Thirdly, speaking of “deceitful dealings,” I refer to my suspension the evening of January 12, 1951, and the consistory’s reasoning last summer when they refused to enforce their binding decision of last June 5. I was denied the pulpit January 12 of this year. The ground of the suspension was that I refused to submit to the basis as willed by the consistory. At this meeting of the consistory elder Van Huizen said that I had offended the congregation of late in my preaching. When I asked him whether I had offended anyone personally he answered in the negative, but declared that I had offended members in my preaching because of my emphasis upon the truth that the promise was not general but only for the elect. Now I would like to have our readers bear this paragraph in mind because I intend to return to it. Last summer, as our people know, the consistory refused to enforce their binding decision of June 5. They reasoned that we must bar none from the congregation, that we have the pure preaching, that the preaching must drive out those who do not really belong to our church, and that we must not prevent anyone from coming under that preaching, which would be the case if we should bar people from the fellowship of the church by maintaining that binding decision of June 5. Elder Van Huizen went so far as to declare once that if the Liberated churches would ever have the boldness to differ from the Protestant Reformed Churches he would not hesitate to call the Liberated churches false. And deacon L. Klapwijk once remarked that we have the pure preaching of the truth, yea, that we were purer than the Liberated Churches of the Netherlands, and that it was our calling to maintain that pure truth, although, at the same time, he would not commit himself as far as the maintaining of the binding decision of June 5 was concerned. Elder Hart declared at the time that we have the pure preaching, and that there was no difference between him and me. The other deacon, John Ton, although never voting in support of the undersigned but always against him, never committed himself. I now ask our readers: did this consistory ever have the intention to maintain the doctrine of our churches? Were they honest when they declared that I must continue to preach the truth purely, according to our churches? Did not the consistory, at their meeting of Jan. 12, 1951, when they suspended me, declare that they did not agree with my emphasis upon the Protestant Reformed truth? I maintain that the consistory of Hamilton never intended to safeguard the truth of our churches, that they never intended to be a Protestant Reformed Church, and that they never intended to bar anyone from the fellowship of this church. When the church visitors met with our consistory the evening of Sept. 11 (the Revs. Hanko and Blankespoor) L. Klapwijk asserted that it lies in the very nature of the case that people who join a church may not agitate against the doctrine of the church. Nevertheless, when a certain G. Hutten asked to be admitted into the fellowship of our congregation and boldly wrote the consistory that he did not agree with the Protestant Reformed truth and intended to agitate against that truth, brother Klapwijk said nothing but voted to admit the brother into our fellowship. I call these dealings deceitful and hypocritical. And our readers must bear in mind that no one ever visited the undersigned to discuss with him our truth or anything which was said in a sermon. When I, at the consistory meeting of Jan. 12 of this year, when elder Van Huizen said that he objected to certain emphasis which I laid upon our truth in the preaching, asked him why he had never visited me he answered me that it would be no use to visit me because they could not do anything with me anyway. And this same brother repeatedly declared last summer when I visited immigrants with him (this he would say to these immigrants) : “Once I was just as Liberated as you; but now I have learned to be silent, because I cannot reason against Rev. Veldman; you just listen to him.” Strange dealings, are they not? This impossible condition in the congregation began last July and the first week of August.
Sunday, January 14, 1951
The foregoing paragraph will throw light upon that which I am now about to write in connection with the Sunday of Jan. 14 last. The undersigned attended both services. Elder Reitsma read in the morning service and announced to the congregation the suspension of the pastor. Elder Van Huizen read in the afternoon. In the afternoon service Van Huizen mentioned in his prayer that children of the Lord had been barred from the table of the Lord, or rather he accused our churches of barring children of God from the table of Communion. This I could understand if the matter had never been discussed. Surely the church visitors remember how they argued with the consistory exactly on this point, that it was not an issue of barring people from the table. Surely, the classical committee must remember how they argued with the consistory on this point, and attempted to make clear to them that it was not a matter of barring children of God from the Lord’s Supper. And how often did not the undersigned deny this accusation of the consistory! This never was the issue. And, let me say that the consistory understood this very well. They simply insisted on maintaining their accusation because they did not wish to bar “true members of the true church” from our fellowship. They simply gave no heed to whatever we said. It was simply the question whether we might accept members into our church who were and intended to remain Liberated. This was the sole issue. This was made plain over and over again. Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that the barring of children of God from the table was not the issue, and in spite of the fact that elder Van Huizen was fully acquainted with this, he persisted, in his congregational prayer the Sunday afternoon of last Jan. 14, to say before God and the church that it was a matter of barring people of the Lord from the communion table. This was simply a public untruth. I told the brother this after the afternoon service, and added that it was impossible for me to pray that prayer, and that I might expect of him that, if he wanted to mention the issue in his prayer, he should at least state the issue fairly and honestly. And, in the same meeting with the consistory that Sunday afternoon of last Jan. 14 (this was said at a meeting of the consistory members) I, in the light of the fact that the consistory had now begun to criticize me because of my emphasis upon the Protestant Reformed truth, had been deceitful when they had maintained last summer that I should preach the Protestant Reformed truth and that the preaching would take care of those who really did not belong to us. I confess that I was angry at Van Huizen that Sunday afternoon of last Jan. 14. But I was provoked at the things he had said in his congregational prayer, and also at their deceitfulness for first declaring that I should preach the Protestant Reformed truth and then criticizing me, at the time of my suspension, because of my emphasis upon the particular character of the promise. Never before had I had anything personal with any consistory member except Hart, until this Sunday of last Jan. 14. I repeat: the congregation of Hamilton never intended to become Protestant Reformed. In all my dealings with these immigrants here, I never heard one favorable comment on Rev. Hoeksema’s meditations in the Dutch language; in fact, the only time that the immigrants evinced any interest in the Standard Bearer was when the Declaration was about to make its appearance. This is simply a fact.
The Week of January 14-20, 1951
Monday, January 15, I wrote a letter to the consistory requesting the privilege of addressing the congregation after the afternoon service on Jan. 21 for the purpose of enlightening the congregation in connection with my suspension. I was told then that arrangements would be made to call a meeting of the consistory. However, no word reached either Reitsma or the undersigned. Wednesday noon we received word (I called John Ton, he did not call me) that the consistory meeting had been held the Tuesday evening before, and we would receive word per letter. This consistory meeting, we understand, was illegal. Neither Reitsma nor I had been notified of the meeting. This implies, of course, that any decision taken at that meeting was also illegal. Well, Friday noon the undersigned received a letter from the clerk of the consistory, which we now quote: “Honorable Sir: The brethren, L. Van Huizen, J. Ton, and the undersigned have decided to acknowledge you and br. Reitsma no longer as legal officebearers of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hamilton. From this it follows automatically that they present themselves as the legal consistory, and now follows a literal copy of the decision which we have taken in this capacity (qualiteit). The consistory of the First Protestant Reformed Church of Hamilton, in their gathering of Jan. 16, 1951, feel themselves constrained to return to their decision of Friday, Jan. 12, 1951, and instead of the suspension of Rev. Veldman, to separate from the communion of churches, upon the ground that they are conscious of the impossibility to exercise their office laid upon them by Christ; inasmuch as the attitude of Rev. Veldman and the elder Reitsma last Sunday make it impossible for us to continue in the ecclesiastical way, while if appears that the churches in the States do not exercise the least effort to reveal any conception of our difficulties. This, however, does not imply that we, on our part, do not wish to be Protestant Reformed, but it merely implies that we accuse Rev. Veldman and the communion of churches (kerkverband) that they make it impossible for us to find a place for our reformatory striving in the communion of churches. The fact that Classis East answered: No, upon our request to make Rev. Veldman loose, and in addition adopted the report of the classical committee, in which it is declared that through our action, are guilty of violating our oath of office and, secondly, as if we sin against our signing of the formula of subscription and that we also sin against the second question of the Baptism Form and the first question to them who publicly confess their faith, proves to us abundantly that Classis East at least completely maintains the binding. They consider themselves obligated to make a final appeal to the church requesting that justice be done. Whereunto we declare that this severing from the communion of churches is in effect only as long as the Protestant Reformed Churches maintain the anti-scriptural binding, and will return to this fellowship as soon as they again begin to live according to Scripture and the Confessions. They also declare herewith that they wish to live in fellowship with all who heartily subscribe to Holy Writ and the Three Forms of Unity, and decide to seek association (toenadering) with the Free Reformed Churches of Canada.” Thus far the letter which the undersigned received from the consistory, which we have translated into the English.
This missive speaks for itself. A long comment is not necessary. Our readers will notice that my suspension was lifted and also that I was virtually deposed at the same consistory meeting. The second paragraph speaks of “returning to the decision of Jan. 12 and instead of the suspension of Rev. Veldman.” Hence, my suspension was lifted. At the same time, however, the beginning of the letter declares that Reitsma and I are no longer acknowledged as the legal officebearers and that they present themselves as the legal consistory. Here we are virtually deposed. We should also note that Reitsma was virtually deposed at a consistory meeting without being notified of this consistory meeting. He was simply deposed without a hearing, yea, without being informed that there was a consistory meeting. And, mind you, he was the vice- president of the consistory. They speak of their “reformatory striving” (reformatisch streven) within our churches. Does anyone wonder what kind of striving this is? And they declare themselves willing to return to our fellowship as soon as we once more live according to Scripture and the Confessions, whereas in the meantime the undersigned has the testimony of the consistory that he preached the full Word of God, subjectively and practically, and also that they never heard him say anything which, in their opinion, was not in harmony with those Scriptures and the Confessions. Of course, they mean the Scriptures and the Confessions as they interpret them.
Friday noon, Jan. 19, I contacted John Ton by telephone. I told him that I had received the letter and also that I desired to meet with the consistory that evening. Things had to be arranged and discussed. I have already stated that the consistory meeting of Jan. 16 was illegal and that therefore the decisions of that meeting were illegal. This implies that the deposition of Reitsma was illegal, that therefore my suspension was still in effect, for, inasmuch as the meeting of Jan. 16 was illegal and therefore everything decided after that meeting also illegal, things simply were as they were before the consistory meeting of Jan. 16. The synod of Middelburg, 1581, treated a case exactly as this. The provincial synod of Brabant came to that Synod with the question whether consistory meetings were illegal when all the members of the consistory had not been notified of a consistory meeting but only such members had been notified of the meeting who were in agreement with a certain motion or viewpoint. Our readers will understand that this question of the Synod of Brabant fits our present case in Hamilton exactly. The Synod of Middelburg, 1581, decided that decisions taken at such a consistory could be declared illegal by a legal consistory, and that unusual gatherings were only then legal when all the members had been properly notified. Surely the “consistory meeting” of Jan. 16 was an unusual meeting, a meeting when the president and vice president were “read out” of the consistory, and the decision was reached to sever connections with the Protestant Reformed Churches, It is for this reason, and also because final arrangements had to be made that the undersigned urgently requested a meeting of the consistory. We wished to impress upon the “legal consistory” of Hamilton that they had acted contrary to the Church Order, that matters therefore stood as they were before the “consistory meeting” of Jan. 16. I was told by John Ton that this meeting which I requested would be difficult, inasmuch as the “legal” consistory was meeting that evening with the congregation. Hence, also without our knowledge, a congregational meeting was being held the Friday evening of Jan. 19, 1951. I persisted in my request for a consistory meeting, told the brother that the consistory meeting of Jan. 16 was illegal and that therefore any decision taken that evening was also illegal. In the evening Van Huizen called me to tell me that I would be given no opportunity to meet with the consistory, that they were through with Reitsma and also with me (these were literally his words), and that any arrangement which the consistory must make in my behalf they would make. When this brother remarked that any decision the consistory must make they would make, he meant to say (as he did say) that any decision they would have to make concerning me they would make and without my being present.
Even so, one final attempt was made to convince these erring brethren of Hamilton of the error and folly of their ways. The undersigned did not attend the services in the Labor Temple the Sunday morning of Jan. 21. However, my wife did. Also brother Reitsma went to the service that morning. He went there to read to them out of the Church Order and convince them that they must undo their folly of Jan. 16 and whatever happened subsequently. The deceitfulness of these people and their hatred of our churches became fully apparent that Sunday morning. One of the “brethren”, of whom the undersigned can say that his relationship with him had always been most cordial (brother Linda of Brantford) simply poured out his gall upon the undersigned, declaring, among other things, that I had never preached a good sermon as long as I had been in Hamilton. When he was told that it had always been said that I was reformed, he replied that I had been reformed only in a half way. When my wife entered the room where the service was to be held, the people already assembled there left the room and left her sitting alone in the room. Reitsma was told upon his arrival that the service was to be held at the home of John Ton. We heard the evening before that the service was to be held in the Labor Temple. Besides, one of the deacons, when he arrived for the service the Sunday morning of Jan. 21, said that the service was scheduled for the Labor Temple. These people evince no regard whatsoever for the Church Order. And they surely have no interest in the Cause of the Protestant Reformed Churches. They had regard for our churches only as long as they could affiliate themselves with our churches, as Liberated.
This concludes the history of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hamilton. I need say no more. This is already my third article. May our Protestant Reformed Churches learn from this experience and once more vow to hold fast that which we have.