There is still the unanswered question as to thedoctrinal reason, if any, for severing relationships with the Eureka Classis on the part of the churches of Isabel and Forbes.
If there be no such doctrinal reason surely, when Rev. Mensch left these churches, they might conveniently have returned to the preaching of the ministers of the Eureka Classis. And, let it be stated, that would also be the more natural thing to do. And, further, such would also be their calling!
Now, in truthfulness it must be stated, that, officially in the process of the case of Rev. Mensch, no such doctrinal issue became any matter of discussion. The matter was rather one in which the Person of Rev. Mensch was attacked. And the real issues at stake were beclouded. It was a matter of the teaching of Mensch.
At bottom it was a question of doctrine.
It was the matter of the doctrine of d&&e predestiwtion in the teachings of Mensch!
This was crystal clear to the brethren and sisters in Isabel and in Forbes. This fact of what the issue really was in the minds of Isabel and Forbes is reflected in the official missive which Isabel sent to the Eureka Classis, dated August 8, 1957, from which we quote paragraph 2, c. and d.
“Classis Eureka has virtually thus deprived us of the pure preaching of the Word, the gospel of our salvation, as taught by the Rev. Herman Mensch, and has, therefore, become to us an obstacle in the way of keeping the sabbath as outlined in Question 103 of the Heidelberg Catechism.
“. . . . by depriving us of the services of Rev. Mensch, in withholding financial support, our remaining with Eureka Classis will simply mean acceptance of ministers trained in Seminaries which are quasi-Reformed, since these Seminaries teach their students the Arminian-Pelagian conception of the Gospel. By such preachers we are not willing that our beloved Rev. Herman Mensch be replaced.”
Thus the Consistory of Isabel expressed itself.
These quotations clearly show, that, even though the doctrinal issues did not come into clear and bold relief, in the mind of the Consistory, this was the issue at stake, as far as the effect was concerned.
And the same may be said for the brethren and sisters in Forbes. In a document entitled “Reaffirmation Of Loyalty” the brethren expressed “That it is our calling and privilege to support you, Rev. H. Mensch, with our gifts and prayers, to be faithful members under your preaching.”
I am assured that this “your preaching” referred to thedoctrinal aspect of the preaching of Mensch.
That there was and is a far-reaching difference between the preaching and teaching of H. Mensch and, by far the majority, of the ministers of Eureka Classis became more and more evident to the brethren and sisters in Isabel and Forbes.
Eureka Classis is officially committed only to Heidelberg Catechism. These churches do not subscribe formally to the Canons of Dordt. And in the actual preaching it is very common that even the Heidelberg Catechism is not interpreted according to its own genius and design. More often than not the Heidelberg Catechism is mutilated by a teaching which is either Antinomian or Arminian-Pelagian. Thus it was with ministers, who, I myself have heard, and could name. But I forbear! I have heard but one exception to this rule.
Although H. Mensch did not subscribe to the Canons of Dordt officially, while a minister in Eureka Classis, nevertheless his teaching was motivated by an adherence to the Canons while preaching the truths of Scripture as set forth in the Heidelberger. Thus his preaching stood forth as being specifically Reformed, warring against Arminianism and Antinomism. This in no small way stirred the ire of especially the Antinomists in Eureka Classis, of both leaders and of the people. However, this teaching was the balm of Gilead for those whose hearts the Lord opened to receive it. The Heidelberg Catechism became for them, as never before, a pearl of great price, wherein, the mysteries of faith and godliness are set forth.
This specifically Reformed preaching had meaning for these brethren and sisters.
They desired others to hear it. They organized a Ursinus Society. For they felt that Ursinus excelled over Kohlbrugge in his interpretation of the Heidelberg Catechism. This was especially the case in the truths concerning the “old man” and the “new man” in Christ; it touched the matter of sanctification, and, therefore, also of justification in the final analysis! They learned to see that in Kohlbrugge the “third part” of the Heidelberg Catechism, the matter of “thankfulness” was explained rather in a negative than in a positive sense. According to Kohlbrugge (he gives six reasons) the “third part” was embodied in the catechism as an antidote against licentiousness! However, he did not explain it out of salvation itself! Thus does the Heidelberg Catechism, and thus didUrsinus! These brethren and sisters rediscovered the teachings of Ursinus and of the Heidelberg Catechism under the preaching of Mensch. It was along the “Straight Paths” of the teaching of the Protestant Reformed Seminary. This Seminary did not need to be requested to give a “course” on the Heidelberg Catechism as did the Westminster Seminary in 1956!
Small wonder that these brethren and sisters were enthusiastic about the Ursinus Society.
Had not Professor H. Hoeksema written ten volumes on the Heidelberg Catechism. These writings too were greeted with joy in these churches, both as they appeared in these books and as they came to manifestation in a strong and vigorous preaching and teaching of the Heidelberger.
These brethren and sisters saw the kingdom and took it by force!
They would hold what they have for themselves and for their children!
At bottom, therefore, it is a matter of doctrine in order that the man of God be thoroughly furnished unto every good work.
Can it be accounted “sinister” to tell others to do as they have done?