(Because of lack of space, this article has been delayed until this number.—H.H.)
The members of the Protesting Chr. Ref. Church of Kalamazoo, Michigan, were very much surprised on Sunday morning, Oct. 19, to be treated to, what evidently was meant to be a “vindication-sermon” by the Rev. H. Danhof. Preaching on Matt. 12:33, he informed the congregation, that according to his fruit bearing, he is a good tree.
This is a strange affair indeed. Why should a consistory instruct its minister to preach such a sermon?
If anything had been brought against Rev. Danhof this should have been treated by him according to the Scriptural rule of Matt. 18. If this did not bring any result, then it would become a matter for the consistory and, finally, after much admonishing, a matter of church discipline. If it then had been proven that the Rev. Danhof was blameless, the consistory would make an official announcement of the same; this would be very necessary if the matter were public.
Certainly, no Reformed consistory would ever leave it up to its minister to make a “personal” announcement concerning this, or would leave it up to the discretion of the Minister, himself being involved, as to how to make this public to the congregation. But is it possible that this thing was done by the Rev. Danhof on his own accord? This, of course, would be entirely out of order and would call for a reprimand of the Rev. Danhof by the consistory. The consistory has evidently neglected to do this, for in the afternoon sermon there was staged a “repeat performance” in which the “preekstoel” became a “steekstoel.” This sermon must have meant to be the “toepassings preek.” The whole affair was a very negative thing, far from edifying and entirely out of order.
But what did this all seem to be about? Was this “vindication-sermon” meant to be an attempt on the part of Rev. Danhof to clear himself of the accusation done officially by the Protestant Reformed Denomination, semi-officially by our elders on house visitation, and by our elders in private conversation, of being a schismatic and the cause of the separation of our congregation from the Prot. Reformed denominates?
But how could a Reformed consistory instruct its Minister to clear himself that way. Again, whereas this is a public affair, the consistory would have to make an official announcement of the Rev. Danhof’s innocence, if this had been proven by the historical facts. But could it be that this was done by the Rev. Danhof, on his own accord? Again we say, then the consistory should have severely reprimanded its Minister, and prevented a “repeat performance” not only, but informed the congregation of the fact that the Minister had done wrong in his arbitrary way of doing things. Of course we realize the difficulty, of a consistory in an independent congregation, but this does not alter these things any. The consistory has neglected its duty in this affair.
But there is another element yet in this procedure we dislike and call dishonest. It has become a habit by now, that Rev. Danhof and a certain group, like to present this thing, as if it were a matter for or against the Rev. Danhof, and his person, and that everything hinges on him. This we call “beclouding the issue.” What then is the issue? It is this:
According to historical facts, as they are recorded, have we in 1925 been separated from the group that is now called the Protestant Reformed Church. This was done against the will of the elders, who maintained that there was no reason for separation, there was no principal difference. The Rev. Danhof wanted the separation and when the elders maintained the wrong of such a step and did not agree to separation, the Rev. Danhof forced the issue, by threatening to resign from the office of the ministry, if they did not give in. The elders evidently not as strong in faith as they should have been, yielded and without ever giving the congregation a voice in the matter, separated us. These facts are testified to by our elder C. Vander Roest, P. Dyksterhuis and other elders and ex-elders.
This separation we wish to terminate, because it was sinful, it has proven to be detrimental to our congregation, and it is against reformed principles to remain an independent congregation where there are others of the same confession.
This also was the conviction of the sixty-two people (and many more) who presented a petition not so long ago. This petition read as follows:
TO THE CONSISTORY OF THE FIRST PROTESTING CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH OF KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN.
We, the undersigned, members of the above mentioned church, hereby petition the Consistory to call a special meeting of the congregation to discuss the reunion with the Protestant Reformed Church Denomination. We are one in principle with these brethren and the undersigned are against remaining any longer an independent congregation.
To avoid another split in our congregation at the demise of our present minister, and above all for the sake of saving our youth for the Protestant Reformed truth, for which we were cast out from the fellowship of the Christian Reformed Church, and for which cause the Lord privileged us to suffer, we petition the Consistory to give the congregation an opportunity to exercise, without any hindrance, its calling of the office of the believer and to discuss this matter in a brotherly spirit at a special congregational meeting.
The petitioners never received an answer from the consistory. The Rev. Danhof personally gave a so-called “answer” and “exhortation” from the pulpit the Sunday following, an “exhortation” and “answer” which indeed would look ridiculous in print. Again there the action of Rev. Danhof was out of order and the consistory neglected its duty. Let us face the issue. Let the Rev. Danhof and the consistory confess their wrong in separating us, and if there is guilt on the part of the Protestant Reformed Church, let it be proven and admitted, and let us dwell together for our mutual benefit, our spiritual well-being and to the praise of our covenant God.