Having subscribed to the Standard Bearer since 1972, I thought myself to be somewhat familiar with your line of thought. Therefore, to find Dr. Abraham Kuyper as the focal point of the special, Reformation issue was a surprise. It seems to me that Kuyper’s contribution to the cause of the Reformation was more negative than positive, at least in the Netherlands.
Besides his doctrinal errors, particularly common grace and presupposed regeneration (the first error being worse), he was quoted as saying, “They and we have the same root of faith,” in order to justify his partnership with the papal forces.
The outcome of this was that many sincere Reformed Christians quit the Anti-Revolutionary Party and joined the newly formed Political Reformed Party (de Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij), whose leader was Rev. G.H. Kersten. This party subscribed to Article 36 of the Belgic Confession, unaltered. Later on, two other parties appeared: the G.V.P. of Dr. K. Schilder’s church and the evangelistic R.P.F. As a result, the K.V.P. (the Catholic People’s Party) became the biggest one and dominated. Eventually, the K.V.P. dropped the Anti-Revolutionary Party in favor of the Socialists.
To understand the sad influence of the coalition government of Kuyper, one must realize that Holland proper, the area of the Netherlands north of the great rivers Rhine and Maas, has historically been Protestant, while those living south of the rivers in the provinces of Brabant and Limburg have been Roman Catholic. Evidences of the latter are the many statues of saints and Mary along highways and in public places. As a 14-year old boy on a bicycle trip from our village near Rotterdam to Maastricht in Limburg with two friends, I was surprised to see all the statues in what was considered a Protestant country. Somehow one Mary and one saint became dislodged and went to the bottom of a drainage ditch.
As a direct result of Kuyper’s alliance with the Roman Catholics, Holland above the Rhine became a Roman mission field. Roman Catholic churches, monasteries, abbies, schools, etc. were built or bought with the help of the government. Also, the appointment of Roman Catholic government officials, especially mayors of cities and towns in predominately Protestant areas, was a grief. (The appointment of mayors is done in Holland by the Crown in consultation with and by recommendation of the government.) The opposite was not done in Roman provinces.
Chilliwack, BC, Canada
You solicited comments on the article in the November 1, 1998 Standard Bearer by Mr. Pete Miedema on “The High Cost of Building Churches.” I would like to express my thoughts.
First, I do not want to tell any individual church how much money to spend, but I do feel that the high cost often results from the type of building chosen. It is a matter of choice by the congregation.
Second, the way things were done in the past certainly has worked, and we have more than adequate church buildings in the denomination.
Finally, and most important, I believe that putting items such as that suggested by Mr. Miedema on the budget is not wise. The budget should include only those items that are immediately related to the operation of the congregation. Members are asked to pay their budget first and then to live off what remains. Churches that include items such as church picnics, choirs, or even support for young people’s conventions, place an unnecessary burden on those families that are struggling to meet the budget. These other worthy causes should be part of free-will giving as the Lord has blessed us. The only alternative is that members use the budget as a free-will offering.
Besides, it can be questioned whether fancy, million-dollar churches are really necessary. This is the reason many churches separate the building fund from the budget. It’s not wrong to build fancy churches, but we should not overburden already struggling families who have high tuition and cost of living. We should put buildings in the “free-will giving as the Lord blesses us” category.