In an article which appears in the Banner of March 21, 1947, the consistory of the Grace Christian Reformed Church (formerly the congregation of the Reverend H. Danhof) acquaints the readers of the Banner with the installation service of their pastor, the Rev. G. Gritter. We would quote the following excerpts from that article which we believe should not pass unnoticed:
“On November 1, 1945, the Grace Christian Reformed congregation was officially united with the Christian Reformed denomination. Measures were soon taken to obtain a new pastor so that the congregation could enjoy the normal activities of a well-established Christian Reformed Church. . . .The sermon was delivered by the Rev. John Gritter, older brother of the pastor. He spoke convincingly on Jeremiah 23:28: ‘What is the chaff to the wheat?’ He developed the theme that God communicates His word to His prophets, and the faithful prophet must convey this word to the people without adulteration. As the mixing of wheat with chaff spoils the wheat, so God condemns the mixing of truth with error. The application is obvious. . . .We would be remiss if we did not express our sincere appreciation also, to Rev. Henry Danhof, our emeritus pastor, for his services in the midst of the congregation for many years. It is our prayer that he and Mrs. Danhof may enjoy the evident fruits of their labors and God’s manifold blessings in the sunset of their lives. We acknowledge with thanks the many friendly messages and expressions of good will which we received from faithful friends within the denomination who felt that the ideal of true Christian love is best developed in unity—unity in Christ!”
This official statement of the consistory should certainly dismiss any doubt which might exist as to the identity of this congregation. It is a normal5 Christian Reformed Church. To be sure, it should be superfluous to call attention to this rather obvious fact. However, the undersigned knows of members in that congregation who have maintained the impossible position that the reunion of this congregation with the Christian Reformed Church has occurred upon the pre-1924 basis. It has been declared that this reunion has been affected on the condition that this congregation was to continue if that interpretation of the truth which has characterized her and which has been taught her since 1924 by the Rev. IT. Danhof, yea, that the pastor which they called was not at all obliged to preach and to teach the official doctrine of the Christian Reformed Church. Well may these members now sit up and take notice when they read this official declaration of their own consistory. We will not at this time inquire into the meaning of the word “normal” in the above statement to which we now refer. Did the congregation until now lead an abnormal Christian Reformed life? This would be true. We must remember that this congregation had always remained a Christian Reformed Church. The name implies this, does it not, “The Protesting Christian Reformed Church.” A protesting Christian Reformed Church is surely a Christian Reformed Church. As such this congregation had certainly led an abnormal life. Be this as it may, the consistory now declares that “the congregation now enjoys the normal activities of a well-established Christian Reformed Church.” A normal Christian Reformed Church is surely not a church which belongs to the Christian Reformed denomination but continues in her own interpretation of the truth and that in opposition to the teachings of the Church whereof she is a member.
My second observation is based on the installation sermon which was delivered on the evening of January 28, 1947. I do not wish to criticize the sermon. To the contrary I would emphasize his remarks. How important it is that the preacher of the Word of God convey the word of God to his hearers without adulteration ! The chaff must not be mixed with the wheat, the lie with the truth. Such is the calling of every preacher of the gospel, also of the Reverend G. Gritter. It seems to me that I can easily hear the Reverend Danhof preach on this topic, in 1924 and during all the years which have followed. How the former shepherd of this flock would proclaim unto his hearers that the chaff must not be mixed with wheat, the lie with the truth! And very boldly and clearly this minister would expose this chaff, this lie. He would call attention to the Three Points of 1924. He would denounce the teachings that the gospel is an offer of salvation, grace to all that hear, that sin is checked within the life of the individual sinner, that the natural man can do good before God without the regenerating operation of the Holy Spirit. I can hear him say, as he said in 1924, that, before God and His Church, he cannot remain silent, but that he must expose the errors which the Synod had adopted in that fateful year. And now? How the times have changed! The Rev. J. Gritter preaches on this text in Jeremiah at the installation of his younger brother. Ho declares that his younger brother must not mix the chaff with the wheat. But, when he speaks of the chaff and the wheat he surely means that the Three Points belong to the wheat. Has not this congregation begun to enjoy the normal activities of a well-established Christian Reformed Church? Does this hot imply that the Reverend G. Gritter will preach and teach the congregation as a true servant of the Christian Reformed Church and that he will thereby fulfill his pledge when, for example, he signed the Formula of Subscription? The chaff has become wheat. The lie has become the truth. The Three Points have become the pure gospel of the Word of God. How is it possible that the entire congregation can swallow this corruption of the evening of Jan. 28, 1947?
My third remark is based upon the joy of the consistory because of the attainment of the ideal of true Christian love which is best developed in unity, the unity of Christ. These are high-sounding but empty words indeed. It is quite evident from the rest of this article of the consistory that the unity which has been achieved is the unity of the Christian Reformed Church. True unity, of course, is the unity whereof the apostle speaks in the fourth chapter of his epistle to the Ephesians. The true unity in Christ is surely a unity in the truth. A denial of the truth is certainly also a denial of the Christ. Be this as it may, this unity of the Grace Christian Reformed Church is a unity of the Three Points. This congregation will henceforth cooperate to the fullest extent (she intends, does she not, to “enjoy the normal activities of a well-established Christian Reformed Church”?) with the Christian Reformed Church in the proclamation of the gospel, also as expressed in the official teachings of 1924. And by cooperating in that manner with the Christian Reformed Church she will more and more experience that “blessed unity which is the requisite for the development of true Christian love.” This, if you please, is the official statement of the consistory. But, I pray, what, then, have we here? This congregation could have had this unity twenty three years ago. Then the Christian Reformed Church gave birth to the Three Points and declared them to be the true expression of our Confession. Then the unity between this congregation and the Christian Reformed Church was destroyed. By whom? By the Christian Reformed Church, upon the basis of this article of the consistory? But, the unity which has been achieved is a unity of the Three Points. Hence, the one who wickedly broke this “blessed unity” is none other than this congregation with her consistory and her pastor. One may well call this statement of the consistory unbelievable. The Rev. H. Danhof stands indicted here by his own consistory of the sins of schism, and we know what our Communion Form declares of those who raise discord in the church as well as in the state. In 1924 the Reverend Danhof, together with his consistory and congregation, declared that not he but the Christian Reformed Church was the cause of the breach, that not he but the Christian Reformed Church had departed from the truth of the Scriptures, and that therefore not he but the Christian Reformed Church had committed an act of schism. And now the consistory expresses its joy upon the attainment of the true expression of Christian love which is best developed in unity. If this statement of the Grace Christian Reformed Church means anything the Reverend H. Danhof should cover his face in shame, and the entire congregation should confess her grievous sin of having committed the sin of schism upon which, we read, the wrath of God abideth.
My final comment is based upon the consistory’s expression of appreciation to the Rev. H. Danhof for his services in the midst of the congregation for these many years. I am sure that the Rev. Danhof felt highly flattered when he received this word of appreciation. The consistory and the congregation certainly showed him their appreciation for the services which he rendered in the midst of that congregation. I know of no more miserable way to show appreciation to a pastor than by repudiating whatever he has taught. The consistory is very appreciative to Rev. H. Danhof. For what? For his emphasis upon the truth which they now reject. He has labored among them these many years. He preached against the Three Points. Fact is, he preached against the Three Points even while the negotiations for reunion were in progress. He was deposed by the Christian Reformed Church because of the emphasis which he laid upon the truth. And what does the consistory do now? They thank him for his many labors and, at the same time, politely tell him that from now on they will be instructed in the very things which the Rev. Danhof has condemned and exposed as the lie ever since 1924. We may well be dumbfounded because of this expression of appreciation. Is it serious? A tree shall be known by its fruit. It is mockery to thank a pastor for all that he has done and at the same time reject the very things for which he stood.
God will not be mocked. The action of the Kalamazoo Classis which negotiated this treaty of peace has been done. Her actions are known to the living God. The actions of this congregation with its consistory are also known to that Living God. We, the now existing Protestant Reformed Churches, loved our Mother Church in 1924, did not seek the schism, loved the Church and the unity of the Church, and therefore protested against the teachings of the Three Points which we believe must undermine the very foundation upon which this unity rests. The stand of the Christian Reformed Churches is again plainly revealed in the same Banner of March 21, page 380, in the article of Martin Lamaire and the footnote of the editor of the Banner. We wish and pray that many in the Grace Christian Reformed Church may see the error of their ways, may continue in their struggle for the truth for which they suffered and sacrificed in 1924-1925, and stand shoulder to shoulder with us unto the glory of Christ, the King of His Church, Who loves the truth and hates all rejection of it.