Questioner: Rev. H.C. Hoeksema
Answers by: Rev. H. Hoeksema
Question: Why was this meeting called by the Committee for Protestant Reformed Action, and why were all our ministers with the exception of one, and all our consistories bypassed ? Doesn’t that look very suspicious?
Speaker: Well, that’s up to my son to answer. I’ve no business there.
Chairman: It’s been mostly answered. The purpose of the meeting is plain tonight: it was called for information. Bypassing the ministers and consistories? That has nothing to do with the matter. The organization is free. We did not bypass them either. Every minister was informed and asked to announce it, and he had the right, if he wanted to and as I understand some did, to bring it to their consistories before they announced it on the bulletins. They were invited as well as the members of the churches to be present here tonight. And they’re invited if they wish to go along with us in our Committee for Protestant Reformed Action still, as we invite all of you who wish to support us in this work.
Question: Here’s the next question: Rumors have it that you said at the mass meeting in Grand Rapids that too many people went along in 1924, that you are not interested in numbers, etc. I would like to know: 1) How do you explain that in those days you traveled all over the country, wherever you found an opening, and organized various churches and were willing to accept almost anybody without asking any questions as to their doctrinal soundness? May we have a little light on this? 2) Is it true that you are not interested in numbers? If so, how come you are here out West right now?
Answer: Both questions can be answered very easily. The first is not true. Anyone that has heard me from 1924 on here in the West knows very well that that is not true. I never asked people to organize as churches before they understood the doctrine, before they understood our position against the Three Points and against the doctrine of common grace. I remember in those years I spoke for two hours and a half in a stretch to explain to the people again and again and again the doctrine of the Three Points. Did I ask for people, for members? Did I ever look for members? I did not. I say before you and before God that that was never my purpose. The same is true of this meeting. You think I came here to gather people? I told you again and again this evening that I didn’t. I want you to know the truth, and then make your own decision. I thank you.
Question: Did you and Rev. Ophoff vote on the evening of June 22, and thus voted in your own case?
Answer: I did not. I did not vote in my own case. That was the case of the elders and the Rev. De Wolf, as had already been decided by the Classis. It was no longer a case of me. It was a classical decision. And as” soon as it became a classical decision, I certainly as elder had not only the right but the duty to vote. And I did.
Question: Why were the 11 elders and Rev. De Wolf not notified of the consistory meeting which .you called together on the evening of June 23? Doesn’t that look bad for the public for our churches?
Answer: I already explained that, I think, didn’t I? The reason why they were not notified is simply that it was not necessary to notify them at all, because they had already voted against their own suspension.
Question: How can you people defend before the churches, before God, that you deposed an elder from his office who had scarcely served in the consistory for 2 days and with whom you never had labored?
Answer: I explained that too.
Question: Why do you not read the apology of the Rev. De Wolf without all your own additions and explanations?
Answer: Well, that’s my business, I think. I read the apology literally and faithfully. And with my own comments, as I will make them anytime, anywhere. It certainly is . . . I have the right to explain to you why that apology is no good. That’s certainly my right. Certainly is. ”
Question: Does not the Bible read, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”? Am I not directed to work out my salvation with fear and trembling? These questions are asked removed from the context, as you accuse Rev. De Wolf in removing his statements from their context.
Answer: I don’t know what that means. Of course, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved? I’ll preach on that if you want me to. In fact, I think if I may preach on that, I’ll preach on that next Sunday in Doon,—if they let me preach; I don’t know whether they will. But otherwise I’ll preach on that very text. That’s very beautiful text, by the way. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you’ll be saved. Do you think that means the same thing as saying, “God promises everyone of you salvation if you believe”? Can you discern? Of course, if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Listen. Maybe I won’t preach on it Sunday. Maybe I won’t preach Sunday. But if I’d preach on it now, I’d say this: If I say, “Believe,” it means nothing. Don’t forget that. I say to you, “Believe,” and to you, “Believe,” and to you, “Believe?” Has no effect. No effect upon the elect. And no effect upon the reprobate. No effect at all. But if Christ says, “Believe,”—not I, but Christ, as was the case with the Philippian jailer, thru the preaching of Paul. If Christ says, “Believe,” then that preaching has a two-fold effect. Upon the elect it has the effect that they will believe, as the jailer did. And upon the reprobate it has the effect that they become mad and hardened, and aggravate their judgment. That’s what Christ says, not when I say anything. So, if I ever preach on that, then you can depend on that, I’ll preach on it in that light. I thank you.
Question: Two more questions: Is it always necessary for a consistory to abide by decisions of Classis? That’s the first one.
Answer: No. But, if the matter is serious, as was in this case, and, if then the consistory would not abide by the decision of classis, then, of course, the only course of action to take is that they separate themselves, after they have appealed to synod, and synod has justified classis,—the only way is that they separate themselves from the churches. Or, that the churches express that since they do not abide by the decision of the major assemblies, they are no longer of the Protestant Reformed Churches.
Question: This is the last one: Some seem to be of the opinion that the consistory meeting where Rev. De Wolf and the elders that stood with him were suspended was an illegal meeting, as they had not called the Rev. De Wolf and the elders. What is the church political procedure on such a particular case.
Answer: There is, as I said, there is nothing in the Church Order that calls for a meeting with the elders that are to be deposed and the minister that is to be suspended,—there’s nothing in the Church Order that requires anything of the kind. And as I said in my talk, or in my answer, there are plenty examples, historical examples, to the contrary.
Speaker: Well, is this the last?
Chairman: That’s all.
Speaker: Well, brethren, I hope that you have not found me personally offensive. You cannot say that. You cannot go out and say that I was offensive. I was not. I avoided personal enmity, malice, and hatred. There’s nothing in my heart that even has anything to do with it. All my purpose was that you may be acquainted with the case. Nothing else. Please bear that in mind. Bear that in mind. Please consider the question itself. And if you come to the conclusion that I’m all wrong, all right. Same good friends, but not in the same church. Remember that. I said in my introduction, “I’m not looking for converts. I’m not looking for crowds. I’m not looking for numbers.” It’s up to you now. I’ve done my best. I have it off my conscience. It’s up to you to decide. I’m very glad, nevertheless, that you came. It’s always disappointing when people are not even interested to know the truth or to judge the truth. For that reason I’m very glad that you came. I thank you for your attention. And I say to you, “God’s blessing. Good-bye.”