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Prof. K. Schilder has drawn the issue very clearly in his recent articles in the Reformatie on the Declaration which has been approved by Classis East End rejected by Classis West. The undersigned does not intend to discuss these articles. This rests in the capable hands of the editor of the Standard Bearer. However, we do wish to write a few lines in connection with the fact that the issue has been clearly drawn.

Professor Schilder is not merely opposed to the Declaration. He is also opposed to the binding decision of our classical meeting of October, 1950. He does not acknowledge any differences between the Liberated Churches and our churches and suggests that all so-called differences are merely doctrinal and dogmatical opinions of individuals. Hence, he advocates that nothing binding be laid before liberated immigrants when they seek admittance into the fellowship of our churches. If we maintain the Declaration and also the binding decision of the October classis (the professor very correctly identifies the two), so the professor continues, our churches will commit hari-kari, ecclesiastical suicide. The undersigned, however, is of the conviction that, if we do not maintain them, we commit hari-kari.

Permit me to begin with this question: Are we and must we remain distinctively Protestant Reformed? The professor denies this. The immigrants in Canada deny this. Do we have a distinctively Protestant Reformed calling? And, if we have such a distinctively Protestant Reformed calling, how must we maintain it, and this particularly over against those who deny this? Have we been following Rev. Hoeksema merely as a man, and have we merely been following his personal opinions through all these years, since 1924? Or, has it been our conviction that he has been and is being used by God to reveal unto us the beauty of the Scriptures and of the Reformed truth? Let us, in these momentous days, take inventory, recall the past, and analyze the struggle which we have fought as Protestant Reformed Churches. I appeal to our people, in Classis East and in Classis West, to ask themselves the question: Why were we cast out of the Christian Reformed Church and what have we been maintaining all these years? Have we not been privileged by the Lord to champion the truth that the grace of God is sovereignly particular, that it is particular according to the sovereign pleasure and will of the Lord. To say that the grace of God is particular is not peculiarly reformed; to say that it is sovereignly particular is reformed. And because we believe that the grace of God (there is only one grace) is sovereignly particular, we have applied this truth consistently all along the line. It is for this reason that we have refused to accept the theory of an offer of salvation, and have proclaimed that the gospel is not only a savor of life unto life but also of death unto death, and this according to the good pleasure of the Lord. Hence, the gospel is never grace to all the hearers. But, applying the truth of God’s sovereignly particular grace consistently, we have also proclaimed that the same must apply to the sacraments. This explains why we have rejected the Heynsian error of a general promise (this is the main tenet of Heynsianism, not that of a preparatory, subjective grace). We have indeed maintained the truth that divine election is the heart and core of the Church of God. Twenty-seven years ago we preferred expulsion from the Churches wherein we formerly had a name and a place, rather than deny what we believed to be the truth according to the Word of God and our Confessions. If twenty-seven years ago we had been confronted with the Declaration as a statement of that which we believed to be the truth of Scripture and the Confessions, not one among us would have hesitated. Let us recall these days and analyze anew the struggle which gave birth to our Protestant Reformed churches.

Today we are called to work among the immigrants in Canada. Professor Schilder has clearly drawn the line. And permit me to add: also the immigrants in Canada have clearly drawn the line. First, one listens in vain among them for emphasis upon the truths of God’s election and reprobation (except those very few who came to Canada some four or five years ago, but refused to take a stand for our Protestant Reformed Churches when it involved them in taking a stand over against Liberated immigrants). The doctrine of election is mentioned with great hesitation and that of reprobation is completely silenced. The theory of a general promise is generally advocated. And, according to these immigrants, this means that God does not baptize a child in His wrath but in His favor, that the sacrament of baptism is for every child a token of divine grace, mercy, and love. Besides, they wish to join our churches as liberated, do not wish to be bound to any binding decision. This is true throughout Canada. This was clearly evinced at our classical meetings which were held last October, January, and February. I challenge anyone to prove the contrary. They intend to retain the liberty to maintain and propagate their own views as members of our Protestant Reformed Churches. And in this they are fully supported out of the Netherlands.

Indeed, the issue is clearly drawn. First, let no man say (as has been rumored) that the undersigned is responsible, either wholly or in part, for the collapse of our Protestant Reformed church in Hamilton. If I am responsible for Hamilton’s debacle, then every minister and elder who were delegated to our October, 1950 classis must share equally this responsibility. Hamilton’s Liberated left us, not because of the Declaration, but because of the binding decision, originally adopted by the consistory last June 5, and enforced by the October classis. Every delegate at that October classis, excepting one delegate from our congregation of Chatham, voted to maintain this binding decision. All I did in Hamilton was merely to enforce it. This is the reason for Hamilton’s collapse. Hence, every minister and elder of classis East, who voted to maintain this binding decision, must share equal responsibility with me. And, this also emphasizes the point that Hamilton’s suspension and virtual deposition of the undersigned was a suspension and deposition of every Protestant Reformed minister of our churches. Secondly, I must refute the theory that Hamilton’s debacle must be regarded as a local affair. Anyone who reads the Reformatie and has been following the articles of Prof. Schilder on the Declaration will realize the absurdity of this theory. Permit me to emphasize: I was suspended as a Protestant Reformed minister by the people of our church of Hamilton as Liberated. At no time did anything personal ever enter into the matter of my suspension. To quote the official decision of the consistory at its meeting of January 12, 1951, I was suspended because I refused to submit to the basis as willed by the consistory. This basis was the rejection of the binding decision which was enforced by the classis of October, 1950. It was simply a case of a congregation and consistory which had called me and promised to bind themselves to me (as a Protestant Reformed minister), later violated its promise, and disposed of me without one word of appreciation for me or our churches, and demanded that I bind myself to them. This is the record. Having accepted the call to Hamilton because I believed that the Lord laid it upon me, and with the desire and resolve to serve our Protestant Reformed churches, the undersigned wonders not a little why the opponents of the Declaration never refer to my suspension in any of their writings. To accept the call to Hamilton was difficult. To be treated like scum and off scouring by the congregation of Hamilton was worse. But, to wonder whether I have the backing and support of our churches is surely the most difficult of all.

I repeat: the issue is clearly drawn. Are we to remain Protestant Reformed? I wish to ask Rev. De Jong and Rev. Petter, and possibly others, the question: “Do we have a distinctively Protestant Reformed calling? Must we maintain that calling? And how must we maintain that calling when we labor among people who deny that calling? How can we best labor among them and preserve our distinctiveness?” Are we and must we remain Protestant Reformed? If we abolish all binding, permit people to join our churches who maintain their own conception of the general promise, we will grow. We will grow numerically. But, we shall cease to exist as Protestant Reformed Churches.

Are we ready to give up our heritage, to renounce our distinctiveness? Are we ready to permit the infiltration into our churches of a conception the rejection whereof constitutes the very origin and heart and cause and right of our existence? What is to be our answer in these momentous days of decision? And let us not make the mistake in the attempt to show that these immigrants are reformed, Calvinistic, and biblical and as such should be welcome into our fellowship by quoting many things from their leaders with which we can and must agree. The undersigned repeats what he has said and written in the past: a preacher or writer must be judged, not in the light of the reformed things he speaks or writes, but in the light of the things which are contrary to the reformed truth. Do we recall our own struggle of the last twenty seven years? Do we recall how the leaders and preachers of the Christian Reformed Church declared agreement with the truths of election and reprobation, particular atonement, efficacy and irresistible character of the grace of God? Let us then please bear in mind: these immigrants teach a conception of the promise which we have been rejecting ever since 1924. And, they insist on the liberty to continue to maintain this conception and spread it in our churches. Prof. Schilder may insist that we, to reveal ourselves as a church of Jesus Christ, should receive them into our fellow ship. We, however, reiterate that to do so would be to commit hari-kari. This would be suicide for our Protestant Reformed Cause. Much has been written to show why we can best serve our churches by adopting the Declaration. I conclude with this question: Will someone please show us how we can best serve our churches by not adopting it? Because, as far as the undersigned is concerned, my one concern is the churches whom I love and am privileged to serve.