One thing has been true over the last five years.
Classis East has consistently been wrong on the doctrinal issue plaguing the PRC.
This is evidenced by how many times they have had to declare they “erred.”
But the real question is not whether they have admitted error. The question is, are they sorry for those errors?
Have they repented?
Repentance is far more than just stating the obvious fact that one has erred.
What consistory, having evidence that a man was guilty of abusing his wife, would accept, “I have erred,” as proof of his repentance? “Yes, clearly you have erred. The condition of your wife’s battered soul and spirit attests to that. But are you repentant?”
Trinity PRC would have us believe that Classis has repented.
- Rev. Lanning also violated Art. 31 when he expressed grievances against Classis East which contradict the decisions of the September 12, 2018 Classis East (Articles 15-17).
a. In Articles 15-17, Classis East September 2018 formally declared three times “that Classis East erred in its decision(s) of February 28, 2018,” which decision (s) are then quoted, and the decision(s) of Synod 2018 are quoted and used as the ground.
1) By these decisions, Classis East repented of its former error of February 2018, for not only did Classis confess their sin, but also did not merely and begrudgingly “submit” or “acquiesce” to the decisions of Synod 2018. Classis East formally adopted the position of Synod 2018 as its own regarding the doctrinal error.
2) To charge Classis East with failing to deal with or condemn the doctrinal error, or of maintaining or walking in that error, is to militate against the decisions of Classis East September 2018 (Articles 15-17), whereby the erroneous decisions of Classis East February 2018 were confessed, overturned, made null and void, and therefore graciously covered by the merciful blood of Christ (Trinity PRC document, Classis East Deposition Case, 56).
For Trinity PRC, when Classis East formally declared that they “erred,” such a declaration was confession and was “therefore graciously covered by the merciful blood of Christ.”
Is that what repentance looks like? Just declare that you erred?
The answer, of course, is no. No consistory, or parent for that matter, would accept such as repentance. Repentance, at the very least, would include an apology.
So, has Classis East done that? Have they apologized?
They have never apologized for defending false doctrine. They have never apologized for not defending the unconditional covenant or justification by faith alone. Trinity has pointed us to the only evidence anyone can put forth regarding Classis East’s response to their own errors.
To try and pass off what Classis East said as confession and repentance is so patently false, it is hard to believe that anyone could in good conscience put those words on paper and try to pass them off as truth.
Nowhere in that material can you find an apology.
They did have an opportunity to apologize for another matter.
That opportunity came to them at their September 2018 meeting. The motion was straightforward.
That Classis East apologize to Mrs. Connie Meyer for misrepresenting her position in its February 2018 decision. Ground: The decision of Synod 2018, Article 62 B.1.c.2), 3), and 6, which declared that Classis misrepresented Mrs. Meyer in her protest.
Not only did Classis East get the theology wrong over the last five years, but they also misrepresented a protestant. Synod pointed that out.
“In trying to demonstrate its point, Classis misquotes Mrs. Meyer” (2018 Acts of Synod, 77).
“Classis omits the most critical words of Mrs. Meyer’s statement, namely…” (77).
“Classis goes on to misquote Mrs. Meyer” (79).
That was probably something for which an apology should be made.
The motion which came to the floor of the 2018 September Classis would provide a way to do so. Just pass the motion. Apologize. Lead by example.
Let us consult page three of the minutes to see what the outcome was.
- That Classis East apologize to Mrs. Connie Meyer for misrepresenting her position in its February 2018 decision.
Ground: The decision of Synod 2018, Article 62 B.1.c.2), 3), and 6, which declared that Classis misrepresented Mrs. Meyer in her protest.
Motion is made and supported to approve Recommendation #1. Failed
The motion failed.
Classis refused to apologize.
The information section of the motion helps to shed some light on it.
- In general, apology to an appellant by any broader assembly is rare, if not without precedent. We could find no examples in our own history, or commentary on it by any of the usual church polity authorities (Rutgers, Bouwman, Jansen, M & VD, Hanko).
- We can only conjecture as to the explanation for lack of precedent or commentary. Certainly, it is not because broader assemblies rarely err. The likely explanation is that the process of protest and appeal itself is the normal ecclesiastical manner to rectify offense of any “aggrieved” by ecclesiastical decisions (Arts. 30-31). If so, we conclude that apology by a broader assembly for decisions that are subsequently overturned is generally unnecessary, and ought to remain rare, if not unprecedented.
The Classical Committee, which brought the motion, “could find no examples” in their own history.
Let us consult some other Classis East minutes, this time from early 2010.
- Minutes of Classis East, January 13-14, 2010, Arts. 18, 51, 52
Article 18: Grace PRC requests that Classis East issue an apology to Rev. M. Dick for having “caused unnecessary offense” by making public its decision of questioning Rev. Dick’s effectiveness as the pastor of the Grace congregation. (Supplement 9). The chairman appoints Revs. C. Haak, A. denHartog and Elders J. Holstege, T. VerBeek to serve as a committee of pre-advice regarding this matter.
Article 51: The committee of pre-advice regarding Grace Church’s request that classis issue an apology to Rev. Dick reads its report. (Supplement 12) The committee of pre-advice recommends “that Classis grant Grace Consistory’s request, namely: that Classis East issue an apology to Rev. Dick for its action of including in bulletin announcements (March 2, 2008) and in reporting in the SB (April 1, 2008) the fact that Classis had advised Grace Consistory to question the effectiveness of Rev. Dick in leading the Grace congregation out of their unrest. Ground: The decision of synod 2009: ‘Classis East, while not in error in raising the question with Grace’s council concerning the effectiveness of Rev. Dick in the congregation, was in error to make this question public. Classis’ action in making their evaluation public caused unnecessary offense.’” Motion to adopt this recommendation. Carries.
Article 52: The committee of pre-advice recommends “that the Stated Clerk send a letter to Rev. Dick informing him of this apology.” Motion to adopt this recommendation. Carries.
Perhaps when they said they could find no examples in their own history, they misspoke, and actually meant to say they couldn’t find any examples in the last eight years.
The information section also stated that apologies “by a broader assembly for decisions that are subsequently overturned is generally unnecessary, and ought to remain rare, if not unprecedented.”
Remember that. Apologies “ought to remain rare, if not unprecedented.”
Let us now consult the minutes from the most recent meeting of classis.
- That classis inform both Classis West and Edmonton PRC of our decision that we erred in signing the credentials of Rev. M. VanderWal, and apologize for the error, and the fact that they may have to deal with unresolved issues now under their jurisdiction due to our error. Carried (January 13, 2021 Classis East minutes, 35-36).
Less than three years after declaring that apologies by a broader assembly for decisions that are subsequently overturned ought to remain “rare, if not unprecedented,” Classis East apologized for a decision that they overturned.
Perhaps by “rare and unprecedented,” they meant three years.
The men of Classis East know the history of their churches. These things are not done by accident.
This proves that Classis East was not at all sorry that they misrepresented Mrs. Meyer’s words.
Neither are they sorry that they tolerated and defended false doctrine, and neither are they sorry that they did not defend the doctrine of the unconditional covenant and justification by faith alone.
If they were, it would be unmistakable.
The Bible tells us what true repentance looks like.
“For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter” (2 Cor. 7:11).
Classis East has not even come close.
In fact, it has not even attempted to show itself sorrowful and repentant.
The ministers and delegates of Classis East were not sorry, in part, because they detested Mrs. Meyer.
And that all started at Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Walker, MI.