Today, February 27, the undersigned received a letter from Rev. J. Howerzyl, pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church at Oskaloosa, Iowa, that became schismatic by recognizing the Rev. De Wolf and other schismatics, in which he states that he believes that I do not present the matter of our telephone conversation entirely correctly in my “editorial”, captioned “What Rev. Hofman Did Not Write.” Said article appears in the February 15 issue of theStandard Bearer.
The paragraphs to which Rev. Howerzyl has reference read in full as follows:
“When I read brother Hofman’s editorial concerning the matter that he calls an episode that is enlightening and informative, I felt very much aggrieved. I searched my own conscience whether matters were actually as Rev. Hofman states them. He suggests that I gave Rev. James Howerzyl the ‘run-around.’ Now I don’t know whether Rev. Howerzyl, with whom I had the reported telephone conversation, told brother Walter that I had done this. I really cannot believe that he would say such a thing of me, or that he could truthfully characterize my dealings as such. Fact is that Rev. Howerzyl alleged not to understand the import of the night-letter telegram. I thought that he did not understand its implication in that I had not sent the former letter to him but to Rev. John D. de Jong in Hull, Iowa. And therefore I asked him what was not clear. I thought that only for such a reason the telegram letter was not clear to him. This telegram letter reads as follows: “Kindly be advised that that letter in regard to the Deputies of Synod was sent by the undersigned merely on the strength of the former Status quo. Be further advised that Classis East will, no doubt, not recognize you should you appear. Kindly inform all whom it may concern.'”
“This telegram Rev. Howerzyl alleged not to understand. He wanted… to know whether they were invited or not, whether he should come or not. I repeatedly told him that Classis had taken no decision, and that should he come I was certain Classis would not acknowledge him. And that it would hardly do for me to say come, and then, when he came, to say: well, you are not welcome, we cannot acknowledge you. I told him then and there, because he wanted to know: must I come or not? I then said: you are not invited. That I would submit my answer to Classis and take the consequences. Remember that Rev. Howerzyl could still yet have appeared and he too could have taken the consequences. I did not give him the word of Classis. I did not give him the ‘run-around.’ He could take my word for what it was worth. But none of the Examiners had the courage of their convictions, that the former Status quo stood, to appear at that meeting on the strength of the earlier communication. Had Classis taken the stand that I had done wrong I would have submitted to their judgment. The trouble was: the die was cast, the Rubicon had been crossed. And this had not been done by Classis East but by Classis West.”
The Rev. Howerzyl writes me that he takes exception to especially the sentence underlined in the above paragraphs. He reflects on this because I mentioned his name in my reply to Rev: Hofman. Whether he agrees with the rest of the Editorial he does not state. It may be too much to believe that silence in this matter is assent.
We let the Rev. Howerzyl speak. Writes he “Now it seems to me that this paragraph, especially the sentence which I have underlined, still presents your mistaken idea which was really the subject of our telephone conversation at that time. As I understood you at that time, and as this paragraph indicates also, you took the position that whenever the examiners hear of a meeting at which an examination or something of that nature is to be conducted, the deputies for examination determine and decide to come to such a meeting. I, on the other hand, and with me the other deputies for examination who were involved in this fiasco, take the position that the deputies appear and function at the meeting of another Classis only when officially summoned. They do not question that summons, nor might I add the cancellation of such summons. It is not a question whether they wish to appear or not; when summoned they must appear or their alternatives. So also when such summons is withdrawn they have no reason, no right, no business (to appear, G.L.) because they have no summons to appear at such a Classical meeting. So I maintain that when you as Stated Clerk of Classis East informed us that we were not to appear at the meeting the matter was settled as far as we were concerned. And. that was why, as you expressed, I repeatedly put the “categorical” question: are we summoned? And that was also why, as you will remember from our telephone conversation, my final summary to you of the matter was: Then I am to understand that, we as deputies, are officially notified that we are not to appear at the meeting.” To this was correct and that you were withdrawing the notice to appear.
“In the light of this you will also see that you misrepresent the matter when you say that it was a matter of courage of conviction, or rather lack of such courage of conviction in the status quo that kept the deputies at home. We were simply informed the notification to be present was withdrawn, and I ask in all sincerity what else could we do but stay home in the light of such notice.
“Will you please place this correction in an early issue of the Standard Bearer?
Thus far the Rev. James Howerzyl.
I call the reader’s attention to the following:
1. That they should not lose sight of the important fact that in the editorial of February 15, I was not refuting Rev. J. Howerzyl. However I did mention Rev. J. Howerzyl, but I did this only in passing. That I mentioned Rev. J. Howerzyl is the responsibility of Rev. Hofman. And, incidentally, as soon as he will comply to my earnest pleadings with him, I shall be most grateful to our covenant God. I was and am still only interested in the peace of Jerusalem that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
2. That I would have the readers notice that Rev. James Howerzyl is silent on whether I gave Him the “runaround.” He has the graciousness to show that I had honest motivation, although he avers that I am in error. I do not “quite represent the matter correctly.” It is true, he complains that I have misrepresented the committee by saying “that it was a matter of lack of courage of conviction.” Should I have misrepresented these brethren to the public, I shall in this article make honorable rectifications. In the meantime I shall conclude that “brother Walter” is the author of the characterization “run-around.”
3. That I let the discerning (!) reader judge of the following matters:
a. Whether there was anything obscure and dark in the night-letter I sent to Rev. Howerzyl when considered in the light of the far-reaching breach of good order Classis West had perpetrated just some five weeks before. And again: whether there was anything dark and obscure in this letter when viewed in the light of the flagrant trampling underfoot of all good order on the part of the Revs. De Wolf, Kok, Blankespoor and Knott and others. Just two weeks prior to this letter. Was this telegram hard to understand for Rev. Howerzyl? He is a man of, at least, average intelligence isn’t he?
b. Whether it is really true, that the Delegates Ad Examina Synodi come to another Classis merely on the strength of a notification of a Stated Clerk, a notification that has validity and strength simply because he makes it? Does a Stated Clerk summona Committee Ad Examina to come? They are not Deputies of a Stated Clerk; they are the Deputies of Synod! Are they not chosen by Synod and thus receive a mandate according to the Act of Agreement as based on Article 4 of the Church Order? And has this. Act of Agreement not more validity then a capricious act of a Stated Clerk?
c. Whether there is not a marked difference between an official summons and a notification? The former smacks of a Papal bull, doesn’t it? The latter is the dutiful execution of what is good and accepted order in the Church, is it not?
d. Whether the Stated Clerk in the following letter, sent to Rev. John D. de Jong, summoned this Committee called Deputies Ad Examina Synodi to came, or whether he simply informed them that such a meeting would be held, on the strength of the Act of Agreement and Article 4 of the Church Order. This letter reads: “I herewith wish to inform you that there will be a special meeting of Classis East on Wednesday, October 21 at 9 A.M. in the Hope Protestant Reformed Church. The purpose of this meeting is in view of the examination of Candidate-elect George Lanting. This is upon the request of the Consistory of Grand Haven. If I am not mistake you, (Rev. De Jong) Rev. Van Weelden and Rev. DeBoer are the Deputies Ad Examina Synodi primi. As I have it the Revs. Howerzyl, Hofman and Gritters are the secundi. Will you kindly make arrangements for that occasion?” Did the undersigned “summon” this Committee or simply “inform them?” He did not assume bishopric powers, did he?
e. Whether on the basic of the above considerations it is not crystal clear that the Stated Clerk simply gave his own version in the latter missive, a version which Rev. Howerzyl could with great confidence have questioned on the basis on the Act of Agreement and Article 4 of the Church Order, as well as on the basis of twenty five years of precedent.
d. Whether it is not very evident that Rev. Howerzyl is attempting to press the Stated Clerk so that it may appear as if he were in default in representing Classis East officially, (which he did not do for he told Rev. Howerzyl he was not speaking for Classis) and thus put Classis East in default?
e. Whether the Stated Clerk has not ample grounds to maintain that Rev. Howerzyl could have had the courage of his convictions to come on the strength of the “former Status Quo,” and therefore errs when heinsists that the undersigned misrepresented him in said editorial in the Standard Bearer?
f. Whether it is not correct on the part of the undersigned to write: the Rev. J. Howerzyl evidently did not understand Church Political procedures to the extent that he prevented others from laying the ground work for the entire situation between “Classis West”‘ and Classis East; wherefore he really involved himself in a fiasco,” that is, in a complete and humiliating failure to work the work of the Lord in decency and good order!