Reformed ____ Publishing Association (2)

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?

10 thoughts on “Reformed ____ Publishing Association (2)

  1. @ The Truth Shall set you Free,

    The process you explain above is disheartening to say the least. However, I don’t think this problem is unique to the PRC (Although it should be concerning) and i don’t think removing the ‘biblical counsellors’ from the equation really fixes the problem. In your above description I could see the exact same scenario playing out even if the elders (even godly elders) were doing the counselling. Properly supporting and believing abuse victims seems to be a real struggle for churches in general. I think churches in general are susceptible to putting up with abusers/ not properly dealing with and exposing them because they place so much emphasis on forgiveness and acceptance (which is good but people often interpret to mean we forget the abusers horrific, ugly sin and act like it didn’t happen), and marriage (which is good but can lead to trying to keep spouses together, in the same house, at all costs) that they forget/ don’t understand the nature of the abuser. They forget abusers can be/ are extremely manipulative and so elders/ ministers/ counsellors take a teary eyed apology at face value without setting up appropriate boundaries and forcing the abuser to prove themselves by their actions. I’m not 100% behind the #MeToo movement but the more I read about this topic the more I realize just how easy it can be to write off victims and inadvertently protect an abuser.

  2. Nathan, I apologize for the username changes. I recently changed my username but the former still likes to show up now and then.

    I understand you would like me to give examples of why I say biblical counseling has been damaging, but in order for me to give you very precise examples, I would have to expose private matters to who knows how many people are following this, and I am leery of doing that, so I’m struggling to find a way to showcase this while still maintaining privacy at the same time. I will, however, attempt to give a general idea later on in this response.

    I stand by my original statement to you that biblical counseling interferes with elder work, but if a individual seeks out this type of counseling themself, fine. I pray they receive the help they seek. However, when a member of the church goes to the elders for help, the elders should be ready to “feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind” (2 Peter 5:2). And when there is a discipline matter within the church the elders are to oversee this work, not co-manage it with biblical counselors, which is exactly what is happening. Rev. Eriks cannot deny this is happening. He cannot.

    Rev. Eriks is pushing a counseling program that needs serious examining. I’m uninterested in debating this with individuals who have taken the course and now biasly assess the counseling to be good without ever being on the receiving end of it. On the surface biblical counseling seems profitable, and it can be, but I have cried with more people who have ended up even more distressed because of it than have been helped by it.
    This is a giant red flag.

    There is a calling for each one of us to help the struggling brother or sister, or to admonish a wayward member. I don’t deny this. What I am arguing is that biblical counseling is blurring the lines between elder work and the separate calling each of us have in sharing one another’s burdens.

    Biblical counseling is intertwined with your consistory. The counselors can speak to your elders about your meetings. Now let me paint you a general picture of how this has been going wrong in cases of abuse in marriage (I state this as a general overview because I’m basing it off of several cases): the elders or minister call in the biblical counselors and rather quickly these counselors try patching a shattered marriage back together •before true change, or any change, has taken place•. There is no time for healing because the victim of domestic abuse is pressured into accepting an unbiblical notion of basic principles such as repentance, forgiveness, and reconcilation. The victim refuses to live in a make-beleive world where empty words of false sorrow must be accepted. The highest goal seems to be the reconciliation of the marriage over against the true repentance of the abuser. So the responsibility of reconciliation then falls onto the victim rather than onto the perpetrator. The victim stands firm maintaining wise boundaries, and the counselor grows frustrated by this. On the flip side, an abuser who has been sent to a counselor can find it quite easy to manipulate his counselor and control the narrative so that the elders are getting a steady stream of reports of progress when there has, in fact, been none. But it gets worse. Now you have the abusers counselor pressuring the victims counselor to get the counselee-victim under control by cooperating in accepting the false repentance everyone else seems on board with. So the victim’s counselor might choose to report the victim to the elders for being unforgiving and bitter, and the entire focus has just shifted entirely. Did you follow all of that? It’s crazy. There are many people involved in these types of situations and it is so messy. And unnecessary.

    I hope this helps you understand biblical counseling in the realm of the church life. It also underscores the desperate need for godly elders in the church.

  3. God speaks in his Word to real struggles. This means that we can APPLY our reformed theology, that is, connect the riches of Jesus Christ to the reality of issues and struggles that God allows in our lives.

    The role of the pastor is to EQUIP THE BODY. It’s not just the pastor (or elder).

    Paul says in Ephesians 4 that – “He (Jesus) gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to EQUIP THE SAINTS FOR THE WORK OF MINISTRY for building up the body of Christ.”

    We can be WISE Christians who can carry out the vision that the Bible is showing us. The Bible is giving this vision – encourage one another, bear one another’s burdens, exhort one another, be patient with one another. Change and growth is a community project. It’s not just Jesus and me. Yes, I am united to Jesus, but in being united to Jesus I am united to the body.

    This is Paul’s vision for the church. This is what ours should be too.

    Ministry of the Word. Proclamation on Sunday.

    But as I read the New Testament I believe the proclamation of the Word is in part designed to set in motion “lower case” ministry of the Word. For example Paul in Colossians 3 says – “Let the Word dwell in YOU.” He is not talking about you as an individual, but YOU ALL as a church. Let the Word of Christ dwell in YOU ALL richly -speaking to one another, encouraging one another and admonishing one another.

    It begins from the pulpit and sets in motion that the Word of Christ is dwelling in us as a people richly and we are being used as instruments in His hands to bring GOD’S WISDOM to bear on the struggles of others.

    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in ANY affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God”. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

  4. Hi thetruthshallsetoufree, I guess I have to take your word for it based only on how you perceived your experience. I’ve never been counseled so have no personal experience to go on, you didn’t show how biblical counsellors are giving unspiritual counseling so I’m not convinced. I do see the comment from wearestraightbetwixtedtwo, calling biblical counsel a sham and giving an example: that one should make a list of their sins to understand why God would allow them be abused.
    That example seems unscriptural to me but I’ve heard that in the past from prc members. Example: something bad happened and was told it was because your family has a television in the home. If I remember correctly I even think Prof. Englesma preach once that if you had problems in your life it might be because of some hidden sin. So that idea has been in the prc for a long time.

  5. Hi Nathan. We are looking at this from different perspectives I think.

    Before I answer your main question, I’ll share that I most certainly do not believe it is a sin to use counselors outside of the consistory room. I meet with a Professionally trained trauma therapist, and it has been life changing for me. That being said, I also regularly meet with my elders who are the most godly, steadfast, faithful men I know. My professionally trained trauma therapist works on the psychology side of things while my elders shepherd us with the gentlest care, always, always bringing us the word, which is our balm and anchor. God uses both for my healing, and I thank God for all of them.

    Now to your question: does the Bible demand only elders do the counseling?

    But the elders do have very specific duties in the church. These responsibilities include protecting the pulpit from heresy, admonishing wayward members, protecting the sheep from wolves, caring for the wounded and downtrodden, etc. This work comes from Christ. Ministers and elders ought not to be passing off this “burden of the Lord” to biblical counselors. It was my experience with biblical counseling that the counselors take over the work of the elders, and in fact, interfere with their work in doing so. It is the responsibility of the elders to help and/or admonish those that they have oversight of. The only way to know the flock is to be in the trenches with them.
    Worse yet, is that the counsel given, was, in fact, unspirtual. So much so, it was downright damaging. This line of counseling is not safe for handfuls of individuals going through traumatic or depressive events. I liken it to play therapy. I know the counselors have good intentions, but they do not know what they are doing, and when they take over elder work they get in the way of the work Christ gave and equips the elders to do.

    Don’t take my word for it, investigate this further. There are scores of individuals who lay spirtually and emotionally dead after such counseling.

    Rev. Eriks will surely deny this. He has to. He has invested too much time and energy to get this biblical counseling up and running. So don’t ask him. Ask the victims. They are the ones who will tell you everything you need to know.

    Let us be reminded to pray for our elders. Godly elders are truly a gift.

  6. On August 8, 2021 Eriks gave a sermon at Hudsonville called, “The Wisdom Exam”. The sermon is still on the their website. Interesting enough, toward the end of the sermon, he commented that he finds the people he counsels are often “bitter”. I feel badly for anyone who has gone to him in their time of need. With his biblical counseling training and mindset that is the conclusion he came to concerning those he thinks he has helped. Broken, oppressed and hurting were never words that came to his mind. However, it was the word bitter that made such a great impression upon him that he announced it before a gathering of over 400 people. (One would think that is a breach of confidentiality).

    Eriks takes much pride in all the abuse victims he has supposedly counseled. I can’t help but think and wonder if it was his wife, or daughters or even himself, would he be so quick to use the word bitter?

    Biblical counseling is a sham and does nothing but re-victimze those who have been abused. For example: one should make a list of their sins to understand why God would allow them to be abused.

    It is alarming how many in the denomination have bought into this line of counseling just because it has the word biblical in it. It is almost humorous how many biblical counselors the denomination has that are running around thinking they are qualified to counsel. Their supposed counseling turns into a disaster and unfortunately it is often “bitter” women and “bitter” children that suffer the consequences.

    However, because it is Eriks and the respect of persons is so high, people will continue to follow him and his wife down the rabbit hole.

  7. Hi holly, does the Bible specifically demand elders only from the prc do counseling?
    This sounds a lot like calling it sin if you don’t send your children to a prc school. The prc has always taught your saved by the preaching of the word but it seems to me some people like to take it to extremes and now your saved by the preaching, counseling only by elders in your church, and education provided by your church.

  8. Maybe next Rev. Gary Eriks will tell us all about the sham counseling program he is involved with that he keeps pushing on the denomination that is spiritually damaging. And perhaps he can also explain how this counseling passes off elder work over to “biblical counselors”.

    Beware of smooth talkers who subtly show you who they are.

  9. SB, May 1, 2021, “Thyatira,” Rev. Eriks

    “Our culture is saturated with sexual immorality, which can affect the way the church views sex. One danger is that a church that loves Christ and His truth and loves the members of the church begins to depart from what the Bible says about sexuality and marriage. This begins with the acceptance of divorce for reasons other than adultery and desertion. The next step down this road is
    that the church reexamines its stance on homosexuality.”

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