February 15, 2020 Standard Bearer preview article

The covenant and Dordt (10)

Total depravity: Children incapable of fulfilling a condition

The Canons’ positive treatment of the Reformed doctrine of total depravity is straightforward and relatively brief. And yet, all nine articles of the Rejection of Errors condemn errors of the Remonstrants connected with total depravity. The reason for this is simple. The Canons set forth the Reformed truth over against the specific teaching of the Remonstrants. However, the Reformed doctrine of total depravity was explicitly set forth in the existing confessions, the Heidelberg Catechism and the Belgic Confession of Faith. The Remonstrants did not write what they really believed about fallen man. If they had, they would obviously contradict the confessions; it would indicate that their theology was not Reformed. Accordingly, their “third point,” on fallen man’s condition, though meandering, is something with which Reformed believers could agree, though most would want to state it clearer.

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Afraid of the Gospel (12)

“The pedagogical approach.” 

It also is an insult to God! 

An insult it must be, for it was invented and is set forth to defend the God-insulting conditional theology that speaks of prerequisites which man must fulfill before God will bestow salvation upon him. 
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Afraid of the Gospel (11)

“The pedagogical approach.”

The apostle Paul never heard of such a thing!

How could he have heard of it? It is a twentieth century discovery. Indeed the apostle was not ignorant of pedagogy.* How could he be? The Holy Spirit, the all-wise and divine teacher who leads us into all the truth, the Master of all pedagogy, by means of organic inspiration, used the apostle Paul to teach the church the truth. A more able teacher, one whose pedagogical approach is superior to that of the apostle Paul, you will not find in the world today. But “the pedagogical approach”—please note the quotation marks—which requires conditional theology as its principle and method of instruction was not known to the apostle Paul. 

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Afraid of the Gospel (10)

Conditional theology is an insult to God!

Thus we wrote in a former article. And we would have you note that we say that conditional theology is an insult to God. We do not say that every use of the conditional form is to be condemned. To use what, in grammar, is called the conditional form does not necessarily mean that you are presenting conditional theology and are making statements that are insults to God.

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Afraid of the Gospel (9)

Conditional theology.

Christless preaching.

These, we wrote last time, go hand in hand.

And, then, we do not mean that in sermons which are based on conditional theology the name of Christ is not mentioned. The use of the name of Christ does not save a sermon from being Christless. Even the modernist will mention the name of Christ repeatedly in his “sermons.” And yet the Christ is not in his “sermons” at all! The Christ of the modernist is the imagination of man’s mind, not the atoning Christ of God’s counsel.

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Afraid of the Gospel (8)

Conditional theology!

Christless sermons!

These go hand in hand. Hand in hand they must go. For conditional theology wants us to believe that there are works of men that precede the works of God and for which God waits, either before saving us or before he can and will give us the next installment of salvation. We must believe, so the particular phase of conditional theology which was smuggled into the Protestant Reformed churches declares, before the promise of God to save us will go into effect. 

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Afraid of the Gospel (7)

Christ or conditions.

That is the issue! Either Christ and his work is the prerequisite for my entrance into the kingdom of heaven or else my act of converting myself is the prerequisite. Either Christ and his atonement is the basis for my salvation or else I am saved on the condi­tion of faith, and perhaps on the condition of a few other things demanded of me.

Christ and conditions?

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Afraid of the Gospel (6)

In response to our publishing of his statements that “Many people also speak this way about accept the terms of the covenant. We do indeed believe in covenant obligations and privileges, but never as con­ditions,” the Rev. Gritters objected by personal letter and declared that we could not find in any of his cur­rent writings that he now embraces conditional elec­tion.

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Afraid of the Gospel (5)

God cannot be mocked.

He may not be mocked; but he cannot be mocked either.

And when one departs from the straight line of the truth, he must come back to the point of depar­ture or else continue still further away from the truth. 

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Afraid of the Gospel (4)

In the article just preceding this one we stated that the seeds of conditional theology were planted into our churches from foreign soil.

That conditional theology was not here even dur­ing those days when our leaders used the word “condition” without having fully before their consciousness the implication of that word. Today, however, fully conscious of the use of that word among members of the Liberated Churches of the Netherlands who desire to become members of our congregation while still holding on to their conditional theology, fully con­scious of its implications because of thorough and ex­haustive discussions on the floor of Synod and Classis, there are those who still want that which manifestly they did not want and did not know only a few years ago.

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