(This post was written by Elder Andy Birkett and is the 2nd of his three post series).
Rev. Langerak had a deep conviction to be faithful to his vows before God and a selfless desire to serve the flock of Christ at Crete Protestant Reformed Church as its undershepherd, even to his own hurt.
Rev. did this until it became impossible for him to perform the duties he had vowed to fulfill as a minister.
The agenda for the consistory meeting of February 11, 2021, gave no indication what was about to happen.
The men at that meeting were some of my closest friends and men for whom I had the greatest respect. Some of these same men would soon be accusing, provoking, and mocking the minister (quotes following).
After reading and prayer, under the agenda item including “discussion of the preaching and state of the congregation,” the discussion began with accusations and charges against the minister: “His preaching damages the flock”; “His preaching does not feed the sheep”; “He gives the same sermon every Sunday, he just hangs a different text on it”; “His preaching is discouraging”; “We keep hearing about by grace and not by works” (this was in the context of the complaint that the preaching was discouraging); “He preaches angry”; “My wife can’t take it anymore”; “It has to stop!”; “We have to do something tonight!”
James 3:13: “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.”
This was done in violation of the vows taken at the installation of elder to “be assistant with their good counsel and advice to the ministers of the Word, yea, also to serve all Christians with advice and consolation” and with a complete absence of scripture.
But the preaching of Rev. Langerak was the undisputed (even by the same elders) truth of scripture.
It was the pure words of Christ. That’s why they could not charge it.
The preaching was attacked without any direct reference to any words of a sermon, no grounds, no scripture.
Matthew 10:40: “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.”
In the heat of the attack, an elder pulled out a prepared written motion regarding Sword and Shield, and after some discussion the following motion passed.
To require Rev. Langerak to resign as contributing editor of the Sword and Shield and discontinue writing for and promoting the publication.
- Langerak continues writing in and promoting the Sword and Shield as a co-editor with Andy Lanning, a deposed minister of the PRC who continues to live in the sin of schism.
- Langerak’s participation has caused and continues to cause unrest and division in our congregation.
While Rev. Langerak’s association with Rev. Lanning and Sword and Shield magazine was the instrument used to suspend Rev. Langerak, Rev. Langerak was suspended because of his preaching.
Proof for this statement is the discussion leading to the motion, which had everything to do with the preacher and his peaching, as well as the undisputed testimony of an elder immediately following the motion regarding Sword and Shield.
When the motion was made and supported, he exclaimed in confusion and frustration, “Why are we talking about Sword and Shield? This is not about Sword and Shield—that is just a magazine. This is about the preaching off the pulpit!”
For a moment, I was right there with the elder. It hit me like a sucker punch. I was thinking, “Where did that come from?”
The reason I was so shocked is because during the entire evening, nobody had even mentioned Sword and Shield.
The elder who made this remark had not yet grasped the scheme that everyone else in the room was already aware of (whether they agreed with it or not).
The strategy was: the means to accomplish the goal (of some) to silence the preaching was to be achieved through the use of Rev.’s association with Rev. Lanning and his writing for Sword and Shield.
Once I explained this strategy to the elder in the most explicit of terms, without any dispute from any of the other elders around the table, he took up his place.
When I referenced the above quotation of this elder, as well as a few other quotes, in my protest of the decision, an elder voiced his complaint that he “did not appreciate his words being quoted out of context.”
When I heard the elder say that, I was wishing that I could have typed faster, because the context of the quotes I brought could not walk them straight.
The same elder then gave testimony (albeit involuntarily) to the accuracy of the quotes when he readily admitted that he recognized the statements he had made and commented that “others probably recognized their statements too.”
The first sinful ground for the motion included binding the conscience of Rev. Langerak regarding the manner in which he must behave toward Rev. Lanning—as an unrepentant brother living in sin.
The elders were aware that if Rev. capitulated to the demands of the motion, he would be acknowledging the truth of the grounds on which the motion stood and that agreeing to this ground would be sinful for Rev.
The writing and the preaching of Rev. Langerak were with one voice. If Rev. had sinfully abdicated his responsibility and liberty to do either, the inevitable fruit would have been the loss of the other.
The second sinful ground for the motion specifically took Rev. Lanning out of the ground by qualifying that Rev. Langerak’s writing in Sword and Shield has caused—PRIOR to the deposition of Rev. Lanning—and continues to cause “unrest and division.”
The demands from the elders could not have stopped because the grounds used in the motion were crafted in such a manner that if Rev. Langerak complied with this demand, he would have been confessing truth to the grounds.
But the grounds were lies. Lies which, once he submitted to, would come as grounds with the next demand.
For now, it was enough to stop writing for and promoting the same magazine as Rev. Lanning.
If he had complied, would that have been enough? Would the demands from the elders have stopped?
Based upon the facts, the goal was to silence the preaching. They would not stop until this was accomplished.
But why all the accusations at the meeting with the surprise motion? There was not even a pretense of correction or instruction. What did they hope to gain?
My guess is that the flurry of accusations and charges were insurance. Insurance that even if the motion did not pass, it would take months, if not years (during which they could have their desire to silence Rev. Langerak), for the elders to either follow through with formal charges or repent and apologize of their false accusations and slander in the consistory room. The editors of the Standard Bearer had proven that this partial use of Christian discipline was the most effective tool to silence Rev. Langerak for a long time, if not indefinitely.
These men are not novices at church polity, nor are they given to temper tantrums or random outbursts.
This meeting was not an unplanned loss of control.
The reason there would never be proof to back a single one of these accusations is that there was none.
The sermons are all posted on SermonAudio. If any of the above charges can be proven (except the charge “We keep hearing about by grace and not by works”), I will gladly retract my above contentions.
Could he ever again mount the pulpit at Crete Protestant Reformed Church as the mouthpiece of God on behalf of THESE elders?
With the passing of this motion, the victory for those who wanted to silence Rev. Langerak in the Protestant Reformed Churches was secure.
The instant the motion was adopted, what had proven to be a years-in-the-making, insurmountable hurdle for the minority was no longer hindering them from their desire.
I say this was “years-in-the-making” based upon the response I received when an elder accused the minister of preaching out of anger. I asked the speaker when he noticed this change, and his response was, “He has been preaching out of anger for years.” I had never heard this accusation prior to this meeting.
All of this was done behind closed doors.
It seems hypocritical that the same men who shook Rev. Langerak’s hand after every one of these sermons would then behind closed doors accuse him of all these things.
But God saw it all.
Ecclesiastes 5:8: “If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.”
Immediately upon the passage of the motion one elder demanded of Rev., “ARE YOU GOING TO COMPLY?!”
At that time, nobody (that I am aware of) had ever seen the motion in writing, much less been able to study it enough to understand the implications of the motion, except the elder who pulled it out.
When Rev. requested time to pray about the matter, the same elder taunted Rev. by mocking him, “You just told us a minute ago that you could not bring yourself to comply with that demand if we made it. Are you going back on your word now? Is that what your word is worth? Or were you just trying to intimidate us?”
There were enough elders in the room who felt that a decision of such magnitude demanded we allow time.
After reading and studying the motion and grounds, Rev. Langerak and I were both convicted that the motion was sinful.
Being a sinful motion with a sinful demand based on sinful grounds, Rev. did not feel that he could acquiesce to it for even a minute.
Galatians 5:1: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
According to scripture, the believer MAY NOT obey man rather than Christ.
Acts 5:27–29: “They set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”
The worst was yet to come.