Classis East (2)

Hypocrisy.

Hypocrite.

The word comes from the Greek word having to do with an actor or a stage player. Such men would wear masks to indicate the character they were playing. This allowed them to be different people at different times.

It was only after a number of years that the word came to mean “a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.”¹

Some of Jesus’ harshest condemnations were reserved for those he identified as hypocrites.

Those who condemn or judge others but are blind to those very faults in themselves (Matt. 7:1–5).

Or someone who says one thing but does another (Matt. 15:1–9).

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were hypocrites. Those who bound heavy burdens on others but would not move those burdens with one of their fingers (Matt. 23:4).

On such, Jesus pronounces a curse.

“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Matt. 23:13).

According to Charles Spurgeon, ministers are especially susceptible to this sin. “It is a terribly easy matter to be a minister of the gospel and a vile hypocrite at the same time.”

What about ministers and elders in the Protestant Reformed Churches?

We shall see.

The reason Rev. Lanning was deposed, we are told, is because he made public charges of sin against officebearers. There were differences in the three documents created along the way by three different parties—the church visitors, Trinity PRC, and then classis. One difference was that the church visitors and Trinity PRC pressed the charge that Rev. Lanning violated his Formula of Subscription vow. Classis never made mention of that vow.

But one thing was true with all of them: Rev. Lanning must be deposed for making public charges of sin.

“In these sermons he publicly charges ministers and office-bearers of the PRC with unrepentant sin” (church visitors).

“In a sermon on Jeremiah 23:4, 14, Shepherds to Feed You, preached in Byron Center PRC on 11/15/20, Rev. Lanning made serious public charges of unrepentant sin against ministers and office-bearers of the Protestant Reformed Churches, and against the entire denomination” (Trinity PRC).

In these sermons he publicly charges ministers and office-bearers of the PRC with unrepentant sin. The statements in his sermons and his subsequent actions are enumerated by the BC consistory, the advice of the church visitors, and set forth clearly by Trinity PRC consistory in the supplemental material (agenda, p. 125-179)” (Classis East).

It is no exaggeration to say that this was the reason Rev. Lanning was deposed. Apart from this charge, there is no deposition.

In addition to never proving that Rev. Lanning made charges, the men who convicted him had just done what they deposed him for.

(We saw in a previous post that this is not the first time we have seen this hypocrisy).

How can someone do that, you ask?

Put on a different mask.

On June 6, 2020, the consistory of Georgetown PRC mailed out a letter to its congregation responding to the distribution of Sword & Shield.

In this letter, Rev. Haak and the consistory of Georgetown PRC made public charges of sin against Revs. N. Langerak, Lanning, and VanderWal and the other men responsible for Sword & Shield. The charge made was lying and schism.

How then was it possible for Rev. Haak—as a church visitor—to formulate this charge and then press it in the service of the deposition of Rev. Lanning?  “Article 74 requires that any charges of public sin ‘shall be reported to the consistory,’ and it makes this step for charges of public sin, as necessary as the steps of Matthew 18 with regard to private sins. The way appointed by Christ is not to bring charges of sin to the court of public opinion, not even public sins. All charges of sin are to be brought to the consistory as the sole court Christ appointed to judge and treat such sins” (church visitors’ advice).

Not hard at all. Put on a different mask.

Soon after Sword & Shield appeared, Unity PRC sent out a letter to its congregation charging the editors and promoters of the new magazine with lying, promoting division and unrest, and finally creating schism.

What does it mean then when the delegates depose a man from the ministry of the word and sacraments for the exact same thing they did in their public letter to their congregation? “Rev. Lanning’s schismatic actions of publicly charging office-bearers are contrary to our Confessions. a. He has not followed in his preaching or conduct the sixth commandment as explained in the Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 107, “But is it enough that we do not kill any man in the manner above mentioned? No; for when God forbids envy, hatred, and anger, He commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves; to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness towards him, and prevent his hurt as much as in us lies; and that we do good, even to our enemies” (minutes of Classis East, 24).

It means they are good actors.

Hudsonville PRC sent out a letter to its congregation in late July stating, incredibly, that there was no controversy, but also that Sword & Shield was divisive in the PRC. Certainly, by late July, they could have gone to the consistories of the editors and promoters of Sword & Shield. Did they not truly believe that the consistory was the “sole court Christ appointed to judge and treat such sins” and that there were “no other options” (minutes, 24)? Or was this grievous burden only one to be borne by Rev. Lanning and not the consistory of Hudsonville PRC?

(One elder delegate cleared himself of guilt in this matter by arguing and then voting against the deposition. Such a man that lives by principle does not need a mask, in fact, refuses to wear one.)

But what about the synodical delegates, the minister delegates from the West?

Was it unrealistic to hope that deliverance would come from the West?

Rev. Steven Key was one of those delegates.

There would be no help here. Instead, his own sword would devour this prophet, like a destroying lion (Jer. 2:30).

Rev. Key should have been more careful.

On December 6, 2020, the day the announcement of Rev. Lanning’s suspension was read in the churches, Rev. Key preached a sermon titled “The Shepherd and His Sheep.”

In this sermon, he publicly charged “some ministers” with the “grievous error” of “taking a bullwhip” to their flocks.

He was referring to Rev. Lanning and Rev. Langerak.

His congregation knew exactly what he was referring to as well. Within a few hours of the sermon being preached, I, as well as about forty-five others, received an email from a member of Loveland PRC bringing our attention to this sermon as “in the last 15 minutes or so he addressed the situation in Byron Center.”

From his pulpit, he publicly charged ministers in his denomination with “grievous error.”

Rev. Key did not bring these charges to Byron Center PRC or Crete PRC.

He made these charges publicly from the pulpit.

Ignore the monstrous implication that Jeremiah himself was guilty of grievous error for bringing the rebukes that he did, or that any minister today would be guilty as well for bringing the admonitions and threatenings of the gospel required of any faithful pastor.

Not five weeks after making this public charge of sin from his pulpit, Rev. Key voted to depose a man for making public charges of sin from the pulpit.

(I was able to stop Rev. Key in the narthex of Grace Church as he walked from the sanctuary to the room where he and the other synodical delegates were going to vote on the deposition. I asked him how he was not guilty of hypocrisy for preaching that sermon and then later voting to depose Rev. Lanning. There was no answer. Because there is no answer.)

What can you say about an assembly like this?

That without any shame walks in the grossest hypocrisy.

That blasphemously calls upon the name of God to bless such a wicked act.

That exhibits corruption that would make an earthly court blush.

It was never about public charges. Half the men there had done the same thing.

It was about a denomination that has made its living out of pointing the finger at other denominations but is unable to bear that finger pointed back at itself.

(When the rebuke came against herself in the sermon on Jeremiah 23:4, 14, many people were taken aback. In fact, some even felt the stirrings of sorrow for sin and repentance. Within a week they were able to gather themselves and decide, with a vengeance, that this troubler of Israel must go.)

The very things that the PRC has condemned in others, it refuses to see in herself.

It prides itself on the purest manifestation of the truth, refusing to realize it only has the purest manifestation of the form.

And then a few ministers showed up who refused to be cowed.

Only three.

Who refused to be bought off by whatever passes for plum positions in a small denomination.

Who refused to flee the cross-bearing that must come when one follows Jesus Christ (Matt. 16:24).

Who worked along with other men in the denomination to form a magazine where they could, in faithfulness to their vows, defend and promote the truth and repudiate the lie.

One by one, those men who “incessantly and faithfully [fought] every new appearance of [the] heretical and monstrous notion that there is righteousness acceptable to God that is based upon some work, some merit, some obedience, some holiness, or some good in man” were put out of the denomination, or will be (Huizinga, Keeping the Sword Drawn, 25).

Instead of just writing about keeping the sword drawn, they did it, and it cost them.

The outcome of the meeting of Classis East was never in doubt.

The outcome never is with a “bureaucratic institution full of self-important and ruthless men.”

Those who voted for the deposition were warned.

One delegate warned them just before the vote to depose that if this was approved, they would be deposing a righteous prophet, a man in whom there was no guile, and it would be to the shame of the denomination.

But it is to more than just the shame of the denomination.

Toward the end of the sham proceedings, Jeremiah 26 was read to the delegates.

“But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the Lord hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears” (Jer. 26:15).

They brought innocent blood upon their heads and upon the denomination they represented.

And the man who felt compelled to speak last?

Who was not satisfied with all of the attacks, slanders, and abuse that had been heaped upon Rev. Lanning to that point?

Who wanted to make sure the final nail was pounded deep into the coffin?

That was Rev. Lanning’s father-in-law, Rev. Steven Key.

The man who had done the exact same thing only a few weeks before.

And now synod is upon us.

Which means it’s time for these men to reach for another mask.

Charles Spurgeon was a man ahead of his time.

 

17 thoughts on “Classis East (2)

  1. Can I tell you a little story? Yesterday, my family and I were at the park. It was busy and bustling with other children, and my 4 year old was so excited to be playing with the other kids. Another boy walked up to him and said “remember how you spit at me? Now I’m gonna spit at you!!” and proceeded to spit a big loogey right in his face. Did my four year old spit first? It’s very possible, he was conceived and born in sin, after all. Weirdly though, after we talked to our son about it and dealt with it, the other little boy came back again to spit in his face.

  2. Pastor Key didnt have to apologize or say anything at all. We all agree with you that fellowship with God is unconditional. That there is no place for the work of man in our fellowship with God. We dont do anything to earn or merit this fellowship.

    “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
    Ephesians 2:10

    The work we do in our lives of sanctification is not a work we do of ourselves in that we so desire to do them in our imperfect state. But rather, through that spirits work in us, we are transformed anew unto a life of obediance so that we sincerely, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, desire to live a life sanctified unto Him. Sadly, in our imperfect state we often fall far short of the callings God has set forth. We stumble, we fall. And such it is in this valley of tears. We often find ourselves on that slippery slope. God is in control, for He never allows us to fall completely. He is always with His people, His fellowship never leaves us.

    But by His sovereign will He leads and directs our lives, that He works in us such a dreadful and dire state of mind and spirit that we are left without peace of mind or spirit unto we return from that place of wickedness. God returns us, though. He leads us back to Himself in the way of repentance.

    What is your state of mind and spirit, editor of this blog? Do you truly feel at ease with the choices you have made? Do you have that peace that passeth all understanding? I cannot judge that of myself, for only God can judge our eternal state.

    But our outward actions do often make known the heart. The charge of schism was brought forth. It was deliberated on, and the church of Jesus Christ judged that His, Lannings, actions were schismatic.

    Did the magazine create sides? Yes

    Did the sermon cause unrest in Byron Center? Yes

    Did the act of creating the RPC cause division in the church of Jesus Christ? Yes

    Our eternal state does not depend on our own head knowledge, our church membership, or which man we follow. But rather, we are justified by faith alone. Not our own works in joining a church.

    So the charge stands, clearly. And the charge continues to stand unto you return to the PRC. Which you indeed must do. It is a hard thing to humble ourselves. The weakness of our flesh will do all it can to fight for our own justification. Justification that our own actions of men our just and true.

    “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.”
    Proverbs 21:2 KJV

    The devil is the author of confusion, and He delights in division in a church. And it is evidence that his hand was in play throughout this whole controversy.

    But comfort can be had, knowing God is in control and is ever leading and directing us and the events of this life for our good.

    We pray, that you return unto us, if so willed by God. Luke 15 makes clear, those who walk in repentance shall be restored.

      1. The sermon was a beautiful illustration of Christs love for us. We read in Isaiah, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
        Isaiah 53:6

        So often we wonder as sheep. So often we depart from that path set forth for us. Christ, that great shepherd of the sheep has sought out everyone one of His lost sheep and has drawn us back into the fold.

        Pastor Keys application in this sermon was to welcome back a wondering sheep into the fold. The one who had been living in sin had, by Gods almighty power, been brought to the knowledge of their sin, and was led in the way of repentance. Just as Christ forgave Peter, so also He forgives all His sheep, not one is lost. The angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner that repents. What comfort it is for us as wandering sheep, when God restores us back to Himself by His loving hand.

        So as Christ tenderly leads us and cares for us, so is the calling of a pastor. Christ said to Peter, feed my sheep. And so the shepherd brings the Word of God to nourish and sustain the flock that God has given him. He faithfully executes His office to the glory and honor of Gods name. He leads his flock to Christ. Gentle is that hand, his admonishments from the pulpit are done in love, they feed the sheep. His admonishments do not seek to raise discord, but seeks to unite the whole flock in the spirit of Christ.

        “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
        Ephesians 4:2‭-‬3 KJV

        If you take a bullwhip to the sheep, they will indeed scatter. And this can be seen the Christian world around us. Often times the Word is brought in anger, in bitterness, seeking an agenda other then feeding the flock. This is true. Pastor Key did not speak of Lanning. If anyone made the connection it was because of an assumption being made. Lanning made direct reference to the men of Classis East.

        In love for his flock the faithful pastor will warn of those wolves in sheep’s clothing, that seek to rend apart the body of Christ.

      2. Brent, just so I am clear, you are saying that when Rev. Key said the “grievous error being seen today among some ministers” was them taking a bullwhip to the sheep, he did not have Rev. Lanning in mind? You may want to rethink that position. It is so patently obvious he was talking about Rev. Lanning, a denial of it calls into question your judgment.

        We did find something we can agree on, however. “In love for his flock the faithful pastor will warn of those wolves in sheep’s clothing, that seek to rend apart the body of Christ.” To that I say Amen.

        Curiously, however, some men are deposed for it, some men are not.

    1. Brent,

      The division existed long before the Sword and Shield was created. The division began especially when David Overway preached heresy. He was not deposed for his heresy after Synod 2018 finally condemned his preaching & upheld the Meyers. Ministers in the PRC who agree with Overway went against and are still going against their formula of subscription vow. Rev. Lanning kept his vow, by God’s grace. I pray that God would open your eyes to see these things, as He has opened many other eyes.

      In Christ,
      Matt Medema

    2. Brent in your second sentence you say that all agree that Gods covenant is unconditional. However, this is not true. There are some that continue to defend false doctrine by explaining to their church members that Gods fellowship is conditional. “ it is true when an elect child of God walks for a time in unrepentant sin, we cut ourselves off from Gods fellowship…When he repented, that fellowship was returned.” “a believer who is living a life of unrepentant sin…is not living a life pleasing to God. He will not enjoy the experience of Gods love and fellowship. God withholds that from him”. “When they repented and turned from their so by Gods grace, he restored to them the enjoyment of His fellowship.”

      1. Those phrases you quoted are the teachings of an unconditional fellowship. That’s the teachings of the Canons of Dort in the Fifth Head of Doctrine.

        Article 5. By such enormous sins, however, they very highly offend God, incur a deadly guilt, grieve the Holy Spirit, interrupt the exercise of faith, very grievously wound their consciences, and sometimes lose the sense of God’s favor, for a time, until on their returning into the right way of serious repentance, the light of God’s fatherly countenance again shines upon them.

        Article 6. But God, who is rich in mercy, according to his unchangeable purpose of election, does not wholly withdraw the Holy Spirit from his own people, even in their melancholy falls; nor suffers them to proceed so far as to lose the grace of adoption, and forfeit the state of justification, or to commit sins unto death; nor does he permit them to be totally deserted, and to plunge themselves into everlasting destruction.

        Article 7. For in the first place, in these falls he preserves them in the incorruptible seed of regeneration from perishing, or being totally lost; and again, by his Word and Spirit, certainly and effectually renews them to repentance, to a sincere and godly sorrow for their sins, that they may seek and obtain remission in the blood of the Mediator, may again experience the favor of a reconciled God, through faith adore his mercies, and henceforward more diligently work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.

        Article 8. Thus, it is not in consequence of their own merits, or strength, but of God’s free mercy, that they do not totally fall from faith and grace, nor continue and perish finally in their backslidings; which, with respect to themselves, is not only possible, but would undoubtedly happen; but with respect to God, it is utterly impossible, since his counsel cannot be changed, nor his promise fail, neither can the call according to his purpose be revoked, nor the merit, intercession and preservation of Christ be rendered ineffectual, nor the sealing of the Holy Spirit be frustrated or obliterated.

        Article 9. Of this preservation of the elect to salvation, and of their perseverance in the faith, true believers for themselves may and ought to obtain assurance according to the measure of their faith, whereby they arrive at the certain persuasion, that they ever will continue true and living members of the church; and that they experience forgiveness of sins, and will at last inherit eternal life.

        To say those phrases are heretical and to call it false doctrine is to stray outside the bounds of the confessions.

        God is always leading and guiding us throughout our whole lives. His work, by the holy spirit, is in and through us, it permeates our entire being. We repent. Let me say that again, we as God’s people repent! The activity of our lives as Christians is that we sincerely desire to serve God with our whole being. We would not be Christians at all if we had not that desire. We would not seek forgiveness if it was not already because that Holy Spirit has worked in us regenerating us and sanctifying us. Thus it must be said, that all our good works all that activity of faith proceed from what God has done for and in us. So when those phrases you quoted say things like “we repent”. It is on the basis of Gods work, not our work. Our repenting is not a condition to fellowship with God. We repent, because we are already in fellowship with God. Like the Canons state, we do lose that sense of favor for a time. We lose the sense of God’s fellowship with us because of our own sins.

        The way the RPC seems to explain it is that the PRC is saying that we don’t have fellowship until we repent or that we do something. But that is not true. The wording we use is when we fall into sin. So look at it this way. First, God establishes that fellowship with us, when we sin, we lose that sense of fellowship. When we repent, by God’s grace, through the hearing of the Word and by the Spirits work in us, we are restored back to the fellowship we had before. God’s work through and through.

        When we fall into gross sin, what do we feel? Do we feel the sense of hopelessness that David felt? God speaks to us through His servant David in Psalm 32:3-5

        “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.”

        Why did David not pray to God? Because we read, God’s hand was heavy upon him. David felt not God’s fellowship with him until He repented. David only repented when Nathan the prophet brought him the Word of God. God used that Word to prick David in his conscience so that he repented. His fellowship wasn’t conditioned on His repentance. For God leads us in the way of repentance. God brings us low as I alluded to in my first post. God brings us low for a reason, so that He might raise us up again. Because we are His people, His fellowship never truly leaves us. So He ever leads us and guides us by His eternal hand. A proper understanding of this will leave us with the right answer without all the wordplay and twisting. It is God’s work through and through. It is impossible for us to repent if God is not working in us already.

  3. Proverbs 16:17-33 KJV
    [17] The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul. [18] Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. [19] Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud. [20] He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he. [21] The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning. [22] Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly. [23] The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips. [24] Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. [25] There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. [26] He that laboureth laboureth for himself; for his mouth craveth it of him. [27] An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire. [28] A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends. [29] A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good. [30] He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass. [31] The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness. [32] He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. [33] The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.

  4. This blog has to be the most ironic thing ever written. You are guilty of the exact accusation you lodge against Rev. Key in THIS very blog post. You are judging Rev. Key as a hypocrite publicly on this blog … and then throwing it out to the court of public opinion. You are guilty of the exact same thing you accuse others of !

    What is the POINT of this blog exactly Dewey ? What are you trying to accomplish? You continue to bash the PRC, it’s ministers and members … WHY?

    Are you trying to exact some sort of vengeance on the PRC ? Please, enlighten me ! Everything I personally have read to this point has done nothing but expose the hatred you seem to have in your heart towards faithful believers and members of the PRC … That is how you come across.

    I’m sure you’re aware of the Bible story in John 8 where a woman was caught in the act of Adultery. Remember how the mob was ready to stone her to death? Remember what Jesus did and said? He said to the mob “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” … (9)”And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst” … When they all left and Jesus was sitting there alone with the woman he said to her “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?” … “She said, No man Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.”

    I ask you Dewey … Will you stop your judging ? Will you stop your accusations ? They serve NO GOOD purpose but only promote MORE division, and MORE hatred towards the neighbor. You need to stop throwing stones !!

    1. Dear Nathan, I don’t believe that I am guilty of hypocrisy by exposing what Rev. Key did in his sermon and in his later actions to depose Rev. Lanning. If I were to forbid others from starting a blog to expose corruption in an apostatizing church, and then condemn those who did…only to do the same a few months later, that would make me guilty of hypocrisy. I am not saying Rev. Key was sinning by accusing colleagues of his of taking a whip to their flocks (although he is dead wrong about Rev. Lanning. Rev. Lanning is a faithful under-shepherd who leads his flock to Christ. That’s no bullwhip). I am accusing Rev. Key of hypocrisy for condemning Rev. Lanning for (allegedly) making charges from the pulpit, when he did the exact same thing only a few weeks before.
      For the rest, I don’t know if I will answer your questions or not. I am getting to the end of the blog and I have no appetite or interest for defending myself or my person. Say what you want about me. I am laying out the corruption that took place and the sheer unrighteousness of the PRCA in its church government and in its doctrine. Do with that what you will. On the other hand, I believe I have strong biblical support, so if it is helpful to you and others for me to make that case, I may do so, just to remove that impediment in your mind (and in other’s minds) that what I am doing is sinful. So, stay tuned I guess.
      I’m sorry I can’t give you a better answer than that, but that’s where I am right now.

      1. I’m seeing a pretty common theme among commenters, posters, PRs and RPCers alike. “I believe,” “You believe” “He believes” “She believes” “They believe.” Everyone is going to believe something differently than you do. It’s just fact, it’s just life. You’re entitled to your beliefs as I am entitled to mine, and everyone else is entitled to theirs. You don’t have it all right, they don’t have it all right, I don’t have it all right. I think a lot of people who disagree with you have been very respectful of your right to your beliefs and opinions. But for some reason, there is so much turmoil and hate and confusion. People embroiled in this mess are being torn apart in their souls. Say “I believe” all you want. But acknowledge the fact that if you expect others to respect your beliefs, it’s pretty hypocritical not to respect theirs, even if you disagree.

  5. M.G. , This comment and part of your other one lean towards relativism, where there is no absolute truth and every man has their own vision of truth, while consenting to the idea that everyone’s truth is simultaneously correct. We are not, in fact, each entitled to our own beliefs. It is not perfectly okay to have a belief system that is different than others. The belief and truth to which we are bound is the truth found in the holy Scripture, as laid out in Ephesians 1:3-14 and summarized in vs. 13, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation…” And in this truth we are made free (John 8:32). The gospel of our salvation includes God’s unconditional fellowship with His people, and as it is being recounted in this blog, it is not Dewey’s personal belief or opinion, but the Word of God. It is not about respecting someone’s personal beliefs, but bestowing all glory and honor to the most high God, where it belongs.

    1. I understand where you’re coming from. Your beliefs come from your personal interpretation of scripture, correct? I would hope that they also come from your personal relationship with your Savior. Until you go to glory, you won’t know what you may have interpreted improperly. And we would be absolutely remiss to assume that we have it all right. I’m not sure why you don’t think it’s necessary to be respectful. There is truth, and it is found in Scripture. But I am not willing, myself, to turn into the kind of person who is intentionally hurtful, spiteful, backbiting, and engaging in tearing families apart just to make a point that I believe I have the best interpretation. I desire terribly to see all of the fighting stop. People’s relationships are being irreparably damaged, not in the name of upholding truth, but in the name of being right. The best way to reach people with your message is to acknowledge that not all will agree, and live a life of witness that aligns with your belief system. People who see a person walking in Christian love are more inclined to hear what you have to say. People who just see name calling, belittling, and shouting are just going to be alienated.

      And the truth? The truth is love. God is love. Don’t misrepresent that command, or twist the example given by Christ and call it love. People are hurting because of all of this. If you can’t speak what you believe is the truth in a loving way, please just agree to disagree.

      1. M.G., This isn’t a matter of personal opinion or the best interpretation – Scripture and the creeds are clear about God’s covenant fellowship with His people, which has been demonstrated numerous times in sermons, lectures, and the S&S. Not to mention, this is the Reformed heritage that the PRC held dear until the apparently recent past.

        My point about being respectful is that God deserves all our respect. So no, I guess I would not respect a personal opinion if that opinion were directly contrary to the Word of God. And if my opinion was against the Word of God, I hope someone would tell me rather than simply agree to disagree.

        I agree with you that God is love. I agree we are called to speak the truth in love. I agree we must not twist the example given by Christ – which is that he rebuked his disciples when they strayed, often with harsh words. So we must also remember that true love is admonishing one another and calling each other to repentance when we are walking in sin, for true love cares about one’s soul! (Proverbs 3:11-12; Rev. 3:19) This might be done publicly in a sermon, or in a blog post, or face to face, but just because we don’t like what we hear doesn’t mean it’s not done in love.

        Jesus speaks of not coming to send peace on earth, but a sword, and that men will be set against fathers and daughters against mothers. But whether you see it or not, it IS in the name of upholding the truth. So yes, there is hurt, confusion, turmoil, and relationships being damaged. I don’t think anyone is immune to that. However, it is not this blog that is creating all that. That is what happens when false doctrine is allowed to fester in the church (which is the true schism, as proven by probably like 50 protests now). That is what happens when the church reforms. And then do you know what else there is? Peace in Christ. Going to church on Sunday and hearing the glorious news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, free from the shackles of conditional theology. And that is the beautiful truth that heals souls.

  6. I’m not going to change your mind, and you won’t change mine. Just consider this: is your mission to create peace on earth and a perfect church? Feels that way, from your response. And that would be a direct contradiction of the entirety of Scripture. All of this feels like sinful humans playing God and trying to control an outcome based on their personal interpretation of Scripture, rather than living lives in service of Him through Christlike love of the neighbor.

    P.S. “Admonishing” does not equal verbal and emotional abuse; which I know, first hand, has plagued many loved ones at the hands of so-called “loving” RPC members. If you manage to wear people down with personal attacks, manipulation, and this “admonishing” of yours, great. Awesome. But just know that those people are going to sit under this preaching each Sunday, miserable, because that don’t actually believe what you believe, they just want the fighting to stop.

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