Two dangers that have afflicted God’s people in the past and that are still with us today are what may be called “intellectualism” and “anti-intellectualism.” (Note the “ism’s”) Both have done and do untold harm to the body of Christ. A form of (rationalistic) intellectualism was very much present in the church in the 17th and 18th centuries. There was a tendency to reduce the heart of the Christian religion to an intellectual assent to dogma. A cold, abstract creedalism took over large segments of the church. As long as one knew the correct formal definition of certain doctrines, he was considered eligible for church membership (an ever-present danger today when examining young people who desire to make profession of their faith). The warmth of personal faith as described so beautifully in L. D. 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism was missing to a large degree.

As a reaction to this one-sidedness, we see the rise of another “extreme”—19th century Pietism and Schleiemacher’s “religion of feeling.” The Christian religion wns again reduced—this time to an “inner experience.” Creeds were frowned upon. The “no creed but Christ” slogan which we still hear today had its beginning there. A shallow emotionalism invaded the precincts of the church. If one could give a “testimony” of his “conversion experience,” he was “in.”

Any one at all acquainted with the present church-situation will have no difficulty recognizing both of these evils today. One has but to look at much of present-day Lutheranism and Pentecostalism for evidence. We can find evidence of both extremes in the Reformed churches too, including the Chr. Ref. Church. Examples are not hard to come by.

However, there is a certain form of this two-fold danger that I wish to pin-point now. It is the tension between “scholarship” and (for want of a better word) “non-scholarship.”

On the one hand we still find people in the Chr. Ref. Church who are afraid of scholarship. (Perhaps our “Afseheiding” background has something to do with this.) These people seem to have an inner fear of too much study or of a university education. One finds it expressed in the desire for “simple” sermons, “experiential” (“Bevindelijke”) preaching. Catechism and (much) O.T. preaching is frowned upon. This tendency is expressed well in the question of a well-meaning elderly sister: “Is dat noodig, al dat studeren?” This is a disease, and it’s not good.

There is, however, also the opposite tendency, and it is no less detrimental to God’s people. It is also a dangerous disease. I refer to a certain sense of pride and superiority on the part of some of the scholarly leaders in the Christian community—here and across the ocean. There is a tendency to look down condescendingly upon the “common people,” the multitude that knows not the law. When it comes, e.g., to questions of biblical interpretation, the scholars must be called in. They are the ones who know because it takes education to be able to handle these questions.

I submit that this is a very dangerous and unhealthy tendency. It is also dead wrong. For example, when it comes to the matter of determining the extent of the reliability of the Scriptures, one does not need an advanced education or formal scholarship to settle that question. Any “simple” uneducated believer can do that For this is a matter of faith, not of scholarship. It was a simple believing woman who straightened out the educated Abraham Kuyper, and in the history of the church it was often the common people of God who remained loyal to God’s Word. Similarly, today it doesn’t take people with a lot of theology and technical know-how to determine whether Kuitert is right or wrong. Any of God’s “common people” have the right and the authority to say to Kuitert without hesitation: You are wrong, dead wrong! One doesn’t need scientific or theological arguments to say that. That does not mean that thereby all the “problems” are solved, but the problem is taken care of. For we may not consider any writings of men of equal value with the divine Scriptures, and it is by faith that “we believe without ally doubt all things contained in them.” No matter how popular or “scholarly” it may be to go along with the crowd, or how “old-fashioned” or “simplistic” it may sound, the believer says: “Das Wort sollen Sie stehen lassen.” And that’s that.

The intellectual (scholarly) leaders must never put themselves above or isolate themselves from, God’s people. That is bad ~bad for God’s people, but even worse for the leaders. The latter need the restraining and leavening influence of the former to prevent them from going out on a limb or off on a tangent. (This is also one of the reasons I frown upon all kinds of “special worship services”—for youth, students or anyone else. God’s people are one and they belong together.)

To sum up, we need scholarship. Lots of it and the best of it. We need men with university training. It is essential for the task of God’s people in the world. But the scholars also need God’s ordinary people; that is also essential. The former are there to serve the latter, not to lord it over them—“that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care one for another” (I Cor. 12:25).


Rev. J. Tuininga is pastor of the La Glace Christian Reformed Church, Grand Praire, Alta., Canada.


For over a year Catherine Marshall’s novel, Christy, has been appearing on paperback book shelves and it is evidently being read throughout the country. Christianity Today hailed its achievement of popularity with a special editorial, “Cheers for Christy,” observing that this, for a change, was a wholesome Christian novel which had become a best-seller. The book deserves such recognition. But it seems to me that a further observation may properly be made regarding it. It portrays rather effectively a kind of cross-section of much of present-day Christianity.

One recalls the main characters and the varieties of “Christianity” which they represent: In Christy’s home background there is a doctrinally, formally correct, but apparently rather cold religious life that left her untouched. Then there is the humanistic concern with social uplift exhibited in the activities of David, the young preacher who has behind him a liberal seminary training. And, finally, there is the dedicated, personal, mystical religion of Alice Henderson, the Quaker lady who started the work in Cutter Gap. The latter is most sympathetically portrayed and the evident movement of the story is toward a faith such as hers. But which of these three really exemplifies a genuinely evangelical Christianity? To one’s regret, it seems to me, the reader must observe that none of them does! Although the book shows a deep respect for the Bible there is little reference if any to Christ as Savior. And does not this series of portraits—a dead orthodoxy, a confused liberalism, and the vague, inarticulate faith of the mystic—reflect the inadequacy of much of presentday Christendom? Where in the churches, even in the evangelical churches of our time does one find the ringing, enthusiastic proclamation of the gospel which not only “makes wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” but also goes on, systematically and fully, to declare his inspired word which “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”? Where is the preaching and teaching that, like Paul’s, not only calls to “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,” but also does not “shrink from” declaring “the whole counsel of God” including everything that is profitable to men? (Acts 20:20, 21, 7.) Of course, a novel is not a sermon and explicit preaching is likely to be detrimental to its effectiveness as a novel. But it seems to me that Christy whether deliberately or unconsciously, exhibits rather effectively the weakness of much current Christianity, even in so far as it attempts to suggest answers to men’s questions and problems.


Rev. Peter De Jong is pastor of Dutton Christian Reformed Church, Dutton, Michigan.


One walks about the Christian college campus today and observes Christian students in constant debate with each other; debates about philosophy, doctrine, and, most important, life on the Christian college campus. The emphasis at this point should be about the way in which the philosophy and doctrine of Christianity affect the way a Christian should live and be an example of Jesus Christ on the college campus.

One of the big questions facing Christian students today is whether or not they are going to submit to the authority of the administration of the Christian campus. One cannot help but observe that Christians are exercising an attitude of rebellion. Rebellion is not a Christian characteristic. What is the rebellion upon the Christian college campus? Is the rebellion Biblical?

The rebellion of the Christian student on the Christian campus is a rebellion of his own selfish desires. A person sees the Christian student “cutting down” the administration of his school because the administration will not give him what he wants. He says, “the members of the administration are not my parents; they can’t tell me what to do.” But it is increasingly evident that the Christian student, like many other college students of our day, wants his own way and is in open rebellion against his campus administration. He seems to always say, “I want this,” or “I think this”; yet he never seems to support his desires or his thoughts by Scripture. What, in fact, does Scripture teach about human authority?

The thirteenth chapter of Romans declares the Christian’s responsibility to the civil authority.1 This implies that any duly constituted authority is to be obeyed in Christ.2 The first two verses of Romans Thirteen read, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” The main emphasis of this passage is that God is sovereign. It is God who has placed the governing authorities in administration over us. Notice, the supreme authority is God and no authority exists unless instituted by God. God is the sovereign ruler.

If people do not subject themselves to these God-ordained rulers, then they resist God and incur judgment. One must not deceive himself and try to rationalize his acts. We are commanded to listen to what God says and has done. God is sovereign, and he reigns; he is King and Lord over everything and works everything out according to his will. And if people resist his will, they resist God! Romans Thirteen teaches that the administration is in the form of a parent to us.3

Perhaps you are asking, “What if the rulers who are set up are not Christian?” The answer should be, “Can you prove that the administration is not Christian from Scripture?” If you are able, by the infallible Word of God, to prove that the rulers, whether civil or campus, are not Christian, it is the duty of all Christians to come together and see what is un-Christian about the authority. The authority in question should then be urged to become Christian. This should be done prayerfully and by a gracious witness. However, in the schools observed by this writer, it is the wants and desires of the students which are considered before the Scriptural teaching. I have not witnessed, on the part of the students, any attempt to examine the administration’s authority fully in the light of Scripture.

Scripture teaches that those who do not follow God are in rebellion against him (Nehemiah 9:26). It means that these persons are saying, “We do not want this man (Christ) to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). They still want their own way. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). We have all turned to our own way and rejected the sovereign rule of Christ over our lives. Yet, that is the description of the natural man. To reject the rule of Christ is to manifest a love of the works of darkness. Christians are supposed to be transformed individuals. Therefore, they should be turning to God’s way instead of their own way.

Some Christian students seem to think they are mature—mature enough to go their own way and do what they want. But true maturity begins only in Christ and when one accepts Christ, he surrenders bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (I Corinthians 6:19–20).

We are God’s and since we belong to God, we must strive to follow him. This is true maturity, when we strive to follow Christ putting him first in everything and seeking to keep his commandments (I John 2:3, 5:3). This process is commonly called sanctification, which is the essence of the Christian life. One of the things that God requires of us is that we be subject to our authorities. Therefore, we must be subject to the higher powers. This is the mark of the truly mature Christian because he is following Christ and not his own selfish desires which seem to he keeping him out of the glory of God. “If the Lord be God, follow him; if Baal, then follow him” (I Kings 18:21).


1. Cf. Titus 3:1–7

2. Cf. Exodus 20:12, Titus 1:6, 2:3–8

3. Cf. I Timothy 5:1, 2

William D. Dennison is a member of the United Presbyterian Church, and presently a freshman at Geneva College, Beaver Falls, PA.