Pamphlets

A Candid Confession of the Character of a Conditional Covenant

The following series of articles appeared in the Standard Bearer as editorials in the issues of January 1, 1997 through April 1, 1997. Permission to reprint any of the separate parts is given provided the part is printed in its entirety and the authorship is acknowledged.

Part (1)


In the July, 1996 issue of this magazine, the Rev. Cecil W. Tuininga, Reformed minister in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, defended the doctrine of a conditional covenant with the children of believers. This doctrine teaches that God on His part makes His covenant with all the children of believing parents alike. At baptism, He promises every child that He will be the child's God and that the child will be God's child. Since the covenant provides salvation, God promises every child that He will save him. But the covenant is conditional. Made by God with every physical child of believing parents, the covenant depends for its maintenance and continuance with the individual child upon the child's faith. If the child will later fulfill the condition of faith, the covenant will continue with him. If the child refuses to believe, the covenant that God made with him is broken.

The promise of salvation made by God to every child alike at baptism is conditional. The condition is the child's act of believing. If the child will fulfill the condition of believing, God's promise to him will be realized in his salvation. But if the child refuses to believe, God's promise to him will fail of realization. The child will perish, despite the fact that God once promised him eternal life in Jesus Christ, just as He promised eternal life to the children who are saved.

In the same issue of the Standard Bearer, I responded briefly to Rev. Tuininga. In order to clarify the issue and make some progress in the debate, I asked that, if Rev. Tuininga wrote again, he would answer specific questions that I put to him. These questions take us to the heart of the issue in the controversy between defenders of a conditional covenant and those who teach that God's covenant with believers and their children is unconditional. These were the questions:

1) Does the promise that, according to Rev. Tuininga, is made by God to every child of believing parents express God's covenantal love for every child?
2) Does this promise indicate that God sincerely desires to save every child of believing parents?
3) Does this promise rest upon and flow from Jesus Christ's death for every child of believing parents? Did Jesus Christ shed His blood for every baptized child of believing parents?
4) Among the benefits included in the promise to every child, is faith included? Does God at baptism promise to give every child faith?
5) With regard to the second principal part of the doctrine of holy baptism in the Reformed "Form for the Administration of Baptism" that Rev. Tuininga uses, is it Rev. Tuininga's understanding:
a) that God the Father witnesses and seals to every baptized child that He makes an eternal covenant of grace with the child and adopts him or her for His child and heir, on the condition that the child will believe;
b) that God the Son seals to every baptized child that He washes the child in His blood from all his or her sins, incorporating the child into the fellowship of His death and resurrection, on the condition that the child will believe;
c) and that God the Holy Ghost assures every baptized child that He will dwell in the child and sanctify the child to be a member of Christ, applying unto the child that which he or she has in Christ, on the condition that the child will believe?

Rev. Tuininga has indeed written again on the subject of the covenant of God with the children of believers. He has answered the questions that I had proposed. His letter follows, in its entirety.

This letter is in response to your comments on my letter in the Standard Bearer of July 1996. Before I answer your questions I wish to point out, as I read this response, that you are putting words into my answer that are not there. With Dr. Hendriksen I made very clear that the condition of faith cannot be fulfilled by man. That is God's work. But the condition is so clearly stated in Romans 11 that I fail to see how anyone can deny it. That man is "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1) does not remove the condition that in order to be saved he must believe. God never removed from fallen man his responsibility to love God and serve Him, which he can do only by faith, a faith that he can exercise only by God's grace. I want to repeat that I have never stated anywhere that the condition of faith can be fulfilled by man. But that this is a condition that God demands cannot be denied (see Hab. 2:4Rom. 1:16, 17; 10:6; Gal. 3:14, 24; etc.)
To answer your questions:
1. Yes, God does express His love for every covenant child.
2. Yes, God does desire to save every covenant child.
3. No, Jesus shed His blood only for those given Him by the Father.
4. No, faith is a condition that a covenant child must fulfill but can only fulfill by God's grace (Eph. 2:8). If they do not fulfill this condition they are cut off the covenant tree (Rom. 11:22).
5. a. Yes, God makes an eternal covenant with all who are born into that covenant. To every covenant child God says: You are my child. Yes, the covenant child can break that covenant and be cut off from the covenant family. Many covenant children do indeed so break covenant and are indeed cut off (Rom. 11:22).
b. and c. We must say, yes indeed, these rich and beautiful assurances are given to every covenant child. But the child can reject them and sad to say, many do; and Hebrews 6 does indeed teach this. In stubborn unbelief they reject God and His rich promises. Covenant breakers will indeed receive the greater punishment.
Now allow me a few questions:
1. Is every baptized child, according to your position, elect and hence saved? How then answer for those who reject the covenant promises? Do they not break covenant with God?
2. Does God not love and desire the salvation of all those within the covenant? If not, why did Jesus weep over the covenant breaking Jerusalem with the words, "How often I wanted to gather your children, ... but you were not willing" (Matt. 23:37)? How else can we understand Romans 10:21?
3. And in this connection, does God not desire the salvation of all men? If not, how do you interpret I Timothy 2:3, 4? Shall we do a little revising and say that by "all" God meant the elect? But then the Word of God would have said so! Shall we say that it means "all different kinds of people"? If that was the intention of the Holy Spirit, it would have been clearly stated. If this is not the clear message of Scripture, that God desires all men to be saved, then what does it say? For a good Reformed answer to this question read Calvin on 2 Peter 3:9 and Dr. Herman Ridderbos in Paulus, (p. 393). But the Canons of Dordt are also very clear when they state: "As many as are called by the Gospel are unfeignedly called. For God has most earnestly and truly declared in His Word what is acceptable to Him, namely, that those who are called should come to Him. He also seriously promises rest of soul and eternal life to all who come to Him and believe" (chap. III-IV, Article 8).
The fault with Arminians is that they apply human logic to God's Word and conclude that if God calls men to faith and repentance it must mean that man can come of his own free will and that Christ died for all men. Hyper-Calvinists, in applying logic to Scripture, come to exactly the opposite conclusion, namely, that since God from all eternity has elected some to salvation and by-passed "the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction" (Rom. 9:22), it must follow that God cannot seek these non-elect vessels of wrath with an honest and earnest call of Gospel. And so we proceed to reject clear teachings of Scripture. I would be very happy to see our Protestant Reformed brothers come to recognize and correct their hyper-Calvinism and become truly Reformed.
Sincerely in the Lord,
Cecil W. Tuininga

The answers of Rev. Tuininga to my questions are remarkable for their candor. This is how theological debate, like all discussion among Christians, should always be carried on. But such is by no means the case. Such is not always the case in doctrinal discussion. Such is certainly not the case in the controversy with those who defend a conditional covenant. It has proved difficult to get defenders of a conditional covenant to acknowledge their position and its implications with the frankness of Rev. Cecil Tuininga. One can read extensively in their literature without finding the unambiguous statement, "God loves every child of believing parents with His covenantal love." One can press them vigorously without ever getting them to admit in so many words that baptism represents God's sincere desire to save every child of believers. One cannot escape the impression that they deliberately avoid clarity and frankness at the crucial points because they themselves hesitate to own up to the implications of their doctrine.

Whatever the explanation, this lack of candor obscures the real issues for many. The result is that the controversy between defenders of a conditional covenant and those who hold that God's covenant is unconditional never makes progress toward a clear resolution in Reformed circles.

What invariably happens is that the defender of a conditional covenant refuses to state that his doctrine comes down to this, that God has a universal covenant love for all boys and girls born to believing parents, which universal love depends for its efficacy upon the human condition of faith. The defender of a conditional covenant refuses to state this, even though this is obviously the necessary implication of the position that he argues. Since the defender of a conditional covenant will not state this himself, the advocate of an unconditional covenant charges this against the doctrine of a conditional covenant. At the same time, he points out that this was essentially the heresy that the Reformed churches condemned at Dordt. Whereupon the defender of a conditional covenant cries, "Foul!" complaining that the advocate of an unconditional covenant is putting words in his mouth and is accusing him of teaching an error to which, in fact, he is opposed.

In refreshing contrast to the typical ambiguity of a defense of a conditional covenant, Rev. Tuininga makes Part. This is to his credit. This can only serve the cause of truth.

The significance of his candid confession is that it makes plain to everyone what is, in fact, the real character of the doctrine of a conditional covenant, wherever and by whomever it is taught. And it is taught widely in Reformed and Presbyterian churches today. No doubt, it is the majority opinion. Very few stand with the Protestant Reformed Churches in confessing an unconditional covenant.

In order that the real character of the doctrine of a conditional covenant may be clearly seen, let us place each of Rev. Tuininga's frank answers immediately after the question to which it is the answer. In what follows, my questions appear in italics; Rev. Tuininga's answers are in regular type.

1) Does the promise that, according to Rev. Tuininga, is made by God to every child of believing parents express God's covenantal love for every child?
Answer: Yes, God does express His love for every covenant child.
2) Does this promise indicate that God sincerely desires to save every child of believing parents?
Answer: Yes, God does desire to save every covenant child.
3) Does this promise rest upon and flow from Jesus Christ's death for every child of believing parents? Did Jesus Christ shed His blood for every baptized child of believing parents?
Answer: No, Jesus shed His blood only for those given Him by the Father.
4) Among the benefits included in the promise to every child, is faith included? Does God at baptism promise to give every child faith?
Answer: No, faith is a condition that a covenant child must fulfill but can only fulfill by God's grace (Eph. 2:8). If they do not fulfill this condition they are cut off the covenant tree (Rom. 11:22).
5) With regard to the second principal part of the doctrine of holy baptism in the Reformed "Form for the Administration of Baptism" that Rev. Tuininga uses, is it Rev. Tuininga's understanding:
a) that God the Father witnesses and seals to every baptized child that He makes an eternal covenant of grace with the child and adopts him or her for His child and heir, on the condition that the child will believe?
Answer: Yes, God makes an eternal covenant with all who are born into that covenant. To every covenant child God says: You are my child. Yes, the covenant child can break that covenant and be cut off from the covenant family. Many covenant children do indeed so break covenant and are indeed cut off (Rom. 11:22).
b) that God the Son seals to every baptized child that He washes the child in His blood from all his or her sins, incorporating the child into the fellowship of His death and resurrection, on the condition that the child will believe;
c) and that God the Holy Ghost assures every baptized child that He will dwell in the child and sanctify the child to be a member of Christ, applying unto the child that which he or she has in Christ, on the condition that the child will believe?
Answer: We must say, yes indeed, these rich and beautiful assurances are given to every covenant child. But the child can reject them and sad to say, many do; and Hebrews 6 does indeed teach this. In stubborn unbelief they reject God and His rich promises. Covenant breakers will indeed receive the greater punishment.

Surely, the candid answers to these questions alert every professing Calvinist to the fact that at stake in the controversy over a conditional covenant is the gravest issue. At stake is the issue that lies at the heart of the Reformed faith, the gospel revealed in Holy Scripture and defended in the Canons of Dordt. This issue is the sovereignty of the grace of God in the head and mediator of the new covenant.

Nothing less.


 Part (2)


God loves every physical child of believing parents.

In this love, God sincerely desires to save every physical child of believing parents.

This love of God for every child of believing parents is covenant love. It is not merely some superficial affection (supposing now that there is such a weak and fleeting emotion in God) that the children share with the entire ungodly world. It is not merely a love that desires their temporal welfare. It is not merely a warm feeling that gives these children earthly gifts.

But it is the rich, deep love of God revealed in the incarnation and death of Christ. It is love that wishes to bestow on them the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. It is love that longs to have them as sons and daughters in the family of the Elder Brother. It is love that sincerely desires their salvation.

Such is the character of the conditional covenant of God with the children of believers that is believed, confessed, and defended by many Reformed and Presbyterian churches today.

This was candidly confessed by a representative of the defenders of the doctrine in the January 1, 1997 issue of the Standard Bearer. In answer to my question, "Does the promise that, according to Rev. Tuininga, is made by God to every child of believing parents, express God's covenantal love for every child?" the Rev. Cecil W. Tuininga wrote, "Yes, God does express His love for every covenant child." In answer to my question, "Does this promise indicate that God sincerely desires to save every child of believing parents?" he wrote, "Yes, God does desire to save every covenant child."

Tuininga's candid confession distinguishes itself from the vagueness and evasiveness at the crucial points of the statements of other defenders of the conditional covenant. Nevertheless, it does nothing more than make explicit what is, in fact, implicit in the main aspects of the doctrine. If God at their baptism makes His covenant with all baptized children and if God on His part promises to all children that He will be their God in Jesus Christ, God loves all baptized children with the love of the covenant and sincerely desires to save them. Scripture teaches that the establishment of the covenant with a person and the promise of salvation are the revelation of the love of God for that person.

The candor of the confession does serve to make clear that the doctrine of a conditional covenant is unbiblical and un-Reformed. For this reason, the candid confession is helpful. The subject is the physical children of believing parents. More specifically, the issue is the attitude and will of the covenant God in Jesus Christ toward these children. As regards this exact subject and issue, it is the teaching of the apostle of Christ that God did not love both sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Before the sons were born or had done any good or evil, God made known that He loved Jacob and hated Esau (Rom. 9:10-13). Scripture flatly contradicts the teaching of the conditional covenant, that God loves all the children of believing parents.

Nor did God sincerely desire to save Esau as is held by the conditional covenant. God willed to harden Esau unto his eternal damnation (Rom. 9:18). He made Esau a vessel unto dishonor (Rom. 9:21). He fitted Esau, child of believing parents though he was, to destruction and endured that vessel of wrath (Rom. 9:22).

One thing Esau's circumcision (which had the same significance as the baptism of a child under the new covenant) did not mean: God's covenant love for him and, with this love, the desire to save him. One thing did not take place at Esau's circumcision: God's promising to establish His covenant with Esau.

The character, or nature, of the conditional covenant is un-Reformed in that it extends the saving love of God in Jesus Christ, the mediator of the covenant, to men and women who are not saved by that love, but perish in spite of it. God's love fails to save some objects of that love. God's love failed to save Esau. The love of God - the covenant love of God - fails, is frustrated, is defeated.

It is the Reformed faith that the love of God in Jesus Christ - God's covenant love - is sovereign. It has its way with every sinner who is the object of this love. It saves. No human loved by God in Jesus Christ will perish. This is the creedal doctrine of the Reformed faith in the Canons of Dordt.

The other side of the un-Reformed character of the conditional covenant is its necessarily implied teaching that the reason why God's covenant love does save some children is an act which they perform. The reason cannot be the love of God itself, for the very same love is directed also to children who perish. The faith of Jacob, not the love of God, distinguished Jacob from Esau.

On the contrary, it is the Reformed faith that the salvation of the children of believing parents, which is part of the saving of the elect church, is due only to the discriminating love of God for these children. "This purpose proceeding from everlasting love towards the elect, has from the beginning of the world to this day been powerfully accomplished, and will henceforward still continue to be accomplished ... so that the elect in due time may be gathered together into one ..." (Canons II/9).

As the candid confession makes plain, the conditional covenant is essentially the same as the doctrine that God loves all men, desires to save all, well-meaningly offers salvation to all in the gospel, and depends for the efficacy of His love and the fulfillment of His desire upon the acceptance of His offer by the sinner. This is put beyond any doubt by the texts to which Rev. Tuininga appeals in the questions which he puts to me in return: Matthew 23:37I Timothy 2:3,4II Peter 3:9. The only differences between the conditional covenant and the doctrine of a universal love of God dependent upon the free will of the sinner are that the conditional covenant teaches universal love in the sphere of the covenant, rather than in the sphere of the preaching of the gospel worldwide; speaks of a conditional promise, rather than of a conditional offer of the gospel; and locates the conditional address of God in baptism, rather than in the preaching of the gospel.

In the Canons of the Synod of Dordt, the Reformed churches have officially condemned the doctrine of a universal, ineffectual love of God dependent upon the condition of faith as false doctrine, as a form of the "other gospel" anathematized by Paul in Galatians 1:8,9.

Why the representative of the proponents of a conditional covenant holds back from acknowledging that Jesus died for all the physical children of believers is a mystery. He does so hold back. To my question, "Did Jesus Christ shed His blood for every baptized child of believing parents?" he answers, "No, Jesus shed His blood only for those given Him by the Father." No doubt, there is hesitation to contradict the established Reformed doctrine of "limited atonement." This is commendable.

But it is no worse to deny limited atonement than to deny God's discriminating love and particular will of salvation, that is, divine election. Fact is, the Canons of Dordt ground the atonement in election and determine the extent of the atonement according to the number of those whom God desires to save:

... it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father ... (II/8).

On the reckoning of the Canons, if God loves and desires to save all the children of believing parents, Christ also died for all the children.

Can even the most paradoxical of Calvinistic thinkers be satisfied with the theology of the conditional covenant? The covenant God in Jesus Christ loves all the children alike with His covenant love, but designs the atonement to exclude some of them! He desires to save them all, but deliberately refuses to accomplish for some of them the redemption upon which this salvation depends!

This thrusts contradiction and confusion into the mind and will of God. At the very least, it drives a wedge between the electing Father and the redeeming Son, contrary to the testimony of Jesus Himself in John 6:37-40.

And what does this say of the truthfulness of God who, according to the conditional covenant, declares to every child at baptism, Esau as well as Jacob: "I love you with covenant love; I make my covenant with you; I adopt you for my son and heir; I sincerely desire your salvation; and I promise to give you eternal life"? As He is saying these things, it is unalterably true that Christ did not die for that particular child by the determination of the God who is speaking to the child. Christ did not confirm the covenant for the child, did not satisfy divine justice for the child (upon which adoption depends), did not obtain salvation for the child, did not earn faith for the child.

According to the Reformed "Form for the Administration of Baptism," the promise given by God in baptism is not abstracted from the cross, but is based upon the cross and has the cross as its content. If then, as the conditional covenant teaches, God makes the promise to every baptized child, Christ must have died for every child.

So much is universal atonement demanded by a universal love of God in Jesus Christ that wherever the latter is taught the former invariably follows. This has happened in the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) as Rev. Tuininga, who only recently left this church, knows well. The covenant doctrine that prevailed in the CRC from its early days was the conditional covenant of Prof. W. Heyns. Like all forms of the conditional covenant, this doctrine taught a grace, or love, of God for all the children of believers. This doctrine paved the way for the adoption of the doctrine of common grace in 1924. The main error of this dogma of the CRC is its teaching that God in Christ loves and desires to save everyone who hears the gospel. In the 1960s, a Christian Reformed theologian publicly advocated universal atonement. The synod of the CRC refused to condemn this doctrine. Today, it is widespread in the CRC to preach that Christ died for all men. It is equally widespread among the people to believe that Christ died for all men.

I would be surprised if, especially in the Netherlands where the conditional covenant has been strongly promoted, Reformed ministers do not teach that Christ died for all the children of believers and Reformed people do not have this as their deep conviction.

To my question, whether faith is included among the benefits promised to the children at baptism, the Rev. Tuininga answered, "No, faith is a condition that a covenant child must fulfill but can only fulfill by God's grace (Eph. 2:8). If they do not fulfill this condition they are cut off the covenant tree (Rom. 11:22)."

This has to be his answer as one who teaches that God addresses the covenant promise to every baptized child. If faith is one of the benefits included in the promise to every child, faith cannot be the condition upon which reception of the promise depends, as is the teaching of the conditional covenant. Also, if faith is one of the benefits included in the promise, God must give faith to every child, which the conditional covenant denies.

But in denying that faith is itself a benefit included in the covenant promise, the conditional covenant goes grievously wrong. First, this is, in reality, a denial that faith is the gift of God to sinners as the Canons teach in III,IV/14. All of the gifts that belong to salvation were earned by the death of Christ and come to the heirs of salvation by promise. The Canons expressly state that Christ earned faith for all the elect by His death (II/8). Acts 2:38, 39teaches that those who are called receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which includes every spiritual grace, as promise and by promise.

Second, the denial that faith is part of the promise contradicts the confessions. The Presbyterian Westminster Confession of Faith teaches that in the covenant of grace God "promis(es) to give unto all those that are ordained unto life his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe (7.3)." The point to notice is not that Westminster strictly limits the promise to the elect (which it does), but that it makes faith a benefit included in the promise itself.

The Reformed Heidelberg Catechism does the same in Question 74: To the infants of believers, "the Holy Ghost, the author of faith, is promised." In the promise of the author of faith to the children is promised the faith of which He is author. How can Rev. Tuininga, bound as he is by the Heidelberg Catechism, deny that faith is included among the benefits in the promise that God makes to the children of believers? But if it is included, how can it be the condition upon which depends the fulfillment of a universal promise? And if it is included in the promise that God supposedly makes to every child, why does God not fulfill His promise to every child?

To affirm at the end that the child fulfills the condition of faith "by God's grace" is not sufficient to rescue the doctrine of a conditional covenant from heresy. For one thing, even the outright Arminian, who attributes faith to man's free will, does not refuse to say, especially when he is being pressed by a champion of God's free grace, that sinners believe with the help of God's grace. In addition, the mere statement that the child believes "by God's grace" is overpowered by the teaching itself that faith is the condition of the fulfillment of the promise and that faith is not included among the benefits that God promises to the children.

Besides, in the popular presentation of the doctrine of a conditional covenant, the defenders of this doctrine usually say nothing at all about the child's believing "by God's grace." The latest issue of the magazine, Lux Mundiis an example of this. Explaining the meaning of baptism, the editor, a theologian who holds the conditional covenant, writes:

The triune God himself acts in baptism.... He assures the person baptized that the promises of his covenant are for him. In the sign and seal of baptism he promises such a person regeneration by the Holy Spirit and forgiveness of sins and eternal life. And to all who accept his promises in faith God also gives what he promises! (Dec. 15, 1996, p. 1)

There is not so much as a hint that the baptized sinner believes "by God's grace." On the contrary, the reader is given to understand that the salvation of the child depends on his own act of "accepting" the promises of God. Indeed, this popular presentation of the conditional covenant teaches gross false doctrine: the baptized infant's regeneration depends upon his faith. God, we are told, promises to regenerate all who accept His promise in faith. James Arminius was not so bold.

The candid confession of the character of the conditional covenant by Rev. Tuininga throws into bold relief the fundamental departure from the Reformed faith of this doctrine of the covenant. The root of the errors regarding the love of God, God's will of salvation, the cross, the promise, and faith is the conception of the covenant as established conditionally with every child at baptism. This is the conception that Rev. Tuininga affirms when he answers my questions about the work of the triune God described by our Reformed "Form" as the second principal part of the doctrine of holy baptism. To my questions whether God the Father makes an eternal covenant of grace with every child; whether God the Son seals to every child that He washes him in His blood; and whether God the Holy Ghost assures every child that He will dwell in him, on the condition that the child will believe, Rev. Tuininga answers, "Yes; yes; yes."

It is this conception of the covenant with the children of believers, which refuses to view the covenant in the light of predestination (as Paul does inRomans 9), that necessarily results in the teaching of universal covenant love and a universal will of salvation within the sphere of the covenant.

I have earlier set forth on these pages, and defended, a doctrine of an unconditional covenant of grace with believers and their true, spiritual children according to election (a series on "The Covenant of God and the Children of Believers" in vol. 66; a related series on "The Approach to Covenant Children" in vol. 67; and a series on "An 'Election Theology' of Covenant" in vol. 67). These articles are readily available. I need not repeat what I wrote in them.

What I must do, however, is answer the questions that Rev. Tuininga has put to me as a defender of the unconditional covenant.

With the same candor with which he answered mine.


Part (3)


A staunch supporter of the popular doctrine in Reformed and Presbyterian circles, that God makes a conditional covenant with every physical child of believing parents, has candidly confessed the real character of such a covenant. He frankly acknowledges that, according to this doctrine of the covenant, God loves every physical child of believers with His covenant love in Jesus Christ and sincerely desires to save every child. This covenant doctrine denies that faith is one of the benefits earned by the death of Christ for the elect children only and that faith is itself included in the promise made by God to the children of believers in baptism.

The candid confession makes plain, therefore, that it is the character of a conditional covenant to affirm that God's covenant love in Jesus Christ is wider than the elect children of believing parents; that God's covenant love in Jesus Christ fails to save many whom God so loves; and, by clear and necessary implication, that the reason why some children are saved is not God's covenant love, but their own will and work, that is, faith as their performance of a required condition.

This was the candid confession of Reformed minister, Rev. Cecil W. Tuininga, in the January 1, 1997 issue of the Standard Bearer, in answer to questions that I had put to him.

In my editorial in the January 15, 1997 issue of this magazine, I demonstrated that the character of a conditional covenant, as candidly confessed by Rev. Tuininga, is condemned both by Scripture and by the Reformed creeds as a departure from the gospel of sovereign grace.


Pointed Questions

What I have not yet done is to answer the questions that Rev. Tuininga put to me. After he answered my questions about the real character of a conditional covenant, Rev. Tuininga addressed pointed questions to me concerning the real character of the unconditional covenant: "Now allow me a few questions."

Fair enough.

In what follows, Rev. Tuininga's questions appear in italics. Because of the length of some of them, I will not quote them in their entirety. For the complete questions, the reader is referred to the editorial in the January 1, 1997 issue of the SBMy answers immediately follow Rev. Tuininga's questions, in regular type.

1. Is every baptized child, according to your position, elect and hence saved? How then answer for those who reject the covenant promises? Do they not break covenant with God?

Answer: No, according to the doctrine of the unconditional covenant of grace, every baptized child is not elect and saved. Some baptized children are reprobate and lost according to God's eternal decree of predestination. This is the plain teaching of the Bible in Romans 9:6-24. Some physical children of believing Abraham and Sarah, for example, Esau, were excluded from God's saving purpose (v. 15); were hated by God before birth (v. 13); and were vessels of wrath fitted to destruction (v. 22) - all, in God's eternal will of predestination (vv. 11, 15, 18, 22).

This is also the express teaching of the Reformed creed, the Canons of Dordt:

... not all (the physical children of believing parents - DJE), but some only are elected, while others are passed by in the eternal election of God; whom God ... hath decreed to leave in the common misery into which they have wilfully plunged themselves, and not to bestow upon them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but ... at last for the declaration of His justice, to condemn and punish them forever.... And this is the decree of reprobation ... (I/15).

These children (whom God alone knows) by their unbelief in later years are guilty of despising God's covenant, God's covenant love, and God's covenant Son (Heb. 10:29). They "break" the covenant in the sense that they grievously violate it by holding it in contempt as it is clearly made known to them in the Word of God and the sacraments; by refusing to embrace it in faith as they are seriously called by God to do; and by disobeying the command to walk in the covenant by a holy life.

But they emphatically do not break the covenant in the sense that, whereas God establishes His covenant with them personally, whether by promise to them or by the work of the Holy Ghost in their hearts, they nullify the promise or undo the work of the Holy Ghost within them. God's covenant of grace with Abraham and his "seed" is sure and unbreakable. It is sure and unbreakable with all the seed of Abraham, which seed is Jesus Christ and all the elect (Gal. 3:16-29). It is sure and unbreakable precisely by the promise of God, that is, by the promising God Himself (Rom. 4:16).

It is exactly the concern of the apostle in Romans 9:6ff. to deny that God's covenant Word of promise is ineffectual in the perishing of so many physical children of believing Abraham and Sarah (v. 6). The promise to the "seed of Abraham" was not, in fact, addressed by God to, or intended for, all the physical children of Abraham, but only to and for the elect among the physical children (vv. 7-13). The same is true of the promise in baptism today.

Some, and only some, among the physical children of Abraham and Sarah were "the children of the promise" then (v. 8). Some, and only some, among the physical children of believers are "children of the promise" today.

These are the children to whom alone God addressed, and addresses, His promise, "I will be your God, and you will be my child."

This covenant promise is gracious and (if I may be forgiven a redundancy) sovereign. It is never without saving effect. It regenerates, gives faith (in this order!), makes holy, and takes to heaven. The promise - the covenant Word of God - does this. No child to whom God addresses it can victoriously resist it, any more than the effectual call of Romans 8:30 can be resisted by the elect object of the call. "Not as though the Word of God hath taken none effect" (Rom. 9:6). Ever!


A Desire to Save All the Children?

2. Does God not love and desire the salvation of all those within the covenant?

Answer: No, God does not love and desire the salvation of all those, whether adults or children, who may for a time live in the sphere of the covenant. By "living in the sphere of the covenant," I mean that one is baptized into a true church, is instructed in the truth of the gospel, makes public confession of faith, participates in the public worship of God, and shows himself to others as one walking in obedience to the law. It is one's holding membership in the instituted and visible church.

Scripture sharply distinguishes between this formal membership, on the one hand, and spiritual union with Christ and His covenant people, on the other hand. The prophets repeatedly distinguish the "remnant" from the visible organization of the nation of Israel and from the majority of nominal members of that nation (Is. 1:9). The apostle confirms this distinction and grounds it in God's eternal election: "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace" (Rom. 11:5). Likewise, the apostle John distinguishes those who for a time are merely formal members of the New Testament church from "us" who are the true church. Some go out "from us" who, nevertheless, never were "of us" (I John 2:19).

The entire defense of God's effectual Word of promise and, with this, of the grace of the work of salvation in the family of father Abraham, rests, inRomans 9, on the validity of the distinction between certain children's being "Israel" and other children's merely being "of Israel" (v. 6). To be "Israel" is to be living members of Christ and the family of God according to election. To be merely "of Israel" is to be members of the institution only formally and by outward profession; it is to be merely "in the sphere of the covenant."

That God does not love and desire the salvation of all who are merely "of Israel" is the plain teaching of the apostle in Romans 9:13-15. God did not love circumcised Esau, but hated him. He never had mercy on him, nor did He wish to have mercy on him. Nor, I may add, was it unjust of God that He did not have mercy on Esau. Neither may any of us puny humans dare to call the electing and reprobating God into question: "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?" (v. 20)

It is the intention of the apostle that what he says in Romans 9 specifically of Esau applies also to all those physical descendants of Abraham who perished in unbelief and disobedience, as well as to those physical children of believing parents who similarly perish down through the ages.


A Desire to Save All Men?

3. And in this connection does God not desire the salvation of all men?

Answer: No, God does not desire the salvation of all men, that is, "all men" in the sense intended by Rev. Cecil Tuininga, namely, every human who ever lived, lives, and will live.

Scripture is against it. Did God desire the salvation of all those who perished in the flood, adults and children alike? Did God desire the salvation of all who perished in the fires of Sodom and Gomorrah? Did God desire the salvation of all the Canaanites whom He commanded Israel to kill to the last infant? Did God desire the salvation of all the heathens who lived and died without the gospel before Pentecost? God saves only by the Word, and He Himself announces that in the time of the old covenant "He sheweth His Word unto Jacob.... He hath not dealt so with any nation" (Ps. 147:19, 20).

The New Testament agrees. A divine desire to save is God's purposeful will. But He wills to have mercy on some only and, thus, to save them; others, He wills to harden and, thus, to damn them (Rom. 9:18).

This is the clear, powerful, and (to many) offensive testimony of the Canons of Dordt, which confession binds Rev. Tuininga as it binds me. This is also the clear testimony, incidentally, of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF). There is not so much as a hint in the Reformed confessions of a universal love of God and of a universal desire for salvation. This is why, when Reformed and Presbyterian churches begin to fall away, they must addsuch a statement to the creeds. The Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA) did this in 1903 by adding a section on God's universal love and desire for the salvation of all men to the WCF. The Christian Reformed Church (CRC) did the same thing in 1924 by appending an official, binding, qualifying, doctrinal statement to the "Three Forms of Unity."


Candor and Clarity

I have now answered Rev. Tuininga's questions.

I have answered them as candidly as he answered mine. As frankly as he opened up the character of the conditional covenant, so frankly have I opened up the character of the unconditional covenant. No one - not Rev. Tuininga, not I, not a single reader of the SB - can now be ignorant or confused regarding the differences between the doctrine of a conditional covenant and the doctrine of the unconditional covenant.

No one can fail to see that the differences are fundamental. The conditional covenant teaches a universal covenant love of God in Jesus Christ, not necessarily for every human (although the texts that Tuininga raises and the arguments that he uses to support his covenant view are ominous in this respect) but certainly within the sphere of the natural family of believing parents. God loved every physical descendant of Abraham and Sarah, including Esau. God loves every physical child of believing parents in the time of the new covenant. This covenant love of God fails to save many toward whom it is directed. Whether a child is saved by this love of God depends upon his performance of a condition, although it is usually added that the child can perform this condition only with the help of divine grace.

The unconditional covenant teaches that the salvation of the children of believers is due only to God's love for these children in His covenant with them in Christ. This love, having its source in the eternal election of grace, is efficacious: it infallibly saves every child who is its object. It is gracious: God owes it to none of our children. It is sovereign: No parent may contend with God because it may please God not to love every one of his physical children.


Yet Again: Hyper-Calvinist!

One thing I have not yet done: I have not explained those passages of Holy Scripture that Rev. Tuininga raised in connection with his questions. In his question, whether God loves and desires to save all the physical, baptized children, he appealed to Matthew 23:37. In his question, whether God desires the salvation of all humans without exception, he appealed to I Timothy 2:3, 4 and to II Peter 3:9.

He obliges me to explain these texts in a concluding editorial on his candid confession.

Perhaps my explanation, in addition to showing that there is no conflict between these texts and the doctrine of an unconditional covenant of particular grace, can prove that in holding the unconditional covenant the Protestant Reformed Churches (PRC) are not hyper-Calvinist.

There was, the reader may recall, at the end of Rev. Tuininga's letter this familiar, but still hurtful, dismissal of the PRC: "I would be very happy to see our Protestant Reformed brothers come to recognize and correct their hyper-Calvinism and become truly Reformed."

Is it so?


Part (4)


At the end of the letter in which he candidly confessed the character of a conditional covenant, Rev. Cecil Tuininga appealed to several texts in Scripture in support of his doctrine. These texts are Matthew 23:37Romans 10:21I Timothy 2:3, 4; and II Peter 3:9 (see the Standard Bearer, Jan. 1, 1997).

Although he presents no explanation of the texts, Rev. Tuininga makes clear what his understanding of the texts is. For him, the first two texts mean that God loved every physical descendant of Abraham in the time of the old covenant, and willed to save them all. Since the fulfillment of God's love and desire to save depended on each Israelite's performing the condition of faith and since many Israelites refused to perform this condition, God's love was frustrated in many instances, and His will to save came to nothing.

He understands the last two texts exactly the same way, except that these texts extend God's love and will to save to every human who ever lived, lives, and will live.

In this explanation of these familiar passages, Rev. Tuininga is representative of all who hold a universal, conditional covenant, that is, a doctrine of the covenant with Abraham and his seed that cuts the covenant loose from predestination and that makes the covenant promise dependent upon the condition of faith.

Rev. Tuininga identifies his explanation of the passages as Reformed.

The rejection of his explanation of the texts by the Protestant Reformed Churches (PRC), he brands as "hyper-Calvinism": "I would be very happy to see our Protestant Reformed brothers come to recognize and correct their hyper-Calvinism and become truly Reformed."

The defender of a conditional covenant of universal grace is confident. He challenges the advocate of the unconditional covenant of particular grace to explain the texts. If God does not love and desire the salvation of all those within the sphere of the covenant, why did Jesus say in Matthew 23:37, "How often I wanted to gather your children ... but you were not willing"? If God does not desire the salvation of all men without exception, "how do you interpret I Timothy 2:3, 4?"

He becomes bold in his confidence, almost insulting:

Shall we do a little revising and say that by "all" God meant the elect? But then the Word of God would have said so! Shall we say that it means "all different kinds of people"? If that was the intention of the Holy Spirit, it would have been clearly stated. If this is not the clear message of Scripture, that God desires all men to be saved, then what does it say?

Any other interpretation than his explanation of universal grace and a desire in God that all without exception be saved must be "a little revising" of Holy Scripture. But the revising of the Word of God, whether little or large, is anathema to the Reformed Christian.

In response to this challenge, I will do two things. I will briefly interpret the texts raised by Rev. Tuininga, and I will show that the interpretation that I give has been the interpretation of these texts by the orthodox defenders of God's sovereign grace down through the ages.

Before I proceed with this agenda, two observations are in order. First, the texts to which Rev. Tuininga appeals are the very texts to which the enemies of predestination and salvation by sovereign grace have always appealed. Pelagius raised them against Augustine. Erasmus raised them against Luther. Pighius and Georgius raised them against Calvin. Rev. Tuininga can find the evidence of this in Augustine's anti-Pelagian writings; in Luther's Bondage of the Will; and in Calvin's treatises on predestination and providence in Calvin's Calvinism.

The second observation is that the appeal to these texts by the defenders of a conditional covenant, with the interpretation of the texts as teaching a universal grace of God in Jesus Christ, confirms the conviction of the PRC that the doctrine of a conditional covenant is essentially the same error as that of the "well-meant offer of the gospel." This is the error of a universal grace of God in Jesus Christ dependent for its saving effect upon the will of the sinner. And this, we contend, is the "other gospel" of Galatians 1:8, 9 and Romans 9:16, the "gospel" of Arminianism which was exposed and condemned by the Reformed churches at the Synod of Dordt.

Now to the texts.

"How Often Would I have Gathered Thy Children"

Matthew 23:37 is the climax of Jesus' expression of indignation against the wicked rulers of Old Testament Israel: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"

It was Jesus' will to gather Jerusalem's children. The gathering is certainly their salvation. But Jerusalem's children are not all the physical descendants of Abraham. The children of Jerusalem, mother of the people of God, are the same as the children of Abraham, father of the people of God. The children of Jerusalem are those who are in Jesus Christ by divine election, as the apostle teaches in Romans 9:6-13 and Galatians 3:29.

There is distinction in the text between "Jerusalem" and "thy children." Christ did not will to gather "Jerusalem." The reprobate rulers of the apostate institution with the hardened people whom they controlled, Christ willed to damn in just judgment (see vv. 33-36, 38, 39). He willed to gather specifically and only "thy children."

That Christ's saving will was particular is plain from the example that He employed: "even as a hen gathereth her chickens." No hen wishes in her instinctive way to gather all the chicks on the farmyard, but only her own brood. Similarly, the Christ of God has His own "brood" among the Jews, as among the Gentiles. His "brood" is "all that which the Father giveth me" (John 6:37-39). It is "the children which God hath given me" (Heb. 2:13).

The right interpretation of Jesus' words in Matthew 23:37 insists that Jesus did, and does, gather Jerusalem's children. He gathers every one of them; not one of them is lost. He gathers them in spite of Jerusalem's opposition: "and ye would not." He redeemed all of them by His death. He effectually calls all of them by His Word and Spirit. He will raise all of them from the grave on the last day. Not one of Jerusalem's children, whom Christ willed to gather, perishes. The will of the Christ and the will of God who sent Him make this certain.


Messiah's Failure

Have Rev. Tuininga and the other defenders of a conditional covenant considered the implications of their explanation of Matthew 23:37?

I) The Messiah of God failed in His official labor on behalf of God. For surely Jesus speaks in the text as the Messiah. Many whom He, as the Messiah, willed to gather, perish.

2) The will of man overcomes the will of God's Christ, indeed, the will of God in our flesh. The Son of God wills to gather. Sinful ecclesiastical rulers will that He not gather. Their will prevails; His will is defeated.

3) Jesus Christ died for every physical descendant of Abraham. Whatever may be the extent of Christ's will to gather, the will that He expresses inMatthew 23:37 is carried out in His death a few days later. Jesus wills to gather Jerusalem's children in His cross, just as Jerusalem wills by that same cross, considered now as the evil deed of men, that He not gather her children. Jesus' gathering of sinners is centrally His atoning death. Thus, and in no other way, He gathers. If now He willed to gather every physical Jew, He certainly died for every physical Jew. By their interpretation of Matthew 23:37, the defenders of the conditional covenant necessarily arrive at universal, ineffectual atonement.

Augustine on Matthew 23:37

The particularistic interpretation of Matthew 23:37 that I have given is biblical. It does full justice to the text itself ("thy children"; "as a hen gathereth her chickens"). It harmonizes with the grand theme of all of Scripture, that Christ the Savior, grace, and salvation are for the elect alone, by the will of God.

Rev. Tuininga dismisses this interpretation beforehand as merely the "logic" of hyper-Calvinists.

He should be more careful.

The interpretation that I have given was also that, in the main, of Augustine. The great church father gave this interpretation in his book, The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love. "Enchiridion" means 'handbook.' Augustine wrote the book in A.D. 421 as a summary of his thought on the essential teachings of the Christian religion. It may be regarded as the first Christian dogmatics. Such a judge as Adolph von Harnack (no hyper-Calvinist!) regarded this work as Augustine's "matured exposition of the Symbol (the Apostles' Creed - DJE)" and as "our best guide" to Augustine's thought.

In section XCVI, Augustine taught God's sovereignty as regards sin. If we do not believe that God's sovereignty governs evil, Augustine wrote,

the very first sentence of our creed is endangered, wherein we profess to believe in God the Father Almighty. For He is not truly called Almighty if He cannot do whatsoever He pleases, or if the power of His almighty will is hindered by the will of any creature whatsoever.

Immediately, in section XCVII, he continued:

Hence we must inquire in what sense is said of God what the apostle has most truly said: "Who will have all men to be saved" (I Tim. 2:4). For, as a matter of fact, not all, nor even a majority, are saved: so that it would seem that what God wills is not done, man's will interfering with, and hindering the will of God. When we ask the reason why all men are not saved, the ordinary answer is: "Because men themselves are not willing." This, indeed, cannot be said of infants, for it is not in their power either to will or not to will. But if we could attribute to their will the childish movements they make at baptism, when they make all the resistance they can, we should say that even they are notwilling to be saved.

Then follows Augustine's interpretation of Matthew 23:37:

Our Lord says plainly, however, in the Gospel, when upbraiding the impious city: "How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matt. 23:37) as if the will of God had been overcome by the will of men, and when the weakest stood in the way with their want of will, the will of the strongest could not be carried out. And where is that omnipotence which hath done all that it pleased on earth and in heaven, if God willed to gather together the children of Jerusalem, and did not accomplish it? Or rather, Jerusalem was not willing that her children should be gathered together, but even though she was unwilling, He gathered together as many of her children as He wished: for He does not will some things and do them, and will others and do them not; but "He hath done all that He pleased in heaven and in earth"
(Augustine, The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love, ed. Henry Paolucci, Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1961, pp. 110,

Augustine flatly contradicted the interpretation of Matthew 23:37 by Rev. Cecil Tuininga and, to be fair, the interpretation by hosts of professing Calvinists today.

Augustine regarded the explanation of the text by the defenders of a conditional covenant and by the defenders of a "well-meant offer of the gospel" as endangering the very first article of the Christian faith, "I believe in God the Father Almighty."

How serious is their explanation of the text, in the judgment of Augustine, he indicated in the next line:

And, moreover, who will be so foolish and blasphemous as to say that God cannot change the evil wills of men, whichever, whenever, and wheresoever He chooses, and direct them to what is good?

Will the advocates of universal grace, whether in the sphere of the covenant or in the wide world, who love to appeal to Matthew 23:37, now call Augustine a hyper-Calvinist?

It is easy, and even popular in Reformed circles, to call the PRC hyper-Calvinists.

Dare they say this about Augustine, from whose interpretation of Matthew 23:37 and doctrine of sovereign grace we do not differ?

Augustine: hyper-Calvinist?


Return to Table of Contents


 Part (5)


In defense of the doctrine of a conditional covenant with all the physical children of believers, Rev. Cecil Tuininga also appeals to II Peter 3:9. Although he offers no explanation of the text, it is plain that he understands the text to teach that the Lord desires the salvation of every human without exception. Of course, the reason why the Lord would desire to save all must be that He loves all in Jesus Christ the Savior.

The appeal to this text by the defender of a conditional covenant is significant. There is, as the Protestant Reformed Churches have always insisted, a close relationship between the doctrine of a conditional covenant and the teaching that God loves and desires to save every human without exception. If God loves and desires to save every physical child of believers, there can be no objection to the teaching that God loves and desires to save every human without exception. If the love of God for our children depends for its saving effect upon their performance of the condition of faith, why should not the love of God for every human also depend upon his faith as the condition of salvation?

In connection with his appeal to II Peter 3:9, Rev. Tuininga advises me to read Calvin on the text. He also directs my attention to the Canons, III, IV/8, as though this article, like II Peter 3:9, expresses a desire of God to save everyone without exception.

If I should differ with Rev. Tuininga's universalistic interpretation of II Peter 3:9, I will be exposing myself as a "hyper-Calvinist": "Hyper-Calvinists, in applying logic to Scripture, come to exactly the opposite conclusion" (see the Standard BearerJan. 1, 1997, p. 150).

II Peter 3:9

II Peter 3:9 reads: "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

Who they are about whom God is not willing that any of them should perish and whom God wills to come to repentance, the words, "longsuffering to us-ward," make clear. The Lord is not willing that any of us should perish, but that all of us should come to repentance. His will of salvation is an aspect of His longsuffering love, and His longsuffering love is directed to "us." These are the "beloved" of verse 1, all those, but those only, whom God elected in eternity (II Pet. 1:10).

In the longsuffering of the Lord, not one whom He wills not to perish will perish. Every person whom He wills to come to repentance will come to repentance, and he will come to repentance because the Lord will bring him to repentance. "The longsuffering of our Lord is salvation" (v. 15), not merely the possibility of salvation.

John Calvin is unclear, if not somewhat mistaken, in his commentary on the text, exactly because he overlooks the qualifying phrase, "longsuffering to us-ward." But his explanation of the text in his "A Defence of the Secret Providence of God" is clear. An enemy of divine sovereignty has appealed to II Peter 3:9 as though the text teaches that God wills, or desires, something that He does not bring to pass, namely, that no one should perish. Replies Calvin:

In as far as God "willeth that all should come unto repentance," in so far He willeth that no one should perish; but, in order that they may thus be received of God, they must "come." But the Scripture everywhere affirms, that in order that they may "come," they must be prevented of God; that is, God must come first to them to draw them; for until they are drawn of God, they will remain where they are, given up to the obstinacy of the flesh. Now if there were one single particle of right judgment in you (the man who appeals to II Pet. 3:9 as though it teaches that God wills to save persons whom He fails to save - DJE), you would, in a moment, acknowledge that there is a wide and wonderful difference between these two things - that the hearts of men are made of God "fleshly" out of "stony" hearts, and that it is thus that they are made to be displeased and dissatisfied with themselves, and are brought, as suppliants, to beg of God mercy and pardon; and that after they are thus changed, they are received into all grace. Now God declares that both these things are of His pure goodness and mercy; that He gives us hearts that we may repent, and then pardons us graciously upon our repentance and supplication (inCalvin's Calvinism, RFPA, p. 276).

Canons, III, IV/8

Nor does Canons, III, IV/8 teach that God desires the salvation of all men, as Rev. Tuininga assumes. It does not say this. It does not imply this. For a Reformed man to read a universal love of God and a desire of God to save all men into this article is preposterous. Have not the Canons, in the first head, taught as plainly as language can express it, that God loves and desires to save some only and that He hates and wills the damnation of the others? Have not the Canons, in the second head, taught as plainly as language can express it, that by the will of God Jesus Christ died only for those whom God wills to save in the decree of election and that Jesus Christ did not die for the others, the reprobate? Will not the Canons, in what follows in the third and fourth heads, teach as plainly as language can express it, that by means of the gospel the Spirit of Christ effectually bestows the grace of faith only upon those whom God elected and for whom Christ died and that the Spirit withholds this grace from the others?

Are we then to suppose that, violently contradicting and overturning everything that they are concerned to teach, the Canons suddenly affirm universal saving love and a will of God to save the reprobate for whom Christ did not die, in an article that does not so much as mention divine love or desire to save?

The subject of Canons, III, IV/8 is not God's love and will to save. The subject is the call of the gospel, particularly the external aspect of the call of the gospel. The subject is the "command to repent and believe" (Canons, II/5) that God gives to every man, woman, and child without distinction who hear the gospel. This call is "unfeigned," or "serious." The explanation is not that God on His part loves all and desires to save all - the Canons have denied this, judging this doctrine as heretical! - but rather that God sets before everyone his solemn duty and in dead earnest requires him to do his duty, namely, repent and believe. That the sinner lacks all ability to obey the command and that God has decreed that certain sinners will not repent and believe in no wise detract from the utter seriousness of the call.

When the Canons go on to say that it is pleasing to God that those who are called should come to Him, the meaning is not that God on His part desires that all those summoned by the external call of the gospel should come and be saved. The Canons have denied this very thing in their doctrine of predestination in the first head. But the meaning is that the good activity of coming to Christ in faith pleases God, whereas the wicked refusal to repent and believe in Christ displeases Him. Even though the unregenerated sinner in the audience cannot believe and even though God Himself has determined in the decree of reprobation that a particular sinner in the audience will not believe, and even though the Holy Spirit deliberately declines to give this unregenerate, reprobate sinner faith, this man's refusal to believe in Jesus Christ is displeasing to God - terribly displeasing - so that God will punish him more severely on account of his refusal to come to Christ.

The concluding line of the article, that God in the preaching "promises eternal life ... to as many as shall come to him, and believe on him," does not teach a general, conditional promise to all who hear the preaching, in manifestation of a general love of God for all hearers. The promise is "to as many as shall come ... and believe." It is not to those who refuse to come. Since only the elect come, because God draws them (John 6:44), the promise is to the elect only. But the proclamation of this promise encourages those in whose hearts the Spirit works true sorrow over sin and the knowledge of Jesus as the Savior from their sin confidently to come to Him, expecting to be received by Him and to receive of Him eternal life and rest.

Neither Canons, III, IV/8 nor II Peter 3:9 teaches that God "desire(s) the salvation of all men," as the defender of a conditional covenant supposes.

Will Jesus Then Never Come?

Has Rev. Tuininga (and, to be fair, the multitude of other professing Calvinists who interpret the text as he does) ever considered the implications of his explanation of II Peter 3:9?

1) The will of the Lord that no human perish, but that all without exception be saved, is frustrated and defeated. For many perish. To all eternity He will be a sad and disappointed God.

2) The Lord God is hopelessly at odds with Himself; He lives in a state of confusion. On the one hand, He wills that only some - the elect - be saved; on the other hand, He wills that all be saved. On the one hand, He wills that no one perish; on the other hand, He designs that Christ not die for all, without which atonement they must perish. On the one hand, He wills that all come to repentance; on the other hand, He withholds from many the "evangelical grace" of repentance which they can only have if He gives it. What can one make of a confused and confusing god like this? What can a self-contradictory god like this make of himself?

3) Jesus Christ will never return. On the explanation of II Peter 3:9 of Rev. Tuininga (and, to be fair, that of a multitude of other professing Calvinists), Jesus will never come again. For Peter is explaining to us why the promise of Christ's coming is not yet fulfilled, why apparently it is delayed (v. 4). The explanation is that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and be saved. If now Jesus postpones His second coming until every last human repents and is saved, He will never come! Already there are some who have died impenitent and lost. Jesus, therefore, will never return! Always there will be people born who are not repentant. Jesus, therefore, will never return! The universalistic interpretation of II Peter 3:9 destroys the comfort of the second coming that the apostle intends to give to the waiting church and plays into the hands of the scoffers of verse 4 who say, "all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."

Hyper-Calvinism!

Rev. Tuininga will dismiss my interpretation of II Peter 3:9 as the logic of hyper-Calvinism. Indeed, he has done so in advance ("hyper-Calvinists, in applying logic to Scripture ...").

He should be more careful.

The interpretation that I have given was also that of Abraham Kuyper. The great Dutch Reformed theologian gave this interpretation in his book, Dat de Genade Particulier is (Amsterdam: J.H. Kruyt, 1884; the English translation would be, That Grace is Particular). Kuyper noted that the advocates of universal grace in every age have three favorite texts: I John 2:2I Timothy 2:4; and II Peter 3:9. But these "three main texts with which men commonly like to scare the confessor of particular grace ... prove nothing (emphasis, Kuyper's - DJE) for universal grace." Kuyper gave this interpretation of II Peter 3:9:

In II Peter 3:9, nothing else can be meant than this: Jesus cannot come before the number of the elect is full, and, inasmuch now as many elect have not yet been converted, He delays His coming, in His longsuffering, not willing that some would go lost through a premature return, but willing that they all first be converted.

The explanation of the text that holds that God desires to save all men, Kuyper called "the most absurd reasoning imaginable and ... utterly senseless," inasmuch as it implies that Jesus will never return (pp. 56-69; the translation of the Dutch is mine).

Will the advocates of universal grace, whether in the sphere of the covenant or in the wide world, who love to appeal to II Peter 3:9, now call Abraham Kuyper a hyper-Calvinist?

It is easy, and even popular in Reformed circles, to call the Protestant Reformed Churches hyper-Calvinists.

Dare they say this about Abraham Kuyper, from whose interpretation of II Peter 3:9 and doctrine of sovereign, particular, saving grace we do not differ?

Abraham Kuyper: hyper-Calvinist?


 Yet Another Candid Confession about the Covenant

This one by Dr. Jelle Faber, emeritus professor of theology in the Canadian Reformed Churches.

It appears in the recent book, American Secession Theologians on Covenant and Baptism & Extra-Scriptural Binding - A New Danger(Neerlandia, Alberta, Canada: Inheritance, 1996). I intend to review the book in a forthcoming issue of the Standard Bearer.

The confession is that the doctrine of the covenant held by the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands ("liberated") is essentially the same as the doctrine of the covenant taught by Christian Reformed theologian William Heyns.

This admission is of extraordinary importance to the Protestant Reformed Churches (PRC).

In the controversy over the doctrine of the covenant that convulsed the PRC in the early 1950s, the agreement of the "Liberated" doctrine with the doctrine of Heyns was vehemently denied both by the PR ministers who were trying to introduce the "Liberated" doctrine into the PRC and by leading "Liberated" theologian Klaas Schilder.

Now the Canadian Reformed dogmatician, himself an ardent champion of "Liberated" covenant theology, candidly acknowledges that there is fundamental agreement between Schilder and Heyns on the covenant of God with the children of believers.

Faber speaks of Schilder's "kinship" with Heyns in the doctrine of the covenant (p. 52). He declares that "Hamilton" (Canadian Reformed seminary, teaching the "Liberated," conditional doctrine of the covenant) stands in the tradition, among others, of William Heyns (p. 53). Dr. Faber even criticizes Schilder for Schilder's condemnation of Heyns (pp. 47-52).

Faber is correct. As Herman Hoeksema always insisted, the covenant doctrines of Heyns and the Christian Reformed Church and of Schilder and the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands ("liberated") are the same.

Heyns taught that all baptized children receive "subjective grace," that is, a gracious operation of the Spirit of Christ within themselves, in their hearts or souls, so that they are able to repent and believe, if only they will use this "subjective grace" rightly (American Secession Theologians, pp. 38-41; also, H. Hoeksema, Believers and Their Seed, pp. 13-33).

The "Liberated" doctrine of a conditional covenant is that God establishes His covenant with every physical child of believers by promise, promising every child at baptism Christ and salvation on the condition that the child will one day believe.

These two doctrines are essentially the same. Both teach grace for all the children, the one as "subjective grace," the other as a favorable attitude of God. Both teach that grace is resistible, the one in that "subjective grace" can be lost, the other in that the favorable attitude of God fails to save many children. Both teach that the actual salvation of a child depends upon the child, the one by basing salvation on the child's good use of "subjective grace," the other by making the promise dependent upon the child's performing the condition of faith.

Of both these views, the PRC judge that they are "Arminianism injected into the covenant."

Dr. Faber urges that those churches holding the doctrine of a conditional covenant of universal grace unite. Referring to the churches by the name of the city where their seminary is located, he calls on the Free Reformed Churches (Apeldoorn), the independent Christian Reformed Churches (Grand Rapids), and the Canadian Reformed Churches (Kampen, Hamilton) to manifest ecclesiastically their "confessional unity."

Again, he is right. One doctrine of the covenant, of grace, and of salvation certainly calls for one church organization.

And then, there is Grandville. (Location of the Protestant Reformed Seminary--editor)


 Part (6)

The third text that the defender of the conditional covenant appeals to is I Timothy 2:3, 4. He is contending for a doctrine that holds that God loves all the physical children of believers with His covenant love, and that God desires to save them all. In support of this doctrine, he appeals to a passage of Scripture which he supposes to teach a desire of God to save all men without exception. It is no longer a matter only of God's desiring to save all the physical children of believing parents. It is now a matter of God's desiring to save every human without exception.

Here again, it is evident that the doctrine of a conditional covenant with all the physical children of believers is essentially the same as the teaching of a grace of God in the gospel toward all who hear. Both appeal to the same texts. Rev. Cecil Tuininga appeals to I Timothy 2:3, 4 in support of a covenant love of God for all children of believers. In his recent book advocating that God loves and desires to save all who hear the gospel, Iain H. Murray of the Banner of Truth makes I Timothy 2:3, 4 a main biblical proof of his doctrine. He calls I Timothy 2:3, 4 "a crucial text" on behalf of his view of universal, conditional grace in the gospel (see Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism, Banner of Truth, 1995, pp. 149-154).

This is Rev. Tuininga's appeal to the text:

And in this connection, does God not desire the salvation of all men? If not, how do you interpret I Timothy 2:3, 4? ... If this is not the clear message of Scripture, that God desires all men to be saved, then what does it say? (See the Standard Bearer, Jan. 1, 1997, p. 150.)

I Timothy 2:3, 4 reads: "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."

Rev. Tuininga understands the apostle to teach that God desires to save every human without exception, by having every human come to the knowledge of the truth. He appeals to this text in support of his doctrine of a conditional covenant. His explanation of the text, therefore, must be that God's desire depends for its realization on the sinner's performance of the condition of faith. Just as in the covenant the promise, which (according to him) is given to every child alike, depends upon the child's faith, so in the general preaching of the gospel God's desire to save all, which is expressed to every hearer by the "well-meant offer," depends upon the sinner's faith.

The Word "All" in I Timothy 2:4

Rev. Tuininga stumbles, seriously, over the word "all." He assumes that the word "all" means "every human without exception." He is wrong. Seldom in Scripture does "all" mean "every person without exception." Often it means "all kinds or classes of persons," or "all men and women who make up a certain, definite group."

"All" does not mean "every person without exception" in Romans 5:18b: "even so by the righteousness of one (Jesus Christ) the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." The righteousness of Christ does not justify and give life to "every person without exception."

"All" does not mean "every person without exception" in John 12:32: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." The crucified Christ does not draw "every person without exception" to Himself.

"All" does not mean "every person without exception" in I Corinthians 15:22b: "even so in Christ shall all be made alive." Christ will not raise "every person without exception" unto eternal life in the last day.

"All" does not mean "every human without exception" in I Timothy 2:3, 4. The words "all men" occur first in the passage in verse 1. There, they refer to "all classes of men," as verse 2 shows. Christians must pray for "all men." The ruling class ("kings ... and all that are in authority") may not be excluded from their prayers. Verses 3 and 4 give the ground for this exhortation: God wills that all classes and kinds of men be saved.

That "all men" in verse 4 does not refer to "every human without exception" is proved beyond all doubt to every Reformed student of Scripture from verse 6. In verse 6 we read of "all" once more. But this time the word describes those for whom Christ died: "(Christ Jesus) gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."

If "all" in verse 4 refers to "every human without exception," this is what "all" means also in verse 6. In this case, Jesus died as a ransom for every man without exception.

The connection between explaining "all" in verse 4 as "every man without exception" and explaining "all" in verse 6 as "every man without exception" is inescapable exegetically. Those who explain "all" in verse 4 as "every man without exception" cannot avoid universal atonement in verse 6.

It is also inescapable theologically. If God does indeed love every man without exception, so that He wills the salvation of every man without exception, Jesus certainly died as a ransom for every man without exception. For Jesus carried out the will of God.

Implications of Taking "All" Universally

Have Rev. Tuininga and, to be fair, the many other professing Calvinists who appeal to I Timothy 2 in support of a doctrine of God's loving desire to save all without exception considered the implications of their explanation of the text?

1) There is in God a real will that all without exception be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, which will goes unfulfilled and is everlastingly frustrated. The text does not speak of a vague "desire" or superficial "wish" (as though this were possible in God), but of God's "will" (Greek: theloo). The salvation of all without exception is God's well-thought-out and firm purpose. He may have other purposes. One of them may be the very opposite of this one. But it is the will of God to save every human without exception. This is not the will of God about a minor matter. This is the will of God about the salvation and damnation of human beings. And this purpose is not accomplished. This is a will of God that is frustrated.

2) God is a God of sheer self-contradiction. He Himself has ordained that the only way of salvation is one's coming to the knowledge of the truth, as verse 4 teaches: "... and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." Even though He wills the salvation of all, He Himself withholds the knowledge of the truth from many (as in the time of the old covenant); hides the truth from others (Matt. 11:25, 26); and employs the truth to blind and harden others (Rom. 9:18; 11:7-10), thus assuring that they will not be saved.

3) Jesus Christ died as a ransom for every human without exception. Both exegetically and theologically, it is certain that if "all" in I Timothy 2:3, 4means "every man without exception," this is what "all" means two verses later. All who explain the text as teaching a desire of God to save all are committed, willy-nilly, to universal atonement.

The Logic of Hyper-Calvinism?

Rev. Tuininga dismisses my interpretation of the text as mere hyper-Calvinistic logic-chopping before I give it.

Shall we do a little revising and say that by "all" God meant the elect? But then the Word of God would have said so! Shall we say that it means "all different kinds of people"? If that was the intention of the Holy Spirit, it would have been clearly stated. ... Hyper-Calvinists, in applying logic to Scripture, come to exactly the opposite conclusion ... and so ... proceed to reject clear teachings of Scripture.

He should be more careful.

The interpretation that I have given was that of John Calvin.

In his commentary on I Timothy 2:4, the Reformer responded to "those who represent this passage to be opposed to predestination." Their argument was that the text contradicts and overthrows the teaching that "some are predestinated by His eternal purpose to salvation, and others to perdition." Calvin's explanation was that "the Apostle simply means, that there is no people and no rank in the world that is excluded from salvation.... The present discourse relates to classes of men, and not to individual persons" (Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, Eerdmans, 1959, pp. 54, 55).

Calvin also explained the text in his treatise, "A Defence of the Secret Providence of God." An enemy of the truth of God's sovereign predestination had appealed against Calvin's defense of the doctrine to I Timothy 2:4. Wrote Calvin:

And as to your usual way of citing that passage of the apostle Paul, "That God would have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (I Tim. 2:4), how vain a prop that is to put under your error to support it, I think I have shown with sufficient plainness already, and that repeatedly. For it is (so to speak) more certain than certainty itself that the apostle is not, in that passage, speaking of individuals at all, but of orders of men in their various civil and national vocations. He had just before commanded that the public prayers of the Church should be offered up for kings and others in authority, and for all who held magisterial offices, of what kind and degree soever they may be. But as nearly all those who were then armed with the sword of public justice were open and professed enemies to the Church, and as it might therefore seem to the Church singular or absurd that public prayers should be offered up for them, the apostle meets all objections, so very natural, by admonishing the Church to pray even for them also, and to supplicate God to extend His grace and favour even to them, for the Church's quiet, peace and safety (Calvin's Calvinism, RFPA, pp. 275, 276).

Concerning the word "all" in Scripture over which so many stumble and which is eagerly used by so many to oppose the Reformed doctrine of sovereign, particular grace, John Calvin made a sharp, important comment in his explanation of Daniel 7:27. The text promises that "all dominions shall serve and obey him (Messiah)."

As, however, it is certain that many have perseveringly rebelled against God and the teaching of his gospel, it may seem absurd for the angel to pronounce all the powers of the world obedient and submissive. But it is worth while to study the customary methods of scriptural expression. For instance, by the phrase "all people," the Spirit does not mean every single person, but simply some out of every nation who should submit to Christ's yoke, acknowledge him to be king, and obediently obey his Church.... Some persons foolishly press beyond their meaning words of universal import, as when Paul says, God wishes all to be saved. Hence, they say, no one is predetermined for destruction, but all are elect, that is, God is not God (I Tim. 2:4). But we are not surprised at such madness as this, corrupting the impious and profane, who desire by their cavils to promote disbelief in all the oracles of the Spirit. Let us clearly comprehend the frequency of this figure of speech; when the Holy Spirit names "all," he means some out of all nations, and not every one universally (Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Daniel, vol. 2, Eerdmans, 1948, p. 78).

Will the advocates of universal, conditional grace, whether in the sphere of the covenant or in the wide world, who love to appeal to I Timothy 2:3, 4now call John Calvin a hyper-Calvinist?

It is easy, and even popular in Reformed circles, to call the Protestant Reformed Churches hyper-Calvinists.

Dare they say this about John Calvin, from whose interpretation of I Timothy 2:3, 4 and doctrine of sovereign, particular grace grounded in God's will of predestination we do not differ?

John Calvin: hyper-Calvinist?


 Part (7) Summing Up

As the conclusion of this series of editorials on the covenant of God in Christ with believers and their children, I sum up for the benefit of the reader what has come to light in the discussion.

The editorials have been a response to an advocate of the doctrine of a conditional covenant with every physical child of believers. This doctrine holds that God makes His covenant by promise with every child at baptism, but that the promise depends for its realization, or efficacy to save, upon a condition that the child must fulfill. This condition is faith. If a child fails to fulfill the condition of faith, the promise is ineffectual. It cannot give the child the eternal life that it has promised to the child. Thus, the child breaks the covenant that God established with him at baptism.

This doctrine of the covenant has become popular, perhaps the prevailing one, in Reformed and Presbyterian churches today.

With refreshing and commendable candor, the advocate of a conditional covenant freely acknowledged that this doctrine of the covenant holds that God loves every physical child of believing parents with His covenant love in Jesus Christ. To this love belongs, naturally, that God sincerely desires to save every physical child of believers.

There is then a covenant love of God in Christ for many children who are not saved by this love, but perish in spite of it.

At baptism, God is supposed to express a desire to save every baptized child, which desire goes unfulfilled and disappointed in many instances.

A conditional covenant teaches that God's grace in Jesus Christ is universal within the sphere of the families of believers. Inasmuch as the grace of this covenant is universal, it is also resistible and ineffectual. Many to whom the grace is extended are not, in fact, saved by it. God loved Esau, desired to save him, promised him salvation in the blood of Christ, and made His covenant with him by promise at circumcision, just as with Jacob. But Esau is in hell.

Rev. Cecil Tuininga has been candid.

But he has merely expressed openly what is, in fact, necessarily implied in the doctrine of a conditional covenant, whether men candidly acknowledge it or not. Men may not always have seen this clearly. Others, knowing full well that the doctrine of a conditional covenant conflicts with Dordt's (and the Bible's!) teaching of particular grace, studiously avoid an open declaration of their conditional principles. But a promise to all alike, establishing the covenant with all alike, means grace to all alike.

Resistible grace.

Ineffectual grace.

Grace that depends squarely on the work of the child fulfilling a condition.

That about a conditional covenant which makes absolutely certain that it will, indeed must, teach universal, resistible grace is that the doctrine of a conditional covenant refuses to allow the covenant to be governed by divine election. If God's saving operations in the covenant are not controlled by election, covenant grace must be universal.

With this grievous error goes another, which is, if possible, still worse: the conditional covenant refuses to recognize Jesus Christ as head of the new covenant. The conditional covenant is headless! As though Romans 5:12ff. were not in Scripture. But if God's saving dealings in the covenant are not in Christ, as head of the new covenant, covenant grace must be universal, must be wider than Christ and His elect body, the church.

Rev. Cecil Tuininga has been candid, that is, honest and aboveboard. He is also correct in his understanding of his own covenant-view.

Others now begin to say the same. Dr. Jelle Faber, in the recent book, American Secession Theologians on Covenant and Baptism & Extra-Scriptural Binding-A New Danger (Inheritance, 1996), admits that the conditional covenant of the Canadian Reformed Churches and the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands ("liberated") is essentially the same as the covenant-doctrine of Christian Reformed theologian William Heyns. But Heyns taught that in baptism God gives to every child "subjective grace," that is, the inner, spiritual power of the Holy Spirit of Christ. This grace enables every child to believe in Jesus Christ, if only he chooses to do so. Some, of course (according to Heyns), choose not to use this grace. They perish.

Grace for all.

Dependent for its success upon the will of man.

In defending the conditional covenant, Rev. Tuininga appealed especially to three texts: Matthew 23:37II Peter 3:9; and I Timothy 2:3, 4.

This too is important. For these texts, especially the last two, are supposed to teach that God loves and desires to save all men without exception. The appeal to these texts on behalf of a conditional covenant shows that the doctrine of a conditional covenant is, in reality, the introduction of the heresy of a universal, ineffectual love of God and a frustrated will of God to save all without exception into the sphere of the covenant.

Why would a Reformed man appeal to II Peter 3:9 and to I Timothy 2:3, 4 in defense of a conditional covenant with the children of believers?

One and the same theology is at work in both the doctrine of a conditional covenant and the doctrine that God offers salvation to all out of His love for all and with a desire to save all. This is the theology that makes the grace of God dependent upon an act of man. It is the theology of "conditional grace."

Rev. Tuininga insisted on the conditionality of salvation, whether within the covenant or without. With unerring insight into the nature of his own theology, he saw conditions and conditionality as the basic issue.

If he merely meant by "condition" that faith is the necessary means by which God gives, and the elect receive, salvation, he would get no argument from us, although we would plead for a better word.

If by "condition" he only had in mind that the God who gives faith to His elect (and faith is in every respect a purely gracious gift of God!) also commands them to be active in believing, he would find us in agreement. Indeed, we maintain that God commands all who hear the gospel to believe, not only the children born to believing parents.

But this is not his meaning. For him, faith is the act of the child upon which the covenant of God depends. For him, faith is the act of the child that renders the promise effectual. For him, faith is the act of the child that explains why the grace that is extended to all alike saves some, but fails to save others.

In the conditional covenant, grace is not "through" faith, but "on account of" faith.

Against this, it is the message of the gospel that a "conditional grace" is not the grace of God at all. "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work" (Rom. 11:6).

God's salvation in Jesus Christ is unconditional. All of it. From beginning, in eternal election, to end, in the resurrection of the body.

Christ's death for me did not depend upon a condition that I must fulfill. The Holy Spirit's regeneration of me was not due to any condition that I had to fulfill. I am not justified because of any condition that I have fulfilled. The resurrection of my body into life in the Day of Christ will not be conditioned by any act or worth of mine.

And this is true of all of my salvation because all of my salvation has its eternal origin in God's unconditional election of me in Jesus Christ. Out of an unconditional election flows an unconditional salvation.

Such also is the salvation that God works in the covenant in the generations of believing parents.

The English Calvinist theologian Augustus M. Toplady gave expression to the truth of the unconditionality of the covenant of grace:

God's covenant love to us in Christ is another stream, flowing from the fountain of unmingled grace. And here, as in the preceding instance, every truly awakened person disclaims all title to praise.... How is it possible that either God's purposes, or that his covenant concerning us, can be in any respect whatsoever suspended on the will or the works of men; seeing both his purposes and his covenant were framed, and fixed, and agreed upon, by the persons in the Trinity, not only before men existed, but before angels themselves were created, or time itself was born? All was vast eternity, when grace was federally given us in Christ ere the world began.... Repentance and faith, new obedience and perseverance, are not conditions of interest in the covenant of grace (for then it would be a covenant of works); but consequences and tokens of covenant interest ("Free Will and Merit Fairly Examined," in The Works of Augustus Toplady, London: J. Cornish, 1853, p. 356).

As Luther said about the term "merit," so must it be said about the term "condition" as it is used in the theology of a conditional covenant: "Away with that profane, impious word!" It is the enemy of grace.

I urge the reader who regards the truth of God's covenant with our children as vital to buy and read carefully the new edition of Herman Hoeksema'sBelievers and Their Seed: Children in the Covenant, soon to be published by the Reformed Free Publishing Association.

If Rev. Cecil Tuininga would read it, I will happily send him a copy as a gift.

Last modified on 01 September 2013
Engelsma, David J.

Prof.David J. Engelsma (Wife: Ruth)

Ordained: September 1963

Pastorates: Loveland, CO - 1963; South Holland, IL - 1974; Professor in the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1988; Emeritus - 2008

Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof_D._Engelsma

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