CITIZENS FOR EDUCATIONAL FREEDOM
At the present moment the Christian Reformed Church is undergoing a marked change in its thinking concerning tax aid to independent school children. Ten years ago there was little enthusiasm for this proposal, except by some who from personal experience had seen bow equitably to all the system had worked in Holland. No magazine of the church took up the cudgels unequivocally for it.
But today a revolution is in process. The former editor of TORCH AND TRUMPET essentially endorsed the principle. having previously disagreed with this author’s articles on the subject in TORCH AND TRUMPET. Some authors in the Reformed Journal have come out strongly for the issue. The National Union of Christian Schools, although Dot going as far as consistency would demand, has taken an entirely new stand on the issue. Forty professors of Calvin College have joined the national movement called Citizens for Educational Freedom. This organization is attempting to gain a fair share of taxes for all independent school children. The chairman of the board of directors of this organization is a member of one of the Pella, Iowa, congregations. Members of the Christian Reformed Church are joining and forming chapters all over the nation. Here, then, is a major break-through in the Christian Reformed Church. And it is just beginning to gain momentum.
The major reason more people are not yet members of CEF (Citizens for Educational Freedom) is that they simply have not heard of it. (It is only four years old.) CEF was formed four years ago by a group of citizens in St. Louis, Mo. They were chiefly Roman Catholic, and the organization today is composed largely of Roman Catholics, the reason being that percentage-wise they have more private schools that any other group. Yet the organization is strictly non-denominational. It is composed of Jews, Protestants, Roman Catholics and those who have no particular religious affiliation.
Its primary goal is to put the independent school children on a par with the state school children in the reception of school taxes. It believes that the state has a right to demand that all children be educated, but that it has no right to dictate the religious nature of the education. It believes that only the parents have the fundamental God-given right to determine the religious orientation of their children’s education. Therefore, it holds that the state may require the education of all children. but that in the financial support of them it may not favor a state, secularistic; God-ignoring education over against another type that a parent may conscientiously feel his child should have. It believes independent schools just as well as state schools fulfill the purpose of state aid to education, namely, to train children to live and serve in a democracy.
To achieve this end, CEF has suggested the so-called Junior G.I. Bill of Rights as a possible solution. Just as tax money from all citizens was turned over to veterans for an education in any accredited college of their choice (not only state colleges), so also CEF suggests the same system on the lower educational level. This is the same principle that is operative in New York State under the Regents Scholarships and Scholar Incentive Program. Such a program would not violate the principle of separation of church and state any more than the three above-mentioned laws do. And it would also uphold the principle of separation of family and state, so that the parent has a free choice as to the religious direction of the education without a tax penalty if he refuses the religious secularism of state schools.
It is obvious that CEF is filling a great need for those interested in the freedom of education. Until this organization was formed, the energies of many who were interested in these principles were dissipated in uncoordinated diversity of effort. There was no one to channel all their energies into an effective action group. Now there is an organization. And CEF has a capable, full-time executive director. All those who are interested in obtaining action in this realm should send their membership fee of $3.00 to CEF, 3109 S. Grand Blvd.,St. Louis 18, Mo. Among other benefits, they will receive a monthly paper that will keep them up to date on the developments in this area of educational freedom.
If you do not fight for the rights of your child, who will?
EDWIN H. PALMER Philadelphia
EASTER AND EXTRA-SENSORY PERCEPTION
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, famous writer and pastor of Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, presented his readers with an interpretation of Easter in a syndicated column which appeared in the Chicago Tribune for April 13, 1963. A woman who had been very sick wrote Dr. Peale a letter. During her illness she saw standing in a corner of her room a man who assured her that she would get well. Reflecting upon this, Dr. Peale opines that “in all likelihood it was an extra-sensory experience.”
But what is “extra-sensory experience?” The columnist tells us that “extra-sensory refers to phenomena beyond the range of our physical senses, but which nevertheless we somehow perceive.” He adds that “we still have much to learn about these mysteries.”
So far one can scarcely differ with Dr. Peale. But this is not the end of his story, and that which follows is occasion for astonishment and concern to the church of Christ. Listen as this is applied to the resurrection appearances of our Lord:
The resurrection of Jesus was followed by a series of extra-sensory experiences. On the first Easter morning when two or three of His followers went to the tomb they saw unknown men who “stood by them in shining garments” and then vanished. Jesus Himself appeared first to one or more of the women, then at different times to other followers….The appearings and reappearings of Jesus were to remind His disciples that He lives even when they could not see Him; that the spiritual is real, that life survives death.
This, it seems to me, is in complete contradiction to what we read in John’s fist epistle: “That which was from the beginning. that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we beheld, and our hands have handled concerning the Word of Life… that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also” (1.1,3).
If Peale is right—and I am sure that he is dead wrong—then the apostle is a deceiver and the apostolic word is ridiculous.
REIN LEESTMA Grand Rapids
PROFESSOR DEKKER AND GOD’S LOVE
Professor Harold Dekker of Calvin Seminary has recently written that “God loves all men indiscriminately.” Later he said that “my use of the word indiscriminately needs qualification,” but he continued to assert that “there is no essential distinction within the love of God to man,” and that God loves all—with a redemptive love.” (Cf. Reformed Journal, February, 1963; March, 1963.)
I would like to go along with, his proper plea that we stand on “the plain Bible givens.” Speaking of his love to men, God says: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Rom. 9:13). We agree with Hodge that hate in Rom. 9:13 as in Luke 14:26 means to “love less,” but when the Bible states so plainly the difference, how can we hold that God’s love is the same, redemptive love in the case of Jacob and Esau? Again, God will say to some, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23), and to others: “I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3). Such passages, and many others, demand a careful, detailed explanation in this discussion. It does not satisfy to have Professor Dekker “consider in a general way the teaching of the text cited by De Jong” (March, 1963, p. 14), since we urgently need a specific study of the “Bible givens” rather than a general review.
It seems to me that Dekker’s appeal is not so much to Scripture as to logic. He stoutly declares, “A qualitative distinction between different kinds of divine love is a sheer contradiction in terms.” Again, “God’s love is love. It cannot be something else.” Also, “Can non-redemptive love offer redemption? Is this not a sheer anomaly?” The idea of two essentially different loves in God’s relationship to men “drives a wedge into the very nature of God.” Does this kind of reasoning really heed Dekker’s own warning against sacrifice of “Biblical realism to logical structure?”
When Dekker asks, “Can non-redemptive love offer redemption?”, should we not do as he recommends, leaving the unexplainable where it belongs,” that is, with God? And does not this assertion of a redemptive love for all raise another question, namely, If God’s redemptive love is for all, why are some unredeemed? We are committed to the truth of the irresistibility of God’s special grace. But this is not for all, as the Canons of Dort say, “This purpose, proceeding from everlasting love toward the elect, has from the beginning of the world to this day been powerfully accomplished, and will henceforth still continue to be accomplished,” (II, 9).
My last observation is in effect a plea for clarification. I find it confusing when Professor Dekker writes: “Are these four loves different? Of course. But do they differ in their intrinsic quality as love? It would seem not,” but on a previous page says, “there is no essential distinction within the love of God to man” (March 1963). Again: “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” (Dec. 1962). Since Dekker uses love and grace as synonymous terms this must mean that some arc saved and others are not according as God sovereignly dispenses his love to sinners. Must we then believe that God loves them all with essentially the same love, a redemptive love? And that in view of the fact that He “never knew” some and “chose” others before the foundation of the world?
I am also puzzled with the use of Calvin in his references to God’s Jove for all men. It seems to me that Calvin stands quite opposed to the idea that God loves all men with essentially the same redemptive love when he says:
Proofs of the love of God towards the whole human race exist innumerable, all of which demonstrate the ingratitude of those who perish. This fact, however, forms no reason whatsoever why God should not confine His especial or peculiar love to a few, whom He has, in infinite condescension been pleased to choose out of the rest (March 1963, p. 15). I have inserted. the italics to indicate that Calvin seems to be arguing for a real difference in the general, non-redemptive love of God for men, and the particular, redeeming love of God for the elect.
CORNEAL HOLTROP Muskegon, Michigan
PROFESSOR STOB AND GOD’S HATE
Professor Henry Stob of Calvin Seminary enters the discussion provoked by his colleague “from the side” with an article which strenuously maintains that “God hates no man” (Reformed Journal, February 1963—all following quotations are from this periodical).
Stob approaches his subject head-on: “Does not the Bible clearly say in Malachi 1:3 and Romans 9:13 that God hated Esau, and does it not say in Psalm 5:5 and in Psalm 11:5 that God hates evil-doers and those that love violence? Are we not plainly told in Proverbs 6: 19 that God hates a false witness and a man who sows discord?” Here the writer urges us to remember that “words are one thing; meanings are another.” To this there may be some validity, but surely words and meanings do not stand apart from one another! Meanings are in the words or communication is impossible. Our verbally inspired Bible is “in words…which the Spirit teacheth” (I Cor. 2:13). We should guard against pouring philosophical and psychological content into the word hate and then insist that God cannot hate in the manner so invented. We modestly suggest that Dr. Stob may have gone in this direction. With him we feel that the awesome character of God’s hate is not a matter to be described by our analysis but by God’s revelation.
Stob begins wen when he announces at the start, “I wish centrally to inquire whether we are Biblically justified in saying that God hates some men.” But we are right sorry that his lengthy article deals so little with “Bible givens.” There is some enlargement of the comparatively simple Romans 9:13 and Luke 14:26, but over-all biblical justification is scant. We are given this general conclusion: “And as to evildoers, the divine ‘hate’ that is said to go out to them represent.. no more (and no less!) than the fact that God places them under just judgment” (page 11). But does not Scripture reveal that God is not only judgmental toward sinners, but that he has keen feelings about them? “They that are perverse in heart are an abomination to Jehovah” (Prov. 11:20). “Jehovah abhorreth the bloody and deceitful man” (Ps. 5:6). “He is terribly displeased with our original as well as actual sins” (Heidelberg Catechism, q. 10).
We are glad that Dr. Stob has included several modi£ications of his main contention. He writes: “I do not venture to say what God’s attitude is toward those who, having sinned against the Holy Spirit, cannot come to repentence” (page 11). In other words, God might hate them? Then why be so sure that God hates no man? Again: “Precisely because God is love, he hates all that which is not conducive to the realization of his loving purpose with men” (page 11). If evil-doers are not conducive to this purpose, but rebellious against it, do they then not come under this hatred? Once more: “Of course, the sinner who refuses to be separated from his sin does in the embrace of it experience the Divine No! which no sin can ever escape” (page 12). What does this somewhat veiled language mean if not that the sinner is hated along with the sin to which he clings?
Can we be so sure that God “cannot love a thing and hate it too?” Might our infinite God whose love “passeth knowledge” (Eph. 3:19) love men as his creatures and image-bearers. but hate them in their rebelliousness? When the Bible plainly says of God: “Thou hatest all workers of iniquity,” are we justified to make the sweeping statement: “Hate of men is a divine impossibility?” (page 12).
In his monumental work on Christian theology Professor Herman Bavinck does point out that in the Bible God’s hate is almost always directed against sinful deeds, and only “exceptionally (are) sinful persons its object” (Herman Bavinck, The Doctrine of God, tr. by Wm. Hendriksen, p. 216: Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.). Please note that this still holds to the position that Cod does reveal a hatred for evil-doers. It is painful, therefore, to have Dr. Henry Stob wax almost vehement in his concluding statements as he writes: “As for me, I think that to ascribe hate of persons to God is to pervert the very thought of God” and “I contend that every responsible theology is called upon to purge itself of the idea…Stob even dares to question whether those who refer to a dispositional hate in God are not “teetering on the brink of blasphemy.”
Fervent prayer is needed that we may in love discern what is biblically justified and biblically required!
CORNEAL HOLTROP Muskegon, Michigan
TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT
In God-Centered Evangelism I said that, had God so willed, he could have saved sinners by mere power. In saying that, I simply asserted that God is almighty. Of course, God can do whatever he wills to do. To deny that, is to deny the divine omnipotence.
Lo and behold, in a review of that book, and again in the latest issue of The Reformed Journal, Dr. James Daane has made a truly astounding deduction from the aforesaid statement. Of the dozen other reviews in my possession not one, not even the least favorable, has made any such deduction. Dr. Daane actually charges me with teaching that God could have saved sinners without the Cross. Truly, as some defenders of Karl Barth have been eager to point out, the making of deductions can become extremely unfair.
If I should say that I teach no such things as Dr. Daane alleges, that would not only be an understatement; the fact is that it is precisely that thing which I took great pains in God-Centered Evangelism to deny.
As every high-school student knows, “had he so willed” is a condition contrary to fact. It plainly implies that God did not will to save sinners by mere force. I did not stop there. The only reason why I made reference to the divine omnipotence was that on that background I might say that as a matter of fact God wills to save sinners not by mere force but by the power of divine love. So I did state emphatically. Nor did I stop there. I went on to say that, being who he is, God could not have willed to save sinners in any other way than by the atonement. In other words, the very nature of God demanded the Cross. To cap the climax, I made the strong, yet not a whit too strong, statement that to save in any other way would have meant for God to deny himself.
R. B. KUIPER Grand Rapids
ASHAMED OF OUR HERITAGE?
Every now and then one hears critical and disparaging remarks from members of our own congregations about the Christian Reformed Church. Comparisons may be drawn between our own and some other evangelical, perhaps undenominational group, and almost invariably the Christian Reformed Church comes off second best. Time-tested institutions such as doctrinal and catechism preaching, catechism classes and Christian day school instruction will receive adverse criticism.
Now there certainly is room for constructive criticism, and we should be more conscious than we are that if we are to remain a truly Reformed church we must ever be reforming. It will be a sad day when we close our eyes to our denominational faults. But what often grieves us is that those criticizing our denomination frequently seem to lack real appreciation for the very things that have made our church strong.
Just recently it was our privilege to have contacts with leaders from other evangelical groups which made us appreciate more than ever the priceless heritage we as a Christian Reformed Church, by the grace of God, have received.
In a seminar held with Dr. Ahlem, professor of Psychology in Stanislaus State College. Turlock, California, one of the Religious Emphasis Week speakers on the campus of Montana State College, Bozeman, Montana, we were told that the speaker’s church was in the process of constructing an educational unit at the cost of approximately a quarter of a million dollars. The professor said he questioned the wisdom of such expenditure of kingdom funds when the unit would be used for little more than Sunday School classes about one hour per week. He pointed out the greater wisdom of having a Christian day school with a qualified staff of teachers and a we1l-rounded curriculum. This testimony coming from the member of a Presbyterian church was both gratifying and encouraging to the Christian Reformed ministers and “laymen” present at the seminar.
A few weeks later the same Evangelical Minister’s Association, in which our Christian Reformed ministers in this area take a very active part. sponsored a regional N.A.E. Sunday School Convention, with two public mass meetings and a large number of workshops. The main speaker, Dr. Floyd Robinson, Head of the Moody Bible Institute School of Correspondence, stated in one of his messages that statistics of the American Sunday School indicate that eighty-seven percent of those at some time attending Sunday school are not retained but are lost to the church in their late teens. When asked in a panel discussion how churches that have expensive educational plants which are used on an average of only one hour a week for Sunday school could make more responsible use of such kingdom funds, he indicated that various evangelical churches in Michigan are beginning to hold Saturday catechism classes in their churches in addition to their Sunday School classes. When one of the speakers was asked about the high percentage of loss of Sunday School pupils to the church, and the disappointing number of parents of Sunday School pupils that can be interested in the church, he observed that the Scriptural method of mission activity was rather that of gaining the children through the parents than that of gaining the parents through the children. Although not employing our terminology, the speaker was virtually endorsing the covenant approach which our churches have always championed.
It did our hearts good to hear such sentiments expressed by those who neither are nor claim to be Reformed. Let us thank God for what he has given us in these time-tested institutions which under God have made and kept our church strong. Let us solicit constructive criticism and strive by the grace of God to correct our faults, but let us not close our eyes either deliberately or ignorantly to the wonderful spiritual heritage which is ours. We can truly praise God for all our church strives to do for its children and young people by way of catechism classes, Sunday School, Christian Day School, the Young Calvinist services to young people both at home and in the armed forces, Cadets, Calvinettes, and in providing various materials for family worship in the home. Where can we find a church that by God‘s grace does more for its children and young people than our beloved Christian Reformed Church? Thank God for our heritage.
JOHN GEELS Bozeman, Montana
The virgin birth is the title of a work recently published as written by Thomas Boslooper, Ph.D., pastor of the Second Reformed Church, Schenectady, N.Y. In the February 1963 issue of Missionary Monthly G. De Witt reviews this work unfavorably. The reviewer declares that he was “shocked, astonished, and grieved” by this book, and that because he finds that the author denies the true historical nature of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. De Witt quotes Boslooper as follows:
Both Roman Catholics and Protestants have been wrong in insisting on the literal historicity of the narratives. The virgin birth is ‘myth’ in the highest sense of the word.
It is not my intention to review another review. I believe however, that Reverend De Witt’s final paragraph contains a most appropriate comment, one which can be of help in other situations confronted by members of churches which require confessional commitment. De Witt writes:
But I am pressed by a crucial consideration. This book has been written, not by a Muslim, a German neo-logical professor answerable to no one but the state, or a Congregationalist whose ecclesiastical policy allows him the widest latitude, but by a minister of the Reformed Church who has put his hand to the paper .lIS in public and hearty accord with the doctrinal Forms of Unity of that Church. It is this which makes the treatise so shocking. The question now is not the incorrectness of Boslooper’s position—and I am sure it is completely wrong—but his transgression upon ministerial vows. He is a man who has been graduated from our Seminary, preaches in our churches, and who now has boldly denied a cardinal tenet of our faith. This if allowed to stand, must be destructive of the whole.
Anyone who publicly binds himself to the creeds by signing The Form of Subscription (cf. Psalter Hymnal of the Christian Reformed Church, Doctrinal Standards, p. 71) and then contradicts or ignores this commitment is chargeable with the kind of dishonesty which the Bible takes very seriously (Acts 5:1–11).
REIN LEESTMA Grand Rapids