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.
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].
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!”
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.
“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.”
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.”
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?
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.
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).
In His grace, God has torn a hole in the net and broken the snare making a way of escape for his children in Singapore.
With the organization of the Berean Reformed Protestant Fellowship, God’s people are now given a place of refuge where they can join with like-minded believers who have fled an apostatizing sister of the PRC.
The brothers and sisters in the Berean RPF are again willing to allow us to open the Scriptures with them as they continue their Bible study this week Saturday, January 29. This week, Lord willing, Tian Loong will be speaking on the subject “Reformation or Schism?” The Bible study will be held at 7:00am (EST). The link for this Bible study, and future Bible studies which will be held on the same day and time, is below:
“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few” (Acts 17:10-12).
For those interested in viewing the last Q&A session that was held on January 15, that can be viewed here:
The now-completed Q&A on January 22 can be found here:
Mr. Lim has also expressed willingness to share the material that the Singapore Bible Study worked through in their study of the material. If you would like to see that material submit a comment on this post and I will forward you Mr. Lim’s email address.
2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
The Lord willing, on Saturday, January 15, 2022 at 7:00 am (EST), there will be a meeting held that may be of interest to the audience of this blog. In obedience to their God (2 Tim. 2:15), Aaron Lim and other saints in Singapore have been diligently studying the controversy in the PRC. Having finished studying the controversy, they now plan to conduct a meeting where questions posed by the brethren in Singapore will be asked to Revs. Langerak and Lanning. If there is time permitting, those observing the meeting will be given the opportunity to ask questions. With Mr. Lim’s permission, I attach the link (below) to those who may be interested in joining. The meeting will also be recorded for those who cannot attend. I am told they hope to make this Bible study a regular weekly meeting to study topics pertaining to the controversy.
Indeed a blessing that we can join in with fellow saints across the world to study these doctrinal truths and grow in the knowledge of our God.
“Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name” Malachi 3:16
Even those who have yet to read one document or article pertaining to the controversy have taken it up.
“Lanning is schismatic!” “Langerak is schismatic!” “The RPC are full of schismatics!”
Or, cruelly, it is made intensely personal. “You have destroyed our family!”
The fact that Rev. McGeown has recently come out charging “Schism!” is not much of a concern to me.
He has not been involved, and it appears he does not have much of a grasp on what has taken place. It appears his primary function is to follow behind and clean up after Rev. Koole, a role he fills with vigor. Seems an odd calling for a minister to follow around another minister and try to clean up his trail of false doctrine. Keeps a man busy, anyway.
But schism was committed in the PRC.
Just not by Revs. Langerak, Lanning, and VanderWal, the men who started Reformed Believers Publishing, the faithful officebearers in Wingham, or anyone else who has been consistently drawing the charge.
It certainly is not committed by those who come out of the PRC and join themselves to a church that clearly manifests the marks of a true church, according to the 29th article of the Belgic Confession.
Only a few short months after Synod 2018 had spoken and declared that the PRC had been guilty of compromising justification by faith alone and the unconditional covenant and had displaced Jesus Christ, the Standard Bearer finally spoke.
If a man would be saved, there was that which man must do.
I attended the synod of 2018. I remember reading the advice of the committee and rejoicing. Finally. Finally! The controversy was over! This was something we could rally around. Yes, there would be much to learn going forward. For a church that had prided itself on its doctrinal integrity for so long, to now have it shown that we were responsible for compromising justification by faith alone would no doubt be deeply humbling, but God had showed us our error, and how could that not be for the good of our beloved churches?
But it was not long until that sense of joy faded away.
Prof. Dykstra’s editorial immediately following the synod was strange. The PRC compromised justification by faith alone, and Dykstra’s response was to damn anyone who dared condemn the error and speak a word of rebuke against those who had led the PRC astray?
(Perhaps someone can ask Prof. Dykstra why he never spoke a word of defense of the members of the PRC who were used by God to defend the truth in the denomination, for which they were being routinely slandered and murdered by all.)
What was going on?
I went to Prof. Dykstra that summer and sat in his office at seminary and asked him why the editors were ignoring the decision of Synod 2018.
I asked him, where was the series of editorials explaining and developing the truth that had been restored in the denomination by that decision?
His response should have told me all I needed to know.
He didn’t know who would write them. He asked me who I thought should write them.
I know now he was just patronizing me.
But things became clearer with the October issue.
Any question as to what the SB thought about the decision of 2018 was cleared up.
It had no use for it.
Which is when the true schism became clear.
Schism was committed in October of 2018.
It was committed by Rev. Koole.
“For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Cor. 11:18–19).
Rev. Koole taught and defended false doctrine at a time when the denomination was most vulnerable.
To commit schism is to separate the members of Christ’s body from their head, Jesus Christ.
It is to separate men from Christ.
The churches had just been wracked by controversy, which controversy revealed that the overwhelming majority of the members, including officebearers, did not understand the Reformation truth of justification by faith alone. (Which is a deep irony for a denomination that prided itself on its doctrinal knowledge. Turns out simply appealing back to years gone by doesn’t convey either a knowledge of the truth or a love for the truth—members of the RPC denomination, take note.)
The response of the SB was to make sure the denomination never would.
There is that which you must do.
With that teaching, and then with his inevitable defense of that false doctrine, the body of Jesus Christ was rent.
There were those who wrote the SB to object.
Rev. Lanning was one of those.
With a multitude of words, denials, and obfuscations, Rev. Koole spun and twisted and writhed his way to an explanation that did a lot of things but that never repudiated the false doctrine.
What the public did not see was what went on behind the scenes.
In November 2019, Rev. Lanning wrote a letter to his consistory keeping them informed of developments regarding Koole’s article, his interactions with the editors, the SB generally, and his work with the group of concerned men who were working to arrest the RFPA from its calamitous fall.
That was how Rev. Lanning operated.
Even to his own hurt, he was always very careful to keep the consistory informed on things that may have had a broader impact in the denomination. I can still vividly remember when, after a lengthy meeting, under the “new business” part of the agenda, Rev. Lanning informed his consistory of where things stood with the group of concerned men. Even though he knew men in the room would be hostile to it. Shamefully, I remember thinking, “Do you have to tell us everything?”
That letter, along with a supplement, is attached here.
You should print it and read it carefully.
It reveals much.
It shows that Rev. Lanning kept his consistory informed regarding developments in the denomination in which he was involved and puts the lie to the claim that Rev. Lanning went rogue and never worked with his consistory.
It shows what Rev. Koole really thinks privately, even though he lied about it publicly.
Compare these statements:
Trying to understand what he meant, I asked Rev. Koole if anything that we receive depends upon our working. His immediate and vigorous response was, “Andy, Yes!” (AL conversation with KK, 11/7/2019)
To that line of reasoning I take exception. I used neither the words “works” nor “depends upon.” (Koole, SB, 3/1/19)
You indicate you are of the persuasion that we may not, we must not use such terms and language, for that would imply/teach that something depends on man when it comes to one’s salvation (cf. your third paragraph and following ones as well). And who can deny that to teach or even imply such would not be truly, consistently Reformed? (Koole, SB, 3/1/19)
These documents also show how truly political Prof. Dykstra truly is.
Byron Center PRC had a true pastor with Rev. Lanning and has now replaced him with a politician. The members of Byron Center PRC have what they want—a political pastor who knows how to work the political game that is the PRC.
Prof. Dykstra apparently can also go long stretches of time without resting. On November 7, Prof. Dykstra told Rev. Lanning that he would not rest until he talked to Rev. Koole. Ten days later he still hadn’t spoken to him. Finally, two weeks later, it appears Prof. Dykstra finally contacted Rev. Koole, showing himself to be the antitype of Rip Van Winkle.
Even now, being on the outside, it is ugly.
Rev. Koole was teaching full-blown federal vision theology.
A man whom Grandville PRC just declared, in spite of every evidence to the contrary, to be orthodox.
(Shame on the elders of Grandville PRC. They know better. They listened to Rev. Koole corrupt the gospel for over a decade. This was a protest of a sermon I was advised not to submit and was then too afraid to send in, but which shows Rev. Koole’s theology. Here is audio from 2013 of Rev. Koole teaching the well-meant gospel offer.)
What was the response of the denomination to being taught federal vision theology?
There were watchmen who saw it. They wrote in. They fought as best they could, given the fact that they were going up against a well-established political machine in the PRC.
Rev. Lanning was one of those men.
He tried to warn the people. He started with the elders of Byron Center. These were the men who were supposed to be on the wall with him. He wrote them a letter and included painstaking detail about his interactions with Rev. Koole and the other editors.
It fell on deaf ears. We as the consistory of Byron Center PRC were earthly and carnal. What characterized our meetings was earthly wisdom, which is sensual and devilish. Because these things were spiritually discerned, we could not know them.
So we as a consistory ignored what was found in the report.
Worse, we tried to shut him up.
By November 2019 division was widespread in the PRC.
Byron Center PRC was no exception.
There were many who claimed that Rev. Lanning was causing schism.
“Rev. Lanning preached ‘The Flood’ sermon and half the congregation left and started a new church!”
“Rev. Lanning preached ‘The Tears of Bochim’ sermon, and it made people so made they wouldn’t allow him on their pulpit!”
“Rev. Lanning preached ‘Shepherds to Feed You,’ and that caused so much division in the church!”
The consistory, instead of supporting Rev. Lanning in his defense of the truth, sought to weaken him.
Instead of standing for the truth of God over against the lie, the consistory of Byron Center PRC passed a motion intended to appease a vocal minority at BCPRC, but one that would take Rev. Lanning off the walls of Zion and cause him to break the vow that he had taken before God to uphold the truth and condemn the lie.
That decision was emailed out on November 12, 2020.
Within minutes of the email being sent to the congregation, I received a call from a member of Byron Center PRC, which man remains a member in the PRC. He said, with some passion, “If you loved the congregation of Byron, you would never have made that decision. That decision will tear the congregation apart.”
(I have that in quotes because those were the exact words he used. Immediately at the end of the conversation, recognizing the truth and the weight of his words, I felt compelled to write them in my journal. Little did I know how prescient his words would prove to be.)
“That decision will tear the congregation apart.”
He was right.
The consistory of BCPRC tried to silence a righteous minister of the gospel, which is to silence the voice of Jesus Christ himself, and the result was terrible, terrible schism.
Fast-forward to today, and there is endless lamenting about schism.
It’s all you hear.
Perhaps this just reveals a lack of understanding about what schism truly is.
Perhaps it is something more. Perhaps it is time for us to stop being children. Perhaps it is time for us to grow up.
It is time to stop being tossed about by cunning men with their exceptional craftiness (Eph. 4:14). Ministers like Koole and McGeown and Dykstra have been deceiving the members of their denomination.
Their lies have been believed by the members of the denomination.
The RPC are guilty of schism!
It may be the conventional wisdom in the PRC, but it is still the lie.
Here is the truth.
“For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Cor. 11:18–19).
If a minister, on behalf of the gospel of Jesus Christ, rebukes his congregation so that the entire congregation is in an uproar and sides are taken and battle lines are drawn and elders are shouting in the parking lot and women are crying and wailing, that minister has not committed schism.
He has been faithful to the biblical command found in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
If a minister, on behalf of the gospel of Jesus Christ, writes for a magazine, so that his entire congregation is in an uproar and sides are taken and battle lines are drawn so that finally, political, vain, and light men who masquerade as elders make plans to have him ousted, that minister has not committed schism.
He has been faithful to the Church Order of Dordt, the 55th article, “To ward off false doctrines and errors that multiply exceedingly through heretical writings, the ministers and elders shall use the means of teaching, of refutation or warning, and of admonition, as well in the ministry of the Word as in Christian teaching and family-visiting.”
If a minister with his consistory make the decision to separate themselves from an apostatizing denomination, they have not committed schism.
They have exercised their right as an autonomous local congregation to withdraw themselves from a denomination, which right is granted by Article X-B of the denomination’s by-laws and which action is demanded by the consistory’s calling to protect the flock that is under its care.
If a group of concerned men starts a magazine where the truth of God can be unashamedly and unapologetically taught and the lie uncompromisingly rejected, that is not schism.
That is obedience to the biblical command in Jude 3 to “contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
If members, seeing the wickedness in their denomination, withdraw their papers, form a fellowship, and wait patiently on the Lord to lead them (as lead them he will), that small, despised group has not committed schism.
They have been obedient to the command of their Lord in Revelation 18:4 to “come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
If ministers in the PRC had not taught false doctrine; if consistories had not defended the ministers who taught it; if the church paper—tame house organ that it showed itself to be—had not done its utmost to keep its people in the dark and then later led its people deeper down the path of apostasy, there would have been no division.
There would have been no Sword & Shield.
There would have been no sermons that sharply rebuked the people for their indifference to the truth of God’s word.
Why were the sermons and the new magazine necessary?
“For there must be also heresies among you.”
Lest there are those who believe this error is contained to the pages of the SB, let me disabuse them of their willful ignorance.
The schism was perpetrated by more than just Rev. Koole, which schism was tolerated and defended by the editors of the church paper.
Rev. Van Overloop, the man who more than any other pastor represents the PRC, committed schism.
On June 23, 2019, he preached that fellowship with God was conditional and not all of grace.
By that heresy he rent the body of Christ.
“For there must be also heresies among you.”
Rev. Slopsema, many times a church visitor and thereby one who is considered to be one of the wisest and most experienced pastors in the denomination, committed schism when in a meditation in the October 15, 2020, issue of the Standard Bearer he wrote that a man’s receiving blessings from God depends on that man’s obedience. In addition to being explicitly contrary to the decision of his own synod only two short years prior, it was also contrary to the confessional and biblical truth that Christ, and Christ alone, is sufficient for all of our salvation, including our abounding in fellowship with our God.
Rev. Bruinsma, with his denial of the truth of total depravity, committed schism in the body of Christ and caused the bride of Christ to be torn asunder.
The list could go on, which list has been painstakingly laid out in Sword & Shield and elsewhere.
With each sermon, article, email, and blog post, false doctrine was taught and schism committed.
And who did the PRC rally around?
Who did the members of the denomination defend?
The false teachers.
At whose feet did they lay the charge of schism?
At the feet of the men and women who protested and appealed.
At the feet of the men who finally, after having exhausted all other channels, were left with no choice but to form a new magazine which would be able to proclaim the absolute sufficiency of Christ and to do so without apology and without compromise.
(And to be clear, I was not one of those men. I had plenty of excuses at the time. But examining my behavior now in the light of history, the real reason that I declined was that I was afraid. Do you see a pattern in my behavior over the last five years?)
Sword & Shield was declared to be the true cause of schism. This magazine and the statements in the magazine were what now threatened to “promote disorder and a divisive spirit in our churches” (letter from Georgetown PRC’s consistory to its congregation in response to the appearance of Sword & Shield). The curiously named Unity PRC wrote to its members that the magazine would “promote further division and unrest in our denomination.”
That list could go on as well.
It makes me want to weep.
I don’t know what else to say.
Why can’t you see it?
Don’t you see what has truly caused schism in the PRC?
Don’t you see that saying that Jesus Christ is not enough, that a man must do something to be saved, that in some vital sense in our salvation man precedes God, that in order to abound in covenant fellowship you have to obey the commands of the law, that we are in some way active in our justification—don’t you see that by teaching all of those things you will rip and tear and rend the body of Christ?
Don’t you see those words tearing believers from their head, Jesus Christ?
Isn’t the Apostle Paul clear—after writing of divisions that exist in the church of Corinth—when he writes, “for there must be also heresies among you”?
Isn’t John Calvin clear when, commenting on that text, he writes, “It is true, that the Church cannot but be torn asunder by false doctrine, and thus heresy is the root and origin of schism”?
Maybe, if history is any guide, the members of the PRC will only listen to one of their own. Very good; then listen to Prof. Hanko.
But if the church has reached the point where it is impossible for the faithful remnant to restore the church, there is only one course of action that is left: reformation must come about through secession. The Reformers did this when the Roman Catholic Church proved herself beyond reform. There is only one course of action to pursue. It can happen in any church, even ours. But if we are not reformed and therefore always reforming, it will come to that, beyond doubt. As difficult as that may be, the cause of Christ and His Church is more important than anything else.
The Reformers were accused of the sin of schism, especially by Cardinal Sadolet, when he addressed the citizens of Geneva where Calvin had been, to try to win them back to the Romish fold. He accused Calvin and the other Reformers of leaving the church and rending the body of Christ, and of thus becoming guilty of schism. Calvin’s answer, in what was a masterpiece in the defense of the Reformation, was in effect this: not those who leave the church are guilty of schism, but those who depart from the doctrines of Christ, they tear the church to pieces, because the unity of the church is the unity of her doctrine of Jesus Christ her Head. And to destroy and to deny her doctrine is to create schism. Not we, Calvin says, but you, Cardinals and Bishops and Popes, you have created schism in the body of Christ. Our hands are clean of that sin. (Hanko, SB, Reformed Yet Always Reforming, 6/1/81, 402–404)
Heresy was the root and origin of the schism in the PRC.
A magazine that sets forth the truth of justification by faith alone doesn’t harm the unity of a true church of Jesus Christ.
A sermon that warns the members of a lie that threatens them does not cause schism in the church of Christ.
Officebearers and members who protest and appeal do not do harm to the unity of a true church of Jesus Christ.
All of those things stand in the service of the unity of the church.
Because all of those things are done in the service of the truth, which alone represents the unity of the church.
False doctrine, which is the tool of the devil, separates the church from her head, Jesus Christ.
Those who wage war against that false doctrine are not the cause of the schism. They are those who love the flock even though the more they love the flock, the less they be loved (2 Cor. 12:15). They are those who find themselves as the filth of the world and the refuse of all things unto this day (1 Cor. 4:13). Despite all of that, they loved the body of Jesus Christ by trying to remove that which would tear her from Christ.
But the members of the PRC are not listening.
Their ears are stopped, and their eyes are covered.
They have been stricken, but they have not grieved.
They have been consumed, but they have refused to receive correction.
With ministers like McGeown, Koole, and Dykstra and so many others, and a magazine like the Standard Bearer, it is a certainty that this people will never turn.