A Sad End

With the above mentioned topic I refer to the end of the schismatics. To my mind, it is a most miserable ending.

For their “synod” decided, by a vote of eleven to five, to join the Christian Reformed Church.

At first, after their schism in 1953, they maintained that they were Protestant Reformed and intended to remain so. This was, of course, impossible in view of the fact that they supported the statements made by one of them from the pulpit of the First Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids. For it is very evident that both of these statements were not Protestant Reformed but supported the “First Point” adopted by the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church in 1924. The first of these statements maintained that the preaching of the gospel is grace for all that hear, while the Protestant Reformed always maintained that there is no “common grace” but that the preaching of the gospel, according to Scripture, is grace only for the elect. The second of these statements taught that conversion is a prerequisite to enter the kingdom of heaven, while Scripture and the Confessions teach that there are no prerequisites, which man must fulfill in order to enter the kingdom of God, but that it is by regeneration that one enters that kingdom, and regeneration is a work of sovereign grace. Although, therefore, the schismatics, during the first period of their existence, claimed that they were Protestant Reformed, it was clear from the outset that they could never maintain such a claim. Principally, they occupied an impossible position.

The inevitable result was that they sought contact with the Christian Reformed Church. And at that very moment they were lost, not because they contacted them, but because of the way in which they sought that contact. In 1924-25 the Christian Reformed Church, through what was at that time Classis East and Classis West, deposed three faithful ministers because they could not subscribe to the Three Points. Did the schismatics, in their seeking contact with the Christian Reformed Church, bring up this matter first of all and demand that the, Christian Reformed confess this sin? Not at all! As far as I know, this was not even mentioned. Instead, their committee had so-called “friendly” discussions with the committee appointed for the purpose of the Christian Reformed Church. The “friendly” discussion was, of course, chiefly about the Three Points and in regard to these the schismatics made several concessions.

However, at the schismatic “‘synod” of 1960, they still tried to save their fats by addressing the Christian Reformed Synod and proposing that a union with the Christian Reformed Church should take place merely on the basis of Scripture and the Three Forms of Unity without the Three Points.

This matter was before the Christian Reformed Synod of last June. And the following was decided (I quote from Torch and Trumpet):

“On Wednesday evening of the second week Rev. J.C. Scholten reported on a request of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America (De Wolf group). The Synod of these churches had written our Synod requesting that the two churches unite on the basis of Scripture and the Three Forms of Unity only. To this our Contact Committee formulated a reply in which the Three Points on Common Grace were maintained as historically necessary and presently relevant for the rest and peace of the churches.”

I am sorry that at present I have no copy of this reply. However, it is evident that the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church did not want any compromise but maintained the Three Points and that if a union would ever take place the schismatics would have to acknowledge that the Three Points were Reformed. And this is exactly what they did in their last so-called synod by a vote of eleven to five.

Indeed, a most sad and miserable ending, but an ending which was, at the same time, inevitable.

How many of the churches and their members will follow in the wake of this schismatic synod, is still a question, but I have no doubt that most of them will.

The Synod of the Christian Reformed Church also proposed the following procedure according to which union may be effected:

“1. Each congregation which deems it advisable to continue as a separate unit shall consult with the local Christian Reformed church or churches. If they agree that there is room for another Christian Reformed Church in that locality, the matter shall be considered settled when approved by Classis.

“2. If in any instance there should be disagreement, the matter shall be submitted to the Classis of the Christian Reformed Church in that area and its decision shall be accepted by the churches involved.

“3. If the Protestant Reformed church has a pastor, he shall submit to a colloquium doctum at the classical meeting which, if satisfactory, shall give him regular standing as a Christian Reformed minister for the whole denomination.

“4. If a Protestant Reformed church disbands, so that the members may affiliate with nearby Christian Reformed churches, such members shall upon presentation of membership credentials be received into Christian Reformed churches.

“5. As soon as the Synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches shall have approved of the agreement of reunion, the minister of a Protestant Reformed church that disbands shall be eligible for a call in the Christian Reformed denomination. The minister will submit to a colloquium doctum after receiving a call, but a minister who desires it will be granted a colloquium doctum before receiving a call.”

There seems to have been quite a little discussion on the floor of the Synod, not on the matter of procedure, but on the question whether or not the Three Points should be maintained, together with the Three Forms of Unity, as a basis for union between the Christian Reformed Church with the schismatics. Thus, for instance, the Rev. B. Nederhof of Classis Alberta said according to the report in Torch and Trumpet: “I regret that I cannot vote for the motion as it stands, because it includes the item which says that it is still our conviction that the Three Points ark relevant; it is not my conviction. The only basis on which Reformed churches can unite is the Three Forms of Unity, as the history of the Reformed churches in the Netherlands in 1869 and 1892 has proved. That does not mean that we should forget these things—I too am in agreement with the Three Points of 1924. . . . But think that happened 37 years ago may hot have the same bearing today. . . . If these brethren do not violate the peace, there is sufficient ground to believe that union can be accomplished without the Three Points. . . . Does Christ; the King of the Church, want us to retain anything that is not necessary?”

And there were others that agreed with the Rev. Nederhof.

But the outcome was that the Three Points were declared relevant as a basis for union. And how could the Synod do otherwise without condemning the actions of the Christian Reformed Church in 1924-25? Did they not depose faithful Reformed ministers because they did not and could not agree with the Three Points? If, then, now they would set aside the Three Points as a basis for union, would they not, by implication, condemn what they did in 1924-25 in regard to the deposition of officebearers?

Even as the matter concerning the union of the schismatics with the Christian Reformed Church stands now, it is bad enough. Do not forget that the schismatics voluntarily broke with the, Christian Reformed Church just as in 1953 they separated themselves from the Protestant Reformed Churches. This is (from the viewpoint of the Christian Reformed Church) a grievous sin. Must they not confess this sin? But of this there is no mention made by the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church. The schismatics are simply received without form of confession or apology!

Another matter that became a question of discussion on the floor of the Synod concerned the colloquium doctum (a conversation about doctrine) to which the schismatic ministers would have to submit themselves before they could be installed as minister in one of the Christian Reformed Churches. Some seemed to be of the opinion that this was not necessary. O, how easy they wanted to make it for the schismatics! But let me quote once more from Torch and Trumpet:

“With regard to the question of procedures, there was a good deal of discussion about the question whether or not and when a colloquium doctum was to be taken by the Protestant Reformed ministers. The reporter argued that this would give them ecclesiastical standing, since some have not had a college education; and our people would be assured of their competence after their examination by classis. Rev. T. Hofman pointed out that the necessity of taking thecolloquium doctum did not preclude their being placed on trio at once.

“After a prolonged consideration of the matter, in which every effort was made to guarantee the Protestant Reformed brethren a fair deal, the second part concerning procedures was passed as quoted above.”

O, how nice the Synod was to these “Protestant Reformed brethren”!

And O, how different they acted .in 1924-25 to those ministers that were synodically declared to be Reformed even though it were with a tendency to one-sidedness!

O, the damnable, corrupt politics in the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ!

And again, O how sorry I am that the Rev. Ophoff and I gave those miserable seceders, that now deliberately attempted to destroy our “Protestant Reformed Churches, a complete theological training.

For that they had.

They were, most of them, without any higher education. It is true, as the reporter said at Synod, that many of them had no college education. But I may add that many of them did not even have or finish their high school education. They were raw material as far as higher education was concerned. We, i.e., the Rev. Ophoff and undersigned, instructed them in Greek and Hebrew and in all the theological branches such as hermeneutics, homiletics, New and Old Testament history, exegesis, dogmatics, church polity, etc. And once more, I say that I deeply regret that we ever put forth our efforts to give them, i.e, those miserable destroyers of the church, a complete theological education.

However, we know that all things are in the hand of the Lord! And we know, too, that the Lord completely frustrated their attempts to destroy our churches. We now have peace and, although we are small, we enjoy a complete church-life.

May the Lord continue to keep our churches in the way of the truth!