THE CREDIBILITY GAP
The Bible teaches that Adam and Eve were historical persons, that there was an idyllic state in which there was no death and that there was an historic fall.
But now from some Gereformeerde theologians in the Free University of Amsterdam and the theological school in Kampen we hear that there is a credibility gap in the Bible. For them the above statements are false. The Bible does have discrepancies and contradictions that cannot be solved. It is not all true. We must distinguish between the wrapping material and the historical facts inside the wrapping. For example, one writer says that the walls of Jericho did not fall down; and that Joshua 8:3 (30,000 soldiers) contradicts Joshua 8:12 (5,000 soldiers). It is no longer certain what is true and false in the Bible. There is a credibility gap.
How differently Jesus evaluates the Scriptures! For him, what the Scriptures prophesied had to come to pass. Even seemingly insignificant Old Testament passages spoke with divine authority for him, such as those passages with which he silenced the Devil with a simple “It is written.” He even reasoned from a single letter in an obscure Old Testament passage (Ps. 82:6), concluding all debate with “The scripture cannot be broken.” Neither Jesus nor any Biblical writer gives an inkling as to a credibility gap in the Bible.
EDWIN H. PALMER
NOW SYNOD IS OVER…
Its all over now. After two days of deliberations the brethren went home, the elders to their workshop or office, the ministers to their congregation and the professors to their seminary. I guess that all members of Synod were happy that it was over. They will have gone home with different feelings, ranging from deep satisfaction to deep dissatisfaction, but, at least, Synod had spoken. There had been created a new background or a new platform for future events. And very important: no blood had been shed, no schism had occurred. The struggle for truth had not broken up the unity. And the struggle for unity had not taken place at the expense of the truth. There were no protests and no negative votes, as far as I know.
We are indebted to Dr. M. Woudstra who also for this issue sent us his report on the happenings of Synod. We are sorry that we are not able to publish the second section of the article, dealing with the discussions which took place. However. we should listen attentively to Woudstra’s analysis. Are we as-a church not often fixing the roof while the tidal wave is near, ready to carry away “house and roof and leak and man”?
Now let us look at the decision itself for a moment.
First of all, it is indeed a meager decision. Rev. Kuyvenhoven felt that the mountain (of reports, articles, meetings) had given birth to a mouse. Rev. H. Peterson, reporter of Synod’s Advisory Committee stated that one hundred pages had been reduced to ten pages, ten to five and that now it came down to a single page. He said. according to the report in Calvinist Contact of Dr. Gordon Spykman that the previous report was a patient who had been examined, X-rayed and sent to the hospital for surgery. The unanimous conclusion regarding Professor Dekker would then indicate that the surgery had been successful. It is strange to see the report characterized as the patient. Why not Professor Dekker? I rather think of the report as a lancet and of Synod and the various committees as the competent doctors. Now after much deliberation (and prayer) the surgeons decided not to proceed to major surgery, but to perform a minor operation (an admonishment) in the hope that this will improve the general health of the patient that he may overcome further weakness.
Dr. E. Roels agreed that the decision was a “mousy” thing. But he said, let it be a mouse that roared. I don’t expect this mouse will do this.
In the second place, this decision has the character of a compromise. Rev. A. Schaafsma said that it was neither white nor black, but grey. Dr. Spykman expects that some will think that Synod said too much and others that Synod said too little. The character of the compromise was perhaps expressed in its most touching way by the !lev. A. Persenaire, who was the reporter of the Doctrinal Committee during the last three years. He said -rightly, I feel -that the Doctrinal Committee had made the largest concessions for the sake of unity. Yet Persenaire was in favour of this short admonishment as Synod’s final decision. He did not at all agree with many of Professor Dekker’s statements, yet he had noted too that others had used these same expressions (God loves you and Christ died for you) in a different way, in a more Reformed way. He pleaded for the compromise, since the controversy was not worth the price of a lasting division. There is greatness in self-denial.
This leads to our third observation. Namely, that this decision, though very small and taken after much hesitation, is indeed satisfactory. It does what the report wanted to do. It put things straight. It states in the shortest possible manner that Professor Dekker was wrong: he erred in making ambiguous statements and in using these in an abstract way. Seeing that P. Jonker said (correctly): “I must judge that they (Dekker’s statements) are not in harmony with Scripture and the Creeds,” it is obvious that if Synod had not admonished Professor Dekker, no compromise would have been possible. The decision is satisfactory. Professor Dekker’s statements have resulted in much misunderstanding. On the other hand the report of the Doctrinal Committee ignores other real dangers for the church. Our very careful 1967 Synod did not do much. But this Synod made no mistake in its concluding decision. And in as far that the ones who defended Dekker’s position and the ones who objected to this position, all could agree on this admonishment, we may indeed, with Dr. H. Stab, speak of a miracle. We almost might quote Acts 15 (without any vainglory): “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than this necessary” admonishment.
Finally, this decision demands further action. We have always accepted the sincerity of Professor Dekker. He wanted to improve our missionary understanding and activity. Fine! Now his medicine did not work. It had bad side effects. Elder Suk was so right when he said that our lack of missionary zeal is not due to a misconception of the atonement, but to apathy and materialism. We must find out more about the root of the problem. Why can we not speak more meaningfully about our Saviour to unbelievers? And why do the unbelievers often shy away from us as soon as they perceive that we want to talk about things not seen and as soon as they notice that we have a message for them?