Originally it was not my purpose to write about the overture from the consistory of Hudsonville requesting that our churches approach the Protesting First Christian Reformed Church of Kalamazoo with a view to a possible reunion of that church with our churches.

In the first place, to rehearse the history that caused the separate existence of the Kalamazoo church is very distasteful to me. That part of our history that concerns our relation to this church recalls incidents that are far more corrupt and grievous than that which brought about our ejection from the Christian Reformed Churches. I believe that I would rather pass through an experience similar to that of 1924 a hundred times than that I would once more have to live through the history of 1925-26. Hence, if it could have been avoided I would not have broached this subject at all. I was even thankful that I did not have to attend the last classical meeting, so that I did not have to be present when all the dirt of that period was raked to the surface once more.

And, secondly, after the previous classical gathering adopted the overture from the Fuller Ave. consistory with regard to this matter, I trusted that the question would be considered in the proper light and decided accordingly.

But now there are several reasons why I may not keep silent.

There is, first of all, the fact that the classis did not carry out its own decision, and really sidetracked the matter as it was presented by the overture from Fuller Ave. This overture requested the classis to appoint a committee whose task it would be to bring before the attention of the classis all the historical data relative to the matter, in order that the question of approaching the Kalamazoo church might be discussed and determined in the light of that history. And I am informed by the Rev. Ophoff that this was not carried out. The committee did not bring all the historical data before the classis. And the classis decided the matter without having the proper light on the question.

Secondly, and in close connection with the preceding, the classis did reach a decision that can satisfy no one. If I am correctly informed its decision was that Kalamazoo must take the first step. This decision is not only tantamount to dodging the issue, but is also sinful. More about this presently.

In the third place, the Rev. J. De Jong of Hudsonville has been discussing this matter publicly in “Our Church News” and has been trying to present his conception of the matter to our people. And this is, of course, his right. We certainly should not limit or deny the right to anyone to discuss ecclesiastical matters in public if he so desires. But when one assumes the responsibility of leadership in so important a matter as the one under discussion, especially as editor of a paper, he ought to be doubly careful that he presents the matter correctly and in the right light. In this case it is paramount that the whole matter be viewed in the light of its history. And this is exactly what the pastor of Hudsonville failed to do. He ignored it entirely. I can understand that the history of this case does not concern him as deeply as it should, for the simple reason that he does not know it by experience. But this should have been all the more incentive for him to make a thorough study of the matter. If we may judge from his articles he failed to do this. And because of this his articles are leading us in the wrong direction.

And, therefore, loath though I may be to discuss this matter, I may not be silent.

The matter is very important for our churches. And those who are acquainted with the history of this case will understand me when I here declare that it would be morally impossible for me to follow our churches if a decision should be taken in the wrong direction.

Now, why should it be considered so important that all the historical data must be brought before the attention of our churches, whenever the question of approaching the Protesting First Christian Reformed Church of Kalamazoo is broached? First of all, because that history will clearly reveal that the Kalamazoo church has grievously sinned. And the sin of that church I do not hesitate to describe as consisting in this, that with wicked intent and for personal reasons it deliberately attempted to destroy the cause of God as represented by our churches.

You say: that is strong language?

I answer: it is none too strong. It expresses exactly what happened. I will not rehearse the history. Just recall what took place in Hull. Just refresh your memory on the history of our School. Just bring back to your memory what Kalamazoo tried to do with our Standard Bearer, how they deliberately forsook us, for no other reasons than personal ones, evidently hoping that the Rev. Ophoff and the undersigned would not be able to continue our publication. Just think of the meeting in Woodman Hall, Grand Rapids, followed by that in the Y.M.C.A. in Kalamazoo. But I will mention no more. Anyone may consult the records and be convinced that the language used above is none too strong.

I say advisedly that this is the sin of the Kalamazoo church.

You may, probably, be inclined to object that this was all the work of the pastor of that church and his nephews, and that you cannot blame his church for this. But with this I cannot agree. The church is to blame. I am well aware of the fact that there are good men in Kalamazoo, that never did agree with the work of their pastor and consistory.’ I am not writing of individuals. But the church of Kalamazoo always maintained its pastor, and is just as guilty as he is. And, therefore, you cannot separate the two.

Secondly, it is important that this history is rehearsed before our people and churches, before they ever take a decision in this matter, because the older our churches become the more there will be both among the leaders and the people that are not acquainted by experience with this history. They must be instructed.

But, you ask, can we not let “bygones be bygones” and simply try to unite? Let us simply arrange a colloquy with Kalamazoo, to see what can be done to get together.

I receive the impression that the overture from Hudsonville has some such action in view. And “Our Church News” tries to persuade our people to follow in this direction.

To this we are strenuously opposed, for the simple reason that it is contrary to the Word of God, and for this reason harmful to our churches. The Scriptures do not teach us that we should let “bygones be bygones,” but that we should rebuke him that sins against us. And what is true for individuals certainly holds for churches.

And this is also the reason why I consider the classical decision wrong.

Classis decided that Kalamazoo should take the first step. But this is contrary to Scripture. If your brother sins against you, you are the one that should take the first step and rebuke him.

Besides, it is not at all the question just now, who should take the first step. Why should we not take the first step in approaching Kalamazoo? There is no reasonable answer, and surely no Biblical answer to this question. But the paramount question at the present time ought to be put thus: Are we justified before God to expose our churches once more to the same pernicious influence, the dangers of the spirit of personal ambition, envy, suspicion and disruption, to which they were exposed by Kalamazoo in 1925-26?

Our churches certainly have the right to know that this shall never again be the case, before we can ever talk of reunion.

Any leadership that would ignore this question I do not consider safe for our churches to follow.

Our coming Synod will certainly have to consider this question.

May we, then, not approach Kalamazoo and take the first step?

I can see no possible objection to this, provided;

That our synod thoroughly review the history of the case.
That she bring the historical data to the attention of the church of Kalamazoo.
That she rebuke that church for its sin of having deliberately attempted to destroy the work of God as represented by our churches.
That she admonish that church to repent.

If in this way we gain that church we can talk about reunion, but not before.

There is no other way according to the Word of God. And no other way is safe for our churches.

The Rev. De Jong quotes from the overture of Fuller Ave. relative to the address the synod is to send to the synod of the Christian Reformed Churches, in order to defend his view of the Kalamazoo case.

But he only selects from that overture what suits him best. Had he quoted the entire overture it would have become plain that its intention is to follow the same line of approach to the Christian Reformed Churches as I advocated above with regard to the church of Kalamazoo.

We will first remind that church of the history of 1924, and rebuke her and admonish her to repent. Only then will we consider the matter of a colloquy and talk about the possibility of reunion.

And we may never do anything else with respect to Kalamazoo.