Reformed ____ Publishing Association (1)

When the board of the RFPA saw Prof. Huizinga’s original speech title, they should have stopped whatever it was that they were doing, and they should have given thanks to God.

They should have thanked God for giving them another chance to be faithful to their very reason for existence.

They failed the first time.

A group of men were concerned about the direction of the Standard Bearer. They laid out extensively for the board why they were concerned.

What was their intent? Was it the reason that the editors gave to Byron Center PRC’s consistory when the editors met with the consistory on June 4, 2020? The reason the editors gave for why the group wrote the RFPA was that the group wanted to get the current editors removed. Was that true? No, that was not true. It was a lie told by Professor Gritters, Professor Dykstra, and Reverend Koole to the consistory of Byron Center PRC. The group’s request was for the RFPA to “take action on these issues” and for the RFPA to “assert its sovereign control over the paper and its content.” They called on the RFPA to “See these things as serious problems and to address them decisively, without delay, and with all due and deliberate speed.” If you don’t believe me, read it for yourself, in the group’s letter to the RFPA board and to the editors themselves.

The RFPA board responded by asking three questions: Why had the group of concerned men not gone through the assemblies, had the concerned men gone to the editors first, and did the group of concerned men know that the RFPA had already handed the magazine over to the editors?

I am surprised, and even impressed, that the group of concerned men responded. They showed a monumental amount of patience. With such a letter, the RFPA Board revealed that they did not understand even the most basic principles underpinning the RFPA. In receiving such a response, the group of concerned men would have been fully justified in declaring their conscience clear before God and planning for a new magazine. However, out a spirit of charity, they continued to correspond. To no avail.

It really is striking. Hoeksema’s theology was called nonsense? Conditions were being taught? North Korean-like censorship was going on at the Standard Bearer, to the extent that it was nearly impossible to get a letter printed? None of that mattered to the board. They were taking orders from the editors, which was enough for them. So much so that they even threw in a charge of slander against the group of concerned men, which charge was so obviously false that even Classis East had to reject it when it was brought by the editors.

Being rebuffed by the board, the group of concerned men called for a special association meeting, as was their right according to the RFPA Board Handbook (“The board on its own motion, or upon written request from any fifteen regular members, may call a special meeting of the Association”).

This too the board of the RFPA turned away. All in service to an institution and the men who ruled the institution.

But that brings up a question—why did this group of concerned men arise? What happened to the RFPA that caused such alarm in the hearts of these men?

The RFPA is doing many neat things right now, including publishing very practical books and a children’s magazine, but that is not why it exists.

The cause of the RFPA “is the maintenance as well as the development of the Protestant Reformed truth which we hold dear and the rejecting and combatting of all heresies that are in conflict with the truth” (Hoeksema, SB, 11/1957).

The RFPA, and more specifically its magazine, the Standard Bearer, exist to teach doctrine. They exist to defend right doctrine. They exist to expose the lie and condemn false doctrine as the damnable work of the devil that it is.

They exist to be the one voice that trumpets doctrine and to do so in a world littered with vapid publishers of practical books and children’s magazines.

The RFPA exists because of the Standard Bearer, the calling of which in recent years was to rebuke the apostatizing Protestant Reformed Churches and to defend the truth of the Reformed faith as that faith was historically taught in the PRC.

When it became clear that the editors of the Standard Bearer were taking the magazine in an entirely new direction, the RFPA board should have stepped in and addressed the matter. Did it not trouble them when an editor of the paper called Hoeksema’s theology of the Philippian jailor nonsense? When the magazine had absolutely nothing to say during the heart of the controversy, did not alarm bells go off at the board level that this was directly contrary to the very purpose of the paper? When one of the editors printed and defended blatant false doctrine—heresy—that led the PRC farther down the road of apostasy, did not one man raise his voice to object?

The answer to that question is yes. Some men fought. Some of those men fought right up until the ends of their terms. For two others, they would not make it to the ends of their terms. With a story that has been told before, the dishonorable and unrighteous majority finally had enough of those men who would not truckle to the editors with the rest of the board. In late August, Joel Langerak and Jon Langerak (I will say their names, even if the RFPA board president cannot) were summarily removed from their lawfully elected posts.

How does this happen? How is it possible that the PRCA corrupts every organization it touches, whether a supposedly free publishing association or a school board?

The reason is simple. You have men who are not spiritual but carnal. Spiritual battle about the purpose of the RFPA? A fight over a magazine and what may stand on the pages of that magazine? Heresy versus the truth? These men know nothing of these things; neither can they know them because these things are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). They can tell you who Michigan football plays on Saturday. They can tell you about their vacation next week. They can also tell you the state of their company, down to the very last penny. But they can’t lift a finger in defense of the truth if it means going against powerful men in their denomination. 

And these men will serve out their terms at the RFPA and go on to take their earthly wisdom to the school board room or the consistory room. Like the consistory of Byron Center PRC, they will bring their carnality and corruption right into the very heart of the bride of Christ.

There was a battle over the Standard Bearer at one point.

But that battle has been lost.

The RFPA is now on a leash.

The PRC holds that leash.

And where that is evident is with the RFPA’s publication, the Standard Bearer.