Separation (Protestant Reformed Churches)(PRC)

Three faithful office bearers—pastor, elder, and deacon—along with several families, have separated themselves from Crete Protestant Reformed Church with the signing of an Act of Separation and Reformation. This came in response to the unrighteous suspension of Rev. Langerak.

A letter was read yesterday in PR churches explaining this separation.  

Announcements of this nature are becoming commonplace in the Protestant Reformed Churches.

There were two items of note in the letter.

First, Crete PRC added the charge of perjury against Rev. Langerak. It is striking that as consistories in the PRC continue to study Article 80 of the Church Order, they can only come up with new charges to lay against the righteous and have yet to find a charge that would apply to the minister who teaches heresy or the elders who defend it.

Second, the consistory has forgotten that they are doing their work before the face of Jehovah God.

That is the only explanation for their plea to the Lord that he “especially uphold and sustain us in the truths He has entrusted to our care.”

What a strange addition to the letter, when it was exactly on behalf of those truths that Rev. Langerak was contending on the pages of Sword & Shield.

And the consistory told him to stop.

So Rev. Langerak did what a faithful minister does and obeyed God rather than man. “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).   

And Crete’s consistory responded the way an apostatizing church does and suspended him.

Where does that leave the PRC today?

It leaves them with a repeat of history.

This is from the Reformed Free Publishing Association website about the founding of the PRC. It is remarkable how the apostatizing church throughout history relies on the same charges against the faithful.

When it became clear that these ministers (Hoeksema, Ophoff, Danhof) would never give up their fight for the truth, the CRC closed its church publications to them in an effort to stifle their opposition to the error of common grace. In response, Danhof, Hoeksema, and Ophoff, together with fifteen laymen who stood strong with them throughout the controversy, organized the Reformed Free Publishing Association in April, 1924. Their sole purpose in organizing the RFPA was the publishing of the Standard Bearer, a monthly magazine dedicated to defending the doctrine of particular grace and the whole truth of God’s word. The first issue was published on October 1, 1924…Herman Hoeksema was deposed in 1924 for refusing to keep silent about the truth of God’s sovereign particular grace. Revs. Danhof and Ophoff were subsequently deposed from the CRC after they were charged with insubordination and initiating public schism by defending the truth via the Standard Bearer (

This suspension also leaves the PRC with Witsius, the conditional covenant, and continued compromise of justification by faith alone. It leaves them scouring the bushes for the elusive antinomian. But it also leaves them without two of the very few voices that were willing to enter the trenches and do the work of a faithful soldier of Jesus Christ and contend—actually contend—for the faith once delivered to the Protestant Reformed Churches.

So the blessed, although painful work, of church reformation continues.

“And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God” (Zechariah 13:8–9).

3 thoughts on “Separation (Protestant Reformed Churches)(PRC)

  1. David,

    That is a fantastic question that you raise. I have been faced with that same question for almost 4 months now, because that is not the first time a consistory has made public charges of sin against individuals without going the way of Matthew 18, or even attempting to call those being charged with sin to repentance.

    A little background information is necessary first. On the evening of January 19, 5 office bearers at Byron Center PRC distributed the Act of Separation. That evening the question was asked “what do we do about our membership papers?” The informal suggestion was given that we write letters requesting our papers be sent to our home. Every other office bearer was timely about their request. I was not, and almost a month later had not requested my papers.

    3 weeks later, on Monday, February 8, in the first correspondence I received from Byron’s consistory, an elder texted me stating, “Hello Keith, We have received the requests from former office bearers that signed the Act of Separation to have their membership papers and family members to be sent to their home, we were wondering if you were going to do the same for you and your family?” (I was working on a letter for Byron’s consistory that was going to be a little longer, and had not finished it yet.) Then on Wednesday, February 17 I received another text from this elder, and my wife received a text from him shortly after, stating: “Hello Keith, was wondering if you sent a request for your membership papers yet? If not can you email something today or tomorrow please? Thanks.” Once again, I still had not finished that letter, but on the afternoon of February 17 I finished my letter requesting my papers and sent it in.

    What happened that following Sunday, February 21, was that an announcement was read off of the pulpit at Byron Center PRC regarding those five office-bearers: “It is with great sorrow the consistory informs the congregation that former office bearers Bryan Van Baren, Dewey Engelsma, Joe Boverhof, Keith Gritters, ,and Tyler Ophoff have committed the gross sins of public schism and faithless desertion of office by signing and distributing the Act of Separation, reference Article 80 of the church order. Therefore, these men no longer hold the office of elder or deacon and have separated themselves from both their office and the congregation. At their request, the consistory will be sending their membership papers to their homes. I Corinthians 1: 10, ‘Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.’ In Christ, the Consistory of Byron Center PRC”

    As clearly stated, Byron’s consistory made charges of gross sin against those 5 office bearers. Ask any one of those other 4 men and you will find this: not a single one received so much as even a phone call informing them of the impending charges, or attempting to call them to repentance for that sin. In fact, in their correspondence (if you want to call it that) with me they avoided that altogether and only attempted to force me into completing a certain action (requesting my papers). That begs the question: did they need me to complete that action to fit the announcement they were planning to read?

    I say all this not because I think your question needs an answer. I think the answer is obvious enough, but the similarities between the two situations are eerie and need to be pointed out.

    In Crete, at least they had the “excuse” that they “only” had 1 week to not work with those men before their announcement. At Byron they had over month to not work with us. Either way, very disorderly and unloving indeed.

  2. I need to ask a question. How is it that a consistory can bring additional public charges against a minister who is no longer a member of their congregation? What happened to Matthew 18? The Crete consistory met on Saturday May 8 to write the announcement. Did they meet with Rev. Langerak and if so did they give him time to respond? You see the problem here? It would be like me bringing accusations of sin against Christ publicly without even giving him a chance to speak.

    “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

  3. The real issue here was not the Sword and Shield even though the charges brought against Rev. Langerak were brought under that pretense. The issue was the preaching. The faithful preaching of the truth brought each week in which no man could find fault else would the charge have been brought against it. Never has anyone shown from Scripture or the Confessions any errors in Rev. Langerak’s doctrinal preaching or walk which are worthy of suspension throughout the time he served Christ’s church in Crete. No, it could not be the preaching as the manner in which to bring charges. The Sword and Shield was the manner in which the elders chose to remove Rev. Langerak from the pulpit. This is proven in the Act of Separation meeting ( that was held by the two office bearers that left Crete PRC. If you have not listened to the words spoken in that meeting, I strongly advise that you do so. The issue clearly was the preaching and not wanting to hear it as spoken by the instrument of God, Rev. Langerak. As you listen, you can hear the conversation of the Crete consistory that was at the forefront in the meeting at which it was determined to suspend Rev. Langerak. It was the preaching! But they could not bring this charge-it would not work! So it was necessary to find another means by which charges could be brought. By bringing the pretense of the Sword and Shield as the issue, they deceived their congregation. And deceit is the lie and the lie is sin. So the consistory sinned in lying to their congregation. And in lying to God they determined to remove the truth from off the pulpit. And in removing the truth from off the pulpit they removed Christ from off the pulpit and out of their presence.

    “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” Revelation 2:2-5

    The action of suspending Rev. Langerak brought another problem for the faithful that desired that the truth remain. How as an individual do you bring a protest against the suspension of Rev. Langerak if the charges brought are a lie? How do you even approach doing so? You can’t. There is no way to do it. If they would not even begin to address the protest brought by Rev. Langerak, as noted by him in the Act of Separation meeting, how are you as an individual going to be heard? There is no recourse. So we left because we desired that the truth and Christ might continue to be preached in our presence, now. Not five or six months from now when Classis West would meet again and Rev. Langerak could officially be deposed. Oh yes, a special classis meeting was requested by Rev. Langerak after his protest would not be addressed by the Crete consistory. And so this request was also denied. What better way to suspend him than to keep Rev. Langerak from preaching for a few months and let the congregation listen to the preaching of others to sooth them into “unity”. And so, as the faithful and finding no other recourse, we left. And for this we will be accused of not following the path of protesting and of abandoning our offices.

    And so history is repeated with only a change of names.

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