The Antithesis

Richard Van Laar
August 25, 2007


“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Gen 3:15 (NIV)

There is today an increasing amount of evidence of forgetfulness when it comes to the antithesis and its implications in the life of the church of Christ.

We all know very well the parts of the letters of Paul that pertain to divisions within the church.  Some are very adept at quoting them to show how it is wrong to have division and how it is wrong to separate over the issues of today. (Eph 4:3)  Since the liberation of two churches out of the Canadian Reformed Churches, everyone is confronted with a dilemma: is it a true reformation, or is it really time?  We often hear many excuses to the effect that “it is not bad enough yet,” or, “you need to fight from within longer.” 

That is why it is important now to talk about the antithesis. That is the struggle between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman.  It is important to mention this because we are involved in this struggle.  It is not a struggle that has sidelines where people can stand and observe.  Nor is it a struggle that is easy to identify always and everywhere.  The devil is devious and attacks with many different strategies. 


The devil will not necessarily use the same heresies of old that the church had to defend herself against, for example, the heresy which caused the church to confess the Nicene Creed.  This heresy involved a denial of the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Son of God.  A schism occurred because the eastern churches refused to deny this heresy.  Also, will the devil militate against the church with the same method he used when he tried to convince the church that salvation was by works as overtly as was done during the Great Reformation?  No, the devil will take some parts of old heresies and re-dress them to look like a new and profound theological thought.  It will sound almost perfectly right.  But that is the key: the “almost.”  If something is not-exactly-true, we must ask, “is it true?”  If an idea has a lot of truth but a shade of not-truth, is it true?  If a statement about what the Lord says regarding his church is not completely biblical, is it true?  I speak of our confessions when I say a statement about what the Lord says because that is what our confessions are.  It is the Church professing what the Lord says in His Word.

We can find an example of the devil re-dressing old heresies when we look at the Canons of Dordt.  We see characteristics of the heresy of Pelagius when we look at the errors the Canons deal with.  It isn’t as overt as the heresy of Pelagius but re-dressed and revamped.  The Remonstrants put the focus on man again.  All Satan wants us to do is take the focus off of Christ; that is all he needs to do to lure men away.  The glory is in man when we look at ourselves.  Thus, when “Christians” speak in great pomp and piety of Christ yet focus on man, they gain nothing.  They are confessing a different doctrine. 

This leads to another question to reflect upon.  If a doctrine contains unscriptural elements, is it truth?  No, God does not lie.  Where does the doctrine come from then; if not God, from whom?  It comes from the enemy of God for there is no other party.  The difference is truth and life on the one hand or death and the lie on the other.  It becomes black and white.  Gen 3:1b …He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (NIV)

Here we come to the reality of the struggle.  We can understand that it is a multi-fronted war.  Think of what the confessions teach about the struggle against the flesh, the world and Satan.  It is an unholy alliance, not just one foe who is easily identified.  We are attacked from within ourselves, from outside of ourselves in the world and from spiritual forces.  Thus we are involved in a dynamic and multi-fronted war.  We need to realize this and then ask ourselves the question:

Are we immune in the church? 

Not so.


Today we are faced with the age-old ever-present danger of the evil-one and his allies.  We do not sit in a philosophical grandstand able to observe everything around us without danger or without being involved.  It may be tempting to think that we have a certain amount of isolation from history, the dangers of war, the danger of compromise or the danger of being subverted in our thinking.  Yet this thinking is only delusional.  Whether we care to admit it or not, each and every one of us is an active participant in the struggle.

We can illustrate this when we think of silent bystanders of a crime.  Several years ago in Langley B.C., a man was killed on a lawn of a suburban home by an assailant with a 2x4.  Several people stood by and witnessed the entire thing without becoming involved.  In the end they played a role in the crime by not preventing it.  In essence they were participants with the murderer because they, while having opportunity, did not prevent the murder to the best of their ability.  They lifted not a finger.  It is different if one worked to try to prevent it and in the end could not.  He becomes absolved of the responsibility.  Yet, sadly, in this example the parties who seemed not involved were actively involved.  The same occurs in the church.  When an injustice is served and individuals fail to act and become silent bystanders, justice is not promoted, and thus the neighbour’s good is not promoted.  The inaction now becomes an action of disobedience.   

We all are weak in this manner because of our sinful nature.  Immediately we think of ourselves and think, “what would happen to me?”  Then we are paralyzed by self-concern.  Excuses rise up in our hearts; we look for loopholes, escape routes and desert the struggle.  Not one of us is immune to this.  Yet this renders us no excuse.  Our tasks are specific. 


I wish to speak again about divisions.  “How dare you who are involved in this recent liberation create division in the CanRC’s?  Who do you think you are?  Christ does not like the division that you are causing.”  These are the words of opposition to the position taken up by those involved with this site and by those who have liberated from the unscriptural binding of Synods.  Again we need to think of the antithesis.  Does the devil leave the church alone?  Is there opposition to the work of Christ within the church?  Yes, there always was, and there always shall be until the Lord returns.  Only then division stops.  I would pose another question; if churches can unite while their doctrines conflict is it unity?  Or do we see something that is forced inevitably leading to division?  Then we must ask; who is causing this division? 

It is Christ who divides through the work of the Holy Spirit. He brings to light the issues of the day so that the truth may prevail and the church continue to faithfully confess the full Gospel.  Reformation is not the work of man.  We confess that Christ preserves His church. 

Christ’s preserving work may inevitably lead to division because Christ understands that the serpent will strike the heel of the woman.  Luke 12:49-53“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!  Do you think I came to bring peace on earth?  No, I tell you, but division.  From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three.  They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter in-law against mother-in-law.”  (NIV)

The doctrine of truth will divide.  Christ says “From now on…” vs. 52

Here we see plainly that division will occur.  The unity of the bride of Christ is a unity characterized by faithfulness and obedience to all of Christ’s commands and nothing less.  For if it is not characterized by faithfulness and obedience, is there unity?  Are we then of one mind as the Apostle Paul instructs?  No, it is in fact division that some call unity.  It is a sophisticated slight of hand in a linguistic and theological sense to simply calling something by a term of which it is not.  We have to see it for what it really is and consequently call it out and expose it for what it really is so that others may be warned!  To remain focused on the truth, we have to rely on the foundation of the Gospel.

What is the foundation? 


The foundation is the Gospel of Christ as confessed by the church in the Three Forms of Unity.  We have a confessional foundation.  The struggles in the church are not merely a struggle between groups of philosophical thought: modernism vs. post-modernism.  The modern or post-modern thoughts are only the ideas of man.  These ideas disappear in time, but the Word of the Lord remains and the antithesis remains.  In addition there is nothing new under the sun; what is being said has been said before.  To speak of the struggle in the church as merely a philosophical issue ignores the antithesis.  In ignoring the antithesis we become undermined by a failure to stand up for the truth of God’s Word because we have forgotten what the struggle is all about.

The world, the devil, and hypocrites who arise within the church produce all sorts of philosophies to draw man into an endless maze of thought without the clarity and spiritual nourishment that is only found in the Word of life.  The fruit of this is heresy.  If church struggle was merely about culture clash in philosophy, then what philosophical clash caused the Great Reformation?  Was the liberation of 1944 merely a philosophical consequence?  Or was it the work of Christ? 

We must go back to the basis in our thinking.  The basis of this struggle began in paradise and we can see much more than our fathers who went before us.  We have received all of the testimony of the bride of Christ against all heresy throughout the history of the church up to this age by the grace of God.  How much more culpable are we now when we ignore the struggle and avert attention from it.  The antithesis remains today despite man’s attempts to bury it.  The struggle ends when Christ returns, for the enmity is no more in the new life.  All the powers that militate against the church will be destroyed then.



Lastly we remember again our duty.  We have received something from the Lord.  The moment we let go of this for the sake of earthly and human comfort we fail in our task.  Do not be deceived, for the way is narrow.  “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.  Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, Sir, open the door for us.  But he will answer, ‘I do not know you or where you come from.’  Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.”  But he will reply, ‘I do not know you or where you come from.  Away from me, all you evildoers!”  Luke 13:35 (NIV)

There is not one man who is outside of the struggle.  Nor are members of the church outside of the struggle.  There are no sidelines or bleachers.  There is no immunity due to lack of knowledge.  When issues come forward, everyone consciously makes a decision.  Is it based on God’s Word?  Or is it against?  If it is against, then a clear case must be made for the sake of the church.  A clear refutation must be made so that others may benefit, not excuses, nor rash judgment.  If it is indeed based on God’s Word, action is required: the action of obedience.  This action may mean liberation.  Each one must decide for himself.  Be watchful; do not forget the struggle.

“Therefore keep watch for you do not know when the owner of the house will come back-whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.  If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ” Mark 13:35&36 (NIV)