Singapore

False doctrine is like cancer; left untreated, it will spread.

It has now spread with a vengeance to Singapore.

As sisters, the PRC and the CERC in Singapore failed each other in spectacular fashion.

Early on in the controversy, the session (consistory) of CERC had an opportunity to protest a wrong decision of the PRC’s broadest assembly. After being mollified with smooth words by the Contact Committee of the PRCA, the session of CERC declined to address the cancer that was starting to ravage the PRC. Instead, they allowed their pastor, Rev. Lanning, to go it alone. The session of CERC was like the doctor who reviewed a biopsy that showed that the cancer was spreading and quickly closed the file, smiled blandly at his patient, and said, “All is well.”

But all was not well.

And that was where the PRC failed her sister in Singapore. The PRC knew that she had a dread disease in her body. The assemblies would ignore it, but time and again it was shown that the false doctrine was present, and present at the highest levels of the denomination.

Instead of taking swift action to stop the spread of the cancer, the PRC exerted herself to kill those who were warning them.

CERC of Singapore has learned the lesson of her sister well.

With a violence that no doubt makes her sister proud (and which was no doubt encouraged by leaders of the PRC), the session of CERC has driven out, through (un)Christian discipline wickedly applied, members whose only desire was to study the controversy that had ravaged the Protestant Reformed Churches in America.

It is striking how closely these sisters resemble one another.

CERC has a twin sister in Hope PRC.

The officebearers of Hope PRC, who for years had worked diligently to convince the rest of the denomination that they were the keepers of orthodoxy, were shown to not even understand justification by faith alone. Waving around the phrase “in the way of” as if that were the heritage and legacy of the PRC (instead of being a phrase used to replace the Pelagian word “condition”), they displaced Christ and compromised the truth of the unconditional covenant.

What they lacked in orthodoxy, they made up for in violence.

Men and women will never be the same this side of the Jordan for how they were treated by the “shepherds” who occupied the elders’ bench at Hope Protestant Reformed Church.

Should CERC disdain being known as a twin sister of Hope PRC, all she needs to do is travel west to find another sister whom she can claim as a twin.

Hull Protestant Reformed Church has the record for how quickly she visited her (cruel) tender mercies on Christ’s sheep.

Hull PRC had one officebearer who was determined to fulfill the calling of his office.

One.

Deacon Marcus Andringa asked repeatedly that Hull PRC engage in the controversy and take the side of Christ. He was ignored.

Until finally the wicked majority determined to rid themselves of this man they viewed as a troublemaker.

So they laid a snare for him.

Beware of men, indeed (Matt. 10:17).

They asked him to do something they refused to do themselves: put something in writing. They asked him on Monday to explain where he stood. Without guile and trusting the men who had been called by God to serve as fellow watchmen on the walls, he did. He gave them his letter on Tuesday. By Wednesday, he was summoned to meet with the consistory.

After a 20-minute meeting Deacon Andringa was excused. There was probably much that was said, but what they failed to tell him was that the consistory of Calvary PRC was waiting nearby. Shortly after Deacon Andringa left the meeting, the elders of Calvary PRC joined and the decision was made to depose Marcus, using as part of their grounds one sentence plucked from the letter they had instructed him to prepare. Together, these two consistories consented to the murder of Deacon Andringa.

By Thursday he was brought back before a committee of the elders and informed that he was deposed.

And Calvary PRC never once gave him a hearing.

Let us never again hear from the mouth of a Protestant Reformed officebearer the importance of “good order” or the “church orderly way.”

Within three days this Christ-appointed deacon had his office torn from him.

But he was a first-term deacon, so this would not cause much of a stir in the PRC. He was not old enough yet to have a name and reputation, which in the PRC is paramount. And the consistories of Hull and Calvary knew it. There would be no ramifications, no consequences.

So the men on these consistories just rearranged their sheepskins and went back to playing elder.

But take heart, Brother Andringa; although your bones are scattered at the grave’s mouth, put your eyes upon your God, who will not leave your soul destitute (Ps. 141:7-8).

You bear in your body the blessed marks of your Lord: not plaudits but scars, not approval but hatred.

As your God promised (Matt. 10:22).

The wicked, unbelieving, God-hating world would not deal in such a way with their opponents. And yet in the PRC this is what passes for good order.

There were those who saw this for what it was, here and here. But there is none so blind as he who will not see, so the consistories ignored them and the people went back to sleep, if they had even bothered to open their eyes at all.

Throughout the controversy, the denomination provided no succor. Instead of repudiating the lie, the ministers and elder delegates of Classis East coddled the teachers and supporters of false doctrine, and bared their own fangs at the members who fought for truth and right.

The PRC has an interesting take on sister-church relationships. Their idea of “mutual care” involves many things, but it does not involve addressing the presence of false doctrine. The reason for this is simple: it’s not possible to address false doctrine and still protect the reputations of men, so doctrine is left begging.

CERC has added a bit of dark humor, however.

After having shut down the members of the Bible study through discipline, and intimidating those into silence who perhaps at one time desired to be a part of the Bible study, the session of CERC has had the epiphany that what is needed most right now is…a Bible study.

Do they know how ridiculous this is? You discipline members out of the church for having a Bible study to study the controversy, and then, once they are gone, you start a Bible study to study the controversy.

Adding to the absurdity of it, Rev. Tan, at the beginning of their first so-called Bible study, explained how necessary it was to have the Bible study and defended it against those who might object to its necessity.

Thankfully, the members who were driven out of CERC are continuing their Bible study and are willing to include others and make the tremendous fruit of their labor available to everyone. Their next Bible study session is scheduled for Saturday, March 5, and starts at 7:00 a.m. (EST). A link for the Bible study, which will study the connection between recent events and the split of 1953, can be found on their most recent blog post.

I highly recommend that you subscribe to their YouTube channel and their blog. (The most convenient way to follow their blog and to make sure you don’t miss a post is to download the WordPress app, search for “Berean Reformed,” and click on the “Follow” button.)

Brothers and sisters in Singapore, continue your important work.

Many will ignore your blog, and others will slander it. It is likely that the members of CERC, like their brothers and sisters in the PRC, will turn a blind eye to the wickedness of their church. Life is just so much easier if you don’t ask any questions and if you don’t exert yourself to understand the issues.

But the stink of death is in the Protestant Reformed Churches.

And that stink is now pouring out of the consistory room of the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore.

I praise and thank God for delivering the members that he did from Singapore. My prayer is that God would use the work of the Berean Reformed Protestant Fellowship to open the eyes of his people who are right now in the process of being led to destruction by the session of CERC (Isa. 9:16).

Do not be discouraged.

The battle is not yours but God’s (2 Chron. 20:15).

13 thoughts on “Singapore

    1. You said Marcus Andringa is a deacon from Hull church, and you are saying he stood up to his calling as an officebearer as a watchman. Since when are deacons also doing the work of elders?

      1. First, when those elected to be watchmen abdicate their duty and simply adorn the bench the deacons have a calling they have to fulfill as watchmen.
        Second, I would contend that deacons, as members of the council, and as those placed in that special office do serve as watchmen on the walls of Zion. That function of deacon as watchmen took place at Byron PRC when a majority of the elders decided to simply follow the easy path of acquiescence to the church visitors, then deacons arose and took up the cause of Christ in the defense of Christ’s church. This was and is done in a variety of ways, and not in ways that are particular to the office of elder, but in a way that indicates they have a special office given them by Christ which involves looking out over the flock and warning them of danger.

  1. Thanks Dewey for replying. So I was under the impression the calling of deacons was to collect and distribute to help the needy. I looked up online what the role of deacons is in comparison to elders and see many churches do it differently because the bible.is vague on it. I realize your blog isn’t the place for this so I won’t push it.
    I also like to say I do read this blog and your rpc magazine and even though I don’t agree with some of it I think it’s really ignorant when a PR member insults your group by saying they use the s&s as toilet paper or to burn. I guess if they have nothing thoughtful to say they resort to that

    1. Nathan, thanks for your thoughts on this. I too researched it in more detail when your comment came across.
      For me, I look at it like this. Would we ever say that deacons must NOT behave as watchmen? I don’t think we would say that. The reason, I believe, is because the special offices flow out of the office of all believer whose calling is always to be watching, and ready. It is for that reason that I believe in occupying a special office in the church, deacons too have the calling to behave as watchmen for the good of the flock.
      I commend you for reading, that separates you from most.

      1. Nathan, when your comment had come across, I asked Deacon Keith Gritters for his thoughts on the matter. He has done a lot of study on it, and he was one of the three faithful (and that by the grace of God) deacons at Byron Center during the recent controversy. He sent me the following message, which I post here with his permission. I understand that you are not pushing the issue and don’t necessarily disagree, but I found his email edifying, and I thought you and the other readers might as well. What follows is from Keith Gritters, current deacon at First Reformed Protestant Church:

        Nathan,

        I would like to respectfully disagree with your perspective on the idea that watchman are only the elders in the church.

        The first thing I would address is that in signing the formula of subscription the deacon makes this vow: “We promise therefore diligently to teach and faithfully to defend the aforesaid doctrine, without either directly or indirectly contradicting the same, by our public preaching or writing. We declare, moreover, that we not only reject all errors that militate against this doctrine, and particularly those which were condemned by the above mentioned synod, but that we are disposed to refute and contradict these, and to exert ourselves in keeping the church free from such errors.” So the question to face is why must a deacon sign the formula – that clearly lays out their calling to be watchmen on the walls – as well as the elders and ministers (along those same lines, why do the deacons shake a minister’s hand at the end of a sermon to verify agreement with the sermon?)

        Then, the second thing one must understand about the office-bearers is that there is one fundamental office behind all three offices in the church, and that is the office of prophet. I won’t prove that at length, but an excellent speech on the topic can be found at this link: http://www.prca.org/Seminary/SemAudioMessages/February%201987%20Deacon's%20Class%201%20-%20Prof%20Hanko.mp3.

        When you examine that vow that the deacon takes, it is hard to understand why an office-bearer who is called to administer to the poor in the church would be required to sign his name to such a document. If you view the deacon as merely someone who cares for the material needs of the poor in the church, then you most certainly cannot understand why they would sign that document. But when you understand that the office of prophet is fundamental to the office of deacon, now it brings the idea of deacons as watchman into clearer view. The deacons must take heed to the doctrine taught in their church, and protect that doctrine from errors, because the calling of the deacon is to bring that doctrine for the spiritual edification of the poor. The deacons bring that doctrine through the Word they bring in their ministration to the poor. And if the church has corrupted that doctrine, then the poor, who are to be ministered to by the deacons, must be protected from that false doctrine. That is why I believe the deacon has a particular calling to be watchmen on the walls of Zion, and that is why the formula of subscription must be signed by the deacons as well as the elders and ministers.

        Picture this: the PRC deacon is fulfilling his calling to care for the material and spiritual needs of a poor family in his congregation, and that family is also struggling spiritually because of the doctrine taught in the PRC. The family knows their works are nothing but filthy rags. They compare them to the Word of God and see they do not measure up to God’s perfect law, and the doctrine of the experience of salvation through those works weighs heavily on them. The deacon has a calling to minister to the spiritual needs of that family. First he brings the gospel of the full and free salvation without the works of man to that family. Then, the deacon fulfills this calling by going to the next council meeting, and saying, “Men, our doctrine is not according to the Word of God and the gospel, and it is destroying the spiritual lives of the poor in this church that I am called to minister to! We must fix this!” And that would be the fulfillment of that deacon’s vow in harmony with his calling to minister to the poor in the congregation, which is to be watchmen for the spiritual benefit of those poor.

  2. A couple things—-I’ve noticed a theme with your writing—a lot of dramatic words surrounding when people conspire against another a devise a plot to get rid of them —push them out of the church—how is that murder?

    Is it fair? No.

    Is it the right way to handled things? No.

    Did anyone die? No.

    Not necessarily a fair representation of events.

    I see the same dramatic terminology talking about “our present controversy” and depositions. There was no physical threat of violence. Or was there?

    Evil surmising (plotting). Sure. Spiritual manipulation. Granted.

    I’m sorry. The verbiage has to start the changing, and so does the tone. It reeks of layers and levels of psychological damage from abusive behavior.

    So much of the “controversy” has been started/continued by the RPC—and not in a way that spurns positive conversation/possibility for real growth/change. (That’s if the PRC is willing/capable of it—which I don’t think it can until there is a true spiritual awakening.)

    Let’s move on to new material—new spiritual revelation and growth in revealing who the Holy Spirit is, and how the RPC can move forward with dignity, strength, and it’s own identity instead of being in the constant shadow of the PRC.

    1. Hi Lisa, thanks for the questions. If I could summarize your questions/statements, it would be as follows:

      First, I am overly dramatic in my language. Why in the world use words like murder or killing when clearly no one was murdered or killed and no one died? (Since you ask, although I did have to file a police report against a man who threatened me and my family with violence, that is not what we are talking about here). You go on to say that when I use such overly dramatic language it is not a fair representation of events.

      Second, to put it bluntly, “Time to move on, Dewey.” Get some new material and start writing something positive for a change. Find your own identity and quit finding your identity only in criticizing others.

      I hope that is a fair representation of what you wrote (if not, write back and we can get it corrected).

      I especially appreciate your comment because it is very likely that others have those questions/concerns as well.

      To your first point that I am using overly dramatic language, I would respond that I disagree with you. And here’s why. In the Old Testament, if someone wanted to get rid of a minister, what would they have to do? They would have to literally kill them. We see that throughout the Old Testament. Elijah testified of this when he said in 1 Kings 19:10, “…for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” Examples like this could be multiplied. (I can’t help but mention, isn’t it striking that it is the “children of Israel” that kill the prophets? Is there any record of a hostile, foreign power killing a prophet? Today, it is still the “children of Israel” who kill the faithful ministers).

      Well, what about the New Testament? I read in the most recent Outlook magazine the following: “Stephen was stoned. John’s brother James, and Paul were beheaded. Philip, Andrew, Jude, Bartholomew, Luke, and both Simons were crucified. Matthew and Thomas were speared. Jesus’ brother James was ‘beat and stoned…and finally had his brains dashed out’ with a club. Matthias was stone, then beheaded. Mark was ‘dragged to pieces. (What is an Apologist?, Rev. Boekestein, The Outlook, Mar/Apr 2022).

      If you read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs you read more of the same.

      So things continued for a very long time.

      But that doesn’t happen today in civilized countries. Why not?

      Perhaps, because when Hugh Latimer said to his friend Bishop Ridley as they both were about to have their bodies immolated, “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England as I trust shall never be put out” the devil was listening. And he saw that indeed a candle was lit that will never be put out. So he stopped having men burned.

      So we will not see, in a civilized society, and especially in a “civilized” church like the Protestant Reformed Churches, a man who is burned to death or who is dragged to pieces.

      The New Testament version of death by fire, hanging, impalement, or beheading is “deposition.” A nice, clean antiseptic word that offends no one.

      “Did you hear that Rev. So and So was deposed?”
      “Oh, really? “So, what’s for lunch?”

      Had Revs Lanning, Langerak, and VanderWal (don’t forget Rev. VanderWal; just because they later glued his head back on his shoulders, the church visitors saw to his murder in Wingham) lived 500 years previously they would have been killed in order to shut them up. Not to mention Elder Neil Meyer. I have no doubt Hope PRC would have played a prominent role in those days in coming up with inventive ways to destroy a man.

      So, no, I don’t think my language is too dramatic. I think it is a reflection on our own carnality, and on our own lack of understanding of church history, that we clamor for such talk to be dampened.

      What the elders of Byron PRC did to Rev. Lanning (and I don’t care right now who put them up to it) was spiritual murder. They took a righteous man (and those aren’t my words, those are the words of more than one elder used to describe Rev. Lanning just before the decision was taken to depose him) and they shut him up by spiritually killing him.

      Your second question is an example of the logical fallacy of bifurcation (and probably the fallacy of the bogus dilemma and an example of the argumentum ad temperantiam fallacy, but we will leave those aside for now). You present me, and the readers, two options:

      1. Move on to new material or
      2. Continue to live in the shadow of the PRC

      It appears to be your position that it is now time to say, “Well, that’s enough about the PRC, time to move on and develop something positive.”

      As must be my response to the fallacy of bifurcation, I reject the choice.

      I can tell you Lisa, that I moved on to “new material” the very second I left Byron Center PRC. That “new material” was the gospel and the liberty that the gospel brings. And I haven’t stopped reveling in that new material ever since. I have never been so alive, so fed, and so happy (to borrow a word from the Heidelberg Catechism) as I am today. I hear Christ and Christ alone. In the consistory room and the council room, the men use the Bible and the confessions to make their arguments, and if they use men’s wisdom (ok, I am speaking of myself here in the third person) then they are corrected. I have never in my life experienced the type of likemindedness that I experience today. That doesn’t mean we agree on everything (quite the contrary), but I means we are united on the one thing that is of vital importance, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

      Every single Sunday when I hear the gospel preached I am hearing a faithful minister of God draw out of the treasure house, things old and new (Matt. 13:52). In fact, I would be remiss and delinquent if I did not invite you to come and worship with us this Sunday and share in the blessed gospel preaching with us. We meet at 10:30 am Sunday morning at 1675 Baldwin Ave in Jenison. I would love to have you join us.

      As to the living in the shadow of the PRC, I don’t see it that way at all. I love that denomination and the members of it. Whether any of them are listening or not, I can’t control that. But I do know my calling before God is to love them so I will do that by warning them, so I am going to share what is on my heart, and the sin and wickedness I see. I will love them, even if it means I am loved less for it. But the time for me and this blog is coming to a close. (Here I have to insert an apology: I told an earlier correspondent that I hoped to be done by the time of the PRC Synod of 2021. Clearly that has not happened. That is what happens when I apply my own earthly wisdom to things, which I did in this case. It was not my intention to deceive you or to be dishonest, but in actuality I did both. I am very sorry for that). I hope to be able to write more in the future, not because I think I am any good at it, but I want to faithfully serve my God in whatever capacity he calls me, and if it is in writing, then so be it.

      Look at it this way, if you see your family member’s house in flames, at what point do you stop yelling, “Fire!”

      Thanks for your question. I am sorry about the length of the reply, but as I mentioned before, verbosity is a weakness of mine.

  3. Hi Dewey, what you wrote in comment sounds right. But this is what you wrote above about Singapore post “Deacon Marcus Andringa asked repeatedly that Hull PRC engage in the controversy and take the side of Christ. He was ignored.”
    The way I read that is the controversy was happening at the time in the present, also note that the controversy was not just happening in Hull church but in the denomination,.classis and synod we’re involved.
    It seems to me he already had his mind made up what side Christ is on but just the fact it’s a controversy means many people think Christ is on their side.
    What I was getting at isn’t there a difference between elder and deacon? When I looked it up later I came across a website where they pointed out an elder is to teach the faith and a deacon is only called to hold to the faith but not teach. I’ll make another reply and copy and paste the site.
    Also is a deacon more knowledgeable about the truth than another member of the church that doesn’t have an office besides believer? Isn’t every confessing member called.to test the spirit?
    So I guess my thought was if the controversy is being dealt with at synod why did he feel the need to be involved in it as a deacon since he was not.voted in as an elder. What would be the difference if I just walked into the consistory room and told the elders that “we” as including me should engage in the controversy going on in classis and synod just because I might think they are making a mess of the work their called to?
    The way you wrote this post didn’t sound like he was encouraging the elders to study the issue and stand for the truth.
    I think you wrote about good order, shouldn’t he have used the other means to appeal and protest like everyone else instead of using his proximity to the elders just because deacons also are in the same room as the consistory?

  4. Here’s that website https://www.9marks.org/article/biblical-qualifications-and-responsibilities-deacons/
    i just copy and pasted what stood out to me.
    I know you said deacons sign the same paper the elders sign but maybe it’s just a quirk of the prc in that a lot of qualifications are the same it was just easier to do it that way.

    The New Testament does not provide much information concerning the role of deacons. The requirements given in 1 Timothy 3:8-12 focus on the deacon’s character and family life. There are, however, some clues as to the function of deacons when their requirements are compared with those of the elders. Although many of the qualifications are the same or very similar, there are some notable differences.

    Perhaps the most noticeable distinction between elders and deacons is that deacons do not need to be “able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2). Deacons are called to “hold” to the faith with a clear conscience, but they are not called to “teach” that faith (1 Tim. 3:9). This suggests that the deacons do not have an official teaching role in the church.

    Like elders, deacons must manage their house and children well (1 Tim. 3:4, 12). But when referring to deacons, Paul omits the section where he compares managing one’s household to taking care of God’s church (1 Tim. 3:5). The reason for this omission is most likely due to the fact that deacons are not given a ruling or leading position in the church—that function belongs to the elders.

    Although Paul indicates that a person must be tested before he can hold the office of deacon (1 Tim. 3:10), the requirement that he cannot be a new convert is not included. Paul notes that if an elder is a recent convert “he may become puffed up with conceit” (1 Tim. 3:6). One implication concerning this distinction could be that those who hold the office of elder are more susceptible to pride because they possess leadership over the church. On the contrary, it is not as likely for a deacon, who is in more of a servant role, to fall into this same sin. Finally, the title “overseer” (1 Tim. 3:2) implies general oversight over the spiritual well-being of the congregation, whereas the title “deacon” implies one who has a service-oriented ministry.

    Beyond what we can glean from these differences in qualifications, the Bible does not clearly indicate the function of deacons. Yet based on the pattern established in Acts 6 with the apostles and the Seven, it seems best to view deacons as servants who do whatever is necessary to allow the elders to accomplish their God-given calling of shepherding and teaching the church. Just as the apostles delegated administrative responsibilities to the Seven, so the elders are to delegate certain responsibilities to the deacons so that the elders can focus their efforts elsewhere. As a result, each local church is free to define the tasks of deacons based on their particular needs.

  5. Thanks for your writing of the blog, Dewey, we have learned so much about what went on in the reformation of the church. I agree with you – I have never felt more blessed with the preaching of the gospel – it is as if Rev Lanning digs his hand down deep into the Scriptures and pulls out the riches of the Gospel. I was malnourished and now being fed the truths I learned as a small child. Praise be to God! ‘Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!”

  6. Nathan
    Article 37 Church Order, read it! The size of Hull consistory did not minimize the calling Marcus had. Your idea is absurd. When NO elders stand deacons must acquiesce?? Imagine a bloody battle were the front line fails to engage, those called to support with backup simply give up@!
    Article 37 says deacons act as elders in a small church. I serve as an elder in such a church. I am Thankful for our deacon. There were no “watchmen on the walls” in the elders at Hull PRC, is a deacon then called to just simply die at the arrows of false doctrine due to the unfaithful watchmen? Or may he sound the alarm? So to warn the remnant?

    Jeff Andringa

Leave a Reply