From three individuals of our former church in Hamilton I received a communication that is worthy of the severest condemnation by all our Protestant Reformed people, and which I do not hesitate to call a very evil piece of work, that certainly cannot have been conceived in the mind and heart of any regenerated child of God.
Under the cloak of an apparently very humble confession they launch one more very slanderous attack upon their former pastor, the Rev. H. Veldman, who because of their crooked and wicked contrivance and action now is deprived of a place in the active ministry of our churches.
Let me first of all here publish the document. It is written in the Holland language; but I will translate it into English, in order that all our readers may be able to judge.
“The Consistory of the Prot. Ref. Church of Hamilton, assembled on Thursday, Sept. 6, 1951, reaches the following decisions:
“A, 1. To express to the Rev. Veldman and Elder Reitsma their sincere regret because of the manner in which they were treated by the Consistory in their meeting of Feb. 16, 1951. They now acknowledge that they have come to the conviction that their severance from the church connection factually led to the result that the Rev. Veldman and brother Reitsma were not treated as brethren, which is sin before God. And the Consistory therefore will confess before God and men of the sin against the command of Christ not to let a sinner in the congregation go, except after much admonition and prayer. They acknowledge that they have failed in this, and that, on the contrary, they permitted their action to be too much influenced by the motive to find as soon as possible a solution for the difficulties in which they found themselves at that moment.
“2. All this does not alter the fact that the Consistory still maintains completely the objections they had against the mode of action of the Rev. Veldman, in which it clearly appeared that he wanted to be instructor (leeraar) but not a shepherd of the flock. The Consistory is of the opinion that this public action (optreden) must be rejected, because it appeared that he wanted to introduce and to maintain his own interpretation of the Confession, which is not binding in the churches, whereby he destroyed the congregation and stood in the way of the God-willed unity, according to John 17. The Consistory is of the opinion that the action which it took by denying the Rev. Veldman the right to conduct the ministry of the Word was correct; and they should have continued in that way by maintaining their decision to suspend the Rev. Veldman, with the cooperation of the neighboring church, and to depose him from his office in case he did not repent.
“B. For the execution of that which is mentioned under A, the Consistory decides to send the literal text of this decision to:
L. v. Huizen
In an accompanying letter these three men that call themselves the Consistory of the Protestant Reformed Church in Hamilton show either their ignorance and complete lack of culture, or their impudent effrontery, by sending it without any form of address or greetings. All they write is: “To Prof. H. Hoeksema, Grand Rapids.” There is no address, like “Dear Brother” or “Dear Reverend” or even “Dear Sir.” Nor do they finish the letter by any kind of greetings, like “With love in the Lord” or “Fraternally yours” or even “Truly yours” or “Respectfully yours.” One cannot help but wonder whether if those same men write letters to a professor in the Old Country, they commit the same error. I feel, of course, offended by such a letter. But I feel much more aggrieved and ashamed that men who have the effrontery to call themselves the Consistory, of the Prot. Ref. Church in Hamilton show so much lack of propriety and Christian culture. And if it is not this, the case is much worse. For then the offense is intentional.
Secondly, I want to call the attention of those three men to their lawlessness. They call themselves the Consistory of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hamilton, to which they have no right whatsoever, as they themselves well know. For they themselves admit that they severed themselves from the fellowship and communion of the Prot. Ref. Churches. And only in that fellowship have they the right to the name of
Protestant Reformed Church. Are they not aware that if we would do so, we could prosecute them by law?
But much more serious is what they write under A, 2. Under A, 1 they apparently make a very humble confession before God and men. But be not deceived by that confession; for it is certainly not sincere. When a brother in Christ makes a true and heartfelt confession before God and men, he does not in the same breath heap sin upon sin, as the men that call themselves the Consistory of the Prot. Ref. Church in Hamilton actually do. For under A, 2 they lie about and slander the Rev. H. Veldman publicly, and thus commit what according to the Heidelberg Catechism, is called the very work of the devil. Let me make this plain.
Suppose that the three men that signed this communication had actually had the objections which they now state under A, 2 against the Rev. H. Veldman at the time when they were still in the Consistory of the Prot. Ref. Church in Hamilton. And suppose that now they desire to confess their sin of having maltreated the Rev. H. Veldman and Elder Reitsma, as well as the sin of having severed themselves from the fellowship of the Prot. Ref. Churches. What would have been the proper procedure? I confess that this is difficult. For it is my experience that it is not often easy to make a thing straight which men made crooked. Yet, it seems to me a possible procedure would have been as follows:
Now, however, the three men that call themselves the Consistory of the Prot. Ref. Church of Hamilton have the brazen effrontery publicly to slander and besmear the good name of Brother Reitsma and the Rev. H. Veldman, without giving them the opportunity to defend themselves, unless they wish to do so publicly in Concordia and The Standard Bearer. This I call the very work of the devil. And it makes the apparently humble confession which they make under A, 1 a matter of sheer hypocrisy.
In the third place, I want to call the attention of our readers and of the three men that write the above communication to the fact that they simply lie and slander when they state that the former consistory of Hamilton, of which the Rev. Veldman was pastor at the time, had the objections against the Rev. Veldman that he did not want to be pastor, but only instructor of the flock, that he wanted to bind the flock by his own private opinion, and that thus he destroyed the congregation and stood in the way of the God-willed unity. I maintain that this is nothing but evil slander, and I do so on the following grounds:
a. That the Consistory of Hamilton had passed a decision to place prospective members before the question whether they would submit themselves to the instruction of the Prot. Ref. Church and whether they would promise not to agitate against the doctrine as taught in the Prot. Ref. Church of Hamilton.
b. That at a later meeting of the Consistory of Hamilton, this body rescinded its former decision and decided to throw open the doors to all that desired to join the church, meaning, of course, especially the Liberated immigrants.
c. That the Rev. H. Veldman and Brother Reitsma did not agree with this decision, and that the Consistory themselves brought the matter to the attention of the Classis, asking them for advice.
d. That Classis East advised the Consistory of Hamilton to maintain and abide by its former decision, thus justifying the Rev. H. Veldman and Brother Reitsma.
e. That in a very illegal Consistory meeting, in the absence of the Rev. H. Veldman and Brother Reitsma, the remaining consistory members decided to suspend the Rev. H. Veldman from office and to call the neighboring Consistory of Chatham for advice.
f. That in a later consistory meeting, they rescinded this action of suspension and severed themselves from the fellowship of the Prot. Ref. Churches.
I relate all this history from memory, but I am confident that in the main the facts are quite correct.
Now what becomes of the accusation that the Rev. H. Veldman tried to bind the flock to his own private interpretation of the Confessions? If this accusation is true, it also concerns the Classical Committee of Classis East. And in fact it concerns Classis East itself, which sustained the Rev. H. Veldman and Brother Reitsma and justified them completely. What becomes of the accusation that the Rev. H. Veldman was guilty of destroying the church in Hamilton? It is simply a lie. Of that act the erstwhile Consistory and it alone is entirely responsible, the Consistory, that is, excluding the Rev. H. Veldman and Brother Reitsma.
In conclusion, let me state that I consider this communication of the three men from Hamilton a very evil piece of work. And I am afraid that the motive behind it all is the evil design to cause a further split in our churches. Let the churches beware, and take a firm stand.