The Advice of the committee in re the Creston protest is as follows:
“In the light of the above facts and discussion, your Committee gives the Classis the following advice:
“1. That Classis adopt the statement of facts in this case, as expressed under II, A of this report.
“2. That Classis adopt the expression re the main issue of this case, as described under II, B of this report.
“3. That Classis express that Southeast Consistory had no right to receive and accept members into their fellowship who are in an unreconciled state with Creston Church, or any other church.
“Ground: Matthew 5:23, 24.
“4. That Classis express that Southeast Consistory has erred when, regardless of the objections registered by Creston Consistory, they nevertheless accepted as members the J. Doezema family.
“Grounds: Articles 71, 75, and 84 of the Church Order.
“5. That Classis express that Southeast Consistory rectify this matter by rescinding their decision to receive the J. Doezema family, and by instructing this family to reconcile with Creston Church before Southeast can receive them with clean papers.
“Grounds: a. The bond of church unity demands it.
“b. All the articles of the Church Order mentioned above point in this direction.”
Now we must still give the report of the committee in in re the protest of Mr. F. Pipe.
Before we do this, however, I must call the attention of our readers to a closely related matter that, to me, is very important. It appears, namely, that some have objections to the term “schismatics” that appears in the heading of these articles. They seem to adduce the following arguments for their position:
1. Nothing good but much evil can come out of the use of the name “schismatics.”
2. The right of the use of the name “schismatics” must be but cannot be substantiated from the Bible.
3. Even though the fact of schism certainly exists, this does not imply that we should use the name “schismatics.”
Now, as to the first of these grounds, I wish to emphasize that much evil may and does actually come out of avoiding the term schismatics. This is really always the case when one commits the error of not calling anything by its right name. But this is emphatically the case when the church of our Lord Jesus Christ is concerned. First we say that the name “schismatics” should not be used. Then we criticize the use of that name and claim that we had better simply call them Christians. Lastly, we act upon this view and contention, especially also as pastors and consistories and gladly receive these “Christians” in our midst without demanding that they make confession of their sin of schism before the consistory and congregation. And thus we become ourselves guilty of the sin of schism. For no one can deny that those who receive schismatics as members in good standing in their midst, either as consistories or congregations, without proper apology or confession of their sin, take the side of the schismatics and, therefore, have become schismatics themselves. This is the evil that follows from avoiding and condemning the term “schismatics.”
The second of these so-called grounds, namely, that there is no ground in Scripture for the use of the name “schismatic? is entirely without justification. For, first of all, the word schism occurs in Scripture. The term is derived from the Greek word schisma and: meansdivision. It is used for any departure from the body of Christ. Thus we read in I Cor. 1:10: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions (Greek: Schismata) among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” And in I Cor. 12:25: “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.” It is true, of course, that the apostle does not call the members of the congregation of Corinth schismatics.
But there can be no doubt that he would call them such if they did not heed his admonitions. But even if the term schism and schismatics would not occur in Scripture, the idea certainly occurs very frequently. May we not call those that willfully departed from the Protestant Reformed Churches in 1953 schismatics? May we not call those, in 1953 left Classis East in order they might form another church by their proper name: schismatics? Must we call them “Christians?”, God forbid! This certainly is not according to the Bible. Just listen to what our Lord Jesus Christ calls them inMatthew 23: “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrite! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men . . . Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte . . . Woe unto you, ye blind guides . . . Ye fools and blind . . . Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe and mint . . . Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter . . . Thou blind Pharisee . . . Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers . . Even so ye also appear outwardly righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets . . . Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”
If our Lord thus characterized the scribes and Pharisees, called them hypocrites, fools and blind, serpents and a generation of vipers, may we not call those that attempted to destroy our churches by their right name: schismatics?
Do we need more proof from Scripture? Take this then from John 8:44: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
Thus Scripture always speaks. It never camouflages the sin which any man may have committed. Barabbas is called a murderer. The two men that were crucified with Jesus are called thieves, etc. etc.
I will quote no more. It is sufficient for me to justify the title of these articles that calls the schismatics by name.
The third ground, namely, the distinction between the fact of schism and the name “schismatics” is certainly very strange to say the least. Is not the name the same as the fact? Is not the name simply the expression and the manifestation of the fact? This means, if anything at all, that one may say of one that in 1953 separated himself from our churches: he has committed schism; but one may not call him a schismatic. One readily understands that this is sheer nonsense. One also ought to understand that this argument or ground so-called is merely adduced to camouflage the entire matter of the schism of 1953: he really does not believe that those that left us did commit the sin of schism and, therefore, ought to be received back into our churches with open arms and without any form of apology. And why? What is the fundamental reason why one can possibly assume that attitude over against the schismatics? My answer is that he is himself a schismatic.
That, however, the schismatics never were Protestant Reformed has now become very plain. For they all joined the Christian Reformed Church and expressed agreements with the “Three Points.”
The foregoing is entirely in parentheses. And now we return to the main subject of these articles: the protests that were before Classis East.
The protest of brother Pipe was very brief and, therefore, the committee treated it briefly.
I can hardly present it here in an abbreviated form, and will, therefore, quote it in full. Here it is:
“A. Facts in the case.
“1. From the first paragraph of brother Pipe’s protest, it appears that he is appealing to the Classis to ‘establish a united policy in reinstating former members who have left our denomination.’
“2. From the letter brother Pipe addressed to the Consistory of Southeast Church under date of December 12, 1961, it appears that he is protesting the action taken by his Consistory in accepting as members certain families mentioned by him before these families had removed the offence they had created in the churches of which they were former members.
“3. As appears from the answer of the Consistory, the latter did not answer in detail the protest of brother Pipe for the following reasons:
“a. We felt there was no need of burdening the Classis with needless repetition because much of the material in this protest is incorporated in the other protests.
“b. That Mr. Pipe clearly indicated to the Consistory that he was protesting against the spirit of all the other churches involved.
“c. That we would like to remind the Classis that Mr. Pipe did not protest against the Doezema family acceptance until four (4) months after we had taken action.
“4. Your committee learned that brother Pipe was a member of the Consistory of Southeast until January of this year, and therefore was in the Consistory when these families were accepted.
“Main issue in this case.
“After studying the protest of brother Pipe and the answer of Southeast’s Consistory, your committee concluded that the brother does not agree with the stand his Consistory maintained when it received the families in question as members of Southeast Church. He feels that those families should first be reconciled with the churches of which they were former members.
“Moreover, your committee also concluded that brother Pipe is desirous that the Classis adopt a uniform policy that may be applied to all those that left us in the split of 1953 but who now desire to return to our churches.
“It appears therefore to your committee that brother Pipe is asking for the same things that the Consistory of First Church and that of Creston Church asked in their respective protests, and that if the Classis adopts the advice your committee has given in respect to the protests treated above, brother Pipe will have exactly what he wants.
“C. Our advice in this matter.
“1. That Classis express that it agrees with brother Pipe that the Consistory of Southeast Church erred when it accepted members into their fellowship who are in an unreconciled state with other of our churches.
“2. That Classis express that it agrees with brother Pipe that the families in question should first be reconciled to those of our churches of which they there former members before they can be reinstated in any of our churches.” Here follow the signatures of the committee.
This report was virtually adopted with a few minor alterations.