Our attention was called by more than one defender of conditional theology and of the Schism of ’53 to a statement in our September 15 contribution to this department. Since these parties were of the opinion that we had done Classis West (she was Classis West of the Protestant Reformed Churches yet at that time) a great injustice by accusing her of something of which they thought she was entirely innocent, we promised to make a correction and explanation at this time.
Our statement was in error, not because the thing of which we accused Classis West did not take place, but because we failed to express it fully and to explain our statement, so that we thereby left a wrong impression.
Let the readers judge whether our accusation was unjust and whether our statement, though as it stands it is in error, does not still put Classis West in a more favorable light than what the facts warrant. Our explanation of what we had in mind will show a greater corruption and misbehavior than would have been revealed had our statement not been challenged.
The statement in question was that Classis West denied the Rev. Hoeksema advisory vote at one of its sessions. Now the minutes of Classis West of September 5, 1951 read, “Article 7. Advisory vote is again given to Revs. H. Hoeksema and G.M. Ophoff.” And so it can be seen that at that September session and at the March session of that year, they were given advisory vote.
And yet we continue to maintain our former statement, however, with this qualification: Classis West in word and by motion did give the Rev. H. Hoeksema advisory vote at the March 1951 session, as the minutes show; and yet they took it away from him in deed and by vote later in the session upon a very vital and important matter. In the minute book it may all look quite innocent, and yet the facts are such that what actually took place, and is not so evident from the bare minutes, shows more glaringly and more to the shame of the constituency of that Classis than our statement, that then already in 1951 these men had little use for the Rev. H. Hoeksema and did not want his advice on doctrinal matters given to the delegates of the Classis. Though he was the professor in Dogmatics in our Seminary at that time as well as still today.
You see, the whole matter has to do with the Declaration of Principles which was being discussed at that classical session; and the author of the motion which shut Rev. Hoeksema’s mouth had already in January of that year published his intention to “oppose” the Declaration. Here was one of the many ways in which those who wanted to open the doors of our churches to the Liberated worked to seek to have the Declaration—which was drawn up to safeguard our churches against the Arminian conditional theology of the Liberated—defeated. That was the thing which we had in mind when we wrote that Classis West denied the Rev. H. Hoeksema advisory vote.
Let us explain the matter further, and let the reader judge whether we said too much about Classis West.
Rev. De Jonge had read his protest against the Declaration. And in it he had given several quotations from the late Dr. Schilder’s articles in the Reformatie wherein he condemned our Declaration on doctrinal grounds and wherein he found fault with the Rev. H. Hoeksema’s doctrinal position. For to a great extent Dr. Schilder did make it the personal matter of a debate between himself and the Rev. H. Hoeksema on their doctrinal views. At any rate the Rev. H. Hoeksema’s name and doctrinal position were mentioned in those quotations which Rev. De Jonge read. The Rev. Hoeksema was assured that the first thing the next morning he would be given the floor to answer these accusations. And the Classis knew that he intended to prepare himself that night to give answer the next morning.
And now that we are forced to drag out into the open what we would like to forget and to hide from those who did not know it, we must explain that before he could open his mouth the next morning to defend himself and the Declaration, one who before the classical sessions ever began had written his intention to oppose the Declaration managed to shut the Rev. Hoeksema’s mouth by a motion, so that this part of the propaganda to seek the defeat of the Declaration was never answered at that session of Classis.
The matter was talked over that night and surely thought over that night by others than the Rev. H. Hoeksema. For before he could have the opportunity to defend himself as assured by the Classis, a motion was quickly introduced to declare that part of Rev. De Jonge’s protest out of order. When that motion passed, Classis West denied the Rev. H. Hoeksema advisory vote on that important matter.
But who dares to say that in 1951 already it was not a doctrinal issue?
And why might the delegates not hear the defense of that doctrinal part of the Declaration even if what was read to seek its defeat was irrelevant?
Why did they not stop Rev. De Jonge when he began to read such irrelevant, “out of order” material? And now that it was read and made its impression on the delegates, why must that impression be left? Common decency would have demanded that they give the Rev. H. Hoeksema the right to defend himself, and interest in the Protestant Reformed truth over against the Arminian conditional theology of the late Dr. Schilder and of the Liberated would have allowed such a defense. One may make a censurable remark on the floor of Classis in a way that is definitely out of order. One may blurt out a foul accusation while another speaker is busy talking. Does anyone deny that though it was spoken out of order and though it lies in the nature of the case that it is irrelevant to the case being discussed, the president is not in duty bound to rebuke that individual?
Nor is that all.
After this shameful treatment the September session of that same Classis had to deliberate for twenty to thirty minutes as to whether they will give advisory vote to men who are given it automatically at the sessions of the Synod by the rules of Synod, because they are professors in our Theological School. And the matter being treated was, once again, the Declaration!
Were there not a cloud in the sky. Were our churches going through a normal period of ecclesiastical life, such a thing would not have happened. And if it had, one would not be so upset by such shameful treatment. But when our churches are going through the stress and testing of adopting a matter, which was so widely debated and discussed as the Declaration, why should the advice of the professors in the Theological School not be eagerly sought and advisory vote be given without discussion? How all this evil work in 1951 points to September 1953!
And how all this evil work also puts the lie to Rev. De Wolf’s wicked and unchristian cross bill to which he swore before God. When such things occur in your denomination, you hardly call the victim of such evil work a domineering character, do you? Especially when one so evilly treated lets the matter drop without himself writing one word about it! And he is not the source of our information about these things either. There were others there who were not personally, nor even by blood or marriage ties involved in this shameful work, who were made sick at heart because they witnessed this shameful treatment. And some still stumble over it that after such shameful treatment the Rev. H. Hoeksema walked out of the meeting! But Rev. De Wolf, before God confess your evil cross bill to be the lie. He did not stay there to try to domineer any one of those two meetings of Classis West in 1951. His attitude even after this shameful treatment was anything but that of trying to “rule or ruin” as your oath before GOD states. How can you have peace with God after you swore before Him to all this corruption and plain slander?’
Or does your evil cross bill point back to this case when you swore in it before God?, “That cross defendant Herman Hoeksema is unable to control the actions of Classis West and that substantially all of the congregations of Classis West are not in harmony with him and that he has lost control over Classis West.” But where, then, does your charge of a domineering character that will “rule or ruin” fit in? And you continue in your oath before God, “That for the purpose of carrying out the conspiracy to get control of the various properties of the various church congregations and to dictate the policies of these churches, the said Herman Hoeksema has recently made visits to the locations where the churches of Classis West are located and there has attempted to create and in some instances has created schisms in said churches, and has attempted to split the congregations and organize new congregations over which he could have control . . . .” You swore that before God, Rev. De Wolf, now go and tell it to Him, if you dare. Try to convince Him of it, if you can. Try to convince Him that he went there in a “conspiracy to get control of the various properties.” Why did he not go for the property of Pella and Oskaloosa?
One of those who accused us of doing Classis West injustice told us that we did not need to correct this “error” for his sake, but that it would look better for the undersigned in the day of judgment, if he did. Will he now exercise his own brother-in-law love over Rev. De Wolf (as we suggested to him, in a personal letter) and urge him to confess publicly his most grievous error in that cross bill? Let him ask Rev. De Wolf whether he wants to appear before The Judge of heaven and earth with that cross bill in his hands. Let him ask himself whether he wants to appear there with the Scriptures and our Church Order, which is based upon the Scripture, in one hand and the decisions of Classis West, September 1953 in the other hand. No one yet has produced, in answer to our challenge, one authority on Reformed Church Polity who will dare to maintain that Reformed Church Polity allows and prescribes such actions as was perpetrated in September, 1953 by those who now falsely call themselves the Classis West of the Protestant Reformed Churches.
Let him write Rev. Kok and ask him whether it will not look better for him to read carefully past Standard Bearer editions with the view to doing the Rev. Hoeksema and the Rev. Ophoff justice, rather than to see how much he can confuse men with deliberate omissions of their writings and coupling together of things that these men would never couple together in their writings. Let him ask Rev. Kok whether it will not look better for him before The judge of heaven and earth to confess now that he has done them a gross injustice and deceived many of God’s children by his evil practices. Let him read and reread and tell Rev. Kok to read and reread the two fine articles, in the October 15 issue wherein the evil way in which Rev. Kok quotes is exposed! Let them note carefully how Rev. Kok deliberately leaves out those sentences in the midst of a paragraph because it would overthrow his whole argument for which he quotes part of this paragraph. It is hard for us to believe that Rev. Kok would stoop to such low things. But there it is time and again! What we say and write to him has no positive effect. Let those who attacked the undersigned write Rev. Kok and urge him to reconsider this whole case in his fear.