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In his latest article Rev. Petter accepts my challenge that he disprove my argument to the effect that the “origination” of the “Declaration was perfectly orderly in the point of view of the requirements of the Church Order and therefore ethical, absolutely so.

But the trouble is that in meeting this challenge Rev. Petter is not fair. First, he completely ignores my argument. He takes absolutely no notice of it. Second, he conveniently glides over the point at issue. Third, all he does in a positive way is to repeat his own reasonings.

First, Rev. Petter completely ignores my positive argument. That argument is this: (see The Standard Bearer for Jan. 15).

1.  That Art. 80 of the Church Order distinguishes two kinds of matters:

   a.  Such as originate and, if possible, must be finished in the minor assemblies (consistory and classis).

   b.  Such as pertain to the churches of the major assembly (synod) in common, and that therefore do not originate in minor assemblies to be dealt with and, if possible, finished in them.

Is this true or is it not true? Let Rev. Petter say.

2.  That our mission work pertains to the churches of the major assembly (synod) in common.

Is this true or is it not true? Let Rev. Petter say.

3.  That therefore the management of our Mission work pertains to the churches of the major assembly (synod) in common, and that, accordingly, Art. 51 of the Church Order rules that “the mission work of the churches is regulated by the general synod in a mission order.”

Is this true or is it not true? Let Rev. Petter say.

4.  That therefore the management of mission work is done not in consistory and not in classes but in the major assembly (synod) alone.

Is this true or is it not true? Let Rev. Petter say.

5.  That the management of mission work by synod includes also providing the Mission Committee and the Missionaries with a Formula, for:

   a.  The Mission Committee is a committee of synod and accordingly is mandated not by the consistory of the calling church nor by classis but by synod alone. (Art. 4, Constitution of the Mission Committee, p. 47, Church Order).

   b.  Though sent and called by the local congregation, the missionaries as preachers of the gospel represent all the churches. Therefore also any Formula for the organization of churches placed in their hands sets forth not what the calling church alone but what all the churches believe to be the truth of our Confessions (the Three Forms of Unity). From this it necessarily follows that such a Form may not be finished in the minor assemblies; it must be finished and adopted in synod for approbation by all the churches.

Is this true or is it not true? Let Rev. Petter say.

6.  That synod therefore did not override the first part of Art. 30 of the Church Order in providing the Mission Committee with a Formula, and this because, for reasons just stated, the matter of constructing, adopting, and approbating a Form belongs to the churches of synod in common.

Is this true or is it not true? Let Rev. Petter say.

7.  That therefore the Mission Committee did not override the first part of Art. 30 by directing its request for a Form to synod.

Is this true or is it not true? Let Rev. Petter say.

8.  That the Mission Committee did not override the first part of Art. 30 in bypassing the consistory and classis by coming directly to synod, for

   a.  According to Art. 1 of the Constitution of the Mission Committee this committee is appointed not by the consistory of the calling church nor by classis but by synod alone; according to this same article it is therefore responsible not to the consistory of the calling church nor to classis but to synod alone, (p. 46, of the Church Order).

   b.  According to Art. 4 of this same constitution, the duty of this committee is to carry out all the mandates of synod that pertain to mission activity as conducted by the churches (p. 47, Church Order).

   c.  According to this same constitution, this committee submits not to consistory or classis but to synod a written report of its work and findings, together with the recommendations it may have to make to synod regarding mission work. (p. 47, Church Order).

Is this true or is it not true? Let Rev. Petter say.

In a word, Rev. Petter must not imagine that he can dispose of my argument with a few strokes of his pen. He must face this argument. He must not ignore it; and as sliding over the issue simply repeat his

own reasonings. That certainly is not meeting my challenge.

Rev. Petter glides over the issue. I am making this plain right now. He writes: “I believe my charges against the origination of the Declaration were plain enough for all to see that it was out of order and hierarchical. These points are as follows: The request of the Mission Committee came to synod contrary to C(hurch) O(rder) (Art.) 30, for ‘only such matters shall be dealt with (by synod—O) as could not be finished in the minor assemblies,’ The other matters pertaining to the ‘churches in common’ of which the Church Order, Art. 30, speaks, could not be handled in the minor assembly.”

Remark. So speaks Art. 30 of the Church Order. I have no comment. Rut must now pay strict attention to what Rev. Petter next writes. It is this:

“But this mission question (the question of the Form—O) could be finished in a minor assembly, and that is where it belonged.” To which I reply: “Yes, that is correct, it could be finished in a minor assembly, providing it belonged solely to the local consistory of the calling church or to the churches of classis in common. But that precisely is the issue. Rev. Petter conveniently evades it.

Is it true or not true that Rev. Petter evades the issue? Let Rev. Petter give answer.

In support of his contention that supplying the missionaries with a Form is a matter that could be handled and finished in the minor assemblies (consistory and classis), Rev. Petter appeals also to Art. 38 of the Church Order. He calls our attention to the fact that this article speaks of the Classis as the advisor regarding organization of churches. True it does. But the question is: the advisor of whom? Synod’s Mission Committee and Synod? Of course not. How could classis advise synod and its committees. According to the Church Order classis appeals to synod but does not advise it. The only bodies that classis is authorized to advise is its own committees and the churches of the classis. Accordingly, the first by-rule affixed by our (Protestant Reformed) Churches to this article reads, “The customary usage for the organization of new congregations is as follows: a letter of request is directed to the classis or—mark you,—or—the Mission Committee, expressing the desire to organize a congregation in a certain locality.”

Let us take notice. If the request comes to synod’s Mission Committee, this committee goes about the business of organization as unadvised by classis. This is plain from by-rule 2) —a rule that reads, “The classis or—mark you, or—the Mission Committee shall thereupon deliberate whether such organization is possible. . . .” Mark you well, the rule is not to the effect that synod’s Mission Committee and the classis shall deliberate together, but that the classis or synod’s Mission Committee shall deliberate. This is as it should be. For I repeat, classis does not advise synod and its committees.

Is this true or is it not true? Let Rev. Patter say.

Let us take notice also of this: If the request comes to synod’s Mission Committee, classis does not even advise the consistory of the calling church. The reason is that no advice is in order. For according to Art. 4 of the Constitution of synod’s Mission Committee, this committee serves in conjunction not with the consistory of the calling church “but,” and I now quote, with the missionary in the organization of new congregations, giving advice and permission thereto, and to officiate at such organizations. This article excludes both the classis and the consistory of the calling church from the business of the organization of new churches. It limits this task solely to the Mission Committee and the missionary, and it assigns the task of advising solely to the Mission Committee.

Is this true or is it not true? Let Rev. Petter say.

In fine, how Rev. Petter can imagine to be deriving support for his stand from Art. 38 of the Church Order is to me a conundrum.

Further. In support of his stand Rev. Petter goes on to say that, and now I quote him, “according to the Constitution of the Mission Committee, this committee works in conjunction with the calling church and with the missionaries.” But this is not true. The Constitution of the Mission Committee nowhere states this. What Art. 4 of the Constitution does state is this: that the missionary works under the joint supervision of the Mission Committee and the consistory of the calling church. But if so, should not the Form have been handled and finished in the joint meeting of the Mission Committee and the consistory? Rev. Petter insists that it should. But see my reply to His next and final argument.

Rev. Petter’s final argument is Rev. Hoeksema’s statement to the, effect that he (Rev. Hoeksema) could have drawn up the Form, and that the Committee could have drawn up its own. But Rev. Petter again evades the issue. The question is not whether Rev. Hoeksema or the Mission Committee or the missionaries or the consistory of the calling church could have drawn up a Formula, but whether the production of a Form is a matter that could have been handled and finished—mark you finished—by the Mission Committee or the missionaries or the consistory of the calling church. And there is but one answer. The production of a Form could not be finished in the consistory and the Classis or in the Mission Committee or by the missionaries. And the reason is obvious and simple: such a “Form” is a matter that belongs to all the churches—the churches of synod—in common; it is not a matter that belongs solely to the consistory of the calling church or to the missionaries or to the Mission Committee, and this for all the above-stated reasons.

It also can be stated this way: the kind of Gospel that our missionaries proclaim in the field is not their concern alone; it is not the concern of the Mission Committee alone, nor of the consistory of the calling church, nor of the classis alone. On the contrary, the kind of gospel that our missionaries proclaim in the field is the concern of all the churches. And the reason is again simple. The missionaries, as was stated, represent in their gospel preaching all the churches and not merely the calling congregation alone; and certainly not the mission committee alone, but, I repeat all the churches. And on this account the missionaries are required to subscribe the official creeds of all the churches. And therefore also certainly it is but right and proper that any statement setting forth what all the churches believe to be the truth of these creeds—our Three Forms of Unity—should be adopted and approbated by all the churches.

Is this true or is it not true? Let Rev. Petter say.

In fine, the facts of the matter being what they are, it is a conundrum to me how Rev. Petter in his latest article should have wanted to reappear in print with the following statements:

1.  I believe my charges against the origination of the “Declaration” were plain enough and for all to see that it was out of order and hierarchical.

2.  Hence, this question of a Form for organization of churches was not a matter of the churches in common, which necessarily goes to synod; it was a matter for these minor bodies to settle.

3.  “This Form could have been handled (and finished) in a minor assembly or body. Hence it was treated by synod contrary to C(hurch) O(rder) (Art.) 30.”

It’s a peculiar thing. In one of his earlier articles Rev. Petter brands the “Declaration” a hierarchical imposition not alone because it was not corrected and perfected in consistory and Classis, but because it was not also perfected in synod. It was not the best that the churches could produce. But in his latest articles he brands the “Declarations” a hierarchical imposition because it should have been finished in consistory and classis, but was not, which is equivalent to calling it hierarchical because it was perfected also in synod, and thus does represent the best that the churches can produce. It is certain that as far as Rev. Petter’s attitude is concerned the “Declaration” is in a bad way. In Rev. Petter’s court it doesn’t have a chance. For in his eyes it is guilty if it doesn’t; it is guilty if it does,

But Rev. Petter must still meet my challenge.