The Standard Bearer in Retrospect

(The above title appeared in the Standard Bearer of February 1, 1936, Vol. 12, pages 198 and 199. The Dutch title can be translated: “Deserting Protestants” or, “Protestants Who Run Away”. The article, of course, was also Dutch — as were many others in early volumes of the Standard Bearer. But the editorial is very pertinent to any age of the church; it speaks to us yet today. The subject touches upon a situation which we have observed repeatedly in the history of the Protestant Reformed Churches — and doubtlessly a situation which exists in other denominations as well. Read it then for instruction and warning for our own day.)

Moreover, the classis will see to it that the minister or the consistory are protected. 

Hence, he will demand his papers! 

And then, when he has received his certificate of membership, and therefore has lost all right of protest, he still goes about among “friend” and foe in order to complain about the injustice he suffered and about that “godless” consistory. And, sad to say, but a fact nevertheless, there are always sufficient simple souls who lend their ear — who do not understand that such a man’s “cause” is good for nothing; who lament over him and with him proceed to weep for the “apostasy” of the church. 

Such deserters or their friends even write letters to east and west concerning their “cause”. 

Now and again I even receive articles wherein the deserters or their partisans purpose to unburden their hearts in rather severe language in the Standard Bearer. Articles such as these the Standard Bearerdoes not publish, of course; both because it would place such authors themselves in a bad light, and also because it would reduce the Standard Bearer to a garbage container. 

A protesting deserter is good for nothing! 

Anyone who really has a “cause”, who is convinced in his conscience before God that he is not dominated by sinful motives, that he champions the truth, loves the brethren, loves Zion, and who carries God’s cause in his heart, never becomes a deserter! Indeed, he is not concerned whether or not he will win his cause; he fights for God’s cause. And if that is his aim, how then could he become a deserter? He will protest in the right way as long as the possibility of protest exists. Others may heap injustice upon him; some may refuse to take to heart what is to him the cause of God; yea, he may finally even perish himself in an ecclesiastical sense — but he will never become a deserter. 

The deserter has no spiritual “backbone”. 

He really knows in the depth of his heart that his “cause” is no good; that it is not love for God and His cause; nor is it a love for the church and the brethren which constrains him. 

He cannot get his way. Therefore he deserts. 

This man rather employs backbiting and slander in order to cast a blot on Zion’s name before friend and foe. 

The deserting protestant is a spiritual coward. 

Over against him we have but one calling. That calling is not that we should receive him kindly in order to listen to his “whispering” and to become guilty with him in the casting of a blot on Zion’s name; but that we point out to him his sin against the ninth commandment, and to admonish him to walk in the correct way if he really thinks that he has a “cause”. 

But this is certain: the deserting protestant is good for nothing!