Challenge for Today
In De Wachter, a Dutch weekly periodical of the Christian Reformed Church, on page 5 of the Oct. 21, 1975 issue, appeared a concluding paragraph in an editorial by the editor of that paper, which we now quote, (we translate):
Reformation Day is again approaching. May our commemoration of the Reformation lead to a deepening sense of the absolute authority of God’s Word and to struggle against all undermining of that authority. Yea, and also to faithfulness in the proclamation and listening to God’s Word. Let that Word determine for us what is the deepest need for man, also the man of today, and let that Word bring the saving message, and let that Word enlighten the intense (nijpende) problems of today and show the way for solution.
That is the challenge for us today—as sons and daughters of the Reformation.
With this, editor of De Watcher, we are in complete agreement. Of course, the editor of the Watcher is surely aware of the fact that this authority of the Word of God is being undermined today in the Reformed church world, also in the Christian Reformed Church. What must we say about Report 44? Or about a professor who received a life appointment in Calvin Seminary and has publicly said and written that he is in disagreement with the Canons of Dordt? Then, Rev. Haverkamp, we must fight all this undermining of the Word of God. May we have the grace of God to do this! The hour is extremely late!
However, the Banner in an editorial in the issue of Oct. 24, 1975 is rather confident that the Christian Reformed Church is loyal to the Reformed understanding of the Scriptures. The editor writes on page 7:
In short, the Christian Reformed Church exists now in loyalty to the Reformed understanding of the Scriptures. Granted this understanding, our institutions fit: preaching, the sacraments, discipline; schooling, and the Seminary; missions, radio outreach, and the ministries of information and mercy.
But take the Reformed understanding of the Scriptures away, and put the keys to the kingdom unto the hands of anyone trained in some evangelistic “method,” and what parts of our denominational structure are any longer necessary?
The answer is, I think, none of them at all!
What must one say of this? I again refer the editor of the Banner to Report 44, and the life appointment given to a seminary professor, Prof. Harold Dekker, who openly said and wrote that he is in disagreement with the Canons of Dordt. And the Christian Reformed Church, in its preaching and Seminary, etc., is loyal to the Reformed understanding of the Scriptures? I ask: How is this possible? Is the editor of the Bannerunaware of conditions in his church? How can he write this?
AMERICAN DELEGATION ASKS PENETRATING QUESTIONS OF DUTCH CHURCHES
In the RES News Exchange of Oct. 14, 1975, page 1109, appeared the following bit of information which we which to pass on to our readers. The quotation speaks for itself.
(Grand Rapids) A team of four churchmen of the Christian Reformed Church in North America has returned from visiting a number of Reformed churches in the Netherlands. A high point of their visit was the address of their spokesman, Prof. John Kromminga to the General Synod of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (GKN) with which the Christian Reformed Church has close ties. The delegates expressed the concern of the Christian Reformed Church about theological and church developments in the Netherlands. In his address Prof. Kromminga asked: “Is there a theological drift in the Gereformeerde Kerken away from the moorings provided by the Confessions? Have doctrinal sensitivities been weakened to the point where many do not realize the seriousness of an important deviation? Has secularization made inroads into the church to the point where sound doctrine is considered to be of secondary importance? Does the church encourage all of the above deviations by failure to take definitive and decisive action where an error of important dimensions has been identified and recognized?
The visiting churchmen recognized that the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands have found “another way of dealing with each other” in cases of doctrinal deviations from the Confession than was the case in recent years. However, they also asked, “Has not the time come for the healing action of discipline—applied to be sure, with due consideration and patience, but applied firmly for the sake of the integrity of the church?”
Church members, Kromminga stated, must know themselves as belonging to a body, of which Christ alone is the head. It is necessary “that they recognize that the Spirit of Christ dwells in that body and leads it into the truth; that no one may presume to be such a teacher of that body that he will no longer listen to the body when it speaks.”
The Synod did not react immediately to the address but will study the communication and its penetrating questions.
Imagine, these delegates expressed the concern of the Christian Reformed Church about theological and church developments in the Netherlands. I could hardly believe my eyes when I read this.
Of course, it is wonderful when delegates of the Christian Reformed Church express concern about these questions and developments in the churches in the Netherlands. But, what must one say when these same developments are also present in the church of these delegates? What would a dyed-in-the-wool Calvinist say when confronting the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church today? That church has set forth its doctrine in the Three Points of 1924, teaching a general, universal love of God and denying the truth of the utter depravity of the natural sinner. That church has its Report 44, has given a life appointment in its seminary to a professor who is publicly in disagreement with the Canons of Dordt. That church has its decision on homosexualism, on the remarriage of divorced persons whether divorced biblically or unbiblically. That church, too, is playing with its confessions and liturgy. And now delegates from this church sit in judgment upon the churches in the Netherlands? Is one not reminded of the Dutch saying:de pot verwijt den ketel dat hij zwart is (the pot accuses the kettle that it is black)? I do not understand that Dr. Kromminga had the boldness to address these remarks and penetrating questions to this General Synod of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands. Would it not be much better if the Christian Reformed Church would take inventory in its own midst; should that church not confront itself with these penetrating questions?
THREE DUTCH (GKN) MINISTERS CALL FOR SEPARATION
How different is the following quotation from the RES News Exchange of Nov. 4, 1975, page 1122.
(Grand Rapids) Three ministers of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (GKN) distributed a letter at a meeting of the association Mzrift en Getuigenis (Word and Witness) which stated their conviction that it was time to separate oneself from those who are not of the church. “The time for endless talk is past,” they said. “We separate ourselves from those who violate the body of Christ andChrist . Himself by holding or tolerating false doctrine.” Schrift en Gettligenis, an organization of those disturbed by events within the GKN, however, did not feel that it could recommend such a course because the GKN Synod did not really hinder the true worship of God.
Rev. H.J. Hegger compared the God of Wiersinga and Kuitert to Baal, for they have destroyed the altar of the Lamb who was sacrificed for the sins of the world. Some choose the God of Eli, who was afraid to resist the apostasy of his sons. Hegger called upon the people to choose for the God of Elijah. At the end of his address, Hegger read from an article by K. Runia and commented, “As long as we still hear such things from our church leaders, it is difficult to turn our backs to our churches.
Four consistories have addressed letters to the GKN Synod saying that they do not regard as authoritative pronouncements of any church assembly that are not based on and that do not perpetuate faithfulness to God’s Word and to the Confessions.
I believe that I should make a few comments. I do not know what Prof. Runia had written in that article. Our readers, however, have been introduced to him in the past on more than one occasion in our Standard Bearer, in connection with his denial of the truth of double predestination.
The organization in the Netherlands, to which the above quotation refers, consisting of those who are ill at ease in Zion because of events in the Netherlands, did not feel that it could recommend such a course because the GKN Synod did not really hinder the true worship of God.
The Synod did not really hinder the true worship of God? What must a synod do before it really hinders the true worship of the Lord? I suppose this means that those who love the truth may continue to worship God unmolested by those who hate the truth of the Word of God. However, what must the people of God do when the synod condones heretics, refuses to prosecute those who depart from the Scriptures and trample the Word of God under foot? What must they do who love the truth when they are compelled to sit down at the Lord’s table with those who attack and destroy the Word of God? Is it not true that such a synod denies the marks of the true church? These marks are denied because discipline is no longer exercised against those who corrupt the truths of the Word of God, and also because the sacraments are profaned, inasmuch as the table of the Lord is not denied to those who despise the Word of God. And if this be true, and it is, then it must also follow that there is a most serious defect as far as the preaching of the Scriptures is concerned. It is hardly true, therefore, that the GKN Synod did not really hinder the true worship of the Lord.