Seeing that at the time when this Standard Bearerleaves the press, I expect, the Lord willing, to be in Lynden, Washington and that, most probably I will have little opportunity to write, I offer the following instead.
There was a moment at Classis East in Apri1 1953 when the classis felt obliged to censure me because of certain expressions I made on the floor of the classis.
To this censure I replied in the following document.
I am sure that, since the matter was quite public, there is nothing wrong in giving it further publication here.
Besides, all our churches are interested in what transpired at Classis East, and what I state in the following document about cesspools of corruption has since become more evident than ever. H.H.
April 15, 1953
Classis East of the Prot. Ref. Churches, Convened in Hudsonville, April, 1953.
Apart from my suspension and deposition from the office of a minister in the Christian Reformed Churches in 1924-25, it was the first time in my entire ministry, whether in the Christian Reformed or in the Protestant Reformed Churches, that I was ever censured. I want you to know, brethren, that I consider this very serious. Any form of ecclesiastical censure is the beginning of excommunication. If, therefore, you are not playing with terms, and not making a mockery of church discipline, the classis will undoubtedly have to continue the way which they commenced to follow yesterday. And if I do not repent, which I will not, the classis will have to make the case pending with my consistory, and ask that I be excommunicated from the Prot. Ref. Churches. I must also express my surprise that the classical censure was imposed upon me in such a cold, unchristian, and unbrotherly way. A mere motion was offered and passed to censure me, and the classis through its chairman did not even address to me one single word of admonition, and try to bring me to repentance for my sin. However, the censure was nevertheless imposed. And seeing it is such a very serious matter, I certainly have the right to defend myself against whatever charge the classis holds against me. And seeing that I am the defendant in this case, I beg the classis to attend unto my plea, and let me finish it to the end.
The classis considered itself in duty bound to censure the undersigned: 1) Because he accused the Rev. Kok and his consistory of lying, and, 2) Because he supported the Rev. Ophoff in his statement that our churches were in need of a cleaning out of cesspools of wickedness. Now, in the first place, brethren, i cannot understand why the brother that moved it did not offer his motion to censure me when on Friday last (April. 10) I offered my advice to the classis why the protest of Mr. Kortering should be treated at this present classis. For in that advice I said the same thing as the Rev. Ophoff did in his document which he read to the classis in the forenoon of April 14. And I quote: “When this part of the protest is treated, it will, undoubtedly, appear to classis that the Rev. Kok and his consistory of speaking some very serious untruths, not to say deliberate lies, I need not enumerate them here, but I will mention them when the protest is discussed. I ask, brethren, must not the Rev. Kok and his consistory wholeheartedly confess these untruths, which now have become public, before the Rev. Kok can even preach and lead his congregation in public worship, and before the consistory can properly function as overseers of the church in Holland? Remember that, according to the Heidelberg Catechism, lying and slander belong to the very works of the devil.”
The term untruth and lie mean the very same thing, according to the dictionary, except that the one is perhaps of a little harsher sound than the other. Yet the classis let this pass, and no one made a motion to censure me. In the second place, I want to call the brethren’s attention to the fact that the term lie andlying is as such certainly not objectionable. The classis cannot possibly censure me for using that term as such. For in the first place, it is a thoroughly biblical term, as biblical as the very opposite, truth. And in the second place, it is a confessional term. As to the first, I refer to Ephesians 4:25: “Wherefore putting away lying, I speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.” And in Col. 3:9: “Lie not one to another, Seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.” But I need quote no more. For you are all acquainted with the fact that, the Bible frequently speaks of lying, and admonishes the people of God not to lie, either against the truth or against one another. And as to our confessions, I but quote to you Lord’s Day 43: “That I bear false witness against no man, nor falsify any man’s words; that I be no backbiter, nor slanderer; that I do not judge, nor join in condemning any man rashly, or unheard; but that I avoid all sorts of lies and deceit, as the proper works of the devil, unless I would bring down upon me the heavy wrath of God.” Hence, certainly the classis can have no objection against the use of the term lie, lying, or lies, as such. It must be, therefore, that the classis was of the opinion that when I made that accusation, I either had no sufficient grounds for it, or was myself speaking an untruth. The burden of proof, therefore, now evidently rests upon me, although I am convinced that after the reading of the minutes of Holland’s Consistory and the reading of the protest of Mr. Kortering, the classis itself was certainly in a position to know that when I made that accusation I spoke the truth.
The question may be asked, first of all, what is meant by lying, or to lie? In general, I would say that a lie is not a statement based upon ignorance of the facts or upon a mere misconception. But I would rather define it as a statement that pretends to be the truth while one knows that it is an untruth. When, therefore, I accuse the Rev. Kok and his consistory of lying, I must prove to the satisfaction of classis that they knew the truth, but deliberately misrepresented it. As to the statement of the Rev. Ophoff which I condone, that we must clean out cesspools of wickedness, or of corruption. If we would prevent our churches from going to the rocks, there certainly can be no objection to that language as such either. By a cesspool I understand a cistern or vault that is constructed or designed to receive some filth or sedimentary matter. The figure therefore means a collection of moral corruption that is permitted to accumulate and to rot, and that must be cleaned out. I am also convinced that it is high time that we began to clean out such cesspools among ourselves.
And now for my proof. I wish to point out the following.
1. The Rev. Kok and his delegate lied when they left the impression upon the classis that the consistory had decided that the protest of Mr. Kortering was not legal because the consistory had not had sufficient time to treat it.
2. I claim that the Rev. Kok was lying when on the floor of the classis he said that the whole consistory was amazed and dumbfounded and that it struck them as a thunderclap out of a clear sky when on the 12th of December Mr. Kortering lodged his protest with the consistory and demanded the suspension of the Rev. Kok.
3. I claim that the Rev. Kok and the consistory are lying when they emphasize that Mr. Kortering had a wrong conception of church polity, so that he was of the conviction that the action of suspension of a minister must not initiate with the consistory, but with classis and synod.
4. I claim that the Rev. Kok started a cesspool of corruption when in the old country he sold our Prot. Ref. Churches down the river.
5. I claim that the Rev. Kok added to the same cesspool when later he constantly agitated for Liberated doctrine and against the Declaration of Principles.
6. I claim that the Rev. Kok added again to the cesspool when, probably in conjunction with others, he searched all my writings to find passages in which I mentioned the term condition, although I can plainly prove that from the very start of my ministry till the present time I never believed in conditions.
7. And finally, I wish to make a few remarks about a cesspool of slander especially about me in terms that sometimes smell literally of the cesspool.
First of all, then, I claim that the Rev. Kok and his delegate lied when they made the classis in its January session believe that the consistory had decided that the protest of Mr. Kortering was illegal because the consistory had not had sufficient time. In the first place, it certainly is not true that the consistory did not have sufficient time to treat the charges which served as the grounds of Mr. Kortering’s protest. In a letter addressed to Mr. Kortering, and dated Jan. 26, 1953, the consistory states: “Whereas the consistory was given but one evening in which to discuss and weigh the justice and righteousness of your demand, namely at its meeting of December 18th.” I quote this from the answer by the consistory of Holland, which was read in our classical meeting in the forenoon of April 8, 1953. This is evidently not true. For Mr. Kortering himself states, and I quote from his protest of December 12: “And since after repeated warnings by us as individual officebearers, as well as other sources in the midst of our churches, brother Kok still insists on preaching and teaching his conditional theology as we have revealed in this protest, as well as his public writings in our church papers.” And from his protest to the classis I quote the following: “These brotherly warnings and admonitions by the elders took place on what Rev. Kok was publicly writing in these papers, during the period following the adoption of the Declaration by our synod, and before Sept. 7th, 1952. On Sept. 7th Rev. Kok openly took this same controversy, which was still continuing in these papers, to our pulpit.
“That, brethren, must be clearly understood.
“Therefore, on Sunday morning, Sept. 7th, 1952, immediately after the service, I objected to Rev. Kok introducing to our pulpit, his conditional theology controversy, which He did that morning by expressing his own opinion. My objection caused division among the elders and the pastor, as to what Rev. Kok said in that sermon. Because of my objection, and the division that resulted, Rev. Kok himself issued the statement hereinafter referred to, and delivered copies of it to all the elders.
“I received a copy of this transcript, shortly after dinner that same Sunday from the hand of Rev. Kok himself. I studied this transcript, and immediately proceeded to ground my objection, by submitting to consistory for study, examination, and consideration, my written opinion, on what Rev. Kok had preached that morning, and as he gave it to us in writing. This document was officially received by consistory a few days later on Sept. 12th, 1952. This written opinion was the ground why I objected to Rev. Kok introducing his conditional theology controversy, in the official preaching on our pulpit. This document after being received for information was given in the hands of our pastor for study and examination till our next elders’ meeting held on Oct. 9th. This was practically a whole month. The document was returned to consistory on the Oct. 9th elders’ meeting, without any comment from our pastor. After this the Oct. 9th and the Nov. 13th elders’ meetings were spent in discussing conditions, with the pastor taking the defensive, and continuing to defend his conditional theology. In between these two elders’ meetings, at which only elders were present, we had our regular consistory meeting at which the deacons are with us, this was on Oct. 3rd 1952. This meeting was theSunday before the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. At this meeting during censura morum, I told the consistory, that in partaking of communion I reserved the right to protest on the basis of my opinion in the hands of the consistory for consideration at that time.”
I will quote no more. From the document read by the Rev. Ophoff on the morning of April 14 we heard how very serious the objections of Mr. Kortering were. So serious indeed that if the pastor were guilty of the charges laid against him by Mr. Kortering, suspension and. deposition would surely have to follow if the pastor did not repent. All these charges were therefore present at the consistory since September 12th, and discussed repeatedly, so that certainly it is not true that the consistory had but one evening in which to discuss and weigh the justice and righteousness of Mr. Kortering’s demand. It is therefore not true that they did not have sufficient time to treat the matter in hand.
Besides, we have heard from the minutes that the consistory could go no further, that they were deadlocked, and that therefore as far as the consistory is concerned the case certainly was finished, and the only thing Mr. Kortering could do was appeal to classis.
Finally, it is certainly not true that the consistory by an official decision had declared that the protest of Mr. Kortering at the classis was illegal on the ground that they had not had sufficient time to treat it. There was no such decision of the consistory whatsoever. And therefore I maintain that when the Rev. Kok nevertheless took it upon himself in the presence of his fellow elder to state that this was the decision of the consistory, or to leave the impression with the classis that the consistory had so decided, he and his fellow elder were guilty of a statement which they knew was not true.
The same grounds I offer for my second claim, namely, that the Rev. Kok lied when he stated that when Mr. Kortering offered his protest to the consistory, the whole consistory was amazed and dumbfounded and that it came as a thunderclap out of a clear sky. I really cannot judge about the amazement and dumbfoundedness of Rev. Kok and his consistory, for that is a subjective matter. Some people are more easily amazed and dumbfounded than others. But that the protest of br. Kortering came as a thunderclap out of a clear sky is an objective statement, and is certainly not true. And not only so, but Rev. Kok and his consistory both know that it is not true. In the first place, this is evident from the very serious charges which Mr. Kortering lodged against his pastor shortly after Sept. 7th. And secondly, this is also evident from the fact that on Oct. 23rd Mr. Kortering announced to the consistory on the occasion of censura morum that he would reserve the right to protest against the Rev. Kok. It is possible that the Rev. Kok and the consistory did, not take these things seriously. But Mr. Kortering evidently did. And it certainly is not true, but quite contrary to fact, that the protest of Mr. Kortering, when he finally lodged it with the consistory, came as a thunderclap out of a clear sky.