Our readers are, no doubt, interested to know what is happening in our churches in connection with the split which is now an accomplished fact. And since neither Concordia or what calls itself the Reformed Guardian can be trusted to inform them of the truth of even the bare facts, the Standard Bearer will, from time to time, try to bring them up to date.

We are making history fast in our little denomina­tion!

In this I can but see the hand of our God, who cares for His Church and always preserves His faithful remnant, the seven thousand that refuse to bow their knees before Baal.

O, the purification and reformation of a church is, indeed, always a very painful process. We exper­ienced this in 1924 when we were ejected from the communion of the Christian Reformed Church because we would and could not, before God and our con­science, subscribe to the notorious Three Points nor even promise to keep silent in regard to them. But this process is still more painful, especially for the undersigned, in the current division and split in our churches. In the first place, consider the fact that we as churches belong to the very smallest of all the denominations in the world. It is true, no doubt, and we have always preached it that the Church of God cannot be estimated by numerical strength; it is al­so true, however, that, according to our human feel­ing, we always like to see the Church of Christ grow also in numbers, and that it is suffering for the flesh when those whom we considered as standing on the same basis of faith with us forsake that basis and corrupt the truth. I say this is painful, especially for me and must be for the Rev. Ophoff, because the very men that now depart from us and forsake the truth, have all been instructed by us so that it appears as if our labor has been partly in vain. Add to this, that I have labored for over thirty three years in the First Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids (including my labor among them when they were still the Eastern Ave. Christian Reformed Church) and that now, under the influence of De Wolf, especially since my illness six years ago, a large part of them have forsaken the truth in which I have always instructed them, and you will understand it when I say that the purification and reformation of the Church is always a very painful process.

Nevertheless, we are also confident that in the present split we, and not our opponents, are walking in the way of the Lord. We, and not our opponents, maintain the Protestant Reformed truth, which is the truth of the gospel, the truth of the Word of God. We, and not our opponents, have and may have the con­fidence that God is for us and that, therefore, nothing and no one can ever be against us.

Of this we have always been convinced.

And of this we become all the more convinced when we read the arguments by which our oppo­nents attempt to bolster up their position.

The more they try to defend their position, the more they evince very clearly that there is no love for the Protestant Reformed truth in their hearts. I am afraid that many of them never were Protestant Re­formed, at least not in their hearts.

Who would ever have thought in 1924 that less than thirty years after Protestant Reformed ministers would belittle the doctrine of election, would preach and defend the Arminian error of a general conditional promise, and would maintain that before we enter into the kingdom of heaven we must con­vert ourselves?

The Reformed Journal writes that our opponents, by their new doctrine, have taken a step back to the Christian Reformed Church.

Personally, I think they did worse than that, the Christian Reformed Church, in 1924, announced the doctrine of common grace in the general well-meant offer of salvation. But those that, for the last years, have tried to corrupt our churches maintain that God promises to every one salvation, if they believe. And God promises surely in His love and grace. The Chris­tian Reformed Church, in 1924, maintained that the natural man, outside of the kingdom of God, can do good in this world, so-called civic righteousness. But they never yet taught that the natural man, outside of the kingdom of God, can convert himself.

These are the errors our opponents maintain, and for these we will hold them responsible, till they open­ly repent.

But I am going off on a tangent.

I say that I can see the good hand of God over us in the fact that we are making history fast.

And I say this because the recent fast development of things in our churches is for us a God-given op­portunity to cast off the impurity and corruption in our church system before it is too late. I have no doubt that the opponents of our Protestant Reformed truth would have liked to have more time to see their Arminian corruption infiltrated into our churches. But the Lord opened our eyes just in time.

Hence, the split is come before the wood is so rot­ten that it cannot be split anymore, as Dr. Machen once expressed it.

A tremendous step in this direction was taken when the Lord made Classis West so foolish as to make their last schismatic decisions.

Then followed the correct action of Doon, Edgerton, and Hull. In all these congregations the Pro­testant Reformed truth was maintained and they de­clared themselves the legal consistories and congre­gations, after they had requested their consistories to repudiate the schismatic action of Classis West.

Recently, Redlands followed suit. They have, at present, according to latest reports, twenty families that stand with us. The Rev. H. Veldman, who has received a call from Edgerton, is laboring there at the time of this writing.

What happened at the recent meeting of Classis East was already reported to you in the last number of the Standard Bearer. There were two sets of del­egates from the First Church of Grand Rapids, and Classis had to decide which were the legal delegates. Communications were read from the group that fol­lowed the Rev. De Wolf, from the consistory of the First Church, and from the classical committee that served in advisory capacity to bring the matter to the attention of the consistory of the First Church and, on the latter’s request, was present at all the meetings of the consistory from June 1 to June 2-3. The result was that the delegates of the De Wolf group were unseated and the delegates that were sent by the Consistory of First Church were received as the only delegates. The Revs. Kok, Blankespoor and Knott refused to recognize the delegates of the First Church as legal, preferred to recognize the De Wolf faction, and thereby also became schismatic. They were de­clared to be such, and left the meeting of Classis East.

The result was that the congregations in Holland and Grand Rapids II were split, or rather, they were both re-established as the legal Protestant Reformed Churches, the former with fourteen, the latter with over forty families.

For your information of what happened in both those churches I can do no better than copy a letter which was sent to the members of the congregation in Holland by elder Kortering, the only faithful elder in that consistory. The letter here follows:

LETTER TO ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE CONGREGATION FIRST PROTESTANT REFORMED CHURCH

Holland, Michigan

Dear Members of the Congregation:

The undersigned hereby informs you that the following re­quest was presented to your consistory:

Holland, Michigan

October 9, 1953

To the Consistory of the Protestant Reformed Church of Holland, Michigan

Dear Brethren in the Lord:

I, the undersigned Elder of said Consistory, request that the Consistory immediately repudiate the stand taken by our Pas­tor, the Rev. B. Kok, at the session of Classis East, Oct. 8, 1953, whereby he recognized as the legal consistory of the First Prot­estant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Mich., the Rev. H. De Wolf and his deposed elders, thereby severing his connection with the fellowship of the Protestant Reformed Churches, be­cause Classis East upheld the legal Consistory of the above named church, of which the Rev. C. Hanko and the Rev. H. Hoeksema are pastors, and Mr. G. Stadt is clerk.

I as elder also request that the Consistory immediately re­fuse the Rev. B. Kok the pulpit and declare him worthy of sus­pension on the ground of Art. 79 and 80 of the Church Order, and thereupon proceed to his actual suspension from office with the advice of the nearest neighboring consistory.

Should this request be denied, which God graciously prevent, I the undersigned, will declare myself the legal consistory of the 1st Prot. Reformed Church of Holland, Michigan and will function as such.

Grounds:

1. By this action you support and condone heresies that have been condemned by Classis East of the Protestant Re­formed Churches.

2. By this action you will give support to and agree with those that were legally deposed as officebearers from the First Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan, which deposition was maintained as legal by the classis above mentioned.

3. Hence by this action you have become guilty of schism and severed yourselves from the fellowship of the Prot­estant Reformed Churches, in which fellowship the un­dersigned wishes to remain.

Respectfully submitted

Your Brother

Elder J.H. Kortering

Executed in 3 copies

1 copy to the Consistory above

1 copy to the Consistory of the Hudsonville Prot. Ref. Chr. as evidence of this notice, 1 copy for file.

Hence we inform you that on the evening of Oct. 9, 1953 the original copy of the above document was presented to the said Consistory of the 1st Prot. Ref. Church of Holland, Mich, and all the Elders, Ralph Bouwman Jr., B. Stegink, J. Knott, and J.H. Kortering being present at this meeting; the under­signed elder J.H. Kortering made the motion to initiate the proper proceeding to suspend the pastor, Rev. B. Kok from his office, on: the grounds shown in document above. Rev. B. Kok was present as chairman and three deacons, were present. And the Consistory refusing this request by failing to support the said motion above, has become schismatic and does no lon­ger belong to the fellowship of the Protestant Reformed Chur­ches, while the undersigned is the sole legal consistory.

Functioning as such we have decided to conduct services of the 1st Prot. Reformed Church of Holland, Michigan, next Sun­day, the Lord willing, at the place shown herein below at the regular times. At this temporary place we will meet, the Lord willing until such time as the final disposition of our church property is made. By this you will understand that as the legal consistory and congregation of the 1st Prot. Reformed Church of Holland, Mich., we claim the right to the Church pro­perty including the parsonage.

Hoping that all of you may give this matter their prayerful consideration and that you may preserve peace and unity in the bond of faith, we remain,

Yours in the Lord

Elder J.H. Kortering

The legal consistory 

of the 1st Prot. Ref. Church of Holland, Mich.

Attached to the letter, was a notification concern­ing the services that were to be held on the following Sabbath, the place and time of meeting and the preach­ers that would conduct the services, as also the follow­ing announcement: special congregational meet­ing will be held D.V. on Tuesday evening, Oct. 18th, for the purpose of electing new elders and deacons.”

This meeting was duly held and the consistory and congregation were re-established as the legal consis­tory and congregation of the Protestant Reformed Church of Holland, Mich.

A similar procedure was followed in the Second Church of Grand Rapids. At a congregational meet­ing, held in the Hope Protestant Reformed Church, new elders and deacons were elected, and immediately installed in the presence of the entire congregation.

Let me add to this, that as in the First Church of Grand Rapids that meets for the time being in Christian High, so also in the re-established congre­gations of Holland and Grand Rapids II there is a new manifestation of joy and love because they are freed from the spirit of corruption and slander that pervad­ed these churches.

I also want to add to this one of the letters that was sent to all the members of the congregation by the for­mer consistory of the Second Church of Grand Rap­ids, which was most probably composed by the Rev. Blankespoor himself. I copy this letter because it re­veals clearly how they evade the issue, and, instead, try to play upon the feelings of the people, without, however, having any effect upon them. Here is the letter:

Grand Rapids, Mich.

Oct. 15, 1953

Dear Members of the Sec. Prot. Ref. Church:

According to rumors we as Consistory at our meeting of Fri­day, Oct. 9, 1953 “kicked out” the two deacons Engelsma and Swart. We want to assure you that the contents of these rumors are not true.

Here are the facts.

At that meeting the brethren read their letter of ultimatum before the vote was taken. Notice how they come with threatenings. The Consistory had to immediately repudiate the stand taken by our pastor, and immediately deny him the pulpit and declare him worthy of suspension. If the Consistory would not do this they would consider themselves the legal Consistory of the Second Prot. Ref. Church of Grand Rapids, Mich. The idea was: do this, immediately….or else. After this letter was read and some more discussion followed the vote was taken. Isn’t it clear that these men severed themselves from the Con­sistory?

After the vote was taken some more discussion followed. To our joy it was kept on a spiritual level with no bitterness mani­fested. Finally our chairman asked the two brethren if they realized that by this action they no longer belonged to the Con­sistory. This question they answered in the affirmative. Later Mr. Swart said: “Well, I guess we’re through,” “I guess so,” said the chairman. After some more discussion the brethren left the meeting. None of this, surely, in any sense reveals that they were “kicked out.”

It is also very difficult for the Consistory to understand how people can change so suddenly and turn against us and the preaching of our pastor, and say that he is worthy of suspen­sion. And being worthy of suspension also means that he is worthy of deposition and excommunication from the kingdom of heaven, and that he can no longer be considered to be a Christian. This the two deacons have said. Facts are that not once during Rev. Blankespoor’s pastorate with us did anyone protest against his preaching. Not once did the two deacons refuse to give the hand of approval after the services. A short time ago one of them had a child baptized thereby answering that he would instruct his child in the doctrine taught in this Christian church. And now they turn against the pastor and the Consistory. Now it is possible for people to have an awak­ening. It is also possible that they weren’t fully satisfied with the preaching. But how people can turn against us and the preaching of the pastor and approve of condemnation and re­futation of what has been preached from our pulpit is beyond our comprehension of ethics. Neither can we understand how our pastor, because of his stand taken at Classis, be worthy of immediate suspension, one day after Classis.

Neither can the Consistory understand this in respect to some of our members. How is it possible to condemn us now before the face of God because of what we believe and preach, never having expressed any disagreement with the preaching? Fact is that many who left us often expressed satisfaction with the preaching, on a whole, until the time they left us. And now approve of condemnation of the same? How can they do it?

That all our people don’t understand all the issues involved we can readily understand. However, as long as people don’t understand fully, and still have many questions and problems they surely cannot honestly turn against us and the preaching of the pastor. One of the big questions for our members is whether the preaching in our church is and has been Prot. Reformed. If so, one must surely be very hesitant before he can leave us and turn against us.

Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, we urge you all to continue to meet with us. We haven’t changed. We still want the Prot. Ref. truth. Neither do we want this separation. It grieves us.

Yours in the love of Christ,

Consistory of the Second Prot. Reformed Church,

J. Blankespoor, Pres,

S. Bouma, Clerk

Let me add the following notes to this letter:

  1.  What else could the faithful members of the con­sistory do than to demand that the consistory repudi­ate the stand of the pastor at the classis, according to which he made common cause with a schismatic consistory, took, by implication, full responsibility for here­tical statements condemned by classis, and separated himself, by these actions, from the Protestant Reform­ed Churches. What else could they do than to de­mand that the consistory declare the pastor worthy of suspension, and that, too, immediately. Could they permit (this was on Friday evening) the pastor, with his schismatic position to occupy the pulpit on the following Sabbath? They could not. Hence, they were perfectly correct and right in their demand.
  2.  The consistory and Blankespoor complain that they cannot understand how people can all of a sudden so turn against the pastor that they demand his sus­pension. There never was any protest against his preaching. Even the two deacons that now demand­ed his suspension never refused to shake hands with etc. etc. I consider this nothing but a sob story, a sen­timental attempt to play upon the feelings of the people. The consistory and Blankespoor here entirely evade the issue. For the issue is simply this: a. The Rev. Blankespoor, at the classis, took sides with the illegal group that claimed to be the consistory of the First Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, and claimed that they were the legal consistory, b. He refused to recognize the delegates of the First Church that were declared the legal delegates by the classis. c. Although he did not express this literally, he took position in favor of the heretical statements by De Wolf, condemned by classis. d. He thereby separ­ated himself from Classis East and, of course, from the Protestant Reformed Churches. Let the consistory and Blankespoor explain these things to the people, and they will “understand the issues involved.”

And here I close my chronicle with the promise that, as soon as there are new developments, I hope to inform you, D.V.

—H.H.