- Author: S. de Marie
- Magazine Vol. 5
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God’s Case against His Church in His Way to Reformation*
A speech held in Attercliffe, Ontario, Canada, on November 3rd 2010, for members of the Canadian Reformed Churches
IntroductionIn 2003, there was a Liberation of the church in the Netherlands. A liberation from synod decisions, and therefore a liberation from the bond or federation of churches of the Gereformeerde Kerken Vrijgemaakt (RCN liberated). A liberation also from the councils of their churches, in order to continue the church outside the instituted Reformed Churches liberated, resulting in the formation of De Gereformeerde Kerken (hersteld) or The Reformed Churches (restored).
Was that Liberation of 2003 legitimate? Was it necessary and was it inevitable? Is it defendable today? Was it and is it the correct way to proceed, and is it therefore a call for everyone in the RCN liberated who wishes to be a member of the true church of Christ?
A liberation should always be judged on the basis of two criteria:
The first deals with the Confession and the Doctrine of the Church, forming her foundation, and including her marks; this issue therefore has to do with the truth.
The other deals with the Church order and law, that has to do with the unity.
Because Truth and Unity should both be involved. So on both of these issues the legitimacy of the deed of Liberation seven years ago, should be assessed.
You should even approach the Liberation with a deeper, a cardinal question: was it from God; or was it not from God, but from man?
That crucial question is also relevant to those who must judge this Liberation. Their judgment will also have consequences for their relationship with God Himself.
You can read that in Scripture, when it deals with the judgement on the Liberation from the House of sin by Jesus Christ, in Acts 5. When the apostle Peter was arrested by the Sanhedrin for teaching in the name of Jesus, Peter had a clear and determined answer about the Liberation by Christ and His followers:
We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
Additionally, by this, Peter pointed not only to God as the originator of this Liberation, but also to the consequences of it, the calling: We must obey God by following Jesus in the way we have done. Gamaliël on the other hand pretended uncertainty in the same Liberation. He summarized the problem of judgement and the attitude towards the Liberation of the Church by Jesus and His disciples, by saying: Was their purpose and activities of human origin?
Or were they from God? Acts 5:38, 39
But he too, like Peter, pointed to the consequences:If human, then it will fail; but if from God, then God is with them and against us.
So again, was the Liberation of 2003 the work of The Lord Jesus Christ or not? Was it done in obedience to the Lord or not? Was it in co-operation with His work of gathering and building up His Church or was it a work of Church discord and scattering?
That is the essential question. The answer to that question has consequences not only for those who have followed this Liberation, but also for all those who have judged and refuted it. These consequences even impact their own relationship with God.
So it is very important to have an answer to that particular question, not only for the actual Liberation in the Netherlands in 2003 but for all Liberations that took place in the past, all that are taking place presently or may take place in the future. To answer that, we must first go back to Scripture.
God’s case in MicahMicah 6, the scripture portion we read at the opening of the meeting, deals with a case, a lawsuit of God against His own people. What was this case? Well, in Micah’s days God’s people turned away from Him. That was a process of ongoing decay, of wrong tolerance and compromise, of disobedience, self-willingness, and injustice. The service of the idols of the surrounding peoples, the selfishness and deviation from God and His covenant, the neglect of God’s commandments and the corruption of His worship services, were all included in a recurrent and worsening process; a process that was deceptively masked by false religiosity and false piety.
Now Micah had to tell God’s people how they had broken the covenant, but they refused to hear God’s accusation. Israel had ears but did not hear. Therefore Micah had to challenge the people with the mountains as witnesses. These mountains had no ears, but from their Creator they would hear the case of God against His own people. On behalf of God, Micah formulated God’s accusation and charge. What was that case? That they had broken the covenant; that they had continued to sin in the way I mentioned previously.
God from His side had fulfilled all His covenant promises to them. He had led them righteously from the House of slavery and bondage to sin. Through the leading of His prophets He had led them through temptation and attacks, into the land of the promise. He had led them from, Shittim to Gilgal, into Canaan. So God had shown His loving kindness and righteousness in His covenant.
But what had they done? They had continued with revolting against God and rebelling against Him. So they provoked Him continually without showing any repentance. What God now was doing through Micah, was an ultimate act to bring them to repentance. Even now, they were not listening. Thus Lord challenged His people. He told them and the mountains, all the things He had done for them. But why had they treated Him so badly? What was the reason for that? Could they blame Him for anything? Had He burdened them (verse 3)? Were His commandments too difficult? Was His doctrine too hard? Were His requirements of His service too demanding?
In fact, these are not merely oratorical questions but they especially are challenging questions. To which only one answer is possible. No! No! God Himself had pleased His people in every respect. He had from His side liberated and saved them. He had generously provided for them and He had cared for them with utmost love. But what had they done to Him? Why had they dishonoured Him and treated Him with injustice? What was the reason for that? The answer should be: There was and is no reason at all for that, and therefore they did not have a single valid excuse.
The way to go out of miseryBut how then to repent? How to please God Who is really righteousness and justice and therefore requires righteousness? How should they do that? Not by performing all kinds of outward acts of self-willed religiosity. Not by exploiting various forms of worship, that were perhaps intended to please God; but were nevertheless not pleasing to Him. Is outward religiosity pleasing to God? Is that righteousness in the eye of God? Or is this rather worshipping to give good feelings to man, and therefore an abomination before God?
No, the Lord requires a totally different way of repentance. There is really only one thing He requires of man to do for Him as his Creator and Redeemer, and that is giving your heart in love to Him by showing the God of the covenant, your obedience to the covenant, with all your love, understanding and strength. And by asking God for mercy, in the way of humility and self-denial. For obedience and love are better than sacrifices, says the Lord.
There is only one way to resolve the case the Lord has with His people. This is the way of upright repentance. In repentance; living out of the forgiveness of sins in God’s way. Micah 6:8:
To act justly, that requires the willingness to perform all His commandments with self-denial. And to reject all that is against these.
To love mercy, that begins with detecting and confessing sins by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and then to act accordingly.
To walk humbly with your Lord, that is to follow His commandments in awe and reverence; to follow Jesus Christ as Leader, as Head of His church, wherever He goes. Going the way of the Lord, that is the small road that leads to eternal life, and not the broad way that leads to destruction.
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
That is doing all that the LORD requires from you and me. Not self-willed religiosity.
The case, the lawsuit of God that Micah has proclaimed against His Church is repeated every time, when the Church leaves the path of the covenant, in rebellion and revolt. Reformation is required each time in the way of repentance and conversion by all who would again follow the Lord on His paths, living from His mercies and blessings.
Now we have seen what God’s case in Micah was, we can test different reformations and liberations by God’s case in Micah as a touchstone. His case is relevant for all reformations. Because the Lord Himself does not vary; He will not alter. We, who may know Jesus Christ, are even more obliged to follow Him. God has shown us even more of His goodness and faithfulness in our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit. We have even more reason to love mercy and walk humbly with our God. Therefore Hebrew 12: 28, 29 says:
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,
let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably,
with reverence and awe,
for our God is a consuming fire.
1834Let us start with the Secession of 1834, the Afscheiding in the Netherlands.
It was one hundred years after this Secession that Prof. K. Schilder defended the right and significance of the Afscheiding in an important article. In that article he also used Micah 6 as the touchstone for assessing its right. He summarized the core issue of 1834 as a case of God, according to Micah 6, that was brought into the midst of the churches by God’s work in Hendrik de Cock. The accusations of the charge of God included deviation from Scripture as it had definitively been established in the subscription form for ministerial candidates in 1816. From 1816 forward, the covenant with God was broken and the foundation of the Church damaged. By that new subscription form the binding to the confession was officially loosened and self-willed doctrine was tolerated and sanctioned. Adaptation and compromise to the world in which man wants to go his own way, was established. The honour and the right of God was affected, the basis as true church was damaged, and the marks were no longer recognizable. Rev. Hendrik de Cock appealed against these deviations, but after the appeals were rejected, the only way for him to go, was to obey the Lord.
So when his call to repent was rejected, it appeared clear that staying in the bond of churches of the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk would mean sinning and being co-responsible for the corruption of the Word of God and the covenant of God. Following the Lord Jesus Christ as the Head of the church, meant he was required to secede and so to liberate himself and his congregation from the false decisions and the false bond of churches. In doing so, he acted according to and in obedience to the Scripture. The need for doing so was not due to the fact that De Cock was suspended as a minister, but that he could no longer further serve and defend the honour and right of the Lord, the Head of His Church. Keeping true to the meaning of art.31 CO made the way free to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with his God.
God’s case in Micah 6 made that very clear for Prof. K. Schilder, as it should for all of us.
To the question, whether the Secession of 1834 was “too early”, Schilder responded negatively; his judgement was that it was better considered as being “too late”, because the corruption of the basis of the church started in 1816.
1944Then the Liberation of 1944. That year, the false doctrine of presumptive regeneration was officially confirmed and imposed, with definite damage to the foundation of the church. God’s case against His church was again clearly raised through Dr. K. Schilder and others by means of public objections and also at the synod table. The synod refused to go the way of repentance and conversion, and suspended those who appealed to God’s case. So there was for the sake of the honour and the right of the Lord only one way to go. And that again was Liberation according to Art. 31 CO.
Different synods of the RCN liberated, including those of 1946, 1961 and 1969, connected the Liberation of 1944 with God’s case. Especially at the synod of Hoogeveen 1969, that had to deal with the signatories of the so called Open letter of 1966, the Liberation of 1944 was defended. This synod gratefully recognized and confessed that the Liberation of 1944 was indeed the gracious work of the Lord Jesus Christ in gathering His Church, and not the result of a quarrel among professors. The marks of the true church had been lost. Essentially this was the only valid reason, which not only permitted but even required the act of Liberation in 1944, as an act of obedience to the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ.
2003But now, what about the Liberation of 2003? How should we judge that act? We should not merely compare it to the reformations and liberations in the past, and look for similarities. Although there is a lot to be learned from history and particularly from church-history, nevertheless history itself is not the definitive touchstone. History itself is not the norm, but the Scriptures are, and the confession that is based on Scripture.
From Scripture we can all know how to judge and how to act. That is not only relevant when we have been called to judge the work of others, but it is just as relevant for self-reflection or in defending our own actions towards others.
To be sure that there was a case of God against His church in 2003, we should be sure that the church had deviated from the Word of God.
Can we say that the RCN liberated, had at that time broken the Holy Covenant with God? Can we say that this church did not in all respects maintain the defence of the Lord’s honour and right as they should? Can we say, that in their official synod decisions they tolerated and even provoked and stimulated sins and transgressions against the majesty of the Lord?
To have a judgement about that, we should of course be aware of the facts and actions. What were the synod decisions that were then agreed to by all consistories, and for which they therefore are all responsible and accountable?
Let me first make it clear, that all what I will put forward about this issue, is accessible by all of you, and could and should already be known by your churches. That applies especially for the synods of recent years that represented your churches: Smithers 2007 and Burlington 2010.
I will now first discuss with you the most relevant decisions of the Synod of Zuidhorn 2002-2003; most of them responses to requests for revision of earlier synod decisions.
1. The fourth commandment of the Law of the Lord
The first issue concerns the decision of synod Leusden 1999, which declared that it was allowed for ministers to preach that the Lord’s day, as a day of rest, is not based on a divine commandment. This decision was clearly against Scripture and the Confession of the Church and therefore should be rejected. For the word ‘sabbath’ means a day of rest. This Sabbath was instituted by God Himself at the time of creation (Gen. 2: 2, 3. & Exodus 20: 8 -11). After the fall into sin, this day of rest, remained valid (Exodus 16:23-30).
In the New Testament the Sabbath was moved from Saturday to Sunday. For the Lord Jesus arose on the first day of the week. The actual day of rest remains the same, as a gift of creation to the honor of God for His great deeds of Creation and Salvation. This commandment is maintained by Jesus Christ as He said in Matthew 5:18 “Not one jot or one tittle will pass from the law till all is fulfilled”. This in the past was understood and defended by the church in her confessions and the decisions of many synods. The General Synod of Dordt 1618/1619, gave a number of rules in regard to observing the Sabbath. Of those, we mention the following: one day a week is dedicated to religion and that the day of rest is the Sunday. On Sunday man must rest from his daily work and the recreational activities that are unbecoming to the service to the Lord.
By this synod decision, the observance of the Sunday as the day of rest on the grounds and in obedience to the fourth of God’s divine commandments was put on the same level as a human opinion. A minister would therefore then just be preaching a human opinion from the pulpit. The Synod of Zuidhorn also stated that such an opinion may not be considered binding in the church. Because of that, the doctrine of Sunday as the day of rest, cannot be preached with divine authority anymore. And so discipline may not be exercised on those who work on the Sabbath anymore. This in fact has then become a supra-Scriptural binding.
As a consequence of these decisions the whole law of God is affected. For James 2:10 says “For whoever stumbles over one commandment, is guilty of all”. So the Word of God is robbed of its divine authority and the power and the calling to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord cannot be made.
In addition to this, the synod of Zuidhorn had rejected an appeal against the classis of Rotterdam that stated that the words referring to the physical rest in the fourth commandment only applies to the old dispensation and is thus not valid anymore.
As a result of all this, you can today expect that the attendance at the afternoon-services in the RCN liberated will be dramatically less in comparison to the morning services.
2. Open table of Lord’s Supper
On the grounds of Scripture the Reformed Churches have always agreed that participation of the Lord’s Supper is open only to confessing members of a Reformed Church or to members of a sister-church within their federation or from abroad, who have an attestation issued to them by their supervising consistory.
This is the Reformed rule that is laid down in Art. 61 of the Church Order. There it says that:
“The consistory shall admit to the Lord’s Supper only those who have made public profession of the Reformed faith and lead a godly life. Members of sister-churches shall be admitted on the ground of good attestation concerning their doctrine and conduct.”
In the Netherlands we have still maintained the original text of the Church Order of Dordt agreeing in Art. 61 that:
“the Lord’s Supper shall be celebrated in a public worship service, according to the ecclesiastical order in the churches, under the supervision of the elders.”
However the synod of Zuidhorn, rejected all requests for revision of an earlier synod decision that allowed the Lord’s supper to be celebrated with members of all kinds of denominations and with all who wished to attend, under certain conditions in areas of war or crisis where army troops are sent. However, not with the oversight of elders and not in the midst of a lawful congregation, were it is not possible to protect the holiness of the Lord’s Supper.
At Zuidhorn there were also appeals against a kind of ecclesiastical fellowship exercised in local liberated congregations with local Christian Reformed (CGK) congregations, in which heresies were tolerated and preached. Members of those churches were allowed to participate with the RCN liberated at each other’s Lord’s supper tables.
In addition there were requests at Synod Zuidhorn for revision of the decision for the RCN liberated to have a sister-church relationship with the PCEA (Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia), which admitted non-PCEA members to the celebration of Holy Supper on the basis of self-testimony and without confessional membership.
In all of these decisions, we sadly had to conclude, that the RCN liberated, intentionally insisted on continuing on her way of desecrating the Lord’s Supper before the face of the Lord Himself. That should have prevented members from participating in the celebration to avoid sharing in the judgment of the Lord. They also had to contend with the knowledge of the Words of the Lord through Paul, that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough; that they should keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth (1 Cor. 5: 6-8). In order to maintain the fencing of His table, Christ had ordered the oversight by elders. But the RCN liberated had rejected this, despite all appeals and requests for revision. She refused repentance and conversion, but continued on a path other than the path the Lord had indicated.
As a result, we can today see Lord’s Supper tables in RCN liberated churches open for guests from all kind of reformed and non-reformed denominations including Baptists. The only criteria for attendance is self- testimony and agreement with the Apostle’s creed. A phenomenon which totally contradicts what we believe and confess in the Belgic Confession art. 27-32
3. The ecclesiastical unity
We can now be short about the process within the RCN liberated, towards unity with the Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerken and the Nederlands Gereformeerde Kerken, a process against which many requests for revision were also tabled at the synod of Zuidhorn.
In these churches heresies and Scripture criticism are allowed, tolerated and adopted via the exchange of members, exchange of pulpits for the worship service, the sharing of all kinds of church activities and the sharing of community life with no regard for confessional distinctions. The tolerated heresies which were mentioned previously in the letters of appeal, include criticism of the Canons of Dordt, active female office bearers, the false teaching of Rev. Telder about Soul sleep, adult rather than infant baptism, open Lord’s Supper Table, the lack of binding to the Confessions and Scripture criticism in regard to Genesis 1-11, the new hermeneutic that advocates the metaphorical exegesis of historical Scripture passages, and abandoning of congregational boundaries.
All these can be summarized with one word: un-Scriptural tolerance, allowing or advocating lies and heresies beside the truth, making the RCN liberated, a pluralistic church completely corrupting the basis of the church which is supposed to be:
God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
(1 Tim. 3:15)
4. The introduction of un-Scriptural hymns
We also have the issue of the introduction of Hymns from the “Liedboek voor de Kerken”.
The Synod of Zuidhorn was confronted with many letters requesting revision regarding the adoption of these new Hymns. They were derived from an interdenominational book of songs
that had previously been judged as products of false ecumenism. Especially, Prof. K. Deddens had condemned them as such in the magazine De Reformatie during the Seventies. The Synod of Kampen 1975, had also rejected their use.
However, from 1996 on, they were considered to be useful and approved by synods. In 2002 nearly all of the detailed objections against the 121 permitted songs were rejected. These objections regarded not only the method of testing by the synod, and the danger of displacing the Psalms from the liturgy. But most importantly, they regarded the content itself, which contain a whole spectrum of heresies, such as the doctrine of universal atonement, the doctrines of Karl Barth, the Liberation Theology, as well as minimization or contortion of covenant life, that of the antithesis and the struggle of faith. In addition, mystical, magical or confusing elements were introduced; most of these heresies are presented in a treacherous double-tongued way. That should not be surprising, because their authors or editors had specifically intended them to please a whole spectrum of denominations.
How should we judge all this? In church we sing before the face of God in His very presence to please Him, to conform to His holiness in a way that is integral to Him. Hebr. 12 says:
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,
let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,
for our God is a consuming fire.
That means that these hymns not only cannot stand in His presence, but are also really annoying Him. In addition to that, these hymns facilitated that heresies were introduced into and spread within the congregations.
Members would often refuse to sing these un-Scriptural hymns which were introduced into the worship service, contrary to Art. 7. of the Belgic Confession. Thereby the unity in the congregations in glorifying and praising the Lord was broken..
This demonstrated a very serious tangible break in the communion of saints. This was all the more serious because upright prayerful and glorifying singing to the Lord in communion with all saints, in His very presence, is one of the highest possible expressions of common faith.
That expression of faith was now definitely corrupted after the synod had rejected the rather massive and detailed objections. That meant that the churches were unstoppably willing to continue their way of deviation from the covenant of the Lord, by pleasing themselves and their ecumenical partners at the expense of keeping the truth; at the expense of the practice of the communion of saints; and above all at the expense of worshipping God acceptably and agreeably.
At least three additional issues were dealt with by the Synod of Zuidhorn via submitted requests for revision:
5. The synod decision to allow even non-office bearers, who lead the worship service, to confer the blessing of the Lord on the congregation. This meant a visible devaluation of the office, and was a self-willed act in the face of and in the presence of the Lord during His service.
6. The synod decision to release a new marriage form which deviated from the Scriptural view of the relationships between men and women in marriage, especially as to the distinct tasks they have therein.
7. The synod decision to loosen the binding by common consent to the agreed church order, specifically as to the application of art. 65 and 67 of the church order.
We have now mentioned 7 major matters, in which the Synod of Zuidhorn had decided not to accept the arguments, and for which the church orderly way had then ended (art. 33 CO).
But there was more. I will now quickly go through some other major issues of un-Scriptural synod decisions taken by the same Synod of Zuidhorn 2002, despite letters of appeal being submitted. These include the following:
1. The Synod decision promoting the subversion of the root of the seventh commandment with almost total discouragement of the use of discipline. This also contributed seriously to the desecration of the Holy Supper in many congregations.
2. Synod decisions which approved tolerance of published works containing very evident Scripture criticism in the Church, especially in regard to the training for the ministry of the Word, and in the adopted evangelization course.
3. Synod decisions that allow for the proliferation of liturgical innovations, which put emphasis on the religious feeling and creativity of men. One example of this was the introduction of the so called Ordinarium, a Roman Catholic liturgy. By these decisions the central position of the preaching of the Word of God was relegated more and more to be a minor part of the worship service.
4. Finally, synod decisions on the acceptance and participation in unreliable Bible translations, such as the Groot Nieuws Bijbel and the Nieuwe Bijbelvertaling.
Keeping the truth in unity
Going the church orderly way is also meant to maintain unity in the truth, but what must be done if that way has been definitely blocked by all the refusals of more than one thousand appeals and requests? Well, the next step was then to approach the consistories which are actually responsible for maintaining or refusing the un-Scriptural synod decisions. So a Call to Reform was produced, to inform the consistories, and to appeal to them not to ratify these synod decisions. In this call to reformation a brochure was included called “Let us Repent”. This brochure contained more detailed information and exhortation. Not one consistory responded positively, so that it had to be concluded at that time that the appeal to repentance and conversion was refused by all congregations.
Only liberation would make it possible to obey the LORD more than man. So after this nation-wide rejection, there was no other possibility left. Therefore a Liberation from the false
synod and consistorial decisions was in order to continue the true church by following the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. That started with the Liberation in Berkel & Rodenrijs / Bergschenhoek. It also involved a national Meeting of Liberation on September 20th, 2003 with the proclamation of the Deed of Liberation; and it finally resulted in the formation of the federation of Reformed Churches of the Netherlands (restored) that has now held their 3rd synod, which was completed last month.
What are the developments in the RCN liberated after 2003? Did they later show conversion, prompted by the Liberation and the discussions surrounding that? Unfortunately not, contrarily, these churches did not correct or respond to any of the mentioned issues, they have gone even further on their road of disobedience. Let me sum up some alarming developments:
• the decision to open the table of Lord Supper, in general, for members of all denominations based only on self-testimony.
• the decision in September this year to participate within the National Synod of the Netherlands to be held in December 2010 in Dordt. This National Synod will include most denominations that call themselves reformed or protestant, but even remonstrant. That fact is very striking, because the last national synod was the Synod of Dordt 1618 from which you and I have the Canons of Dordt rejecting the heresies of the remonstrants.
• the decision not to suspend teachers of the theological university that teach or publish Scripture criticism including not only the exegesis of Genesis 1-11 and many other parts of the Scripture, but even the origin of the Lord Himself as the God of Israel.
• the decision not to suspend a teacher who publicly had declared not to have problems with participating in the Roman Catholic service as well as accepting homosexual relationships.
• the synod decision to respond to the question whether practising homosexuals should be refused from participation to Lord’s Supper, with the answer, that every consistory has to judge by itself.
• Not to mention all the examples of deviations in the practice of worshipping that are publicly accessible.
CanRC and RCN liberated in 2010Now you have heard about the case of God against His own people in His way to reformation in the time of Micah. And you have heard about His case in the history of the church in 1834, and in 1944 in the Netherlands. So now, the question to you is:
Was the Liberation in 2003 from God or was it from man? Because that’s the very question also you as members of the Canadian churches need to answer due to the decisions on this by your Synods Smithers 2007 and Burlington 2010. These decisions state, using as basis the same information I have now given you, that the RCN liberated have remained ‘true and faithful’, although Burlington 2010 continues to mention a number of ‘grave concerns’.
At the same time your Synods judged the RCN restored, to be ‘schismatic’, after they had liberated themselves from all unscriptural issues on the basis of article 31 CO and art. 7, 28 and 29 of the Belgic Confession. As you all probably know, the appeals against the decision of Smithers 2007, were denied at your last Synod of Burlington 2010, and the decision to admonish the RCN restored, as schismatic was maintained.
So you are now left with synod decisions, to which all of your consistories, and even also all of you as members, are co-responsible, unless you should refute them as un-Scriptural according to art. 31 CO, and will then act accordingly. And if you do not do so, you yourselves are also co-responsible for the well known heresies within the RCN liberated.
All of you should realize that this is not a theoretical issue that has nothing to do with your own congregational or personal life of faith as Canadian believers. First, by these decisions the CanRC, as a federation, is showing her members how to respond to the general deep deformation and deviation from Gods covenant. They have judged the RCN liberated, as faithful, and they have judged the way of reformation and liberation as schismatic. That is the way your church is showing you as members how to form your judgement.
But is this according the Lord’s will?
The other important consequence for you, also as individuals, deals with the influence of the developments within your own churches. For maintaining the Ecclesiastical Fellowship relationship with the RCN liberated, not only makes the CanRC co-responsible for their sins, but also responsible for their influence in the CanRC churches. For within this Ecclesiastical Fellowship church-relationship the revolutionary Dutch spirits and ideas are so easily spread. This will be facilitated by the appointment of ministers of the RCN liberated to your Canadian federation, ministers who have tolerated or even practiced these deviations; another example of this influence will be in the co-operation with the Theological University of Kampen, etc.
Major issues within the CanRCLet me now end my speech by pointing, only very shortly, to some major issues, which have emerged within your own federation.
First you have accepted and practiced Ecclesiastical Fellowship with more and more denominations with the allowance of pulpit exchange and mutual participation of Lord’s Supper, thus accepting their lack of confessional membership.
You also have a long list of appeals against these decisions, from Attercliffe and other consistories. All of them were rejected. The practice of EF and the lack of confessional membership, has already led to a liberation in Abbotsford. The questions I have for you on this issue, are the following: How does your acceptance and practice of Ecclesiastical Fellowship correspond to Scripture, as summarized in art. 28 of the Belgic Confession, where is shown the real unity in truth, the unity of the church as demanded by the Lord, the Head of the Church? This article states that the Scriptural unity with Him requires from all her members, submission to its instruction and discipline, bending of their necks under the yoke of Christ, and the service of the edification of the communion. So how can you really exercise communion according to the Scripture if you as fellow churches are not totally one in Christ?
The next question is: how will you be able to preserve the truth and only the truth of Gods Word by embracing denominationalism and the pluriformity of the church, and having a relationship and exchange with all these fellow churches, and participation in ecumenical bonds like the ICRC and NAPARC?
How does that correspond to your own belief in art. 29 of the Belgic Confession which says that the true church is to govern itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it – I repeat: rejecting all things contrary to it – and regarding Jesus Christ as the only Head?
How will you really be able to reject all these things, in obedience to your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, while at the same time allowing the uncontrolled introduction, spread and tolerance of heresies from these bonds?
How will you as congregations and as members, be able to maintain discipline and the sacredness of your Holy Supper of your Lord, as is very seriously required by God Himself?
How can you faithfully perform this to the Lord, when you keep accepting those who are exposed to and may therefore accept these false doctrines from other denominations?
Let me give you an example. I understand from the decisions within the URCNA that they not only err in their doctrine of the church, but also in their doctrine of the covenant of grace.
The last one equates to the heresy of the covenant that was the very ground of the Liberation of your own parents and grandparents in 1944!
I understand that synod decisions regarding the issues of pluriformity have all been maintained despite many appeals in the past. So how is it possible that you tolerate that and are still pretending that the truth of the church has been maintained and that the church in Canada is maintaining the marks of the true church?
The developments in the RCN liberated may also serve as a mirror for the CanRC. The origin of the decline in The Netherlands was the false drive for ecclesiastical unity in addition to adaptations for human feelings. This false drive for unity was maintained at the expense of the Truth by accepting an un-Scriptural tolerance. One of the first official manifestations of that was the synod decision of Ommen 1993 to permit women’s voting in the election of office-bearers. That 1993 decision was new in church history and appeared to be a fundamental turning point. Since then the decline proved to be unstoppable, with the above mentioned deviations. Unfortunately with the 2010 decision on women’s voting, the CanRC have shown that they are on the same road which the RCN liberated has travelled.
All I can do as an outsider, is to ask you to seriously assess whether or not God may have also a case against His church in Canada; and if the answer is yes, to ask you to act accordingly.
May God help you in that assessment!
Rev. S. de Marie
* The text is slightly modified by the author for the sake of clarity
Sources:• Acts General Synods of Zuidhorn 2002-2003, Amersfoort 2005, and Zwolle-zuid 2008 of the RCN liberated. ( http://www.kerkrecht.nl )
• A.P. Bezemer, C. Bezemer, T.L. Bruinius, W. Dijkstra, S. de Marie. Let us repent; a call to reformation, 2003. ( http://www.gereformeerdkerkbladdebazuin.nl/reformanda/vrijmaking/ )
• Acts General Synod of Mariënberg 2005 of
The Reformed Churches (restored). ( http://www.reformedcontinua.nl/documents/ )
• Deputies for Relations with Churches Abroad of The Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (restored): http://www.reformedcontinua.nl/files/DoNotTakeAway.pdf . Do not take words away from this book of prophecy; Answer to the brochure ‘Not beyond what is written’, Mariënberg, September 2006. ( http://www.reformedcontinua.nl/documents/ ).
• Report and Addendum to report to Synod Smithers from the Committee on Relations with Churches Abroad (CRCA), 2007; - CRCA Report to GS2007 Vol11 Churches Abroad.pdf: pages 39-71
( http://www.canrc.org/?assembly=56 )
• Acts General Synod of the Canadian Reformed Churches, Smithers, BC, 2007, pages 129-138;164-168; 206,207, 129-138, 232-238 dealing with RCN liberated (GKv) and RCN restored (DGK/GKH); other pages dealing with ecclesiastical fellowship relations (Acts also on http://www.canrc.org/?assembly=56 )
• Acts General Synod of the Canadian Reformed Churches, Burlington, 2010 including. Minority and majority reports on Women’s Voting
tabled at Burlington 2010, http://www.canrc.org/?assembly=77
• K. Schilder: Beginsel, recht en betekenis van de Afscheiding, Included in: De Kerk II, Oosterbaan & Le Cointre 1962, pages 77-123. ( http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/schi008kerk04_01/schi008kerk04_01_0004.php )
Rev. S. de Marie is minister of The Reformed Church (restored) at Zwolle, the Netherlands