Interesting also is point 14 of Lindsey’s basis of appeal to the Supreme Court. It reads as follows:
“The trial court erred in not finding and decreeing that the fact that defendants were not permitted to appeal from the decision of Classis of October 6, 1953 was illegal and of no force and effect.”
What is the truth concerning this matter?
The May classis, 1953 decided that De Wolf and the elders that supported him should apologize or be suspended and deposed from office. Thus they advised the consistory of the First Protestant Reformed Church.
At its June 1 meeting this advice was adopted by the consistory. De Wolf and his guilty elders were asked to apologize. They asked for time to consider the matter. This was done in the presence of the classical committee appointed for this matter.
At the meeting of June 22 it became clear that they refused to apologize in accordance with the advice of classis and the decision of the consistory of June 1.
Hence, according to the same advice of classis and the same decision of the consistory of June 1, they were already suspended and deposed. And this decision was carried by the consistory in conjunction with that of the Fourth Church on June 23, 1953.
In October 1953 the classis set its seal of approval on this action, refused to recognize the would-be delegates of the deposed consistory members and their suspended minister, and seated the delegates from the legal consistory.
Now, in court they claimed that they appealed to synod and that their appeal was rejected.
That is absurd, for the following reasons:
1. They had refused to submit to their suspension and deposition, but continued to act in their office. By their own action, therefore, they placed themselves outside of the communion of Protestant Reformed Churches. They could not be seated as delegates to classis, nor could they appeal to classis against their suspension and deposition, for the simple reason that they had not first submitted but took matters in their own hands.
2. Still, although they could not appeal to classis, they could have notified classis that they would appeal to synod. Classis surely has no power to reject an appeal to synod. Only synod itself can have that power. Even if classis would have refused to consider their appeal, they certainly could have notified the stated clerk of synod of their appeal. And synod would have decided whether or not their appeal was acceptable. This we did in 1924. But they never did. There was no appeal of theirs at the synod of 1954.
3. Before that synod ever met they organized already a new classis. They thereby expressed themselves that they were outside of the communion of the Protestant Reformed Churches. How, then, can they possibly maintain that they appealed their case to synod? Fact is that they never did appeal.
Fact is, too, that they could not appeal because of their organization of a separate classis. The truth of this matter is exactly as I stated it in my pamphlet “True or False” which, in part, was also read by the defendants in court. There I stated:
“False. But the case is not yet finished and will not be finished until the general synod has acted on the appeal the deposed officebearers are going to make.”
This I claim to be false and, at the same time state the truth of the matter as follows:
“True. They have no appeal. And I do not think that they seriously intend to appeal. What they, to my mind intend to do, is to organize a new church formation. That they have no appeal is plain from the following:
“a. Article 53 of the Church Order demands that all officebearers sign the Formula of Subscription.
“b. That Formula of Subscription states that in case of discipline all officebearers shall have the right to appeal but until a decision is made upon such an appeal, we will acquiesce in the determination and judgment already passed.
“c. They did not submit and acquiesce. Hence, they cannot appeal. The matter is definitely settled.”
Nevertheless, in court the defendants maintained emphatically that they did appeal to synod and that the classis rejected their appeal.
But this is not true as is abundantly evident from the court records.
That Classis East did not attempt to deny their right of appeal to synod, but simply refused to treat their protest to classis is evident .from a letter they received from the stated clerk of classis which reads as follows:
“Dear Erring Brethren:
“This is to inform you that the protests filed by you with the Stated Clerk of Classis East, October 6, 1953, have been duly received for information in the January 6, 1954 session of Classis East.
“We further wish to inform you that said protests are now out of order since you have been declared to be schismatic and have severed your ties with Classis East and thus with the Denomination of the Protestant Reformed Churches.
“Therefore said protests are not treated by Classis East.
“Praying that the Lord may give you grace to see and to confess the sin of your way, I remain
Your brother in the Lord,
George C. Lubbers, Stated Clerk.”
It is very evident from the above letter that the classis did not even attempt to deny them the right of appeal to synod, but simply refused to treat certain protests of the schismatics.
The same is, evidently, true in regard to certain alleged appeals to synod of Kok c.s.
Let me quote from the printed court record.
“I quote from pp. 384ff.:
“THE COURT: While we are on that, I would have the Rev. De Wolf clear my mind. That is, it seems to be your position that the action of classis at this October meeting in regard to Kok and two other—was there?
“A. Yes, Knott and Blankenspoor.
“THE COURT: Yes, took away from them their right to appeal to synod. I don’t see how by any action that you can take away a man’s right to appeal. If you appeal from their decision or you appeal from their action, how can you take away from them the right to appeal?
A. May I explain that?
“THE COURT: That is just what I would like to know.
“A. All right. You see these men appeal this thing. They did appeal it, and it was decided in a later meeting.
“THE COURT: Who did they appeal to?
“A. They appealed to this same classis of October 6. They appealed the decision that was made by the classis in May and June in respect to the heretical statements. They appealed that decision to the classis of October 6, the continued meeting of October 6.
“THE COURT: How could they do that? How could you appeal from that? I can’t understand how you figure you can appeal from the action of a body right back to the same body. You can move to reconsider their former action. I can see how you can do that.
“A. Your Honor, you ask them to reconsider, and if they do not agree, if they do not change, if they feel that they can’t change their decision, then you can send their decision on to the majority body, the synod. You do that all in one appeal, so you see it goes back to classis again with the request if they cannot agree with you on that, you ask them at this time that then they will send it on the synod. Then it is supposed to appear before the synod, and the synod is supposed to judge the case.
“Q. You say they lost their appeal?
“A. They lost the appeal because when they refused to submit and bind their conscience by a ruling made by this classis, they were declared to be outside of the association, and therefore they had no voice, and the classis would not accept the appeal and send it on to synod.
“THE COURT: Classis has to accept their appeal and forward it to them?
“A. That is correct.
“THE COURT: You can’t go to the other body with their appeal?
“A. No, sir, it goes through the classis to the synod.
“THE COURT: Is there anything that says they tried to do that?
“A. I am not sure, your Honor, whether they made the attempt. I believe they did, but I know that the appeal they made against the ruling of the classis of May and June, that that appeal was ruled out on the basis that they were no more in the association of churches.”
Did you ever hear of such nonsense? Did you ever hear of a classis having the power or even assuming the power to prevent anyone to appeal to synod? Did you ever hear of the nonsense that an appeal to synod must first be accepted by classis and that only through classis it can go to synod?
I never did.
The rule for appeal is, according to a note in the Church Order by Article 31, as follows:
“Appeal from a decision by any ecclesiastical assembly must be made before the first following meeting of the major ecclesiastical assembly appealed to and notice sent of this appeal to the clerk of the minor assembly. The interested parties must be informed of every decision made.”
This is clear, is it not?
De Wolf, c.s. simply would have to inform the classis that met in January that they would appeal to the synod of 1954, enclosing a copy of their appeal.
Classis could never prevent them.
Fact is, however, that they never did appeal.
Their claim in court is simply an untruth.