Tuesday, May 09, 2023

Re: the merger of the GKv and the NGK

Wes Bredenhof wrote on his blog: "As of May 1, the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated) no longer exist.  In the Netherlands they were known as the Gereformeerde Kerken – Vrijgemaakt (GKV).  As of May 1, the GKV merged with the Nederlands Gereformeerde Kerken to form a new federation of churches.  The new federation is called the Nederlandse (note the extra ‘e’) Gereformeerde Kerken (Dutch Reformed Churches)."

What follows is an excerpt (pp 109-111) from the biography I wrote on my father, Jules Taco van Popta (1916-1968). I am including this in my blog because of how the GKv and the NGK, on May 1st,  2023, merged into one federation of churches. The NGK are the children of the Open Brief. My father, like many fathers of the ecclesiastical liberation of 1944, will be rolling over in his grave.

The Open Brief

     As the difficulties in connection with the Form of Subscription [the C. de Haan affair] played out in Canada, a news item from the sister churches in the Netherlands reported on similar tendencies emerging there. An Open Brief had been published in which its twenty-five signatories expressed the desire for greater latitude in doctrinal matters than they felt that the Form of Subscription afforded them. The twen­ty-five brothers of the Open Brief also denied that the ecclesiastical liberation of 1944 was a work of Christ; rather, said they, it was mere­ly a human work motivated by an ideology. The twenty-five brothers declared that those who held that it was a work done in harmony with Article 28 of the Belgic Confession were subscribing to a false faith.     

     Jules published a six-part critique of the Open Brief in Canadian Reformed Magazine (CRM).*

     Jules recalled the issues of the Liberation of ‘44 under seven points.

1.  In 1942 the general synod adopted the doctrine of presump­tive regeneration.

2.  The synod imposed that doctrine upon the churches and proscribed any teaching or preaching that was not in accord with the doctrinal deliverances.

3.  The synod forbade the teaching that the Holy Spirit works regeneration through the preached word, even though this is what Scripture plainly teaches and the confessions profess.

4.  By this strict binding to these doctrinal statements the synod put a yoke on the churches, which was not the easy yoke of Christ (Gal. 4, 5; Col. 2).

5.  In a letter dated Feb. 25, 1944, the synod informed the church­es that all had to carry out the decisions of synod. A church did have the right to appeal, but in the meantime the church was required to put the decision into effect. Such a church polity is in conflict with itself, that is, with Article 31 of the Church Order.

6. This rule was strictly upheld. Office-bearers who did not put into effect the decision of the synod were deposed from their offices. Those who continued to teach that the Holy Spirit regenerates us by the preaching of the gospel, rather than that the baptized infants were presumed already to be regenerate, were deposed. Those who refused to carry out the declara­tions of the synod were accused of raising “discord, sects, and mutiny” in the church, and were treated accordingly.

7.  The synod claimed to be the highest authority in the church with respect to doctrine.

    The signatories of the Open Brief rejected the very thinking of which they themselves had once been convinced and wrote it off as a human ideology. Jules explained that the Liberation of 1944 was a plea for the proclamation of the preaching of the Word of God unencumbered by theological opinions. He reminded the reader of how the Dutch synod had usurped the place of Christ by arrogating unto itself power and authority that belong only to the Word of God.

Jules pointed out that some of the signatories took steps that were consistent with their position and left the GKN-Liberated to join the synodocratic GKN. It was not given to Jules to complete the series of articles, but his point is clear. These men did not remain in the freedom into which Christ had set them free. Rather, they ex­changed the easy yoke of Christ for the heavy burden of theological opinions and systems.

(Further note: The "Open Brief people left the GKv and eventually formed a new federation, the NGK).


 “The ‘Open Brief,’” Canadian Reformed Magazine, 17 (April 6, 1968), 2; (April 20, 1968), 3–4; (May 11, 1968), 1–2; (May 18, 1968), 1–3; (July 20, 1968), 2. Unfortunately he was not able to complete the series before his unexpected death.


Monday, May 08, 2023

An Easter Hymn

 He lives forever! Alleluia!

1. Our Lord is risen. He burst our prison. Jesus, Saviour of our lives.
Death could not hold him, could not control him. He to us salvation gives.
It’s what he promised. Why be astonished?
The grave was open. Death’s grip lay broken.
He lives forever! Alleluia!
The snake he trampled. Hell’s claim he canceled.
Christ is the conqueror; he is the Victor.
He lives forever! Alleluia!

2. Now filled with gladness, no more with sadness, we delight in Christ our King.
We are rejoicing with praises voicing, cheerfully we all will sing.
Come, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers:
trust in him surely and live securely.
He lives forever! Alleluia!
Our hearts are longing to see his coming.
Living or dying in Christ abiding!
He lives forever! Alleluia!

3. Christ is our sovereign ruling from heaven, King of kings and Lord of lords.
He reigns victorious. He is all-glorious. From above he speaks his word.
Let us be watchful and heed the gospel.
For him we’re yearning. He is returning.
He lives forever! Alleluia!
Then we’ll inherit by Jesus’ merit
a place in heaven graciously given.
He lives forever! Alleluia!

George van Popta, 2020
(It can be sung to In Dir Ist Freude by Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi, 1593)

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

"My" Churches

I was ordained to the ministry of the Word and the Sacraments on October 11th, 1987 as the minister of the Canadian Reformed Church in Ottawa (this church would later assume the name "Jubilee" on its 50th Anniversary). I served here for five years. The congregation was, at that time, renting Merivale United Church, an historical building whose history goes back to 1876. (Click here for the history of the building). Among other interesting facts: Sir John A. MacDonald, Canada's first prime minister, laid the cornerstone of MUC. 

Surrounded by graves

A lovely building . . .

. . . with notoriously uncomfortable pews

I was ordained by the late Rev. Johannes Mulder, "father," mentor, and friend. Here we are standing in front of Merivale Church.

In 1992 I was called by the Canadian Reformed Church in Taber, Alberta. When I came, this recently instituted church was worshiping in Parkside Manor, a seniors recreation centre. 

After a year or two we moved our services to a building owned by the "Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks" where I preached under the serene gaze of three elk heads. (I wonder how protected these three elks felt. . . .)

For several years I preached in the ugliest building in the federation of churches. But we had some beautiful Sundays there. Once I baptized four children in the same service. We were wall to wall people!

Then we built a lovely church building. I preached and taught here with great pleasure. Taber still worships here.

In 1997 I was called by Ancaster Canadian Reformed Church, which I served for eleven years.

A beautiful building.

In 2008 my first congregation, Jubilee-Ottawa, called me back. I served there until 2016, when poor health led me to request the status of Minister-Emeritus. Though we moved to Hamilton I happily remain a minister of Jubilee Church.

I preached my farewell sermon on a steaming hot summer Sunday in a building with no air conditioning.

Final exhortation.

Jubilee Church, forever in my heart.

Monday, April 10, 2023

My trucks

George's Trucks

During my secondary (1974-1976), university (1979-1983), and seminary (1983-1987) years, I drove many different trucks of various weights and configurations. I drove full time for three years between high school and university (1976-1979). 

Here are only, and most of, the tractor-trailers I drove. 

I delivered eggs to stores, bakeries, and restaurant in the Lower Mainland of B.C. for Vanderpol's Eggs. To make some extra cash (necessary for a full-time student with a growing family), on Saturdays I would often transport eggs, egg products, and other related things, between the Surrey and/or Abbotsford plants, and the one in Kelowna. This was before the Coquihalla Highway and its various connectors were built. I had the fun of always taking the Hope-Princeton Highway through Manning Park, about a 900 km round trip, with time added if I had to chain up the two drive axles because of snow.

At the Kelowna plant. The truck is a Ford 9000 ("Louisville") powered by an 8 cylinder 71 series Detroit Diesel with a 13 speed transmission. This two stroke engine was not gentle on the ears.  

The Kelowna plant.

Kenworth, powered by a 350 Cummins engine and a 15 speed transmission. Here I am at a rest area on the Hope-Princeton.

On the Hope-Princeton.

Here I am sometime in the 1980s on the Hope-Princeton Highway chaining up the drive axles, getting ready for some serious hills, up and down.

Yeah, I was a rather skinny guy forty+ years ago. 

During Spring time of my university years, I hauled bedding plants from a nursery in Aldergrove, BC, throughout British Columbia, Alberta, and to Saskatchewan.

This cabover Freightliner (350 Cummins, 15 speed) had a bunk I regularly used as my trips were often two or three days long). 

Here is my son Matthew ready to drive.

Ford "Louisville" powered by a small 6-71 engine and a 13 speed transmission.

In 1983 we moved to Hamilton, Ontario for me to begin my formal seminary training. I transported my VW in the back of the truck I drove from Langley, BC, to Hamilton (about 4,500 km). The greenhouse/nursery I was working for in spring time generously loaned me one of their trucks for the trip. It was a Kenworth cabover (unfortunately, no picture of it). It had a 26 ft box on the back of it, and pulled a 28 foot trailer (set up like an 'A' train). The 26 ft box was filled with plants, which I delivered in Regina and Winnipeg, and all of our earthly belongings (VW included) were in the 28 ft trailer. My eldest son (not yet four years old) came with me as Dora could only take two babes on the plane. Thankfully a brother-in-law, also a driver, accompanied me. A fun trip! Someone asked me how I was planning to get the car off. I answered that I had no idea at the time, but that I'd figure it out once I got to Hamilton. And I did. A friendly trucking firm with a loading dock let me use their forklift ramp. Here you see my two brothers and a brother-in-law helping me load.

During the summers of my first three years of seminary I drove for Bartels' Farms hauling biosolids. I drove the following trucks.

Freightliner powered by a 350 Cummins, 15 speed transmission. 

Dodge with an 8-71 Detroit Diesel, 13 speed transmission.

Freightliner powered by an 8-92 series Detroit Diesel ("Silver 92"), 15 speed transmission.

Freightliner and my VW.

Then I gave up trucking and became a full-time preacher.

Thursday, April 06, 2023

It is finished

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit (John 19:30).

1. It is finished! Do not forget
this word, my heart, that he once said.
My soul, recall it was for you he died.
For you he suffered, he was crucified.
Remember him who one time perished,
who cried aloud: It is finished!

2. It is finished! It was foretold
by faithful prophets from of old.
Find solace in the wounds of Jesus Christ
who, for the sin of man, was sacrificed.
What God in ages past established,
our Lord fulfilled. It is finished!

3. It is finished! All satisfied:
the Father lays his wrath aside.
Our peace is won and God's demands were met.
Our Saviour, Christ, has paid our ev'ry debt.
We should not fear for he on Calv'ry bled
to make us whole. It is finished!

4. It is finished! What must I do
to add to what was done by you?
No work, no deed, for what you did for me
has earned me life with you, eternally.
Henceforth, I'll follow Jesus Christ, my head.
I am reborn. It is finished!

5. It is finished! I am set free.
I praise my Lord so joyfully.
All sin and death are by your pow'r removed
and I am by the Holy Ghost renewed.
Although I falter and feel vanquished
yet this I know: It is finished!

6. It is finished! Do not forget
this word, my heart, that he once said
and let it serve you now and all your life.
Hold on to Christ throughout the bitter strife.
Do stay with him and you'll be comforted,
for he once said: It is finished!

George van Popta, 2022