The Christian Reformed Church is a 300,000 member denomination, mostly Dutch, with a noble history. Some of her notable sons are Cornelius Van Til, Louis Berkhof, and William Hendriksen. Formed in 1857, her faithful days appear to be numbered. She is plagued by a heavy bureaucracy that is supported through yearly quota payments of over $500 per family. Moreover, contrary to the faith of her constituency and her confessions, evolutionary theory is believed and taught at Calvin College, Calvin Seminary has a feminist agenda, Home Missions has become engulfed in "church growth" practices, even subsidizing trips for CRC ministers to be trained by Robert Schuller, and the Reformed doctrine of Scripture has been seriously undermined, to the point where this year her widest assembly (synod) opened all church offices to women (subject to ratification in 1992). The following is an edited transcription of an address delivered to Concerned Members of the Christian Reformed Church at their annual conference in 1988. Since the CRC's situation is a microcosm of the Western church today, the points raised in the address are relevant for all concerned Christians in these times of compromise.
I am here because you are heirs of the covenant that God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Someday the natural heirs, the Jewish people, my kinsmen according to the flesh, will have the veil removed from their eyes. Until then, the whole Word of God, which brings salvation, must be preserved. I am here to tell you that we have a fight on our hands to preserve the Word of God, and I charge you in the name of Christ to fight.
Make no mistake. We are engaged in a solemn and a holy war for the truth, the honor, and glory of God. This war is between those for the Word and those against the Word, and it has been raging since the beginning of time.
The Word of God is unchanging in its divisive character. As Calvin noted, "It is the native property of the divine Word never to make its appearance without disturbing Satan and rousing his opposition." We see the divisive nature of the Word in the cross of Christ: on the one hand, there is the Word of salvation, and on the other hand, the Word of condemnation. Everywhere the Word is, there is division. God's Word is a separating word, and as a separating word, those who believe it are duty bound to protect it and defend it against all attacks. We must also recognize the simple historical fact that the church's greatest attacks have always arisen from within the church itself. We are not the first, nor are we alone in the fight.
I have a very simple message from Hebrews 12:1:
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
This passage from Hebrews 12, as P.E. Hughes notes,
uses the dramatic imagery of an athletic contest in which the competitors in the arena are surrounded by the crowded tiers of an amphitheater....[O]ur author pictures himself and his readers as competitors, who, as they contend for the faith in the arena of life, are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, namely, those champions of the faith of earlier generations....They have triumphantly completed their course, and we, who are now contestants in the arena, should be inspired by their example to give of our utmost in the struggle. I am inspired by their example to give of their utmost in the struggle.
In contemplating those who have gone before us, I am inspired by Phineas. When the Midianites threatened to compromise the covenant people, Moses said to Israel's judges, "Each of you must put to death those of your men who have joined in worshipping the Baal of Peor" (Num. 25:4,5).
Then an Israelite man brought to his family a Midianite woman, right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of the meeting. When Phineas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand, followed the Israelite into the tent and drove the spear through both of them. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped. But twenty-four thousand people died in the plague.
The Lord said to Moses, "Phineas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites, for he was as zealous as I am for my honor among them, so that in my zeal, I did not put an end to them. Therefore, tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites" (Num. 25:11-13).
If we do not stand up today and do more than wring our hands, our grandchildren will have no sure Word of God.
I am inspired by the Levites. Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and become a laughing stock to their enemies. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, "Whoever is for the Lord, come to me." All the Levites rallied to him (Ex. 32:26).
The camp was divided because the enemies of God had arisen within the camp and had given themselves over to the lie.
Then [Moses] said to them, "This is what Jehovah, the God of Israel says, `Each man strap a sword to his side, go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.'" And the Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about 3,000 of the people died. Then Moses said, "You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers and He has blessed you this day" (Exod. 32:27-29).
I am inspired by these men who counted their personal relations with men as of no value compared to the glory of God and His commandments. I am even more inspired by the commendation given to these heroes in Deuteronomy 33:8-9:
Your Thummim and your Urim belong to the man you favor. You have tested him at Massah, you contended with him at the waters of Meribah. He said of his father and mother, `I have no regard for them.' He did not recognize his brothers or acknowledge his own children, but he watched over your Word and guarded your covenant. He teaches your precepts to Jacob and your law to Israel."
Our battle is a covenant issue! This is the Word of God we are fighting for. This is not Dutch names. This is not friends and buddies. This is not status in the community. This is not political advantage. This is the Word of God!
I am inspired by Micaiah: In II Chronicles 18, Micaiah appeared before Jehoshaphat and Ahab when Jehoshaphat unwisely sought political alliance with Ahab, the king of the northern tribe. In that time Ahab asked, "Will you go to war with me, Jehoshaphat?" And Jehoshaphat told Ahab to consult some prophets who would tell them what they wanted to hear. The false prophets declared, "Go, for God will give it into the king's hand." Ahab's itching ears were satisfied. Jehoshaphat was a little too godly for this and said, "Don't you have a prophet of Jehovah nearby?" Ahab responded, "I have one but he never tells me what I like." Nevertheless, the messenger called for Micaiah and said, "If you want to make it in the Christian Reformed Church, you had better tow the line. Everybody is telling them what they want to hear, and if you are smart, you'll tell the two kings what they want to hear or else the boards and agencies will come down on you."
We read Micaiah's response: "As surely as Jehovah lives, I can tell only what my God says." In verse 22, Micaiah declares: "So now the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you." Similarly, for some reason, God has put a lying spirit on the campus of Calvin College, a lying spirit in many of the faculty of the seminary. There is a lying spirit that teaches untruths, that perverts the Word of God, distorts it, twists it, and takes it away from our covenant youth.
Then Zedekiah, son of Kenaanah, went up and slapped Micaiah in the face, "Which way did the Spirit from the Lord go when He went from me to speak to you?" he asked. "Who made you a prophet?"
Micaiah replied, "You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inner room." The king of Israel then ordered, "Take Micaiah and send him back to Amon, the ruler of the city, and to Joash, the king's son, and say this is what the king says, `Put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely.'" Micaiah declared, "If you ever return safely, then Jehovah has not spoken from me (II Chron. 18:23-27).
Micaiah knew a sure word of God.
I am inspired by Ezekiel, when God commissioned him:
"Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you," and as He spoke, the spirit came into me and raised me to my feet and I heard him speaking to me. He said, "Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me. They and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn."
Say to them, "This is what the sovereign Lord says," and whether they listen or fail to listen for they are a rebellious house, they will know that the prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words, don't be afraid though briars and thorns are all around you, and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them though they are a rebellious house.
You must speak my words to them whether they listen or fail to listen for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you, do not rebel like that rebellious house. Open your mouth and eat what I give you (Ezek. 2: 1-8).
I am inspired by our Lord Jesus Christ, who, as it is recorded in John 2:
went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at the tables, exchanging money. So He made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle. He scattered the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves, he said, "Get these out of here. How dare you turn My Father's house into a market!" His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume Me."
Where is the zeal for the Word of God as we have received it? Not hand-wringing, not preaching to the choir, not patting each other on the back for saying the right shibboleth for being Reformed. Where is the zeal in your heart for the Word of God? Does it burn within you? Is it life or death to you? Do you hate it in your bones when you see it corrupted and distorted and spat upon? Where is your zeal for God's honor?
I am inspired by the great apostle Paul, who did not seek to please men but wrote in Galatians 1: "Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him go to hell!" "Oh, brother," I can hear someone say to Paul, "wouldn't you like to modify that statement? It seems divisive." So Paul says it again: "If anybody's preaching a gospel other than the one you accepted, let him be be condemned in hell forever."
This is the unchanging character of the Word of God. It hasn't changed just because the canon is closed. Everywhere Scripture goes, there is a fight.
I am inspired by Jude, who says in his letter:
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
I am inspired by the very last chapter of the Word of God:
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the city which is described in this book.
I am inspired by Athanasius, who in his struggle against Arianism, was willing to be banished and maligned in order to defend the truth of God's Word.
I am inspired by Augustine, who fought against Pelagianism and the error of free will and the doctrine that perverted the true doctrine of sin.
I am inspired by Luther who fought against Romanism.
I am inspired by Calvin, who fought against syncretism.
I am inspired by the fathers of Dort who fought against Arminianism, recognizing it as an enemy of the church.
These are the witnesses who are now surrounding us and looking into the arena and saying, "What are you going to do today in the face of the challenge that God has laid before you?" We are once again engaged in battle. Know your enemies. Today the church does battle against humanism, spearheaded by relativism, with feminism (egalitarianism) in the lead. The only thing that can vanquish these foes is an unchanging Word from God. A Word of God that can change is no problem, as I will demonstrate, but a Word of God that doesn't change, that will destroy them. Many fail to see the critical nature of our struggle: a struggle which Christ Himself calls us to.
In the 1920s and 1930s, J. Gresham Machen was involved in a painfully similar struggle against modernism in the Presbyterian Church in the USA. He wrote:
The plain man in the church has difficulty understanding the nature of the struggle. He does not yet appreciate the real gravity of the issue. He does not see that it makes very little difference how much or how little of the creeds of the church the modernist preacher affirms, or how much or how little of the This modernist preacher might affirm every jot and tittle of the Westminster Confession, for example, and yet be separated by a great gulf from the Reformed faith. It is not that part is denied and the rest is affirmed, but all is denied because all is affirmed merely as useful or as symbolic, but not as truth. A thing that is useful may be useful for some and not for others, but a thing that is true remains true for all people and beyond the end of time.
We would do well to familiarize ourselves with the struggle that occurred in that church that led to the formation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. There are those who remain saying, "We're going to just see what happens." But look at the PCUSA today and see what has happened.
We, too, have become a church that seems to echo Pilate's pitiful plaint, "What is truth?", when all the while, Truth was standing in front of him. The truth is in our hands and it is, as our Belgic Confession (Article 7) says,
unlawful for anyone, though an apostle, to teach otherwise than we are now taught in the Holy Scriptures. It is forbidden to add unto or take away anything from the Word of God. It does evidently appear that the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in all respects. Neither may we consider the writings of any men of equal value with divine Scriptures. Nor are we to consider custom or the great multitude or antiquity or succession of times and persons or councils, decrees and statutes as of equal value with the truth of God, since the truth is above all. Therefore we reject, with all our hearts, whatsoever does not agree with this infallible rule [whether they be teachings that are current at Calvin College or the philosophies that motivate some boards and agencies].
Do you reject them with all your heart? The dogmatic statements of our confession are very disagreeable to the modern visionary. He doesn't like them; he chokes on them, although he might affirm them as useful.
Perhaps even more disagreeable are the unchanging characteristics of the Word as is formulated in chapter one of the Westminster Confession of Faith. I wish I could spend all day and talk to you about chapter one, but alas. Ten sections are devoted to the doctrine of Scripture and every one of these sections is threatened by the relativists among us.
The Westminster Confession begins by declaring the necessity of Scripture. This section concludes by saying, "Scriptures are most necessary, those former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people, being now ceased." The necessity of Scripture is threatened by a universalism which suggests that people may be saved without the Word of God coming to them; that people may be saved, as we hear in the United States, without repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. These preposterous and heretical notions are entertained in the pages of the Banner (CRC's denominational magazine) as being legitimate options to consider, not necessarily confessional, but something that should be aired. Nonsense! It is crucifying Christ all over again. The Scriptures are most necessary and not in any way optional.
The Confession then discusses the Canon and the Apocrypha. Commonly, the Scripture itself is being "apocryphalized" -- regarded as less reliable than reason and nature. The fourth section declares that the authority of the Holy Scriptures, "depends not upon the testimony of any man in our church, but wholly upon God who is truth itself, the author thereof, and therefore, it is to be received because it is the Word of God." I recently read an article in a book called, Exploring the Heritage of John Calvin. Over and again the author said, "Paul says, Paul says, Paul says..." for ten, twenty pages. Not one time "The Holy Spirit speaking in the Word of God says..." But the Bible and the Confessions tell us that God is the author of Scripture, every part. The unchanging character of Scripture as authoritative means that we allow Scripture itself to tell us how to regard it.
Anyone who denies the authority of Scripture at one point, has denied it at all points. If we assert that we can set aside the six-day creation doctrine, we have asserted our supremacy over Scripture. Our mind and our convenience now have a higher authority. Clearly, therefore, the question of authority is at stake in Genesis 1. Whose word is authoritative and final,God's or man's? Who has the last, as well as the first, word?
The Confessional doctrine of Scripture's self-attestation is threatened by those who subordinate God's testimony and Scripture to a contrary, yet allegedly more reliable testimony in nature. We can only believe Scripture, they say, when nature agrees with what we read in Scripture. But they have it exactly reversed. Any Reformed six-year-old should be able to tell you that. You interpret nature in terms of the Word of God, not vice versa. The Fall has had effects -- noetic effects -- effects on our minds that need to be corrected before we can understand things properly.
The sufficiency of Scripture is challenged on several fronts. And what has happened to the perspicuity of Scripture? We are now told that we need a new elitist core of intermediaries, a new priesthood to stand between the "ignoramuses" in the pew and God. Have we even forgotten that there was a Reformation? I may have been in this denomination a short time, but I have been in this struggle long enough to have heard some of the attitudes that are present.
For example, the regional home missionary that I mentioned in Messiah's Mandate, Vol. I, No. 1, called me up and objected saying,
"I never gave a sermon entitled, `God our Mother.'"
I said, "OK, I'll print a retraction. Do you believe `God our Mother'?"
He said, "Oh, yes."
"Do you have any theological problem praying to Our Mother, who art in heaven?"
I said, "Have you changed the pronouns from the pulpit when you read the Scripture -- 'he' to 'she'? (Always, of course, 'he' to 'she', never 'she' to 'he').
He said, "No, I don't."
"Do you have a problem doing that?"
"No, of course not."
I said, "Then why don't you do it?"
"People aren't ready for it yet!"
Such people despise you. I mean it. These arrogant people really think that it's just a matter of time before they railroad you out of your possession and your inheritance. For as far as they're concerned, the battle is over and they have won. Now, only money and institutions are at stake. Who gets to control them? They have already made up their mind about the Scriptures. They are just waiting to train a generation of harlots and have the faithful die off, and it's all theirs. That is why we can thank Jesus Christ that Howard Van Till wrote The Fourth Day because now we have what we might call an accelerated epistemological self-consciousness. Now we can see more clearly than when they were playing the game under the covers. The covers are being pulled off.
At the root of many of the attacks upon the Word of God, we find research, writings, pronouncements, and policies founded on the presupposition of epistemological neutrality and a bastardization of the common grace doctrine that effectively subordinates the Word of God to sinful, autonomous reason and observation. Everything that you hear from Calvin College is justified in the name of common grace.
The epistemological question is this: How do we know? Originally or after God knows? The unbelieving doctrine of knowledge is: Nothing is known unless man knows it. It is a mystery until man knows it. The doctrine of our faith is that God knows everything, and He shares knowledge with us. Therefore, He is the original knower and we are analogical knowers -- we know after the pattern of God. We are dependent knowers; He is the independent knower. Much of our denomination's thinking is committed to the epistemology of unbelief.
We have here a frightening parallel to what occurred in the Machen case. The modernists in the Presbyterian church had been drinking deeply from the fountain of the world. Their grumblings originated not exegetically, but from extra-Scriptural considerations which determined the way that they then handled Scripture. They were latitudinarian and anti-antithetical. The antithesis was obnoxious to them. I still meet Reformed people who tell me they were raised on antithetical preaching. They were taught there is an antithesis in this world. Now we are told that the antithesis is of the devil. Church leaders now want to tear down the antithesis so that they can have the respect and approval of the world.
The spirit of the modern world which threatens us is far more sophisticated and subtle than it was in the days of Dort and Westminster, even than it was in the 20s. But if we stand back a bit, we will hear the same question being asked now that was asked in the Garden of Eden and ever since -- "Yea, hath God said?" This doubt was followed by denial -- "You will not surely die." This is a word of possibility, a word of flux, a word of chance as over against God's certain word. This is the basic issue. Who speaks the certain word? Is it God or man? The modern compromisers still pay lip-service to the Bible. They say that it is indeed God's Word, but it's not the last word. This is the original temptation.
Sinners will always choose a word of possibility over against the word of absolute authority, even if it means their death. Rather to rule in hell than to serve in heaven. But God and man do not run on a continuum. God is uncreated, man is created. God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. Man is finite, temporal, and changeable. Therefore, we are utterly dependent on God for our being, our ethics, and for our knowledge as well. That is why we always say, "What do the Scriptures teach?" Adam and Eve were tempted to determine knowledge and ethics for themselves, not according to a Word of God. "Look at the possibilities. Look at the world opened up before you. All you need to do is to forget that other certain word about dying and just take and eat. All kinds of things will open up." That is what is being offered to us today. The effort amounts to the attempt to bring God down to our level of being, even though He remains higher up the scale, so they can pay lip-service to God.
Some assume the following: we are little fish, and God is a big, big, big fish, so He has a lot to offer us. He can protect us, we can talk to Him. He is very smart, but we are really floating around in the same sea of possibility. That is how radical the change is at the presuppositional level. A compromise here is the end of the faith in seed form. In their efforts to make their own rules, the visionaries must pay lip service to the confessions. They talk about unity and peace, but they want it on their terms. Recently, the Banner called for a truce about women in office, the new Psalter hymnal, and evolution. Should Paul have called a truce with the Galatian heretics? Should Jesus have made a truce with those who were occupying the temple and corrupting it? A truce in this battle is defeat.
Note the following:
If our contention that the evolution hypothesis is part of an antitheistic theory of reality is correct, then we must do away with every easy-going attitude. The evolutionist is then a soldier in that great, seemingly all-powerful army of anti-theists that has from time immemorial sought to destroy the people of God. We must then prepare for a life and death struggle, if not in the courts of the land, then in the higher courts of human thought.
Do you know where this was written? This call to action was written in the Banner, 1931. The 1931 Banner says evolution is an enemy to the people of God. The 1987 Banner has two weeks of Van Leewen laying the groundwork of three weeks of Van Till, without so much as a whisper that the man was under investigation, without so much as a hint that his views are considered heretical by everyone sitting here and by untold numbers in the rest of the denomination. What has happened? Has truth changed? If truth has changed, then I tell you, God Himself has changed. But the Bible says, "I am the Lord, I change not." The Bible says, "Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
Churches used to split about what was true,but now we're arguing about "what is truth?" We are seeing two radically different answers evident in this discussion. Some in the Christian Reformed Church, say that the truth we desire to explicate, preach, and live out is the truth that was once for all delivered to the saints. But others believe that the truth is found in the search itself. We may simplify this as a conflict between two factions: those who believe that truth is in the content and those who believe that truth is in the process. Therefore, you see there is such a very great tendency tofocus on style and not content. Of course, truth for the church involves process. There is history, time, and providence under our sovereign God as the Scriptures were compiled, distributed, studied, systematized and lived out. But those who have succumbed to the lie of seeking truth in process have elevated history, not as the realm of revelation and redemption, but as prior to and determinative of both revelation and redemption. Thus they tend to view all Scripture as an accommodation. Therefore, it is relative. Truth is behind, above, or outside of Scripture. We have people who view every portion of Scripture subject to cultural scrutiny. A careful reading of Bavinck would help these people learn that there is a difference between condescension, which is involved in revelation, and accommodation. God necessarily condescends to speak to us, but He doesn't necessarily accommodate Himself to our prejudices. For example, the accommodation view allows Jesus to speak about Lot's wife turning into a pillar of salt, and since the ignorant Jews of His day believed that and to make a spiritual point, Jesus accommodated Himself to their ignorance. That's accommodation. That's garbage! Because then you don't know what to believe. But condescension is necessarily involved with a God who is so transcendent as ours.
Viewing revelation as an accommodation puts it in our hands. It becomes anthropocentric, not simply anthropomorphic. Both God and man are seeking to find themselves in history. We and God become co-strugglers to attain truth. Only He is much further down the road. This is why we could read in a publication of the Committee for Women:
Changing sexist language did not come easy for me. Due to peer pressure I first began altering people words, you know chairperson, mailcarrier, and no more generic "he." These terms still provoke laughter and they felt awkward to me as well, with some more radical women addressing God as she. I just laughed some more. But God finally caught up with me. I had just heard that our pastor had once again failed to recruit any women to preach at our church during his vacation. Driving home that night I was screaming and crying with the car windows up, of course. It was unfair that God would never understand what it meant to be a woman. How could He help but be on the men's side? God broke into my rage with the thought, "But I am not on their side. I am not one of them. I'm at least as angry over this situation as you are." What? God was not He?
Slowly I began to explore my previous perception of God as male. It is hard to describe the depth of freedom I felt as I experimentally called God "She." Over time I gained a new vision of God and myself. No doubt about it, changing the way we talk about God and God's people will change us and change is hard. The National Council of Churches Inclusive Lectionary explored this issue where this is excerpted from and has changed traditional Biblical language. These changes are causing incredible controversy as we ponder the pros and cons of speaking inclusively. Let's be open to what the Spirit may be saying to the church today.
What the Spirit is saying where? In the Bible? Then it is an exegetical issue. The Spirit says nothing to the church that is not in His Word. If it is true, it isn't new, and if it is new, it isn't true. Is it in the Scripture?
The original temptation suggested that freedom was to be found in liberating oneself from the awful determinative Word of God, but such freedom always equals death. In the Arminian controversy, proponents sought freedom from God's decrees. They said of the God who decrees salvation and damnation, "I just can't live with that." A refuge was imagined in having God somehow made dependent on man's will. The argument was that freedom from man required a measure of independence. But even just a little "freedom" requires us to place ourselves outside a total sovereignty of God. But the Synod of Dort said that God alone is absolutely free. B.B. Warfield noted long ago that it is not predestination as such that bothers man, but rather predestination by someone other than himself, and particularly God. We don't want God to do it.
The women's issue is part of a worldview which doesn't see decrees and laws and God as ultimate, but potentiality itself. This is why you'll always see this language of potentiality and "becoming" and "struggling." These words are throughout their literature. It's a different motif. Freedom is not found in Psalm 1 or Psalm 119, "I walk at liberty because I keep thy commandments." Rather, these feminists view the law as a springboard to freedom. You leap to freedom from the Word, but you don't find it in the Word. Thus the character of the Word of God that is propositional, eternal, unchanging and normative is changed.
The God of Scripture did not speak to the feminist quoted above. It was a demon. For her, the Bible has become a mystical tool and a mere collection of principles. Her new view of reality is just really the old Greek view of Heraclitean flux, revivified and dressed up in Biblical language. For feminists, a final word is anathema. They want a possible word, as do evolutionists.
Thus Howard Van Till finds it impossible to do what he considers to be true science under a sound exegesis of Genesis 1-11. For Howard Van Till true science requires an open universe. It must be completely open so that any hypothesis he offers to fit particular facts is to be regarded as possible. Openness.
At the same time, Van Till requires an absolutely closed universe which operates according to rules knowable to man. If God were allowed to unexpectedly come into Van Till's universe at any time, say, by a miracle, then all the hypotheses would be thrown off. They would become conditional upon God, who would retain the final word. This is why unbelief is at the same time rationalistic and irrationalistic. It requires perfect consistency and perfect inconsistency. It requires perfect order and perfect chaos at the same time.
The faculty at Calvin College are offended when people use the Bible to "shackle academic freedom," because academic freedom, they say, requires openness. We have to be open to where we are going. The Banner chafes at an orthodoxy which believes it has found the truth, for truth is in the search and requires openness. Home Missions has visions that are aided by continuing revelations. They have conferences that call for "openness." They should read their own literature. In one issue, there is a little cartoon of a guy opening his head with a zipper. It says "Don't have such an open mind that your brains fall out."
All the struggles we face today can and must be seen in light of this hatred of a final and unchangeable Word of God and willingness, if not a lust, to cash it in for a few thrills and some possibility. Everyone pays lip service to the Word in confessions. Please, don't think that just because someone says "I believe the confessions" that they, therefore, believe them. You have to watch how they are put into practice. In Ezekiel it says:
Son of man, my people come to you as they usually do and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy. Indeed to them, you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words, but they do not put them into practice.
Why do they call Christ, "Lord, Lord" yet they do not do what He says? Not everyone who says "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom. Merely listening causes no pain, but doing often does. When I became a Christian in my mid-twenties, I realized I must be baptized. When I first told my parents about my belief in Christ, they did not mind it so much. They thought there was room in the Jewish world for people who had high views of Jesus. When I told them I was going to be baptized, my father said, "If you do this, you are never welcome in my home again."
I found courage in Matthew 10 and Luke 6 where Christ tells me what it costs to be a Christian. I don't think there is a trade involved. You just do what God says. I told my father this, and he came that night and gave me a few things that my wife had left at his house. He hugged me, and he was prepared never to see me again. Doing something means you really believe it. Without doing it, you don't believe it at all.
Belief that doesn't do isn't Biblical belief. We have teachers and ministers who want the name but won't play the game according to their rules. This is their version of I Timothy and Galatians: "God says no women are allowed to rule, that is very clear. God says women are utterly equal, therefore they are allowed to rule, that is perfectly clear. They both can't be wrong because they are the Word of God. That is perfectly clear. They can't be both unchangeably correct because they contradict, so how do we resolve these seemingly conflicting passages of I Timothy 2 and Galatians 3? One will give way to the other in time. One will become history and the other will bring us into the fullness of the revelation." That is such cheap handling of the Word of God. There is a better way, a faithful way that does not produce contradiction.
I Timothy 2 says: "I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man. She must be silent, for Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived, it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner."
Galatians 3:28: "If you belong to Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greeks, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
In the book of Galatians, Paul was arguing that you are