City to City

The Protestant Reformed Churches have a discipline problem.

They discipline the righteous.

The announcement on Sunday morning regarding the suspension of Rev. Nathan Langerak brings up a few questions.

Ask yourself, why is it, that of all the ministers who have been forced out of the PRC in the last four years, the teacher of false doctrine was the only one who received a charitable judgment and an honorable release from the ministry, while the defenders of orthodoxy were given a so-called dishonorable discharge from the ministry?

(For those men who have been deposed, they ought to consider Jesus’ assessment of their persecution and see that there was nothing dishonorable about their deposition. “Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets” (Luke 6:23).

Ask yourself, how many ministers in the PRC knew it to be their calling to suffer loss for the sake of Christ’s truth and, unlike the ivory-tower theologians, were willing to suffer the loss of their positions, names, and reputations for the sake of that truth? And where are those faithful men now?

Ask yourself, who has it been that the PRC have disciplined? Those who taught and defended error or those who rebuked us for those errors?

Ask yourself, why is it that those who teach and defend false doctrine are those who serve as church visitors, delegates to synod, and editors of The Standard Bearer, while those who have fought to defend the truth of God’s sovereignty in salvation are vilified and abused, and finally deposed?

Ask yourself, why is it that the man who demeaned and criticized Herman Hoeksema’s theology is a leader and member in good standing in the PRC, while those who defended Hoeksema’s name, honor, and theology are now suspended and deposed from their offices?

Ask yourself, why is it that the man who declared that “it is not enough for salvation that God has sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world” and “it is not enough that there is a Jesus” serves as the Chair of Dogmatics at the seminary, while those who defended the sufficiency, glory, and honor of Jesus Christ are now suspended and deposed?

The members of the PRC will defend the latest prophet-murder.

There is always a trumped-up charge that accompanies the deposition that allows the membership to carry on life as normal.

Antinomian. Schismatic. Insubordinate.

(The men deposed ought to consider the fact that “if they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?” (Matt. 10:25).

This begs for a paraphrase of the famous quotation of Martin Niemöller:

First, they came for Neil Meyer, and I did not speak out—because they said he was an antinomian.

Then they came for Rev. Lanning, and I did not speak out—because they said he was schismatic.

Then they came for Rev. Langerak, and I did not speak out—because they said he was insubordinate.

Then they will stop coming for anyone—because “one of a city, and two of a family” (Jer. 3:14) will come out, and there will be no faithful defenders of the truth left to attack.

“Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city.” Matthew 23:31,34

9 thoughts on “City to City

  1. It is true. The PRC seminary students were told to attend Joel Beeke’s seminary to be taught there. And the PRC seminary students did. Even Josiah Tan. Ask him. The professors of the PRC seminary were and are very aware of Joel Beeke’s status as a divorced and remarried minister and yet they seek to legitimize him and his seminary by their actions. Contrast this with the PRC and their refusal to even acknowledge Rev. Lanning as a minister. It is one thing to say you would give your right arm to bring about the reconciliation of a congregation when you know full well a minister that is deposed for the sin of public scism will never be allowed to preach on a PRC pulpit again. Even less likely is it that a PRC minister that has committed adultery will return to the pulpit or be allowed to teach in our seminary. The status of Joel Beeke having been divorced and remarried and deposed for the same is established fact. So how is it that we will tolerate a close relationship with a man and his seminary teaching PRC seminary students when this stands directly in conflict to the PRC distinctive concerning divorce and remarriage? It does not follow that you can suspend a minister for his involvement as editor of the Sword and Shield and working with a deposed minister without also taking action against the professors of the PRC seminary for their involvement with Joel Beeke.

    Sadly, I believe Rev Vanderwal will be removed from office for his involvement as well as the editor of the Sword and Shield.

  2. We from Singapore fought so hard over Divorce and Remarriage issue, resulting in church split, and now our seminary students are being taught by a divorced and remarried pastor J Beeke? I hope this is not true, otherwise it is a mockery of all the troubles we went through previously ..

  3. I have had members of Crete church express to me that Reverend Langerak has an agenda and that he emphasizes his own personal philosophy. Sadly this was spoken not in relation to his involvement in the Sword and Shield but about his preaching. There is currently a teaching document released by the Crete consistory concerning the controversy that is circulating that only gives evidence that the Sword and Shield was and is needed and stands directly in conflict with the consistories reasoning for suspending Reverend Langerak. The division that is seen in Crete church is not one that is born of Reverend Langerak’s involvement in the Sword and Shield but is longstanding and relates to his preaching. This is evidenced by the many families and individuals that have left Crete to the other area churches in the past few years. Many of these have openly expressed to others the issue they had with Reverend Langerak’s preaching as the reason why they left. I am only stating what is widely known. Reverend Langerak has not been accused of not preaching the truth and in fact was commended by Professor Huizenga, in his prayer following the reading of Reverend Langerak’s suspension, for Reverend Langerak’s faithfulness to the truth in the preaching. So the issue lies not in Reverend Langerak’s involvment with a minister that has been deposed by the PRCA, for if that was so then the same standard would need to be applied to the seminary as relates to their involvement with Dr. Joel Beeke (see below section from the RC Synod Abstract) teaching our seminary students and this involvement resulting in the professors being suspended, but with the preaching coming off the Crete pulpit. Reverend Langerak’s involvement in the Sword and Shield was a convenient way to remove him from the pulpit and preaching. Let’s not hide what is really taking place here.

    I would suppose now that what I have stated will place me in dangerous waters but I figure I am already there as I am a member of the Sword and Shield. That alone should cause a charge of being a schismatic being brought against me now that the Crete consistory has charged Reverend Langerak of public schism for association with the same. Anyone else that is currently a member of the Sword and Shield in the PRCA and promotes it will fall under the same charge as we also promote the writings of the deposed brother. Even wearing the Sword and Shield pin in church, which I have already been told offends some, should be enough to bring this charge.

    The Reformed Church in the United States Abstract of the Minutes 262nd Synod (pages 38-39)

    “We were also asked to investigate the cause and circumstances of their separation from the NRC. It appears that the issue was, first of all, the movement among the men who eventually separated to make the Gospel much more central in their ministries. More and more of their members were coming to the Lord’s Table and there was clearly a difference in perspective manifesting itself. Also, it is clear that Dr. Joel Beeke was a lightening rod in the dispute. Beeke had been granted an ecclesiastical divorce a number of years earlier, had remarried and had several children. An overture was introduced to ban any office bearer from serving who had been divorced. This would have affected only Beeke and, we believe, one deacon in another church. The synod meeting was being held at the church pastored by Beeke in Grand Rapids. Those pursuing the ordinance had the local consistory questioned who indicated that they would honor the action of synod as long as it was in keeping with the confessions and the Word of God. The synod threatened that they would depose not only Beeke, but all nineteen members of the consistory, if they did not agree to honor the rule. The consistory refused and its members were deposed along with Rev. Beeke. When the synod leaders suggested the building then was owned by the synod, the consistory succeeded in their efforts to get the synod to move to another facility and were able to maintain possession. Two or three of the deposed consistory members subsequently went with the synod and a new church was formed. The congregation voted 78% to withdraw, resulting in the loss of more than 200 members (leaving over 700 members).Thus while the occasion for this separation from the NRC was Rev. Beeke’s status, there were clearly theological issues that would eventually have caused the separation in any case.”

  4. Hi Bruce, thanks for the comment, and thanks for having the courage to say it.
    But no, I am not comparing myself to Niemoller, just as when I quoted Luther I wasn’t saying I was a modern-day Luther. I am pretty sure most discerning readers understand that. But for those that don’t, your comment has just cleared that up for them.

  5. No! Dear Libby. Get over yourself and actually read to understand what others have to say and you will see that you are wrong! What was written is actually a support of this blog. And for Pete’s sake don’t be one of those many people that I’ve seen who gets tripped up on the usual “trigger” words!! Introspect, Libby, and be nice! For without love you are nothing!!! All truth is God’s truth. Get the book and you may realize just how gospel deficient you really are. My husband and I have.

  6. Someone has to say it; the whole business adapting the quote by Martin Niemöller to describe this situation is incredibly tone deaf. Do you know his story, Dewey? You are no Martin Niemöller.

  7. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” II Timothy 3:12

  8. Dear Nora, your comment, along with your recommendation of the book “Gentle and Lowly…” for “growth in the gospel truth”, surely cannot sit here unanswered. For one, I take issue with your promotion of your own grievances and using another’s blog for that end. This deflection to another grievance minimizes the objective of this blog which testifies, and which testimony is corroborated; that false doctrine, hierarchical corruption, and cruelty are within the crumbling citadel of the PRC. Second, I take issue with your book recommendation, for, in order for growth to occur in reading one must be able to understand what one reads. And, “psychological substructure”, “relational leveraging” and “existential calm” are the psycho babbling woke buzz words no one understands. Last, but most important, for one to obtain “growth in gospel truth” there must be truth. And, “open the vent of your heart to the love of Christ” is not truth, but lie.

  9. For all the pontificating we’ve heard about “good works”, which by the way in our mind is not at all what this controversy was about – only deflection and evasion at its finest and an indication of terrible “GOSPEL DEFICIT”, how much of a good work is all of this?

    Reading this blog post reminded us of what we are reading in a wonderful book and highly recommend for growth in gospel truth applied to life, called “Gentle and Lowly – The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers” by Dane Ortlund. Particularly Chapter 20, entitled “Our Law-ish Hearts, His Lavish Heart, resonated with us.

    Here is an excerpt:

    “There is an entire psychological substructure that, due to the fall, is a near-constant manufacturing of relational leveraging, fear-stuffing, nervousness, score-keeping, neurotic controlling, anxiety-festering silliness that is not something we say or even think so much as something we exhale. You can smell it on people, though some of us are good at hiding it. And if you trace this fountain of scurrying haste, in all its various manifestations, down to the root, you don’t find childhood difficulties or a Myers-Briggs diagnosis or Freudian impulses. You find GOSPEL DEFICIT. You find lack of felt awareness of Christ’s heart. All the worry and dysfunction and resentment are the natural fruit of living in a mental universe of law. The felt love of Christ really is what brings rest, wholeness, flourishing, shalom – that existential calm that for brief, gospel-sane moments settles over you and lets you step in out of the storm of of-works-ness. You see for a moment that in Christ you truly are invincible. The verdict really is in; nothing can touch you. He has made you his own and will never cast you out.

    Living out of a law-fueled subconscious resistance to Christ’s heart, which we all tend to think we’re successfully avoiding (those silly Galations!), is deep and subtle and pervasive. It is more pervasive than the occasional moments of self-conscious works-righteousness would indicate. Those moments of self-knowledge are indeed gifts of grace and not to be ignored. But they are only the visible tip of an invisible iceberg. They are surface symptoms. Law-ish-ness, of works-ness, is by its very nature undetectable because it’s natural, not unnatural, to us. It feels normal. “Of works” to fallen people is what water is to a fish.

    And what does the gospel say? It puts the following words in each of our mouths: “the Son of God … loved me and gave himself for me.” His heart for me could not sit still in heaven. Our sins darken our feelings of his gracious heart, but his heart cannot be diminished for his own people due to their sin any more than the sun’s existence can be threatened due to the passing of a few wispy clouds or even an extended thunderstorm. The sun is shining. It cannot stop. Clouds, no clouds – sin, no sin – the tender heart of the Son of God is shining on me. This is unflappable affection.

    The Christian life is simply the process of bringing my sense of self … arising out of that gospel deficit, into alignment with the more fundamental truth … we can bring our up-and-down moral performance into subjection to the settled fixedness of what Jesus feels about us.

    We are sinners. We sin – not just in the past but in the present, and not only by our disobedience but by our “of-works” obedience. We are perversely resistant to letting Christ love us. But as Flavel says, “Why should you be such an enemy to your own peace? Why read over the evidences of God’s love to your soul …? Why do you study EVASIONS, and turn off those comforts which are due to you?

    In the gospel, we are free to receive the comforts that are due us. Don’t turn them off. Open the vent of your heart to the love of Christ, who loved you and gave himself for you.

    Our law-ish hearts relax as his lavish heart comes home to us.

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