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Here follows the translation of this letter:

Esteemed Editor:

May I also have a little space in the Standard Bearer? I would like very much to write something regarding the things which are discussed among us.

As an emigrant, formerly belonging to the Reformed Churches, maintaining Art. 31, I, and many more with me have looked for an ecclesiastical roof over my head in this new land of our sojourning. And after a lengthy and intensive contact with the Prot. Ref. Churches and their office bearers we came to the conviction that it was our calling to join those churches, since we saw that they were the true church; and therefore it would have been deliberately sinful to hold ourselves averse from them because of existing differences of opinion, or, even as has recently happened, to organize Free Reformed Churches or something like that. And I still am of the same conviction.

However, something happened in the recent past which seems to cause quite a commotion. In short, I have in mind the drawing up and the publishing by our last synod of the “Brief Declaration of Principles of the Prot. Ref. Churches”. Personally I am agreed with its contents. Also the church-political objections which I had at first are taken away by the Rev. H. Hoeksema’s answer to the Rev. J. Blankespoor’s questions. However, I am not convinced as yet of the necessity and need of this document. The Scriptures and the Three Forms of Unity are sufficient to refute the real and “fancied” errors which are mentioned in this document, are they not? For that purpose there is no need of a separate “declaration”, which causes unrest.

In this connection I will try to clear up a misunderstanding, which, at least in part, has clearly been the occasion unto the realization of this Declaration. In his answer to the Rev. J. Blankespoor, in the Standard Bearer of Oct. 1, the Rev. H. Hoeksema writes among other things, with reference to the recent requests for organization within the pale of the Prot. Ref. Churches, which requests were addressed to the Mission Committee, “no wonder then they lived under the impression that they could simply, without further instruction, be organized into Prot. Ref. Churches.” That impression—I speak with reference to Chatham, for that is what the Rev. Hoeksema refers to here—was never left with us. We also revealed ourselves willing in personal conversations and discussions to be instructed in the Prot. Ref. doctrine. Moreover-, at the time that we presented our request (for organization) we had already received quite a bit of instruction. That may be mentioned here to the honor of the Prot. Ref. ministers and elders.

He writes further: “But at the same time they wanted to adhere to their own peculiar view of the covenant. They even sent a request to the Mission Committee to be organized on their own basis.” This is only partly true. I can understand how this impression was left. Inasmuch as I have no copy of the request referred to with me at present, I will try to cite freely the passage in question. It ran about as follows: “Inasmuch as it has appeared to us from conversations with several of your ministers that there is difference of opinion relative the Covenant and Baptism between you and us, we do not wish to be bound to the personal opinion of some (persons) in your churches.” It is not held here that we wished to adhere to the “Liberated” view; although I agree that one could perhaps read this sentiment in the quotation. But the intent was: “if there are among us those who hold in their heart to an opinion which deviates from the Prot. Ref. doctrine relative the Covenant and Baptism, but who will not make propaganda for, nor agitate against the doctrine of the church; which latter action is really impossible, based on the fact that they placed their signature under the request unto the organization as P.R.C., which implies that it is the true church—must such persons or can such person, for that reason, ever become objects of ecclesiastical censure? That was all there was to it! And; on the basis of that request we were not organized. The Mission Committee refused to organize us on that basis. We are organized (in Chatham; I know nothing regarding other places) “on the basis of the Scriptures and The Three Forms of Unity, as they are interpreted by the P. R. C. in the light of the rejection of the Three Points of Kalamazoo.” But does this mean now that we cannot henceforth discuss together in a friendly and brotherly way anent the Covenant and Baptism, or about no matter what part of the Reformed doctrine? Of course not!

And concerning the point (or points) of difference: is that really as big as it is often presented? I do not believe it. I am still of the opinion that there is a great “confusion of tongues” between the P.R.C. and the Ref. Churches (maintaining art. 31). And for a good deal this is caused by a difference in terminology, according to my opinion: a different concept is given to the same words. I do not feel myself capable to give a dogmatic view relative the Covenant and Baptism, etc., unto the readers of the Standard Bearer. But I believe: that God’s promise of the Covenant, which is given solely to the elect, is essentially unconditional and His grace is particular and irresistible; that God in His sovereign good pleasure elects and reprobates; that man—although by nature entirely unable unto good of any kind and inclined to all evil, and therefore totally depraved—has the earnest calling to convert himself. That it is God—and not we—who enables us unto this, working in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. And I deny every form of common grace. Is that Prot. Ref.? It is also Liberated! Not a single “Liberated” intends to say that God connects the fulfillment of the promise to the condition of faith as an action which proceeds from man. That would be, indeed, Arminian. However, when they speak of the term: voorwaarde or condition”, then they do so rather freely. They have not had their battle against Remonstrantism, even as the P.R.C. have had. And I believe that we must remember that when we judge their doctrine.

I will finish with an earnest call unto unity and forbearance. Just now I read Philipp. 2. Should we not practice that a little more? I think that Satan often laughs regarding our quarrels. We live in the Apocalyptical time* He who is not spiritually blind is able to recognize the contours of Antichrist clearer and clearer. We are rushing toward the end. I am sure that there is no one among us who would disbelieve this. Shall we then not be the more zealous to fight together, standing shoulder to shoulder, fighting the good battle of faith, together with them that are of Christ? Throw away all prejudice—from both sides—and quit “riding hobbies”. And let us pray, pray for the peace of Jerusalem. And then it will be well with us (as church). And the name of God shall be praised and glorified. Oh, I know that I have not been exhaustive and complete, by any means. I cannot do that. Neither was that my purpose. If this letter could only work together a very little bit toward the repairing of the ruptured relations, and to renew our trust in one another along the whole line, then I would be very grateful. The only purpose of this missive is: to serve the church of Jesus Christ, which church I love with all the love of my heart.

P.S. I wish to thank brother Scheele for this beautiful contribution. You wrote after my heart, brother, especially in that you plainly evince that you understand and wholeheartedly embrace the Protestant Reformed truth.

Yet, I cannot agree with you that it is not necessary to adopt the Declaration of Principles. Recent happenings in our churches have convinced me more than ever that such a declaration is very necessary if we want to maintain the purity of our Reformed truth in our churches.

For proof, I refer you to what has happened in Hamilton. The brethren there want to throw the church doors wide open. They refuse to abide by their own decision, which was confirmed by the decision of Classis East, that members of another church that desire to join our congregation there promise: 1) to be instructed in our truth, and 2) that they do not agitate against the truth “as taught here in this Christian church.” Although I am sure that, before they organized, they were instructed in our Protestant Reformed truth, and they were well aware that we would never have organized them on any other basis, yet they now claim that, at the time of organization, they never promised anything at all. You see brother, no church of Christ can stand on the basis of such dishonesty. To prevent a repetition of this sad affair the Declaration of Principles is certainly necessary.

Secondly, I refer you to the contribution in Concordia by Mr. A. J. IJtsma. That brother does not argue from the Confessions at all, but merely presents his own philosophy of the covenant and of conditions, while the Declaration of Principles, from beginning to end, is based on our Three Forms of Unity. In the meantime he makes propaganda for the old Heynsian view of the covenant, which we reject: the covenant is the promise, the promise is for all, the promise is conditional, faith is a condition. All this we have rejected as churches when we rejected the First Point of 1924. The brother simply does not belong to a Protestant Reformed church. Why does he not join the Christian Reformed Church in Chatham instead of trying to make propaganda for a view we have rejected long ago ? He certainly cannot honestly answer the second question of our Baptism Form in a Protestant Reformed Church. But also the sad fact that this old heresy is openly defended in Concordia (and I am glad to say, ably contradicted by the Rev. P. De Boer) all the more convinces me of the necessity of the Declaration of Principles.

The third item to which I want to call attention in this connection is the letter of brother Van Spronsen in the same Concordia as above. He wants us to adopt the wholly untenable position that, in a certain place, there is but one true Church, and that by excluding anyone from that church you consign him to hell. Hence, he argues, we must bind no one by such a Declaration of Principles as we propose. Now, it is not true that we believe in the Kuyperian conception of the pluriformity of the church, as the brother supposes. But neither do we accept the absolute distinction between true and false church which he wants us to adopt. That would be impossible even from a geographical viewpoint. But we do confess that as Protestant Reformed Churches we are the purest manifestation of the body of Christ. Nor do we exclude anyone from the kingdom of heaven when he does not agree with the truth as we confess it. But binding in our churches, and in the Liberated Churches, is the second question of the Baptism Form, whether you believe in the doctrine as taught here in this Christian Church. That certainly implies our view of the covenant and baptism. And if one cannot answer this question he must never join us. Nor, if he and others establish a church of their own do we consign them to hell.

For all these reasons I am convinced that the Declaration of Principles should be adopted by our Synod.

We cannot afford to let our beautiful Protestant Reformed truth be corrupted by outside influences.

To my mind that has nothing to do with correspondence between the Liberated Churches and ours.

D. Scheele

Box 42

Appin, Ontario, Canada