A few days after these lines appear in print, our churches will, the Lord willing, celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of our denomination. After twenty five years have come and gone, one might expect that among those who cast us out because we would not go the way of false doctrine with them by subscribing to the “Three Points’’ of Arminianism which they had composed, there would be those who still wished to see our denomination dissolve and that they could thus conveniently forget that sad period of their history when they cast out men whom they confessed were “reformed” and when they had corrupted reformed Church Polity in many ways.
There are also wild rumors as to what individuals in these churches have to say about us. The story gets around that one of their ministers had stated that our denomination was about to “blow up” any day now. Another congregation is said to be waiting to purchase that “desirable property on Fuller and Franklin”, the location of our Fuller Ave. Church. The undersigned is not given to believe all the stories which come to his ears and is not writing this article because he heard such rumors. But the undersigned was exposed to a speech of lies and slander which do reflect a case of wishful thinking. The speaker was the Rev. M. M. Schans, a retired minister of the Christian Reformed Churches. The undersigned urged him to apologize for his slander and pointed out to him that as long as he does not, he is walking in that sin. But this retired pastor, who did so evilly in 1924 as minister of the Kellogsville Christian Reformed Church, refused even to answer the correspondence of the undersigned. We therefore publish the following letters which are self-explanatory, and we let our readers judge the matter for themselves. And you Christian Reformed readers, we urge you to demand an investigation of that illegal action of 1924 or write the Rev. Schans and urge him to make a denial in the Banner of this sinful and illegal act of his. In the light of that work in 1924, we are sure that our readers can also understand his absolute silence now on this matter. That can only be the reason, for from the letter below, it is also evident to him that the undersigned can expose much more evil which he so publicly spread abroad about ministers in his own churches and their wives, etc. etc.
The letters we sent him are as follows:
December 13, 1949
The Rev. M. Schans
West 21st St. Holland, Mich.
Dear Rev. Schans,
This letter, without a doubt, comes to you as a complete surprise. And yet the very audible and bold way in which you spoke so sneeringly and bitterly of the Prot. Ref. Churches and of what you termed the “points of friction” in these churches last Monday morning should have wrought within you the expectation that it might not go unchallenged. You see, Rev. Schans, I was one of the passengers on that C & O train who rode directly behind you all the way from Detroit to Grand Rapids, and I could not help but overhear your attempts in clearly exposed and sinful glee to inform the pastor from Dutton (I do not know his name) of these “points of friction”. So loudly did you speak of these things that sitting behind you I heard every word you spoke on this matter and many others without making any special effort. To hear the conversation of those who sit behind you in a train is often possible because then the voices of the speakers travels directly toward you. But when you were facing away from me and sitting ahead of me, and I was yet unable to get away from your words—and Mr. Sjoerdsma riding with me also heard all these things without any difficulty—I need not emphasize that your slanderous backbiting and malicious spreading of untruths, of which you also confessed to your fellow pastor that you do not know all the facts, was spoken loudly and publicly.
The purpose of this letter is not to call your attention to what Scripture says of such malicious evil speaking and lack of brotherly love except to remind you that you will have to answer for it before God’s judgment seat. If you believe all these things to be true of which you spoke, and if things are as bad in our churches as you pictured them to be, why do you not pray for us and why did you not urge the pastor from Dutton to do so instead of spreading all the filth and dirt of distorted facts of which you are not sure and have only heard a few things from a Calvin student whom you confessed to be your source of information. And you sat there asking your fellow passenger if he knew any more dirt and whether he had heard of this dirt of which you had heard and yet did not know in its proper setting. Eager you were to spread more evil. But way not pray for us, if you think these things are true. That is your duty then. Your churches believe in praying for everyone, even the reprobate for whom Christ would not pray, and yet you will not pray for the Prot. Ref. Churches. Why not, especially when your Synod said in 1924 that our leaders were “reformed”. Look up your own Acts. But the purpose of this letter is to give you the facts and to set you right on these “points of friction” which do not exist,
I will briefly give you the facts in the order in which you presented the lie. And I did not take notes while you spoke, but your slander was so vile that at this moment I can still hear it ring in my ears. Ask the pastor from Dutton whether my presentation is not true, and I have Mr. Sjoerdsma for my witness that I did not write a single thing down. But listen once:
1. The Rev. De Jong and the Rev. Kok were not suspended because the one or the other wrote a letter to Dr. Schilder or to anyone in the Netherlands stating that the differences in doctrine in our churches must not be emphasized. Please go to Hope College. I am sure that you can get all the Standard Bearer article on this matter there in the Library. Study the matter. Do not go by hearsay. The Rev. De Jong and the Rev. B. Kok are ministers in good standing in our congregations. And on that conference with Dr. Schilder a few years ago our Rev. Hoeksema and Dr. Schilder did not come to a greater separation on the covenant doctrine than before. Look up the Standard Bearer, Vol. 24, numbers 5 and 8 before you ever say that again.
2. The Rev. Hoeksema’s son was not a professor the Curatorium did not like or want. And that sneering remark of yours of “so-called professors” was not spoken either in love to God and His Church. The Rev. Hoeksema’s son was appointed to a post-graduate course to our school by the Synod of 1947 with a view to an eventual and possible chair of professor in Pre-Seminary subjects. Then before he could take this course the Rev. Hoeksema became ill, and we asked his son to help us out with certain Pre-Seminary subjects. This he did even while taking his post-graduate course. Then in two years’ time the Rev. Hoeksema was restored remarkably and even unbelievably. And you people who maintain that material things are blessings in themselves will have to admit in this recovery of Rev. Hoeksema that God’s grace rests abundantly upon him, and yet you continue to hate a man God continues to bless. What then of Genesis 27:29b . . . .cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee. . . . ? When it became evident that the Rev. Hoeksema, although greatly restored, could not bear the full burden of the load he formerly took upon himself, it was decided to call a third professor for Seminary subjects. The name of Rev. Hoeksema’s son appeared on the nomination as our Acts will show. The Synod evidently was of the opinion that a man with experience in the congregation was more advisable for Seminary subjects. So your distortion of the truth fails miserably. And as to so-called professors, why is it that with your Calvin set-up the immigrants in Canada always complain of the light, superficial sermons delivered by your ministers and students with weak or lack of exegesis? That too is a fact. First fix up Calvin before casting reflections on our men.
3. Raleigh Huizinga—and I know the man, he was our neighbor for many years—may have heard and spread the rumor that the Rev. Ophoff is in “the dog-house”. But this too is wishful thinking. And then what of the Rev. P. Vos formerly of Walker and the Rev. R. Veldman formerly of West Leonard, or the late Prof. Kromminga of whom you also spoke with his dangerous views? Why did you two not limit yourselves to those in the Christian Reformed Churches who are and were in the Chr. Ref. “dog-house”?
4. The Rev. Kok never wrote a catechism book and the Rev. Hoeksema has not written all our catechism books and was not in jealousy and envy starting friction to defend himself. The Rev. P. De Boer also wrote many of our books and if you would investigate insteadof go by hearsay of things you like to hear, you would find that the Rev. Hoeksema approved fully of these books. But you see, Rev. Schans, that although you spoke so sneeringly of the Rev. Hoeksema as “the pope”, we believe in doing things legally, decently and in order and do not lightly set the Consistory, Classis and Synod on a side track. Remember 1924? Where was the pope then? Where was he in Kellogsville when her minister sent in an overture to Classis which his consistory had not approved? That sounds like a pope to me.
5. Carl Reitsma, for that is his name, is not attending Kampen as sent by our churches on a scholarship. And again it is wishful thinking that the Rev. Hoeksema’s son was passed by in this scholarship. Carl is going under his own arrangement with an immigrant in Canada. And our churches have given no scholarship to anyone. Besides your sneering remark as you leered at your fellow pastor that we have only one student in school this year is a gross lie. At present we have seven students and several students in Kampen are working hard to make arrangements to attend our school, even in January if possible. But if we did have only one student in school, do you rejoice and gloat over it? Why not pray for us that we may have more? You can work along and esteem those who put you out, the Reformed Churches in America, but those YOU put out may not even enjoy your pity and be the objects of your prayers. Is that brotherly? Is that Christian?
6. The school on Adams St. will open D. V. in September. Work has not been stopped because most of our people are against it. If you will look up the records you will find that our people are far more interested in Christian schools than the percentage your churches can claim. And this school on Adams St. is well supported by our people, also financially. You know of course—and that is for you a sore spot—that we have a congregation not only but also a school of our own in Redlands. But did you know that we have had one here too in Hope the last three years, that one is being built in Edgerton, Minn., to be opened D.Y. in September, and that our churches are working toward providing a Normal training for our teachers? No, Mr. Schans, our churches are not as dead as you would like to see them. We hope D.Y. to celebrate our 25th Anniversary in March, and you will have to admit that by God’s grace we, have not gone backward but forward in these years. But did you ever stop to consider the truth of Scripture that if our churches are the work of God YOU cannot overthrow them? And in twenty five years you have not been able to do so. We are smaller than your denomination, but does Scripture not teach that the Church is always small?
Rev. Schans have you ever read The History of the Prot. Ref. Churches, by the Rev. H. Hoeksema? There is mention made there of a certain Rev. M. Schans of Kellogsville, and evil works are attributed to him. He has never denied them after the book has been published. Why not? Nothing in that book as far as the historical facts are concerned has ever been denied. Why not? Because it all can be proven. If what is stated there of you is not true, please publish a statement to that effect in the Banner or the Standard Bearer. I challenge you to do so. If you do not intend to do so, then by all means do not speak no slanderously of us with the record you have yourself there and in Redlands too. Did you ever—how many times have you—preached on Lord’s Day 43? Look up what is stated there if you do not recall.
Perhaps you wonder why I did not identify myself on the train and set you straight right there. I assure you that I had to hold myself. But I did not think that it was wise to display before the unbelievers there present the struggle the church of Christ has here on this earth. I did not deem a public debate and argument there either wise or proper. I believe God’s Church to be too holy objectively in Christ to display before the unholy world the subjective weaknesses of the flesh wherewith we must contend all this life. You felt bold to spread before all the world and before any unbeliever who might listen, and I could tell several were listening, the imperfections and weaknesses of the Church of God. And you surely left the impression that you rejoiced in these imperfections.
And so, Rev. Schans, I am demanding of you that you apologize to me and to Mr. Andrew Sjoerdsma for these evil things of which you spoke. I demand that you inform the pastor of Dutton also of this letter and inform him of your apology and set him straight on those lies which you told him. And unless I receive such an apology from you I shall feel free to publish this matter, which after all you already published all through that train and made no attempt to keep secret. And there are other things you said about others I will not mention in this letter, but you surely felt free to air all your ideas loudly and publicly. And so I say again, unless you force me to do so by refusing to apologize, I will say no more. But if I do not receive such an apology for myself and Mr. Sjoerdsma and a testimony that you have also set the pastor of Dutton straight, this will have to be published so that these evil lies are spread no further and you churches may read what its leaders are saying and doing. For I seek the welfare of God’s Church and seek neither your downfall nor that of your churches. But I am convinced that I may not allow you to continue to walk in this sinful way.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. J. A. Heys.
January 16, 1950
The Rev. M. Schans West 21st St.
Dear Rev. Schans,
It is now more than four weeks since I wrote you and informed you that if I did not receive an apology from you for your slanderous remarks in regard to our churches, I would have to publish the letter I sent to you.
I also sent a copy of that letter to the Rev. Handlogten of Dutton, and no doubt you too have corresponded concerning it. For that I gave you sufficient time. And as I stated in my closing remarks, I am not seeking your downfall nor that of your churches. For that reason I waited patiently. For that reason I am again writing you, for you know and I know that any sin not confessed is a sin in which we are walking. And I do not desire to see you walk in it any longer. But if no letter of apology is forthcoming from you, there is but one thing left for me to do. Your silence is also your answer then.
I will have to publish the matter unless an apology is made in the very near future. And our people and the many people of your churches who have begun to read the Standard Bearer of late will be able to judge for themselves what your silence means. For not only is there no confession, but significantly also no denial. And how could there be such a denial. There are witnesses.
Of course, the matter now will have to be published with the added element of your absolute silence.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. J. A. Heys.
P. S. In regard to that school on Adams St., I was informed after I wrote you that it is nearly completed and is entirely PAID FOR as it stands, having no debt at all. That is amazing, and that speaks loudly of the interest and support of the thing by our people. There is also added information in re the matter of the Rev. De Jong and the Rev. Kok in the latest Standard Bearer, Jan. 15 copy. Please look it up.