The Revs. Ophoff and Hoeksema are censured!
This news flashed like wildfire through our churches during the week of the recent meetings of Classis East.
From Grand Rapids it was flashed to Hull, and from Hull to distant Redlands, California.
And the day after it all happened I received a telephone call from Redlands to inquire whether it was really true.
How small and gossipy a village is the U.S. when it concerns news that people are interested to hear, whether sad or joyful!
At this time, I will not relate the whole story, for it is not edifying. If later, it should prove necessary to broadcast all that happened (after all it was public), I will not hesitate to do so. All the documents relevant to the case are in my possession. But now I will reveal only the bare facts.
Here they are.
The Rev. G.M. Ophoff read a document in which he accused certain parties of lying. I had done the same thing in a document which was received by the Classis for information without any further comment. Besides, the Rev. Ophoff, in the same document, spoke of the necessity of cleaning out some cesspools of corruption in our churches.
I openly declared that I agreed with the Rev. Ophoff.
Thereupon a motion was made that the Rev. Ophoff and myself should be censured for these statements. Personally, I urged the Classis that they should unanimously adopt this motion, seeing that this would offer me an opportunity to bring the whole matter to the attention of Classis.
Hesitatingly the motion was carried.
Thereupon I asked Classis for time to prepare my reply and to prove that I said nothing improper, unseemly, or untrue.
This I did in a seventeen page document, in which I proved that the parties concerned lied indeed, and that it is high time that we clean out certain cesspools of corruption in our churches. At the end of my speech, I gave a copy to the clerk of the Classis, and informed the Classis that, unless they apologized, I would never appear again.
The next day, I received a delegation from Classis that presented me with the following document:
“Moved to explain our decision under Art. 96 (the article of the Minutes pertaining to our censure H.H.) since that decision has been misinterpreted so as to mean that both, the Revs. H.H. and G.M. Ophoff, are under censure in the accepted sense of the word as outlined under Arts. 71-80 D.K.O., while Classis knows and hereby expresses that the decision meant no more than to express that the pertinent remarks were premature and hence out of order.”
I am glad, indeed, that the Classis expressed that my remarks were “pertinent.” This means, according to the dictionary, “related to the subject or matter in hand, fit or appropriate in any way…” with the synonyms: “apposite, relevant, suitable, appropriate, fit.”
Only, I fail to understand how a classis can censure anyone for making relevant, appropriate and suitable remarks.
But let that be. It is plain from the above statement that the Classis did not intend to censure us, though they used the term.
Thereupon, I returned to Classis and presented the following statement:
“I received your committee and their message this noon. And in reply I have the following:
“1. In the light of your explanation of what you meant by Art. 96, I can again take my place in the classis, and function in my advisory capacity.
“2. However, even with the censure as explained this morning, I do not agree, but insist that I said nothing out of order or prematurely, but simply spoke of things that were known to the whole classis from the material on the table and used no improper language, but merely spoke the truth without camouflage.”
The Classis also received this document for information.
This concluded the matter.