In that letter they strongly admonish their congregation not to attend the lectures being given by Rev. Lanning.
These are not just empty words, either. The session of CERC has placed members of their congregation under discipline for starting a Bible study to study the controversy.
The session has recently sent out another letter in which they warn their congregation that the “schismatic group has been targeting our women, children and those vulnerable in our church.” That sounds scary. To what exactly are they referring when they speak of “targeting”?
They are referring to emails sent to women of CERC by Stephanie Lanning, Rev. Lanning’s wife. Stephanie’s letters and the session’s response are attached. The letters from Stephanie are beautiful and exactly the kind of letters that are sent by one who understands the Scripture’s definition of love. To call it targeting of women, children, and the vulnerable is slander and is nothing more than fear-mongering.
Of what is the session afraid?
The members of CERC ought to examine these letters in the light of God’s word.
The session says they are “sounding the trumpet.” Yet, splashed across the tops of both pages are the words, “This letter is for members of CERC only and may not be circulated.” The whole point of a trumpet blast is that the sound travels far and wide. When you muzzle your trumpet blast and deliberately restrict its reach, it tells all of the hearers that your purpose is something altogether different than sounding a trumpet.
What is the session’s goal?
Its purpose in these letters is to intimidate their members into not attending the lectures given by Rev. Lanning.
Is the office of believer dead at Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church?
Do the members of CERC not have the ability to identify truth and error?
Have they no ability to try the spirits to see whether they be of God?
The letters are also confusing and confused.
With one side of their mouth, the session forbids its members from visiting and fellowshipping with the visitors from the Reformed Protestant Churches. With the other side of their mouth, they say the congregation’s calling—“true love, according to the Word of God”—is to call these “erring” members to repentance. How will the rebuke, which they are so insistent is necessary, ever reach the ears of Rev. Lanning and those with him if they don’t meet with them to deliver it? I for one would welcome a visit with anyone from CERC, including members of the session, to discuss these matters. If you bring me a rebuke, I will listen to it. We can discuss it, and then you can then judge whether my cause is righteous or not. Feel free to submit a comment indicating that you would like to meet, and we will make those arrangements. At the very least, you can bring the rebuke that your session says is so necessary and in fact represents “true love.”
The CERC makes reference to an “inflammatory blog” which “propogates lies.” I would assume that to be the blog of Berean Reformed Protestant Church. But the blog of Berean RPC has been at great pains to prove the truth of the charges that they make. The minister of CERC is teaching the lie of conditions. Instead of criticizing the blog for pointing that out, the Session of CERC ought to be instructed by it and thankful for it.
The members of CERC should find chilling what their session writes in their letter. Session writes about “quotes uncharitably taken out of context.” That is exactly the language used by men and consistories in the PRC over the last seven years to justify and excuse those who taught heresy and false doctrine. Hope PRC wore out the word “context” in its defense of Rev. Overway and his theology. CERC, what exactly is your minister teaching you?
Here is the truth, and not the truth according to any man or according to any group of men.
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:19-21)
Is your session behaving as those who wish their deeds to be brought into the light, or are they trying to hide their deeds in darkness?
Why all of the angst about a visit from Rev. Lanning?
If you are standing on the truth of God’s word, then the gates of hell cannot prevail against you, much less one man.
Yet the fear emanating from the session is for good reason.
They have every reason to be fearful of Rev. Lanning’s visit.
And that reason has nothing to do with the person of Rev. Lanning.
The session of CERC is not standing on the gospel. They are standing on the foundation of Man, which is no foundation. They find that ground shifting under their feet, so they have to rely on intimidation and secrecy. It is a terrible place to be, and it ought to cause them great fear.
The session knows that if her members hear Rev. Lanning lecture and preach, they will hear the gospel. They will hear the truth confessed and the lie condemned—the lie that the session harbors in her bosom like Achan harbored the spoils of Jericho.
This position of fear also causes the session to lie.
They write, “Our attendance in person would be a show of support to their cause.” Since when has that been the case? In fact, it is not true. Has anyone ever believed that attending a public lecture is a show of support for that lecture?
My word to you, which is not my word at all, is found in 1 John 4:1–3:
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
Those who occupy the office of believer have the ability—no, the calling—to try the spirits.
So here is my counsel, which counsel is good, not because of the man giving it (he is a worm and less than nothing) but because the counsel is founded upon the word of God.
Attend the lectures and see if what you hear is the word of God or the word of Man.
If you hear error, then condemn it and rebuke those who teach it.
If you hear truth and the voice of the good Shepherd, then confess and follow him.