An August 5, 2011 British Broadcast Company (BBC) article entitled “Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world” reports the shameful apostasy of “the mainstream Protestant Church in the Netherlands.”1

A merger with two other denominations took place in 2003, but the PKN is basically the old state church in the Netherlands. It is a denomination with a long history of apostasy. By 1834 it so manifested the marks of a false church (particularly by placing the faithful Reformed preacher Hendrik De Cock under discipline and deposing him unjustly from the ministry) that many left the denomination in a reformation movement known as the Afscheiding. In 1886 another group, known as the Doleantie, led by Abraham Kuyper, also left the denomination, because it had become corrupt in doctrine as well as in church government. Given its history, the PKN’s continuing downward spiral is not surprising. Not content with destroying her, the church’s archenemy, Satan, wants nothing more than to transform her into his own synagogue devoted to him in the service of iniquity. Recent events in the PKN demonstrate that Satan’s sinister transforming work in that denomination has advanced to the end stages.

The BBC article begins with an account of a so-called minister, Klaas Hendrikse, who does not believe in life after death. Hendrikse is quoted as saying, “Personally I have no talent for believing in life after death…. No, for me our life, our task, is before death.” Flagrant departure from the truth! But there is more. Hendrikse also “describes the Bible’s account of Jesus’s life as a mythological story about a man who may never have existed.” What about God? Well, Hendrikse wrote a book called “Believing in the Non-Existent God” (emphasis added). Unbelievable! An atheist serving as a pastor in a Protestant church! As in the days of Hophni and Phinehas, a son of Belial (Satan) claiming to be an official representative of God.

Hendrikse euphemistically says he has “no talent” for believing in biblical doctrines. The reality is that God has not given him faith to believe the Scriptures; he is an admitted unbeliever and has no business holding the office of minister in a Reformed church. As an unbeliever he despises God and His truths. What is hard to understand is why he would even want to be a minister. Why did he enter the ministry if he did not believe in the historical existence of Jesus Christ or in the eternal existence of God? If he did believe in the existence of Jesus or God when he entered the ministry, why does he stay in the ministry now that he no longer believes? Were it possible to lose my faith, the day I no longer believed in the existence of Jesus or of God is the day I would take up accounting, farming, or any other line of work outside the work of the ministry. An unbelieving accountant or farmer is as wicked as an unbelieving minister of course, but one would think a man who openly denies the existence of God would understand that the ministry is not the job for him. Maybe like Hophni and Phinehas he is in it for the salary and the benefits (what I Tim. 3:3 calls “filthy lucre”).

A wicked case. But not unique. Sadly, there are many others like Hendrikse in the PKN.

The BBC article reports that a “study by the Free University of Amsterdam found that one-in-six clergy in the PKN and six other smaller denominations was either agnostic or atheist.” One Hophni and one Phinehas wreaked havoc on the worship of God for Satan in Samuel’s day. Today thousands of Hophnis and Phinehases are serving Satan’s cause in the PKN.

The result is predictable. The result is that wickedness abounds in the PKN. The BBC article reports on a church in Amsterdam that uses “speed-dating” to attract people. The description is appalling. “As skimpily dressed girls began to appear in red-lit windows in the streets outside, visitors to the church moved from table to table to discuss love with a succession of strangers.”

The article speaks of a young people’s movement called Stroom West that is led by avowed unbelievers (they would not call themselves unbelievers of course, but that is what they are). This movement “focuses on people’s personal search for God, not the church’s traditional black-and-white answers.” One of the leaders of Stroom West explains that the movement is not interested in teaching about heaven the same way the church did “2,000 years ago,” or about the divinity of Jesus. Instead of confessing faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ or confessing the hope for eternal life in heaven, the young people who are part of Stroom West “write on plates the names of those things that prevent the earth from being heaven—cancer, war, hunger—and destroy them symbolically.” Not satisfied with bringing themselves to “swift destruction” (II Peter 2:1), the unbelieving pastors target the church’s children.

But the church, particularly the PKN, is content to leave the unbelieving pastors alone. Hendrikse’s views were examined in an official “church meeting.” The church did not rule that his views were heretical or call Hendrikse to repentance.

Why would a church not remove an openly unbelieving pastor from office?

The BBC article explains why.

The fundamental reason the PKN tolerates rank unbelief on the part of pastors (and its membership) is that it no longer uses the Bible as the standard for church government. Reformed churches recognize that Jesus Christ rules His church. Jesus Christ rules His church by His Word and Spirit. When a denomination uses the Bible as the standard for church government, for doctrine and life, it is submitting to the rule of King Jesus. But where the Bible is ignored and supplanted by some other standard, Jesus Christ is no longer ruling in that church. In the PKN Christ’s Word is not the rule for doctrine. In the PKN Christ does not rule. Man rules in the PKN. And that means Satan rules in the PKN. Hendrikse’s beliefs were weighed against the beliefs of other men. The PKN judged that Hendrikse’s “views were too widely shared among church thinkers for him to be singled out.” Does Christ condone doubt about the existence of heaven and hell? The PKN said in effect, “Who cares what Christ says in the Bible. What is important is that there are other men in our denomination who agree with Hendrikse’s views, and we will go by the authority of these other men.” That is exactly how Satan wants the church to operate.

In some churches where the rule of the Bible is supplanted by man, men rule by majority. But the PKN seems to have developed beyond that. Members of the PKN who find that their views are not in accord with the majority seemingly need not fear they will be squashed by the majority. Agreement with the majority is not needed to have one’s views validated. All that is needed is agreement with other “church thinkers.” In other words the PKN practically allows each person to be a law unto himself. A member of Hendrikse’s church is quoted as saying, “Here you can believe what you want to think for yourself, what you really feel and believe is true.” Reminds one of Judges 21:25: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Isn’t what that church member said eerily similar to Judges 21:25? And he said it as if it were a good thing, that each person thinks or does what is right in his own eyes. The devil would agree.

What a sad history. In the 1800s the PKN drove faithful Reformed pastors out of its fellowship. Today it tolerates rank unbelief. The sole authority of Christ and His Word for faith and life has been rejected. When this happens, the church begins the slow but sure decent into apostasy. This is what Satan wants.

But Satan is not in control. Christ is. Churches are transformed into synagogues of Satan only when Christ in severe and just judgment for apostasy gives them over to Satan. This is a dreadful and serious warning against apostasy. But also a comforting sign for the faithful (II Thess. 2). Christ IS coming.

1 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14417362 (viewed September 12, 2011).