...

Further expressions of the consistories on the above subject are continued in this article. The consistory of Hope Church expressed:

“Without entering into the question as to whether an official radio broadcast of the Word by a Protestant Reformed Church is on the same level with divine worship in the house of God we do wish to express the following concerning the singing of hymns on such a broadcast:

“l. That we believe that hymns ought not to be sung on such a broadcast: (a) because we should put up every possible guard against the introduction of hymns into divine worship, (b) because, although our distinctiveness is in the truth which we proclaim, we must guard that distinctiveness as carefully as we can.

“2. However, we believe that those anthems and hymns which are literal quotations from the Scriptures set to music not only may be used on such broadcasts but in some instances may even have the preference over the Psalter versification. (a) We have in mind such pieces as ‘Remember Now Thy Creator,’ ‘I Know Whom I Have Believed,’ ‘Send Out Thy Light,’ ‘God So Loved the World,’ and the like. (b) These without a doubt are purer than some Psalm versifications which often require a synonym for metric reasons or for rhyming purposes and can thus give a different shade of meaning from the original.

“3. We are also of the opinion that it would be advisable that our Psalter revision committee explore the possibility of versifying the Christmas story, the Resurrection story, as well as the Crucifixion story and such passages of Holy Writ with a view to setting them to music for our Psalter. (a) If the Old Testament Psalms can be versified and sung we see no reason why the New Testament passages may not be treated the same way. (b) The spirit of the Church Order which allows versifications of the Lord’s Prayer, of the Song of Mary and the Song of Simeon surely is not violated when further passages of the New Testament are versified without a departure from the over all teachings of Scripture.”

Grand Haven merely stated, “that we express ourselves to be in agreement with the protest submitted by the consistory of Oak Lawn Protestant Reformed Church and the grounds therein set forth and as sustained by the minority of the committee appointed by Classis in re this matter.”

From the consistory of South Holland came the following:

“Re the protest of Oak Lawn against the consistory of the First Protestant Reformed Church re the use of hymns on the radio program, the consistory of South Holland advises the Classis to express:

“1. That radio programs officially sponsored by the church should be considered official mission work.

“2. That therefore, the music used on such programs should be consistent with the liturgy of the church as described and adopted in Art. 69 of the Church Order. Grounds:

“a. This will safe guard our churches from introducing into our radio witness as well as our church services questionable hymns or other music contrary to the doctrine we proclaim.

“b. This will tend to unify the witness of all those churches sponsoring radio programs.

“c. This will remove the possibility of offense which may be taken by individuals or churches as reflected in the protest above referred to.”

Hudsonville said:

“In as much as Classis East requested all our consistories to study the protest of Oak Lawn’s consistory against the consistory of the First Church, Grand Rapids, and come to classis with our findings, we submit the following:

“We believe that in a radio broadcast such as ours, one should expect a distinctively Protestant Reformed program. And we are of the opinion that Oak Lawn’s consistory holds that this distinctiveness is questioned as long as hymns are allowed to be sung. In so doing we are not heeding Article 69 of our Church Order: ‘The Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs mentioned in this article are from the divinely inspired word of God. They are very distinct. We, as Protestant Reformed Churches, should always abide by the musical songs of David, the Psalter. The 150 Psalms of David are sufficient. They can be used at all occasions, i.e., Easter and the like. They are God-centered. They beautifully portray the New Dispensation in the light of the Old. They comprise a full orbed gospel. The Psalms contain and portray the righteous and holy wrath against the ungodly sinner on the one hand and announce the love of God to the Christian on the other. Nowhere as in the Psalms of David can a Christian living in the consciousness of the distinct Protestant Reformed truth derive such comfort. On the contrary, the sweet hymns of our clay speak only of the love of God and that often in a very sickly way and also of the Arminian and conditional approach unto salvation and thus heresy is sung into the church. As watchmen on the walls of Zion it is our calling to be on our guard. Let us not deviate from the truth. One error is sure to lead to another which is plainly seen in the Christian Reformed Churches. First they had the Psalter, then the Psalter hymnal. Putting the Psalter on a par with the hymns is essentially casting out the Psalter. Brethren let us remain faithful to Article 69 of the Church Order and watch and pray that no strange fire be offered on the altar (Leviticus 10:1). And so we come with a unanimous stand supporting the position of Oak Lawn’s consistory.”

From Holland’s consistory a lengthy opinion was submitted.

“In reference to the decision of the last Classis in which they referred the matter of the protest of the consistory of Oak Lawn against the consistory of First Church relative the matter of using hymns on our radio programs, called the consistory to study and give advice on this Classis. The consistory of Holland comes to Classis with the following:

“1. The question that must decide the issue. Is the radio program known as the Reformed Witness Hour sponsored by the First Church: (a) Mission work in which the doctrines of the Protestant Reformed Churches are officially preached in a distinctively Reformed radio ministry under the direct supervision of the consistory in harmony with the standards of the Protestant Reformed Churches and our Church Order? “Under the classification above the Reformed Witness Hour takes on the nature of mission work by the official preaching of the Word under the direct supervision of the consistory and as such comes under all the requirements of the official Church Order of the churches. (b) Is this radio program a public testimony or program by a group of persons in the name of the congregation without the direct supervision of the consistory, functioning by permission of the consistory in the sphere of the consistory’s jurisdiction? Under this classification the Reformed Witness Hour functions in the same category as our Men’s Societies, Ladies’ Aids, Choral Societies, etc., functioning in the sphere of the jurisdiction of the consistory. Each society is sovereign in its own sphere within the limitations of the constitution or character approved by the consistory in which sphere they operate. In this category the Reformed Witness Hour does not take on the nature of mission work by the official preaching of the word for there is no direct supervision of the consistory which is always required when the Word is being officially preached. Again in this category the Reformed Witness Hour does not take on the nature of officially preaching the Word and is only a local program sponsored by a local church without the supervision of the consistory and should, therefore, not be identified as a distinctively Reformed Radio ministry for it is no ministry of the official Word when not under the supervision of the consistory.

“2. From the correspondence relative the case we find the following: (a) On July 2, 1951, the letter from the Oak Lawn’s Consistory to the Consistory of the First Church the following: 1. The fact that we believe that the radio ministry is the official proclamation of the Word of God by the church. This formerly, under the Prot. Reformed Hour was not the case. We ask you to refer to page 12 of Rev. Hoeksema’s book In the Sanctuary where he advances the reason for refusing to pray publicly on the radio that the ministry was not the official proclamation of the Word.’ (b) This is further confirmed by the First Church in letter of August 29, 1951, No. 4 where they themselves maintain that the ministry of the Reformed Witness Hour is an official proclamation of the Word. (c) From the argument of the Oak Lawn Consistory that we do not grasp the implication of the statement in your letter: The program itself is purely a congregational venture and responsibility.’ Surely this cannot mean that the congregation is responsible for the broadcast to the exclusion of the office bearers? We understand that it is a congregational venture just as the sending of a missionary would be. We also understand that it is the congregation’s responsibility to support the work she undertakes but we also understand that the responsibility of properly executing this work the congregation lays upon the office bearers whom she calls unto the work. It is the congregation’s responsibility to preach the Word each Sabbath also, and upon her elders she places the task of supervising this work that it is properly done. Hence, whereas this is also true of the radio ministry, we fail to see the exact intent and meaning of this argumentative statement in your letter. (d) Finally the answer of the First Church consistory to Oak Lawn on this argument: ‘We heartily agree that radio ministry can be characterized as official mission ministry.’

“3. From all these arguments by both the consistories it is clear that the consistory of First Church admits, does not deny, that they consider the radio program of the Reformed Witness Hour as an official proclamation of the Word.

“Conclusion: Therefore the consistory of Holland judges that the consistory of First Church has no right to violate the articles of the Church Order of the Protestant Reformed Churches whose communion she enjoys. Grounds: (1) The consistory of First Church admits that the Reformed Witness Hour is an official proclamation of the Word. (2) By the public announcement that accompanies each broadcast the announcer identifies the Reformed Witness Hour as ‘a distinctively Reformed radio ministry.’ Therefore various articles of the Church Order are affected. Article 69 in essence means that with this official preaching of the Word only the 150 Psalms of David, etc., shall be sung in our churches.

“Therefore, on the above grounds the consistory of the Protestant Reformed Church of Holland advises Classis East to uphold the protest of the consistory of Oak Lawn and so inform both the consistories involved.”

—G.v.d.B.