As long ago as 1971 Dr. H. Wieringa, who performs pastoral work among the students in Amsterdam, publicly denied in his doctoral thesis the cardinal Reformed truth of Christ’s atonement. He taught what has come to be called briefly “a doctrine of effective reconciliation,” but he denied the truth that Christ bore the wrath of God in our stead. It was not long after the publication of Dr. Wiersinga’s thesis—and he obtained a doctoral degree from the Free University of Amsterdam for this thesis—that his denial of the truth of the atonement became a case pending before the General Synod of the Gereformeerde Kerken. And although in 1972 the Synod of the GKN sent out a pastoral letter to reassure the churches with respect to their adherence to the truth of the atonement, nevertheless it was not until June of 1974 that the Synod finally took a decision with respect to this essentially simple case.
It was sad enough that it took a Reformed Synod so long a time to reach a decision with respect to the denial of this cardinal truth.
It was even more sad, however, that the decision which was reached was, from a Reformed point of view, anything but satisfactory. (For this decision and our comments about it, see the Standard Bearer of August 1974.)
There was considerable dissatisfaction in the Dutch churches about the Synodical decision of June, 1974. c A society known as the Reformed Confessional Council—in my opinion, a rather moderate organization—published an open letter addressed to the Synod, the churches, and the church membership. In this letter it expressed unequivocally its feeling of doubt, concern and responsibility. The letter saw the churches .being led along the wrong path of a dialogue-church and of the forsaking of the confession. Partly through this letter, but partly also on their own initiative, no less than 124 churches, five classes, one particular synod (of Drente) and almost two hundred individual members addressed the synod in writing about this matter. It should be remembered, by the way, that in the Dutch churches the Synod