Contribution. . . .
The following article was prepared and sent in to us by a very good friend of ours, the Rev. J. Howerzyl, pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Oskaloosa, Iowa. We welcome this “guest-writer” to our column, for this issue. At the same time we invite any others among our ministers or laymen who desire to do so, to write on any subject of interest to the Church in general. Even suggestions for articles will be welcomed and treated by us if at all possible. Let’s hear from our readers.
WEIGHED AND FOUND WANTING!!
From the “Banner” of July 11 we quote the following: “Inasmuch as the Ecumenical Synod decided that the delicate question which other denominations should be invited to send delegates was left to the decisions of each member-Church with respect to the denominations in its own land, our Synod had to decide which Churches in America should receive the invitation. It was decided to invite the following: Orthodox Presbyterian Church; Free Magyar Reformed Church; Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, in America; The Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod; The Associate Presbyterian Church.”
Whether or not the name of the Protestant Reformed Churches was mentioned as a possible recipient of an invitation to the next Reformed Ecumenical Synod is not mentioned in this article. (Although I have it from a delegate that we were mentioned). Neither do I mean to imply, although this is undoubtedly true, that the Protestant Reformed Churches were judged by the Synod of the Christian Ref. Churches and found wanting. Rather do I mean that by this action the Second Reformed Ecumenical Synod, as acting through her official invitation committee (The Synod of the Christian Reformed Churches) has been weighed and found wanting! She will not be a Reformed Ecumenical Synod!!
This I say advisedly. For the Protestant Reformed Churches are Reformed. They stand on the basis of Scripture as interpreted in the Three Forms of Unity, without addition or corruption. Besides, it must be evident that, in as far as preaching, teaching, church polity and discipline are concerned, this Reformed confession is vigorously maintained. This is so evidently true that in the absence of objections I shall not take time to prove it. And yet there is no room for our Churches at the “Second Reformed Ecumenical Synod”. Therefore, I repeat, she is weighed and found wanting because reasons other than Reformed confession and walk motivated the issuing of invitations to this “Second Reformed Ecumenical Synod.”
All the more striking is this decision in view of the fact that in the same issue of the Banner we have a brief report of the decision of the Synod to remain affiliated with the National Association of Evangelicals, an admittedly Arminian group. We quote the report: “For the first time the delegates of Synod to the national convention of this Association failed to present a unanimous report. Two of the members (in a Minority report—J.H.) could not see their way clear to recommend that we continue our affiliation with the organization, the principal reason being that in certain localities this organization is sponsoring evangelistic campaigns and that since the messages usually are Arminian our Church becomes co-responsible for this type of gospel preaching. . . . The Advisory Committee favored the recommendation of the Majority Report. It admitted that a large majority of the members of the N. A. E. are Arminian but called attention to the acceptable character of the seven-point creed of this organization as a basis for cooperation among evangelicals. Synod decided to continue our membership in the N. A. E.”
When we thought of these two decisions we were reminded of the text from: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” and I mused: “No Reformed fellowship possible with the Protestant Reformed Churches, yet well able to work together with an admittedly Arminian N.A.E.” What other conclusion can you draw?
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”.
To this text which applies to churches as well as individuals our mind turned when we read a third matter which was treated by the Synod of the Christian Reformed Churches, that of Inter-church correspondence. We quote, “First, it adopted a form letter which will be sent to all churches of Reformed persuasion inviting them to enter upon or resume fraternal relations with our Church. This letter proposes that the “correspondence” shall consist of the following activities:
1. The appointment of delegates to each other’s supreme judicatories. (Supreme judicatories in Reformed Churches?—J.H.)
2. Keeping each other duly informed of their ecclesiastical decisions through the exchange of the Acts of Synod or Assembly.
3. Bringing to each other’s attention “our spiritual and ecclesiastical problems together with our attempts at their Scriptural solution. . . .
4. Warning each other in respect of spiritual dangers that arise and spread and imperil the Church of Christ.
5. Correcting each other in love in the event of unfaithfulness whether by commission or omission on the score of profession and/or practice.
6. Consulting each other regarding the eventual revision of our respective ecclesiastical standards. After approving this letter, Synod decided to which Churches to send it. The following will receive it: The Orthodox Presbyterian Church; the Reformed Church of America; the Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America; Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod; Associate Presbyterian Church; Free Magyar Church in America; Christian Reformed Church in the Netherlands; Die Nederduitsch Gereformeerde Kerk in South Africa; The Christian Reformed Church in Japan; and the Free Presbyterian Church of Australia. . . . Synod also decided in send a copy of the letter to the United Presbyterian Church. . .
That there are commendable features in the above, n articles 3 and 4 and especially in article 5 is evident. Once more however the commendable features are overshadowed by the fact that the Protestant Reformed Churches are here even excluded from the group “all Churches of Reformed persuasion”. May I kindly request the Christian Reformed Churches to apply, in the spirit of the love of Christ, article 5 to us?