Schism

The cry is, “Schism!”

It is coming from all quarters.

Even those who have yet to read one document or article pertaining to the controversy have taken it up.

“Lanning is schismatic!” “Langerak is schismatic!” “The RPC are full of schismatics!”

Or, cruelly, it is made intensely personal. “You have destroyed our family!”

The fact that Rev. McGeown has recently come out charging “Schism!” is not much of a concern to me.

He has not been involved, and it appears he does not have much of a grasp on what has taken place. It appears his primary function is to follow behind and clean up after Rev. Koole, a role he fills with vigor. Seems an odd calling for a minister to follow around another minister and try to clean up his trail of false doctrine. Keeps a man busy, anyway.

But schism was committed in the PRC.

Just not by Revs. Langerak, Lanning, and VanderWal, the men who started Reformed Believers Publishing, the faithful officebearers in Wingham, or anyone else who has been consistently drawing the charge.

It certainly is not committed by those who come out of the PRC and join themselves to a church that clearly manifests the marks of a true church, according to the 29th article of the Belgic Confession.

Only a few short months after Synod 2018 had spoken and declared that the PRC had been guilty of compromising justification by faith alone and the unconditional covenant and had displaced Jesus Christ, the Standard Bearer finally spoke.

If a man would be saved, there was that which man must do.

I attended the synod of 2018. I remember reading the advice of the committee and rejoicing. Finally. Finally! The controversy was over! This was something we could rally around. Yes, there would be much to learn going forward. For a church that had prided itself on its doctrinal integrity for so long, to now have it shown that we were responsible for compromising justification by faith alone would no doubt be deeply humbling, but God had showed us our error, and how could that not be for the good of our beloved churches?

But it was not long until that sense of joy faded away.

Prof. Dykstra’s editorial immediately following the synod was strange. The PRC compromised justification by faith alone, and Dykstra’s response was to damn anyone who dared condemn the error and speak a word of rebuke against those who had led the PRC astray?

(Perhaps someone can ask Prof. Dykstra why he never spoke a word of defense of the members of the PRC who were used by God to defend the truth in the denomination, for which they were being routinely slandered and murdered by all.)

What was going on?

I went to Prof. Dykstra that summer and sat in his office at seminary and asked him why the editors were ignoring the decision of Synod 2018.

I asked him, where was the series of editorials explaining and developing the truth that had been restored in the denomination by that decision?

His response should have told me all I needed to know.

He didn’t know who would write them. He asked me who I thought should write them.

I know now he was just patronizing me.

But things became clearer with the October issue.

Any question as to what the SB thought about the decision of 2018 was cleared up.

It had no use for it.

Which is when the true schism became clear.

Schism was committed in October of 2018.

It was committed by Rev. Koole.

“For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Cor. 11:18–19).

Rev. Koole taught and defended false doctrine at a time when the denomination was most vulnerable.

To commit schism is to separate the members of Christ’s body from their head, Jesus Christ.

It is to separate men from Christ.

The churches had just been wracked by controversy, which controversy revealed that the overwhelming majority of the members, including officebearers, did not understand the Reformation truth of justification by faith alone. (Which is a deep irony for a denomination that prided itself on its doctrinal knowledge. Turns out simply appealing back to years gone by doesn’t convey either a knowledge of the truth or a love for the truth—members of the RPC denomination, take note.)

The response of the SB was to make sure the denomination never would.

There is that which you must do.

With that teaching, and then with his inevitable defense of that false doctrine, the body of Jesus Christ was rent.

Schism.

There were those who wrote the SB to object.

Rev. Lanning was one of those.

With a multitude of words, denials, and obfuscations, Rev. Koole spun and twisted and writhed his way to an explanation that did a lot of things but that never repudiated the false doctrine.

What the public did not see was what went on behind the scenes.

In November 2019, Rev. Lanning wrote a letter to his consistory keeping them informed of developments regarding Koole’s article, his interactions with the editors, the SB generally, and his work with the group of concerned men who were working to arrest the RFPA from its calamitous fall.

That was how Rev. Lanning operated.

Even to his own hurt, he was always very careful to keep the consistory informed on things that may have had a broader impact in the denomination. I can still vividly remember when, after a lengthy meeting, under the “new business” part of the agenda, Rev. Lanning informed his consistory of where things stood with the group of concerned men. Even though he knew men in the room would be hostile to it. Shamefully, I remember thinking, “Do you have to tell us everything?”

That letter, along with a supplement, is attached here.

You should print it and read it carefully.

It reveals much.

It shows that Rev. Lanning kept his consistory informed regarding developments in the denomination in which he was involved and puts the lie to the claim that Rev. Lanning went rogue and never worked with his consistory.

It shows what Rev. Koole really thinks privately, even though he lied about it publicly.

Compare these statements:

Trying to understand what he meant, I asked Rev. Koole if anything that we receive depends upon our working. His immediate and vigorous response was, “Andy, Yes!” (AL conversation with KK, 11/7/2019)

To that line of reasoning I take exception. I used neither the words “works” nor “depends upon.” (Koole, SB, 3/1/19)

You indicate you are of the persuasion that we may not, we must not use such terms and language, for that would imply/teach that something depends on man when it comes to one’s salvation (cf. your third paragraph and following ones as well). And who can deny that to teach or even imply such would not be truly, consistently Reformed? (Koole, SB, 3/1/19)

These documents also show how truly political Prof. Dykstra truly is.

Byron Center PRC had a true pastor with Rev. Lanning and has now replaced him with a politician. The members of Byron Center PRC have what they want—a political pastor who knows how to work the political game that is the PRC.

Prof. Dykstra apparently can also go long stretches of time without resting. On November 7, Prof. Dykstra told Rev. Lanning that he would not rest until he talked to Rev. Koole. Ten days later he still hadn’t spoken to him. Finally, two weeks later, it appears Prof. Dykstra finally contacted Rev. Koole, showing himself to be the antitype of Rip Van Winkle.

Even now, being on the outside, it is ugly.

Rev. Koole was teaching full-blown federal vision theology.

A man whom Grandville PRC just declared, in spite of every evidence to the contrary, to be orthodox.

(Shame on the elders of Grandville PRC. They know better. They listened to Rev. Koole corrupt the gospel for over a decade. This was a protest of a sermon I was advised not to submit and was then too afraid to send in, but which shows Rev. Koole’s theology. Here is audio from 2013 of Rev. Koole teaching the well-meant gospel offer.)

What was the response of the denomination to being taught federal vision theology?

Indifference.

Apathy.

Yawn.

There were watchmen who saw it. They wrote in. They fought as best they could, given the fact that they were going up against a well-established political machine in the PRC.

Rev. Lanning was one of those men.

He tried to warn the people. He started with the elders of Byron Center. These were the men who were supposed to be on the wall with him. He wrote them a letter and included painstaking detail about his interactions with Rev. Koole and the other editors.

It fell on deaf ears. We as the consistory of Byron Center PRC were earthly and carnal. What characterized our meetings was earthly wisdom, which is sensual and devilish. Because these things were spiritually discerned, we could not know them.

So we as a consistory ignored what was found in the report.

Worse, we tried to shut him up.

By November 2019 division was widespread in the PRC.

Byron Center PRC was no exception.

There were many who claimed that Rev. Lanning was causing schism.

“Rev. Lanning preached ‘The Flood’ sermon and half the congregation left and started a new church!”

“Rev. Lanning preached ‘The Tears of Bochim’ sermon, and it made people so made they wouldn’t allow him on their pulpit!”

“Rev. Lanning preached ‘Shepherds to Feed You,’ and that caused so much division in the church!”

The consistory, instead of supporting Rev. Lanning in his defense of the truth, sought to weaken him.

Instead of standing for the truth of God over against the lie, the consistory of Byron Center PRC passed a motion intended to appease a vocal minority at BCPRC, but one that would take Rev. Lanning off the walls of Zion and cause him to break the vow that he had taken before God to uphold the truth and condemn the lie.

That decision was emailed out on November 12, 2020.

Within minutes of the email being sent to the congregation, I received a call from a member of Byron Center PRC, which man remains a member in the PRC. He said, with some passion, “If you loved the congregation of Byron, you would never have made that decision. That decision will tear the congregation apart.”

(I have that in quotes because those were the exact words he used. Immediately at the end of the conversation, recognizing the truth and the weight of his words, I felt compelled to write them in my journal. Little did I know how prescient his words would prove to be.)

“That decision will tear the congregation apart.”

He was right.

The consistory of BCPRC tried to silence a righteous minister of the gospel, which is to silence the voice of Jesus Christ himself, and the result was terrible, terrible schism.

Fast-forward to today, and there is endless lamenting about schism.

It’s all you hear.

Perhaps this just reveals a lack of understanding about what schism truly is.

Perhaps it is something more. Perhaps it is time for us to stop being children. Perhaps it is time for us to grow up.

It is time to stop being tossed about by cunning men with their exceptional craftiness (Eph. 4:14). Ministers like Koole and McGeown and Dykstra have been deceiving the members of their denomination.

Their lies have been believed by the members of the denomination.

The RPC are guilty of schism!

It may be the conventional wisdom in the PRC, but it is still the lie.

Here is the truth.

“For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Cor. 11:18–19).

If a minister, on behalf of the gospel of Jesus Christ, rebukes his congregation so that the entire congregation is in an uproar and sides are taken and battle lines are drawn and elders are shouting in the parking lot and women are crying and wailing, that minister has not committed schism.

He has been faithful to the biblical command found in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”

If a minister, on behalf of the gospel of Jesus Christ, writes for a magazine, so that his entire congregation is in an uproar and sides are taken and battle lines are drawn so that finally, political, vain, and light men who masquerade as elders make plans to have him ousted, that minister has not committed schism.

He has been faithful to the Church Order of Dordt, the 55th article, “To ward off false doctrines and errors that multiply exceedingly through heretical writings, the ministers and elders shall use the means of teaching, of refutation or warning, and of admonition, as well in the ministry of the Word as in Christian teaching and family-visiting.”

If a minister with his consistory make the decision to separate themselves from an apostatizing denomination, they have not committed schism.

They have exercised their right as an autonomous local congregation to withdraw themselves from a denomination, which right is granted by Article X-B of the denomination’s by-laws and which action is demanded by the consistory’s calling to protect the flock that is under its care.

If a group of concerned men starts a magazine where the truth of God can be unashamedly and unapologetically taught and the lie uncompromisingly rejected, that is not schism.

That is obedience to the biblical command in Jude 3 to “contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

If members, seeing the wickedness in their denomination, withdraw their papers, form a fellowship, and wait patiently on the Lord to lead them (as lead them he will), that small, despised group has not committed schism.

They have been obedient to the command of their Lord in Revelation 18:4 to “come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”

If ministers in the PRC had not taught false doctrine; if consistories had not defended the ministers who taught it; if the church paper—tame house organ that it showed itself to be—had not done its utmost to keep its people in the dark and then later led its people deeper down the path of apostasy, there would have been no division.

There would have been no Sword & Shield.

There would have been no sermons that sharply rebuked the people for their indifference to the truth of God’s word.

Why were the sermons and the new magazine necessary?

“For there must be also heresies among you.”

Lest there are those who believe this error is contained to the pages of the SB, let me disabuse them of their willful ignorance.

The schism was perpetrated by more than just Rev. Koole, which schism was tolerated and defended by the editors of the church paper.

Rev. Van Overloop, the man who more than any other pastor represents the PRC, committed schism.

On June 23, 2019, he preached that fellowship with God was conditional and not all of grace.

By that heresy he rent the body of Christ.

“For there must be also heresies among you.”

Rev. Slopsema, many times a church visitor and thereby one who is considered to be one of the wisest and most experienced pastors in the denomination, committed schism when in a meditation in the October 15, 2020, issue of the Standard Bearer he wrote that a man’s receiving blessings from God depends on that man’s obedience. In addition to being explicitly contrary to the decision of his own synod only two short years prior, it was also contrary to the confessional and biblical truth that Christ, and Christ alone, is sufficient for all of our salvation, including our abounding in fellowship with our God.

Rev. Bruinsma, with his denial of the truth of total depravity, committed schism in the body of Christ and caused the bride of Christ to be torn asunder.

The list could go on, which list has been painstakingly laid out in Sword & Shield and elsewhere.

With each sermon, article, email, and blog post, false doctrine was taught and schism committed.

And who did the PRC rally around?

Who did the members of the denomination defend?

The false teachers.

At whose feet did they lay the charge of schism?

At the feet of the men and women who protested and appealed.

At the feet of the men who finally, after having exhausted all other channels, were left with no choice but to form a new magazine which would be able to proclaim the absolute sufficiency of Christ and to do so without apology and without compromise.

(And to be clear, I was not one of those men. I had plenty of excuses at the time. But examining my behavior now in the light of history, the real reason that I declined was that I was afraid. Do you see a pattern in my behavior over the last five years?)

Sword & Shield was declared to be the true cause of schism. This magazine and the statements in the magazine were what now threatened to “promote disorder and a divisive spirit in our churches” (letter from Georgetown PRC’s consistory to its congregation in response to the appearance of Sword & Shield). The curiously named Unity PRC wrote to its members that the magazine would “promote further division and unrest in our denomination.”

That list could go on as well.

It makes me want to weep.

I don’t know what else to say.

Why can’t you see it?

Don’t you see what has truly caused schism in the PRC?

Don’t you see that saying that Jesus Christ is not enough, that a man must do something to be saved, that in some vital sense in our salvation man precedes God, that in order to abound in covenant fellowship you have to obey the commands of the law, that we are in some way active in our justification—don’t you see that by teaching all of those things you will rip and tear and rend the body of Christ?

Don’t you see those words tearing believers from their head, Jesus Christ?

Isn’t the Apostle Paul clear—after writing of divisions that exist in the church of Corinth—when he writes, “for there must be also heresies among you”?

Isn’t John Calvin clear when, commenting on that text, he writes, “It is true, that the Church cannot but be torn asunder by false doctrine, and thus heresy is the root and origin of schism”?

Maybe, if history is any guide, the members of the PRC will only listen to one of their own. Very good; then listen to Prof. Hanko.

But if the church has reached the point where it is impossible for the faithful remnant to restore the church, there is only one course of action that is left: reformation must come about through secession. The Reformers did this when the Roman Catholic Church proved herself beyond reform. There is only one course of action to pursue. It can happen in any church, even ours. But if we are not reformed and therefore always reforming, it will come to that, beyond doubt. As difficult as that may be, the cause of Christ and His Church is more important than anything else.

The Reformers were accused of the sin of schism, especially by Cardinal Sadolet, when he addressed the citizens of Geneva where Calvin had been, to try to win them back to the Romish fold. He accused Calvin and the other Reformers of leaving the church and rending the body of Christ, and of thus becoming guilty of schism. Calvin’s answer, in what was a masterpiece in the defense of the Reformation, was in effect this: not those who leave the church are guilty of schism, but those who depart from the doctrines of Christ, they tear the church to pieces, because the unity of the church is the unity of her doctrine of Jesus Christ her Head. And to destroy and to deny her doctrine is to create schism. Not we, Calvin says, but you, Cardinals and Bishops and Popes, you have created schism in the body of Christ. Our hands are clean of that sin. (Hanko, SB, Reformed Yet Always Reforming, 6/1/81, 402–404)

Heresy was the root and origin of the schism in the PRC.

A magazine that sets forth the truth of justification by faith alone doesn’t harm the unity of a true church of Jesus Christ.

A sermon that warns the members of a lie that threatens them does not cause schism in the church of Christ.

Officebearers and members who protest and appeal do not do harm to the unity of a true church of Jesus Christ.

All of those things stand in the service of the unity of the church.

Because all of those things are done in the service of the truth, which alone represents the unity of the church.

False doctrine, which is the tool of the devil, separates the church from her head, Jesus Christ.

Those who wage war against that false doctrine are not the cause of the schism. They are those who love the flock even though the more they love the flock, the less they be loved (2 Cor. 12:15). They are those who find themselves as the filth of the world and the refuse of all things unto this day (1 Cor. 4:13). Despite all of that, they loved the body of Jesus Christ by trying to remove that which would tear her from Christ.

But the members of the PRC are not listening.

Their ears are stopped, and their eyes are covered.

They have been stricken, but they have not grieved.

They have been consumed, but they have refused to receive correction.

With ministers like McGeown, Koole, and Dykstra and so many others, and a magazine like the Standard Bearer, it is a certainty that this people will never turn.

45 thoughts on “Schism

  1. Dewey, thank you again for another insightful and revealing blog post. I re-read all of your blogs the other day and I stand amazed at the volume of materials and proofs you have provided for your readers. Where is the refutation? Do your (and my) loved ones who are separated from you because of your fight for the truth, do they not care? Are they willfully blind?

    Today we celebrate our Savior’s birth. Many will drive to a local PRC church, a few will drive to First RPC. We will all stand before the wonder of the incarnation of the Son of God. Those in the PRC will go home and celebrate with friends and family. Their will be a few empty chairs. The “antinomians “or “schismatics” will not be invited. Prayers for our repentance my be offered.

    How did it come to this? The truth was compromised in the PRC for several years and by professors, ministers, elders, deacons, and lay members. For the experience of covenant fellowship with God we were taught explicitly and publicly there is something man must DO! The unconditional covenant became conditional in the experience!

    This was never taught as truth in my home when growing up. I dare bet that this false doctrine was never taught in your father’s home while you grew up there. Why now the empty chairs? Why now the lack of family gatherings? Who changed?

    What is the significance of Christmas morning if the baby Jesus we celebrate is really an impotent Savior? Not a complete Savior?

    I look forward to going to First RPC this Christmas morning. It is the only place that a truly PR family may go. The RPC stands in the truth and the distinctives that once characterized the PRC. Our families must consider that as they consider our empty chairs around the family table. You have provided ample proof that our cause in righteous. Thanks again.

    Steve Kamps

    1. Thanks so much for giving us the inside story of what Rev. Lanning had to go through and how God preserves the Truth. I also thank Steve for his words also. What a blessing to gather each week with fellow believers of like faith . We still have many friends and loved ones in the PRC and pray for them that God will show them the Truth.

  2. Reformation! Not schism! This exact same charge of schism is brought to the men in Singapore trying to teach the Truth. We are labelled as schismastic and is causing strife and division in the church by our consistory. Why can’t everyone see that the truth is at stake here? This is God’s precious Truth.

    1. Ken, I agree. We need to reform in all areas of life: church, home, school. This is not easy, but by God’s grace it will happen, like it happened so dramatically 500 years ago. Matt Medema

  3. This blog and letter from Rev. Lanning to his consistory is startling to me. Up until the day I read this blog, I (and presumably many others) thought the consistory of BCPRC had no idea Rev. Lanning was involved in starting a new magazine until the May 12, 2020 consistory meeting, which was just weeks before the first issue of Sword and Shield came out. I thought they were blindsided by it, and that’s why they formed that committee in May to “investigate and bring advice to the Consistory regarding Rev. Lanning’s role in the group working towards a new publication.” Now that I know the truth, I’m reminded of the story of Joseph and his brothers.

    Genesis 37: 18-20, “And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.”

    Joseph’s brothers made plans to murder him. They made plans to lie about murdering him. And yet, when they told Jacob what happened, they didn’t explicitly lie.

    Genesis 37: 31-32, “And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no.”

    They never said to Jacob, “Here’s Joseph’s coat, a wild beast murdered him.” They dipped the coat in blood, sent it to Jacob, and asked him to tell them if it was Joseph’s coat. His brothers probably consoled themselves this way, “We’re not lying to dad, because we’re not saying we didn’t do anything to Joseph. We’re just not telling him everything that happened.” Or, worse, “We’ll send him this coat, he will assume a wild beast killed him, we’ll be safe from suspicion, and we won’t have to lie to him.” Years later, when the truth would come out, they could even say to Jacob: “We can only deal in what was said exactly, so you can’t charge us with lying. If you look at the exact wording of our statement, we never lied to you. All we did was send you a coat and ask if it was Joseph’s. You’re the one who assumed he was killed by a wild beast.”

    It is now apparent to me that Byron’s elders did the same thing with the S&S decision. They didn’t explicitly lie. Technically, Rev. Lanning never did ask their explicit permission to be the editor of S&S. But Rev. Lanning told them he was going to be speak in favor of starting a new publication, presumably where he would write. He asked for their counsel on that. He asked them for advice on the new publication. He was telling them he would be heavily involved in starting a new magazine. While they are correct, Rev. Lanning didn’t ask for permission to be editor per se, it’s clear he did ask for permission to be involved in the Sword and Shield.

    Then, for them to publicly lay out their grounds that he “has not asked permission, been given approval, or sought the advice of his consistory to accept the position of editor,” is not an explicit lie, but a lie nonetheless. They knew what impression those words would leave. They knew that Rev. Lanning, being a man of character, had not spoken to anyone about his letters to the consistory. I’m sure they hoped no one would ever find out about them. It’s curious how, when I requested all the minutes and supplements that pertained to the decision to ask Rev. Lanning to step down as editor, this letter was not included in that packet. I can only come to one conclusion based on this information: the elders dipped Rev. Lanning’s coat in blood, handed it to me, asked if I knew if this was his coat or not, and sat back with a smirk on their face as I concluded that a wild beast had torn him to pieces.

    But what is the most eye-opening about the similarities between the two events is Joseph’s confession in Genesis 50:20, ““But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”

    I marvel at that confession! As time goes on, I’m tempted to say “what-if” to so many different things that have happened. Try and what-if Joseph’s situation. What if Joseph’s brothers hadn’t sold him into slavery and lied about it? Jacob and his family wouldn’t have been delivered from the famine. Jacob wouldn’t have moved his family to Egypt. Israel wouldn’t have become a nation born into the bondage in Egypt. God wouldn’t have delivered them through a mighty hand and stretched out arm. God wouldn’t have brought them into their rest in the land of Canaan from the wilderness. Joseph’s confession was a prophecy! It wasn’t just that God used that event to save Jacob and his family from a famine. The sin of Joseph’s brothers was the first God-ordained event in a series of events that would lead to the glorious saving of God’s people from Egypt and their deliverance into Canaan, which deliverance is the glorious picture of our deliverance from our bondage in sin into heaven! That is what Joseph confessed! He confessed the glorious comfort of election theology!

    And this blog is only further evidence we can confess the same about these events. The elders at BCPRC thought evil against Rev. Lanning. They wanted him gone. But that editorship decision and lie was just one God-ordained event in a series of events that would give birth to the RPC denomination! God used their work to save His gospel from corruption! He used their work to deliver his people from the bondage that is the PRC. Even in their awful sin, all praise, honor and glory be to God! What a comfort that is to the people of God.

    “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

  4. To the faithful in Singapore, wait upon God. He alone can change the heart.

    ” O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return. Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God.” Jeremiah 5:3-4

    Matt Medema

  5. And you know what causes more division—-staying in this same lane, feeding the fire with continual fodder from things in the past—-false doctrine preached here, doctrine not upheld there.

    All churches are apostatizing now, not just the PRC. Christ is coming soon, and our world around us is showing us that.

    Yes—I agree there has been false doctrine, but there has been so much more culturally in the “unsaid things” —the dogma of saying one thing, and doing another. Works righteousness in worshiping perfection in word/deed and not Christ as King. So much idolatry of self. So many profoundly hurt by both PRC and RPC by their attitudes and pride.

    So much to be learned here. Reformation was needed, yes. But NOT in this way. Our common goal should always been to serve Christ better, and not fight.

    1. Lisa, without any malice I say that your words “Our common goal should always (have) been to serve Christ better, and not fight” is earthly wisdom which is sensual and devilish (James 3:15). The reason I say that is because what you write is so appealing to our human flesh! Who wants this division? Who desires to be expelled from their family and who loves to have their names cast out as evil?! Our human flesh rebels against that, but your words feed that human desire of peace at all cost.

      We ought to hear, and follow Christ: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”

      You say we should not fight.

      Christ says he came to bring a sword, the key weapon of battle.

      1. Dewey—there are so many things I agree with you—the politicization of the church structure. The adding to doctrine with man-made rules and culture (not spelled out, but insinuated.) A complete disregard for the sheep they are leading—keeping the interests of the Church above those who support it (the sheep). Disregarding sheep who are hurting, and pushing them further into the thicket. So many things..however..

        Interesting that you use that text—since in the context means much the opposite. James 3:9-10 “therewith bless we God, even the Father; in therewith cursed we men, which are made after the similitude of God out of the same mouth proceed as blessing and cursing. My brother in these things are not so to be.”

        By bringing out these obvious flaws, in the inference of violence and brash talking (how many more whores do we need to hear?) … where is Christ in all of this? Who has He become?

        See further in James 4:1-10.. From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence even of your lusts that war in your members? … God resisteth the proud, but give the us grace to the humble. submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you… Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”

        Also—the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5.) You see how all of them are in a positive light—not focusing on the abuses/disregard/struggles/even doctrines of the other? If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit. Let us not be desirous of vein glory, provoking one another, and envying one another.

        How are they made manifest through this attitude of dissension?

        I’m not saying finding yourself back at the PRC is the answer, I’m just saying the motivation of your heart will reap fruits of destruction when not tempered with humility, grace, patience, perseverance, and faith.

        The good works horse has long been dead. I am surprised people have found nuance in the intrinsic nature of that, all the while denying the plagues that are infecting the church body at large.

        So many of us care for you, and those in the church, and want only the best for your souls.

    2. Lisa, you champion a mindset that has been set forth a few times in response to this blog already. People have much to criticize about this reformation, perhaps even justly. As you note, it was needed, but yet those who found themselves displaced from the PRC, members whom Christ united under His own banner instituted in the RPC, have done it wrong.

      A bizarre question that finds itself begging to be asked: If the public execution of Christ’s prophets was not cause enough for Christ to reform His church, then why is reformation in the PRC so necessary? Could you shed some light on what this “needed” Reformation is? (Note the present tense).

      If you find so much to criticize about the RPC and the things this blog brings to light, I ask you (and every other anonymous La-Z-Boy reformer who never wrote a protest), what would you have done differently?

  6. With all due respect, Rev. Koole was not preaching the well-meant offer; the WMO is the teaching that God offers salvation to all, sincerely desiring that every hearer will believe. Koole was preaching that the Reformed pastor must present the gospel of Christ to all, as explicitly commanded by Christ Himself (Mark 16:15-16)

    1. Let us hear Rev. Koole himself: “The gospel offer, set before all who hear the preaching in his loveliness and truth, not simply to some we set him forth in his loveliness and his truth, in his graciousness, but before all, the promiscuous preaching of the gospel with its summons, come ye to the waters to partake of them freely. Of course he is set forth before all in all of his loveliness and truth and graciousness…here’s Christ in all his loveliness and truth, graciously set before you and you turn your back on him? You increase your judgment…”

      The issue has to do with grace. That is the issue separating the well-meant offer and those who oppose it. Is there grace in the offer itself to all who hear, or is there grace only to the elect (without doing despite in the least bit to the biblical command to preach the command promiscuously)? The Reformed, going back to Dordt, believed in the sovereignty of grace (cf. Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel, 46ff). Koole continues his corruption of grace (i.e. “available grace”) with his teaching that in the offer Christ is graciously set before the hearer.

      You must not try to talk his theology good. Koole was doing far more than just preaching that the Reformed pastor must “present” the gospel of Christ to all. Apart from the oddity that a PR minister in 2021 characterized the gospel call as an “offer” he goes on to define it. “Here’s Christ in all his loveliness and truth, graciously set before you.”

      Remember, Koole is talking to a back-sliding child, one who is showing himself as an unbeliever. To such, Koole says that Christ is “graciously set before you.”

      I don’t know how to characterize that other than as rank Arminianism.

      Carl, I don’t know you from Adam, but are you telling me that when the call of the gospel goes out, you believe that is Christ “graciously” set before the hearer?

      But things get a lot more ominous when you consider the whole of Rev. Koole’s theology.

      Take Koole’s conviction that the “offer” of the gospel is Christ being graciously set before the hearer and combine that with his novel teaching of “available grace” and his earlier instruction that when it comes to the gospel, it is man’s choice “in the end,” and his continued instruction that if a man would be saved there is that which he must do, and do you know what you have? If I were to describe this theology to you without providing any names, you would say that I was describing an Arminian teaching Arminianism.

      And to their shame, this is the man that the consistory of Grandville PRC has just declared “orthodox.”

      1. Rev. Koole’s words are sound. He didn’t teach the well-meant offer.

        I have devoted many years to studying common grace and the well-meant offer. I even have a blog (which you probably heard about: http://www.commongracedebate.blogspot.co.uk)

        Taking into consideration that “offer” means “present”, Christ is indeed “graciously” set before all hearers of the preaching in that “graciously” means “beautifully”. Christ must be presented to all in such a way, that is, as the most beautiful and wonderful Saviour God has provided for sinful men; the answer to all of sinful man’s greatest needs; the one who can save the vilest offender to the uttermost.

        Prof. Engelsma said to me once, “The preacher of the gospel seeks to win over to Christ by faith those to whom he preaches. To that end he presents Christ as attractively [aka, graciously—DH] as Christ deserves: the only Savior of sinners from sin and death. God uses this persuasive approach to bring the elect to faith.” (DJE, 10/07/2019).

        In Christ,

        David Hutchings

      2. “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.

        Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!'”

        “But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.

        “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

        “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

        “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

  7. So much to be said here—but let me just ask a moment the intensity of which you speak, it shows a deeply personal, almost angry response (full of C PTSD) to my not so angry message. In lots of ways, that has been the overall attitude taken on by RPs. The tone.

    Has there been injustice? Yes. Is that where you stay for growth and moving towards freedom? No.

    So many layers of struggle, cognitive dissonance, unmet needs, immature emotional control, as well as continuing a micro environment that is shame-based, and male dominated.

    There is no real space in the PRC for original thought, for explaining a struggle especially from the female perspective especially when it comes to classical proceedings. It doesn’t get past any council more or less a Classis or synod. You and I and all others familiar with the roles/responsibilities implied on the culture, also know that no PRC woman is a REAL member in the church.

    So therefore, 1/2 of the church with no real feasibility to speak does cause a myriad of issues unseen, unspoken, and ignored.

    Based on many of these same structures, the RP church will have to reckon out many of the same internal/unspoken struggles.

    There are so many layers to this. Can’t help but say I was hoping for a much more God honoring, separate from all the gossip laden, passive aggressive behavior Church to emerge that was comfortable with itself, instead of seeking the validation from PRC it so desperately wants.

  8. Dewey I’m interested in reading the rest of Andy’s time-line. It stops on page 8 of 22. And why did you not publish this earlier? What else are you sitting on, I wonder.

    Keith, if you were under the impression that Byron Center only heard about Andy’s involvement with a new magazine at the May 12 meeting, it is an issue with your reading comprehension. The consistory of BC never stated or implied that. Being editor, even editor-in-chief, of a new magazine and writing articles or being otherwise involved in the formation of a new magazine are completely different discussions .In addition, between June 2020 (the first issue of S&S) and the time when BC’s elders asked Andy to step down from his position as editor-in-chief, the magazine had begun to reveal itself. A hypothetical future magazine is one thing, while the actual magazine in multiple issues is another.

    Dewey, in your last post, in your response to Lisa, you state; “Venom is never acceptable and neither is stigmatizing anyone. Neither must we spew derision.” With that statement I agree. Unfortunately, your blog includes venom, stigma, and derision. Just reread your statements regarding Rev McGeown. You claim his RFPA blog post was conditional theology. You claim his main function is to clean up after Rev Koole. You claim he does not know anything because he was in Ireland (does that ignorance apply only to people in Ireland or does it include people in Singapore, Philippines, Canada, etc?) You claim he misleads God’s people and keeps them from turning. You prove none of what you write, preferring to discredit him instead of answering what he writes.

    1. Dowie, briefly, I only recently came across that material again. The rest of Rev. Lanning’s email will be coming in the next post, Lord willing. Not sure what else I have, but I will go through it again to make sure I don’t miss anything.
      Keith can respond if he chooses to.
      My writing is none of the things you describe.
      Not one person has ever repented of their sin and wickedness over the last five years of the controversy on account of the ministry of Rev. McGeown. That’s tragic. Hence, no one will turn on account of being told repeatedly by Rev. McGeown that they have done nothing wrong. And for him to fly into town and now take it upon himself to educate all of us on the controversy says much about Rev. McGeown’s character.

    2. Dowie,

      I will brush the ad hominem fallacy about my reading comprehension aside and let’s dig into what you say. Is it really true that I have a problem with reading comprehension, and this was only ever about the editorship and nothing else? Is it true that my conclusions are based on my faulty reading abilities?

      Rev. Spronk, who happened to be a church visitor who was called in for advice on the S&S decision, apparently was of the same mindset regarding BCPRC and their decision.

      Here’s something he had to say at Classis East in January, “Elders at Byron, I plead with you, please stand up for yourselves. [quiet for moment to see if any speak]. I can attest to the love of these elders for Rev. Lanning. Those elders just want what is best for him. This really started in June. THEY WERE SURPRISED BY A NEW MAGAZINE and Rev. Lanning’s role in that magazine. They wondered if it was in harmony with his calling to serve the congregation.” (emphasis mine-quotation marks are there because multiple sets of notes from Classis verified that this is exactly what he said). Notice he didn’t say they were surprised by his role in the new magazine, but they were surprised by the magazine itself AND his role in that magazine. You remember, I’m sure, that not one elder stood up to correct him and say that they knew about the magazine all along, and the only supposed issue was with him being editor.

      Is Spronk’s problem reading comprehension as well as you allege? Or were the elders writing one thing – and saying another thing altogether in private?

      1. Keith, from the supplements of the January 2021 meeting of Classis East, and also shared on this blog, February 16, Crossroads. You had this information before and after Classis.

        supp #1
        BC’s Request for Judgment re. Deposition
        REPORT TO BCPRC CONSISTORY
        COMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE
        JUNE 17, 2020
        At the meeting of the BCPRC Consistory on May 12, 2020, Elders Tim Block, Terry Kaptein and Jon
        Lubbers were appointed as a committee to “investigate and bring advice to the Consistory regarding
        Rev. Lanning’s role in the group working towards a new publication.” The committee met on multiple
        occasions as a committee, met with Rev. Lanning to discuss his perspective of the workload and the
        magazine and met with Prof. Engelsma to get an experienced perspective on the work of being an
        editor of a publication. As a result of this investigation, we bring the following recommendations:
        Recommendation 1: That the Consistory of BCPRC rule that Rev. Lanning erred in not seeking the
        advice and approval of the Consistory before agreeing to take on the work of being editor of the Sword
        and Shield publication.
        Grounds:
        1. The work of being the editor of a monthly publication is a significant responsibility in terms of
        time (approximately 20 hours per month), emotion (especially when many are critical) and
        attention. Prior to agreeing to take on a responsibility of this magnitude, the Consistory should
        have been made aware in order to give consideration regarding the potential impact that this
        could have on the work of being a minister and pastor of BCPRC, to give input relative to the
        additional workload and to give approval to indicate support that this would not interfere with
        the responsibilities of being our pastor.
        2. Between March 18, 2020 when Rev. Lanning sought the counsel of the Consistory regarding his
        “intent to speak in favor of moving forward toward a new association and a new publication”
        (Letter from Rev. Lanning to Consistory dated March 18, 2020) and May 5, 2020 when he
        verbally informed the Consistory that he had accepted the responsibility of being the Editor of a
        new publication named Sword and Shield, Rev. Lanning gave no communication to the
        Consistory regarding the new publishing association, the new periodical or his role within it.
        Also, during this time period (March 18 through May 5) there were no Pastor’s reports outlining
        the work being performed that would have given evidence of this. The Consistory was not
        aware that the group of which Rev. Lanning was a part was in fact moving forward with a new
        association and publication and was surprised when informed that he was the editor.
        Recommendation 2: That the Consistory of BCPRC remind (amended from instruct) Rev. Lanning that
        the work of being pastor and minister of BCPRC must come first. This includes preaching, teaching,
        visiting and meeting the pastoral needs of the congregation. This must not suffer on account of being
        editor of Sword and Shield. If it does, he will be instructed to remove himself from this responsibility.
        Grounds:
        Agenda, P. 134
        Deposition Case Page 22

      2. Keith’s comment was exactly to the point, and probably deserves to be published as its own blog post. It’s beautiful in its application of Genesis 37:31-32 to today. I realize the PRC may no longer look to the O.T for instruction, but that doesn’t apply to the rest of Christendom.

        Dowie, it is striking that you would reference that decision as proof that the decision to require Rev. Lanning to resign as editor was just. The matter of his editorship was settled by the decision you referenced. I will not now repeat what I put in the earlier post on this topic.

        But that begs the question. Why did they resurrect this matter of the editorship?

        You provide the answer: “In addition, between June 2020 (the first issue of S&S) and the time when BC’s elders asked Andy to step down from his position as editor-in-chief, the magazine had begun to reveal itself. A hypothetical future magazine is one thing, while the actual magazine in multiple issues is another.”

        The magazine had begun to reveal itself.

        And, as we all know, the backlash was severe. Everyone was worked up into a lather over this magazine.

        What happened was pressure mounted and new elders were installed at Byron Center.

        And now they were being led by a politician.

        So Harlow Kuiper put together a motion. He shared that motion with a few other elders of the consistory (I was not one of them). They read the motion and told him it was so bad that there was no way he could bring that motion to a meeting to be voted upon. (I haven’t seen it, but I have to tell you, out of morbid curiosity I really want to see it. If the execrable motion that actually came to the floor was an improvement, I really want to see the original. If your path crosses with Harlow, Josh Lubbers, or Tim Block could you ask them to send me a copy?)

        (As an aside, I don’t have a problem with Harlow sharing the motion with other elders to get their opinions. An elder certainly is at liberty to do that, and probably should in many cases. Now the fact that a group of elders would meet at Terry Kaptein’s office and have secret meetings is probably another story altogether. A little bit more difficult to justify that one.)

        So why did Harlow put that motion together, and why did the men vote to approve it? Was it really because of the editorship? It can’t be, that matter was settled five months prior.

        You know, I know, and everyone knows the reason that motion came to the floor was because the denomination hated Sword & Shield and they needed the consistory of Byron Center to do something about it.

        So the consistory of Byron Center PRC, led by Harlow Kuiper, lied to their congregation. They said it was about leading a fragile congregation. It wasn’t. They wanted Rev. Lanning to stop writing and they were going to make that happen.

        (And of course, the elders at Crete PRC showed themselves to be just as duplicitous by latching onto this decision and making it their own way to expel their own pastor).

        The elders at BCPRC could have been honest and said we don’t like what you are writing and it must stop. But they didn’t do that, did they Dowie? That isn’t found anywhere in that motion. To your credit, you had the courage to admit what everyone knows to be true. It was about the content of the magazine. But they did not admit that. They chose to hide behind something else. That is cowardly.

        It was a big lie, with one purpose in mind, and their purpose was accomplished. It is so clear, that I would recommend to you, and to anyone else inclined to defend it, that the decision of Byron’s consistory to require Rev. Lanning to resign, which is nothing more than a heaping pile of dung, is not worth spraying with rose-scented water.

      3. My apologies if I wasn’t completely clear on what I wrote, because it seems you may have missed the point. My point was that the elders left out a lot of pertinent information in those documents, including what they sent to Classis. This is the go-to tactic of policitians and lawyers when they want to deceive and prove their point. And this was the go-to tactic of BCPRC and their elders.

        BCPRC’s elders left out large sections of information. Look through what you posted, and tell me if you can find any of the letters referenced in that decision in the agenda (spoiler: you won’t!). I asked them for the letter from March 18 referenced in your information, and, curiously, they told me they had to “dig up that March 18 one that you speak of. I do not have that handy and will have to go to church to get it.” (that’s a quote from the BCPRC clerk, and, in case you’re wondering, I’ve been waiting since December of 2020 for him apparently go to church).

        (Perhaps if they skipped including a document on CO Article 31 by Dykstra and Gritters, which was never once referenced in the decision to suspend by BCPRC, they could have included the pertinent letters?)

        They chronically left out information, while at the same time included unreferenced information that they believed proved their point. Today I realize they did this with the purpose of deceiving the sheep.

        And my point was that this is was what Jacob’s sons did to him. They left out the part where they sold Joseph to slavers. They left out the part where they wanted him dead. They left out the part where they ripped his coat of colors off him and dipped it in blood. They left out large sections of what happened, for the very purpose of allowing their father to come to a wrong conclusion.

        “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:16-20).

  9. Indeed, it is wrong to spew venom and derision, and those who do it need to be called out and held accountable. Particularly is this true of ministers, who are supposed to lead by example in the way they speak. When the ministers of the RPC spew forth venom, calling their former colleagues in the PRC whores, vipers, snares of Satan, snarling jackals, and any other number of repugnant names, they ought to be rebuked by their elders. Such name-calling is not Christian behavior. We teach our children from a young age that they may not call each other names. That’s part of the golden rule. And the fact that Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees some of these names is no justification for it. Jesus knew the hearts of those Jewish leaders, and thus was able to expose them for the evil men that they were. The ministers of the RPC do not know the hearts of the ministers in the PRC. Therefore, they may not call them such names, which are not merely insults, but which also say something about the eternal state of those being referred to. That fact alone ought to make anyone think twice before using such language. Dewey, you ought to rebuke your minister when he spews forth such venom. It is part of your calling as an elder. Not only should you be ensuring that your minister speaks the truth, but also that he speaks it in love. Otherwise, his words will be merely sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.

    1. Andrew, they are not calling names. They are rightly identifying a false church by the biblical names that rightly belong to her. You are correct, the ministers of the RPC do not know the hearts of the ministers. But they do know their fruit. And it is evil fruit. If we were to follow your argument, because we do not know the heart, we would not be able to identify anyone as an evildoer, or any church as false, because we do not know any man’s heart. But in the case of the church institute, we do not need to know the hearts of the ministers. We know the church institute by her marks (BC 29). And they are unmistakable.

      You reference my minister as not acting in love. I disagree with your assessment. My minister has acted in love for his flock. Not the superficial, slap you on the back, wide grin, let’s go golfing every Monday morning type of love manifested by the PR ministers of Classis East. But with the love that rebukes, admonishes, and comforts, the more of which love that is shown, the less the minister himself is loved (2 Cor. 12:15). PR ministers have a zeal for their name and reputation. I prefer a pastor consumed with a zeal for God’s house and God’s truth.

  10. First, it is interesting to note that our spiritual father Herman Hoeksema did not behave in the way that the leaders of the RPC do. He never called the CRC a false church, and he never referred to her ministers by names that implied they were heretics or reprobates. In speaking to and about them in the pages of the Standard Bearer, he always referred to them as brothers, even if he sharply disagreed with them. Then there is the case of Klaas Schilder. Schilder taught a conditional covenant. His theology split the PRC in 1953. Yet, Hoeksema spoke of him as a friend. And when Schilder died, HH called him a “brother in Christ” on the pages of the SB. That is called the judgment of charity. Did Hoeksema err in exercising it toward the ministers of the CRC and Klaas Schilder? Should he have called them vipers instead?

    Second, even if it were true that the PRC and its ministers tolerate false doctrine, this would not automatically make the PRC a false church, as you and others allege. Teaching or tolerating false doctrine does not automatically mean that a church is false. The opening chapters of Revelation provide us with instruction here. In these chapters, Jesus speaks to the seven churches of Asia Minor. Most of them have problems, including serious doctrinal deviations. Yet, in the case of all of them, the candlestick (which symbolizes the light and life of Christ within them) remains intact. Even Laodicea, which is the worst off of the seven, has not yet been snuffed out (though the Lord severely threatens that He is about to if they do not repent). But at the time of the apostle’s writing, all of these churches remained true in spite of their weaknesses and imperfections. If any of them were false, Christ would not have addressed them as He did, but would have already spewed them out of His mouth and spoken no more to them. Concerning these churches, Herman Hoeksema writes: “[T]hese churches were chosen because they were prepared by God through Christ in order that they might together constitute a picture of the entire church in the world, with its perfections and defects, its strengths and its weaknesses, its trials and temptations. And thus it happens that in the seven-fold message to these churches in Asia Minor we have the Word of Christ to His church in the world at any time and in all lands, even until the coming again of the Lord.” If the PRC is a false church, then she is worse than Laodicea. Christ has already removed His candlestick from her and spewed her out of His mouth, and salvation is no longer possible within her.

    Third, I am grieved by your characterization of the ministers of Classis East. Just because they do not rebuke and admonish in the way your minister has done does not make them superficial or zealous for their own name and reputation. Rebuke must be done in biblical and orderly ways, not in a way that stirs people up and divides a congregation and denomination against itself.

    1. To hear you tell it, HH was a regular softie with the CRC. I recommend you read his History of the PRC which is found on the PR website. The other reality we are dealing with is that we are in the year 2022 which calls for a modern-day analysis. The PRC was given a beautiful, precious heritage and cast it overboard. For that reason, among others, they have earned the names being used to identify them.

      I am blessed with good friends. I know they are good friends because it is only on the rarest occasion that I walk away from a conversation with them and find that I have not learned something new or been given some spiritual insight. Yesterday was no different. In conversation, one man pointed me in the direction of the Rock Whence We are Hewn and another to two books on Luther. The quotes they had in mind are as follows. I think you will be as edified by them as I was.

      “Spalatin was furious, at both Luther’s disobedience and his provocative language. Luther was unapologetic. While acknowledging that he had shown more vehemence than was perhaps prudent, he cited Scripture in his defense. “Was [Christ] scurrilous when he called the Jews a perverse and adulterous generation, offspring of vipers, hypocrites, and children of the devil?” Paul spoke of dogs, vain babblers, and seducers, and in Acts 13 he raged against a false prophet so fiercely as to seem deranged. Those who know the truth “cannot be patient against the obstinate and unconquered enemies of the truth.” No one should think that the cause of the gospel “can be advanced without tumult, offense, and sedition. You will not make a pen from a sword, nor peace of war. The Word of God is a sword, it is war and ruin and offense and perdition and poison” (Fatal Discord, Massing, 388).

      “For I saw that Erasmus was far from the knowledge of grace, since in all his writings he is not concerned for the cross but for peace. He thinks that everything should be discussed and handled in a civil manner and with a certain benevolent kindness. But Behemoth pays no attention and nothing improves by this…. [Erasmus’s and Capito’s] writings accomplish nothing because they refrain from chiding, biting, and giving offense. For when the popes [and bishops] are admonished in a civil manner they think it is flattering and keep on as if they passed the right to remain uncorrected and incorrigible, content that they are feared and that no one dares to reproach them” (Martin Luther, Eric Metaxas, 250).

      As to the material from The Rock Whence We are Hewn (Danhof, Hoeksema), I do not think the RFPA will mind me sharing a section from that book so the readers who do not have it will still be able to read it (I do recommend everyone purchase the book which can be found at the RFPA website).

      Strangely, you write, “Teaching or tolerating false doctrine does not automatically mean that a church is false.” Corrupting the pure gospel and taking on the marks of a false church (BC, 29) does mean a church is false. Where are those churches of Revelation today? I am not interested in determining where on the spectrum of false the PRC is today. She is false. Come out.

      You tell me you are grieved by my characterization of the ministers of Classis East. Ok, noted. But why doesn’t their duplicity, their toleration of false doctrine, and their corruption grieve you? Why aren’t you grieved by their lack of zeal for the truth, or for the glory of God’s name? It is sickening. Why doesn’t it horrify you?

      I am not just saying words and throwing out charges randomly. I have tried, with the utmost diligence, to prove each of my charges. You talk about rebukes and stirring people up and dividing a denomination. I have exerted myself to speak to these things. You’re not convinced. Maybe it is my own inability to lay out an argument, which is plausible. Or, maybe for you the PRC is above all, and nothing she does could convince you that she is false.

      1. Your definition of a false church is not biblical or Reformed. 1) It is not biblical because it ignores the picture given in Revelation of the seven churches referenced earlier, which clearly shows that Christ is still present in all seven churches in spite of the fact that some of them are less faithful than others. In answer to your question of where those churches are today, I do not know if there are true churches left in those places in 2022. But there is evidence from church history that at least some of them took heed to Christ’s words and repented. For example, a council was held at Ephesus in the year 431 which set forth the truth of the Nicene Creed over against Nestorianism. And in 363-364 there was a council in Laodicea which solidified the biblical canon. It is doubtful that there would have been faithful church councils in these places if there were not also true churches of Christ there. 2) Your view is also not Reformed. Prof. Engelsma explains the Reformed conception of a false church in his Belgic Confession commentary: “Christ is not the head of it; neither is he present in it. The result is that there is no genuine worship of God in it. The Spirit of Jesus Christ does not work salvation within it; it does not possess and exercise the means of grace. Rather, this religious institution is a product of the devil. It is his most dangerous instrument for the damnation of humans and for the seduction, and then persecution, of the bride of Christ.” Is this really what the PRC is to you – a synagogue of Satan, no better than Rome or the PCUSA? And if the closest denominational relative of the RPC is a false church, then are there any true churches left beside your own? As an aside, note another quote from Engelsma’s commentary: “[T]he Reformed theologians and churches, De Bres included, recognized the Lutheran churches of that day as true churches, despite the serious doctrinal errors of the Lutheran churches regarding the sacraments.”

        Regarding the article that Bethany quoted, it is true that HH talked about the CRC playing the harlot in 1924. But it should be noted that this is not the same as calling her the whore of Babylon. HH here employs a metaphor/simile that Jehovah God uses to describe none other than Judah, which was His true church in the Old Testament! Judah, God says, has played the harlot. And eventually, God leads her away into captivity for 70 years in chastisement. By God’s grace, she repented, and He brought His people back. This in contrast to Israel, the false church in the Old Testament, which never returned from captivity. The whore of Babylon is the New Testament equivalent of apostate Israel – she cannot and will not return from her captivity. That is what a false church is – an ecclesiastical institution entirely void of the Spirit of Christ. But that is not what Judah was. And HH did not hold such an attitude about the CRC. If he had, he would never have participated in the 1939 conference with the CRC ministers in an attempt to heal the breach. He still viewed those ministers as his brothers, and treated them as such. And he still held out hope for their repentance. It is true, as you point out, that HH was no softie with the CRC. But it is also a fact that he greatly desired the unity of the Church, and would have loved nothing more than to see the PRC and CRC reunited in the truth.

        Concerning the pages you supplied from “The Rock Whence We Are Hewn”, it is true that Calvin used very strong language in his condemnation of Pighius, even employing personal insults. I note first that, although HH apparently approves and justifies Calvin’s language, he himself does not employ such rhetoric against Berkhof but addresses him with respect. Secondly, even if somewhere in his writings HH does use language as strong as Luther and Calvin, going so far as to insult his opponents, the standard by which we must judge this is the Word of God. Luther, Calvin, and Hoeksema were mighty men of God, and were used in powerful ways to reform His church. For all that, they were also sinners, and even in fighting for the truth, they did not always conduct themselves blamelessly. I do not contest HH’s point that Calvin was motivated by love for the truth. But if HH was okay with using the kinds of insults found in the writings of Calvin and Luther, then I must disagree with him. Even in the fiercest doctrinal battles, we must put on charity. Name-calling, even if directed at someone teaching false doctrine, is still a form of murder. Yes, it is true that Jesus called the Pharisees vipers. But that is because He knew their hearts. He knew they were children of the devil, and therefore he could call them that. You and I do not know the hearts of any minister, elder, or church member. Even if they promote false doctrine, we may never call them a viper, or any other name that implies they are reprobate. It is not our place to judge what is known to God alone. Indeed, we do well to remember the teaching of the apostle Paul that there are ministers who hold to some wrong theological views whom God is going to save in the end (see I Corinthians 3:10-15).

        Finally, what grieves me about your characterization of the ministers of Classis East, and really of all the ministers of the PRC, is that your characterization is untrue. They are not duplicitous, lacking in zeal for the truth, or tolerant of false doctrine as you allege. Many of them have publicly defended the Synod of 2018 in preaching and writing. Some have given lectures or taught classes on the doctrinal matters involved. In some cases, they have even publically apologized for words they spoke or wrote in this controversy that were either unclear or erroneous. I have heard these men preach. I have read their writings. What I read and hear from them is not: “Do this, and thou shalt live”, but rather, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved”. My hope and prayer is that God will cause you to see this, and that you will return to the PRC, that we may be one again. “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”

      2. This is helpful. Can you show me where Rev. Haak apologized for saying on the floor of Synod that he believed the false doctrine and would continue to teach it? Can you show me where Rev. Slopsema and Rev. Eriks apologized for their work in writing the Doctrinal Statement? I went to Rev. Slopsema twice and corresponded a number of times. He never apologized or even said he was in error. Why haven’t you gone to him about that? Doesn’t that trouble you? But do you know what the PRC does with Rev. Slopesema, THE author of the Doctrinal Statement, which document displaced Christ and corrupted justification by faith alone? First PRC made him an elder. And Rev. Eriks? It sends him to Synod. And John VanBaren, from Hope, Rev. Overway’s most outspoken cheerleader? Hudsonville makes him an elder and then Classis East sends him to Synod! You multiply words defending your institution, but it doesn’t need to be that complicated. Ask yourself, what will the PRC tolerate and what will it not tolerate? It will tolerate Prof. Cammenga saying that Jesus Christ did not personally accomplish all of your salvation, but it will not tolerate a sermon where the congregation is rebuked and called to repentance. You can have it Andrew, you can have all of it. It’s ugly, corrupt, and political and I don’t want to be anywhere near it.

    2. The idea that Rev. Herman Hoeksema never used this kind of language to describe the CRC has been an interesting defense mechanism in the PRC this year. It is indeed a myth, as Dewey has pointed out. Myriad examples abound but I leave you with this particular excerpt (pasted below) from an editorial in the Aug 1, 1944 SB.

      Please note his use of “harlot” “adulterous mother” and the phrase “they that justify her adulterous ways are bastards, and not sons.”

      “Twenty years ago today the Christian Reformed Church, convened in synodical gathering in Kalamazoo, Michigan, was travailing in the pangs of birth, about to be delivered of a doctrinal child. She labored hard, and even though some ten days before mother had been taken to the hospital, and a consultation of expert doctors and professors had been held, that had given detailed advice just how this particular case should be treated, when finally mother was brought to the synodical delivery room, it seemed as if there were no strength to bring forth. Some doctors even expressed as their opinion that the whole thing was premature, and that the consulting experts had been mistaken as to the time of delivery. They advised to wait, and to send mother back home until the time should be fulfilled for her to be delivered. For days she labored in vain. On the evening of the third of July, 1924, it was decided to allow her a few days of respite. The expert doctors would return on the seventh of July, determined, if still it seemed as if the expected child could not be brought forth in the normal and natural way, to force the birth, or to perform a Caesarean operation if necessary. And thus it happened. During the interval between the third and the seventh of July, some of the experts made special study of the case, and on the evening of the latter date the delivery was forced. And mother gave birth to triplets! The firstborn bore a remarkable resemblance to old Arminius, and was called GENERAL GRACE; the second and third strongly suggested kinship with Pelagius, and, accordingly, their names were called SIN-RESTRAINT and MAN’S RIGHTEOUSNESS respectively.

      Somehow the sons, of the Christian Reformed Church, if I may make myself guilty of an inevitable mixture of metaphor, for I am now speaking of sons of flesh and blood, looked with grave suspicion upon these three doctrinal children, whose birth had been forced at the Synod of Kalamazoo. In fact, they insisted that they were not born of the Spirit and of the Word, but were children of adultery, and that, therefore, they should be expelled from the Christian Reformed home and family. However, mother refused to admit that she had played the harlot with Arminius and Pelagius, grew angry with her faithful sons, and cast them out of her house as bastards and not sons. These, being so cruelly and unjustly exiled, built their own home, and re-established their normal family life. And ever since, they claim that their re-established home and family are the proper Reformed heritage, and that they are the true and legal sons of the Protestant Reformation in the Calvinistic line, while the Christian Reformed Church is an adulterous woman, and they that justify her adulterous ways are bastards, and not sons.

      This claim must always anew be emphasized and sustained, especially since our former adulterous mother and her unfaithful sons do not grow weary of repeating that we were expelled from home because we were rebellious, refractory, and stiff-necked children, that refused to heed wise and proper admonition. In other words, over against the doctrinally false and church-politically unjust attitude of the Christian Reformed Church we constantly face the obligation to maintain that not they, but we represent the proper continuation of the historical line of the Reformed faith, and the true Church of God in the world. “

  11. Here is a quote to add to the one above by Bethany taken from a speech given by Hoeksema on April 1, 1953 in Grand Rapids. Hoeksema is speaking about those that left with De Wolf and believed his conditional theology. The speech is called “Our Present Controversy in Light of the History of the Church” (and other enlightening speeches given during the split of 1953) and can be found on: https://oldpathsrecordings.com/?wpfc_sermon=the-history-of-1953

    “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? It hath been already of old time, which was before us.” Ecc. 1:9-10

    The quote is as follows:

    “Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ, a heretic is one that opposes one or more fundamental tenets authorized by the church to which that heretic belongs. In the light of that definition, I claim and want to emphasize tonight that those that have left us and followed doctrines that are not authorized by our church are heretics.
    They are heretics because they oppose the three forms of unity by their conditional theology, by the teaching that the promise of God is for all on condition of faith. That is heresy because it is in conflict with the clear teaching of the official doctrines of our churches.
    They are heretics because they subscribe to the doctrines of the three points, which we have officially condemned in 1924 and which our churches, the Protestant Reformed Churches, still condemn. Especially the first point of that doctrine, they clearly subscribe to and really make it worse. According to the first point of 1924, in connection with the proof that was adduced by that synod of 1924 from the confession as well as from scripture, the gospel is a well-meant offer of salvation, well-meant on the part of God for all that hear the preaching of the gospel. Today, sad to say, it’s almost inexplicable to me that twenty-five or thirty years after we have rejected that first point of 1924 those that have left are not ashamed to preach that “God promises to every one of you salvation if you believe.”—a general, conditional promise to every one head for head and soul for soul.
    Not only that, but as the three points of 1924 said something concerning God, they must needs say something about man, so also in the present situation. The error was proclaimed that man must fulfill a prerequisite in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Also, that is not literally expressed in the three points, but nevertheless it is suggested the second and third points maintain that the natural man through the power of common grace can do something good before God.
    Therefore, also because those that have left us have really subscribed to the three points of 1924, which we have condemned, are heretics and nothing less.
    Thirdly, they are heretics because they very deliberately and really purposely agitate and did agitate against the Declaration of Principles, which was officially adopted by the Protestant Reformed Churches at the synod of 1950 and 1951.
    On all these three accounts, those that have left us are heretics and nothing else.”

    1. Dewey, speaking of the Declaration of Principles, and given that your congregation was formed out of the belief that the PRCA is tolerating a conditional covenant, can you please shed some light on your committee’s opposition to adopting the DoP? Thanks!

      1. I thought your question was adequately answered by others and I have nothing further to add to that topic.

        As to the DoP it was my hope that a leader among a group known for its dislike of smoke-filled-room dealings would be willing to shed some transparency on a topic that should be near and dear to the hearts of all who studied Essentials under a Protestant Reformed pastor. Perhaps I was mistaken.

      2. Carl, that’s helpful. So “graciously” means “beautifully” to you as well.

        Too bad you weren’t in Kalamazoo in 1924, you could brought both sides together. “Mr. Chairman, the CRC is correct. When they say “common grace,” they just mean “common beauty.” You know, a lot of things are beautiful. Motion to adjourn?”

        And Rev. Koole no doubt meant “available beauty” when he said “available grace” (as opposed to that “particular” kind). And that helps us to understand what the Arminians meant by resistible grace and enabling grace. They were just talking about beauty!

        Congrats! You just solved 2,000 years of theological conflict!

      3. I listened to the entire Koole sermon and I thought he explained pretty well but what do I know, I didn’t grow up as the son of one of the greatest theological minds of the past hundred years, although he did baptize me. Now as to the DoP, let’s say you have someone who’s concerned about the direction of the PRC, but is also concerned that your committee has been consistently advocating rejection of Hoeksema’s doctrine of the unconditional covenant. What do you say to him?

  12. Dear Dewey,

    The view of true/false church that you advocate on this blog is not the view of Herman Hoeksema or of the PRC historically. Hoeksema expressed his view as follows: “That which calls itself church upon earth may certainly in the first place be distinguished as true and false church. With the latter group we must certainly number those so-called churches, who no longer reckon with the Word of God and proclaim human wisdom instead of the gospel of Christ, who have broken with the broad fundamentals of Christianity, such as the Godhead of Christ, the atonement through His blood, the resurrection, and the return of the Savior. But also that which in a broad sense of the word must be considered as belonging to the true Church, because the Word of God is known and proclaimed there in a greater or lesser degree, is characterized by various degrees of pureness. There is difference in pureness of confession, difference with respect to the administration of the sacraments, difference in church-government and in the form of Divine worship” (“The Reunion of the Christian Reformed and Protestant Reformed Churches” Standard Bearer, Vol. 15, Issue 14, 4/15/1939). Hoeksema’s view is also that of the Reformed and Presbyterian churches going back to the time of the Reformation (see Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 25, paragraphs 4 and 5). Let us stick with our Reformed and Protestant Reformed heritage.

  13. A false church is one that completely lacks the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Salvation is not possible within her walls, and she does not display any of the marks of the true church in the least, but completely obliterates them (see Prof. Engelsma’s commentary on the Belgic Confession, volume 2, pp. 157-158). A church that still has the marks, even if imperfectly, has not yet reached the stage where it may be called a false church. This is evident from the seven churches in Asia Minor, which I referenced in an earlier post. The clear teaching of Revelation is that all these churches are true churches, despite the fact that most of them have doctrinal problems. This is evident from the fact that the opening chapter depicts Christ as walking in the midst of all seven candlesticks, thereby indicating that His Spirit is still present in all of them and that He has not spewed any of them out of His mouth. Whether any of these churches still exists today is not the question. The question is, did they repent when Christ came to them with the call to repent? There is evidence that at least some of them did. Ephesus and Laodicea for example, hosted important church councils in later centuries that defended the truth. But the most important question that ought to be asked is: “What message does Christ speak to His Church today in His message to these seven churches?”

    When Hoeksema accused the CRC of playing the harlot in 1924, he was not calling her the false church. Rather, he was using a simile/metaphor to describe the sin of the CRC. Nor is this the same as calling her the whore of Babylon. This is evident when one considers that God accused none other than Old Testament Judah of playing the harlot. Was Judah the false church? No! Judah was the faithful remnant which God preserved from apostate Israel, and Christ came from Judah’s line. Yes, she sinned grievously by playing the harlot, and God chastened her severely by bringing her into captivity. But even then He preserved a remnant and brought her back, unlike Israel, which never returned.

    Regarding the names that Calvin and Luther called their opponents, and of which Hoeksema evidently approved, I want to point out a few things. First, Luther and Calvin were fighting against true heretics – men who denied not only the doctrines of justification and predestination, but also the most cardinal truths of the Christian faith, such as the doctrine of the Trinity. No PR minister is on the same level as those men. Secondly, it is noteworthy that Hoeksema himself did not use the kinds of names against Berkhof that Luther and Calvin used against their opponents. Although he was sharp, Hoeksema addressed Berkhof as a brother in Christ (in fact, I have it on good authority that Hoeksema once expressed that he was looking forward to reconciliation with Berkhof in heaven). Third, even if Luther and Calvin were motivated by a love for the truth in their name calling, that does not mean that it was proper behavior. Luther and Calvin were mighty men of God, whom God used powerfully to work reformation in His Church. But they were also sinners, which means that they did not always conduct themselves blamelessly. Calling names such as Luther and Calvin did is not necessary in polemics. It does not advance or develop the truth. Least of all in our own day should anyone be calling PR ministers vipers or snares of Satan, for to call them that is to make the judgment that they are reprobate (see Matthew 23:33), and that is a judgment that God alone is qualified to make.

    Finally, what grieves me so much about your charges against PR ministers is that they are simply not true. The message I hear from my own and other PR ministers is not “man” but rather “Christ”. Also, it needs to be acknowledged that apologies have been made for erroneous or unclear statements. Further, many of these ministers have taught classes, given lectures, or otherwise defended Synod 2018 in preaching and writing. That sounds like zeal for the truth to me.

    1. Andrew, they have a zeal for their position and place, which is why they still have both of them. Was Prof. Hanko wrong in his explanation of the true/false church? Jesus identified the Pharisees not by saying that he knew their heart (which he did), but by identifying their deeds.

      You keep moving the goal posts and no matter what is written you just come up with something else. I have laid out my case, and it will not profit to do it in the comment section as well.

      The PRC needs to hear a lot more sermons like the one preached on Jeremiah by Rev. Lanning. Sermons of rebuke and calls to repentance. But they don’t. And they won’t. I don’t know if in my lifetime in a PR church (and this is no exaggeration), if I ever once heard a call to repentance or if I heard the the call of the gospel to repent and believe. Can you point me to a sermon where your minister has called you and the rest of the congregation to repentance for believing and defending false doctrine and for murdering and slandering those men (and women!) that God used to defend His truth? (I’ll be patient).

      The ministers in the PRC, especially those in Classis East, are exactly as they have been described. And if you watch real close Andrew, there are certain times when you can see their sheepskin slip, and you can see what really lies beneath.

    2. Andrew,

      Christ in Matthew 23 is speaking to a whole multitude of people including his own disciples, see vs. 1. His purpose was not to judge to hell every person head for head, not even every Scribe and Pharisee. His purpose was to call His people out from their wicked ways. Don’t forget Paul himself was a Pharisee. The purpose of Christ in name calling in this chapter is to show urgency in His call to repentance. Their is a two fold efficacious effect in this call humbling and hardening. That is the antithesis a word not often heard anymore in the PRC.

      You write, “First, Luther and Calvin were fighting against true heretics – men who denied not only the doctrines of justification and predestination, but also the most cardinal truths of the Christian faith, such as the doctrine of the Trinity.” Justification by faith alone is a cardinal truth and the PRC compromised that truth and continues to do so yet today. It seems to me you are minimizing what the PRC has done and saying it was not as bad in comparison to what Calvin and Luther fought for. The minimizing of false doctrine in the church in times of reformation and debate has always been the case throughout history. Calvin faced the same objections when debating over what you call “most cardinal truths” in his day. Calvin writes, “But, say our opponents, this subject is one in which we may remain ignorant without loss or harm…”. (Calvin’s Calvinism pg. 25) Again, Calvin writes, “This great subject is not, as many imagine, a mere thorny and noisy disputation, nor a speculation that wearies the minds of men without any profit…” (Calvin’s Calvinism pg. 18&19)

      Greg

      1. “When heresy rises in an evangelical body, it is never frank and open. It always begins by skulking, and assuming a disguise. Its advocates, when together, boast of great improvements, and congratulate one another on having gone greatly beyond the “old dead orthodoxy,” and on having left behind many of its antiquated errors: but when taxed with deviations from the received faith, they complain of the unreasonableness of their accusers, as they “differ from it only in words.” This has been the standing course of errorists ever since the apostolic age. They are almost never honest and candid as a party, until they gain strength enough to be sure of some degree of popularity.” (Introductory Essay by Samuel Miller, 1841. As found in Scott, Thomas, The Articles of the Synod of Dort. Harrisonburg, Virginia: Sprinkle Publications, 1993, pp. 16-17.) (This quotation is cited here and was cited in this speech).

  14. I find this discussion very interesting. I think those that made comments defending the ministers of the PRC are disagreeing with RPC’s characterization of the PRC’s ministers b/c this characterization implies that EVERY minister of the PRC, head for head, are vipers, snares of Satan, etc. Dewey, you point to a few men in the PRC to prove your point but is it really true that EVERY minister can be called these names. I would disagree. There are faithful ministers in the PRC who are preaching Christ. Vipers, snares of Satan – head for head for head? Really?

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