The Standard Bearer is a lifeless magazine.
Take, for example, the special issue on the Reformation (November 1, 2021).
In the first place, it starts with an article by Martin Luther that, according to settled doctrine in the PRC, never should have been written, much less republished. Luther had the audacity to write that in the great Reformation, “I did nothing; the Word did it all.” Did nothing? Did nothing!? Didn’t Luther know that Reformed theology glorifies God by shouting as loudly as possible about the activity of man? How dare he write that extreme and radical statement? That sounds suspiciously like saying that although Noah labored hard to build the ark, Noah did nothing, but God did it all. Were Luther a member of the PRC today, he would need to be publicly rebuked. He would be branded an antinomian from that moment on and viewed with suspicion.
As to the rest of the issue, its only purpose is to serve as a relaying of the history of the Great Reformation. Don’t the editors know that has already been done many times before? Do the editors really think that the issue in the PRC is that the people do not know the history? At a time that cries out for instruction about the Reformation truth of semper reformanda, there was none. None at all. Imagine that. After it was shown that the PRC had compromised justification by faith alone and displaced Christ, in a special issue on the Great Reformation, there was no call for the PRC to be “always reforming.” Instead of applying the glorious principle of church reformation to themselves, they only garnished the tombs of the reformers.
It is a lifeless magazine.
The reason the magazine is lifeless is because the magazine is now silent at the exact point where the gospel is under attack. It must be. Were any current editor to scrounge around in the basement of the RPFA and find a sword left there by a former editor, he would have to take up that sword against the magazine itself and against men who currently serve or who have served as editors of the magazine. Unwilling to put the truth above all, the Standard Bearer must now fall silent and join so many other so-called Reformed periodicals that only occasionally stumble across the truth and never, ever condemn and repudiate the lie as it is found in their own midst.
And now the magazine belongs to the editors.
It used to belong to the association. It used to belong to the office of believer.
This also implies that the Standard Bearer is yours. It is not an organ of any consistory, classis, or synod. Nor is it under the sovereign control of the editors that fill its pages. It is yours. Even as our free Christian Schools are not ultimately controlled by the teachers, but by the parents; so the Standard Bearer, though its contents are the care of its editors, is your paper, it is a means through which you have the opportunity to sound forth the testimony in behalf of the Reformed truth, within our own circles and without. (Herman Hoeksema, The Standard Bearer as a Witness, SB, December 15, 1945; emphasis his)
And emphatically not to a denomination.
The Standard Bearer is not an official church organ. It is not sponsored by the church as institute. And this freedom implies that we are not hampered by purely institutional bonds, and are not motivated by mere, formal, institutional considerations or prepossessions. In 1923 the institute of the Christian Reformed Church meant to Silence our testimony. They closed the official organs to us. They tried to put the yoke of the Three Points upon us. They cast us out of their fellowship. Much of this action was motivated by personal opposition, and the desire to maintain so-called “rest” in the churches, the rest of corruption and death. But the Standard Bearer remained free. No institution controlled it. Its voice could not be silenced. And free it should remain. Unhampered by considerations that are foreign to the love of Reformed truth, our publication purposes to continue to maintain and develop the truth as our God delivered it to us! (Herman Hoeksema, The Standard Bearer as a Witness)
But that was all challenged under Profs. Gritters and Dykstra and Rev. Koole.
In 2011, a staff member of the RFPA sent an email to Prof. Dykstra asking for information. The staff member wanted that information for the RFPA Update, which was sent out a few times a year, updating the association members on the work of the board and staff. Prof. Dykstra responded pettishly, arguing with that staff member about the proper relationship between the SB and the RFPA.
Prof. Dykstra’s misunderstanding of the relationship between the RFPA and the Standard Bearer then started a battle over the ownership of the magazine. The RFPA board stood its ground and insisted that the paper was their paper; which was to say, the association’s paper; which was to say, a believers’ paper. But over time, men joined the association—and then were elected to the board—who had very little spiritual sense and even less spiritual conviction, which men were only too happy to hand over the RFPA’s spiritual birthright for the good favor of a few men.
Fast forward to 2016 and beyond, and then we had the Standard Bearer hitting our mailboxes with not one word to say about the controversy. Finally, Prof. Dykstra waded in and in the issue just before the 2018 synod declared that the problem plaguing the denomination was the size of the protests. He solemnly counseled the PRC that the work of the synod may have to be to assign a committee to determine how to correct the problem of lengthy protests.
Once the synod had spoken and clarified what the issue truly was, the magazine then proceeded not only to minimize the decision synod had made but also to undermine it. Where was the heartfelt thanks to God for a decision that had made faith and faith’s object the sole cause, reason, means, and ground of any blessing of God for the believer? Where did they trumpet the fact that it is faith, and more specifically Christ, and not our works, not our obedience, not our doing, that brings us into covenant fellowship with God or that causes us to abound in fellowship with God? Not only did the Standard Bearer not instruct leading up to Synod 2018, but afterwards it ignored the controversy and then proceeded to teach that which was directly contrary to the decision.
The sole contribution that the Standard Bearer made in the recently decided controversy over justification by faith alone was that it led the Protestant Reformed Churches deeper into error and made sure that the PRC would not be able to correct its course.
Which makes what Prof. Gritters wrote in the September 1, 2021, issue of the Standard Bearer so astounding.
“In the past five years, our churches have struggled mightily to combat and root out error that gave to good works a place ‘out of harmony with the Reformed confessions.’”
I genuinely wonder if Prof. Gritters had the decency to blush when he typed those words. Or did he sit back in his chair, hook his thumbs into his belt, and give a good, hearty belly laugh? The PRC struggled mightily, all right. The denomination struggled mightily to assassinate the good character and name of those poor souls in the PRC who dared to protest and appeal bad sermon after bad sermon of her ministers, and bad decision after bad decision of her assemblies. In their defense of the gospel, these courageous members had to do their work despite having Hope’s consistory and Classis East fighting them every step of the way. And the Standard Bearer? And Prof. Gritters in particular? While the SB undermined and contradicted the decision of Synod 2018, Prof. Gritters himself did not lift one finger to combat and root out the error that gave good works a place “out of harmony with the Reformed confessions.”
Perhaps he did not laugh when he wrote it, but I certainly did when I read it.
And everyone knows that it is a complete fabrication. There is not one grain of truth to what Prof. Gritters wrote. Not that anyone will do anything about it. That’s how it goes in the PRC. Read it; know in your heart it is a complete lie and rewriting of history; but just move on. Protect the institution. Protect men. Allow them to write lies because, as the elder delegate from Grandville PRC said at the meeting of classis in January 2021, they have the reputations of men to protect.
The SB led the PRC deeper into error.
Let us be clear. The editors—Profs. Dykstra and Gritters and Rev. Koole—controlled the paper with an iron fist. Nothing could be published if the content did not meet with their approval.
Consider the attached documents, which was the second half of the material that Rev. Lanning submitted to his consistory in November 2019.
The RFPA board asked Rev. Lanning to write a review of Rev. Nathan Langerak’s commentary on 1 Corinthians, Walking in the Way of Love (Volume Two). Rev. Lanning did so and submitted the review to the Standard Bearer in February of 2019. Seven months later, Prof. Dykstra, on behalf of the editors, responded.
“We would like to print your book review, but with that quotation omitted.”
He was referring to a quotation from the book where Rev. Langerak had written critically of NAPARC.
Many emails followed, each becoming more and more “bizarre,” as noted in the correspondence.
The editors controlled the paper and what appeared in it with such an iron fist that they would not publish a book review because of one sentence that they found objectionable.
What that means is that when Rev. Koole published his false doctrine about what a man must do to be saved, and when he trotted out Herman Witsius to promote his theology of salvation by the doing of man, he did so with the complete support and agreement of Profs. Dykstra and Gritters.
Am I wrong?
Show me the letter that the editors sent to Rev. Koole that said, “We would like to print your editorials, but with the conditional theology removed.”
The editors were perfectly comfortable with those editorials and Koole’s theology.
What that means is that when Rev. Slopsema published his meditation that said that the work of Christ was good enough to a point, but what it took for a man to abound in covenant fellowship with God was that man’s obedience to the law, the editors were in complete agreement.
Am I wrong?
Show me the letter that the editors sent to Rev. Slopsema that said, “We would like to print your meditation, but with that paragraph removed.”
The editors were perfectly comfortable with that paragraph and that theology.
What that means is that when Rev. Eriks wrote that there are two grounds for divorce, adultery and desertion, he did so with the complete support and agreement of Profs. Dykstra and Gritters and Rev. Koole.
Am I wrong?
Show me the letter that the editors sent to Rev. Eriks that said, “We would like to print your article, but with that paragraph removed.”
The editors were perfectly comfortable with that paragraph and that theology.
Is it any wonder that men who knew the history of the RPFA and truly loved the Standard Bearer would object? What would you have them do—sit by and do nothing while their paper was corrupted and ripped from them?
But wasn’t the board in place to prevent that from happening?