The Christmas season has done it again! In another denominational paper an attack on the biblical doctrine of the Virgin Birth has been published. Subtly but surely the article was like an invitation to countless termites to come into the very foundation of the faith.

Developing his argument, the author contends that in the early church the teaching of Jesus’ virgin birth was important for the mission outreach of the Church since it “formed an invaluable and indispensable introduction to the life and mission of Him whose salvation was unique and universal.” Christianity was to bring about a moral revolution in a world which was wanting for purity and integrity “in the sexual sphere of life.” “…The telling of the stories of Jesus’ birth contributed immeasurably to this moral revolution.” Continuing, the author suggests that a proper use of the birth stories today might be helpful toward moral rearmament. In application he writes, “…let us rededicate ourselves in our new life in Christ; the sanctity of sex; the sacredness of marriage; the joy of chastity and fidelity…”

Interestingly enough, he analyzes the present moral decay to be the result of “Protestantism’s exclusive emphasis on Joseph’s lack of participation in the procreative process in the attempt to protect our Lord’s deity,” and Rome’s emphasis on Mary. These “have laid two thick layers of fog” over the effective communication of the Gospel.

The shocking article, to use its own language, is, itself, beclouded with “thick layers of fog.” An open denial of this doctrine by the author would have been less offensive and far more honest because the lines would have been clearly drawn.

Being concerned for the faith, we all ask why this new attack has come through the pages of a seeming conservative voice. More than likely it will be explained as representative of a certain viewpoint within that given denomination -but certainly not of that whole denomination, for which we are grateful. Of course, the reason for this can only be guessed; but whatever the reason, it remains that an unwarranted attack, vicious in its vagueness, was permitted. Unwarranted it is because it represents a definite departure from the historic theological views of that church. And is it incorrect to say that the error must ultimately be traced back to the latest popular thought regarding the Bible?

Now, can we breathe a sigh of relief and say that such criticism could not possibly be leveled against the Christian Reformed Church? This would reveal complacency and relative blindness because the foggy mist is already closing in. We live in an age when lines arc no longer clearly drawn. Is it not possible that if we are not careful for Scriptural truth we will find ourselves lost in “thick layers of fog” and the very distinctives of the faith may be watered down into nothingness? Then what faith will we have?

Let us pray that God will deliver us from such foggy thinking as this!



Some years ago, the publication of the book Re-Thinking Missions created quite a stir in certain circles. There are those who would contend that its appearance was a genuine contribution to the mission of the church. Others would strongly claim the very opposite. Some would say that its acceptance and endorsement exploded the illusion that such major denominations as the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. were in actual fact faithful, confessional Reformed Churches. None would deny that it bad something to do with the emergence of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, whose clear-cut and effective witness to the truth is refreshing in these days of fuzzy thinking.

As a pastor, as a one-time missionary, and especially as a member of the Christian Reformed Church I would venture to say that we could do with a bit of re-thinking on missions. Much has been said about, much has been written about, and many are elated with the evident increasing mission interest among us. But I have hopes we want to be more than mere zealots or activists. Growth in enthusiasm to do missions brings with it the responsibility to examine, to know, to articulate, and even to improve what we are about. In this regard, I do not hesitate to say that it is more relevant than trite to suggest that “all is not gold that glitters.”

That is why I am convinced we could profit from a long. hard look at some of the trends, notions, methods, and strategy of missions currently accepted and practiced among us. I would have no difficulty adding to this list, but let me specify four areas to which the readers and contributors of this journal might give serious consideration:

1. The tendency towards centralization in our program, both at home and overseas. In spite of our insistence on de-centralization, we seem to be caught up in this spirit of “Let Grand Rapids or Classis do it.”

2. The tendency to measure the correctness of our theology, of our strategy, of our traditions and usages in terms of the possible effectiveness or ineffectiveness of our outreach.

3. The tendency to consider the mission of the church largely in terms of “soul-winning” and in so doing losing sight of the communal witness of God’s people in claiming every aspect and area of life for the Kingship of Christ. As an instance, I find it passing strange that in a day when we are increasing our personnel in Foreign and Home Missions we are so little aware of the potent and strategic force organizations such as the Christian Labor Association could be in our witness to the world.

4. The tendency to conceive of missions as the work of experts and specialists. As a result, big campaigns and streamlined organizations take the place of the faithful witness of the real “laborer in the harvest of Jesus” that is, the church member. In the same way, mission policy and strategy becomes the specialty of the “men on the field” and professors of missions, whereas the church member, the elders and pastors “back home” are expected to do no more than raise the funds and pray for missions.

Some re-thinking on these and other issues could only serve to unite us as a people in a more united, wholehearted and enthusiastic support of the mission of the church.



For some time now, especially since the publication of Anders Nygren’s Agape and Eros, selfless love has been extolled. It is ascribed to God and to God’s children. Distinctively Christian love is said to be selfless.

That selfishness is evil goes without saying. To love self to the detriment of another is sin. That Christian love embraces enemies is just as clear. To love God above all else and with one’s entire being is undeniably the first and great commandment of the divine law. And unquestionably self-denial, in the sense of devotion to Christ in distinction from self, is requisite to discipleship. However, Scripture nowhere extols selfless love. Contrariwise, it approves of self-love.

God loves himself. His aim in all that he does is his own glorification. To that end he created the heavens and the earth. And when in infinite love for rebellious men he sent his only begotten Son to redeem them from sin and death, his ultimate aim was “the praise of the glory of his grace” (Eph. 1:6,12).

The Saviour’s love for his own, which moved him to suffer in their stead the accursed death of the cross, was not a selfless love. When the shadow of the cross was closing in on him, he prayed: “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, Father, glorify me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:4,5). And the inspired writer of the epistle to the Hebrews has informed us that the Author and Finisher of our faith endured the shame of the cross “for the joy that was set before him” (Heb. 12:2).

Created as he is in the image of God, man too loves himself. Even unregenerate man has a natural self-love which comes to expression in various ways. Small wonder that he who has been born of the Spirit and is being renewed after the image of God would love himself! God acknowledges that fact and approves of it when he commands the Christian husband to love his wife as his own body (Eph. 5:28) and requires of Christians, as well as others, that they love their neighbors as themselves (Matt. 22:39). To say, as do Brunner and Nygren, that the commandment, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” speaks of self-love as something “to be overcome” (Jesus p. 100), and Agape and Eros, p. 101) is flagrant distortion of Scripture. It is said of Moses that he esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, “for he looked unto the recompense of reward” (Heb. 11:26 ). And who will deny that the convicted sinner who kneels at the foot of the cross and cries, “Wash me, Saviour, or I die” is motivated by a passionate desire for salvation—a desire wrought in his soul by the Holy Spirit? Commenting on the parable of the prodigal son, Calvin said of him: “The hope of bettering his condition, if he returned to his father, gave this young man courage to repent; for no severity of punishment will soften our depravity, or make us displeased with our sins, till we perceive some advantage.”

The Westminster Shorter Catechism tells us that the great end of man is “to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” That end is one, not two. The Christian’s joy will be full when he glorifies God to the point of perfection. To do that will constitute the heavenly bliss for which he hopes.

To extol selfless love is sanctimonious, not Scriptural.



Well cheer up, your troubles are over.

The President has delivered his traditional State of tha Union message to the Congress. But there was nothing traditional about it. This “message” was unique. Unique in that it was more of a pep-talk than a dignified address of a statesman. We heard little about why Americans are dying in Viet Nam, about fiscal responSibility, which is disturbing many of our citiZens. No, we were regaled on The Great Society.

This Great Society, like the space age, will revolutionize all of human life. What was once the dream of sages and visionaries of past ages, this like cobwebs in the belfry is brushed aside with one stroke of the hand. What our founding fathers dreaded more than anything else was an all-powerful, totalitarian government; this is now openly advocated by politicians, with our president as its chief exponent and spokesman. The government will satisfy your every wish, cure every disease, eliminate all poverty. beautify every city, educate every child, alleviate every pain, soothe every sorrow, study the problem of fertility and initiate methods of birth control that are unobjectionable on religious grounds. The government will place enough money in your hands so you can “live it up”. And be sure you spend it, because only profligate spending will keep the economy growing and expanding. The old fashioned virtues of thrift and self-reliance can be tossed out of the window. Medicare will pay your hospital bills. Yes, the message was a blue-print of paradise. Utopia has finally arrived.

Of course, there were a couple of sour notes in the symphony.

One is the element of coercion. You see, twenty of our fifty states have right to work laws; i.e. in these twenty states no one can be compelled to join a union in order to hold his job. This has always been a thorn in the flesh of unions and labor leaders. But, what has come to be known as freedom of association is the cause of friction in these states. Said our President, “And as pledged in our 1960 and 1964 Democratic platforms, I will propose to congress changes in the Taft-Hartley Act, including section 14-B. I will do so hoping to reduce conflicts that for several years have divided Americans in various states of our Union.” Section 14-8 permits each state to prohibit by law “agreements requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment.” Labor leaders have fretted and fumed against this law from the day of its inception. Now they can breathe easier. What they have not been able to accomplish, namely its repeal, the President will do for them. An omnipotent Uncle Sam has decreed that freedom of association must be abrogated. Compulsory unionization must become the law of the land. States Rights? And don’t you engage in any “sit-ins” to emphasize your “civil rights.”

Another disturbing factor in this Utopia is the rising tide of crime, juvenile delinquency, school drop-outs, and related problems. The President feels that every citizen should be safe in life and limb on the streets of our cities’ his property rights are inviolate in the Great Society. So, a’conference of leading sociologists, educators. religious leaders, psychiatrists is in the offing, to study the cause and cure of the rising tide of crime, Now citizens should help the President to economize a little here and there. We can do nothing about the light switches in the White House, but we can help with this pending conference. Likely some commission will be set up. with an appropriation of several millions of dollars. But for 35c we can do the job. Send him a copy of the Heidelberg Catechism. Perhaps he has never heard of it, but it has the answer to this cause and cure.

We may well dread The Great Society. A society where the spending of money seems to be the chief object of living, where for many loafing will be more appealing than working, where every one will have so much leisure time on his hands because of the shorter work-week, and above all, where a generation is raised on n secular godless education which knows of no religious and moral restraints, such will not be the Great Society our President envisions. That Society will choke in the froth of its own corruption as it wallows in the mire of its own voluptuousness.

Let’s see, for whom did you vote?