Dear Mr. Editor:
A grim contrast presented itself in our Standard Bearer between the report of Classis West and the letter of Hamilton’s Consistory in the issue of September 15. It is a contrast which might possibly leave the impression that our churches are working at odds, at different ends,—an impression which should not be left uncontradicted. And an impression it certainly leaves which ought to be cleared up at once and in a proper manner by the common party involved.
I refer, of course, to the contrast between the Rev. Hettinga’s dealings in the vicinity of bur Hamilton congregation and over against Hamilton’s Consistory and the publicly reported fact of Mr. Hettinga’s public reception at the last meeting of Classis West in Oskaloosa, Iowa.
As a member of Classis West and a delegate to the last classical meeting I want to do my part personally in clearing up this matter. I am sure, too, that others share my attitude.
Perhaps this can best be done as follows:
- Although I do not consider this as an excuse for what I consider an evident church political error, it must nevertheless be stated that the undersigned at the time of the classical meeting had no official information as to the schismatic and clearly unethical actions of Mr. Hettinga, as reported by Hamilton’s Consistory. If I had had such facts in my possession, his reception on our Classis would not have gone unprotested.
- I am sorry that the Rev. Mr. Hettinga was ever introduced at our gathering, not because he was given or made use of any opportunity to further his schismatic labors, but because our classis publicly bade him “Godspeed” through the medium of our classical chairman. This should not have been done, especially not by our churches officially; and having learned the facts, I now hereby retract, in as far as that is possible, my “share” of that “Godspeed”. As long as Mr. Hettinga does not return from the evil of his way, he cannot possibly carry away the Lord’s blessing, nor may the church of Jesus Christ bid him Godspeed.
- I believe that future classes should take warning from this incident that no man, whether his reputation among us is good or not, should be officially received by our churches unless he has official business and official accreditation to the meeting in question. That is the church political error to which I referred under “1”. It was simply not the business of the classis to greet and receive the Rev. Hettinga at all. And with the other delegates I hold myself guilty of violating this rule.
- I believe that the Liberated Churches, if they value the efforts toward correspondence at all, must before all else put a stop to the efforts of one of their ministers immediately and repudiate his work. The labors of the Rev. Hettinga are not only unethical and in that way block correspondence; but they are, as long as the Liberated Churches do not repudiate them, a de facto admission, both on the part of Mr. Hettinga and on the part of his churches, that correspondence is impossible between their churches and ours, whatever may be the reason in their opinion.
- Finally, I believe that the Rev. Hettinga should publicly apologize for even allowing himself to appear formally on our classical gathering and to be officially introduced while he himself was well aware of the fact that he had opposed the cause of the Protestant Reformed Churches elsewhere: for we and he must bear well in mind that the cause of the congregation at Hamilton is the cause of all our Protestant Reformed Churches at once. That cause the Rev. Hettinga opposed. And therefore also at our classical gathering he appeared and acted as a schismatic. That calls for apology and confession on his part.
Yours in Christ,
H. C. Hoeksema