Retirement of Ministers
I am writing in response to the editorial of Professor Dykstra in the June issue of the Standard Bearer. In this editorial, Professor Dykstra states that, given a goodly number of graduates from the seminary in a couple of years, Lord willing, and very few openings in the churches, “one option is to push ministers in their low to mid-sixties into early retirement? (Vol. 91, No. 17, 390).
…The church order makes no provision for early retirement of ministers. They may seek emeritation when they reach a point in their lives when they can no longer do their work for health reasons or because they reach an age when they can no longer function in the office of minister. There is no early retirement clause anywhere in the church order for the clergy. Being a pastor and teacher in the churches is, or at least has been, a lifelong calling.
…The people of God have always believed the scriptural assessment that “the fields are white with harvest, but the laborers are few.” …The Scriptures say nearly nothing about retirement, let alone early retirement, and do not address the early retirement of ministers.
Eric J. Ophoff
Brother Ophoff and I do not disagree on this. In the editorial from which brother Ophoff quotes I was reflecting on the Synod of 2015, and encouraging the churches to view the large class of seminarians as a God-given opportunity for the PRC to call more missionaries. Ministers ought not retire so long as they can properly do the work (and we all recognize that judgments need to be made in regard to a man’s labor). My concern is that pressure may be put on the older ministers to ask for emeritation earlier than they otherwise would, in order to make room for seminary graduates.
The recent article that appeared in the Standard Bearer regarding vaccines raises important spiritual and moral questions that need to be examined more closely. For the last year I have been studying this issue in the medical and scientific literature. Although the author’s claims are in line with the popular and widely held beliefs of the day, many of his claims are questionable and fall apart upon examination and application of critical thinking.
If vaccination is merely a matter of personal choice, then perhaps it does not matter whether we examine these claims and beliefs. However, if, as the author suggests, vaccination is a matter of obedience to the command of God to love the neighbor, then a closer look is absolutely necessary. Further, this topic raises other spiritual questions that urgently need answering.
One such question is the issue of whether or not vaccines contain aborted fetal tissue. The author says in regard to this: “This simply is not true.” But immediately following this statement he explains that it is, in fact, true. A simple Internet search of fetal cell lines currently in research or production for vaccine use yields evidence that this practice is on-going with new and “improved” cell lines being created now. To verify this, simply do a Google search of these terms: WALVAX 2, PER-C6, HEK293. These are aborted babies—more than the two the author mentions—that are being harvested for vaccine production. They are not the only lines, but merely examples of a few.
Another problem with the article is the claim that “herd immunity” can be achieved with vaccination. If we are going to claim that vaccination is a matter of loving the neighbor, then we need to understand what “herd immunity” is. There is a difference between the immune protection afforded by natural infection and the weak, temporary “immunity” provided by a vaccine. We know vaccines are temporary because we have been required to have boosters. Because vaccine-induced antibodies are temporary, “herd immunity” cannot be achieved through inoculation, since many of the “herd” at any given time are in need of boosters.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made, and what we know about the workings of our complex immune system is only a small beginning. The obvious problem with the theory of vaccination is that it is based on an extremely oversimplified view of how the process was designed to work. A proper understanding of the physical, spiritual, and moral implications of attempting to eradicate the effects of sin with vaccination requires more than a cursory glance at these issues.
Based on the biblical principle of Proverbs 18:13, we are cautioned of the folly of “answering” a matter before “hearing” it…. May we strive to examine these issues with wisdom, balance, and discernment. A starting place would be on YouTube with the lectures of Dr. Suzanne Humphries.
[This is] in response to your good article “A Christian Doctor’s Perspective on Vaccines,” in the Standard Bearer, vol. 92, No. 1, 11.
…In the late 80s and early 90s I was a prisoner…[and] received a flu shot. Within a couple of hours I was all but unconscious with a very high fever that didn’t break for six days…. Soon thereafter it was discovered that I had developed the chronic, insidious autoimmune disorder hypothyroidism, as well as an adrenal gland problem that tormented me for years. To this day, decades later, I don’t feel that I’ve ever fully recovered from the effects of that flu shot—and do struggle very greatly every day of my life.
I will mention that God meant it for good, for through the many years of dreadful process He was reforming me to His Word and to the Protestant Reformed distinctives, faith, and tradition that I love.
…Perhaps I got a bad shot when most are beneficial.
…My experience causes me to fear about these for the families of the saints, and I felt compelled to share from many years of increased hardship that I feel strongly and certainly can be traced to a flu shot vaccine.
We recently read the article in the Standard Bearer entitled, “A Christian doctor’s view on vaccines.” For many reasons this article made us very upset and disappointed. We understand that this issue concerning vaccines is a very heated one on both sides of the debate, even among medical doctors. But the scientific proof of the great harm of vaccines is amply established. The arguments he wrote in the Standard Bearer are easily refuted. Some things he [Dr. Decker] wrote are simply not true. For those of us who have seriously researched vaccines, our consciences bind us against vaccinating. It is out of love for the neighbor that we do not vaccinate and that we militate strongly against this dangerous practice. We do love our neighbor and do not appreciate…the insinuati[on] that we are sinning when we do not vaccinate. To vaccinate or not is an issue of Christian liberty, about which the government and the church may not make judgments. It is our prayer that this topic will remain the decision of the parents and that God would be glorified through that liberty.
Greg and Monica Zandstra
Couer d’Alene, ID
We appreciate the Standard Bearer allowing an opportunity to respond to Dr. Brian Decker’s perspective on vaccines, published in the October 1, 2015 issue.
We disagree with Dr. Decker’s understanding of vaccines. We believe the readers deserve to be presented with an opposing, scientifically based view.
We have been following the vaccine debate for several years. Arguments against vaccine effectiveness continue to surface, uncovering the errors of the pharmaceutical industry. That industry has over many years cunningly gained the public trust regarding vaccines (also drugs), while concealing vaccine harms. This is a most grave and complex issue; vaccines are increasingly foisted on to the public as the way to prevent disease. The industry’s escalating promulgation of vaccines, compels us to share our findings, which document errors of the “science” promoting them.
Providentially, qualified people have begun to question the theory regarding vaccines; these people have researched the past history of vaccines along with pertaining published medical journals and peer-reviewed studies. We offer a few pertinent links for your examination: an association of professionals questioning vaccines;1 research explaining the science of epigenetics (environment of the cell), the microbiome of the bowel and its bacteria, and how vaccines work against the body.2 We also offer a link to a research foundation whose research educates about health, including gut health (vital for immunity) with explanations of food composition, proving the importance of nutrient-dense foods.3
Kevin & Lois Inskeep
Before my original article was written, I informed the editors that it was my preference not to respond to any “Letters to the Editor.” As a long-time reader of the Standard Bearer, I have never particularly cared for this practice. To me, it feels like the original writer always gets the last word. Because of this, I am not going to respond to most of what has been submitted. However, I would like to clarify a few things.
The sentences about fetal tissue could have been clearer, and I did not intend to be misleading. When I used the word “tissue,” I referred to it in the medical sense, that is, a group of cells that perform the same function (for example, skin tissue or heart tissue). The vaccines that develop in the human cells do so by using the material found inside the cell.
More importantly, I absolutely believe deciding whether or not to vaccinate is within the realm of Christian liberty, and is ultimately the parents’ decision. If readers of the original article have the impression that I believe it is sin if you withhold vaccination, then I was not clear enough. The point of the last few paragraphs is that we live in a community, the members of which we are called to love. The community includes both our children and neighbors. Because the decision of whether or not to vaccinate could have an effect on the members of that community, our calling to love the neighbor should be considered (the word “consider” was deliberately used in the original).
Finally, the title of the original article is important. It was my perspective at the time of publication. It certainly is not the only perspective as the printed letters reveal, and the debate includes both physical and spiritual matters. In such cases, individuals are guided by their conscience that must be rooted in God’s Word. May we all appreciate that as we make decisions as Christians living in a wicked and depraved world.
—Dr. Brian Decker
2 http://drsuzanne.net/videos (Dr. Suzanne Humphries, a doctor specializing in internal medicine and nephrology). https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCqmzJIoo52a7bqx-CuuZSIw/feed (Dr. Humphries’ personal channel).