As to the Schools (1)

This guest post, and the two that follow, were written by Mike Vermeer, board member of Genesis Reformed Protestant School.

I have been increasingly hearing the question pressed by some in the PRC: “Okay, we understand that you had to go and start your own church. But why did you need to start a school and abandon the PR schools?”

This is an old question. Interestingly, a form of that question was asked early in Protestant Reformed history, which was answered in an excellent 1944 article by Herman Hoeksema, titled “As to our Moral Obligation.” I encourage all to read that; it reveals the attitudes embedded into the very fabric of the PRC from her earliest days.

Fast forward to today, and there are two answers to the repeated question. At first, I thought there was only one answer. In this, and in so many other ways, I was completely wrong.

The first and easiest answer to the question is that we were thrown out, in spite of all attempts to remain. The second answer is more important.

I put my utmost into working out a way that we could continue using the PR schools as we had before we left the PRC, with some form of association membership. For the sake of the families in our church and for the possibility that we could continue to work with the school, I crafted a proposal that the school board would allow the association to address the question rather than making a decision immediately themselves as a school board.

They called a special meeting to address the question. I wanted to show up to the meeting to work with the other board members on a proposal where we could continue to use the school as association members. However, at the request of the board president, I agreed to waive my right to attend the board meeting if he would commit to treating my letter prior to considering a motion to remove me from the board.

In case you think that the association really has control of the direction of the school, let this be clear: No proposal was brought to the association–neither mine, nor any other that would allow continuing cooperation. The school board had a firm grip on the school, and did not want this to be considered by the association. That would have been too messy.

In a very clean and professional response to my letter, sent both by official US mail and email, I was duly notified of my removal from the board and all associated committees.

To my shame, I still wanted to use the school. I was undeterred.

To be continued…

13 thoughts on “As to the Schools (1)

  1. Mr. Vermeer,
    Thank you for sharing this information as to the schools. This remains an important issue of debate not only over against the Protestant Reformed, but also in our own midst.
    It is plain from the article link of HH in connection with our moral obligation toward Christian education that we deal fundamentally with the same problem today. Hoeksema’s logic is throughout impeccable. Moreover we are confirmed in our present position that we stand right with Hoeksema.
    Thanks to God for placing us along pure paths, confessing the old paths wherein is the good way.

  2. Dewey,
    I’m wondering about the way you use the phrase “we were thrown out”. I understand all the pain it must have been to leave a church you spent your whole life in, however, when you make a decision to sign the Acts of Separation, there is no one grabbing you by the scruff and throwing you out. I recently heard the RP school graduation speech and the same language by Rev Langerak was used in his speech, “we were thrown out”. I can’t think in any sense this is true. You left, you signed a document nobody was forcing you to, you took your family and started in a new church – nobody threw you out.
    If your stating that “when we were thrown out” you mean by the actions of our PR denomination you didn’t agree with them, and feel you had to do something different, and start a new denomination, that is what you should say. Nobody threw you out, nobody threw Rev Langerak and the group that left Crete PRC out – you left.
    It seems you’re’ playing “the martyr card” in some sense. Being thrown out would be (I guess) being excommunicated, I know that form was NEVER read off our pulpit for any of the members that left. Just wondering if you could clarify this idea of “being thrown out”?
    Regards,
    Jeremy Lubbers

    1. Hello Jeremy,

      You question my use of the phrase, “we were thrown out.” You see my use of that phrase as, perhaps (“seems”) playing the martyr card.

      The reason I have used that phrase is because that is the phrase I was instructed to use, from my youth up. When a minister is deposed that is the end of the controversy. The church has made a decision. It has decided to excuse the ministers that teach error, and the elders that defend error. But for the minister that brings a rebuke the response is swift. That minister must go. He must be deposed and must never again be allowed to preach on that denomination’s pulpit again.

      But what does that mean for the members of the denomination that see the wickedness of that act?

      For some, it means a shrug of the shoulders. “Oh, Lanning was deposed? Interesting. So, what’s for dinner?”

      For others, it means, “Wait, I supported Lanning. I loved his preaching. I thought his Jeremiah sermon was excellent. But he was deposed? Ok, well, I have a life to save. I like my job too much, or my family too much, or my social networks too much, so I am just going to go along with it. See you Sunday back in the PRC.”

      (Those people are a plague on the church. For some reason I attracted a lot of those kinds of people. They would send me quotes about men for the times, and standing strong for the faith, and ‘we support you’ and ‘we support Lanning,’ but then when it came right down to it, they were shown to be carnal. You can’t expect them to lose anything, can you?).

      For others, they believed what they were taught. They were taught to examine their church in light of the Belgic Confession Article 29, and if their church ever more closely identified with the marks of the false church, then they would leave. None of them knew the cost (and that is probably a good thing), but they wouldn’t consider the cost, they would just do what they had to do.

      And at the end of the day, it wasn’t them leaving. It was them being cast out. When a church deposes a faithful minister for a faithful sermon that faithfully brings a rebuke it isn’t just a man they are casting out. Who cares about the earthen vessel at the end of the day? It is Christ they are casting out. And when some (a very small minority) see Christ cast out, they know that they were cast out too.

      And they were.

      But this is what I was always taught.

      And that is what you were taught too, Jeremy.

      This is what your Uncle David wrote about 1924.

      “For confessing this gospel, the Protestant Reformed Churches were cast out of the Christian Reformed Church!” (The Rock Whence We are Hewn, R_PA, 494, Prof. David Engelsma).

      Did you object when that was written?

      No one picked HH up and the other members of the PRC by the “scruff of the neck,” and threw them out. Of course not. But that is really a shallow and unspiritual way of looking at it, as if it has to be done physically or through excomunication. Look at it spiritually and you will see that when Christ is no longer welcome on the pulpits, it is just like picking up the spiritually minded members by the scruff of the neck and casting them out.

      So, yes, I was cast out. Rev. Langerak was cast out in his suspension by men that don’t have one spiritual bone in their body. Rev. Lanning was cast out by men who were cowardly and double-tongued. Rev. VanderWal was cast out by a consistory that buckled under the onslaught of the church visitors. And everyone else that left was cast out as well.

      But at the end of the day, neither Rev. Lanning nor Rev. Langerak nor Rev. VanderWal matter. They are earthen vessels and no one remembers an earthen vessel.

      Jesus Christ is what is important.

      And he was the one cast out from the PRC.

      And the godly with Him.

      Regards,

      Dewey Engelsma

    2. I stated “We were thrown out, in spite of all attempts to remain.” In this post, that statement has everything to do with the school, yet yours and following comments imply that my statement is referring to being thrown out of our church. Let us not confuse the two. I was not thrown out of Peace PRC. Christ was. He dragged me with Him. That is the only reason I can explain that I am not at Peace PRC today.

      However, it was different in the school. In the school, we were thrown out, starting with my being thrown off the school board against good-faith attempts continue to use our local PR schools – that is what this post demonstrated. For further explanation, you will need to look forward to the next installment.

    3. Hi Jeremy,
      I recall having some great discussions with you (was it three years ago?) regarding how things were changing in the PRC over the past years (and not for the better). The proposed the Psalter revision, for example, we knew came from the top down even though a majority of the PR churches were not in favor.
      If the PRC justly deposed Rev. Lanning (who is a sinner as we all) and justly suspended Rev. Langerak (also a sinner as we all) I probably would have remained in the PRC. However, in light of the B.C. teachings in Articles 27ff it became clear that I could not remain knowing what I did even though it was not an easy decision.
      Now, it appears all three ministers the PRC “cast out” interestingly in connection with writing in the Sword and Shield. These ministers (all weak vessels) but called by Christ to proclaim the gospel and thus this action is deplorable.
      It would be great to know your thoughts regarding the reply from Dewey and Mike.
      Perhaps, some time we can meet and talk about it if you prefer.
      In Christ’s love,
      Ken

  3. Every word. Until today every word of Dewey’s blog has been true. In some instances even charitable to PR’s!

    To say, however, “we were thrown out” is a lie. No doubt PR has persecuted RP through murder and slander, but no one can be honest and say the PR schools have persecuted the RPs.

    RPs have continued to use PR schools since separating, and I imagine will continue to do so this coming school year. Oh, Rev. Langerak – the best living preacher – was thrown out of the PR school, but that because of his boorish behavior. So too were Rev. Lanning and Dewey’s children were to be excused the following school year, but do any really need this explained?* But the rest of RP land was not thrown out!

    That document the Michigan schools require the RP parents to sign? Said document is a function of bad RP behavior: RP middle school children at Hope MI school, especially wretched behavior of RP teens at CCHS, and yes, the behavior of parents. (I call PR to repent of false doctrine, hierarchy et all—I also call RP to repent over this sin.)

    Twelve hours after signing the Act of Separation RPs dropped their children off at PR schools expecting them to be educated. That’s great, but surely all RPs at that moment must have recognized the RP children were guests and the father association memberships were to be forfeited.

    Adams school even determined to allow two RP teachers – whom had no right to expect continued employment – to finish the school year…so much for thrown out…then…

    Look around at First RP. Their are tons of little kids. Not so much the older kids. Why? It’s the RP failure in the schools:

    The call that the use of the good Christian day school is required is legalism, just as the fervent homeschooling is independentism. Would you trust the untrained person to your right in church to be your nurse or the untrained person to your left to be your carpenter? No? But you trust them to educate your child: it might be good, but education it is not. The zoom school is not legalism, but neither is it education because the kids aren’t learning. How many PR teacher are sympathetic to the RP cause yet state in no uncertain terms they would never teach in a RP school, leaving unsaid the obvious reason? I know of two such teachers, could be more. The obvious reason? They assume the RP parents will be difficult rather than gracious.

    Perhaps cornerstone of the RP schooling concern is the RP heirachy from the pew (rather than top down like PR). Every man holding his opinions like treasured children, trying to rule over others. From this flows the mangling of the schools.

    Mr. Engelsma, consider cleaning the long held wrong notion “we were thrown out” off your blog; you have spent yourself for the truth, don’t soil it now.

    A strait betwixt two. If only there was a third option.

    *Certainly brother Dewey understands that if in his youth had his father had railed against the CRC, then Dewey’s older siblings would not have been allowed to attend Illiana Christian…because the PRs rightly conducted themselves as guests in that high school.

    1. There is a lot that can be said about this comment.
      In fact, a response to this comment probably warrants its own post.
      So, I will attempt to do just that.

    2. I’m not sure you even read the post, but I’m glad that you got your thoughts down, true or not. Now collect yourself, sit down and read objectively the facts that were presented. Not for my sake – I am and remain of no account. But God is Truth, and he will witness to the truth and against the lie.

    3. Regarding the above comment about the two teachers at Adams that were allowed to stay the year, that is not correct. I know that because I was one of those teachers.

      Right after I signed the Act, two school board members came to meet me and make sure that I wouldn’t cause any trouble. A couple weeks later the school board requested to meet with me to inform me that I was fired. “The Board decided that Lillian Engelsma’s employment at Adams Christian School be terminated effective April 2” -Adams Board. In the meeting this was the ground for my termination, “By her signing of the Act of Separation, Lillian has lost the confidence of the Board that she can properly represent the Protestant Reformed parents of ACS students as they exercise their authority for educating their children by sending them to ACS” -Adams School Board.

      The board then proceeded to ask me if I would stay until spring break. To which I replied, “I will for the kids.” Spring break was a month away at the time. Why is it OK that I teach the children for three weeks until spring break and then am no longer allowed to afterwards? Because that gave them enough time to find a replacement.

      My teaching wasn’t going to change, because my beliefs hadn’t changed. What I believed did not change as soon as I signed the Act of Separation. I told the Board this.

      I was not allowed to finish the year even after assuring them of this. What I believed did not changed, how I would help and teach the kids would not have changed. Maybe the only thing that did change in me was how much more convicted I was in my believing.

      At the end of the meeting I quoted to them Matthew 10:17 and Ecclesiastes 12:14.

      Now, you have the facts laid out in front of you, so please, do not tell me that we were not thrown out.

    4. My wife posted below the full letter that was sent to us from the PRCS/HCHS school board in Dyer, Indiana. The letter clearly stated that, based on the act of separation itself, our children would not be admitted into their school. This letter was then sent by me to the rest of the families of Second RPC so they would know that we were no longer able to use the PR schools for the education of our children. Thrown out seems an appropriate term to express what happened.

      I find it ironic that we in the RPC have been condemned as being radicals. I bring to mind what was written by Professor Dykstra in the Standard Bearer Vol 94 Issue 21 9/15/2018.

      “This radical spirit manifests itself today in the opin­ion that “our church” is the only true church, or virtu­ally so. This reprehensible spirit is found in the Protestant Reformed Churches. Even though few would ever admit that they believe the PRC is the only true church, their actions and attitudes indicate that they consid­er all churches (other than the PRC and her sisters) to be false. They will associate only with Protestant Re­formed members. Their children are not allowed to play with non-PRs. They will have no company with a family member who has left the PRC for another—even a Reformed—denomination. And perhaps even, they will cut off fellowship with members of the PRC who do have fellowship with non-PRs.”

      I am not sure what the action of the PRCS/HCHS school board was meant to be other than to throw us out but it seems in this case the spirit of radicalism, as quoted above, seems to make the shoe fit pretty well for what we experienced. It may be that this is not what was experienced in the PR schools in Michigan, but this was the experience here in NW Indiana.

      An aside. It probably did not come under consideration during the discussion by the school board but both of my daughters were ranked number one in their respective senior and junior classes and would have, by reason of this ranking, been valedictorians at the HCHS graduation for the next two consecutive years. I am not sure they would have appreciated two RPC students giving the valedictorian speeches for the next two years. Just saying.

      David Moore

      1. Thanks for this, David.
        I, along with Keith Gritters, hope to share what happened in the Michigan schools in a future post.

  4. To be clear and to go along with what Mike has stated, I am going to talk about being thrown out of the schools and not the PRC. We had our daughter enrolled already in Heritage when we left the PRC. Shortly after we left the PRC we received the “questionnaire” from Heritage. Before we were going to answer the questions from Heritage we asked them to answer some of our own questions we had for the board.

    1. Can you honestly say that you actually want our daughter to attend HCS?
    2. Can you assure me that our daughter will not be mocked, bullied, looked down upon by the staff or students for no longer being a member of the PRC?
    3. In your honest opinion will our daughter attending Heritage be a stumbling block for other parents or Heritage staff?

    The response…

    “The enrollment committee has received your list of questions regarding the enrollment of your daughter. While these questions are important ones for you, some of them cannot be answered by a committee of Board members or Administration. We cannot predict or anticipate what parent or student responses will be to the decision that you have made. At this time, we are simply doing the work assigned to the Committee by the Board. The work includes assuring the Board and staff of the commitment of all parents to the teachings that will occur at HCS, Please finish the enrollment process by Monday, July 26 so that we can continue on a path where we can make a recommendation to the Board regarding the enrollment of your daughter.”

    I guess I kind of sort of agree with part of their “non – answer” in regards to question # 2. They cannot predict how the parents would act, but they should be able to answer on behalf of the staff I would think. Or questions #1 and #3 should surely be able to be answered by the board….right? At least the staff.

    I emailed them back the following….

    “Since you cannot answer the basic question “do you (as the board) want our daughter in Heritage” we cannot answer your questionnaire. We love our daughter and need to know that the school board and staff lover her as well”

    Their response to the above email….

    “We have received your communication that you will not complete our Heritage Christian School enrollment questions paperwork. That will end the enrollment process for your daughter for 2021-2022 at HCS. Our Business office will issue a refund of any tuition deposit if one has been already made”

    The along with the refund of enrollment we get a letter….

    “Please find enclosed a check which was the amount of your deposit for the 2020-21 school year. We are refunding this amount because you have now chosen not to enroll your daughter in Heritage Christian School”

    I don’t see it as “chosen not to enroll”. Our daughter was enrolled, with deposit!! I see it as being thrown out.

    Looking back at our questions to the board they seem quite carnal. Our focus should have been more on what our daughter would have been taught at HCS.

    Jim Geerlings

  5. Hi Jeremy,

    My daughters were thrown out of HCHS. David and I desired our two youngest children to attend Heritage Christian High School for the 2021-2022 school year. Since we had left the PRC we were required to interview with the Education Committee. The results of our interview were sent to us by email and by regular mail. Let me type out what was written to us:

    July 1, 2021

    Re: Enrollment

    Dear Mr. and Mrs. Moore,

    Thank-you for interviewing recently with the Education Committee regarding your request to enroll your children as students in PRCS/HCHS for the 2021-2022 school year.

    At the June 30, 2021 School Board meeting, the Board adopted a motion to deny your request for enrollment. The motion was based on the following ground:

    1) the signing of the Act of Separation and Reformation is inconsistent with the purposes, basis of belief and Board policies on which the schools are operated.

    While you may be disappointed with this decision, we trust that it at least provides you with clarity in making your plans for the next school year.

    Sincerely,

    Todd M. Van Baren,
    Secretary, ’20-’21, PRCS/HCHS Board

    As you can see, unlike Mike and his family, the board couldn’t throw us out because of catechism. Our two youngest daughters would be in the 11th and 12th grades and therefore they do not have catechism during the day school hours. They found another reason to throw us out. But by throwing us out, God was showing us his plan for us.

    Sincerely,

    Kim Moore

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