Reformed ____ Publishing Association (3)

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.

  1. 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).
  2. 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).
  3. 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)
  4. 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)

Loveland, CO

This evening, Friday, April 8, there will be a public lecture held in Loveland, Colorado. Rev. Nathan Langerak will be speaking on the topic, “The State of Theology.” The lecture will be held at the at the Best Western Hotel in Loveland, Colorado, at 6:30 PM MDT. The hotel is located at 5542 US-34, Loveland, CO 80537. The speech will be livestreamed at the YouTube channel of Second Reformed Protestant Church.

Much has been written that has laid out the spiritual condition of the Protestant Reformed Churches, including her corruption of each the three marks of the true church as found in the Belgic Confession, Article 29, so that does not need to be repeated here.

As to ones calling regarding his church membership, I cannot say it better than Rev. Key, the minister of Loveland PRC, so I will give him the last word.

The other great tragedy addressed in this booklet is that thousands upon thousands of well-meaning Christians continue their membership in churches where the three marks have been lost. For various reasons they remain in churches that have departed from the Scriptures to such a degree that the biblical marks that characterize Christ’s church are no longer found, or are corrupted to a significant degree. Although they are in danger of losing their generations, they remain where they are, content to ‘put up with’ the errors that they see. To such comes the call: ‘Come out from among them and be ye separate!’

In this evil age, believers and their children must find a home in a faithful congregation where they may be strengthened in the most holy faith, where they may enjoy the fellowship of God in the gospel and unity in the truth of the Scriptures. That is our calling, the calling of church membership in an evil age.

Your membership in a particular congregation, and your membership in a particular denomination, marks you as responsible for the doctrines taught and for that which goes on where you have your membership. That is a serious matter for all of us. But that truth of corporate responsibility is clearly taught in Scripture. It is a truth rooted in God’s creation of Adam as the head of the human race. It is corporate responsibility which marks us as guilty in Adam, according to Romans 5, for example. You and I and all men are responsible before God for what Adam did in paradise. We were not there; we did not know anything about it; we had no say in the matter. It makes no difference. You and I are guilty before God for Adam’s sin.

It was because of their corporate responsibility that the whole nation of Israel stood guilty before God for the sin of Achan, as we read in Joshua 7. So long as that sin remained in the nation, they could not expect the favour and love and mercy of God. And what was true in the Old Testament manifestation of God’s church is true today.

When sin manifests itself in the church, it is not for us to look down our noses in self-righteousness. It is a time of grief and sorrow and confession of sin. The anger of the Lord comes not only upon the heretics and those who walk ungodly, but it comes upon the whole church so long as that sin is not dealt with. And God Himself says in the second commandment of Exodus 20, ‘I will visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.’ That is corporate responsibility.

There are many, for example, who take the position, ‘The pulpit in my congregation holds to the truth; my congregation does not go along with this departure and that error; my congregation submits to the truth of Scripture’s infallibility and authority. Therefore, so long as the congregation is pure where I have my membership, the denomination can go to hell.’ That is blunt; but that is the attitude of many.

There are others, whom I commend for their concern for the departures of their denominations, but who also turn their backs on the scriptural teaching of corporate responsibility. There is a growing movement within various apostatising churches to have a sort of church-within-a-church, an alliance or fellowship of some sort which supposedly will absolve its members of the sins of the denomination. By such an organization within the church, there is the feeling that something positive is being done in opposition to the forces of evil and heresy—though in a way political and outside the bounds of Scripture—and there is a separation that makes one free from any responsibility for the sins of the congregation or denomination.

Having considered the scriptural principles and responsibilities of church membership, we noted the inescapable truth of corporate responsibility. Though many in this age of ecclesiastical departure and apostasy would like to ignore that truth, it is exactly the truth of corporate responsibility and corporate guilt that lies at the basis of the call, ‘Come out from among them, and be ye separate.’ We must not continue in conflict with the holiness of God. I pointed out that in some cases that may mean separation now from the body where you currently have your church membership. That is a move that is extremely difficult. I know that—as a matter of experience.

But when I point out that exercising the responsibility of church membership becomes increasingly difficult in the advancing apostasy in the church today, I would remind you that God’s people have often faced the same difficulties in centuries past.

Therefore, the question becomes, ‘Where is that church in which I must worship and live in active membership?’ And in Article 29 the answer is given us: ‘Here are the distinguishing marks.’

The determining factor of church membership must not be family and relatives. The words of Jesus are clear and must be applied by us to our own situation: ‘He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me’ (Matthew 10:37). The only thing you must consider in that connection is the spiritual welfare of your loved ones. But your calling is to glorify God in the truth. And in glorifying God in the truth He assures you that your testimony to your family will not go unheard.

The determining factor of where I must worship as a member of Christ’s body comes down to this: Where is the truth of God’s holy Word maintained from a practical point of view? That is, do I in this church and its fellowship of churches hear the pure preaching of the gospel, preaching which trumpets forth the voice of Christ, the clear, fearless blast of ‘thus saith the Lord,’ and the unadulterated truth of the Scriptures? Secondly, do I find here the proper administration of the sacraments again, with the truth of God’s Word the determining factor? And finally, is there the scriptural exercise of the love of Christian discipline, without which neither the sacraments nor the pure preaching of the Word can be maintained?

Where any of those marks are gone, removed from an instituted church, your calling is to remove yourself for membership in a church where those marks are maintained. For church history teaches us that where the marks of the church are removed, so is its candlestick. Reformation in that case comes only by way of separation and renewal, to the glory of God (Church Membership in an Evil Age).

RFPA Update (guest post)

(This post was submitted as a comment, but after reading it, I quickly realized it needed to appear at its own post. The PRC may choose to ignore the men they describe as “the leaders of a schismatic group.” But it is a further evidence of their great folly if they ignore the voice of one of Christ’s sheep. I have not read a more appropriate description of the PRC – “a strange and barren land.” It was written by Bethany Kingma and was submitted as a comment to the RFPA Update blog post. I thank Bethany for allowing me to publish it here).

My husband and I were still members of BCPRC at the time this speech was given, and the topic and the speaker had given us yet a little hope for the PRC. You would think we would have learned our lesson of putting our hope in men, but we were crushed as we listened. This speech, more than any other event in the last few years, almost convinced me that if this is what a church becomes over time, then membership in an instituted church (any instituted church) was just not worth it.

The Lord has chastised the PRC, severely, by their own confession. And their reaction, led and taught by Prof. Huizinga, was this: “We are not perfect. But we are not that bad, either. In fact, really we’re pretty good. We are a true church, after all. We just need to improve in these few areas to be more faithful.” And this was taught and prayed before the face of the Lord!

We couldn’t help but think of King David in Psalm 51. David, having been chastised by the Lord for his sin, comes before the Lord, utterly empty of himself. He had been thoroughly and severely chastened for his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah. He confesses his sin, asks for forgiveness, prays for cleansing from his sin and for the joy of salvation to be restored to him, and prays for God’s blessing on His people as God has blessed him. He speaks not one word in defense of himself!

But just how serious was the sin of the PRC? Is the sin so serious that we should confess with David, “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight”? Sin so great that a broken spirit and contrite heart are the only possible response we could have?

The sin of the PRC, we were told in the speech, is not so great as that. In fact, we can’t even name the sin and can only confess that we are generally sinful and have grown cool in our love for God (as if being lukewarm is a minor thing!). We were told that in regard to the chastisement of schism, while painful to the depth of our bones, it was not our fault. We must endure it, sure, but it is not of our own doing (the PRC was right to depose a minister back in January 2021) and there is really only a possible nugget of truth in this particular chastisement. Just a possible nugget.

And then the people were given five helpful, practical steps for being “more faithful”. “More faithful”? Is that how David responded when sorely chastised for his sin? “Lord, I know I’m not perfect. I have sinned. But I really do love you, and I really have lived in righteousness most of the time. So, Lord, help me to be more faithful to you.” I tremble to know that was the essence of what was taught to the entire denomination, to my dearest family and friends, as the proper response to the Lord’s hand of heavy chastisement. What a mockery of true repentance and confession! And this is now what my loved ones and our beloved PRC believes is the proper way forward.

The way forward…did it not strike anyone, as Prof. Huizinga laid out the five ways for the PRC to be “more faithful”, that these steps have indeed been followed throughout this entire controversy?

Step #1 – The PRC and its members should acknowledge their issues and repent for their errors. But there were some in the PRC who did faithfully acknowledge the issues and repent for the errors! We sat in the pew and heard this frequently from our own pastor from January 2018 until his suspension in November 2020. He preached Contending with Horses in January 2018 (his second sermon preached as the pastor of Byron PRC). He preached Jehovah Against the Shepherds in August, after Synod 2018 and after the reconvening of Classis East in July 2018. He preached The Flood after Classis East Sept 2018 and Respect of Persons in November 2018 when the Meyers joined BCPRC. He preached Election Theology in August, after Synod 2019. He preached Break up Your Fallow Ground and Abram’s Exceeding Great Reward in January 2020 before Classis East met and he preached Tears of Bochim right after Classis East met. He preached the Remnant Among the Nations and O Taste and See in June 2020 right around the time of Synod and S&S coming out. He preached Judges for the City for installation in July 2020. He preached By Faith Noah Built the Ark in September 2020 after the back and forth in the Beacon Lights with Rev. Nathan Langerak and others. And finally, he preached Jehovah against the Shepherds, Preach the Word, and The House of Mourning in November 2020. He preached all of these. All of these and more. With the setting forth of the truth, the call to repent from our errors, and a prayer for God’s mercy on his lips. And he was deposed for it. Is the PRC really sincere in calling its members to practice step #1?

Step #2 – The PRC and its members should engage in current doctrinal issues in a gracious and brotherly manner. But there were many in the PRC who did faithfully engage in the current doctrinal issues in a gracious and brotherly manner! We witnessed this in the agendas and meetings of Classis and Synod as our faithful pastor and many others testified of the truth. We witnessed this as we read with great interest the letters of our faithful pastor and others in the Standard Bearer in 2018 and 2019 and recoiled at the sarcastic responses received in return (even though we personally understood only a fraction of the controversy at that time, to our shame). We experienced this as we personally met with our pastor to express our own concerns and questions (and accusations, to our shame). We witnessed this as we read (with trepidation, to our shame) the Sword & Shield as it took up its important work and experienced the incredible outpouring of hatred toward this magazine. And these are only the things we witnessed, saying nothing of the scores of letters and meetings and protests of others. Is the PRC really sincere in calling its members to practice step #2?

Step #3 – The PRC and its members should be engaged in doctrinal development and take care to rely on Scripture and the creeds. But there were some in the PRC who did encourage doctrinal prosperity and development, relying on the Bible and the three forms of unity! We have read countless papers and articles, and heard dozens and dozens of sermons by our pastor and others who lay out the truths of Scripture, relying on the Bible and the three forms of unity for their exegesis and explanations, keeping the exalted Christ ever before our eyes! The Lord used them mightily to lay the proper Reformed foundation of our understanding of the controversy and where we needed to go from there. Is the PRC (who published Witsius and preached two-rail theology in the midst of the controversy) really sincere in calling its members to practice step #3?

Step #4 – The PRC and its members should be faithful in church government and honor the church orderly way of protest and appeal. But there were many in the PRC who strove to be faithful in church government! There were protests and appeals by those who faithfully exercised their office of believer and kept their vows as office bearers, despite great opposition. They “followed the rules” and were abundantly “patient”, as Prof. Huizinga exhorted the PRC to do (and thereby supported the narrative that lack of patience and disorderliness characterizes those that have left the PRC).

Prof. Huizinga assured the PRC that the assemblies are not broken and encouraged that the right of protest and appeal be honored. But our own experience testifies that there is no honor given to the place of protesting. At Synod 2021, Prof. Huizinga himself was there to witness this particularly revealing remark offered by one synodical advisor: “I hope this is the last time we ever hear from Mr. [protestant]. His protests are increasingly obnoxious and the language is increasingly offensive. Hopefully he will go away and I mean that.” The only feeble attempt to rebuke the advisor for such a hateful comment came from the youngest of all of the delegates around the table who said he “didn’t think” that the advisor should say that he hopes the protestant goes away. The advisor pathetically amended, “I’ll clarify. I do not want him back here in this form. At some point he must be accountable.” The assemblies aren’t broken? The right of protest is honored? This remark was just one of many that were witnessed publicly at Synod 2021 that testifies the system is indeed broken.

Step #5 – The PRC and its members need to be more grateful for the heritage we’ve been given. But there were some in the PRC who gave great thanks for what we’ve been given, giving all the glory for it to God, and recognizing what a rich heritage we have in the truth! These same faithful men and women didn’t just thank God for that heritage but endeavored with everything in them to guard and to keep it and to teach us the danger and horror of misusing this most precious gift. These men and women gave up everything in the fight for us to keep that rich heritage. And what do they have to show for it? They are called wicked schismatics. Is the PRC really sincere in calling its members to step #5?

Five simple steps to greater faithfulness. Possible. Achievable.

This speech was a triumph in the PRC, a roaring success, even. Smooth, comfortable words with practical steps for moving forward and being more faithful.

What the PRC fails to realize or chooses to ignore is that no matter how humble the tone or mild the manner or smooth the words, faithfulness cannot ever be legislated or incentivized.

May God have mercy and continue to call His people out from such a strange and barren land and into the verdant pastures of the full and free gospel of Jesus Christ!

A request…

(A recent blog post by the Berean Reformed Protestant Fellowship reminded me of a project that I had previously considered, but that I now would like to set before you, the reader).

Over the last six years the answer to the controversy that has so troubled the PRC has been in plain sight.

The answer was found in the protests, appeals, and letters of the members of the denomination. In other words, the answer was found in the office of believer.

I have read many of the protests and appeals that made it to the broader assemblies. I have also read some of the protests and appeals and letters that were sent to various consistories but never made it to classis.

Those letters, protests, and appeals are beautiful. They are beautiful because they set forth the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ over against the man-centered theology that now the PRC embraces.

I have read some of the letters that members sent their consistories, admonishing the men to fulfill their responsibility to be watchmen on the walls.

I have read some of the letters that members have sent to consistories, when finally, after much effort, the members realized that their work in the PRC was done, and they requested their papers be sent to their home.

My desire is to see more of those letters, more of those protests, and more of those appeals. My desire is to see that those documents be published on its own blog post, so they can edify the reader today, but also stand as a lasting testimony to the Protestant Reformed Churches forsaking the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is to say, their forsaking of Jesus Christ himself.

I ask you to send me those letters, protests, and appeals so they can be published here. If you do not have a document yourself, but know of someone who does, please forward this post to them, and encourage them to submit it for publication.

Those documents can be emailed to astraitbetwixt@gmail.com.

Please also attend the Bible Study of the Berean Reformed Protestant Fellowship that occasioned this post. Their meeting will be held on Saturday, March 26 @ 8:00 am EST. The link for that Bible Study can be found here. They will be studying the PRC’s controversy in light of the office of believer.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” Revelation 12:11

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?

Reformed ____ Publishing Association (1)

When the board of the RFPA saw Prof. Huizinga’s original speech title, they should have stopped whatever it was that they were doing, and they should have given thanks to God.

They should have thanked God for giving them another chance to be faithful to their very reason for existence.

They failed the first time.

A group of men were concerned about the direction of the Standard Bearer. They laid out extensively for the board why they were concerned.

What was their intent? Was it the reason that the editors gave to Byron Center PRC’s consistory when the editors met with the consistory on June 4, 2020? The reason the editors gave for why the group wrote the RFPA was that the group wanted to get the current editors removed. Was that true? No, that was not true. It was a lie told by Professor Gritters, Professor Dykstra, and Reverend Koole to the consistory of Byron Center PRC. The group’s request was for the RFPA to “take action on these issues” and for the RFPA to “assert its sovereign control over the paper and its content.” They called on the RFPA to “See these things as serious problems and to address them decisively, without delay, and with all due and deliberate speed.” If you don’t believe me, read it for yourself, in the group’s letter to the RFPA board and to the editors themselves.

The RFPA board responded by asking three questions: Why had the group of concerned men not gone through the assemblies, had the concerned men gone to the editors first, and did the group of concerned men know that the RFPA had already handed the magazine over to the editors?

I am surprised, and even impressed, that the group of concerned men responded. They showed a monumental amount of patience. With such a letter, the RFPA Board revealed that they did not understand even the most basic principles underpinning the RFPA. In receiving such a response, the group of concerned men would have been fully justified in declaring their conscience clear before God and planning for a new magazine. However, out a spirit of charity, they continued to correspond. To no avail.

It really is striking. Hoeksema’s theology was called nonsense? Conditions were being taught? North Korean-like censorship was going on at the Standard Bearer, to the extent that it was nearly impossible to get a letter printed? None of that mattered to the board. They were taking orders from the editors, which was enough for them. So much so that they even threw in a charge of slander against the group of concerned men, which charge was so obviously false that even Classis East had to reject it when it was brought by the editors.

Being rebuffed by the board, the group of concerned men called for a special association meeting, as was their right according to the RFPA Board Handbook (“The board on its own motion, or upon written request from any fifteen regular members, may call a special meeting of the Association”).

This too the board of the RFPA turned away. All in service to an institution and the men who ruled the institution.

But that brings up a question—why did this group of concerned men arise? What happened to the RFPA that caused such alarm in the hearts of these men?

The RFPA is doing many neat things right now, including publishing very practical books and a children’s magazine, but that is not why it exists.

The cause of the RFPA “is the maintenance as well as the development of the Protestant Reformed truth which we hold dear and the rejecting and combatting of all heresies that are in conflict with the truth” (Hoeksema, SB, 11/1957).

The RFPA, and more specifically its magazine, the Standard Bearer, exist to teach doctrine. They exist to defend right doctrine. They exist to expose the lie and condemn false doctrine as the damnable work of the devil that it is.

They exist to be the one voice that trumpets doctrine and to do so in a world littered with vapid publishers of practical books and children’s magazines.

The RFPA exists because of the Standard Bearer, the calling of which in recent years was to rebuke the apostatizing Protestant Reformed Churches and to defend the truth of the Reformed faith as that faith was historically taught in the PRC.

When it became clear that the editors of the Standard Bearer were taking the magazine in an entirely new direction, the RFPA board should have stepped in and addressed the matter. Did it not trouble them when an editor of the paper called Hoeksema’s theology of the Philippian jailor nonsense? When the magazine had absolutely nothing to say during the heart of the controversy, did not alarm bells go off at the board level that this was directly contrary to the very purpose of the paper? When one of the editors printed and defended blatant false doctrine—heresy—that led the PRC farther down the road of apostasy, did not one man raise his voice to object?

The answer to that question is yes. Some men fought. Some of those men fought right up until the ends of their terms. For two others, they would not make it to the ends of their terms. With a story that has been told before, the dishonorable and unrighteous majority finally had enough of those men who would not truckle to the editors with the rest of the board. In late August, Joel Langerak and Jon Langerak (I will say their names, even if the RFPA board president cannot) were summarily removed from their lawfully elected posts.

How does this happen? How is it possible that the PRCA corrupts every organization it touches, whether a supposedly free publishing association or a school board?

The reason is simple. You have men who are not spiritual but carnal. Spiritual battle about the purpose of the RFPA? A fight over a magazine and what may stand on the pages of that magazine? Heresy versus the truth? These men know nothing of these things; neither can they know them because these things are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). They can tell you who Michigan football plays on Saturday. They can tell you about their vacation next week. They can also tell you the state of their company, down to the very last penny. But they can’t lift a finger in defense of the truth if it means going against powerful men in their denomination. 

And these men will serve out their terms at the RFPA and go on to take their earthly wisdom to the school board room or the consistory room. Like the consistory of Byron Center PRC, they will bring their carnality and corruption right into the very heart of the bride of Christ.

There was a battle over the Standard Bearer at one point.

But that battle has been lost.

The RFPA is now on a leash.

The PRC holds that leash.

And where that is evident is with the RFPA’s publication, the Standard Bearer.

A Refutation of CERC’s Third Class on Understanding the PRC’s Controversy — Berean Reformed Protestant Fellowship

We’ll be meeting again to refute the errors that continue to be taught in CERC’s third class on Understanding the PRC’s Controversy. CERC’s third class recording can be found here. All are welcome to join at this link on Saturday (8 pm SG; 8 am EST) [take note of the change in time].

A Refutation of CERC’s Third Class on Understanding the PRC’s Controversy — Berean Reformed Protestant Fellowship

RFPA Update

The younger ministers will save the PRC.

That is the narrative that is set forth today.

Many now console themselves that once the younger men take control of the denomination the ship will be righted, and the PRC will be saved.

Well, here we are.

The younger men now are in seats of power in the seminary, and they control the church paper.

Prof. Huizinga is one of those younger men that will save the denomination.

He was asked to give the speech to the annual meeting of the Reformed Free Publishing Association (RFPA).

And picked a very odd way to start the speech.

“And thank you to the RFPA for inviting me to give the lecture this evening and for giving to me the freedom to select my subject and after consultation agreeing with me on this subject. The title of my speech is ‘2021 in the PRC: Whom the Lord Loveth, He Chasteneth.’”

I have listened to a fair number of speeches in my life and have never heard one start this way.

What made it even more strange was that the speech title he announced was not the one he had originally chosen.

When the RFPA heard the original title, they were alarmed. So much so they sent a committee to meet with Prof. Huizinga to discuss it. What kind of speech was he planning to give?

Fast forward to the speech itself and the title was now much softer.

That must have been some meeting.

(As a member in good standing in the RFPA, I asked the president, Josh Hoekstra for the minutes and supplements that had to do with the board’s decision to send a committee to meet with Prof. Huizinga. After taking my request to the board, Josh told me the board had declined my request. They decided that I should contact Prof. Huizinga directly, as the “essence” of my request was a “perceived concern” that I had regarding Prof. Huizinga’s statement. I told Josh I did not see how contacting a Protestant Reformed seminary professor would get me any closer to receiving the minutes and supplements of an ostensibly independent publishing house. My request was actually quite simple—no need to “perceive” anything or examine the “essence” of anything. If there are minutes and supplements, please send them. But for some reason, Josh did his level best to confuse and complicate a very simple request, and needless to say, I didn’t get the minutes or supplements.)

Yet this was Prof. Huizinga’s moment to lead.

No one can dispute the fact that the PRC stumbled on justification by faith alone. If any organization has the right, indeed the calling, to call the PRCA to repentance for her errors, it is the RFPA.

And specifically through her paper, The Standard Bearer (SB).

It was made for a moment like this.

Listen to Rev. Hoeksema, the founding editor of the paper.

Now, when I call your attention for a few moments to the Standard Bearer as a Witness, I may well connect my remarks with the name of your association. It is called the Reformed Free Publishing Association, and in this name I find expressed the character and purpose, not only of your association, but also of the periodical whose publication you are sponsoring. It is Reformed, that is, it is devoted to the development and defense of the Reformed faith. It is free, that is, it is non-ecclesiastical in the institutional sense of that word. It is a publication, that is, it intends to reach the public and to witness for the Reformed truth. And, therefore, it is supported by an association, it is not sponsored by the Synod, but by the free association of brethren that are interested in the truth and its propagation (Hoeksema, The Standard Bearer as Witness, SB, 12/15/45).

It is also with this distinction before our consciousness that we say that the Standard Bearer is free, and that the society that sponsors it calls itself the Reformed Free Publishing Association. The freedom we thus denote is not akin to doctrinal licentiousness. We do not intend to separate ourselves from the institute of the Church. The very fact that we adopted the name Reformed Free Publishing Association, and that, therefore, we place ourselves on the basis of the Reformed Confessions, indicates the very opposite. But free we are in the same sense in which our Christian Schools are free schools. 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! (Hoeksema, The Standard Bearer as Witness, SB, 12/15/45).

Or listen to another former editor commenting on Hoeksema’s stance on the paper:

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 (Engelsma, RFPA Publishing Merger, SB, 9/1/96).

The RFPA was made for a moment like this.

And this was Prof. Huizinga’s moment to clearly show that the younger men would indeed be able to lead the PRC out of error.

He had the platform.

As editor of the SB, he had the right.

Call the PRC back to her beginnings.

Call her back to the rock whence she was hewn.

Call the PRC to repentance for her coolness to the truth and for her wretched response to the doctrinal controversy.

Could Prof. Huizinga’s calling for this speech be any more clear? “Repent! Repent for turning away from the living God and repent for hewing out cisterns that can hold no water!”

He failed.

Abysmally.

His speech was entirely empty. There was not one call to the PRC to behave herself like children of the Reformation and to be “always reforming.”

What was his conclusion?

The Reformed Protestant Churches (RPC) are using really strong words and it may even get to the point when the children and the young people of the RPC start using strong language as well!

And for the PRC? Well, they just need to try harder. They aren’t all that bad. The protests should probably be shorter, and people should be more patient while their protests wind their way through the assemblies. Everyone should respect everyone else more. Consistories should handle issues sooner.

The PRC has spots and wrinkles and blemishes. It isn’t perfect, you know.

Blandly, he declared that “If you are convinced that your preacher is teaching false doctrine or that another minister is teaching, writing, false doctrine, then go to him with your concern and lay that out before him, and if that concern is not addressed, then write a protest to the man’s consistory and demonstrate from the scripture and the confessions that what is being taught is false doctrine, and if you are not heard and pleased, you have the right to cry out for help and to appeal to Classis, and if necessary to Synod.”

Oh, that’s the problem. The members of the denomination need to use protest and appeal. As if the members haven’t been protesting and appealing. Although Prof. Huzinga couldn’t find it within himself to lift a finger against doctrinal error being written or preached, he now lectures the people to protest and appeal. Look around, Prof. Huizinga: the landscape is littered with those who went the route of protest and appeal in the PRC and paid for it with their lives.

Prof. Huizinga is a member of Grandville Protestant Reformed Church. He, along with the consistory at Grandville PRC, can’t seem to condemn, repudiate, and protest the false doctrine pouring from the tongue and pen of Rev. Koole.

But for others? They must protest and appeal.

And those ditches. Those pesky ditches. Errors on both sides, you know.

“Now it’s important to recognize that there have been errors out of what we might say both ditches on either side of the proverbial road because that creates a back-and-forth dynamic in the controversy.”

What nothing-speak that is. Completely empty.

“Proverbial road.”

“Creates a back-and-forth dynamic in the controversy.”

It was like watching a politician shore up his base and it bore no resemblance to a prophet who was determined to stand in the gap.

This speech was a faithless desertion of his calling before God.

Controversies do not go on endlessly. There is an end point to them. Doctrinal controversy in a church is settled when ministers are deposed or removed from office. To point to statements after that has taken place and then say, “See! Errors on both sides!” is to trick and fool the people. The error in the PRC was the compromise of justification by faith alone. That was it. By your own synodical declaration.

What was the error in the PRC that consistory after consistory and broader assembly after broader assembly defended? Was it antinomism? No, three synods in a row said that wasn’t the error. The error came out of one ditch, because there truly is only one ditch, and that is the filthy, scum-covered ditch of salvation by the will and doing of man.

The speech was empty, and wicked. It was wicked because it did what no Reformed speech should ever do. It excused, and minimized, false doctrine.  

When you keep trying to convince the people of the existence of errors out of both ditches, all you are doing is minimizing the actual error that plagued the denomination, and that has now entirely corrupted the denomination.

Even Prof. Huizinga recognized it.

Half-way through, he said “My point is not to justify doctrinal error.”

If a man in a speech ever has to say the words, “My point is not to justify doctrinal error,” it’s because he has just finished justifying doctrinal error.

The utter emptiness of the speech continued.

All of this controversy, according to Huizinga, is just “God’s work of chastening us in love.” But for what is God chastening the PRC? What sins did she commit? You never hear what that is. Just like the letter that Synod approved to be sent out to the members that left—and which many consistories in one of their few good decisions promptly ignored—the leaders in the PRC like to talk about her “errors” generally but can never find it within themselves to tell us what those errors are.

He also said the members of the PRC need to read more. “Read little by little, slowly but surely, a few passage and a few pages a night. Read.” I hardly know what to say to that. Go home, members of the PRC, and read a few pages a night. They may as well go home and read Dick and Jane, because all of their reading will avail nothing. Their calling is to repent, but there is not one minister in the denomination that is willing to issue that call.

The PRC did have members that read. And not little by little, and slowly but surely, but they poured themselves into God’s word, so that when error did arise, these members were able to identify it and condemn it. But do you know what happened to those members, Prof. Huizinga? Your denomination abused and murdered them and finally drove them from your fellowship. And you, learned theologian, did nothing to defend them.

He, and others, cling tightly to the decisions of the PR assemblies.

“The charge that the PRC is apostatizing finds absolutely no basis in the official decisions of the denomination but the official decisions of the denomination expose that charge as a lie.”

He, and others, had better cling to that argument.

Because their pulpits are full of the corruption of false doctrine and their assemblies are full of the corruption of the rule of man.

There are other denominations that can appeal to that argument as well.

The Christian Reformed Church can appeal to the fact that according to “official decisions of the denomination” divorce is permitted only in the case of infidelity. Meanwhile, the entire church world knows that in reality divorce in the CRC is granted for any reason under the sun.

Hear a fictional Prof. Huysinga of the CRC: “The charge that the CRC has corrupted the biblical truth of marriage finds absolutely no basis in the official decisions of the denomination but the official decisions of the denomination expose that charge as a lie.”

Right.

It was 120 minutes that the listener will never get back, and certainly will not remember.

Prof. Huizinga failed as leader. And he did so publicly.

Compare these two quotations from PR theologians:

Reformatory obedience means that in all your doctrine and with respect to all your practice you are obedient to the supreme authority of that word of the scriptures only. Reformatory obedience means in the second place, that you apply to everything—in your personal faith, in your life and walk, in your church and its preaching, in your school and its teaching, in your ecclesiastical assemblies and their pronouncements and decrees—apply stringently that test of the word only. It means in the third place, that what stands that test you approve and that what cannot meet that test you reject and disapprove. And it means in the fourth place, because that brings you into conflict, it means that whenever it becomes a choice between the authority of that word or bowing to the authority of the institute of the church, even if ultimately that means you must break, as Luther did, with a given institution, you always resolutely choose the former and reject the latter (Prof. Homer Hoeksema, Children of the Reformation, 10/31/66).

You must submit to church government. Whether you are a 75-year-old man or a 35-year-old minister, submit to church government (Huizinga, 2021 in the PRC: Whom the Lord Loveth, He Chasteneth, 9/23/21).

Would the people have followed Prof. Huizinga if he had called them to return to the glorious gospel truth of salvation by faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone? If he had condemned all talk that robs God of his glory and gives even a shred of that glory to man, would the people have been stirred in their souls to reformation?

Perhaps. But it no doubt would only have lasted a few hours, like the phony repentance of the elders of Byron Center PRC following the sermon on Jeremiah. Such is the extent of repentance in the PRC.

But we will never know for sure because such a call was not issued.

What we do know is that Prof. Huizinga loves his place in the PRC.

Prof. Huizinga, it turns out, is a good churchman. He is loyal to the institution. He is doing what all good churchmen do: defending the institution. Prof. Huizinga ensured he would stay in the good graces of all men and will never have to face criticism, much less opposition, his entire ministry. His cloying declaration of love for all things Protestant Reformed at the end of the speech cemented his place as a PRC loyalist, with all the perks and benefits such a position brings.

Regarding Prof. Huizinga’s ministry: what many consider a success, I consider a dreadful and lamentable fall. I looked up to the man. Again I must be reminded—rebuked—that I must not put my trust in men.

Prof. Huizinga will spend countless hours in a library reading and translating old Dutch theologians. He will compile all those hundreds of hours into a thesis. His thesis will be trumpeted in the Standard Bearer, and portions of it will appear in the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal. There will be many footnotes. The members of the PRC will puff and preen themselves because of the quality of their theologian.

The cult of personality will continue.

He likes to write and speak about soldiers and swords, and warfare and the din of battle (at one point writing 19 articles on the topic that involved a three-part introduction). He likes to say things like, “The smoke is heavy. The blood is fresh. The cries are desperate. The trumpet blasts wax louder and louder. Physical territory is not at stake; souls are.”

Stirring.

And in all of this talk, he shows himself to be the spiritual equivalent of General George McClellan. General McClellan was the Northern general during the Civil War who preferred the parade ground over the battleground. Both like to make much about the trappings of war, but can never bring themselves to actually make war. Prof. Huizinga, history has shown, favors the theological parade ground to the theological battlefield, which explains why he disappeared when justification by faith alone was compromised and when Jesus Christ was displaced. And then after the blood of a few had been cleaned up, he reappeared to speak smooth words to the people—a script that has played out many times in the history of the church.

He deceived me. He did so with his sermons, his speeches, his SB articles, and his pamphlet, Keeping the Sword Drawn. If he is a man of integrity, he will see that that pamphlet is withdrawn and never again published. He did not mean a word of it.

As a failed leader, it is fitting that Prof. Huizinga serves a failed institution, the Reformed Free Publishing Association and a failed magazine, The Standard Bearer.

But the question remains; why would the board of a free association send a committee to discuss a speech title when the title of the speech indicated a rebuke to a denomination?

The reason is simple.

They felt the need to protect an institution.

Singapore

False doctrine is like cancer; left untreated, it will spread.

It has now spread with a vengeance to Singapore.

As sisters, the PRC and the CERC in Singapore failed each other in spectacular fashion.

Early on in the controversy, the session (consistory) of CERC had an opportunity to protest a wrong decision of the PRC’s broadest assembly. After being mollified with smooth words by the Contact Committee of the PRCA, the session of CERC declined to address the cancer that was starting to ravage the PRC. Instead, they allowed their pastor, Rev. Lanning, to go it alone. The session of CERC was like the doctor who reviewed a biopsy that showed that the cancer was spreading and quickly closed the file, smiled blandly at his patient, and said, “All is well.”

But all was not well.

And that was where the PRC failed her sister in Singapore. The PRC knew that she had a dread disease in her body. The assemblies would ignore it, but time and again it was shown that the false doctrine was present, and present at the highest levels of the denomination.

Instead of taking swift action to stop the spread of the cancer, the PRC exerted herself to kill those who were warning them.

CERC of Singapore has learned the lesson of her sister well.

With a violence that no doubt makes her sister proud (and which was no doubt encouraged by leaders of the PRC), the session of CERC has driven out, through (un)Christian discipline wickedly applied, members whose only desire was to study the controversy that had ravaged the Protestant Reformed Churches in America.

It is striking how closely these sisters resemble one another.

CERC has a twin sister in Hope PRC.

The officebearers of Hope PRC, who for years had worked diligently to convince the rest of the denomination that they were the keepers of orthodoxy, were shown to not even understand justification by faith alone. Waving around the phrase “in the way of” as if that were the heritage and legacy of the PRC (instead of being a phrase used to replace the Pelagian word “condition”), they displaced Christ and compromised the truth of the unconditional covenant.

What they lacked in orthodoxy, they made up for in violence.

Men and women will never be the same this side of the Jordan for how they were treated by the “shepherds” who occupied the elders’ bench at Hope Protestant Reformed Church.

Should CERC disdain being known as a twin sister of Hope PRC, all she needs to do is travel west to find another sister whom she can claim as a twin.

Hull Protestant Reformed Church has the record for how quickly she visited her (cruel) tender mercies on Christ’s sheep.

Hull PRC had one officebearer who was determined to fulfill the calling of his office.

One.

Deacon Marcus Andringa asked repeatedly that Hull PRC engage in the controversy and take the side of Christ. He was ignored.

Until finally the wicked majority determined to rid themselves of this man they viewed as a troublemaker.

So they laid a snare for him.

Beware of men, indeed (Matt. 10:17).

They asked him to do something they refused to do themselves: put something in writing. They asked him on Monday to explain where he stood. Without guile and trusting the men who had been called by God to serve as fellow watchmen on the walls, he did. He gave them his letter on Tuesday. By Wednesday, he was summoned to meet with the consistory.

After a 20-minute meeting Deacon Andringa was excused. There was probably much that was said, but what they failed to tell him was that the consistory of Calvary PRC was waiting nearby. Shortly after Deacon Andringa left the meeting, the elders of Calvary PRC joined and the decision was made to depose Marcus, using as part of their grounds one sentence plucked from the letter they had instructed him to prepare. Together, these two consistories consented to the murder of Deacon Andringa.

By Thursday he was brought back before a committee of the elders and informed that he was deposed.

And Calvary PRC never once gave him a hearing.

Let us never again hear from the mouth of a Protestant Reformed officebearer the importance of “good order” or the “church orderly way.”

Within three days this Christ-appointed deacon had his office torn from him.

But he was a first-term deacon, so this would not cause much of a stir in the PRC. He was not old enough yet to have a name and reputation, which in the PRC is paramount. And the consistories of Hull and Calvary knew it. There would be no ramifications, no consequences.

So the men on these consistories just rearranged their sheepskins and went back to playing elder.

But take heart, Brother Andringa; although your bones are scattered at the grave’s mouth, put your eyes upon your God, who will not leave your soul destitute (Ps. 141:7-8).

You bear in your body the blessed marks of your Lord: not plaudits but scars, not approval but hatred.

As your God promised (Matt. 10:22).

The wicked, unbelieving, God-hating world would not deal in such a way with their opponents. And yet in the PRC this is what passes for good order.

There were those who saw this for what it was, here and here. But there is none so blind as he who will not see, so the consistories ignored them and the people went back to sleep, if they had even bothered to open their eyes at all.

Throughout the controversy, the denomination provided no succor. Instead of repudiating the lie, the ministers and elder delegates of Classis East coddled the teachers and supporters of false doctrine, and bared their own fangs at the members who fought for truth and right.

The PRC has an interesting take on sister-church relationships. Their idea of “mutual care” involves many things, but it does not involve addressing the presence of false doctrine. The reason for this is simple: it’s not possible to address false doctrine and still protect the reputations of men, so doctrine is left begging.

CERC has added a bit of dark humor, however.

After having shut down the members of the Bible study through discipline, and intimidating those into silence who perhaps at one time desired to be a part of the Bible study, the session of CERC has had the epiphany that what is needed most right now is…a Bible study.

Do they know how ridiculous this is? You discipline members out of the church for having a Bible study to study the controversy, and then, once they are gone, you start a Bible study to study the controversy.

Adding to the absurdity of it, Rev. Tan, at the beginning of their first so-called Bible study, explained how necessary it was to have the Bible study and defended it against those who might object to its necessity.

Thankfully, the members who were driven out of CERC are continuing their Bible study and are willing to include others and make the tremendous fruit of their labor available to everyone. Their next Bible study session is scheduled for Saturday, March 5, and starts at 7:00 a.m. (EST). A link for the Bible study, which will study the connection between recent events and the split of 1953, can be found on their most recent blog post.

I highly recommend that you subscribe to their YouTube channel and their blog. (The most convenient way to follow their blog and to make sure you don’t miss a post is to download the WordPress app, search for “Berean Reformed,” and click on the “Follow” button.)

Brothers and sisters in Singapore, continue your important work.

Many will ignore your blog, and others will slander it. It is likely that the members of CERC, like their brothers and sisters in the PRC, will turn a blind eye to the wickedness of their church. Life is just so much easier if you don’t ask any questions and if you don’t exert yourself to understand the issues.

But the stink of death is in the Protestant Reformed Churches.

And that stink is now pouring out of the consistory room of the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore.

I praise and thank God for delivering the members that he did from Singapore. My prayer is that God would use the work of the Berean Reformed Protestant Fellowship to open the eyes of his people who are right now in the process of being led to destruction by the session of CERC (Isa. 9:16).

Do not be discouraged.

The battle is not yours but God’s (2 Chron. 20:15).