In an editorial of the April 15 number of our Standard Bearer, the Reverend G. Vos deplores the action of Classis East because the Classis did not accompany her rejection of Creston’s proposals with a single ground. To deny this fact as such is, of course, not the intention of the undersigned. However, we would call the attention of our readers to the following observations.
The consistory of Creston, as the editor correctly states, presented an overture at our recent Classis. This overture, and an unbiased reading of the document will sustain me in this assertion, was in reality a protest against certain actions of our 1947 Synod. The document is rooted in the many voices of protest against and displeasure with the 1947 Synod which, and I quote, “went on a spending spree and did pretty much as it pleased.”
Moreover, this writing of Creston fails to advance a single ground, does not cite a single act of Synod, fails to lay the finger upon one solitary action of said Synod. Creston fails completely to prove Synod’s “misuse” of our ecclesiastical funds—to go on a spending spree is certainly a misuse of these funds.
Thirdly, when I am accused of “going on a spending spree or doing pretty much as I please”, must I prove myself innocent or is it not proper that I be proven guilty?
Hence, why was it necessary for Classis to formulate grounds when, actually, Creston presented nothing which could be refuted?
The document of Creston also asserts that “Synod makes all kinds of important decisions and financial commitments about which the local churches have nothing to say, unless it would be by way of protest.” And the discussion on the floor of our recent Classis was such that the idea was advanced that our people should not be ignorant of these Synodical actions before these actions are taken. But, is this assertion of the Creston consistory true?
We all understand that the document of Creston refers primarily to the increase of our ecclesiastical assessments because of the synodical action with respect to our missionary activity and our theological school program. However, again the consistory fails to mention one concrete fact. Is it true that the action of the 1947 Synod fell upon our people as “a bolt out of the blue”? On pages 42, 82, and 83 of the Acts of Synod of 1946 we may read of the proposals to have two missionaries instead of one and also of the expansion of our school. To be sure, it is beneficial to discuss these matters publicly in our church papers. The undersigned is surely of the conviction that such a public discussion is a sign of a healthy spiritual life m our churches. Yet, what Synod did the last year did not fall upon our people as a complete surprise. All our people may avail themselves of these Acts of Synod and thereby renew acquaintances with our synodical activities. And finally, it belongs to the jurisdiction of Synod to supervise our Mission activities and regulate the affairs of our Theological School—also from this viewpoint the 1947 Synod did not exceed her bounds, “do pretty much as it pleased”, but acted in matters which belong to her supervision.
A third matter upon which the undersigned would comment concerns the reaction of many of our people to the increase of our synodical assessments. This increase is the chief cause of the complaint. The document of Creston expresses this literally. I do not write this now because I would criticize the consistory of Creston or because I feel that this complaint also reflects the personal conviction of this consistory. Creston had the courage to bring this matter into the open and present in the form of an overture what has been expressed by many of our people. Personally, the undersigned has heard no complaints about the increase of our assessments. But Creston’s consistory declares that a good many of our people have expressed dissatisfaction even to the extent of accusing the Synod of 1947 of having gone on a spending spree.
If the increase of our assessments is the cause of our complaint, I believe, too, that the document of Creston, as far as its content is concerned, is a serious matter. It is serious, not because of the reason for the complaint as such. These complaints, in my opinion, are shallow and superficial. But, these complaints are serious because many of our people have the boldness to complain. Over a period of several years, I understand, our mission assessment amounted to the staggering sum of exactly ONE DOLLAR a family per year. Did we complain then? Then we should have complained! That meant that we were doing exactly that much for mission work. Then we should have felt extremely ill at ease. Now we must pay $12 a year per family (since then Fuller Ave. has assumed the expense of one of the missionaries) and a certain sum for the expansion of our school. What of it?! I challenge anyone to show me worthier causes than mission work and the training of prospective ministers. O, if we wish to complain, let us please never lament because it costs too much. The Synod of 1947 acted as she did because she had faith in the future, in our future, in our future as the Cause of the living God. Are we complaining because we must pay? God forbid! Let such a man among us examine himself, repent, and learn to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Such is our calling; may we not be found wanting.