In his preview of Synod 2008 in the June issue Prof. Dykstra gave a one sentence review of a number of appeals. This review was sandwiched by what amounted to two full paragraphs of his opinion of the appeals. In the first place I am not quite sure it is appropriate that a preview of Synod contain colorful editorial commentary concerning appeals that will subsequently be treated by the Synod. Of more concern to me is that the author let his apparently strong opinion shine through on the matter while presenting very little factual information concerning the appeals themselves. Perhaps the readership would like to know what is really going on instead of being given only the opinion of the author on the conclusion of the matter.
That aside, I do find it rather unsatisfactory that an editorial in a Reformed periodical boldly proclaims who would be dumbfounded as if this were some kind of argument and should give cause for the appellants to retreat. This is a very nice appeal to our emotions and traditions but his purpose would be better served if he appealed to the Word of God. Tradition is great but it isn’t the rock on which we stand.
Reference to the name of Satan as the great divider works against his argument as well. Must the author be reminded what our only weapon against the Tempter is? When division threatens do we look for succor to our traditions or the Word of God?
Brother Hoekstra’s apparently strong opinion comes through loud and clear in his letter. The three paragraphs to which he objects are as follows:
The right of appeal to a broader assembly is also a blessing for the church in many ways. It provides a court of appeal to those who believe they have been wronged, rather than allowing a problem to fester in a congregation without hope of resolution. It enables other wise counselors to examine the issue. It helps safeguard the church from abuse of power. In dealing with appeals, synods must by all means give a fair hearing to the appellants and seek to make wise judgments. Appellants must come with a willingness to listen, and then to abide by the decisions.
This year, six appeals re decisions of Classis East fill 175 pages of the agenda. Much of this is supplementary material. Michigan However, excessively long protests and appeals are not helpful to the assembly or to the cause of the appellant. Concise appeals are. An appellant submitting a long document should expect that an assembly will deal with the central issues, not with every jot and tittle of his appeal.
All the appeals are related to Article 21 of the Church Order and the obligation resting on consistories concerning Christian schools. This controversy would dumbfound the men who laid the foundations for Protestant Reformed schools, and who laid the bricks and mortar of the buildings some sixty years ago. May God grant wisdom to the delegates, and grant that Satan not be able to use this to divide the members of the PRC. Rather, may it be the occasion that leads to a better understanding of the consistory’s calling as expressed in Article 21, and a recommitment to Protestant Reformed schools.
Let the reader judge.