The board of the Reformed Free Publishing Association (RFPA) was in place to prevent the hijacking of its paper, the Standard Bearer (SB).
Certainly, they could see that the magazine’s direction was completely different than what it had been. Okay, perhaps not initially. I have been guilty of sleeping at the switch enough times to understand how that can happen.
But when the letter from the group of concerned men hit their desk, that would have been their call to action. “Men, we have been asleep; our magazine has been hijacked! But it’s not too late!”
Instead, they took their marching orders from the editors and did their bidding.
They denied the lawful request of this group of men to call a special association meeting.
They refused to allow the office of believer to have a voice about the direction of their magazine.
They denied it because they were taking orders from the editors. They did it because they did not know what it was to be a part of an association independent from church control. All they have ever known is church control, and they acted accordingly.
The Reformed Free Publishing Association is no longer free. That which former editors have so strongly warned against has taken place.
Ask yourself about the role of the Standard Bearer under the rule of Gritters, Dykstra, and Koole, compared to this analysis by a former editor.
The reason, historically, for the non-ecclesiastical, or “free,” status of the RFPA is the experience of the founders of the PRC in the early 1920s. Because they took issue with the developing party-line on common grace in the CRC, they were summarily and totally barred from writing in the house organ of that church. (Does that sound at all familiar? Rev. Langerak was barred from writing in the Standard Bearer close to ten years ago, and Rev. Lanning was barred from writing in the magazine the year before his deposition. – DE)
As editor of the SB, Herman Hoeksema more than once called attention to the free status of the SB. He stressed that the SB could, and should, criticize dangerous trends within the PRC. His policy was to open up the periodical to dissenting opinions as much as possible, although the editor always had the last word.
The SB is intended to function as a truly free press functions in civil society.
Time may tell whether the SB will again serve this purpose in the PRC and whether the editor at that time will have the courage to press the truth of Scripture and the creeds against an un-Reformed doctrinal or ethical development within the PRC.
I say “again” because the SB served such a purpose in the late 1940s and early 1950s against the powerful, malign development in the PRC of the doctrine of a conditional covenant, covenant promise, and covenant salvation.
Would the SB have resisted the alien theology in those days, had the RFPA and, thus, the SB not been free? Might not a majority favoring the false doctrine at some synod have silenced the editor? Or, might not a synodical majority foolishly desiring peace at any price have quieted the editorial and other columns? And if the SB had been unable to lay bare and defend the real issue of sovereign, particular grace, what then? (David Engelsma, RFPA Publishing Merger, SB, 9/1/96)
Criticize dangerous trends in the PRC? Open the periodical up to dissenting opinions? Time has indeed told. The recent editors took the SB as far away from that description as is humanly possible.
Time has shown that the SB will never again serve that glorious purpose in the PRC.
Profs. Dykstra and Gritters and Rev. Koole were successful.
And lest some delude themselves into thinking that things are different with the new editors, let me disillusion them of that notion. Prof. Huizinga has taken things a step further than the previous editors ever dared. I am sure in years past there were some speeches that were given at the RPFA meetings that the editors did not want to see in print in the Standard Bearer. But the association always voted to have them printed, and therefore they were published. Not any longer. The association, at its recent meeting, voted to have Prof. Huizinga’s speech appear in the SB. But you won’t see it there. Prof. Huizinga said no, he did not want it printed and gave the utterly nonsensical reason that he did not intend for it to be published in written form and was not of a mind to do so after the meeting. The vote of the entire “free” association was ignored and overridden. His speech will not appear in the SB, showing the association how completely useless they are. (The RFPA board, true to form, rolled over and agreed with his decision.)
The RFPA also has a blog. That blog serves the important purpose of utterly confusing the members of the PRC.
Consider the following excerpts. The first two are from sermons preached by Rev. Overway in 2016. The third quotation is from the 2018 Acts of Synod which was synod’s response to an appeal from Mrs. Connie Meyer. And then the fourth quotation is from an RFPA blog post on 9/29/21 which quotation directly contradicts the decision of Synod 2018, and which stands in direct support of Rev. Overway’s theology.
- We truly ask and are heard, and God receives our prayer and gives us—because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. (Rev. Overway, Requisites of Prayerful Fellowship, 4/17/16).
- Yet perhaps one would say, “Well, how much, how little ought I meet these requirements? Do I need to meet these requirements perfectly before God will hear? Do I meet these requirements somewhat, or but a little, just a tiny bit and then God will hear my prayer?” The answer really is very simple. Very simple. If we but meet these requirements a little bit, by the grace of God, of course, and by God’s grace working them in us—if we meet these requirements but a little, then we will enjoy a little of God’s fellowship. That’s the truth. If we meet these requirements a lot, then we will enjoy much of God’s fellowship. (Overway, Requisites of Prayerful Fellowship, 4/17/16).
- It is erroneous to teach that the way to the enjoyment of fellowship with God, the way of approach unto God, the way to the Father is a way of requirements that God sets out for us and that the believer must meet by his obedience or godliness. Nowhere do the creeds, including L.D. 45, which is the text for the sermon, teach that the relationship between obedience and fellowship is that “there is obedience required in order that we may have that fellowship, prayerful fellowship with God,” or “obedience is required here, obedience that I must perform in order to enjoy fellowship with God,” or that we must “approach unto the Father, come to the Father meeting requirements that He has set out for you.” Giving to our obedience the place that these statements do strongly suggests that our obedience is a condition for covenant fellowship. The way of approach unto God is not our obedience, but Christ alone, by faith alone (B.C., Art. 23, we rely and rest “upon the obedience of Christ crucified alone, which becomes ours, when we believe in Him. This is sufficient to cover our iniquities, and to give us confidence in approaching to God”). (2018 Acts of Synod, 66)
- Prayer is always the way in which we consciously receive God’s blessings. The more we pray, the more these blessings are ours. The more perfectly we pray, the more perfectly do we receive God’s favor and love. The closer we live to God, the greater is the flood of grace that comes from his throne as a stream of living water. The more thankful we are, the more we are the heirs of salvation in Jesus Christ (Hanko, When You Pray, 22, excerpt published on the RFPA blog on 9/29/21).
It is apparently the job of one man at the RFPA, or perhaps two, to mine the work of PR theologians, search out their theological dung, and spread it all over the internet. Why? Why would you highlight that part of that book? (Well, I do know why. Because you think it scores a point for the PR theology of man meriting with God. And you’re right. It does.) The man who found that quote from Hanko’s book and then posted it on the blog is representative of the entire denomination—when given the choice to trumpet Christ or man, then you trumpet man. It really is no wonder that the members of the Protestant Reformed denomination are as confused as they are about the gospel. Synod says one thing, but their ministers and the denominational mouthpiece, the RFPA, preach and teach another.
But now the blog has a new editor, Rev. Martyn McGeown.
Were it my intention to remain a member of the RFPA, I would object. Rev. McGeown fails in the one area where an editor or writer must never fail. He is dishonest. I have shown that here, and Mr. Andy Birkett, elder at Second RPC, showed that in a letter to his family regarding a recent post by Rev. McGeown.
And Rev. McGeown is the man who will lead and instruct the members of the PRC. Now, in his official capacity, he can spend the next number of years convincing the PRC that faith is man’s act, and emphatically not God’s act.
This further proves the point that those who look to the next generation of ministers are looking in vain. Rev. McGeown is Rev. Koole but with more polish. This is not just becaue Rev. McGeown has been dutifully following Rev. Koole around the last few years trying to clean up after him and talk Koole’s theology straight. Their theology is the same.
Together, Revs. Koole and McGeown are the “Brothers But.” They join the ranks of other famous brother pairs in history, including the Brothers Karamazov, the Brothers Grimm, and the Bash Brothers. They give the gospel of good news of salvation by the work of God alone in one breath, but then almost immediately insert a “but” and pull the gospel back from their sheep.
Don’t you see? That’s our hope. It’s based upon the blood. But it’s also in the way of this repentance and casting oneself upon the mercy of Jehovah God. (Rev. Koole, “The Years The Locusts Have Eaten: To Be Restored,” 10/24/21)
We do not, of course, bring our works into our justification, but the faith by which we are justified is not passive. (Rev. McGeown, “Passive Faith?,” RFPA blog, 11/15/21)
Or, “but” is used to utterly confuse an issue by taking a statement that is very plain and clear, inserting a “but,” and making unclear what was clear. In the exchange about whether or not in justification faith is passive, Abraham Kuyper is quoted as saying, “Our faith is the result and the fruit of our justification.” Pretty clear. Time for Rev. McGeown to come in and cloud the issue: “Throwing out quotes is one thing, but what did Kuyper mean?”
J. Gresham Machen is quoted as saying, “True faith does not do anything.” Many of us understand what that means. (And many of us love what that means, because it puts the focus on the object of our faith, Jesus Christ.) Time for Rev. McGeown to come in and confuse you. “Machen’s surrounding context is critical to understanding this quote.”
John Calvin is quoted as saying, “As regards justification, faith is merely passive.” Yes, yes, a million times yes! Not so fast, says McGeown! “But Calvin explains his own meaning,” says McGeown, and he then continues, because really, you wouldn’t want anyone to think that in our justification we are passive, or that the child of God receives all of the benefits of salvation in Jesus Christ as a gift, unmerited and unearned.
McGeown does the same with Hoeksema. When Hoeksema explained the answer to the Philippian jailor as being understood as “Do nothing,” many of us agreed with (and loved) that answer because it pointed us to Christ and kept our “doing” out of it. Lest any of God’s people find that they are trusting too much in God’s sovereign work of salvation, which is on the basis of Christ Jesus alone, McGeown points out that that answer “has been exaggerated,” and we shouldn’t just pluck one sentence out of a sermon and draw too much from it.
To all of which I say, you can have your theology of “but.” I want nothing to do with it. Give me the pure gospel, and give me a pastor who is not deathly afraid of that gospel, so that every time the good news is sounded, he feels compelled to add a “but” and pull that gospel back from me.
I do find it amusing that Rev. McGeown calls Rev. Lanning “Andy” and Rev. Langerak, “Nathan.” Not just because it is puerile, but because McGeown must not be aware that in 1924 Rev. Hoeksema was deposed from office, causing the McGeowns of that day to refer to Rev. Hoeksema as “Herman.” Knowing one’s history is important, if for no other reason than you can try to avoid looking so much like your own apostatizing mother that deposed your faithful pastors.
As to the Standard Bearer, it now belongs to the denomination and the men who lead the denomination, as much as The Banner belongs to the Christian Reformed Church.
Another question was asked on the pages of the Standard Bearer some 64 years ago. Rev. Herman Hoeksema asked that question.
The question is: shall The Standard Bearer, through its staff of editors, in the future, remain faithful to the purpose of which it was originally organized and published? Shall it continue to maintain and further develop the Reformed truth, the truth concerning the whole counsel of God? Or shall it gradually become corrupt and apostatize from that truth? (Hoeksema, The Standard Bearer and Our Future, 12/1957)
The answer is all too clear. Yes, the SB shall gradually become corrupt and apostatize from that truth.
Which corruption and apostasy have now taken deep root.
The RFPA is no longer free.
What a fall from grace.
All because vain and light men took the spiritual birthright of the RFPA and handed it over to the professors of a denomination.
But they will get no bowl of pottage in return.
No, for their obedience they are rewarded with only a pat on the head.
Finally, a note of appreciation for the Reformed Free Publishing Association (RFPA), publisher of our magazine. This board of a dozen men have worked hard to establish and maintain a good working relationship with the editors and staff of the Standard Bearer. Although the Staff of the SB determines the writers and content of the magazine, the RFPA publishes, distributes, advertises, promotes, finances, and everything else important for the witness to go out. Without the RFPA, there is no magazine. Carry on, brothers, in this important work of the Lord. (Prof. Gritters, “Editor’s Report on Volume 98,” SB, 10/1/21)