“I would like to know…” wrote Arthur Davies in a recent TORCH AND TRUMPET article (August, 1970), “how that church is of primarily more importance than, for example, the God-instituted family.” “That church” to which he refers is the “church-as-institute-gathered-around-the-Word-with-its-Christ-appointed-officiary” spoken about by P. Y. De Jong in a previous article on the A.A.C.S. I would like to attempt an answer to that question.

Let me explain that I am a recent addition to the Christian Reformed denomination, although I am a lifelong member of the Reformed community. I was taught that the word Reformed in the name “Reformed Church in America” (the denomination to which I formerly belonged) meant “reformed and reforming according to the Word of God.” Perhaps I have been “reformational” all along without knowing it. By the way, I was also taught that to accept Christ as Savior involved accepting Christ as Lord (= King?) of all of life. So you can see why I am searching to discover the basic difference between the A.A.C.S. viewpoint and the “conservative” outlook within the Christian Reformed Church.

Apparently I have company in having difficulty finding principal differences between these two points of view. It seems that the “voluminous writing” of the A.A.C.S. people has not made their position as clear as Davies suggests. The “reformational” writings which I have read expound many implications of the A.A.C.S. position, but they have not explained the starting point satisfactorily for some of us.

However, there seems to be a clue in the question which prompted the writing of these lines. The implication of the question is that the “church” as defined is of no more importance, “primarily,” than the family—or state, or labor union, or businessmen’s association (so long as they are “Christian”). The idea seems to be that they are all good—equally good in their separate “spheres” because they are all human institutions after all.

That is where the rub comes in. Davies wrote earlier in his article: “Both of these positions, the conservative and the liberal, find their root in humanistic thought” (italics mine). It may come as a shock to some A. A. C. S. adherents to be spoken of as “liberals” by their own protagonist. But it is a greater shock to Calvinistic “conservatives” to be accused of being humanistic. That is the one thing they strive to avoid. Davies speaks disparagingly of “the habit of our people of equating catechism preaching and teaching with biblical pronouncements.” But isn’t this precisely the point of strength for the Christian Reformed fellowship? The creeds are to be taken as valid summaries of Biblical truth, unless and until they are shown to be unbiblical. The point is that the Bible is normative.

Thus “theology” and “philosophy” as commonly understood in Calvinistic circles are not similar disciplines. It is not a matter of having a “narrow view” on the one hand (referring to “theologians” and “conservatives”) or of being involved in “the study of all of life” on the other hand (supposedly the position of the enlightened “reformational” scholar). Probably the experiences of theologizing and of philosophizing ought to be equally valid for Christians, but the historic difference in approach is principal.

Have you never heard of William of Occam? That destroyer of the philosophical undergirding of Thomism pointed out in the fourteenth century already that no basic Christian truths are rationally demonstrable. Religious doctrine rests solely on faith, the content of which is given by revelation. Ultimately, therefore, human reason must always be subservient to divine revelation.

Now where is that divine revelation set forth? Unless the Reformation leaders were badly mistaken, it is in the “church-as-institute-gathered-around-the-Word-with-its-Christ-appointed-officiary.” This means that the “church” is charged with the task of proclaiming the whole counsel of God, including the lordship of Christ. Certainly it should not be said of this church that “they failed to recognize that the dynamite of God’s Word hits us smack between the eyes in the ordinary everyday affairs of a life in complete fellowship with God.”

Of course there is always a gap between the ideal and the actual, and we welcome every aid to narrowing the gap. But the point is that the “church” speaks to the issues of life on the basis of revealed theology. The Word of God is decisive for Christian living, and the church is the purveyor of that Word. Now, then, isn’t the church “primarily more important”?


Rev. Allan Dykstra is pastor of the Hope Chr. Ref. Church, Hull, Iowa.


As I view our present Christian School system I am filled with dismay. I feel somewhat like the Apostle Paul did when he came to the city of Athens. This Creek metropolis, center of Greek culture, had been wholly given over to idol worship. We read that when the Apostle Paul was brought to that city his spirit was stirred within him as he viewed the pagan idolatry of that day.

You see, the glory of God was at stake. The honor that should have been given to the Most High God had been given to these dumb idols.

However, let us not be too critical. We are so apt to see the mote that is in our brother’s eye and overlook the beam that is in our own eye.

In our God-given schools of education we, too, are beginning to bow before the great shrine of School Aid. This, of course, takes various forms. Let us enumerate them. Government loans and grants; State aid given through pupil, or student, or directly to school; money given by private sources rather than the love gifts of God’s people. These monies, to my mind, are reflected in our schools.

The so-called “Love Gifts” could he summed up as follows: school tuition, contributions, private or through church offerings, and last, but not least, is the tireless effort of our women in their “Labor of love” through the various auxiliaries of the school.

Federal and State, as well as certain private aids, usually have reservations and have a tendency to curb the power of our boards in the use of this money as they see fit. And so they lay a claim upon our schools which, if allowed to run its full course, would eventually destroy them. The late Mark Fakkema, with whom I spoke before his death, was very much opposed to receiving this aid for our schools.

If, then, we have discouraged this form of aid, to whom or to what must we turn? To my mind there is hut one answer which we find in Philippians 4:19 – “And my God shall supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Our schools, as they stand today, are the results of the faith and prayers of God’s people. Concerned parents felt that there was no school good enough unless God was in the center of that education. In this praise of the Lord we were not put to shame. God heard our prayers.

If that be the case then there is no alternative but that we continue to plead before the Throne of Grace in this critical hour.

God speaks to us through the Prophet Jeremiah, Chapter 5:25: “Your iniquities have turned away these things and your sim have withholden good things from you.” In I John 1:9 we read: “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Could it be possible that even at this late hour respective school boards could consult with ministers of supporting churches to usher in public prayer meetings whereby our people could, with a united voice, beseech our Heavenly Father to remember our schools in mercy? That, to my mind, would be a step in the right direction. And then with prayers of confession and with expectation we may look to the hills from whence cometh our help. “Prayer changes things.”

BERT LUBBEN Oak Lawn, Illinois