We recently received a copy of your letter to the Galatians. The committee has directed me to inform you of a number of things, which deeply concern us.
First, we find your language to be somewhat intemperate. In your letter, after a brief greeting to the Galatians, you immediately attack your opponents by claiming they “want to pervert the gospel of Christ.” You then say that such men should be regarded as “accursed”; and, in another place, you make reference to “false brethren.” Wouldn’t it be more charitable to give them the benefit of the doubt-at least until the General Assembly has investigated and adjudicated the matter? To make the situation worse, you later say, “I could wish those who trouble you would even cut them selves off!” Is such a statement really fitting for a Christian minister? The remark seems quite harsh and unloving.
Paul, we really feel the need to caution you about the tone of your epistles. You come across in an abrasive manner to many people. In some of your letters you’ve even mentioned names; and this practice has, no doubt, upset the friends of Hymenaeus, Alexander, and others. After all, many persons were first introduced to the Christian faith under the ministries of these men. Although some of our missionaries have manifest regrettable shortcomings, nevertheless, it can only stir up bad feelings when you speak of these men in a derogatory manner.
In other words, Paul, I believe you should strive for a more moderate posture in your ministry. Shouldn’t you try to win those who are in error by displaying a sweeter spirit? By now, you’ve probably alienated the Judaizers to the point that they will no longer listen to you.
By your outspokenness, you have also diminished your opportunities for future influence throughout the church as a whole. Rather, if you had worked more quietly, you might have been asked to serve on a presbytery committee appointed to study the issue. You could then have contributed your insights by helping to draft a good committee paper on the theological position of the Judaizers, without having to drag personalities into the dispute.
Besides, Paul, we need to maintain unity among those who profess a belief in Christ. The Judaizers at least stand with us as we confront the surrounding paganism and humanism, which prevail within the culture of the contemporary Roman Empire. The Judaizers are our allies in our struggles against abortion, homosexuality, government tyranny, etc. We cannot afford to allow differences over doctrinal minutiae to obscure this important fact.
I also must mention that questions have been raised about the contents of your letter, as well as your style. The committee questions the propriety of the doctrinaire structure of your letter. Is it wise to plague young Christians, like the Galatians, with such heavy theological issues? For example, in a couple of places, you allude to the doctrine of election. You also enter into a lengthy discussion of the law. Perhaps you could have proved your case in some other ways, without mentioning these complex and controverted points of Christianity. Your letter is so doctrinaire, it will probably serve only to polarize the differing factions within the churches. Again, we need to stress unity, instead of broaching issues, which will accent divisions among us.
In one place, you wrote, “Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.” Paul, you have a tendency to describe things strictly in black and white terms, as if there are no gray areas. You need to temper your expressions, lest you become too exclusive. Otherwise, your outlook will drive away many people, and make visitors feel unwelcome. Church growth is not promoted by taking such a hard line and remaining inflexible.
Remember, Paul, there is no such thing as a perfect church. We have to tolerate many imperfections in the church, since we cannot expect to have everything at once. If you will simply think back over your own experience, you will recall how you formerly harassed the church in your times of ignorance. By reflecting on your own past, you might acquire a more sympathetic attitude toward the Judaizers. Be patient, and give them some time to come around to a better understanding. In the meantime, rejoice that we all share a common profession of faith in Christ, since we have all been baptized in his name.
Coordinator, Committee on Missions
This article appeared in the July / August 1988Trinity Review
One thing I wrote in the last series, as an attachment to the first blog, may have caught your eye. In my letter to the school board—as well as in several other private letters that I sent around the early spring of 2021—I wrote the statement, “I judge no person for their decision to stay within the PRC or to leave it.”
Depending on who (and where) you are, you may have taken this statement differently.
If you remain in the PRC, you may read that statement and allow it to work as a balm on your conscience. You see “many problems” in the PRC. You may even agree that there is false doctrine being taught in the PRC. You may claim to be fighting against these errors in the PRC and experiencing trouble for all your efforts. For you, you read that statement as an affirmation that because I don’t judge you, that you do not need to fear judgment.
If you are in a position where you are leaving or have recently left the PRC, you may have found yourself using a similar expression. You know there is error in the PRC, and Christ has pulled you out of the fire, delivering you from that false doctrine that displaces Christ. For you, this expression is a bit of an olive branch. We think, “well, what if they just don’t see it? We need to give them more time and let them think about it a little more. We cannot judge them because they will stop seeking the truth.”
Let me explain my statement so that there can be no confusion. This is its meaning: I am not only carnal but also an unjust judge.
You ought not to seek my judgment or give any weight to it. You ought not even seek the judgment of a man who is accounted to be wise. You ought to only seek and give any weight to the judgment of God. When I judged, I did so according to my own wisdom and what would make my life here on this earth easier. As was explained in the series, I did everything possible to remain in the PR schools. A part of this was refusing to judge rightly and deliberately adding this statement as a balm on those who remained in a church that Christ had left. A part of this was also a desire to salvage relationships by glossing over the truth.
If you pressed me at that time, I might have defended the statement by saying that I cannot judge the eternal destiny of any person. That is true. That is a matter that remains with each individual and God. I do not judge the eternal destiny of any person. Only God knows.
However, not only is God the judge of all the earth, but he also calls us to judge—not the heart, but the actions and confession of men. When Christ was accosted by the rulers for healing on the Sabbath, he gave them and the people the calling to “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Likewise, the Spirit calls us to judge one another even as we will judge the ungodly and angels (I Corinthians 6:1-6).
When I claimed to judge no person for their decision to stay or to leave, I was judging according to the flesh, and according to appearance. It was in no way aligned with the judgment of God. God has shown that the truth of the Gospel is not and cannot be in the PRC.
Regardless of whether I judge you for staying within or leaving the PRC, you ought to seek true and righteous judgment. The truth is that God is judging the PRC and will judge those that remain in it. The truth is that all the emphasis on “a balanced gospel” and “but you really must do good works” is crowding out the gospel of Christ so that the gospel cannot remain in the PRC. The gospel is a gift. It is not a matter of your intelligence or ability to understand. And when Christ is kicked out of the PRC, his gospel cannot remain in it. The truth is that if the gospel has left a church, the kingdom of Man has replaced it. And the destruction will be terrible.
Do not let my unjust judgment be a balm on your refusal to seek the Kingdom of God.
This is the third and final post written by Mike Vermeer. (Well, the final post if I am unsuccessful in convincing him to continue writing). Having spent the first 40 years of my life complacent and ignorant regarding Christian education, I am thankful for Mike’s work on behalf of the schools, which work is beginning to disabuse me of my ignorance.
This article brings me to the second reason why we needed to start our own school; in answer to the question posed in various ways, why did we start a school? The reason I am about to explain, I must emphasize, was not the basis for any of my decisions – I am carnal. However, God has shown us once more in this how His ways are higher than our ways.
In baptism, we vow to teach our children to the utmost of our power, according to the doctrines that are taught in our church. This vow encompasses all the rearing and instruction of our children.
With a school staffed by Protestant Reformed teachers, it is impossible they could teach our children according to the truth we believe. They could not help but teach Protestant Reformed doctrines. They could not but provide the motivation to learn using earthly benefits alongside (and obscuring) the glory of God. They could not but teach the wisdom of men in addition to (and obscuring) the Knowledge of God. They would not point our children to the Kingdom of God but would obscure that most blessed Kingdom with more emphasis on the Kingdom of Man.
And I knew it. Demonstrably. But I could not bring myself to leave a school that I knew could not teach our children the truth of God. I am carnal.
But God – beautiful words – But God would not allow us to go to a school where our children could not be taught the knowledge of God according to truth. This is where the reformation of 1924 comes in, and the article “As to our Moral Obligation” by Rev. Hoeksema.
Have you read it yet? You should.
That article shows the PRC was weak from the very beginning – perhaps not in doctrine, but certainly in practice. They were hardhearted and would not listen to the pleas of Rev. Hoeksema throughout the 1940s…You are 600 families strong! There is no reason why you should not be able to start your own school! Moral obligation to support the existing schools? No, moral obligation to teach your children, To the Utmost of your Power.
Why were schools not started immediately? There may be any number of reasons. Perhaps there was the (wrong) idea that a small school could not maintain a rigorous educational quality. Perhaps Kuyper’s philosophy of “Sphere Sovereignty” was embedded into their thinking so that they felt they needed to have sufficient “industry experts” in order to start a school.
I think (then Rev.) Engelsma does a good job explaining the sentiment of the 1940s in his forward to Hoeksema’s “As to our Moral Obligation.” In this forward, Engelsma seems to be channeling not Hoeksema but those who opposed him. Listen to him: “These articles…caution us against a foolish, rash forcing of our own schools when they are not possible.” With that, all of Hoeksema’s emphasis on instructing our children “to the utmost of our power” is safely defanged, and we are able to comfortably settle on our lees and claim that “well, it’s not possible (when is it ever, really?) so we had better just use the existing schools or homeschool.”
It is both our obligation and our vow to teach our children to the utmost of our power.
We would have been unable to do so in the Protestant Reformed schools. By God’s gracious deliverance, he also made that path impossible.
For us to teach all our children to know God within our individual homes is also impossible; we lack the time, ability, and means to give them a complete education, as noted by Rev. Hoeksema in the above mentioned article.
And so – not because it was possible, but because it was necessary – God gave us to begin a humble and despised school, where, by God’s grace, we will teach our children rigorously to know Him in all of His covenant love, in all of His creation, and in all of His beauty.
This is the second post of three written by Mike Vermeer. Mike is also leading a series of Bible studies on the principles of Reformed education. This Bible study is being put on by Genesis Reformed Protestant School; information can be found here.
As noted in the prior installment, I have been hearing a question pressing some in the PRC: Some pose it as an innocent question: “Why did you need to start a school and abandon the PR Schools?” Others are more direct and simply assert, “I think your school is wrong, and you should have continued to use the PR Schools.”
This post will continue the first answer to the question: we were thrown out.
What astounded me, and betrayed how ignorant my generation had become of the truth, however, was the reason that we were thrown out of the schools.
I am not talking about being removed from the school board. After being removed, I was undeterred in my desire to use the PR schools. Some people just don’t learn easily.
I wanted to show that I was not angry for having been removed from the board and, if possible, ease the path towards using the school anyways. When after a discussion with a board member, it became clear that they did not want the association to have to vote on my removal (that would have been messy), I willingly sent this letter of resignation; not only that, but I also urged my fellow saints to do the same – many of whom followed my lead.
Now, as a newly minted non-association member, It was time for enrollment interviews.
I knew the men on the education committee fairly well. I had been secretary for them for the past two years, so I knew what lay ahead…I thought. The only question in the back recesses of my mind was who they would bring in to replace me on the committee.
As soon as we walked into the room, I knew that the interview would not go as I had anticipated. The man selected to replace me on the committee to conduct enrollment interviews was one of the most powerful men of Crete PRC, notorious for his hatred of Rev. Langerak’s preaching.
On reflection, he was there for a very specific purpose. It was his job to make it clear to the education committee – probably knowing they were too polite for his purposes – that under his cross-examination, I would defend myself. All I needed to do was to respond to his accusations, and he would meet his objective. When, after the 3rd or 5th time (I lost count), I was asked, “Why would you want to use this school?” finally, I responded, “Men, I have made clear to you that I desire to use this school, and am willing to work with you to do so. It is becoming clear to me that you do not want us to use this school, but that is your decision to make, not mine.”
We were soon complete with the interview, and they made their decision. But what grounds would they use?
In a very brief and sterile letter sent by US mail informing me of their decision, they noted as the first of three grounds my “not being willing to have my children catechized with other students by a Protestant Reformed minister.”
Yes, you read that correctly. First, they sidelined the association; now, they drag in the church. We were cast out of a parent-run school because we were unwilling to participate in Protestant Reformed catechism.
I have always been taught that catechism is the preaching of the gospel to our children. That is why the church conducts catechism, not the school. We expressed this as a firm conviction that we could not have our children in PR catechism – it would make us liars if we left the PRC and then sent our children to PR catechism. We also provided an alternative, that we could arrange for our children to be supervised while the others were in catechism. Nonstarter.
At our school, convenience had apparently turned into law and, for some, was even considered to be part of the curriculum. After two or three generations of having our children catechized during the school day as a convenience to the parents, “there arose a generation that knew not” that catechism is the work of the church.
So they cast us out. By the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. Because He knew exactly what we needed to be delivered from.
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.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. John 14:26
But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. 1 John 2:27
But why are thou called a Christian?
Because I am a member of Christ by faith, and thus am partaker of His anointing; that so I may confess His name, and present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to Him; and also that with a free and good conscience I may fight against sin and Satan in this life, and afterwards reign with Him eternally over all creatures (HC, LD12, QA32)
The office of believer was silenced in the PRC.
Put differently, the leadership in the PRC made every effort to stifle and suppress the voice of the office of believer. This came out in many ways. From Rev. Bruinsma ridiculing the visitors at the January 2021 meeting of Classis East, saying they were just there because the assemblies had become a “spectator sport,” to Prof. Cammenga saying at Synod 2021 that he hoped that a certain protestant would “go away” so that the denomination would never have to hear from that protestant again—and so that no one would misunderstand him, Prof. Cammenga added, “and I mean that”—the office of believer was silenced.
And not just silenced.
The office of believer was despised.
Prof. Cammenga simply said what the denomination thinks about the office of believer. Go away. We don’t want to hear from you.
One man who is a perpetual elder in the PRC and who sits at the top of the food chain in the denomination once told me that the best synod he was ever delegated to was the one when there were no visitors allowed. I listened in amazement. It became clear he didn’t even know what he was saying. He was describing Rome. Let the people stand from afar and wait for the smoke signals to appear to indicate what decisions have been made.
I was a delegate to one meeting of Classis East. I loathed it. I knew from the minute I walked in that I did not belong there. I wanted to be with those who had gathered in the back of the room as visitors. Those men and women knew the hard looks and mockery they would have to endure but gathered nonetheless, because they wanted to see what their beloved church would do with Christ at that particular meeting. To their grief, they soon found out that Christ’s name was not to reign at that meeting of classis either, but the name and reputation of men was to again be victorious. This was driven home to me at the end of the meeting, after the classis had labored to protect the name of the minister who had again compromised the gospel in his preaching. There were precious few delegates who were at all interested in defending God’s name, but Rev. Haak, after closed session had been declared, delivered a lengthy speech consoling the errorist and expressing solidarity with him. Kudos to Rev. Haak. He expressed well the sentiment of the entire assembly.
This contempt for the office of believer comes out in the writing as well. Prof. Cammenga, writing in the April 2020 issue of the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal about the importance of teaching the original languages to seminary students, wrote this about reading a translation of the Bible, as opposed to reading the Bible in the original Greek or Hebrew: “Reading a translation of Scripture is better than nothing.” I remember reading that article and coming to a complete standstill. Better than nothing? I, like many others, was exerting myself to read the Bible and did not find it to be only “better than nothing.” But was this all it was? Better than nothing? I now know that what that means is, unless you can read the original, you really are not doing much at all. In fact, you can only consider it, “better than nothing.” Prof. Cammenga should have taken that statement to its logical conclusion and added, “Leave the Bible reading to the leadership as they can read the original.”
You can understand now why the leaders in the PRC views the members the way they do. The members are good to have around when it comes time to pay the bills, but for the rest, just leave that up to the leadership.
And the members of the PRC love to have it so.
The facts I have written above will not bother anyone in the PRC.
They hardly need to be told anymore to keep their mouths shut.
That is why when a member protested or raised a voice of objection to some piece of writing or to some sermon, the other members of the congregation immediately viewed that member with suspicion. And if that member pursued his protest, there was a smear and slander campaign started against that member, which was incredibly effective in cutting that member down.
Neither will any members of the PRC ever repent of their sins against those members of the denomination who were so hated for so long.
The leadership is seeing to it.
In the May 15, 2022, issue of the Standard Bearer, you have Rev. Josh Engelsma writing this: “The past years have shown that the assemblies of the PRCA are not broken. A broken system of church government is one in which the voice of the members is silenced, where protests and appeals are not heard. None may honestly allege this to be the case in the PRCA.”
Not only is the system not broken; in fact, the system is working better than ever! “I venture to guess that in no other time in the history of the PRCA has the voice of the members been heard more than in recent years” (Engelsma, 5/15/22, SB).
There was a day when I would have said, “Well, Rev. Engelsma was in Classis West for most of his ministry, so maybe he is not aware of what went on,” but I am finished making excuses for these men. Does Rev. Engelsma really think that the only way a system of church government becomes broken is when an assembly passes a decision saying, “We no longer will allow protests and appeals to be heard”? Of course not. Your system is broken when you hate the members protesting and when entire assembly meetings are nothing more than exercises in saving the reputations of men. The members of the PRC know this to be the case. One member of the denomination, who is in no way friendly to the RPC, captured the spirit of the day perfectly when they said that to protest a decision of the PR assemblies is to commit “ecclesiastical suicide.”
But Rev. Engelsma is serving a very important purpose right now in the PRC. That purpose is to speak a word to the people so that none turn from their wickedness. “They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you” (Jer. 23:17).
His entire series in the Standard Bearer on the distinction between the true and false church can be summarized as this word to the Protestant Reformed Churches: “No evil shall come upon you.”
What follows in this post is the voice of the office of believer. That voice is the voice of Jesus Christ, out of whom the office of believer flows. It is good that these voices are heard now, and for generations to come, so that they stand as a living testimony to the treachery and wickedness of the Protestant Reformed Churches.
That denomination has sinned against the living God, and they did so against knowledge.
So let the members of Byron Center PRC read and hear the voices of two mothers in Israel who never to that point in their lives had written letters to their consistories, but in whose letters is found a damning indictment of the lying and treacherous spirit that was in the heart of the consistory. From now and for generations to come, the members of Byron Center PRC will know this: Your elders lied to you in the motion set forth to remove Rev. Lanning as editor of Sword & Shield, and they lied in the days and months that followed. And they are not sorry for it.
Let the members of the PRC read and hear the voices that were raised in opposition to sermons that displaced Jesus Christ from his throne but which protests were either denied, turned away as illegal, or slow-walked until the member bringing the protest was forced to leave the denomination so that the consistory could pitch the protest in the trash. And what was the instruction of the church visitors regarding the protests that Byron’s consistory would receive? Ignore them. Do not receive them or answer them until the deposition was complete. If you don’t believe me, then ask Rev. Haak who raised his voice to make the point or ask any of the elders from Byron’s consistory who were in the room. This, Rev. Engelsma, is what a church looks like where the assemblies are completely broken.
Let the members of Crete PRC see the flip flopping of their consistory as that consistory went from supporting their minister writing in Sword & Shield in July 2020 to requiring him to resign in February of 2021. Of course they had to make up some grounds to support their decision, so they settled on the fact that Rev. Langerak was working together with a deposed minister who was living in the sin of schism. (The second ground, that Rev. Langerak’s participation was causing unrest and division in the congregation is laughable, since that would be grounds for removing every faithful minister of God’s word. The word, faithfully preached, is a sword that divides and cuts and causes division by exposing the carnal members of the congregation who react angrily to any rebuke or word of admonition). To see the folly of it, ask an elder of Southwest PRC if they are going to take up Crete’s ground and require Prof. Cammenga to resign from the board of the Dutch Reformed Translation Society since he labors alongside a divorced and remarried man. (Hint: Don’t hold your breath for that to happen). We know now that Crete’s consistory flipped the way it did because of the new elders who joined in January 2021. Given the spiritual nature of the elder bench at Crete, it took only two months for them to carry out their carnal agenda and flip the consistory to change their mind regarding their minister writing in Sword & Shield.
Let the members of the PRC read the letters of those who knew what their duty was regarding church membership, and when the marks of their church were clearly those of an apostatizing church, they removed themselves from such.
This list is by no means comprehensive, in fact it barely scratches the surface. The minutes of the assembly meetings of the PRC over the last five years are filled with the protests and appeals of members who fought bravely for Christ’s name over against a hierarchy that hated them. Many documents have been linked in previous posts or published in Sword & Shield or in other blogs. I also plan to add to this list as I become aware of additional material.
So let the voice of the office of believer be heard here, not to move the hearts of the members or leaders of the Protestant Reformed Churches, but to stand as a living testimony against them, and to be used, should God will, as proof of their treachery and whoredom against the living God of heaven and earth.
“And the Lord hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear. They said, Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the Lord hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever: And go not after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke me not to anger with the works of your hands; and I will do you no hurt. Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith the Lord; that ye might provoke me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.” Jeremiah 25:4–7
(This post was written by Mr. Andy Birkett, elder at Second Reformed Protestant Church).
For the entire ministry of Rev. Langerak, he had the heart of a servant for all the members, but especially for those who were oppressed and abused.
He had a reputation for this to such an extent that included in his monthly report of labors to the consistory, there was always a portion that included some type of counseling or assistance for an abused or oppressed member (man, woman, or child) or meeting with family or parents of a victim from the congregation or denomination.
Psalm 82:3–4: “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.”
Rev. had made it clear to the consistory that he considered Rev. Lanning to be an oppressed spiritual brother to him.
In an effort to get Rev. Langerak to distance himself from Rev. Lanning, the elders proposed to Rev. that if he would capitulate to the motion to resign as editor of Sword and Shield and stop writing for the magazine, they would have the church Evangelism Committee publish a blog or newsletter or possibly even a magazine which he could write for.
This was quickly dismissed as a not viable option.
There had never been any efforts to do any of these things.
Any writing posted in any venue under the auspices of the Evangelism Committee could only be published on behalf of Crete Protestant Reformed Church, not as an independent, non-ecclesiastical magazine.
The writing would have to be vetted by the consistory, the minority of which had already made it clear that they hated both his preaching and writing.
Since this idea was quickly dismissed as unreasonable, a few elders (of which I was one) introduced another plan.
We proposed organizing a group to fund and distribute a magazine that would be essentially the same as Sword and Shield, except without the baggage of Rev. Lanning.
This way Rev. Langerak could stay in the Protestant Reformed denomination and maintain his work at Crete Church, and his life could go on more or less unaltered.
The dangling of this temptation in front of a man who from every earthly perspective wanted a way—any way—to try and work with his elders and acquiesce to their demands, was wicked.
To use a close personal relationship of friendship and trust with a person in order to tempt them to sin was especially devious.
By offering another magazine, we hoped to placate his conscience with the illusion that he could abandon the fight where it was taking place, and instead take up his fight at some future, yet to be identified front.
It was applying salve to the conscience of the man while tempting to turn his back in the heat of battle.
Psalm 78:8–10: “And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God. The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle. They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law.”
This proposal was selfish, especially since we all knew that the magazine was never really the issue.
Starting a new magazine might have delayed the inevitable silencing of Rev. Langerak’s preaching. But it was by no means a solution and would lead to continuing untold hardship for Rev. Langerak and his family. It was a willingness of friends to tempt Rev. Langerak to sin and suffer in order to gain temporal peace for us.
It was self-centered wickedness to tempt Rev. Langerak to sinfully abandon Christ.
I was able to fool myself into thinking that I was motivated by a desire for peace in the church and love for the members.
I was walking by sight and not by faith. And I put all the good gifts the Lord had given me, including my relationship to Rev., to the service of tempting him to sin.
The only explanation for that was wicked unbelief.
I have apologized to Rev. Langerak and confessed my sins.
The rebuke of Jesus to Peter in Matthew 16:23 seems appropriate: “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”
In self-examination I see the deceptiveness in myself, which is characteristic of a viper; and I see my willingness to play fast and loose with the gospel of Christ, which is characteristic of a whore. Not just my nature, but my actions.
I find assurance in the knowledge that Christ did not come to save the righteous. Christ died for the whores and vipers that he chose before the foundation of the earth. He died for murderers, liars, and abusive elders too. Luke 5:32: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
And for those whom God has forgiven, He has also given a place of repentance. Hebrews 12:16–17: “…Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” Esau could not find a place of repentance because Jesus did not die on the cross for Esau. He was not forgiven.
This is not an exercise in blame leveling.
Christ was displaced by man. In the realm of our salvation. Nothing could be more serious.
But Christ will not be displaced forever. Hebrews 12:2: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
And we also live in the assurance that in the process of this displacement, Christ will not lose a one of His.
John 6:39: “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.”
And we live in the confidence that none of this is lost on God.
God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.
Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Deliver the poor and needy: rid themout of the hand of the wicked.
They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
I have said, Ye aregods; and all of you are children of the most High.
But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.
Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.
And now, looking back on the events of the last year, the glory for the gift of the pure preaching of the gospel we receive every Sunday, which was worked by God through the willful suspension of Rev. Langerak, can only be attributed to God.
The truth is, man did not build the Reformed Protestant Churches any more than man built the ark. It was an act of God, an act in which he used countless sinful men and women and children. And after God built the ark through his servant Noah, he saved his people by the flood. And now every Sunday we hear the gospel. And we hear the beautiful truth that our salvation, all the way to the experience of it, is of Christ.
Romans 9:16: “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”
And we hear Psalm 127:1: “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”
(This post was written by Elder Andy Birkett and is the 2nd of his three post series).
Rev. Langerak had a deep conviction to be faithful to his vows before God and a selfless desire to serve the flock of Christ at Crete Protestant Reformed Church as its undershepherd, even to his own hurt.
Rev. did this until it became impossible for him to perform the duties he had vowed to fulfill as a minister.
The agenda for the consistory meeting of February 11, 2021, gave no indication what was about to happen.
The men at that meeting were some of my closest friends and men for whom I had the greatest respect. Some of these same men would soon be accusing, provoking, and mocking the minister (quotes following).
After reading and prayer, under the agenda item including “discussion of the preaching and state of the congregation,” the discussion began with accusations and charges against the minister: “His preaching damages the flock”; “His preaching does not feed the sheep”; “He gives the same sermon every Sunday, he just hangs a different text on it”; “His preaching is discouraging”; “We keep hearing about by grace and not by works” (this was in the context of the complaint that the preaching was discouraging); “He preaches angry”; “My wife can’t take it anymore”; “It has to stop!”; “We have to do something tonight!”
James 3:13: “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.”
This was done in violation of the vows taken at the installation of elder to “be assistant with their good counsel and advice to the ministers of the Word, yea, also to serve all Christians with advice and consolation” and with a complete absence of scripture.
But the preaching of Rev. Langerak was the undisputed (even by the same elders) truth of scripture.
It was the pure words of Christ. That’s why they could not charge it.
The preaching was attacked without any direct reference to any words of a sermon, no grounds, no scripture.
Matthew 10:40: “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.”
In the heat of the attack, an elder pulled out a prepared written motion regarding Sword and Shield, and after some discussion the following motion passed.
To require Rev. Langerak to resign as contributing editor of the Sword and Shield and discontinue writing for and promoting the publication.
Langerak continues writing in and promoting the Sword and Shield as a co-editor with Andy Lanning, a deposed minister of the PRC who continues to live in the sin of schism.
Langerak’s participation has caused and continues to cause unrest and division in our congregation.
While Rev. Langerak’s association with Rev. Lanning and Sword and Shield magazine was the instrument used to suspend Rev. Langerak, Rev. Langerak was suspended because of his preaching.
Proof for this statement is the discussion leading to the motion, which had everything to do with the preacher and his peaching, as well as the undisputed testimony of an elder immediately following the motion regarding Sword and Shield.
When the motion was made and supported, he exclaimed in confusion and frustration, “Why are we talking about Sword and Shield? This is not about Sword and Shield—that is just a magazine. This is about the preaching off the pulpit!”
For a moment, I was right there with the elder. It hit me like a sucker punch. I was thinking, “Where did that come from?”
The reason I was so shocked is because during the entire evening, nobody had even mentioned Sword and Shield.
The elder who made this remark had not yet grasped the scheme that everyone else in the room was already aware of (whether they agreed with it or not).
The strategy was: the means to accomplish the goal (of some) to silence the preaching was to be achieved through the use of Rev.’s association with Rev. Lanning and his writing for Sword and Shield.
Once I explained this strategy to the elder in the most explicit of terms, without any dispute from any of the other elders around the table, he took up his place.
When I referenced the above quotation of this elder, as well as a few other quotes, in my protest of the decision, an elder voiced his complaint that he “did not appreciate his words being quoted out of context.”
When I heard the elder say that, I was wishing that I could have typed faster, because the context of the quotes I brought could not walk them straight.
The same elder then gave testimony (albeit involuntarily) to the accuracy of the quotes when he readily admitted that he recognized the statements he had made and commented that “others probably recognized their statements too.”
The first sinful ground for the motion included binding the conscience of Rev. Langerak regarding the manner in which he must behave toward Rev. Lanning—as an unrepentant brother living in sin.
The elders were aware that if Rev. capitulated to the demands of the motion, he would be acknowledging the truth of the grounds on which the motion stood and that agreeing to this ground would be sinful for Rev.
The writing and the preaching of Rev. Langerak were with one voice. If Rev. had sinfully abdicated his responsibility and liberty to do either, the inevitable fruit would have been the loss of the other.
The second sinful ground for the motion specifically took Rev. Lanning out of the ground by qualifying that Rev. Langerak’s writing in Sword and Shieldhascaused—PRIOR to the deposition of Rev. Lanning—and continues to cause “unrest and division.”
The demands from the elders could not have stopped because the grounds used in the motion were crafted in such a manner that if Rev. Langerak complied with this demand, he would have been confessing truth to the grounds.
But the grounds were lies. Lies which, once he submitted to, would come as grounds with the next demand.
For now, it was enough to stop writing for and promoting the same magazine as Rev. Lanning.
If he had complied, would that have been enough? Would the demands from the elders have stopped?
Based upon the facts, the goal was to silence the preaching. They would not stop until this was accomplished.
But why all the accusations at the meeting with the surprise motion? There was not even a pretense of correction or instruction. What did they hope to gain?
My guess is that the flurry of accusations and charges were insurance. Insurance that even if the motion did not pass, it would take months, if not years (during which they could have their desire to silence Rev. Langerak), for the elders to either follow through with formal charges or repent and apologize of their false accusations and slander in the consistory room. The editors of the Standard Bearer had proven that this partial use of Christian discipline was the most effective tool to silence Rev. Langerak for a long time, if not indefinitely.
These men are not novices at church polity, nor are they given to temper tantrums or random outbursts.
This meeting was not an unplanned loss of control.
The reason there would never be proof to back a single one of these accusations is that there was none.
The sermons are all posted on SermonAudio. If any of the above charges can be proven (except the charge “We keep hearing about by grace and not by works”), I will gladly retract my above contentions.
Could he ever again mount the pulpit at Crete Protestant Reformed Church as the mouthpiece of God on behalf of THESE elders?
With the passing of this motion, the victory for those who wanted to silence Rev. Langerak in the Protestant Reformed Churches was secure.
The instant the motion was adopted, what had proven to be a years-in-the-making, insurmountable hurdle for the minority was no longer hindering them from their desire.
I say this was “years-in-the-making” based upon the response I received when an elder accused the minister of preaching out of anger. I asked the speaker when he noticed this change, and his response was, “He has been preaching out of anger for years.” I had never heard this accusation prior to this meeting.
All of this was done behind closed doors.
It seems hypocritical that the same men who shook Rev. Langerak’s hand after every one of these sermons would then behind closed doors accuse him of all these things.
But God saw it all.
Ecclesiastes 5:8: “If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.”
Immediately upon the passage of the motion one elder demanded of Rev., “ARE YOU GOING TO COMPLY?!”
At that time, nobody (that I am aware of) had ever seen the motion in writing, much less been able to study it enough to understand the implications of the motion, except the elder who pulled it out.
When Rev. requested time to pray about the matter, the same elder taunted Rev. by mocking him, “You just told us a minute ago that you could not bring yourself to comply with that demand if we made it. Are you going back on your word now? Is that what your word is worth? Or were you just trying to intimidate us?”
There were enough elders in the room who felt that a decision of such magnitude demanded we allow time.
After reading and studying the motion and grounds, Rev. Langerak and I were both convicted that the motion was sinful.
Being a sinful motion with a sinful demand based on sinful grounds, Rev. did not feel that he could acquiesce to it for even a minute.
Galatians 5:1: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
According to scripture, the believer MAY NOT obey man rather than Christ.
Acts 5:27–29: “They set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”
(This post was written by Mr. Andy Birkett. Andy was an elder at Crete Protestant Reformed Church and witnessed first hand the corruption of the marks of the true church. In faithfulness to his office and obedience to his God, Mr. Birkett, along with the pastor and a deacon, called the faithful out of Crete PRC with an Act of Separation and Reformation and formed Second Reformed Protestant Church, where he currently serves as elder).
The silencing of Rev. Langerak.
I first noticed the division in the denomination when Rev. Langerak was no longer writing for the Standard Bearer. I asked Rev. Langerak about it, and he told me that the editors refused to publish his writing and directed me to ask Prof. Dykstra. Prof. Dykstra told me that he would not discuss it. Rev. Langerak then told me that the editors had charged him with sin and refused to publish his articles until he repented. I assumed that the elders were dealing with this, and I didn’t pursue the issue any further.
Later, when the SB stopped publishing articles by Rev. VanderWal and Rev. Lanning, it became apparent to me that the censorship in the Standard Bearer was not a sin issue against one man but a larger issue that was causing the division between some of the writers and the editors.
The division in the consistory room at Crete became palpable with the publication of the April 2020 issue of the Beacon Lights.
This issue contained a letter from Prof. Cammenga in response to a speech delivered at the Young People’s Convention by Rev. Langerak and published in the November 2019 Beacon Lights, along with the subsequent discussion in the letters section of the February 2020 Beacon Lights.
I appreciated Rev. Langerak’s speech and the subsequent discussion in the Beacon Lights, including Prof. Cammenga’s letter in the April 2020 issue.
I appreciated the speech and Rev. Langerak’s correspondence because I agreed with it. I was not in agreement with the letter by Prof. Cammenga, but I appreciated his response because even though it was painful to see division within our denomination, I thought that Prof. had exposed, and placed in juxtaposition, a serious doctrinal division, which I was hopeful would be discussed and resolved.
The doctrine of good works by Rev. Langerak and the doctrine of good works by Prof. Cammenga were to be used by God to cause division in the congregation in Crete.
During a contentious discussion of the consistory, the doctrine of good works espoused by Rev. Langerak in his speech brought the accusation of Rev. Langerak’s position as being “radical.”
When that charge was expressed with that specific word, I think everyone in the room recognized the reference to Prof. Dykstra’s article. The issue was never resolved.
The mechanism for the suspension of Rev. Langerak began to take shape about a year prior to the actual suspension, with the charges of sin against Rev. Langerak by the three editors of the Standard Bearer in a letter dated February 10, 2020.
The editors came with charges of sin against Rev. Langerak in response to a letter written by a group of men, of whom Rev. Langerak was one. After much correspondence with the RFPA board, these men wrote a letter to voice their concerns regarding the Standard Bearer and call for a meeting of the association to consider their concerns. The letter was sent to the board of the Reformed Free Publishing Association and editors about eight months before the charges of sin came.
The consistory of Crete Protestant Reformed Church called a special meeting for February 17, 2020, to address the charges. Since I was unable to attend the meeting due to other plans, I submitted a letter to the clerk of the consistory. In this letter I explained my participation with the men in writing the letter to the RFPA board and forwarded all my knowledge of the situation to assist the consistory in its deliberations.
At that meeting the charges of sin against Rev. Langerak from the editors were not sustained by the majority of the consistory.
The same charges were brought against Rev. Lanning at that time, with the result that the consistory at Byron Center did not sustain the charges against him either.
Our consistory was reconstituted with three new members sometime around the first week of January 2021.
In the consistory room prior to the morning service on Sunday, January 24, 2021, an elder presented the consistory with a prepared motion charging with sin the faithful officebearers from Byron Center who had called out the members of the congregation with the “Act of Separation.”
Rev. Langerak was convicted that the motion was bearing false witness and therefore had his negative vote recorded. By recording his negative vote, he would not be bound by the decision of the majority.
The elder who brought the motion was visibly upset by the recording of the negative vote, and it soon became apparent why he was so upset.
Once the motion was passed, the same elder read his wording of an announcement to the congregation. In it, he individually called out Rev. Langerak as having adopted the motion with the consistory.
Rev. objected to the announcement on the ground that he was NOT in agreement with the motion and had his negative vote recorded. (According to Robert’s Rules of Order, had he not had his negative vote recorded in the minutes at the time the motion was passed, he would have forfeited his right to express disagreement with the decision of the body.)
The elder had set a trap for Rev. when he wrote the motion, knowing that Rev. would not vote in favor of the motion, but not foreseeing that Rev. would have his negative vote recorded. But God delivered Rev. Langerak before the trap could spring on him by leading Rev. to have his negative vote recorded.
The elder who brought the motion and the announcement then, without shame, expressed before the entire body that he had written the announcement with the purpose of binding Rev. Langerak’s conscience.
II Corinthians 4:2: “But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
News of the false charges of sin from the editors, the opposing doctrine of good works by Prof. Cammenga in his Noah rebuttal, and the article from Prof. Dykstra about radicalism had all been festering, and division within the consistory and congregation continued to swell.
At this time several members of Crete were gathering to worship at other Protestant Reformed churches in the area. The elders (including me) were fully aware of this, and yet we did not rebuke the members for despising the means of grace. I think the consensus of the elders would be that we did this in order to maintain a carnal peace in the congregation. This was a sin for which we all share equal blame.
This despising of the means of grace continued through the time of family visitation. I specifically remember one elder report on his family visitation, where he questioned why a family would not request a membership transfer to the church they were attending since they rarely (if ever) attended worship when Rev. Langerak was preaching. Their response to the elders was, “We are staying for the building.”
It was a sea change when new officebearers were installed in January of 2021.
The change in the consistory was not wholly unforeseen, due to the fact that at least one of the men on the slate had stopped at the parsonage months earlier to disparage the preaching and person of Rev. Langerak.
I was aware of this incident because at that time I was a member of the Pastor’s Support Pulpit Supply Committee, and Rev. Langerak had called me to discuss it.
Rev. told me that the meeting was a vicious and hateful assault. Since I was not there to witness it firsthand, that is all I will say concerning it.
This man would later be elected to represent Christ in the office of elder. After witnessing what this elder would say and do in the consistory room with witnesses, I do not doubt what Rev. Langerak had told me concerning their private meeting.
With the installation of new officebearers, the urgency and fervency of certain members of the consistory to silence the preaching of Rev. Langerak could not be overstated.
Looking back, two months prior to the installation of new officebearers, my notes from the meeting of the Pastoral Support Pulpit Supply Committee included the following two comments.
October 19, 2020
We asked about any further developments in response to his involvement with Reformed Believers Publishing, as well as the articles published in the Sword and Shield. Reverend reported that he has received nothing and is unaware of any upcoming actions regarding these labors.
Rev expressed his deep appreciation and thankfulness for the excellent working relationship with the current consistory.
At our February 11, 2021, meeting, the following motion was passed:
Article 12 – Motion made and supported to require Rev. Langerak to resign as a contributing editor of the Sword & Shield and discontinue writing for and promoting the publication.
Rev. Langerak continues writing in and promoting the Sword & Shield as a co-editor with Andy Lanning, a deposed minister of the PRC who continues to live in the sin of schism.
Rev. Langerak’s participation has caused and continues to cause unrest and division in our congregation.
Motion made and supported to elide ground b. and replace it with “For the sake of the effectiveness of the preaching in our congregation.” Motion to elide fails.
Motion as originally moved carries. Andy Birkett records a negative vote.
On February 18 I submitted my protest against the consistory decision.
At the March 11 consistory meeting, my protest was received and sent to committee for advice.
On April 15 the consistory adopted advice to not sustain my protest. Rev. Langerak also submitted a protest at this meeting prior to his suspension but it was never considered.
I had received the advice concerning my protest in my consistory agenda, and I came to the meeting ready to verbally appeal the proposed response to my protest, should it be adopted.
After the advice was adopted, I was appointed to a study committee with two other elders with a mandate to formulate a proposed response for the consistory to deal with the reality that Rev. Langerak was not going to comply with the demand of the motion.
On April 21 the consistory met to consider a majority report, as well as a minority report.
The majority report was adopted.
On April 24 Rev. Langerak was formally suspended.
By this time the division at Crete PRC had become so pronounced, it was beyond dispute that Rev. Langerak was not going to be given a place to preach in Crete any longer.