I cannot refrain from acquainting our readers with a protest that was sent by those that call themselves the consistory of the Orthodox Protestant Reformed Church. I publish this protest because its contents are quite Protestant Reformed as far as it goes. Perhaps, this is the reason for the postscript at the end of this document.
The protest is meant for the schismatic Synod. I understand that it has already been before their classis in January, that, however, the discussion about it was not finished and that, therefore, it will be brought up again at a special meeting of classis in February.
I will first publish the entire protest and, at the end, make a few remarks.
Here, then, follows the protest:
I. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
1. When was the Second Prot. Ref. Church of Grand Rapids reorganized?
It was never reorganized: for the consistory always continued through the deacons Engelsma and Swart. It is true that according to Art. 38 of the Church Order, when a consistory is to be constituted for the first time or anew, this shall not take place except with the advice of Classis. However, the Second Prot. Ref. Church of Grand Rapids was not constituted anew.
2. What took place, then?
A meeting was called of the congregation by the consistory as it then existed, to elect additional elders and deacons. This meeting was presided over, at the request of the consistory, by the Rev. H. Hoeksema. This took place on……………….. 1953, and was approved by Classis East of the Protestant Reformed Churches at the meeting of………………………… At this meeting the Consistory of the Second Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids was duly represented by delegates received by the Classis.
3. Why did this action become necessary? Because the Rev. Blankespoor and the majority of his consistory became schismatic.
4. What do you mean by schism and schismatic?
Schism is departure in principle and/or practice from the standards of the church of which one is a member, thus creating a deviating group; which action is judged and condemned as such by a proper ecclesiastical assembly. Accordingly, a schismatic is one who is properly found guilty of such action.
5. Why do you say that Rev. Blankespoor and the consistory members that followed him were schismatic?
Because at the meeting of Classis East of the Prot. Ref. Churches, Oct. 6-9, 1953, Classis decided to put the Rev, Blankespoor before the following questions, to which his answer was negative.
“1. That we ask the Rev. Blankespoor to declare that the action of Classis East whereby they seated the Rev. C. Hanko and elder G. Bylsma as the legal delegates from the Consistory of the First Prot. Ref. Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan was not schismatic.
“2. That he will consider the above-mentioned action of Classis settled and binding, and, therefore, will consider the above mentioned delegates from the First Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the legal delegates, so that he can work with them at the sessions of Classis, until he, at the next meeting of Classis, has proved from the Word of God and the Church Order that they are not the legal delegates.
“3. That in case he refuses thus to declare himself, he has violated the Church Order, forfeited, by his own action, the right to be seated as delegate from the Consistory of the Second Prot. Ref. Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Classis East.”
Furthermore, the majority of the Rev. Blankespoor’s consistory supported him in this negative answer, and thus, by the same token, became schismatic. Hence, they were legally unseated and ousted from Classis East.
6. How can you further show that Blankespoor and his consistory members were schismatic?
In the first place, by their refusal to abide by the decision of Classis, even with the right of protest and appeal. They lost all right of appeal, nor did they ever attempt to appeal to Synod. And in the second place, by the fact that the Rev. Blankespoor and his elders and others that agreed with their schismatic action organized an independent classis, in which he was associated with the schismatic De Wolf.
7. Can you prove this from the Church Order?
Yes: cf. Articles 31, 36, 84.
8. Is there further proof?
Yes, for the Rev. Blankespoor et al are associated with the Rev. De Wolf and his group in an independent synod. At synod they are supposed to express agreement, according to the Public Declaration of Agreement, which reads as follows:
“All the congregations of these churches believe all the books of the Old and of the New Testaments to be the Word of God, and confess as the true expression of their faith the Thirty-seven Articles of the Confession of the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands, formulated by the Synod of 1618-19, together with the Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of the Dordrecht Synod against the Remonstrants (Arminians) .
“In conformity with the belief of all these congregations, we, as members of their Synod, declare that from the heart we feel and believe, that all the articles and expressions of doctrine, contained in the three above named confessions; jointly called the Three Forms of Unity, in all respects agree with the Word of God, whence we reject all doctrines repugnant thereto; that we desire to conform all our actions to them, agreeably to the accepted Church Order of Dordrecht, 1618-19, and desire to receive into our church communion everyone that agrees to our confession.” Church Order, page 63.
However, De Wolf, with whom Blankespoor was and is associated in this synod, had already been declared by Classis East to be out of conformity with the confessions mentioned in this Agreement. Hence, their synod was and is an independent synod, and not the Synod of the Prot. Ref. Churches.
9. Is there more proof?
Yes, we can refer you to the Formula of Subscription, the last paragraph of which reads as follows:
“And further, if at any time the consistory, classis or synod, upon sufficient grounds of suspicion and to preserve the uniformity and purity of doctrine, may deem it proper to require of us a further explanation of our sentiments respecting any particular article of the Confession of Faith, the Catechism, or the explanation of the National Synod, we do hereby promise to be always willing and ready to comply with such requisition, under the penalty above, mentioned, reserving for ourselves, however, the right of an appeal, whenever we shall believe ourselves aggrieved by the sentence of the consistory, the classis, or the synod, and until a decision is made upon such an appeal; we will acquiesce in the determination and judgment already passed.”
Now remember that the Rev. De Wolf was schismatic, and was already condemned as such, together with several of his elders, by Classis East, and that he was suspended and his elders deposed by the Consistory of the First Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Nevertheless, the Rev. Blankespoor took their side at the meeting of the October session of Classis East, of the P. R. Churches (Oct. 6-9), refused to abide by the decision of Classis, according to which De Wolf and his elders were ousted from the Classis, and never attempted even to appeal.
II. CHURCH ORDER
That the Prot. Ref. Churches have the Presbyterian form of church government is plain from the Church Order, Articles 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 36, 53, 58, 62, 68,76, 79, 84.
III. THE LEGAL SYNOD
1. How is the Synod of the Prot. Ref. Churches constituted? It is constituted of 8 delegates (4 ministers and 4 elders) from each of the two classes, East and West, of the P. R. Churches.
2. Who must now be considered to be the true and legal Synod of the Prot. Ref. Churches? Only those that adhere to the confessions of the Prot. Ref. Churches and to the Church Order of Dordrecht.
3. Do Blankespoor and his consistory meet with this requirement?
No, because they agree with and support the schismatic, Rev. De Wolf and his elders, who according to the decision of the First Prot. Ref. Church of Grand Rapids, Mich., and of Classis East of the Prot. Ref. Churches were in disharmony with the confessions and violated the Church Order.
4. Can those that organized as a new Classis East of the Prot. Ref. Churches after they were ousted from the proper Classis East be considered as belonging to the Synod of the Prot. Ref. Churches?
No, for all their actions reveal that they disagree with the confessions of the Prot. Ref. Churches and that they violate the Church Order.
5. But do they not claim, together with the schismatic Classis West, to constitute the Synod of the Prot. Ref. Churches proper? They do, but wrongly so. For:
1) The Rev. De Wolf and his would-be consistory had locked the doors of the building in which the Synod of 1953 in its continued session of March 10, 1954, was supposed to meet to several of the delegates to that Synod.
2) The same would-be consistory had ousted the Theological School, which is a synodical institution, from the building of the First Church, in whose basement the school always had met. They gave notice of this in the following communication to the Rev. Geo. Lubbers, Sec’y of the Theological School Comm.: “In re your request for our reaction to the use of our building for Theological School purposes, the consistory decided that whereas two of the faculty of our school are considered by us to be schismatic, we cannot grant the use of said building as long as said faculty members are retained.” w.s. Consistory, 1st Prot. Ref. Church, S. De Young, clerk. Remember that these faculty members were the Revs. G. M. Ophoff and H. Hoeksema, who had been maintained officially not only by the Theol. School Committee, but also by Classis East of the Prot. Ref. Churches.
3) Already on March 6, 1954, before the meeting of said Synod, Classis West had sent a communication to Classis East in which they declared the following: “By your separatistic action it has become impossible for us to meet with you synodically and to show you your error.” In another communication, sent by the same Classis West, this time to the Synod of the Prot. Ref. Churches, dated March 5, 1954, they write to us as follows: “From a notice in the last Standard Bearerit has come to our attention that you purpose to hold an alleged synodical meeting on March 10 in the Fourth Church instead of meeting with us in the Fuller Ave. Church as decided by Synod.
“We come to you brethren, deeply deploring this action of yours, and informing you that, since you have terminated all deliberation, to go your own independent way, you lose, all right to call yourselves and to function as synod of the Prot. Ref. Churches. (DKO. 30 and 31). Hence, we also inform you brethren that we and not you have the right to meet as Synod.”
Remember that this same Classis West supported and maintained throughout the schismatic Rev. De Wolf and his schismatic consistory, that had been suspended and deposed by the Consistory of the First P. R. Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and that had been condemned by Classis East.
4) Their own record shows that at their would-be synod , only the eight original delegates of Classis West (which had already declared itself as supporting the schismatic De Wolf) plus 1 alternate delegate from Classis East, Mr. S. Bouma, appeared. But this Mr. S. Bouma had already been ousted from Classis East and was already member of a new and schismatic Classis East.
5) According to Article 315 of the Acts of their so-called Synod of March 10, 1954 (cf. page 341) they allowed the Rev. De Wolf, who was declared to be outside of the Prot. Ref. Churches to present them with information about their newly organized Classis East, to which De Wolf, Knott, Kok, and Blankespoor belonged. According to the same Article 315, they also gave these ministers “opportunity to formally express in writing” the grounds for their action of setting up a new Classis East. This, of course, was impossible, illegal, and schismatic. Synod could only recognize the original and proper Classis East. In the same Acts, Article 346, they appointed Blankespoor on a committee, even though they had testimony from these men themselves in their “Declaration of Continuation” that he had been ousted from Classis East, and even though no protest against this action of Classis East had been delivered to synod. Besides, throughout their Acts (cf. Articles 312, 315, 322) this would-be Synod simply refers to the schismatics as Classis East throughout.
6) Besides, ever since 1953-54 the so-called Classis West and the schismatic Classis East have met together in synodical sessions under the name of Prot. Ref. Churches, to which they have no right whatever, although the Superior Court of Grand Rapids and the Supreme Court of the State of Michigan has denied the Rev. De Wolf and his consistory the right to the name of Prot. Ref. Church.
6. Who, then, is the legal Synod? The legal Synod are those that maintain the confessions of the Prot. Ref. Churches and adhere to the Church Order, as was maintained throughout by Classis East of the Prot. Ref. Churches. Besides:
1) Only they had delegates both from Classis East and Classis West. For Mr. John Dotter was an original alternate delegate to the Synod from Classis West, which no one had ever protested.
2) Not only so, but at the meeting of the continued Synod in March, 1954, at Fourth Church, meeting there because the building of First Church had been closed to several of the delegates of the Synod, the roll was properly called, and no one of the schismatics responded.
3) Finally, we must not forget that the First Church was the calling church, and that it had properly issued a call to Synod in The Standard Bearer, in which such announcements are always made.
1. The reader will agree with me that the above is a thoroughly Protestant Reformed document. When you read this, you cannot help but wonder why, in 1953, the schismatics left the Protestant Reformed Churches. And when a split has once become a fact, history teaches us very plainly that it is well-nigh impossible to heal the breach. Of course, we are very willing to receive them back again but only on the basis of confession of their sin. It is impossible for us simply to re-unite as churches for we may not recognize them as such. Hence, we must ask them to confess their sin and thus return to us.
2. You may have noticed that I wrote above this document that it is Protestant Reformed “as far as it goes.” This means, of course, that it does not go quite far enough. I have in mind now especially the conditional Theology of De Wolf C.S. Do they still agree with this? It seems almost impossible in view of the fact that they deny the “Three Points” and the well-meant offer of grace and salvation. With this a conditional promise certainly does not agree. Yet, on the other hand, they still maintain De Wolf and that seems to mean that they also agree with his heretical preaching as it was concentrated in the two well-known statements that were condemned by Classis East. Those statements, as you will remember were: 1. “God promises to everyone of you eternal life, if you believe”; and 2. “Faith is a prerequisite to enter the kingdom of heaven.” No Protestant Reformed person can possibly agree with this conditional theology. And so, the question: do the authors of the document still maintain this?
3. The statement that the De Wolf’s signature does not mean that he agrees is as ambiguous as many of his statements I have heard of him in the past. One can make most anything of it. And, therefore, I prefer to make nothing of it. The only thing I will say is that, personally, I would not sign any document if my signature had to be ambiguous, negative, and without any meaning.