Classis East convened on April 8, 1953 at 9 o’clock A.M. in our Hope Protestant Reformed Church. During the month of April Classis East met six days; two days in Hope, two in Second “Church and two in Hudsonville. Then Classis recessed until May 19, 1953 and met during two Weeks for the sum total of eight more days; two days in First Church, two at Fourth Church, two at Hudsonville Church and two at the Creston Church.
All the Consistories of Classis East were duly represented during all these days by two delegates from each Church except Creston, Randolph and Grand Haven. These latter sometimes were represented by one delegate.
The Rev. De Wolf presided in many of these sessions according to alphabetical order, and the Rev. J. Heys ably relieved him when this was necessary. It is worthy of mention that the Rev. J. Blankespoor faithfully and ably kept a record of the voluminous minutes of these sessions.
Grand Haven requested and received Classical Appointments for the weeks between the April and July Classes. We may report too at this juncture that, since there will be no July meeting of Classis, it was decided that the Classical Committee arrange pulpit supply for Grand Haven and give proper notification of these appointments.
The Committee of preadvice, appointed on the January Classis, to give advice in regard to the matter of the protest of one Consistory against another Consistory in the matter of singing hymns on the radio program reported. It is decided to place this entire matter in the hands of the Stated Clerk who will make copies of this material and send it to each Consistory for study, so that each Consistory may report on the next meeting of Classis by their delegates.
Three separate protests are read by members of a certain congregation against the preaching of their pastor, who is accused of preaching Conditional Theology. Two of these protests are read and were placed in the hands of a committee of pre-advice. This advice of this Committee has not yet been treated by Classis but awaits the meeting of Classis East in October. The other protest was not read on the April meeting of Classis but was read On May 19, and placed in the hands of a Committee of pre-advice, which reported at a later session of the meeting of Classis. This matter too awaits the meeting of Classis on October 6.
Two other separate protests are lodged against another Consistory for unholding the erroneous preaching of their pastor. These protests are against definite statements made by the involved pastor in the public ministry of the Word. After days of discussion and debate Classis condemns the statements in question as being heretical. These statements in question are:
1. “God promises every one of you that, if you believe, you shall be saved.”
2. “Man’s act of conversion is a prerequisite to enter into the Kingdom of heaven.”
The decision literally reads as follows:
“In our opinion both the statements which the protestants condemn are literally heretical….”
The first teaches a general promise of God unto salvation to all that externally hear the preaching of the gospel, head for head and soul for soul, limited by a condition which man must fulfill, while Scripture and our Confessions plainly teach:
- That, indeed, the proclamation of the gospel comes to all to whom God in His good pleasure sends it,
- That, however, in our proclamation of the gospel, we may never say that God promises salvation to every one of the hearers, on condition of faith, for the promise itself is particular, unconditional, and only for the elect; for it is an oath of God which He, in His everlasting mercy and grace, swears by Himself to His beloved elect; which He in sovereign grace, fulfills only to and in them, without any condition or prerequisite to be fulfilled by them; and which promise implies that, by His Holy Spirit, He causes them to receive and appropriate salvation by a true and living faith.
The second (statement) teaches that our act of conversion is a prerequisite to enter the Kingdom of God, which means that we convert and humble ourselves before we are translated from the power of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, while Scripture and the Confessions plainly teach:
1. That the whole work of our conversion is our translation and entering into the Kingdom of God. Hence, it is not, cannot be before but through our conversion that we enter the Kingdom. We humble ourselves in the light, never in darkness; we humble ourselves, whether initially or repeatedly in the Kingdom, never outside of it. Hence, our act of conversion is never antecedent to our entering in, but always is performed in the Kingdom of God, and there are no prerequisites.
Grounds: a. The protestants have clearly shown from Scripture and the Confession that the literal statements are heretical, b. We believe this is necessary to state in the light of our past experiences and history with the Liberated Churches who use these Arminian expressions.
- For the first statement:
- Scripture: ; ; ; .
- Confessions: Heid. Cat. Q. 20, 65, 66; Confession 22, 33-35; Canons 1, A, 6 7 10; 1, B, 2 3 5; 2, A, 5 8.
- For second statement:
- Scripture: ; ; ; .
- Confessions: Heid. Cat., Q. 8, Canons 3, 4: 1-3, 10-12; 5:6-8.
It was further decided that the minister in question make a public apology for having made the two statements in question, and that the Consistory also publicly apologize for having supported the pastor with respect to the two statements in question.
There also was a protest by a brother against his consistory in re a matter of deciding not to call a missionary pastor because of the unrest in our churches. This matter, too, was placed in the hands of a committee of preadvice. Also this matter still awaits the decision of Classis in October. Classis also requests a certain brother to make public the content of a written document published earlier to a certain congregation.
It was decided not to have Classis in July, but that the same Classis reconvene in the month of October, the 6th day.
Rev. George C. Lubbers
Stated Clerk, Classis East