August 12, 1957
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Rev. H. Hoeksema
1139 Franklin St., SE
Since being in the consistory, I have often wondered about the meaning and the advisability of some of the questions asked in church visitation, and after talking with others including some of our ministers concerning these things, I find that there are many others who are not sure as to the meaning of these questions, and therefore take it upon myself to ask you to answer them in The Standard Bearer.
In the questions to the full consistory, question 15 reads, “Is the congregation busy in the extension of God’s kingdom, especially in the promotion of missions, to the best of its ability? Does this simply mean, meeting its classical assessments? If so, is it not rather superfluous? If there is another meaning would it not be wise to make it clear in. the question itself. I mean by Synodical decision?
Then also I would like to know why must there be questions asked in the absence of the pastor, elders, or deacons? If the Pastor is guilty of negligence in any of the matters asked by the church visitors, would it not be proper that the elders would speak to the pastor, rather than the Church visitors, and if this has been done, and the offense remained would it not be the duty of the consistory to place him under censure? Or even if not, to place him under censure, but to place it before the church visitors why should he not be present? Certainly if I have spoken to the pastor or elder or deacon, whatever the case may be, I should have no fear of speaking to the Church visitors in his presence.
These are the questions I submit to you for your consideration, realizing that our fathers certainly had a purpose in them and their order, and therefore await your answer in The Standard Bearer.
Your brother in Christ, Joe King
1. I do not believe that question 15 simply refers to the fact that the congregation pays its classical assessments. In the first place, it may mean that, in larger congregations, the church may have a missionary of its own and supports him both financially and spiritually, in its prayers and means of encouragements. However, this cannot be done by many of our congregations because they are too small. Nevertheless, the fact remains that our churches have a missionary. And the question, therefore, implies that the consistory knows whether or not the congregation, including, of course, the consistory, reveals a lively interest in his work, prays for him, not only from the pulpit, but also in private prayer, and supports him, not only financially but also in an ethical, spiritual manner. Besides, we have other means to extend the kingdom of God as we, as Protestant Reformed Churches, represent it. Do we talk to others about the truth, and about the errors of 1924? Do we study The Standard Bearer and let others read it or gain subscriptions for it? And do not forget the radio. The consistory ought to know all this anti more arid should be able to answer the question.
2. As to the second question, I fully agree with the sentiments expressed by Mr. King. I, too, fail to understand why the pastor, the elders and the deacons must, in turn, absent themselves from the meeting in order that they may be discussed. I never agreed with this method. Personally, I feel that whatever one has to say about me, whether it be good or, evil, he may say in my presence, and otherwise he better keep still.
But, perhaps, it would not be a bad idea if Creston’s consistory would bring the whole matter to the classis and, through classis, to our synod.