Positively Negative

If there is one thing that characterizes the age in which we live it is this: it is an age of compromise. That this is true is easily seen in every area of life today. On the international level there is a multiplicity of organizations (U.N., NATO, OAS, etc.) all aimed at establishing peace on earth. The most popular method of accomplishing this goal is the method of compromise. War and strife must be avoided; both sides must give in a little bit.

This notion is prevalent in religious circles as well. There is, as never before in history, an attempt today to break down denominational walls. The cry of the popular theologian and churchman of today is “The church must be one”. For the purpose of unity the vast majority of the Protestant church world has established the World Council of Churches. This is even the concern of the Romish Church. At the last session of the Vatican Council of that Church one of the most important discussions centered on the “ecumenical question”. The main difficulty in all of these attempts at unity is that it must always be not on Scripture but on only the broadest, most general, and compromising basis. This belongs to the spirit of the age in which we find ourselves.

And we so easily are affected by that spirit of compromise. Yes, perhaps we might even go so far as to say that we are often caught up in that spirit. Perhaps the reader does not agree? There are no advocates among the Protestant Reformed clergy for the World Council. There is no support for doctrinal compromise among us. It is true we do not have any sympathy for these things. There are, however, other ways in which this spirit of compromise becomes manifest in our circles.

How often, for example, is not the criticism of Protestant Reformed preaching that it is too negative? Why must our ministers in their writing and preaching be so critical of others? To bring the matter a little closer to home, do we constantly have to be harping at the Christian Reformed Church, is a question commonly asked by some of us. One comes out of church on a Sunday morning only to be greeted by a disgruntled parishioner with the words: “Rev. so and so did it again; he just had to go and condemn common grace.”

Now it is not the contention of the undersigned that every sermon preached from our pulpits must contain a condemnation of the error of common grace. Far from it. But it is his contention that we must be positively negative. There must be wherever the Bible demands it negative preaching. False doctrine must be exposed and condemned whenever necessary.

To deny this is to deny a cardinal truth of the Word of God. In this age of compromise and doctrinal insensitivity it becomes increasingly incumbent upon us to be on our guard. Positively the truth must be set forth as it stands opposed to the lie in every form.

Let us not be afraid of being negative to error. Scripture is not. Let us guard ourselves against being caught up in the spirit of the age. It means that in so doing we shall be unpopular. The apostle Paul was unpopular too, so were the other apostles. Jesus was so unpopular that they took up stones to kill Him (John 10). Finally they nailed Him to the cross. Always those who stand on the basis of the Word of God and oppose all error are unpopular. The Bible tells us that in the end we won’t be able to buy or sell. The Bible also says to us: “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10b).