The responsibility for what happened at Byron Center will be required at the hands of their elders.
But there will be others held responsible.
We called in our churches’ “oldest, most experienced, and most competent ministers” (CO, 44) to help us.
They could have, by their “advice and assistance,” helped the consistory of Byron Center PRC. They could have saved us from ourselves.
As a consistory, we simply were not qualified to do the work. I know we were not qualified because we refused to do our work according to the word of God.
A man wrote that “the raging spiritual infection within the fevered body of Christ that has left so many churches weak, flaccid and ineffective, can be traced directly to the loss of the Biblical understanding and practice of the office of elder” (Sittema, With a Shepherd’s Heart, 3).
Byron Center Church had within it a raging spiritual infection.
The church visitors could have come with a prescription to heal that infection.
The prescription would have been simple: Do your work according to the word of God and the confessions. If you need assistance after that work has been completed, we stand ready to provide additional advice and counsel.
But they didn’t.
They came in with an agenda that they pursued ferociously.
They were not there to advise. They were there to rule.
There are two church visitors appointed by Classis East to provide advice and counsel to the churches in the classis. There are also two alternates who will, presumably, fill in as needed.
Five men showed up.
It was never explained to us why five ministers had come to our meeting.
We had to learn that when the Classical Committee gave its report at the meeting of Classis East.
When that report was read on the floor, the consistory learned, for the first time, that after we had requested help from the church visitors, the church visitors in turn had written a letter to the Classical Committee. In that letter they had informed the Classical Committee that Byron had requested help from them. However, two of the church visitors had “charges” of sin against Rev. Lanning, so they were requesting a man from the Classical Committee to replace the two men who had those charges against Rev. Lanning.
(It is interesting to note that after the Classical Committee had read its report, a church visitor, Rev. Haak, had immediately objected. He said that the church visitors had not said that two of the men had “charges,” but they had used some other word. A member of the Classical Committee, to his credit, immediately shot that idea down by informing the classis that the letter—which he had in his hands—had indeed used the word “charges.”)
One delegate asked why all five men had signed their names to the documents when the fifth church visitor had been requested to replace the two men who had the charges against Rev. Lanning.
One would think that the purpose of requesting help from the Classical Committee was so that the two men who had charges against Rev. Lanning would recuse themselves.
One would be wrong.
Five ministers showed up—Rev. Slopsema, Rev. Koole, Rev. DeVries, Rev. Haak, and Rev. Spronk.
With no mention made of the charges or the request of aid from the Classical Committee.
They were going to show Byron’s consistory how things were run in the PRC by illustrating for us the effectiveness of argumentum ad baculum.
Twice in the course of the meetings the church visitors had to be reminded by an elder of Article 84 of the Church Order, that they must not lord it over the consistory of Byron Center PRC.
The church visitors threatened the consistory that if we did not do things exactly the way they demanded, they would leave the meeting and not give us any advice.
It is difficult to express the corruption and bullying that took place in our meetings with the church visitors. I could weep thinking about what the church of Christ was transformed into during those meetings and the meetings that followed.
Whatever it was, it was an “abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).
The church visitors never brought us the word of God. In fact, most of them didn’t even bring Bibles to the meeting. When the vice president opened with devotions at the first meeting, an elder had to go to the Bible rack in the room and hand out Bibles to most, if not all, of the church visitors so they could follow along.
The fact that almost all of them forgot their Bibles is not in itself significant.
The fact that they never used their Bibles for any of their work with our consistory is tragic.
But they had an agenda. Whether that agenda was agreed upon by the church visitors and some of the elders before the meeting ever started is known to God.
One church visitor was not careful enough, however.
Early in the discussion, before the naïve ones among us knew what was afoot, one of the church visitors, Rev. Koole, blurted out, “You called us here for suspension!”
We had called them in for advice.
What we ended up getting, was bullied.
18 thoughts on “Bullied”
Great read ! Keep it up !
Tom, the fact that your dad served honorably in his office is reason for you to give thanks to God. Thank God that in his office as elder your dad did not repeatedly lie to his congregation, neither did he depose a faithful minister so that another elder had to reveal that wickedness to the denomination so that the truth could be known.
thank you kevin i asked my mother before she went to glory if my father told her what went on in the consitory room she said no and my father served many terms as a elder with dewey’s
father as his minister
How heartbreaking to read some of these comments. When people are more horrified by the “airing of congregational and denominational dirty laundry” than by the events actually being recorded, I cry for the Protestant Reformed denomination. To everyone who is so outraged that this blog even exists and what it reveals, your anger is misdirected.
Hello Mrs. Schipper, thank you for taking the time to submit your comment.
When Rev. Lanning was deposed, he, and all of us who loved the doctrine of pure grace that he preached, were cast out. This is not a novel position when a faithful minister is deposed. In fact, members of the PRC should understand this better than most, since the birth of the PRC came about in the same manner. If you don’t want to hear it from me (and believe me, you are in good company there : ), then hear Hoeksema:
“We, dear reader, we, Protestant Reformed, did not secede from the Christian Reformed Church, but we were cast out.
It is not true that we caused a breach, but rather have we done all we possibly could, and everything our conscience would allow us, to avoid a breach. But the Christian Reformed wanted the breach and caused it.”
The full article can be found here: http://www.prca.org/resources/publications/articles/item/315-why-protestant-reformed?-an-early-testimony-to-the-crc
Notice please: “we were cast out.”
You were not expelled from the congregation of BC PRC. You signed a grevious paper AOS, and left.
Hello Sheryl: if you believe Dewey has only one side of the story or if you believe in getting both sides of the story for yourself, I would ask are you reading the Sword and Shield also? The Standard Bearer seems to be lacking on the topic. God’s people better wake up and be discerning. Personally I have found Dewey’s blog very informative!
Hi Sheryl, thank you for the follow-up to my reply to Kevin. When Rev. Lanning was deposed, it was not just the man Rev. Lanning being expelled. What was expelled when that faithful word of God was declared sinful and schismatic, was Jesus Christ, whose word it was. So it was very much the case, that those of us who loved that gospel message proclaimed by Rev. Lanning, were by that very fact, also expelled. (If you don’t like the word expelled, I am comfortable using the words “cast out” instead.) This has often, and rightly so, been the description used when a faithful man of God was deposed unrighteously.
You are correct, I am only writing this blog because I was cast out. It would be difficult for me to express how much I regret the necessity of this blog. I take no joy in this work. I do it with grief. But I love you, and the other members of the PRC enough, to bring to light that which has thrived in the darkness. I am willing to do this even though the painful truth of 2 Corinthians 12:15 is being realized, that “the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” I am grieved that the opportunity to write this blog even exists.
Sheryl, members in the PRC have had only one side of the story for many years. It was only because these things took place right in front of my face that I even realized there was another side.
Here is the other side for the PRC in the year 2021: “And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment” (Isa. 59:14-15).
Now that I am bringing to light the other side of the story, you must judge, not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgments (John 7:24).
Kevin, when evil is done by office bearers in Christ’s Church, it is done in Christ’s name. For the honor of his own name God will see to it that this evil gets exposed. Those who know what happened must disclose that evil for the sake of their Lord’s name. Their consciences could not allow them to keep silent. The men who did these things were not defending the name of Christ and his truth, they were caught up in a lie and were defending their own honor before other men. God is not mocked, truth always comes out. Will men exalt themselves above truth and right? God will see to it that their name is laid low for all to see. If Dewey’s account is not true, why don’t any of the men who did these things refute what has been said here? I pray the Lord will use this blog to bring them to repentance and to open eyes and ears to the truth of the matter
Just a clarification to your response to Kevin Rau. It is my understanding that you were not expelled( like a student from school ) or forced out of the PR denomination. There was a choice, remain or leave. You left of your own accord along with others, formulated an Act of Separation and started a new church. You yourself confess that you would not have been able to write this blog had you remained in the PR denomination. Leaving has provided you with the opportunity to write this blog. This blog is written from your point of view , as are most blogs. It is your perspective of a series of events. It is difficult to judge the truth when one only has one side of the story.
Hi Kevin, thank you for your comment. You express reservations about my approach. We agree. I have reservations about my approach.
This is a unique situation and not one that most of us have ever seen in our lifetimes.
However, most of us have not lived through a time when a faithful pastor was deposed, a faithful sermon was declared sinful and schismatic, and a time when a body of believers was forced to come out from the PRC and form a congregation anew.
There is precedent for what I am doing. This was addressed in the lecture given on Friday, March 12. I encourage you to watch this lecture as many of your questions, and maybe even your reservations would be answered. That lecture can be found here: https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=31321234396703
If I were still a member of the PRC I would not be writing a blog in which these things were disclosed.
However, now that I have been expelled from the denomination, out of love for my brothers and sisters in the PRC, I write what I do to show you, and others, the corruption that went on in the deposition of Rev. Lanning.
You are spiritual, Kevin. Judge all things (1 Cor. 2:15). You are being told that the deposition was righteous. I am telling you that it was not. You now need to judge “righteous judgment” (John 7:24).
I am bringing things that were done in darkness, into the light.
Much in the PRC, especially at the broader assemblies, is done in the shadows.
“And this is the condemnation that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:19-21).
Revealing what ought to be confidential is not what an office bearer is called to do. A blog is not the place to air congregational and denominational dirty laundry. While there are certain matters that may be publicized such as membership transfers or baptism and confession of faith requests, disciplinary matters, especially where office bearers are concerned, ought to remain secret in order to avoid the sins of slander and schism. This is not the wise, Christian, charitable way of handling disputes among church members. It’s best to talk to the brother in private about your grievances rather than slice the issue wide open for all the world to see.
Excellent article! Provides the reader insight into the overall culture of bullying within the PRC.
The choice of art displayed at the top of these articles is telling. Particularly this one and ‘Manner’.
King James Version
8 Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?
9 When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.
10 In God will I praise his word: in the Lord will I praise his word.
11 In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.
People need to see the whole truth of what happened behind the scenes, including names and behavior (as you are doing). They are too familiar with faces and names to recognize that the false teachers are WITHIN the house as Jesus warned. Only God knows these pastors hearts but all the signs are there.
In God’s Providence the truth is now being revealed.
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