For several years our synodical Committee for Correspondence with Foreign Churches has been in contact with the Deputies for Correspondence of theGereformeerde Kerken with a view to some kind of official relationship. Last year, however, upon advice of the Committee, our Synod decided to break off these efforts. At the same time, the Synod instructed the Committee for Correspondence to draft a suitable letter of admonition to the Gereformeerde Kerken. This; letter was presented to our 1971 Synod and approved. It is being sent by our Stated Clerk in behalf of Synod.
Because we believe this letter will be of general interest to readers both within and outside of our churches, and because the stand of our churches is in sharp contrast with the position, or lack of position, of others, we publish this letter in full. It is as follows:
Synod of the Gereformeerde Kerken,
c/o Deputies for Correspondence with Foreign Churches
For some years now we have been in correspondence with your Deputies ad hoc concerning the possibility of official relations between your denomination and ours. There has been some discussion between us concerning the question whether this contact should take the form of what we call “limited correspondence” or what you call correspondence in the “broader sense.” As of this date no conclusion has been reached about these matters, and no official contact between our denominations has been established.
However, our Synod has now reached the conclusion that we shall discontinue the seeking of contact with the Gereformeerde Kerken. Our reasons are as follows:
1. The Gereformeerde Kerken have shown little inclination to seek contact with us, as is evident from the fact that we have heard nothing further from the Deputies ad hoc. We can hardly escape the conclusion that there is really very little interest on the part of the Gereformeerde Kerken in maintaining any contact with the Protestant Reformed Churches and in establishing any official ties.
2. Official contact with the Gereformeerde Kerkenwould have very little meaning in the light of the fact that their Synod has changed its mode of meeting to one of extended and continued sessions. This would make virtually impossible the exchange of fraternal delegates: it would be a practical impossibility for a delegate visiting the Netherlands to remain and to act in an advisory capacity for the lengthy sessions of synod. In explanation of the preceding, we realize that up to this point our discussion has been only concerning limited correspondence. Nevertheless, ideally such limited correspondence would look forward to eventual full correspondence; and such full correspondence as it involves the exchange of fraternal delegates would, under the present arrangements as to synodical meetings in theGereformeerde Kerken, be a practical impossibility or a meaningless formality.
3. Above all, it is our conviction that theGereformeerde Kerken have increasingly revealed themselves as an apostatizing denomination, so that from the point of view of the Protestant Reformed Churches correspondence is no more desirable as an expression of responsible ecumenicity. In substantiation of this, we point, in the first place, to the fact of the reversal of Assen-1926 by the Synod of Amsterdam 1967-68. In the second place, we point to the fact that the Gereformeerde Kerken have decided to join the World Council of churches. We see this as an act of apostasy and as an expression of false ecumenism, as a making of common cause with apostate and apostatizing denominations, as the putting on of an unequal yoke with unbelievers. In the third place, there is the fact that various liberal and heretical teachings are tolerated by theGereformeerde Kerken. In this connection, we may point to the decision of the Synod of Sneek, November, 1970, in which the Synod declared that the denial by Dr. Kuitert of the historicity of the fall is contrary to a portion of the decision of Amsterdam, 1967-68, and thus contrary to the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 3 and 4, and the Netherlands Confession of Faith, Articles 14 and 1.5. We point, further, to the fact that according to this same decision Synod recognized that even at the very Synod of Sneek there were those who agreed with Dr. Kuitert’s views. And we point, too, to the fact that Synod nevertheless failed to take any disciplinary action with respect to these admitted errors. In the fourth place, we point to the fact that the Gereformeerde Kerken have officially repudiated parts of our Reformed creeds, the creeds which are not their private possession but the common heritage of all Reformed churches. Specifically, we make mention of the decision concerning Question and Answer 80 of the Heidelberg Catechism and to the decision concerning the teachings of the Canons of Dordrecht with respect to eternal reprobation.
In the light of the preceding, it appears to us that the Gereformeerde Kerken have already departed and are continuing to depart from the true Reformed position and in the direction of false ecumenism. And whereas correspondence, even of limited scope, surely requires that there be both a basis of essential confessional agreement and also the hope and possibility of moving closer to one another, we can no longer, in all seriousness, see the desirability and the propriety of having or seeking official correspondence with theGereformeerde Kerken.
However, we would not leave matters at this bare statement of position. We also want you to know that we of the Protestant Reformed Churches are both deeply saddened and sorely offended by the turn of events in your denomination—the more so, because of the rich heritage which we have inherited from the Reformation by way of the Netherlands, and also because of the fact that for many years the Gereformeerde Kerken have been recognized as a bastion of the Reformed faith. And therefore we also feel called to admonish you earnestly concerning your serious apostasy from the true Reformed position. We would remind you of the fact that according to the Heidelberg Catechism (Question and Answer 54) the church gathered by the Son of God is a church “agreeing in true faith.” We would point you to the fact that your present course is surely not in harmony with the articles concerning the church in our Belgic Confession (Art. 27-29), and particularly not in harmony with the article concerning the marks of the true church. We would remind you, too, that your present course of action is not in harmony with the strong provisions for purity of doctrine in the Formula of Subscription.
Finally, we would point you to Scripture itself in this connection. We would poin
t you to the fact that your present denominational conduct is not in harmony with the description of the church of the living God, as “the pillar and ground of the truth.”
And we would point you to several passages of Scripture which emphasize the calling of the church and of the saints to maintain the truth of the Word of God and not to depart along the path of false doctrine—a calling which is the more urgent in the light of the fact that we are evidently living in the last times. Does not Scripture warn “that we be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive?”
And does not Scripture teach us to speak tile truth in love,
that we may grow up into Christ our head in all things? Does it not teach us to “hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus?”
Does it not admonish us to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,” and does it not warn against the creeping in of false teachers?
Does not Scripture warn us also not to receive and not to bid Godspeed to him that brings not the doctrine of Christ?
And does it not admonish us not to put on an unequal yoke with unbelievers?
All these warnings are the more emphatic in the light of the fact that we are evidently in the latter time, which, according to Scripture shall exactly be characterized by departure from the truth of the Word of God and by the rise of false teachers and false Christs.
And so, in conclusion, in all humility, as we declare that we cannot in good conscience continue to seek correspondence with you under the present circumstances, we feel duty bound to admonish you urgently in the name of Him Who walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks, to repent and to return from your present course of apostasy to the tried and true way of our Reformed faith according to Scripture and the Confessions.
Yours in the cause of the Reformed faith,
Synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America
Rev. Dale Kuiper, Stated Clerk