“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 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!!”
Such were the questions and convictions of one reader.
To answer that question of “why,” it is important to point out that what I am doing not only has precedent in the PRC but is also my duty.
What I am doing has been done before. Sure, the medium is different—blogs have not been around that long—but principally, I am not breaking new ground. In other words, there is precedent for this.
Precedent that looms very large in the history of the PRC.
(Much of what follows can be found in Hoeksema’s History of the Protestant Reformed Churches found here at the PRC website.)
In this book, Hoeksema gave the history of the events that led to the formation of the Protestant Reformed Churches.
Hoeksema named names and called men out for their sinful actions.
Hoeksema charged men with lying and slander and spoke of the “deplorable” behavior of Dr. Janssen. He accused the friends of Janssen, who were responsible for Hoeksema’s ouster, of acting the way they did because their “idol” had been cast down and because, subconsciously, they supported the doctrine of common grace.
Hoeksema wrote of three elders who came to him under false pretenses, and he identified their shameful behavior and called them out by name, as their names were “worthy of being preserved on the pages of this history because of the part they played in it.”
He spoke of the hierarchical yoke of the CRC and the “high-handed hierarchy” and “sophistry” that went on at their assemblies. He accused them of “popery.”
It is striking that when a church apostatizes, in any age, their assemblies invariably become political and corrupt.
Hoeksema could have been speaking of Classis East in the year 2021 when he wrote of “a number of delegates that acted as mere voters without a proper understanding of the question at issue and were ready to go along with the majority as easily as straws in the wind.” Or when he wrote regarding his deposition that “an illustration of grosser injustice could hardly be conceived.” And strikingly, with words that could be applied today, “It is, then, not too strong a statement, to assert that a worldly court would not treat a defendant as the broadest ecclesiastical court of the Christian Reformed Churches treated the Reverend H. Hoeksema in 1924.”
Quotes like this could be multiplied, but for those members of the PRC who are reading this blog, I encourage you to read this book so that you can begin to learn your history.
In the controversy in the 1950s, Rev. George Ophoff accused the assemblies—at an assembly meeting—of being cesspools of corruption and said they needed to be cleaned out. Hoeksema agreed with Ophoff, and both were censured for it. You can read Hoeksema’s explanation and defense of that here.
Rev. Heys publicly accused a Rev. Schans of lying and slander.
Even the clergy behaves the same way today as it has in past controversies. “In their private assemblies, behind the closed door, they are most bold. In public, however, they maintain a profound silence. The objective has been gained. He whom they hated—the Rev. H. Hoeksema, was gotten rid of.”
Pull down a Standard Bearer bound volume from either of those periods, and you will see that examples like those listed above could be multiplied a hundred times over.
These men would make charges and then prove them.
All of the complaining and hand-wringing that has gone on regarding this blog reveals a church that does not know its own history.
But this script has been written before:
And now I would like to sound a warning from the pages of church history. The pseudo-arguments of which I wrote last time, and the various attitudes to which I call attention in this article are nothing new in the history of the church. There has never been a time in all the ages of church history when they have not arisen. In fact, if we are mindful of our own history of 25 short years’ duration, we cannot fail, surely, to note that all these arguments and different expressions of attitude have ominously familiar ring. Has it not been exactly the opposition in all the history of our churches that tried to dull the sharp sword of the truth by calling the differences between us and our mother-church a matter of terms, or of a difference of emphasis? Have they not often pointed to the fact that we were a minority? Have they not often boasted in authorities? Have they not often clamored, “me too”, in regard to being Reformed? Has not the breach of the peace often been lamented, with the sword of deposition in the hand? Has not the ostrich frequently put its head in the sand ecclesiastically? Has not the general and sentimental charge of a lack of love often been made? (HCH, A Healthy Attitude).
Hoeksema, Ophoff, and the other founding fathers had the right, even the duty, to do this because of the biblical command to identify not only the error but also the purveyors of that error.
In other words, names must be named.
“This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck; Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1:18–20).
“But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim. 2:16–18).
“Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia” (2 Tim. 4:9–10).
“Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words” (2 Tim. 4:14–15).
In 3 John 1:9–10, we read the following: “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.”
What did John mean when he said that he would “remember his deeds which he doeth”?
What this meant was that John was going to expose and condemn Diotrephes and his tyrannical and selfish lording it over God’s heritage openly, publicly, and strongly.
Commenting on this text, Matthew Henry writes that “Acts of ecclesiastical domination and tyranny ought to be animadverted upon.”
Another commentator on this text said John would “remember his deeds which he doth; meaning, not only that he would tell him of them to his face, but make mention of them, and expose them to the whole church, and reprove him for them” (Gill).
Not only is this the example given in the Bible, but it is also the duty of the believer to engage in this work and expose the workers of corruption and the teachers of false doctrine. According to Paul, we are to “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned” (Rom. 16:17).
Mark them. Point them out. Expose them.
John Calvin, speaking on 1 Timothy 5:20 (“Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear”), writes that he who “conducts himself badly shall be severely corrected.”
This is also the clear command of Article 55 of the Church Order, which commands elders to “use the means of teaching, of refutation or warning, and of admonition” to “ward off false doctrines and errors.”
The Bible uses strong language for the officebearer who remains silent in the face of such wickedness. “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber” (Isa. 56:10).
I have also been accused of dividing the church and splitting families.
One correspondent was especially sharp.
To him, my actions have been “foolish, evil and malicious.” My behavior “betrays an incredibly self-centered, self-seeking agenda – more the conduct of a Judas than a true disciple of the Lord.” He called on me to stop my attacks on the PRC and all of my “sowing of discord among brothers and sisters in Christ.” He called on me to repent, or perish. According to this man, I have not shown love, but “malice and ill-will.” And because I am doing it in the name of Christ’s truth, in reality what I am doing is actually blasphemy.
By identifying the corruption and hypocrisy that took place in the deposition of Rev. Lanning, does that mean I have not shown love?
What would this man’s definition of love entail?
It would mean me being silent.
He would have me disappear quietly into the ecclesiastical landscape.
It means he does not want me to warn the members of the PRC of the lying, of the hypocrisy, of the corruption, and of the false doctrine that exists within their denomination.
Would that be love?
Because it maintains a certain peace?
This would be like a friend walking into your basement, seeing the foundation walls are crumbling and the whole edifice being held up by only a few blocks, then walking upstairs, bidding you farewell, and walking off into the night without having said a word of warning.
That is not love at all.
That would be cold indifference. That would be hatred.
To do that would be self-centered and self-seeking.
Had I just slipped off quietly, I might have saved my life, and not lost it.
I abhor and reject that man’s view of love, and I pray the church of which I am a member will never become infected with it.
I reject this conception of love because of what it would require.
There would be “one condition of obtaining peace—that by being silent we might betray the truth” (Calvin).
By God’s grace, I will not betray the truth, or Jesus Christ, whose truth it is.
Did Jesus not have love when he said he came not to bring peace but a sword? Or when he said he came to divide a man from his father, or a daughter from her mother, or a daughter-in-law from her mother-in-law? (Matt. 10:34–35). Did Jesus cause division when he rebuked his disciples and called them a “perverse generation” (Matt. 17:17)? Or when he said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me” (Matt. 16:23)? Was Jesus showing malice and ill-will when he called the travelers on the road to Emmaus “fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken” (Luke 24:25)?
Am I the troubler of Israel?
To expose corruption and reveal error, even though that may, and probably will, cause division, does not indicate a lack of love.
Exactly the opposite.
That is love in action.
On 2 Corinthians 12:15 (“And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved”) Calvin writes, “This, certainly, was an evidence of a more than fatherly affection—that he was prepared to lay out in their behalf not merely his endeavours, and every thing in his power to do, but even life itself. Nay more, while he is regarded by them with coldness, he continues, nevertheless, to cherish this affection. What heart, though even as hard as iron, would such ardour of love not soften or break, especially in connection with such constancy? Paul, however, does not here speak of himself, merely that we may admire him, but that we may, also, imitate him.”
As one commentary puts it, “Love him as a true friend who seeks your good more than your good will.”
That is why I have done what I have in the writing of this blog.
Had I simply remained silent and left quietly, I would not have been able to live with myself. Leave without warning the people I love the most about the danger they are in? Brothers and sisters in Christ, I plead with you to consider the things I have written. I have no bitterness, anger, or malice in my heart at all, and that because of the grace of God.
God is not mocked. He will not give his glory to another, and lying and hypocrisy he will judge. Do you think even though these things have happened to every church in the New Testament age—including those churches that the Apostle Paul established—it is impossible that it happens to the PRC?
I have written this blog because I love you.
I do not write this defense to clear my name or win myself back into the good graces of any man. I will not justify myself before men. God knows my heart.
For those of you who do not believe me or who continue to charge me with lying or slander or deceit, I have come to realize that I will not be able to convince you. Nothing I say will convince you.
Only one thing will.
And that will be when Jesus Christ returns and when we will all see—and which no one will be able to gainsay—what has been righteous and what has been unrighteous. Then, and only then, will we see who has served God and who has not (Mal. 3:18).
It is to that day I appeal.