Repentance

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.

  1. 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.

Recommendations:

      1. 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.

Why?

The information section of the motion helps to shed some light on it.

    1. 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).
    2. 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.

  1. 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.

    1. 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.  

10 thoughts on “Repentance

  1. Dewey, I agree with your closing statement that there was a detestation of both Mr. and Mrs. Meyer on a personal level within Classis East. For Mrs. Meyer I believe many thought, “woman know your place.” And for Mr. Meyer it was the same line of thinking but not based on his gender rather more on his “lowly estate” in the world. This was the same thought of Eliab, David’s eldest brother. (1 Sam 17:28 “And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.”)

    However, I believe this dislike went farther and deeper than the person and was there because of a dislike for what they believed. A free salvation given to God’s children apart from their works and working? The gift of salvation that is by faith alone? The believer’s works and working are only a fruit and only an evidence of their gracious salvation? The regenerated child of God though he is renewed, yet still has a totally depraved old man of sin within his flesh? The new man in Christ obeys because God provides his obedience? The preaching of the law is not the same as the preaching of the gospel? We have access and are acceptable to God only because of the obedience of Christ and not my own Spirit wrought obedience? How dare we believe and demand such things in the preaching and writing of our ministers!? These truly are “dangerous” and “detestable” doctrines!!

    1. Thank you, Matt, for this comment. After reading it, I can confess that, from a certain perspective, this blog post of mine missed the real point. Your comment corrected what was missing from the post itself. The real issue here is not that Classis East detested Mr. and Mrs. Meyer. Although that is terrible, Mr. and Mrs. Meyer would be the first to point out that they are not the issue here. The real issue is the truth of the word of God and the glory of God. It is the beautiful truths as you laid them out in the last paragraph that always, always, are being attacked, and it was for that stand that the Meyer’s received such abuse. Thank you for drawing the attention of the blog readers to the real issue at stake here.

  2. Interesting that you should bring this up. I have been struggling with this lack of apology to Mrs. Meyer for quite some time…to the point that I have asked many PR ministers to explain it to me. What is not conveyed here in your post is that the classis from which you post the minutes is actually the second classis where this apology was considered. The first time it came to the floor was at the previous classis. At that time the motioner was asked to remove the motion so that a committee could be formed to consider whether the apology should be given and the issue would be dealt with at the next classis: the one that you refer to here. The reason stated for this action was the concern that if the motion were to fail it would give classis “a black eye”. However, the minister who voiced the concern that failure to pass the motion would give classis a “black eye” voted against the apology in September when the committee came back with its recommendation to apologize. This has been puzzling to me for a number of reasons. First, no one could possibly expect us to believe the excuses that passed for reasons why the apology should not be given. Excuse 1: No precedent? * So what? Even if this were true…and it isnt…I would never let my children get away with such a flimsy excuse …let alone the men who are to lead us by example. Excuse 2: It wasn’t the same body…as in, different men? * Uh…we don’t run anything that way…classis is a representative body and as such it is irrelevant which specific men did what…they are all corporately responsible, right? Excuse 3: Apologies by this body should be rare because they often err and have to overturn decisions? * WHAT? Do we need a course in Logic or Consistency or Love? Which one? Perhaps all. And perhaps more painful to me personally was that the very minister who led the meeting of the first classis when the motion to apologize was made, and who ultimately voted AGAINST the apology at the second classis after the committee recommended it was a man who personally taught me that as sinners there is ALWAYS a reason that we can apologize to our brothers and sisters in Christ. He taught me that we never have an excuse NOT to apologize. I am deeply saddened that he does not appear to believe his own words. It is also worth noting that of the ministers I have talked with about this…every one of them admits that Mrs. Meyer was mistreated by classis. But in spite of this I have also heard officebearers claim that we simply didn’t owe her an apology. And as I have pondered these things I cannot help but wonder what good are such beautiful doctrines that we claim to hold if we do not follow the principles they teach us in our lives and walk as a church body? I would truly love to hear if anyone can give me a GOOD reason why we should not have apologized to Connie Meyer. It certainly makes one wonder if we truly believe what we say.

    1. I very much appreciate this comment for the additional level of detail it provides us. I truly do not understand the disconnect between what is said and done at classis and what comes from the pulpit. For example, it is not inconceivable that some of these ministers would the very next Sunday get on the pulpit and preach on proper forgiveness and repentance. I think of the delegate to Synod who said about the theology of the doctrinal statement, after it had been condemned by Synod, that he had always believed it and would continue to teach it. It is possibly, indeed likely, that he would later get on a pulpit and preach on proper, Christian humility. Examples like this could be multiplied. The implications of that are terrible to contemplate.
      Thank you for the comment.

    2. The recent meeting of Classis of the RPC made a decision concerning this also this week. It was very interesting. It’s at the 7 hour and 49 minute mark of the video.

  3. Reading the irrefutable and indicting blog posts always causes me to wonder at the anger and evil responses that fly forth on the comments. Instead of repenting when sin is exposed we observe an obstinate refusal to acknowledge transgression, apologize and turn from the evil.
    Isaiah 6:10 (KJV 1900): Make the heart of this people fat,
    And make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes;
    Lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears,
    And understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

  4. I’m curious after reading this blog post again how you feel about the decision of the recent RP classis this past week. It was made clear by Nathan Langerak that a Classis should never apologize for a previous Classis because they are separate bodies and judges. Nathan and Andy seamed to be in strong disagreement with each other. But in your early blog posts a main sticking point for corruption in the PRC was the Classis not apologizing for the previous Classis that erred. So as we saw this week the previous RP classis erred but the current classis didn’t feel the need to apologize for that error. I’m just curious if it’s different circumstances I’m just a little confused. Thanks for your time.

    1. Hi Scott, to answer your question directly, I heard the discussion at the recent meeting of classics, and there was nothing said there that moved me from my belief that if a classis violates the law of God, it ought to apologize.

      I haven’t re-read the earlier post, but didn’t the PRC classis say it couldn’t apologize to Connie because classis’ don’t apologize, but only a few years earlier had indeed apologized to two separate parties? What is your take on that? Are you for or against classis’ apologizing? And was that hypocrisy, or just an honest mistake?
      Thank you for your time.

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