The church that loses her fiery hatred for errors concerning the truth of Scripture walks the way of a sickness unto death. Placidly accepting heresies with the church at Thyatira (Rev. 2:20) or tolerating evil with mild protestations as did Eli (I Sam. 3), she places herself under God’s judgment of that which claims the name but lacks the power of Church. In the choosing and gathering of the Church, God’s purpose is that the Church be “to the praise of the glory of his grace” (Eph. 1:6). “to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:12). The reason for the existence of Israel-Church is expressed in Is. 43:21, “This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.” The living, healthy Church understands her calling in the world in the light of God’s reason for her existence and God’s purpose in her formation. Beyond every human tie, every natural consideration, every earthly factor, and, marvelously, beyond the matter of her own salvation, one impulse moves the Church, one concern directs her. one longing sustains here, the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 3:21, “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages world without end. Amen.”
Where the glory of the Lord is of secondary concern or of no concern at all, a church takes on the ghastly pallor of a dying or dead body. Absence of its very life-principle constitutes the pallor: a hollow claim yet to the name, Church, is what makes it ghastly. By powdering and painting a corpse one does not remove the color of death, one merely makes that color hideous.
The Church confesses God. That is incontestably her calling. But she does not go about repeating God, God, God for she confesses God revealed in Christ Jesus according to the Holy Scriptures, which is to say, the truth. She loves the truth because it is God’s, because it is, essentially, not it but He, Jesus Christ her Saviour. For this reason, love of the truth never appears in history as a sword with one edge. To love the truth is to hate the lie since the lie, not of God, is against Him. A philosopher who believes that Socrates really existed can tolerate (although less calmly than philosophers would have you suppose) a colleague’s notion that Socrates is Plato’s invention. The Church cannot tolerate the notion that Jesus Christ is a mythical hero- figure or that He was no more than a man or that His power of salvation stops short on this side of Divine power. On the contrary, the Church burns with holy anger and righteous indignation against this lie. That which accounts for her inability to tolerate is her passionate regard for the glory of her God.
Not much wrath burns in churches any more. Satan comes stomping where once he had to tip-toe and he stirs up nary an ember. It is out of style to hate falsehood. Be content to love the truth. And all the while they are busy filing an edge off the sword of truth. But the blade is of a piece; the edges flow together; all that’s left them is a handle.
Is this the Church? This Areopagus where all spend “their time in nothing else but either to tell, or to hear some new thing?” Here, one holds forth in defense of evolution and, there, another contends for the annihilation of the soul at death and, ho, there comes a babbler talking about a resurrection.
There are two ways to destroy the truth and the Devil is adept at both: bludgeon it with the lie or smother it with nonchalance. Keep Athanasius and Arius, on the controversy of Christ’s Deity, Augustine and Pelagius, on that of original sin, Luther and Erasmus, on the bondage of the will, Calvin and Pighius, on sovereign predestination, in the “purely” intellectual sphere, in the sphere of mutual forbearance and benign co-existence, and you concede to the heretics the greatest victory possible. But the Church will never concede this for she cannot allow the clouds of falsehood to dim the brightness of her Lord. This cannot find its cause in God’s grace. Grace spells the difference between the vacuous debating on Mars Hill and the tenacious defending of the gospel in the Church. Not the Church itself but Christ in the Church impels her to actively, urgently, resist and reject the Father of Lies. In the history of the ending of the ages, this means for the Church a persistent battle and her salvation.
Two articles in the February issue of Missionary Monthly, a periodical “devoted to the Mission Work of the Reformed and the Christian Reformed Churches in America,” illustrate the hapless and hopeless way of a church whose moving force is no more the honor of the Lord. Reviewing a book written by a fellow minister in the Reformed Church, Rev. J. De Witt passes the judgment upon the minister-author that “he denies the doctrine of the Virgin Birth of Christ as a literal, historical fact.” The point of referring to this article is not that Rev. De Witt fails to stand for the truth of the virgin birth but rather that he falls short in opposing the lie. He is “shocked, astonished and grieved” at this teaching from a man who “has been graduated from our seminary, preaches in our churches, and who now has boldly denied a cardinal tenet of our faith,” but why is De Witt not angry? After the review of Boslooper’s (the minister-author in question) position and a brief reiteration of the truth of the Virgin Birth, there comes no blunt, forceful, uncompromising condemnation of Boslooper and no instruction as to the necessity and manner of casting out the heretic from the Reformed Church. I John 4:3 brings the condemnation against Boslooper that De Witt would not: “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is the spirit of Antichrist …” And I John 2:22, “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is Antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” Antichrist, be it, then, with a small “a,” has clean papers in the Reformed Church and preaches every Sunday. The question is not, primarily, Boslooper’s “transgression upon ministerial vows” nor the horrendously understated fact that “This (denial of Jesus’ Deity-DJE), if allowed to stand, must surely be destructive of the whole (faith of the Reformed Church- DJE).’’ The core of die matter is that there is no fellowship between Christ and Antichrist. If Antichrist remains in the church, that church is a flat mockery of the God whose name she claims. And God, jealous of His name, will not be mocked. Beyond any contradiction, to deny Jesus Christ, the Effulgence of God’s glory, is to strike the child of God with holy anger and perfect hatred, strike him so that he counts all other considerations as nothing, strike him so that he fights against the liar with mouth and pen and prayer, strike him so that, in the end, he will suffer himself to be put out of the corrupt institute, stand alone, and die.
Dr. Jerome De Jong busies himself in the same magazine with the fact that public schools teach evolution. As background, it should be remembered that the Reformed Church has overwhelmingly, perhaps, universally, rejected Christian primary and secondary schools. Dr. De Jong, a minister in the Reformed Church, complains that “the average public school teacher presents . . . that the world was created without the intervention of God.” That Dr. De Jong is unhappy is commendable. It is in his reaction to this peril, however, and in his advice to the Christians involved that the objectionable minimizing of God’s prerogatives occurs. He writes: “1 think at this point every Christian parent and every Christian in the Parent and Teacher’s Association has the responsibility to make it clear to the teacher of her child that there ought to be also taught in the public schools of our nations the fact of creation. I do not say that it must be taught as the answer to the problem, but I do say that we have a right as Christians to insist that the point of view of the Christian Church has just as much right in the schools as the point of view of secularism and of atheism or agnosticism.” And he continues, “I think also that we as parents ought to insist that the Bible should be presented in our schools if in no other way as a matter of good literature. There is no reason why children in the public schools should not read from the Bible. They read from every other book.”
These quotations reflect a dismally low estimation of a Christian’s calling in the world. Behind this failing lies a vision of the Almighty which has not been gotten from standing at the foot of Mt. Sinai as God descends upon it in “thunders and lightnings . . . and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud … in fire” so that “the whole mount quaked greatly” (Ex. 19:1620). One awestruck by the whole of Revelation 4 would, in the light, especially, of verse 11, direct the Christian along a different way: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” It is not the calling of Christian parents to see that God gets equal time. Christians do not insist that creation be taught as an alternative to evolution. Christians do not desire that the Bible worm its way into society or school by the claim of being good literature. God created the world; evolution fails to explain the origin of die universe, but at the same time robs the living God of His rightful glory. The Bible is God’s infallible Word, having no peer in any other book, and wherever the Christian takes it, he heralds it with that claim. God does not want equal time, not with evolution, not with atheism, and not with agnosticism. He wants and demands all time because all time is His. Secularism and all the rest may have as much time as they have created, that is, none.
After all this comes Dr. De Jong’s flaccid footnote, “The author of this article takes the position that the Christian School is the answer to our educational dilemma. It may very well be that some of our readers do not agree with this conclusion.” Over against this, compare the unequivocal and unapologetic words of Luther on the same matter of education, “I am much afraid that the universities will prove to be the great gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the holy Scriptures and engraving them in the hearts of youth. 1 advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not unceasingly occupied with the word of God must become corrupt.” The latter expression carries the weight of glory.