This is Reformed Evangelism?
by Rev. Gise J. VanBaren
One of the signs of the last days is the apostasy within the churches. I have reminded you of this in past articles. To my mind, this remains one of the clearest signs that the return of our Lord is at hand.
In this connection, I would call your attention once more to "Key 73" and its progress in our city of Grand Rapids. I fear the danger of overdoing opposition to a certain project as this—yet so much of what I see is so disturbing that I believe it necessary to point it out and warn against walking in this road to apostasy.
Key 73 meets the people of the neighborhood
Part of the plan of "Key 73" is to go out, two by two, to visit the homes of the neighborhood. In some cases, the "two" represent individuals from different denominations who approach a home together (practical ecumenism, I suppose this would be called). The Northeast Area of Grand Rapids was canvassed last March 11. Two pieces of literature were given out: a letter and brief pamphlet. The letter reads as follows:
Hello.The reverse side of the letter lists the participating churches, including Lutheran, United Methodist, Reformed, Roman Catholic, Christian Reformed, Wesleyan, Assembly of God, Free Methodist, Church of Christ, Mennonite, Episcopal, Congregational, and Salvation Army.
We are your neighbors.
We are glad that we can share this story of God's Love with you. This Love has meant so much to us, that we want to share it with others.
Will you please take time to read about it? We hope you will do it today.
Hundreds of Christians in the Northeast Area of Grand Rapids have promised together to share the story of God's Love. And this is the way we have chosen to do it.
Would you like to learn more about this Love?
If you do, check the list of participating groups of Christians on the opposite side of this sheet. Telephone any of these groups and find out how you can join in a Bible Study group.
Then you can meet with people just like you, in a smaller home group, or in a Church or even by yourself through a free Bible Correspondence Course, to learn more of Jesus Christ . . . and His Salvation. . . and His Love . . . Just for you!
Your neighbor, through God's Love
It's shocking! Imagine that I, Protestant Reformed, would come to a home with such a letter and invite the occupant to "telephone any of these groups and find out how (to) join in a Bible Study Group." Could I suggest that my only interest is that they go to some study group, even Roman Catholic or United Methodist, and there to learn about Christ? And not only I, as Protestant Reformed, would be unable to do this conscientiously before God, but I dare to say that no sincere Reformed man could.
Besides, the letter is openly Arminian suggesting that the salvation and love of Jesus is "just for you," that is, every neighbor to whom this letter is sent. Now I can conceive of a Methodist or Lutheran and similar churches saying this. But can any Reformed group say that in light of the Canons of Dordt to which these all subscribe?
World Home Bible League materials
The little pamphlet submitted with the letter was produced by the World Home Bible League (Box 11, South Holland, IL 60473). As I understand it, this League is an independent organization composed largely of Reformed and Christian Reformed men whose avowed task is to produce cheaply and in many languages Bibles for distribution throughout the world. I think such was and is a commendable effort. However, this League has expanded its "ministry" in producing "Bible Correspondence Courses" as well as publishing pamphlets and the "Living Bible" under their own title, "The Greatest is Love." (A review of this paraphrase of the Bible was given in the Standard Bearer, Vol. 48, pages 81 and 111.)
Now one might be inclined to rejoice that a hodgepodge of churches as represented in N.E. Grand Rapids Key 73 movement is willing to use literature produced under the auspices of an organization of men of Reformed persuasions. One would expect that the literature produced by such a group would be soundly Reformed, or at the least (if such is possible), not opposed to Reformed faith. But what a disappointment! One reads the little pamphlet, entitled: "Love," with shock and disbelief. This is the sort of thing produced by "Reformed" men, in an organization controlled by "Reformed" men, to be distributed by "Reformed" (and other) churches???
First, the pamphlet quotes from the "Living New Testament." This is not a translation of the Bible, but a paraphrasing of it. Why is this done? Don't they want the Bible? So very obvious it is that the reason for this is to introduce Arminianism as though it were Scripture! In several instances this is clearly seen. Some of the following texts are quoted (underscoring added):
Romans 3:22, "God says He will accept us and acquit us—declare us not guilty—if we trust Jesus to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have been like" (Cf. K.J.V.: "Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.")John 11:25-26,
"Jesus told her, I am the One who raises the dead and gives them life again. Anyone who believes in me, even though he dies like anyone else, shall live again. He is given eternal life for believing in Me and shall never perish. Do you believe this?" (Cf. K.J.V.: "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?")This same Arminianism sticks out like a sore thumb throughout the entire brief pamphlet. It's so obvious, that even a child (with any sort of Reformed training) can see it. It's that sort of Arminianism for which the Synod of Dordt met in 1618-19 in the Netherlands and which cast out from the church those who refused to renounce that vicious error. Here are a few of the things written:
God's love in Jesus Christ. is so strong that if we accept it and return our love to Him, we will live forever . . .But what do our Reformed creeds declare? I point to but two articles of the Canons of Dordt, the Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine (articles 12 and 14):
God is offering you His transforming love right now. The most tragic thing you could do is to refuse it and not return love to Him. Accept His transforming love!
Pray this prayer: Jesus, I have sinned. I ask you to forgive me. I accept your love for me, and I believe that you will love me forever. Send your Holy Spirit into my life to make me love you. For your sake, Amen.
And this is the regeneration so highly celebrated in Scriptures, and denominated a new creation: a resurrection from the dead, a making alive, which God works in us without our aid. But this is in no wise effected merely by the external preaching of the gospel, by moral suasion, or such a mode of operation, that after God has performed his part, it still remains in the power of man to be regenerated or not, to be converted, or to continue unconverted; but it is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable; not inferior in efficacy to creation, or the resurrection from the dead, as the Scripture inspired by the author of this work declares; so that all in whose heart God works in this marvelous manner, are certainly, infallibly, and effectually regenerated, and do actually believe.—Whereupon the will thus renewed, is not only actuated and influenced by God, but in consequence of this influence, becomes itself active. Wherefore also, man is himself rightly said to believe and repent, by virtue of that grace received.There was a time, years ago, that ministers and leaders in the church would be suspended and deposed if they repented not of their error of Arminianism. But today this is being produced by men of "Reformed" persuasion, approved by synods of Reformed churches, and distributed ecumenically by all sorts of denominations. None (or at best: very few) object. The, difference is no longer discerned. Many seek to "serve Christ" by spreading such spiritual poison throughout the land.
Faith is therefore to be considered as the gift of God, not on account of its being offered by God to man, to be accepted or rejected at his pleasure; but because it is in reality conferred, breathed, and infused into him; or even because God bestows the power or ability to believe, and then expects that man should by the exercise of his own free will, consent to the terms of salvation, and actually believe in Christ; but because he who works in man both to will and to do, and indeed all things in all, produces both the will to believe, and the act of believing also.
Shame on those yet known as Reformed!
That this sort of thing finds such wide-spread approval in Reformed circles can only indicate how very far the churches of Reformed persuasion have departed from their confessions. Is there no more opposition to this sort of "evangelism" within the Reformed circles anymore? Has ecumenism so taken over that churches no longer recognize what is their proper calling in the light of Scripture? Has Arminianism so pervaded Reformed churches that Jesus can be openly "hawked" in this way? Is there no more a Reformed sensitivity? How are the mighty fallen and the strong ones turned from the proper field of battle! I can only encourage our own people: Protestant Reformed people, hold fast by grace to your Reformed moorings—even though before long you stand alone as those who still love the truths of Scripture as maintained by John Calvin and taught in the Reformed confessions! With all the evidence of rapid apostasy, how very clear it is that "the Lord is at hand" (Phil. 4:5).