All Articles For Gritters, Barry

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If you have ever heard someone cry, “I just can’t forgive myself!” or if you have heard that in your own soul and thought it to be proper, it would be wise to test that concept with Scripture. The biblical doctrine of forgiveness is assaulted by more than a few false doctrines, and the doctrine of self-forgiveness is one of them.1 Added to the biblical doctrine of vertical forgiveness that God grants men, and the biblical doctrine of horizontal forgiveness that men grant to other men, is the unbiblical doctrine of a ‘reflexive’ forgiveness that a man grants to himself....

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Reporting sexual abuse (revisited) Dear readers, In the November 1 issue of the Standard Bearer, a reader submitted a letter that asked about “reporting sexual abuse.” The editor responded by showing that consistories must make careful judgments about whether a sexual sin should be reported or not. This response caused concern in another reader because the original letter was about sexual abuse, and therefore the editor’s response should have limited itself to sexual abuse, not sexual sin generally. The concerned reader’s fear was that those who have been sexually abused/assaulted would now hesitate to report their assault for fear of...

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Forgiving an impenitent sinner is a sin. Offensive as that may sound—even blasphemous—this is Scripture’s teaching and that of the Reformed Church Order, as we saw last time (Nov. 1, 2022). The automatic and immediate declaration of forgiveness to someone who is not sorry for gross sin is “the sin of forgiveness.” When a fifteen-year-old boy with an assault rifle murders three of his classmates, it is a sin for the victims’ parents and friends immediately and publicly to say, “We forgive you.” If a father raped his daughter, it would be a sin for the daughter to forgive him...

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It may be hard to believe that, in certain circumstances, it may be sinful to say, “I forgive you.” But it should not be surprising. One of the most blessed activities among the people of God—the declaration from one sinner to another, “I forgive you”—can be misused to serve a purpose the very opposite of the one for which the Lord designed it. Christians should not only recognize that this is possible, they should expect it. Since the devil masquerades as an angel of light and recruits men and women to work on his behalf (II Cor. 11:14, 15), we...

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Remembering Rev. Woudenberg I was very happy to see the “In Memoriam” article on the late Rev. Bernard Woudenberg, written by Prof. Douglas Kuiper in the SB of October 1, 2022. One morning after an Orthodox Presbyterian church service (I was, in the late 1980’s a member there), a bearded young man who was visiting the church approached to offer me three pamphlets, which I found out later were some of the little white pamphlets published by the PRC years earlier. This fellow was then receiving Rev. Woudenberg’s “Studies in Bible Doctrine” cassette tapes by mail. At that time I...

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And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. II Timothy 2:2 There is good reason that II Timothy 2:2 is engraved in stone at the entrance of our seminary (cf. photo above). The passage is the locus classicus (the classic text) of biblical instruction about training ministers. It teaches us that ministers are to be trained by men who themselves are ministers—ordained ministers— not by professional theologians. Paul and Timothy— ordained ministers—are the teachers of preachers. In fact, four generations of...

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Once more, for the safety of the churches, for the healing of assault victims, and for the repentance of sexual abusers, this editorial treats the subject of reporting sexual abuse. By sexual abuse I am not referring to fornication or adultery between consenting adults, but sexual assault, usually by one in power and authority against a weaker person under their authority and often by an adult against a minor. Writing about “reporting” sexual abuse necessarily spills over into other subjects, especially like helping victims and abusers after reporting has been made. Here, I mostly limit myself to reporting. The last...

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Prof. Barrett Gritters, professor of Practical Theology in the Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary and member of Hudsonville PRC There exists among some a misunderstanding about the application of Matthew 18 to cases of sexual abuse so serious that it may be fatal. There, Jesus instructs one who has been sinned against to “tell him (the sinner) his fault between thee and him alone.” It is a wrong, dangerous, and maybe fatal application of Matthew 18 to require one who has been abused sexually to confront the abuser privately before reporting the sin to anyone else, if at all. To address...

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Prof. Barrett Gritters, professor of Practical Theology in the Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary and member of Hudsonville PRC And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant… and…will walk contrary unto me; then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins. Leviticus 26:15, 23, 24 God’s heavy hand has fallen upon the PRCA in recent years. First was the schism of 2021 and all that precipitated it and follows it. Doctrinal...

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The special issue on sexual abuse (May 1, 2022) was read by many. So much that the RFPA made a special run of 750 additional copies to supply those who requested them. Churches and individuals, both of our regular readership and those who do not subscribe to the magazine, asked for copies. There is a limited supply still available. Please write the editorial office (gritters@ prca.org) or the RFPA (alexkalsbeek@rfpa.org). The articles hit home, in a most literal sense. Sexual abuse victims exist in our homes, the homes of Protestant Reformed readers and our friends. Many of their oppressors have...

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