A usual feature in any “lost and found” is an assortment of keys. Such important things ought not be mislaid and so one by one they are retrieved by their owners. But there are some keys which in the minds of some church members are as good as lost and today there is precious little searching for them.

Even churches of the Reformed tradition which have always held that the marks of the true church are the lively preaching of the Word, the proper administration of the sacraments and the faithful exercise of Christian discipline, act as if the “Keys of the Kingdom” are either lost or mislaid. The name Reformed is important to them but the tenets of the faith have become ornamental. The keys which are so valuable and important to the church of Jesus Christ are become for some impractical.

Is it any secret that the preaching of the Word is no longer held in high esteem? There was a day when the faithful would gather to hear God’s Word in all its fulness. How much time was spent in God’s house on the Sabbath was not important. For descendants of these faithful ones this seems no longer to be the case. There is a constant attempt to cut down on the Word. There is the introduction of a ritualism or a “ministry of music” which devises musical services in place of the preaching because “the people like them”; there is the concern evidenced that a service longer than sixty minutes “on the head” is unnecessary. Further, we find that in place of an exposition of the Word of God, there is a one· sided emphasis on social justice and an extra-biblical love.

This may sound like an indictment of every congregation but such is not true. Many pulpits still faithfully bring the message of God’s Gospel promise. However, even among these there is an occasional forgetfulness of the other “key”: discipline.

Perhaps the reason for this is that the idea of discipline has fallen into disrepute today. Piously, the attitude that “God will take care of his church” is taken as a satisfactory suhstitute for the exercise of discipline commanded in the Word. To exercise it is to be “unkind,” we are told. A key is lostI

Do we wonder why there are signs of weakness in the Church today? Maybe the whole body is affected because one key or the other—or both—is not used. Christians ought to believe the whole Word. We simply cannot use a scissors to remove the sections of Scripture that do not make us happy. Had we better go back to the “lost and found” to retrieve the Keys of the Kingdom?



February 26 marked the golden anniversary of The Banner. For fifty years this official publication of the Christian Reformed Church has been publishing the truth of the Word of God according to the principles of Calvinism. Back in 1915 the editor, Dr. Henry Beets, wrote that Calvinism “is the purest, most comprehensive conception of the great, vital truths of the infallible Word of God, before which we bow reverently and believingly.” These words are quoted from a recent issue of The Banner in which mention is made of the celebration of this anniversary.

When we sec the great expansion of the church during the past fifty years, and the continued growth that by the grace of Cod we hope to see, we wonder whether our fundamental belief in God’s Word and love for Calvinism will also grow. Will we still be able to subscribe to Dr. Beets’ statement of the basis for our belief? Many factors will determine the answer to this question, but certainly one of them is the official publication of our denomination. If the caliber of writing that has been characteristic of the last fifty years is indicative of the future, the Christian Reformed Church can look forward to continued love for Calvinism, and especially continued faith in the infallible Word of God.



Professor Harold Dekker (Chair of Missions, Calvin Seminary) has set forth, and strenuously sought to maintain, the proposition that Cod loves all men with what is qualitatively the same love. Clearly the burden of proof is his. If he does not adequately establish his thesis, he cannot expect it to be acceptable to those who would deal seriously with the Scriptures.

Very rightly he has urged that the discussion be based on “the Bible givens.” But now we would ask, in all kindness, whether he has duly done this. Should he not have done. and should he not still do, much more for us with “the Bible givens”? Is there not in his consideration of the subject an unpaid balance?

Romans 9:13 seems in point: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” Dekker reminds us that this is a quotation from Malachi 1:3 “where it bas a specific historical setting.” Still here it stands in the context of the definitely personal “purpose of God according to election.” When the professor adds “It does not refer to an absolute distinction” he evidently concedes that there is some distinction. When we consider its implications, what an awesome contrast is here! How can this be if qualitatively the same love of God is shown here toward Jacob and Esau?

Another group of texts also asks for clarification. In Timothy 2:19 tells us “The Lord knoweth them that are his”…while Romans 8:29 says “For whom he foreknew, he also fore-ordained…” Meanwhile Matthew 7:23 affirms that the Lord will say to some “I never knew you.” What a destiny-deciding difference! Can this be harmonized with the view that God’s love toward these different classes is qualitatively the same?

Then II Timothy 1:9 tells us that God saved us “according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal.” Here is grace, or love, which has an everlasting quality! From eternity to eternity! Can the esteemed professor show from “the Bible givens” that whatever love of God goes out to those who are forever lost is qualitatively the same love?

Very significantly he insists that “the difference between common grace and special grace, between common love and special love, is not in the respective quality or essence of these, but rather in the effect produced” (Reformed Journal, Feb., 1963, p. 15). But both the Bible and the Canons of Dort show clearly that the solemn differences “in the effect produced” are precisely due to the differences in God’s sovereign electing love.

In the Canons, II, Art. 7 we confess that the heirs of salvation “are indebted for this benefit solely to the grace of God given them in Christ from everlasting, while 11, Art. 9 shows the purpose of our salvation as “proceeding from everlasting love toward the elect.”

Dekker himself wrote (Reformed Journal, Dec., 1962, p. 7). “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.” Threading our way through this somewhat heavy wordage we get the meaning that the reason for one’s salvation is God’s sovereign, saving love. Then the “result produced” roots in the kind of love that sought and saved us. There’s the basic difference!

May we not look for more convincing explanation and harmonization here?

Professor Dekker tries to explain his thesis by distinguishing between love as “redeeming” and “redemptive.” The use of such similar words can easily lead to confusion. Yet this much is clear: a definite difference in love is conceded. We respectfully urge the writer to make clear just what is the difference between the difference in love which he admits and the “qualitative” difference in love which he denies.

He has decried a “double-track theology” which “sacrifices Biblical realism to logical structure” (Reformed Journal, Dec. 1962, p. 6). Yet has he not, himself, leaned overmuch on logical structure? He exclaims: “God’s love is love. It cannot be something else. A qualitative disjunction between different kinds of divine love is a sheer contradiction in tenns. This idea, it seems to me, drives a wedge into the very nature of God. Can non-redemptive love offer redemption? Is this not sheer anomaly?” And much morel

Is it not imperative that our conclusions rest on “the Bible givens” rather than on such reasoning?

Dekker himself asks: “But is there anything that we really can explain about the love of God?” Our human analyses and analogies have their place but are so limited! On the basis of his own statements we would now ask whether anyone has the competence to insist that there can be no qualitative difference between that wonderful divine love which gives eternal salvation to some and that which leaves others unsaved, though giving them certain blessings?

Surely, God’s love to the world is a mighty stream! But Calvin has reminded us that “this forms no reason whatsoever why God should not confine His especial or peculiar love to a few” whom he has chosen.

The thesis that this “especial” love of God for the saved is qualitatively the same love he shows to all men needs, it seems to me, further proof from “the Bible givens.”