Amid all the turmoil that has gone on in the PRC to date, there is one thing that never gets a mention.
Nothing from the pulpit.
Nothing from the Standard Bearer.
And nothing from the membership.
There is a lot of noise about other things.
Churches are now holding special lectures where ministers are making their initial attempts to rewrite history. These revisionist historians now deny that Classis East got it wrong in early 2018, blandly state that five church visitors are normal, tell the people that the issue was never about the unconditional covenant, and even claim that they do not know what the controversy is about.
Although each of the lectures is unique, the ministers who have spoken at them, Rev. Eriks, Rev. Spronk, Rev. Barnhill, Prof. Gritters, and perhaps more, do have one thing in common.
They seduce the people by saying “Peace,” when there is no peace (Ezek. 13:10).
But there is one matter about which we hear nothing.
The PRC may be ignoring it, but they can be sure Jehovah God is not.
I speak of the spiritual abuse suffered by many of God’s children at the hands of the laypeople and the leaders in the PRC.
That abuse thrived at Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Walker, MI.
If you don’t know what spiritual abuse looks like, read this letter from Hope PRC to Neil Meyer dated November 4, 2015.
This letter is probably one of the ugliest things I have ever read.
What was Elder Meyer’s sin? What aroused in Hope’s consistory such anger?
Elder Meyer objected to a minister preaching that our obedience is a way to the Father. In faithfulness to his Formula of Subscription vow, he exerted himself to keep Hope PRC free from corrupting justification by faith alone.
Six days later, Hope’s consistory responded by countercharging him as an antinomian and later suspending and deposing him from office.
Jesus Christ commands elders to feed the flock the pure gospel of grace and the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ alone.
The consistory of Hope PRC fed their flock the poison of Satan.
And when some objected, they killed them.
They killed them by deposing them, and they killed them by slandering them, and they killed them by destroying their name and reputation, and they killed them by driving them from their church.
The words of Ezekiel 34:4 describe the type of “shepherd leadership” shown at Hope PRC. “The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.”
And the response this will elicit is, “Well, Hope is sorry. They apologized.”
When they finally were backed so far into the corner that they had to remove the discipline from Neil Meyer, they were compelled to make an apology.
But I haven’t seen it.
And neither have you.
That’s because Hope refused to publish the apology. And they would not allow written copies to be distributed. If you could not hear the apology, or if you missed it, an elder would read it to you.
For three years, the key of Christian discipline was publicly exercised against a godly man, and then when it was shown that the discipline was wicked, the elders tried their best to keep their apology under wraps.
Hope’s consistory was not sorry at all.
We know that for two reasons: First, 2 Corinthians 7:11 explains what true repentance looks like. Trying to hide an apology for a public sin is the opposite of “clearing yourselves” and “in all things” approving yourself “clear in this matter.” If you were genuinely sorry for what you did, you would not try to hide it. You would shout it from the mountaintops. You would take up the sword against yourself. You would nominate and elect to office the men who understood the doctrines correctly and had fought for them. You would exercise the key of Christian discipline against those who perpetrated this great evil.
Second, we know Hope was not sorry, and is not to this day, because they continue to nominate and elect to the office of elder the same men who defended false doctrine and who spiritually abused, that is murdered, the sheep of their flock who were courageous enough to contend for the faith.
Re-read that letter from Hope. Re-read other correspondence from the consistory of Hope PRC. Over and over, they offered full-throated approval for heresy.
It is no exaggeration to say that for three or four years Hope PRC more closely identified with the marks of a false church than they did with a true. The pure doctrine of the gospel was not preached, and discipline was only exercised against the faithful, which is then to corrupt the administration of the sacraments.
Because they have not repented, it is no exaggeration to say that to this very day Hope PRC more closely identifies with the marks of the false church than they do with the true (Belgic Confession, Art. 29).
These elders trampled underfoot the most precious doctrines found in the Bible and murdered those who objected, and do you know what Hope PRC did to these men?
Put them back up for elder.
Do you know what the denomination did to those men? Put them in leadership positions.
The narrative that I spoke of in the first post, that there were troublemakers at Hope, and they were the cause of the trouble in the denomination, was widespread throughout the denomination.
The attitude toward these members from Hope, and from other congregations, who dared raise their voices, has been one of sharp condemnation.
Troublemakers. Radicals. Hard sons of Zeruiah. Two hundred percenters.
And I have not heard anyone condemn it.
There is a lot of hand-wringing and lamenting, but it is all just generalities. A lot of people are “sorry” for this, that, and the other thing, but no one is broken by how the sheep of Christ’s flock were treated.
There is not an honest man or woman in Classis East who can deny that there has been a concerted effort to slander and destroy Neil and Connie Meyer and the other former members of Hope who stood up for the truth.
Do you know how the Meyers responded?
With integrity and faithfulness.
That continues to this day.
When I asked the Meyers about the apology—before knowing about all of the rules and restrictions Hope had placed on the apology—they said that Hope’s consistory had told them to keep the apology private and not to share it with anyone, so the Meyers were not comfortable sharing it with me. (As alleged antinomians, they need to improve on their law-breaking.)
The Meyers simply bore the abuse.
The marks they, and others, bear are glorious marks.
For they bear in their bodies “the marks of the Lord Jesus” (Gal. 6:17).
But God has led the PRC to see the error of their ways, and they have learned so much, so that these types of sins will never be repeated, right?
Well, not for a year, anyway.
On June 23, 2019, Rev. Van Overloop preached a sermon in which he made one of the most, if not the most, egregiously heretical statements ever to come from a Protestant Reformed pulpit.
Even DeWolf did not go as far as Rev. Van Overloop did.
In light of the fact that a controversy was going on over this very doctrine, it’s rather reasonable that someone should present an objection to Grace PRC’s consistory regarding Rev. Van Overloop teaching conditional fellowship that was not all of grace.
Hearing that heresy come from the pulpit, a couple sent a letter to Grace PRC objecting to the sermon.
Just as Hope PRC had, the consistory of Grace PRC responded by defending its minister and belittling those who dared raise an objection.
In their letter, the consistory wrote the following:
ii. Why do you assume to yourselves the ability and authority to judge our response with Scripture and the creeds, especially when, as you point out, this is the work of the consistory? While you do have the office of all believer, do you believe that a consistory of a Protestant Reformed Church would present something contrary to Scripture and the creeds? (Grace PRC letter to Wayne & Sarah Courtney dated 10/16/2019)
This letter was written in October of 2019.
Hope’s consistory, with the support of Classis East, was continuing its work of corrupting justification by faith alone and displacing Jesus Christ.
And Grace writes, “do you believe that a consistory of a Protestant Reformed Church would present something contrary to Scripture and the creeds?”
Yes, Grace PRC, we do believe that a consistory would present something contrary to Scripture and the creeds.
That one paragraph summarizes the condition of the Protestant Reformed Churches.
They pay lip-service to the office of believer while they trample it underfoot.
They commit grievous error, and then with the adulterous woman, wipe their mouth and say, “I have done no wickedness” (Prov. 30:20).
“Instead of having their consciences stung to the quick, and seeking a remedy for their vices by correcting them, they are only driven to madness. Thus ungodly men not only resist, with obstinacy, the judgments of God, but rise into cruelty against his servants” (Calvin on Luke 4:23).
But maybe that is just Grace PRC. That does not describe other churches in the PRC, does it?
After Hope PRC had scattered their flock “upon all the face of the earth” (Ezek. 34:6), these bruised, battered, and abused sheep looked to other churches in the classis for refuge.
What a beautiful opportunity for other churches to take these hurting sheep and draw them into their fellowship and to care for them. If ever a church could show forth the love of Christ, now was the time. Remember, these were members that God had used to preserve the truth of justification by faith alone in the PRC. They would be given a hero’s welcome, right?
Some of them tried Southwest PRC. The reception was more abuse and hate, this time in the form of anonymous letters in their mailboxes. (One of these letters, I am told, showed up in the member’s church mailbox at Hope PRC).
How about Byron Center PRC? They had a reputation as a loving, welcoming church.
The response of the Byron congregation was accurately reflected in the comment made by many, “Why don’t they just go somewhere else?!”
The elders faithfully reflected this attitude in the consistory room.
The amount of time the elders of Byron Center PRC (some of whom went on to become elders at Unity PRC) spent agonizing over the papers of these members from Hope is simply shameful. We did all we could not to receive the clean papers of these hurting sheep. The attitude of the consistory was summarized well by one elder who finally, in a fit of anger, yelled, “I don’t want them here! This is a hostile takeover!” (As if these members cared one whit about the bricks and mortar).
This type of abuse was continued at Classis East.
The people are told to protest and appeal, protest and appeal! And when they do, they are treated shamefully and abusively.
Classis East is broken and has become a farce.
And you can look high and low in the PRC and find no true repentance.
Which is tragic.
The Spirit-wrought work of repentance is one of the most beautiful gifts God gives to his people.
A brokenness that is defenseless, and not at all defensive. A spiritual turning from sin that never responds with an excuse or a deflection. It is open, honest, and candid. It places itself at the mercy of anyone and everyone and demands nothing in return. The sorrowful and broken sinner makes no plea for anything because he recognizes he deserves nothing. The only proclamation he will make is, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
Yet to watch Hope PRC and Classis East behave, you would think true repentance, true confession, and a broken and contrite spirit are things to be despised.
Because it is of God, true repentance is unmistakable.
We have not seen it at Hope. We have not seen it at Classis East. And we have not seen it in the denomination.
And we won’t.
Those who are whole have no need for repentance (Matt. 9:12–13).
“If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they” (Ecclesiastes 5:8).