that they were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. The same is true in the matter of the atonement. It cannot be declared to men indiscriminately that, in the proper sense of the term, Christ died for them. The belief of this proposition is not the primary act of faith. Only in commitment to Christ as freely offered may we come to know that he died for our sins unto our redemption…

At Synod 1967

At the Synod which is to meet in Grand Rapids in June this year Professor Dekker’s published views will be on trial. But even more the Christian Reformed Church will be on trial. This is so because three times this matter has been at Synod and three times the church has failed to come to a decision with respect to the issues involved, issues that lie at the very heart of our blessed faith, as we have seen.

This is the surprising thing about the history of this matter. The faultiness of the views in question seems rather clear. The prompt and plentiful critical commentary on these views that appeared already before the Synod of 1963 should have made these views plainly suspect. Why has the church been unable to deal with the issue decisively? It is to be hoped that the church has not become frozen at a political dead center where decisive action on crucial issues is no longer possible.

Shall the church, my church, present the gospel of saving grace according to the terms proposed by Professor Dekker? According to these terms one who finally came to his just end in hell could speak as follows: “An emissary of Christ came to me and told me in all sincerity that God loves me and that Christ died for me. Is this torment what God’s love meant me to have, and did Christ die to give me this hell? What a fraud the gospel is.”

Shall the Christian Reformed Church countenance such presentation of the gospel? Shall the church, my church, teach Christ’s emissaries to preach the gospel thus? With no hint of personal vendetta and in love let the Christian Reformed Church say plainly: God forbid.