It does not seem as though the caption to this series of articles really fits the subject material. Does it? The caption asks a question about us as P.R. young people and as churches, that is about our present spiritual attitude and confession. The only possible validity for this caption to the previous articles of this series might be found in the word “too” of the caption. For this little word implies that the “We” of the caption was being compared with someone else, the C.R.C.
Now it is of some moment to me to show that often times we are Pelagians in our walk if not in confession. We say, preach and publicly confess one thing, but do another!
In the previous two articles, I called your attention to the “Pelagianism” to be found lying at the bottom of the C.R.C. theory of Common Grace. We saw that especially the 2nd and 3rd points (this is not to say that the first point does not also implicitly teach Pelagianism) constitute a denial of total depravity, on the one hand, and teach, positively that the unregenerate wicked are able to do ethical good and in fact do much that is well pleasing unto God. Rev. Herman Hoeksema and we with him have declared this to be nothing more than the Pelagian doctrine condemned by the great Reformed synod of Dordrecht.
This has been our position as P.R. churches for half a century. Our ministers have thundered from the pulpits about the horrible evils of common grace. We have heard it declared that the C.R.C. by its doctrine of common grace has destroyed the doctrine of the apostle John (I John 2:15), that is the doctrine of the antithesis. Oh, how our ministers love to preach the truth concerning our calling to live antithetically in the world and, rightly so, for it is the doctrine of Scripture: “Love not the world… Seek those tings which are above…Draw nigh to God…Resist the devil… Flee from temptation.” For fifty blessed years faithful men have condemned the attempt to establish a common ground of ethical activity and fellowship between the believer and the unbeliever, between the church and the world. Common grace doctrine is an attempt to establish this ethical common ground of cooperation between believer and unbeliever. We have heard it preached time and again that the world does no ethical good and can do no spiritual good. “They that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Our leaders have preached this to us as they repeated and expounded the words of the apostle Paul. Consequently, we were to have no fellowship with the evil works of darkness. We were called to stand alone and opposed to the ethics and morals of this world.
We have been taught that the common grace theory constitutes a spiritual or religious “bridge” for the joining of two spiritual realms which according to the command of God ought to remain separate…the Church of Christ in the world but not of the world, the Church of Christ in the world and testifying to the unbeliever, and condemning and opposing sin. But common grace as a “bridge” between the world and the Church would be the means of joining Athens and Jerusalem; it would be the means and the justification for the worldliness, rebellion and world-conformity of Athens to infiltrate the C.R.C. Hoeksema said forty to fifty years ago that “it would happen” as sure as it is true that doctrine and life are inseparable. We have come to see the day that “it has happened;” homosexualism, adultery (divorce and remarriage), rebellion – approved if the rebel holds a AFL-CIO card – certain types of pornography condoned by some of their leaders, neglect of the means of grace as witnessed by empty pews every Sunday evening as the pulpiteers struggle for an audience against the enticing allurements of T.V. drama and pro-football, a higher critical attitude taken by her “exegetes” toward the Bible, and much more is incontrovertible evidence that the harvest of the fruits of the Pelagian doctrine of common grace are the C.R.C.’s present state and condition.
It is sad, but true, Hoeksema, Danhof and Ophoff saw very clearly the effect the deadly venom, common grace, would have upon the institute of the church.
But what of us! Are we Pelagians too? Have we been instructed in the evils of Pelagianism only to ignore the instruction? Are we witnessing the devastating effect of Pelagian teaching on our mother church only to ignore the lesson of history?
We are not Pelagian in doctrine, of that fact we may rest assured. Nor do our preachers preach anything that is even tainted with Pelagianism. For this we should be and are thankful to God. Since we have as churches officially resisted the inroads of Pelagianism, we may take courage for the future. At least this doctrinal aspect of our ecclesiastical ship is sea worthy.
But what of our walk? Official doctrine can be merely a matter of the “book,” synodical decisions. Faithful preaching too, is in a large measure to be attributed to the faithfulness of a few by god’s race. Does our walk as individual members reflect our official teaching and preaching of God’s Word? Or is it true that we merely mouth an opposition to common grace as Pelagianism, while our walk is one of conformity to the world? Do we only pay lip service to our calling to walk as separate people, while in actual fact we are really common grace people who by our daily practice deny that it is our calling to walk antithetically? Could be, you know!
It could be that we hypocritically say, “Yes, yes,” in church to the Dominee’s sermon about our calling to walk antithetically, but when we get home we draw the drapes shut so that we can watch on T.V. our pro-football heroes…in peace. After all some say, “we have to enjoy life too.” It could be that our young people sneak over the C.R.C. constructed “bridge” to attend the theatre. Although, I suspect, we are to suppose that parents use this same “bridge” to spiritually journey out of the realm of their faith commitment into the realm of fellowshipping with the ungodly through the means of dramatic productions called “last year’s theatre movies,” which are now shown on the home screen. Further, we should ask ourselves the question, “What is the scriptural justification for us as parents to encourage our children to watch so-called educational T.V. programs…an education which is based on evolutionistic, Pelagianistic and atheistic presuppositions?” Just because these programs are dignified with the term “educational” does not mean that in fact they are not detrimental to our covenant children.
Much, if not all, of T.V. and radio programming is nothing more than the wickedness of the world, and yet may of our parents and young people think nothing of spending day and night doing nothing else than fellowshipping and identifying with the world through participation in their godless entertainment. What is the scriptural basis for all this? “Are we Pelagians too?” Are we as members of a denomination of churches devoid of integrity on this score…preach one thing and do another? I believe the statement, “practice what you preach,” is applicable not only to the Dominee but to us all. Consistency, thou jewel!
Is it not true, dear brother or sister, that our confession concerning the believer’s calling before God to walk antithetically, i.e. to draw nigh to god and to put off the old man and to put on the new man, must be confirmed by a walk in godliness. Can we complacently allow our walk to be diametrically opposed to what we preach and then honestly still try to leave the impression with others that we take our preaching seriously? Can one of us, a P.R. brother, after having gorged himself on the rot of the unbeliever’s entertainment via radio or T.V. or what ever medium of communication, go to his C.R. brother and lovingly rebuke him for his Pelagianism and worldlimindedness, attempting to show by this rebuke a deep, heartfelt concern for his brother’s spiritual welfare? NO, of course not. It would be spiritually impossible for this P.R. brother, He and his C.R. brother are essentially one in walk and confession.
So then what are we? Pelagian in walk and heart…while Reformed in the pulpit. Preachers of the antithesis…while in actual practice common grace people.
It is easy to excuse ourselves. We could answer, as many do, very piously, that “after all we only have a small beginning of the new obedience.” In other words, we could fault God’s grace and His incomplete work and thereby seek to justify or at least seek to salve our conscience with respect to our inconsistency. We ought, however, to be careful no to lay the blame for our shortcomings at the feet of Him who loved us unto death.
I readily acknowledge the presence of the old man of sin in myself and in you. He is Pelagian to the core. Our enemy is with us till our hoary head is laid in the grave. But Christ calls us to fight in the battle of faith. Christ instructs us not to cuddle the old man of sin within or to make excuses for his presence…but to kill him.