Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The "Call to Reformation", which is a call to "liberation," is predicated on a wrong premise (see previous post). A thing predicated on a wrong premise has no validity. One must first prove his premise.

It is unfortunate that the word "liberation" is used in this context. The word brings to mind, of course, the liberation of '44. That liberation was necessary since extra-biblical and extra-confessional doctrines had been bound upon the churches. The recent synods' decisions to enter into ecclesiastical fellowship with several other Reformed churches in NA did not bind extra-biblical and extra-confessional doctrines upon the churches. One may disagree with the decisions, but to put forward the wrong premise (that these churches have an open table, and that by these decisions we have embraced the principle of an open table), and then to call for liberation from the decisions, is not right.

Again: one must first prove his premise before he issues such a call.

4 comments:

Agricola said...

Post 1:
I am always amazed at how quick some people are to appropriate a "Messiah complex." They draw parallels between themselves and Schilder, or better yet, Luther and Calvin. What a different attitude we actually see among those men of old! Did Schilder make himself out to be a new Luther? Not that I can tell.
by: Wes Bredenhof (URL) on 2006-07-05 13:59:42

Post 2:
We have not drawn parallels between "ourselves" and men like Schilder, Luther, or John Calvin. Any material on the site related to such men is to dismantle common arguments and to encourage people to look back throughout our history to see that there are indeed some striking similarities. Pluriformity as an example, Schilder said: "Pluriformity is a nice name for a horrible thing." Schilder was labeled a "Schismatic" as well. As for a "wrong premise", we are simply maintaining what our Churches have always believed and upheld until the General Synods gave recommendations to consistories to proceed with "Phase Two". The consistories, while accepting these recommendations implement the "unlawful binding". I would strongly encourage you to read more of the material on the site, it seems that you have taken a quick look at the first page, and our questions section and made your conclusions.
Brotherly regards,
by: Richard Van Laar (URL) on 2006-07-05 17:32:40

Post 3:
Richard, I have browsed around and read some of the info on the site, but I have trouble getting past your first page. I would expect the front page to state the main concern. It seems that your main concern -- at least it's the first thing you state -- is that the churches with whom we have entered into EF have an open table, and that we have now accepted the principle of an open table. I contend that you are wrong. The churches you refer to do not have an open table. If your basic premise is wrong, the rest can't be right. That's pretty straight forward logic.
by: gvp (URL) on 2006-07-05 18:56:35

Post 4:
As a contributor to the web site under discussion I would invite Rev. Van Popta and others to interact with Questions #6 and following on this site before continuing to condemn what has been called a “wrong premise.” In addition, a few other sources may prove helpful in coming to grips with this issue. I would recommend a close reading of the booklet "Open Communion in the OPC," by B.R. Hofford, Inter League Publication Board: London, Ontario, 1990; a "Clarion" article entitled “The offense of a closed Lord’s Supper Table,” by Prof. J. Geertsema (Volume 39, Number 24, November 23, 1990 issue); and an article in "Reformed Polemics" entitled “Explaining what we confess and practice: common cliches and popular fallacies (9)” by Ron Dykstra (Volume 9, Number 10, February 28, 2005 issue).

I would add that it was the matter of the open Lord’s Supper, which resulted in the secession of the Tri-County Reformed Church from the OPC in 1983. On the admission of this church into the federation of Canadian / American Reformed Churches, Classis Ontario South declared that "the Tri-County Reformed Church has rightfully separated herself from the OPC." (see Press Releases of Classis Ontario South held March 25, 26 and April 1, 1987 and Classis Ontario South held December 9, 1987). Subsequent General Synods have failed to take account of the decisions of these minor assemblies, even though they have never been appealed. Instead, without any notable change in practice on the part of the OPC, the federation of Canadian / American Reformed Churches have entered into a relationship of Ecclesiastical Fellowship with them. This decision on the part of the General Synods of the Canadian / American Reformed Churches has effectively rendered void the application of Article 61 of the Church Order.
by: John Vantil (URL) on 2006-07-05 21:12:33

Post 5:
John,

I'm probably not seeing it, but where is "Questions # 6?"

Not sure I have the time for a careful re-reading of the articles, etc., you recommend.

Just a comment about your last sentence: "This decision on the part of the General Synods of the Canadian / American Reformed Churches has effectively rendered void the application of Article 61 of the Church Order." How is that so? The Church Order contains agreements as to how federated churches will do things. We can enter into EF with a church that fences the table differently than we and yet maintain Article 61. That means, e.g., if an OPC brother visiting Ancaster wishes to attend the Lord's Supper, we will require of him an attestation from his elders. That has not changed because of the Synod decisions. I am afraid you are quite wrong, John, when you say that the application of Article 61 has been rendered void. Canadian Reformed Churches can and ought to apply it post-2001 as they did pre-2001.
by: George van Popta (URL) on 2006-07-05 21:46:24

Post 6:
Reverend, to answer your first question, if you click on the "Questions" menu of the site you should see a series of questions (if they don't all appear hit "refresh"). As the questions aren't numbered you will have to count them as you scroll down. :)

To answer your second question I recommend you read my two discussion papers which have been placed on the site in the "Articles" section. These discussion papers provide an analysis of General Synod decisions regarding the OPC from the period 1992 to 2004 and from 1965 to 1989.
by: John Vantil (URL) on 2006-07-05 22:44:37

Post 7:
Thank you, John.
by: George van Popta (URL) on 2006-07-05 22:54:05

Post 8:
Terms like "liberation" are themselves not sacrosanct. Take for instance - "reformation" and "deformation" - these terms are used time and again in church history. We use the word "liberation" simply to describe the act of "liberating oneself" from some practice that is un-Biblical. It means not partaking of it or in it. By no means do we intend to equate every aspect of our call to liberation with the Liberation of 1944 in the Netherlands on a point-by-point basis.

"Honesty in terminology" means only using a term when some fundamentally significant feature of what is being described reflects the commonly-accepted meaning of the word that is used. Therefore in the absence of some final "court of terminology", I stand by our use of the terms "liberation" and "open Lord's Supper" on the Calltoreform web site.

Glenn Hofford
by: Glenn Hofford (URL) on 2006-07-06 02:45:58

Post 9:
Glenn,

So you are using the term "liberation" in a way different from how our fathers used it in 44. They sought to be liberated from being told, by synod, what they had to teach (a mind and mouth control). No synod of ours has handed down a decree as to what must be taught in the churches. As long as we understand the difference!

Of course you can use whatever terms you want to describe your secession movement, but I still think it unfortunate that you use the term "liberation." The term evokes an emotion. I can only think that is intentional. By using the term you are trying to give the sense that you are standing in the tradition of 44, whereas you are not.

As for your definition of "open table": he who defines his terms proves his point.

by: George van Popta (URL) on 2006-07-06 06:03:21

Post 10:
Thank you, Reverend, for the reference to your article entitled “Admission of guests to the Lord’s Table.” I note your conclusion that “the CanRC stand in the old Reformed line on this point stressing the task of the elders to watch over the table and to admit only those whom they know are sound in faith and godly in conduct.” I am also thankful for this conclusion and I understand that you wish to maintain this.

But then I am also convinced that the last sentence of your previous post is a dodge. It should be clear that when elders admit guests to the Lord’s Supper on the basis of self-testimony or a direct verbal warning, they have *no* knowledge of their soundness of faith or godly conduct. What you might call a “restricted” Lord’s Supper is merely an open Lord’s Supper with a speed bump in front of it.

by: John Vantil (URL) on 2006-07-06 13:16:20

Post 11:
Call it what you want, John. But an open table is a table with no warning. All and sundry are welcome at an open table, no restrictions, no warnings, no nothing, but "… come one and all!" I think the URC, the OPC, etc., can do a better job of restricting the table, but they don't have an open table. That's the point I've been trying to make. That's my basic problem with "Call to Reformation." At the ground level, your premise is wrong and so what you build on it is a house of cards.
by: George van Popta (URL) on 2006-07-06 13:39:28

Post 12:
Our CanRc (technically, I believe, there is no such thing as an American Reformed Church)do practice a 'fenced' table. I assume the intent is to keep the table pure. But do we really fence the table effectivly. I'm not convinced of that. Most members/families receive thier 'yearly' home visit. From my limited experiece, it seems like that's what 'informs' the elders as to the conduct of the member's christian life. I know for certain that at the different tables that i've been to, in different churches that there were some there who shouldn't have been there. But according to their elder, all things checked out because they had a good visit and the right words were spoken. Granted, my place should have been to say something, but most young people are not prepared to take that route. My point is that our own system doesn't seem to consistently function as it should. On paper we are are different but are we as different as some believe?

When dealing with the other federations/groups, it seems as though we (CanRC) have deemed that our way is the right and only way. We have our 'rules/laws' and judge other's by them. When I see that I can not help but think of the way the Pharisees operated. We also must guard and liberate ourselves from Phariseeistic tendencies in every area of our lives.
by: Anthony Vandergugten (URL) on 2006-07-07 02:46:45

Post 13:
The Scriptures speak clearly about the necessity of elder supervision over the Lord's Table. The immoral man of 1 Corinthians 5 thought he was entitled to the Lord's supper but Paul exhorts the church to exclude him. Thus participation at the Lord's table is not merely a matter of individual conscience and the elders of the church have a responsibility to guard the table from the impenitent and unbelieving. The Scriptures, however, do not specify how this principle is to be applied and enacted in the church. It seems clear to me therefore that the Scriptures allow some freedom in how the norm is applied (form)provided the norm is respected.
by: Bill DeJong (URL) on 2006-07-08 09:06:45

Post 14:
George, you've taught church history, right? Was Klaas Schilder willing to live in federative unity with those who held to the doctrine of the pluriformity of the church? My impression is that he and other leaders of the Vrijmaking were and that they would even send their members with attestations to other churches in the federation where pluriformity was being taught and practiced. He drew the line at being forced to hold and teach this doctrine himself. But so far as I know, he and other Liberated leaders were willing to live in unity with those who held this teaching. So, if that is the case (correct me if I'm wrong), then those who claim to be Schilder's children, should believe and act as Schilder did.
by: Wes Bredenhof (URL) on 2006-07-08 12:43:59

Post 15:
You are right, Wes. Schilder and others liberated themselves only after the synod had decreed mouth and mind control. One may disagree with recent synod decisions, but nothing of the sort of Sneek-Utrecht decisions have been made. For people to pretend that Neerlandia was cut from the same bolt of cloth as Sneek-Utrecht is misguided and misguiding.
by: George van Popta (URL) on 2006-07-08 12:50:12

Post 16:
I remember Dr. Faber saying in a public meeting in Edmonton that if he were delegated to a Classis examining a student who held to the doctrine of pluriformity or even to presumptive regeneration, he would not object to his being admitted to the ministry on that basis. He would maintain that these views are wrong but not of such a significance as to break the bond of unity and keep a man out of the ministry.
by: Wes Bredenhof (URL) on 2006-07-08 12:59:38

Post 17:
We should remember that Dr. Schilder’s thinking, just like the rest of us, went through a process of development and was affected by the times in which he lived. Dr. Schilder was looking for an environment in which the concerns could be freely discussed. This was rendered impossible by both the ecclesiastical and political situation of that time. However the question at issue, in posts #14 and #15 above, is what did we liberate from in 1944? Was it only from the *binding* to unscriptural doctrine or was it also from the *unscriptural doctrine itself*? The postings by Revs. Bredenhof and VanPopta make it evident that they consider the 1944 liberation to be only from the *binding* to unscriptural doctrine. I would maintain that we liberated from *both* the binding to, and the unscriptural doctrine itself. For further discussion of this point, see the book “The Liberation: Causes and Consequences,” edited by Dr. C. Van Dam, especially page 93. If Revs. Bredenhof and VanPopta are right, why did we not, as some actually did, rejoin the synodical churches in 1959, after the general synod in the synodical churches dropped the “binding” aspect of the decisions? See for reference page 360 of “Schilder’s Struggle for the Unity of the Church” by Rudolf van Reest.
by: John Vantil (URL) on 2006-07-09 22:16:53

Post 18:
There was not only a doctrinal issue in 1944. There was also the church political and ethical aspects. The blunt edge of synodical hierarchy was used to enforce the unscriptural binding. Schilder, Holwerda and others were deposed by the Synod. Just like is happening with our synods, right?

And while we're quoting from "The Liberation: Causes and Consequences", let's not forget what Dr. Faber wrote on page 115: "We do not infringe upon the place of supralapsarian theologians such as Franciscus Gomarus or Alexander Comrie or Abraham Kuyper within God's catholic church, but as Reformed believers we do not want to be bound to their theological ideas as if they were the revealed truth of God."

So, I'll see your Geertsema and raise you a Faber. We can throw interpreters of the history back and forth at each other. But it won't accomplish anything.

Furthermore, if you are right, then why did Schilder direct the liberated immigrants to the Protestant Reformed churches at first, even though he did not agree with Hoeksema's doctrine of the covenant? It was only with the Declaration of Principles (extra-confessional binding again) that Schilder changed his tune on the Protestant Reformed. See Inheritance Preserved, page 64. "It was not so that K.S. agreed with Hoeksema in every respect, rather the opposite was the case; but he deemed it the proper way to join the Protestant Reformed Churches." Even after 1950, he continued to encourage immigrants to join the PRC, "but openly declared that it was duty of all doing so to state at the very beginning that they would be unable to accept the Declaration." (p.67). And do you really think admitting guests to the Lord's Supper is of greater significance than covenant theology?

Your website not only abuses Scripture (with 1 John 4:6 -- comparing the admission of guests to the Lord's Supper to docetism?), but also church history. By comparing your secession movement to the Liberation in any degree ("striking similarities," to quote a previous post), you dishonour what it was our forefathers really struggled for against. One of our greatest scholars on Dr. Schilder was Dr. J. DeJong. It is no coincidence that Dr. DeJong has also been the strongest and loudest voice when it came to promoting unity with the United Reformed Churches.

I am finished with this discussion here.
by: Wes Bredenhof (URL) on 2006-07-10 01:51:55

Post 19:
It is too bad that Rev. Bredenhof finished before he answered my question. If Revs. Bredenhof and VanPopta are right, why did we not, as some actually did, rejoin the synodical churches in 1959, after the general synod in the synodical churches dropped the “binding” aspect of the decisions? Rather than hiding behind our leaders we should deal with the principles which are at stake.
by: John Vantil (URL) on 2006-07-10 09:54:57

Post 20:
The point at issue in post #16 above is that in the period immediately prior to the 1944 liberation the churches struggled with a number of wrong synodical pronouncements commonly known as the 1905 “Conclusions of Utrecht.” These “Conclusions” granted a measure of legitimacy to the Kuyperian doctrines, including those of presumptive regeneration and the pluriformity of the church (for more information about this see Rev. W.W.J. VanOene’s book “Patrimony Profile,” pages 226-239). At the first General Synod of the newly liberated churches in 1945 these “Conclusions” were set aside.

In his book “…and we escaped” Rev. VanDooren describes his struggle with the “Conclusions of Utrecht” and the impact of the Kuyperian doctrine of presumptive regeneration on the congregation at Wezep, of which he was a minister, prior to the Liberation. Does Rev. Bredenhof wish the Canadian Reformed Churches to go back to a similar situation as existed prior to 1944 when the preaching of Kuyperian doctrine, contrary to the Confessions, was permitted in the churches? And even when ministers only privately hold to these doctrines, and agree not to proclaim them as God’s Word from the pulpit, would not their pastoral work in the congregations they serve be affected by what they actually believe? How can a minister, who from his heart believes in the pluriformity of the church, give clear leadership to people who struggle with maintaining their membership in the church (see “Patrimony Profile,” pages 241-242)? As Scripture says, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33).

by: John Vantil (URL) on 2006-07-10 09:57:52

Post 21:
Likely, we are brick walls talking to each other.

When all is said and done, the Lynden Seceders, and those with them, are not liberaters or liberationists. They are just seceders.
by: George van Popta (URL) on 2006-07-10 10:36:07

Post 22:
John, Rev. VanPopta is right. This is going nowhere. You've taken your stand and made up your mind and nothing we say is going to convince you. The only reason I chose to write on here was not to convince you, but to assist others who may not yet have formed an opinion on this matter. As to 1959, as I already said, our fathers were not going back to the synodical hierarchy. Enough said.
by: Wes Bredenhof (URL) on 2006-07-10 10:47:49

Agricola said...

Posted By: John Vantil
Email: jvantil@telus.net
IP Address: 205.250.96.128

Contents:
Brothers, if you bring me Scriptural, confessional and/or church orderly arguments you *will* be able to convince me. Consider again the post #4 I sent earlier. Why did General Synod 1989 not take account of the decisions of Classis Ontario South that "the Tri-County Reformed Church has rightfully separated herself from the OPC." (see Press Releases of Classis Ontario South held March 25, 26 and April 1, 1987 and Classis Ontario South held December 9, 1987). Who are the masters – Classis or General Synod? Do we not have evidence here of a new synodical hierarchy? I would appreciate an interaction with the evidence I present.

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nicolevw said...

I don't understand all the whys and wherefores of the synod decisions ..... so much of it is hard to understand. I surely wish that my church history knowledge was better as well. All I see before me when I read the information on this blog, as well as on the Call to Reformation website is division. It's sad and disheartening for someone of my generation to know that our future is bleak as far as division/unity. I don't understand the position of those who have "liberated" themselves from the Can/American Ref churches .... I don't see how unity in Christ is being achieved here. And yes, I've read the many letters and articles on that website trying to make heads or tails of all this. All I know, is that with family in the URC, I am dismayed that people in our church federation are actually suggesting that the URC is not a true church, and, even worse now, that our federation itself is being labeled as false because of the synodical decisions. Good thing our salvation does NOT rest on church membership!! I leave feeling quite sad.