REFORMED CHURCHES IN NETHERLANDS PRONOUNCE JUDICIUM ON WIERSINGA CASE
In the RES NEWS EXCHANGE NEWS LETTER of Vol. XIII, No. 4, April 6, 1976, page 1157 appeared the following news item:
(Grand Rapids) The Synod of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (GKN) issued a pointed resolution on the so-called “Wiersinga case,” which it has had before it for the last few years. It upheld and sharpened its earlier statement of 1974. Dr. H. Wiersinga’s attempt to involve man in the ministry of reconciliation, it repeated, was commendable. But, it went on to utter its judicium, namely that Wiersinga’s conception “not only does not do justice to the work of reconciliation . . . but thereby also denies the gospel’s source for the ministry of reconciliation.” The synodical decision called the doctrine of Christ’s suffering under the wrath of God in our stead so fundamental that it could not admit Wiersinga’s denial of it. The synod also expressed its expectation that Wiersinga’s consistory will see to it that such a denial of this doctrine will not occur and that it will oppose it.
In the discussion preceding the resolution Dr. H.M. Kuitert introduced a motion to forestall action and keep the discussions open with Dr. Wiersinga, but this was defeated. He compared the judicial proceedings of the church to those behind the iron curtain because the prosecutor and judge are one and the same. Citing a survey that claimed that only 66% of the members of the GKN still conceive of God as a person, Dr. J. Firet lauded Dr. Wiersinga’s emphasis upon a God who identifies and sympathizes with man. Dr. G. Th. Rothuizen, too, made an appeal for further consultation: at issue, he said, is not the substitutionary atonement itself but only the nature of the substitution.
Others, such as H. van Benthen and B. Rietveld saw in Wiersinga’s view a clearly deviant conception whose existence challenges the Reformed character of the church. No one wished to start the process of discipline, in the sense of excommunicating Dr. Wiersinga, but it was pointed out that justicial doctrinal discipline (the application of sanctions) is the last resort by which the church attempts to keep someone within the communion. Dr. J. Veenhof said the intention was to build bridges and to make a Christian appeal to Wiersinga. Dr. Verkuyl spoke in the same vein and made an eloquent appeal to Wiersinga to reconsider his position; he pointed out that although various of Wiersinga’s colleagues have spoken words in defense of him, none of them has tried to-defend his theological position.
First of all, this report states that “Dr. Wiersinga’s attempt to involve man in the ministry of reconciliation was commendable.” This we do not understand. Dr. Wiersinga is a heretic. Also, according to this report, the Synod “went on to utter its judicium, namely that Wiersinga’s conception ‘not only does not do justice to the work of reconciliation . . . but thereby also denies the gospel’s source for the ministry of reconciliation.'” How can a heretic’s involving of man in the ministry of reconciliation be commendable?
Secondly, this report states that no one wished to start the process of discipline, in the sense of excommunicating Dr. Wiersinga. However, we read inTitus 3:10: “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject.” We will not comment at this time on the resolution introduced by Dr. HM. Kuitert.
Thirdly, what must one say of the results of the survey which was cited by a Dr. J. Firet, that only 66% of the members of the GKN (Gereformeerde Kerken of the Netherlands) still conceive of God as a person? Was the entire membership of these churches polled? To deny that God is a person means that they deny God. 34% of this membership deny God? If this be true, how terrible!
REV. HENRY VANDER KAM’S ANALYSIS OF THE LAST TWENTY-FIVE YEARS
In THE OUTLOOK of April, 1976, Rev. Vander Kam writes on events and trends in the U.S. in the past twenty-five years. We need not quote the entire article. We quote the following:
Would someone who had been out of touch with the Christian Reformed Church since 1951 recognize that church today? Would he feel at home in this communion? I believe the answer would be “Yes” to both questions. Of course, things have changed, but that fact in itself is not cause for alarm. Time brings its own changes naturally.
Yes, I do believe that a person who had been out of contact with the Christian Reformed Church since 1951 would still recognize this church and feel at home in it. We still maintain our Confessions. We still bow to the same Lord and listen to His Word. In many ways we have made tremendous progress. But, let us not be blind to the dangers which threaten to take away everything we hold dear.
Articles of this nature are of no help to the Christian Reformed Church. Yes, it is true that the writer of this article speaks of reasons for concern. We need not quote these reasons. But, the undersigned considers it striking that this writer does not lay his finger upon many departures from the Word of God and the Confessions which plague that church today. Indeed, he mentions certain trends and conditions in that church. But, he is confident that a person who has been out of touch with the Christian Reformed Church since 1951 would still recognize that church today and feel at home in it. He is also confident that that church still maintains its Confessions. And that church has also made tremendous progress during these last twenty-five years. How can he write this? That church has given a life appointment to Prof. H. Dekker who believes in Christ’s universal atonement and has publicly declared that he is not in agreement with the Canons of Dordt. How about REPORT 44? How about the fact that the authority and full inspiration of the Scriptures is being denied? And the decision on Homosexualism? And also the possibility of women officebearers in the church? And a child of God? who loves the church, is able to feel at home in that church? Indeed, an article of this nature does not do the Christian Reformed Church any good.
Under VOICES in the Banner of April 16, 1976, page 21, appears a very brief article, entitled “Reviews Rebuked.” We quote this article:
In regard to the movie review (9/12/75), we feel that this article was completely out of place in The Banner.
An article as this seems like an invitation to attend entertainment of this sort. The Banner should be used to promote God’s kingdom, and to help guide us to live in a manner pleasing to God. At the very least, the articles should be character-building.
This brief article was submitted by a men’s society of Platte, South Dakota. We agree. I did not read the movie review to which this article refers. I assume that this review spoke favorably of movies. If this society of Platte, South Dakota, condemns movies, we surely concur. I fear, however, that this society is engaged in a losing battle.
CALVIN SPONSORS “ARTS IN WORSHIP” CONFAB OCT. 2-4
The Association of Christian Reformed Laymen, in its News Bulletin, No. 68, April, 1976, has the following article, page 3, under the above heading:
How do dancing, drama, music, film, architecture, and visual art fit into a worship service? A three-day conference at Calvin College will attempt to answer that question through lectures, sectionals, and an innovative vesper service.
The conference, scheduled to begin the evening of October 2, is one of the many events celebrating Calvin’s centennial.
Specificity will be one of the major characteristics of the conference, according to Tom Ozinga, professor of speech, and coordinator of the Planning Committee. “Suggestions will be practical and specific,” he promised.
Three keynote addresses will be led by Donald J. Bruggink Nicholas Wolterstorff, and James Young, in an attempt to stimulate thought from a Biblical perspective.
Bruggink is Professor of Historical Theology at Western Theological Seminary. . . .Wolterstorff, professor of philosophy at Calvin, will also speak Thursday evening. . . .Young, Professor of Speech and Director of Theatre at Wheaton College, will speak Friday evening on “Theatre and Worship: The Priestly and the Prophetic.”
This conference, mind you, is one of the many events celebrating Calvin’s centennial. This must set forth, I assume, what Calvin College stands for and why it came into being one hundred years ago. I suggest to the men’s society of Platte, South Dakota, that they take notice. Perhaps this conference will show how wrong these things are. After all, these three keynote addresses will attempt to stimulate thought from a Biblical perspective. Even so, why should such a conference be necessary? I call attention to what we read in our Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 35. Question 98 reads: “But may not images be tolerated in the churches, as books to the laity?” And Answer 98 reads: “No: for we must not pretend to be wiser than God, who will have his people taught, not by dumb images, but by the lively preaching of his word. Understand, this conference will deal with the question how all these things fit into a worship service. Why hold this conference to discuss this subject? Lord’s Day 35 gives us the proper guidelines.