The second ground of proposal (C) which I quoted in the last number of our Standard Bearer was adopted by Synod. My remarks on this second ground I already made, and I shall not repeat.
For the rest, there is not much that is of vital interest to us. There is Point D which was adopted without any discussion and which reads as follows:
“That Synod declare that the specific charge that President Kromminga committed himself in his policy to a drastic interpretation of Articles III to VII of the Belgic Confession is unsubstantiated.”
Also this we already discussed and, therefore, we need not repeat.
For the rest, there was nothing of importance on the question of infallibility. The only matter we may still mention is the remark made by Rev. H.A. Venema which became the occasion of a final decision of Synod. The remark was the following:
“The issue of infallibility did a lot to disturb our Church and did not help our seminary as much as it should. Synod spoke about the ambiguity in connection with the term ‘periphery.’ And now to put the mind of the Church in a proper focus I believe it would be very felicitous to adopt this. We don’t mention Prof. Kromminga here. I believe we need this kind of thing. I hope you back me up on it.”
That which the Rev. Venema, who was a member of the Advisory Committee, proposed reads as follows:
“The undersigned, member of the Advisory Committee on Infallibility, while in agreement with the recommendation submitted by this committee, recommends: That, in view of the possible ambiguity in the use of the term ‘periphery’ (however intended), Synod finally commends to the Church the approach of childlike, humble faith in regard to the infallibility of Scripture.”
There was some discussion on this matter on the floor of the Synod. The result was, first, that the matter was recommitted to the Advisory Committee, and, secondly, the Synod adopted the following motion:
“Synod affirms the faith of the Church in the infallibility of Scripture and urges upon the Church the approach of humble faith in the Word of God.”
Well, this is a rather pious ending. It is, evidently, rooted in the fear that the Church, when reading the reports of the Advisory Committee, of the Study Committee, and of the decisions of Synod, will not be quite satisfied. And well may they assume that attitude.
One more matter demands our attention. It is the following decision of Synod:
“After all matters pertaining to the infallibility question had been disposed of, Synod decided to continue Dr. Kromminga as President of the Seminary for one year.”
For one year! Not for three years and not permanently. To me that means that Dr. Kromminga receives a year of grace. Perhaps, if he is careful he will be appointed permanently at the next Synod. After all, the Synod did not quite trust the matter no matter how he tried to explain the term periphery.
Perhaps, we will still review the entire Study Committee’s report which, as I wrote, is now in my possession.
The Hymn Question
The reader will have noticed that the Rev. Vanden Berg, in The Standard Bearer of Feb. 1, 1962, is also, writing on the hymn question in connection with Art. 69 of the Church Order. But since he wants no debate, I will not, for the present, offer my criticism of his article. Most likely, he will write more on this matter.
Do not misunderstand my purpose in writing on this question. It certainly is not my purpose to try to force Synod to adopt the overture of First Church regarding this matter. I do not believe that Synod will adopt it. And what is more, I do not believe that Synod should adopt it until all our churches are ready for it and the decision of Synod can be unanimous. We surely should not have dissension in our churches on a matter of this nature. There are more important matters than this.
Nevertheless, we can very well discuss this. And I would like as many of our people as possible to take part in this discussion. As long as this is done in decent language and without “getting hot under the collar,” no harm will be done.
I, too, will refer to Article 69 of the Church Order, as does the Rev. VandenBerg.
But before I do this, I would like to present a few hymns that could very well be sung in our churches.
Here is one on the suffering and death of Christ on the cross:
Jesus Christ, our Lord most holy,
Lamb of God so pure and lowly,
Blameless, blameless, on the cross art offered,
Sinless, sinless; for our sins hast suffered.
Weep now, all ye wretched creatures,
As ye view his gracious features.
Jesus, Jesus, on the cross is dying,
Nature, nature, in dark gloom is sighing.
Christ, his last word having spoken,
Bows his head as life is broken.
Mournful, mournful, stands his mother weeping,
Loved ones, loved oozes, silent watch are keeping.
The great veil was torn asunder,
Earth did quake ‘mid roars of thunder,
Boulders, boulders, into bits were breaking;
Sainted, sainted dead from death were waking.
As his side with spear was riven,
Blood and water forth were given.
Jesus, Jesus, sinners’ only Savior,
Mercy, mercy, grant to us for ever.
This hymn is a versification of Matt. 27:50ff.
The following is a hymn on the resurrection of Christ:
Jesus Christ is risen today. Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once, upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!
Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!
The following is a hymn on total depravity, based onRom. 3:10ff.:
Lord, I’m evil all the way,
For I am guilty and undone;
None is righteous, no not one;
All, yea, all have gone astray;
None there is that seeketh Thee,
None that understands the right,
All are evil in Thy sight.
O, be merciful to me!
Like the open grave, indeed,
Are our throats; and with our tongue
Fraud we use; our lips do wrong,
On the poison of asps they feed.
Full of cursing, bitter glee
Is our mouth; and swift our feet
Run the way to murd’rous deed.
O, be merciful to me!
And here is one more, based on Rom. 8:14:
As sons of God, by Spirit led,
We live before His face,
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
Who shed His blood for us in grace.
Yea, son of God are we indeed,
Adopted in his love;
And through the Spirit He will lead
To life in heaven above.
Let this be sufficient for the time being.
We must still, briefly, discuss the last part of Art. 69 of the Church Order. There we read that, besides the 150 Psalms of David, also some hymns may be sung in the churches, namely, “The Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Twelve Articles of Faith, the Songs of Mary, Zacharias and Simeon, the Morning and Evening Hymns, and the Hymn of Prayer before the sermon.”
We remark in this connection:
1. That Art. 69 is principally not opposed to the singing of hymns in the churches, but that it confines this singing of hymns rather arbitrarily to those that are mentioned in the article.
2. That most of our churches violate this article (I wonder whether Oak Lawn does this, too) by singing the well-known doxology:
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
3. That most of the hymns mentioned in Art. 69 we cannot sing and do not even know, as, for instance: the Ten Commandments, the Twelve Articles of Faith, the Morning and Evening Hymns, the Hymn of Prayer before the Sermon. The Rev. VandenBerg suggests that this could be remedied by simply eliding the parts that have become obsolete. Very well, but that means, nevertheless, that we revise the article. And, if we do this anyway, can we not substitute a few other hymns? I ask: why not?
4. But even the rest of the hymns that are mentioned in this article, except the Lord’s Prayer, are so poor that no one ever cares to sing them. Besides, they are not true versifications of Scripture. Who would ever think of singing Mary’s song:
Our souls shall magnify the Lord,
In God the Savior we rejoice;
While we repeat the Virgin’s song,
May the same Spirit tune our voice.
He spake to Abraham and his seed.
“In thee shall all the earth be blessed;”
The memory of that ancient word
Lay long in his eternal breast.
The following is not even in the song of Zacharias:
John was the prophet of the Lord,
To go before his face;
The, herald which our Savior God
Sent to prepare his ways.
Behold the Lamb of God, he cries,
That takes our guilt away;
I saw the Spirit over his head,
On his baptizing day.
And this from the Song of Simeon:
Lord, in thy temple we appear,
As happy Simeon came,
And hope to meet our Savior here;
Oh! make our joys the same.
With what divine and vast delight
The good old man was fill’d,
When fondly in his wither’d arms
He clasped the holy child!
Well, if we must revise Art. 69 anyway and may not substitute some decent hymns, let us, at least, clean up this whole mess which to my mind is nothing but what is known as “rijmelarij” in Dutch. Then we have nothing but the 150 “Psalms of David,” and the Lord’s Prayer left.
How Should the Schismatics Return?
Our first answer to this question was: they must confess their sin of causing schism in our churches.
My second answer is: they must confess their sin before the consistories and churches against which they have sinned. This is the contention of the protest of the First Church that was before the last Classis and also, of our Creston Church. My limited space does not allow me to print the entire protest for it is rather lengthy. I will, therefore, quote enough of this protest to give the readers an idea of what it is all about.
The first part relates the history of the case.
The protest is “against one of our consistories, namely, the consistory of the Southeast Prot. Ref. Church. Our protest concerns the action of the above named consistory in receiving into their communion former members of our congregation . . . . without requiring of these families first to come to us to confess the sin which they have committed against us and against the congregation, so that these families stand in an unreconciled relation toward the church of which they formerly were members.”
This, therefore, is the crux of the matter.
The history of the matter is, briefly as follows:
“At our consistory meeting of Sept. 25, a committee from the Southeast consistory appeared at our meeting, informing us that the Gritter families desired to affiliate with their congregation. In connection with this information, they asked the rather strange question, whether we had anything against these families prior to the split of 1953. . . . . Our consistory informed the committee that we had nothing against these families prior to the split, but that we very definitely had something against them because of their action in connection with the split. The consistory also told the committee that we would inform the consistory of Southeast by letter concerning our stand in the matter.”
This the consistory of First. Church did. They sent a communication to Southeast consistory. And I quote: “In this communication we stated our objections to their receiving families without an attempt on the part of these families to become reconciled with the church against which they have sinned . . . . . At the meeting of our consistory of Nov. 13, we received a reply to our communication consisting of only a few brief lines. In this reply the consistory brushed aside all our objections with the mere negative statement: ‘We cannot agree with your conclusions.’ . . . They made no attempt to justify their own position in the matter . . . . In this same reply to our letter, the Southeast consistory informed us that they must proceed op the basis of their deepest convictions . . . . The consistory of Southeast simply informed us that they were going ahead with the matter. Finally, from the notice on their bulletin it has become evident that even before we had received their reply at our consistory meeting, Southeast consistory had already taken action and had received the families concerned as members of their congregation.”
Against this the consistory registered their protest.
The grounds of their protest we hope, D.V., to record next time.