The undersigned would call your attention to that which has lately occurred in the congregation of Hamilton. Is it possible that the Reformatie can take this article over out of the Standard Bearer?
Since last week Rev. Hettinga, liberated minister out of the Netherlands and now visiting for some time in America and Canada, has been busy in the vicinity of Hamilton. His Honor came from the Netherlands to visit several liberated families, occasioned by the fact that consistories in the Netherlands had received several letters from these immigrants. Rev. Hettinga, however, has also cooperated in the organization of congregations in Canada. Last Sunday, Aug. 13, a congregation was organized in Georgetown, about 43 miles distant from Hamilton, which consists almost exclusively either of members of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hamilton or of members with whom the consistory of Hamilton was laboring. Rev. Hettinga was in the immediate vicinity of Hamilton last week, has not been in contact with the pastor or the consistory of our congregation, has talked with some of our members. The result is that some of these members have affiliated themselves with the new congregation of Georgetown.
That Rev. Hettinga did not seek contact with Hamilton’s minister or consistory is because he, according to his own statement, had no desire thereto. And that he was not interested in a conversation with the pastor or consistory is because of what the Rev. Veldman had said. The pastor of Hamilton had declared that, if that brother organized churches without an ecclesiastical mandate and if he entered the sheepfold without appearing before the porter (Hamilton’s consistory), he was guilty of the sin mentioned in. If that minister wishes to look up our members we may surely see his credentials. If he would speak with our sheep then it is surely more honorable and more honest to proceed to the shepherd and consistory of those sheep, than to enter the sheepfold by climbing over the wall. This the Rev. Hettinga did not do.
That the pastor of Hamilton expressed himself thus was not because he would avoid a discussion with Rev. Hettinga, although such a discussion could not bear an official character in any sense of the word. We would never be able to judge the Liberated Churches of the Netherlands in the light of what Rev. Hettinga might say, and the liberated brethren and sisters here would never be able to judge the Protestant Reformed Churches in the light of what the pastor of Hamilton might say. Such unofficial discussions can sometimes be very dangerous. If the pastor had erred in his judgment of the brother out of the Netherlands then he still could have come to him. And, he surely could have knocked at the door of Hamilton’s consistory. That the pastor expressed himself thus was only to warn the members of the congregation against the appearance of Rev. Hettinga (zijn optreden). He suspected how the pastor from the Netherlands would speak with the members of his congregation. In this he apparently did not err. Rev. Hettinga, liberated minister from the Netherlands, knows exactly how he must converse with liberated immigrants! What he must say to them! He, visiting these people, also those who are members of the Hamilton Protestant Reformed Church, maintains and defends his conception of Baptism, and reminds them of the fact that they must guard themselves against a ‘‘sham” baptism—een schijn doop. He criticizes the “binding” character of the declaration of doctrine of our late synod, but does not enter with us into the content of said declaration. He expresses his amazement that they, in the light of these “bindings”, can celebrate the Lord’s Supper. He visits office-bearers of our churches in Canada and asks: Brother so and so, how can you be a member of those churches? And he has cooperated in the organizing of a Free Reformed congregation also at the cost of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hamilton, a free congregation in which the members are not at all bound but where the Protestant Reformed truth is not tolerated. All this occurs without seeking contact with our pastor or consistory. Gathering the Church? We call it: Destroying the Church!
Now our congregation is called to choose, make a choice over against the newly organized church of Rev. Hettinga. The organization of this new church was not necessary. These people had a church roof over their heads, were either members of our congregation or being labored with. The institution of this congregation is to be explained only as a refusal to submit themselves to the Protestant Reformed doctrine, to be instructed in that doctrine; they have chosen the position over against the Protestant Reformed Churches. According to this new congregation also the Protestant Reformed Churches have become false. May the Lord give our Protestant Reformed Church of Hamilton His grace to continue to proclaim: God’s sovereign good pleasure, man’s responsibility and calling to repent, man’s utter corruption, the particular atonement of the cross, God’s irresistible grace, the perseverance of the saints, the particular promise. Did you, Rev. Hettinga, ever read anything else of us than these age-long reformed truths? Is a church, Rev. Hettinga, which teaches these truths and would bind her members to the doctrine of God’s sovereign and particular grace, false? The Lord judge between you and us, and the Lord give our church at Hamilton His grace.
In connection with this history we would ask the following:
1. Did Rev. Hettinga receive the mandate (opdracht) from the Liberated Churches of the Netherlands to work as he does? Did he receive the ecclesiastical mandate to organize churches, and that of members who were either members of our congregation or being labored with?
2. Does Rev. Hettinga have the right to enter our sheepfold (Hamilton’s congregation), ignore Hamilton’s pastor and consistory, thus to labor with our members. Does Rev. Hettinga not thereby fall under the judgment of John 10:1, 14? If our churches, according to the repeated testimony of the Reformatie, are the true Church of Christ in America and Canada?
3. What would be your reaction if the Protestant Reformed Church would work thus in the Netherlands? We understand that your synod of Amersfoort, 1948, decided to “name deputies and give them power to enter into contact with our churches, to the end that the relation of corresponding churches might be prepared”—see Supplement of your Church Order, page 21. Is the appearance of Rev. Hettinga in harmony with this decision?
4. Does the congregation of Georgetown have the right of existence next to our congregation of Hamilton? Do we now have two true churches of Christ in the same vicinity?
In the name of the consistory of the Hamilton Protestant Reformed Church,
Pres. – H. Veldman
Clerk – T. Hart