Rev. B. Kok:
I am amazed that in spite of the constant charge that you quote articles out of context, you persist in doing that. The only conclusion to which I can come is that you deliberately trying to deceive people most of whom, to their shame, are not ambitious enough to check the entire article or series of articles. The last Concordia is one more example of this (Vol. 11, No. 14).
If I followed your article correctly first you quote from the S.B. in which Rev. H. Hoeksema condemns in no uncertain terms the “hierarchal stand and actions of the Synod of Utrecht . . . .” and in another S.B. (to put it briefly and without comments) that we cannot possibly agree with the Synodicals in regard to the church-political side of the controversy. Then you state “Today the Rev. Hoeksema is defending this very same hierarchical system . . . .”
Secondly, you state that Rev. H. Hoeksema quoted Dr. Ridderbos’ interpretation of Art. 31 as being authoritative, and that, on the witness chair. Then you quote Rev. Ophoff as labeling that same interpretation which Rev. Hoeksema quoted as “most horrible and dreadful popery.” Also you quoted 8 reasons why this interpretation is “most horrible and dreadful popery.”
To my mind you have to prove the following: first that the quotations from the decisions of the Synod of Utrecht which were placed on court record by the Rev. Hoeksema were the same decisions which he condemned in the Standard Bearer, Vol. 22, p. 414. In the same volume and page from which you quoted we read this, “Other actions of a similar nature could be mentioned. But the above is quite sufficient to prove that the Synod of 1943-1945 took and maintained the hierarchal stand that it could directly exercise key power over the churches, its officebearers and members. In fact; in the course of a discussion on the floor of the Synod, this was literally maintained by Dr. K. Dijk, professor at Kampen: ‘Also the Synod has key power, and not only the local church.’ This is bad enough. The action of Synod, however, was worse, for it wholly ignored and denied the key power of the local church, and completely monopolized the keys!” Then Rev. Hoeksema states that which you also quoted, “3. That we abhor the hierarchical stand and actions of the Synod of Utrecht, and would never bend our neck under their popish yoke.” Now it is up to you to prove (and that you purposely never did) with direct quotations from the court records that Rev, Hoeksema quoted and maintained in court this decision namely: that the key power is ignored and denied to the local church and is completely invested in the classis and synod. Unless you can prove that, your whole charge falls away and you become guilty of the very sin of which you condemn him.
Secondly, you have to prove that the interpretation of Dr. Ridderbos on Article 31, which Rev. Hoeksema quoted in court, is the same part of the interpretation which Rev. Ophoff condemned in the quotations which you gave. What part of the interpretation did Rev. Ophoff condemn? See Vol. 23, p. 418 (which you conveniently overlooked), “As we saw, the issue or question is this: May an officebearer (entire consistory or common member) without being deposed refuse to be bound by a classical (synodical) decision which he deems unscriptural, while he is engaged in protesting the decision on the major assemblies ?” Now Dr. Ridderbos maintains that an officebearer who refuses to be bound by classical (synodical) decisions which he deems unscriptural can be deposed by the classis (synod). That Rev. Ophoff violently denounces in the quotations you gave from his article. You must prove now (which you didn’t in Concordia) from quotations of the court record, that Rev. Hoeksema, by quoting Dr. Ridderbos, maintained in court that the classis has the right to depose officebearers who refuse to abide by classical decisions when they think them to be unscriptural. In other words, did Rev. Hoeksema truly maintain in court the same thing which Rev. Ophoff condemned in Vol. 23 of the Standard Bearer? Prove that with honest quotations.
Finally, may I please offer a few quotations of my own from the same series of articles concerning article 31 which Rev. Ophoff wrote and from which you also quote?
First quotation is from Vol. 23 page 155: “Thus all that the Classis can do in case its decisions are being rejected by consistories is to refuse to receive their delegates on its classical meetings and thereby sever the denominational tie between it and the aggrieved consistories. This the Classis may do. This is its right,—a right implicit in the very purpose of a number of churches federating on the basis of our Church Order. Certainly the consistory is autonomous. It is free to respect classical decisions, also decisions fixing classical assessments, without finding itself under the necessity of being penalized on the account by deposition by the Classis. However, the autonomy of the local congregation does not imply that the consistory can persistently reject the decisions of the major assemblies with retention of its right to a place in the church formation.”
The second quotation comes from the same Vol. 23, page 228: “The issue is not whether the Classis may advise the consistory to depose that minister. It may. For it has this right.
“The issue is not whether, in the event the Consistory refuses to adopt and execute the Classical advice, the Classis may server the denominational tie between it and that Consistory and its flock. It may. That is its right.
“The issue is not whether a Consistory may depose its minister without the advice of Classis. It may not. The Church Order forbids this. The issue is not whether the Consistory is obliged to adopt and execute the advice of Classis that it depose its minister if the advice cannot be proved to conflict with the word of God and with the articles of the Church Order of Dort. If this cannot be proved, the advice must be adopted and executed.
“What then is the issue? It is this: In the event the Consistory refuses to take action, may the Classis then pass sentence of deposition on that minister and thereby divest him of his office?”
The next quotation, and I want you especially to note this, Rev. Kok, is Rev. Ophoff’s idea of the meaning of article 31 in July 1947 and is found in Vol. 23, page 442: “If, let us say, a consistory complains that it has been wronged by the decision of a minor assembly—classis—it shall have the right to appeal to a major assembly—synod—without being deposed by classis for refusing to submit to the classical decision that for conscience sake it must protest; and whatever may be agreed upon by a majority vote of synod shall be considered settled and binding unless the synodical decision be proved to conflict with the word of God; that is to say, unless there be an aggrieved one the same consistory or some other consistory persuaded that the synodical decision conflicts with the word of God; that consistory shall have the right to break with the denomination for conscience sake without being deposed by classis.”
And here is a final quotation which is a sad testimonial against all what you and others stated in court and against all which you have written in the recent Concordias. Look, Rev. Kok, (if you haven’t seen it already) in Vol. 23, page 443: “3. It is said that the interpretation under III (The one I quoted just above—GvB) is hopeless subjectivism. So Rev. G. Hoeksema and also the doctor and all the others. But the charge is false. What the interpretation in question does is to free the churches from the overlordship of the classis (synod) but only to subject them solely to the authority of the Scriptures as administered by the local pastors and teachers. Hence, it is not true that, on the ground of the interpretation under III, the decisions of major assemblies do not bind those who do not agree with them; that, in other words, they are never binding (G. Hoeksema). Also according to our interpretation of the Article 31, these decisions are binding on every member of the church, except on those who are persuaded that they contradict the scriptures, yet also on such, if they want to remain in the church.”
All the italics in the above quotations are mine. I’d like to add just a few comments. Rev. Kok, aren’t these quotations, and especially the last one exactly what Rev. Hoeksema maintained on the witness chair, referring to authorities outside of our own churches to prove his point? And isn’t that the same church order which Rev. Ophoff today maintains? Isn’t that exactly what you claimed under oath you had never been taught? Didn’t you claim that a church in the denomination could throw aside a decision of classis (synod) and still remain in that denomination? And didn’t you claim that that was also the view of Rev. Ophoff and Hoeksema until the court trial? Didn’t you write that this view (the same of which Rev. Ophoff wrote in 1947) was a concoction of the Rev. Hoeksema shortly before or during the court trial in order to get the bricks? Who should stand aghast, Rev. Kok? You or we?