Gise J. Van Baren is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan.
The Clarion, Feb. 2, 1987, quotes from an Australian church magazine, Una Sancta, Dec. 20, 1986, concerning the developing church union between the (synodical) Reformed Churches and the state church, the Reformed (hervormde) Church. The article correctly points out that this union can surely not be reason for any kind of joy in Reformed churches. Rather, it is part of the continuing activity of the churches of the world to seek union—not on the basis of the truth, but simply to erase all distinctiveness.
Two large church groups in the Netherlands have reached the final stage of their preparations for unification. The (synodical) Reformed Churches and the (old) Reformed (hervormde) Church are the two partners in this historical process. In the past our (Free) Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and in Australia have had close ties with both church groups. It was as follows: in the beginning of the 19th century the [old] Reformed Church had seriously deviated from the way of God’s Word and the Confession. The result of a heavy struggle was that in 1834 under the leadership of Rev. H. de Cock the separation took place. The faithful people who left the old church continued their church life under the name of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands.
Unfortunately, years later the Reformed Churches, too, came into serious crisis of unfaithfulness. In the years about 194411945, again, a separation took place, the so-called Liberation of 1944. The people who wanted to remain faithful to the Reformed Confession continued their church life under the name of the (Free) Reformed Churches.
So, the two large church groups which are preparing the above mentioned unification are churches which in the past had left the way of the Scriptures. After many years they try to re-unite, to become one again.
Recently, a so-called Combi-Synod was held; that is a sort of combined Synod from both groups. That meeting decided that both churches are now in the process of unification. The decisive step has been made. There is no way back. Soon, the—what they call—unity, will be a fact. It means that after the final date both churches will discontinue their existence; they will establish a new church with a new name; and another identity.
It is certain that several of our brothers and sisters will feel this development as a painful experience. The church to which they have belonged seals and confirms its way of apostasy by an amalgamation which has no Scriptural basis, does not lead to a real unity in truth and confession, and is not a fruit of a sincere conversion from ecclesiastical injustice and un-Scriptural manipulations. Both churches ignore the unrighteousness which in the past has caused much bitterness, pain and disunity. In this atmosphere, there is no reason for joy. On the contrary, this development increases the darkness in a country in which the unfaithfulness, ungodliness and normlessness have already reached an alarming level.
One hears increasingly of the withholding of quotas within the Christian Reformed Church as a means of protesting actions which some regard as anti-Scriptural and anti-confessional. The withholding of such quotas is having a definite effect upon some of the agencies within that church. And while one can sympathize with the agony of soul of many who deplore the drift in the CRC, still the question does arise whether this is the proper method of protest. If one does not gain relief from the church bodies, does not one either have to submit—or withdraw from the denomination? Even while withholding quotas, one remains part of the larger body, and thus also corporately responsible for the actions of the body. The anguish is expressed in an article appearing inChristian Renewal, Feb. 23, 1987 (Rev. John Hultink):
. . May our synod and may our church visitors insist that it is the obligation of the individual churches to pay its quotas 100 percent regardless of what is being taught? Why would a congregation want to pay church quotas to a cause which it sincerely believes is undermining the reformed character of the denomination? Whom must it obey? God or man?
But hold it a minute, you say! Are there actually instances where a cause we support is in conflict with what we believe? Friends, there are so many instances that it is dizzying. Here are just a few.
Calvin Seminary: The Board of Calvin Seminary recently hired Dr. Henry De Moor. They hired him to teach church polity at the seminary. Dr. De Moor has written a dissertation in which he argues, very eloquently, that women should occupy all offices in the church. De Moor’s views are in fundamental conflict with the position taken by the denomination. Yet the Board has chosen to hire him without a word of explanation to the denomination.
Calvin College: A number of college professors teach evolution which members of the denomination believe to be in open conflict with Scripture and our confessions. Yet on numerous occasions the Executive Committee of the College Board through the Board’s secretary has defended the views of the professors as biblical and reformed.
The Banner: Over the years the editor of The Banner has unashamedly used its pages to promote his conviction that women ought to occupy all offices in our church. In an editorial in the December 1, 1986 issue of The Banner entitled, “Poles Apart” he reveals how biased he is on this issue. Open defiance of the church order at Eastern Avenue CRC is discussed as normal. The Banner has contributed much to the confusion surrounding such issues as abortion, homosexuality, and more recently via the article by Prof. Stek written about common-law marriages. An attempt by Classis Florida requesting the editor to account for some of his views and practices ended in frustration and red tape . . . .
Home Missions: Meadowvale Community CRC was started as a Home Missions church in Mississauga, Ontario. During the last number of years this church has distinguished itself by being more Pentecostal than reformed both in its teachings and conduct. The practice is allowed to continue. As a matter of fact, Meadowvale is in the process of urging others within the denomination to move in a similar direction. It has even started faith healing sessions. Unordained members preach from its pulpit on a regular basis. Why would anyone within the CRC want to support this kind of activity with quota support to Home Missions?
We have come together to be a church. And we have agreed to be reformed in doctrine and practice. We don’t have to be. But we have agreed that is what it means to be CRC. The centrality of the proclamation of the Word, God’s Word and not the personal experiences of one minister or another. We confess belief in God the Creator, not God the evolutionist, and we take Genesis literally. Published materials prepared by CRC Publications should be in harmony with Scripture and our confessions. So why would we want to give quota monies to causes which teach and practice otherwise? . . .