Reformed Protestant Church {New Denomination}

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
In the Canons of Dort, Third and Fourth Heads, Article 9: "It is not the fault of the gospel, nor of Christ, offered therein, nor of God, who calls men by the gospel, and confers upon them various gifts, that those who are called by the ministry of the word, refuse to come, and be converted: the fault lies in themselves..."

"Offered" in that usage (as Prof Engelsma in one of his books points out) simply means "set forth".
_____

I wonder what Rev. Martyn McGeown's stand in this matter is? And the RFPA's, the publishing arm? This is certainly a grievous situation.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
I wonder what Rev. Martyn McGeown's stand in this matter is? And the RFPA's, the publishing arm? This is certainly a grievous situation.
Rev. Martyn McGeown remains a minster of the Gospel in the Protestant Reformed Churches. The Reformed Free Publishing Association removed the brethren who had joined the Reformed Protestant Churches from their organization at their recent annual meeting
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I’m still not clear on what exactly the split is about, as the language they each use is so in-house and fine-tuned – and this is a very important matter, i.e., is the covenant God makes with His true people – His elect beloved – not at all conditional?

From what I gather, the new RPC alleges the older PRC violates this understanding by saying it doesn’t qualify as “conditional” to require obedience – to walk “in the way of obedience” – as this is simply the fruit of a “living faith”, whereas, on the other hand, the RPC says that this is positing a condition: that of obedience, without which a person is not truly justified.

Of course we are to be obedient to the word of our God, but ultimately even our obedience is guaranteed – wrought in us – by God, as He says,

Ezekiel 36:26, 27, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”​

God says, in the same vein, in Jeremiah 32:40, as part of the New Covenant promises revealed in Jeremiah 31,

“And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.”​

All this to say, is the RPC view that He undertakes to give us – to create in us – the new heart He gives His elect children? This does not obviate our responsibility to walk in holiness, and yet it is He who works this in us, so that our salvation is not conditioned on our obedience: “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). That is, our God fulfills this condition in the process of His making us a new creature. Is it specified how long this process will take?

Is this matter the essence of the split?

And where is Prof David J. Engelsma in this – on which side? The Elder D. Engelsma in the posted papers is a Dewey Engelsma (his son?).
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
While I am no longer in the PRC, I have been following this sad schism somewhat...
Some material on it can be found in these places:

In the Sword and Shield magazine (first link above), I found the letter by Dr. Goosen in the November issue most informative.

We left the PRC a few years ago, and the reason we left was mostly because of our local minister, who simply was not preaching the call of the Gospel, ie., repent and believe. This, however, seems to be a tendency in the PRCA. They are so afraid to make a 'well meant offer' in their sermons that they do not bring the Gospel at all, ultimately. While they preach about Christ, Christ is not ultimately preached, His work of salvation is not central in the preaching.

Their problem with the 'well meant offer' goes back to the CRC synod of Kalamazoo, 1924, and the 3 points of common grace. Maybe oversimplified, but they object to the 3 points, in that the 'common grace' would give you enough grace to accept the offer of the Gospel, ie, it would give living hands to a dead sinner (my analogy). Thus an arminian offer

The RPC talk much about a 'grace principle' and a 'works principle', and seem to be implying a 'federal vision' problem... Also, much confusion in PRCA preaching about justification/sanctification, as well as the distinction of law and gospel.

But I think all this a just the last straw that broke the camel's back. Many mistakes were made by classes and synods in reformed church polity, which have come home to roost...
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Going back to Daniel's post #6 and the document he referenced and linked to there, and section 15 of that document, which states the essential difference between the parties is conditional fellowship with God, versus unconditional: "our obedience is part of the way to the Father.... the experience of being with Father, the experience of covenant fellowship with God.... part of the way to that experience of fellowship is our obedience." Fellowship with God is conditioned on our obedience, making "something other than faith the means of obtaining Christ and all his benefits."

Any thoughts on this?
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
I tend to simplicity, maybe too much:

Know Christ to know the Father.

If you know Christ, keep his commandments.

If you don’t keep his commandments, wake up and flee to Christ.

Obedience is a sign, not a means
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Thomas @yeutter, I didn't listen to the "2021 in the PRC – Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth" video yet – though if the RFPA is still carrying and promoting Prof DJ Engelsma's books, would that mean he is still in their ranks?
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
Thomas @yeutter, I didn't listen to the "2021 in the PRC – Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth" video yet – though if the RFPA is still carrying and promoting Prof DJ Engelsma's books, would that mean he is still in their ranks?
Yes, to the best of my knowledge Professor David Engelsma remains a respected cleric in the Protestant Reformed Churches.
 

brent20

Puritan Board Freshman
The issue is between conditional and unconditional fellowship. Meaning, does a blessing from God preceed or proceeds an act of man. The PRC believes according to Head 5 of the Canons that the believer loses a since of Gods favor for a time when he walks in the way of sin. But upon turning in the right way of repentance is then returned to Gods favor and fellowship.

The issue is if its a act of man or of God that proceeds this blessing of renewed fellowship. Is it man in his own power that repents outside the work of God? Or is it God that leads us through the experiance of a loss of fellowship that leads us to repentance. The PRC would say it is God that leads us. The RPC would claim the PRC says that man work out his own fellowship. They claim falsely something the PRC does not believe. Thus why Lanningcwas disciplined for making charges of sin, falsely, from the pulpit at Byron Center PRC.

The RPC also has a few new views since leaving. They seem to believe that Head 5 of the Canons teach that the regenerated believer will fall into sin and that God will catch you. You don't need to do anything. They seem to be very against any "doing" on the part of the believer.

It's all pretty confusing though as it seems the RPC accuses the PRC of things the PRC does not teach or believe. But let their sermons at the RPC be the judge and one can come to a true understanding of the sad state of affairs of things.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Thank you for your comments, Brent.

I found this article by PRC pastor, Rev. Martyn McGeown, on the RFPA website very helpful: "Passive Faith?" He interacts with some of Andrew Lanning's, Nathan Langerak's, and Philip Rainey's ideas, and brings a lot of Biblical and creedal clarity to the issues. It does now appear to me that the PRCA is solid – in those teachers who represent it – and the RPC going off track.

How confusing and frightening this must be to many PRCA church members who, hearing all the accusations against them and their ministers, struggle to deal with it all. It shook me to hear some of the things I've heard, and I thank God for granting me understanding.

I think – and hope – the PRCA weathers this well, for they shine a light in many areas that are dim. They will also likely be very careful to make sure their churches stay sound and godly.
 
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Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you for your comments, Brent.

I found this article by PRCA pastor, Rev. Martyn McGeown, on the RFPA website very helpful: "Passive Faith?" He interacts with some of Andrew Lanning's, Nathan Langerak's, and Philip Rainey's ideas, and brings a lot of Biblical and creedal clarity to the issues. It does now appear to me that the PRCA is solid – in those teachers who represent it – and the RPC going off track.

How confusing and frightening this must be to many PRCA church members who, hearing all the accusations against them and their ministers, struggle to deal with it all. It shook me to hear some of the things I've heard, and I thank God for granting me understanding.

I think – and hope – the PRCA weathers this well, for they shine a light in many areas that are dim. They will also likely be very careful to make sure their churches stay sound and godly.
It sounds, based on this article, like the RPC is over-reacting based on an overwrought fear of works righteousness creeping in. Methinks they would object even to Turretin's ordo salutis model (because Turretin makes conversion a human work!).
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I can remember, when I was a young and ignorant believer in Christ some five decades ago, asking the Lord to "zap" me with His Spirit to give me a heart willing to be obedient and godly – as I was torn by many desires and appetites. I thought then that the way to sanctification / holiness would be the Lord doing this for me, overriding my wanton will.

Over the years, however, I came to see that how the Lord worked in my life was not to will and to act for me (by-passing my volition), but to so work on my heart and change it that I would want – with my whole heart, with all my heart – to choose godliness rather than sin. So when I referenced Philippians 2:13 earlier, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure", Paul does not mean God would work instead of me to do His will, but He would change my heart so that I would freely and gladly will to do His will.

It is a nuanced thing, how God works in us both to will and do His good pleasure.
 
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De Jager

Puritan Board Sophomore
I live about 10 minutes away from one of the two or three PRC churches in Canada. This small church, of about 80 people, who was already a relative outpost with basically no Ecclesiastical fellowship in our whole Country, just split over this issue. The minister was Martin Vanderwal. I don't know much about it, all I know is that I find it very sad.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Izaac, did you ever visit the church? If so, what was your take on it? Although I've never been in a PRC church (none in my area), the writings of PRC folks have had a great impact on me.

Hello JP @Irenaeus, when you say (post #43), "the RPC is over-reacting based on an overwrought fear of works righteousness creeping in", it appears to me that they – the Reformed Protestant Church – are the ones actually bringing in a subtle works-righteousness with their new doctrines, and that not by creeping, but with guns blazing.

I can't this moment, but shortly I'll post an excerpt from David J. Engelsma's book, Gospel Truth of Justification: Proclaimed, Defended, Developed, which, remarkably, starkly, beautifully shows the PRC view of unconditional election and justification, and the sanctification which proceeds from that, not from fear of failing or punishment, but from real love and gladness at having such a gracious Saviour and God.

As I said, it grieves me that there are folks in the PRCA pews who are not much given to theological thought and reflection – such as we characters here on PB – but are taken by surprise and confusion, not knowing what to think, and what the issues are. It shows the importance of making it very plain what the church believes, so that even the simpler folks can process it, and be on guard. For in these our days – and following – there shall be a great flood of destroying error washing through all the churches.

Christ and the apostolic writings are the foundation of the church, and sound doctrine the pillars holding up the edifice, while that which binds the living stones together is genuine friendship and love.
 

PeterR

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes @Jerusalem Blade I used to read the Standard Bearer and other PRC materials at my parents' house some 20+ years ago, and whilst I haven't really looked into these controversies, it was certainly the case that "conditional" was a bad word for the PRC and was either the reason, or one of the reasons, why they did not continue the exploration of fellowship with the "Liberated" (Vrijgemaakt, Artikel 31, also later Canadian Reformed etc) churches which had commenced after those churches seceded in the 1950s from the Dutch sister-denomination of the Christian Reformed Church from which the PRC had seceded in the 1920s. The above is me ad-libbing and may be an over-simplification, though I did Google to confirm that "conditional" had been a point of controversy between the two. What I hadn't realized was that (according to Wikipedia) there had been a very big schism in the PRC at the time which eventually resulted in many/most of the people who left the PRC rejoining the CRC - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestant_Reformed_Churches_in_America#Schisms .
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
On taking a quick look, it sounds like it's another retreading of the quietistic mindset which has come up from time to time throughout church history. Doctrinally, no doubt it appears under the form of taking no credit for any part of salvation; since resting and receiving ascribe too much of a role to the sinner, that act must be made out to be God's as well. At that point, believing is something that happens to you.

This has some unfortunate consequences. Scripture, and the Confessions, are not shy about attributing instrumentality to human faith. A quietist mindset will always find itself in tension with both. It also has no obvious end-point to the spiral of attributing everything to God and nothing to myself. If being justified when I believe attributes too much to me, ultimately, so does existing as someone who is not God. And in doctrinal terms, I think it will create intense pressure to think of self-renunciation as the real distinguishing factor between the saved and unsaved. That also will become a work; have I sufficiently negated all credit to myself? Am I not standing in the way of being saved by attributing too much to myself? We're back to justification by having the precise shade of right opinion, or to justification through self-effacement.

Perhaps those with greater information will weigh in to set me straight. When I visited Crete PRC some years ago I thought the sermon indicated a misunderstanding of justification.
 

De Jager

Puritan Board Sophomore
Izaac, did you ever visit the church? If so, what was your take on it? Although I've never been in a PRC church (none in my area), the writings of PRC folks have had a great impact on me.

Hello JP @Irenaeus, when you say (post #43), "the RPC is over-reacting based on an overwrought fear of works righteousness creeping in", it appears to me that they – the Reformed Protestant Church – are the ones actually bringing in a subtle works-righteousness with their new doctrines, and that not by creeping, but with guns blazing.

I can't this moment, but shortly I'll post an excerpt from David J. Engelsma's book, Gospel Truth of Justification: Proclaimed, Defended, Developed, which, remarkably, starkly, beautifully shows the PRC view of unconditional election and justification, and the sanctification which proceeds from that, not from fear of failing or punishment, but from real love and gladness at having such a gracious Saviour and God.

As I said, it grieves me that there are folks in the PRCA pews who are not much given to theological thought and reflection – such as we characters here on PB – but are taken by surprise and confusion, not knowing what to think, and what the issues are. It shows the importance of making it very plain what the church believes, so that even the simpler folks can process it, and be on guard. For in these our days – and following – there shall be a great flood of destroying error washing through all the churches.

Christ and the apostolic writings are the foundation of the church, and sound doctrine the pillars holding up the edifice, while that which binds the living stones together is genuine friendship and love.
I visited 2 times I think. I want to be careful what I say...My thoughts are that it is an orthodox church but very, very tight-knit, which I believe is what they want. I don't know enough of the doctrinal dispute to critique them. It makes me a little wary when a denom has precious little Ecclesiastical fellowship.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
No one ever accused the Apostle Paul of legalism. Antinomianism, on the other hand....

Maybe, if you're never accused of antinomianism... might be time to test that "line?"
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
No one ever accused the Apostle Paul of legalism. Antinomianism, on the other hand....

Maybe, if you're never accused of antinomianism... might be time to test that "line?"
Not making a judgment regarding the PRCA one way or the other here, but what you said here reminds me of one of my favorite Martyn Lloyd-Jones quotes:

The true preaching of the gospel of salvation by grace alone always leads to the possibility of this charge [of antinomianism] being brought against it. There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel of salvation than this, that some people might misunderstand it and misinterpret it to mean that it really amounts to this, that because you are saved by grace alone it does not matter at all what you do; you can go on sinning as much as you like because it will redound all the more to the glory of grace. If my preaching and presentation of the gospel of salvation does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel.​
—D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Exposition of Chapter 6 – The New Man, vol. 5, Romans (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1972), 8.​
 

De Jager

Puritan Board Sophomore
I listened to most of the sermon. In it I was reminded that the gospel is indeed, a gracious gift and we can add nothing to it. As a Christian, it is impossible for me to hear the doctrine of justification and then have a response "guess I can go ahead and sin". The spirit won't allow me to do that, which Rev. Langerak did po8nt out near the end.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Given that the PRCA is sound in their view of justification apart from works (Romans 4:5,6,7,8 – and I will post more on this below) : Having heard from people who are in the PRCA, or have been but have left, evidently there is a disconnect between the generally excellent teachings of theologians in that denomination and what goes on in some of the local churches.

Ruben, I appreciate your thoughts in post #48 on quietism, for that is surely aberrant, though I do not think it applies to the views of justification and sanctification promoted by primary PRCA teachers such as Herman Hoeksema, Homer C. Hoeksema, Herman Hanko, David J. Engelsma (among others) in their writings. What may go on in some local congregations I do not know.

A form of Quietism has been addressed by some in the early 1900s under the rubric of a dangerous “passivity”, notably in the writings of Evan Roberts and Jessie Penn-Lewis, a Calvinistic Methodist ala Lloyd-Jones (see their War on the Saints [unabridged edition only!]). Passivity is a spiritual condition allowing the demonic to operate by deception in the soul, whereas we are meant to be active in obeying Scripture and following Christ.

Your thoughts, and the views expressed here in this thread impress upon me the importance of the spiritual health and doctrinal soundness of ministers in local churches generally. I have seen some really unhealthy – or relatively immature – teaching elders / pastors, regardless of the soundness of the confessions they subscribe to! This goes for the Westminster Standards, the 3FU, and the 1689. The excellence of the confessions do not guarantee excellence of personal lives, walks, and ministries.

I’ll post something shortly from David Engelsma on justification and sanctification. It is a nuanced and profound subject, the balance between God’s working in us and our working, violating neither justification completely apart from works, and the charge to be zealous in doing good works.
 
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reformed grit

Puritan Board Freshman
Howdy. I only sorta just got here and am not meaning to offend, and certainly not meaning to belittle life-&-death theological concerns where justification and fellowship with God our Creator is on the line; but might not personalities and a rush to complaints and judgments and kicking and leaving be a wee rushed in all this? I'm not intimate to all that happened in the processes, but I sat under Gordon Clark in the last bit of his time with us, and can't help but feel he was hounded to death with almost no place to go over much as this - well, the "well-meant offer" of this.

Do we champions of orthodox theology never learn to take a breath and talk things out before teeth and swords are flung about?

Oh, and please let me know if you assess me as too uncharitable in my briefest characterisation of the split:
https://calvinisedpipe.wordpress.co...sbyterian-reformed-denominations-family-tree/
 
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py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Given that the PRCA is sound in their view of justification apart from works (Romans 4:5,6,7,8 – and I will post more on this below) : Having heard from people who are in the PRCA, or have been but have left, evidently there is a disconnect between the generally excellent teachings of theologians in that denomination and what goes on in some of the local churches.

Ruben, I appreciate your thoughts in post #48 on quietism, for that is surely aberrant, though I do not think it applies to the views of justification and sanctification promoted by primary PRCA teachers such as Herman Hoeksema, Homer C. Hoeksema, Herman Hanko, David J. Engelsma, and Martyn McGeown (among others) in their writings. What may go on in some local congregations I do not know.

A form of Quietism has been addressed by some in the early 1900s under the rubric of a dangerous “passivity”, notably in the writings of Evan Roberts and Jessie Penn-Lewis, a Calvinistic Methodist ala Lloyd-Jones (see their War on the Saints [unabridged edition only!]). Passivity is a spiritual condition allowing the demonic to operate by deception in the soul, whereas we are meant to be active in obeying Scripture and following Christ.

Your thoughts, and the views expressed here in this thread impress upon me the importance of the spiritual health and doctrinal soundness of ministers in local churches generally. I have seen some really unhealthy – or relatively immature – teaching elders / pastors, regardless of the soundness of the confessions they subscribe to! This goes for the Westminster Standards, the 3FU, and the 1689. The excellence of the confessions do not guarantee excellence of personal lives, walks, and ministries.

I’ll post something shortly from David Engelsma on justification and sanctification. It is a nuanced and profound subject, the balance between God’s working in us and our working, violating neither justification completely apart from works, and the charge to be zealous in doing good works.
Hi Steve,

Perhaps someone would have had to read between the lines more than is reasonable on my post -- Rev. N. Langerak, who forms part of the new denomination, was the minister at Crete PRC when I visited. My observation there would presumably not apply to those who remain.

Yes, I think there can be many forms of spiritual malaise lying behind doctrinal controversy, even when the controversy itself is important or well-conceived. Sometimes there is an appetite for controversy, or an inability to define oneself positively but only in contrast to others. And different maladies that pastors, no less than congregants, are subject to can have a tremendous influence on the reception and proclamation of doctrine, even if this is orthodoxly articulated in the church's confession. Thus a sensitive and legal spirit, to take one example, often recoils from hearing of any standard because all exhortations to particular conduct, being seen through a self-condemning lens, take on a dark and frightful aspect.

Thomas Boston's remarks about a new gospel "tincture" coming into his preaching after he read the Marrow have stuck with me, because it gives a good name to a quality that's hard to describe or define, but that makes a large difference. A very similar sermon in terms of form and content lands quite differently in view of the tone in which it is delivered and the atmosphere that the speaker carries with him.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
it sounds like it's another retreading of the quietistic mindset which has come up from time to time throughout church history. Doctrinally, no doubt it appears under the form of taking no credit for any part of salvation; since resting and receiving ascribe too much of a role to the sinner, that act must be made out to be God's as well. At that point, believing is something that happens to you.

This has some unfortunate consequences. Scripture, and the Confessions, are not shy about attributing instrumentality to human faith. A quietist mindset will always find itself in tension with both. It also has no obvious end-point to the spiral of attributing everything to God and nothing to myself. If being justified when I believe attributes too much to me, ultimately, so does existing as someone who is not God. And in doctrinal terms, I think it will create intense pressure to think of self-renunciation as the real distinguishing factor between the saved and unsaved. That also will become a work; have I sufficiently negated all credit to myself? Am I not standing in the way of being saved by attributing too much to myself? We're back to justification by having the precise shade of right opinion, or to justification through self-effacement.
Very interesting insights. Thank you for this. I know somebody who will really benefit from this distinction. She experienced a similar phenomenon somewhere completely unrelated.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
What you say, Ruben (in post 56), resonates with me simply because of its sensitivity and quality of discernment.

Boston's "tincture", while illustrative of a flavor (fragrance?) of heart or spirit that affords subtle nuances of content (spiritual, emotional, meaning) – yet in the context of the Marrow controversy and the situation in Scotland of those days, as well its repercussions even to our time, brings to the fore another phenomenon: that of various differing doctrines and theologies and their near labyrinthine complexities, difficult to understand and discern – all within the Reformed and Presbyterian camp.

The people in the pews, so to speak, need simplicity, clarity, and the stamp of godly common sense, so as to put doctrine to practical use in understanding and sanctified (God-loving and honoring) living.

This is one reason I like – when it comes to theology and doctrine – writers like the Hoeksemas, Herman Hanko, David Engelsma, and those of like spirit. There is a down-to-earth spiritual profundity and clarity. True, I do not agree with some of their teachings and ways, such as indissoluble marriage save in the case of death of one party, their prohibition of union membership, a very tight-knit almost closed community, and other things that do not come to mind at the moment – so I maintain critical discernment.

If the Lord of the harvest grants souls to be part of the renewed Church plant I will be endeavoring shortly (the former had become degraded doctrinally and some used it as a sort of social club, and He removed it almost entirely), I will have to ask Him for health of vision and heart or spirit. And someone good to take over the work when my time is done – which cannot be too far off as I'll be 80 in March and slowly physically deteriorating. But nothing is impossible for our God.
_____

On another front – last night I saw the first episode of the first season of Amazon's production of the Sci Fi classic, The Wheel of Time – and was struck with both the high quality of the filming and of the story (I have not read the books), and the power of stories to capture the hearts and imaginations of even God's people. James K. Smith says in his Imagining the Kingdom (p. 163), “Why should the devil get all the best stories?”

Part of why we do not compete well with the world's – with end-times Babylon's – powerful stories, is that we do not traffic in fiction, at least the Amillennial school does not, as the real drama is going on all around us now, hour by hour and day by day, across the globe. How to capture such a thing and convey it to the people?

I suppose a preacher / story-teller could incorporate that into messages, mixing what is happening in God's world, to and among God's people, and the monsters seeking to destroy them, etc – with teaching. It would not be what is considered standard preaching. I'll ponder that idea, and ask the King what He thinks. He does respond when we lack wisdom, and ask Him for it. I'm not averse to innovating. "Necessity is the mother of invention."

My book (here a free digital [link working now]), although not at all fiction, and narrative in parts, and visionary – is not what I am thinking of as an offering to counter to Babylon's masterpieces. Is it even feasible? This is from the back cover of the paperback, and indicative of how I think:


A Great and Terrible Love back cover.jpg
 
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De Jager

Puritan Board Sophomore

This blog post, and the referenced doctrine class by Rev. Lannning (who I believe was deposed) which is on sermonaudio might help one understand the current conflict.
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
From 'Sword & Shield, November 2021 issue:

chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer.html?pdfurl=https%3A%2F%2Freformedbelieverspub.org%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2021%2F11%2FSword-and-Shield-November-2021.pdf&clen=2332053&chunk=true

WHY DID THE GOOSEN FAMILY LEAVE?

Dear congregation of Immanuel, I write this letter to you, the beloved people of our Lord Jesus Christ, because I love you in the Lord. We have walked among you for the last fifteen years, and we care deeply for the people in Immanuel. My motive in writing this is to honor our covenant God, in love for him and out of love and concern for his precious church. “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36). Many of you have heard by now that the Lord has led us to withdraw our membership from Immanuel Protestant Reformed Church. Coming to this conviction was only done after much prayer, reading, studying, considering, and reconsidering many doctrinal issues. The decision to leave Immanuel was difficult and painful. Our only reason for joining the Reformed Protestant Churches is the ongoing “controversy” in the Protestant Reformed Churches (PRC). You might have read very little or much about this, yet I believe calling it merely a “controversy” is already part of the problem, for there is much more. Doctrinal error is present in the denomination. Calling this a “controversy” minimizes the importance of the fact that the truth of God is at stake!

Salvation is at stake! Knowing you are saved, experiencing salvation is at stake! There is truth, and there is lie. Do not be deceived into thinking that this is not as black and white as that. Do not be deceived into thinking that this is not serious. There can be nothing more important. The loss of possessions, health, children, spouses, family, and our very earthly lives simply cannot begin to compare with the corruption of the honor and glory of God and his truth. Yet there are many who deny this. I am not ignorant of that. However, denying that there is a fatal error in the denomination is only aggravating and reinforcing the error. Accusing those who voice their valid concerns of slander, schism, revolt, lies, antinomianism, or whatever else will not make the facts disappear. I entreat you to bear with me, a weak, sinful believer, as I try to explain the error in the denomination from my perspective. I have no intent to slander or lie. God is my witness.

Synod 2018
I am ashamed that I was totally ignorant regarding the doctrinal events in our denomination that had started already in 2015. This ignorance on my part rapidly changed in March 2018, when Classis West chose me to be a delegate to Synod 2018. At that point I had only heard a few rumors of some “difficult and stubborn” people out East who were causing “trouble within the denomination.” But I had to judge for myself, and the Lord had to lead me to a conviction in the matter. Synod would deal with this matter. As an elder and a delegate, I would be called upon to express my opinion and to vote on right versus wrong. The main issue before synod would be the appeal of Mrs. Connie Meyer against seventeen sermons preached by Rev. David Overway in Hope Protestant Reformed Church. To my further disgrace and embarrassment, I must admit my initial inability to grasp the issues. One moment I agreed with Reverend Overway and with Hope’s consistory and Classis East, which had defended Reverend Overway’s sermons. The next moment I would agree with Mrs. Meyer. I was quite confused. Eventually, I set all the material aside and went to scripture and the confessions, with Rev. Herman Hoeksema, John Calvin, and some of Prof. David Engelsma’s writings at my side, and studied the basics of the Reformed faith. The Lord especially laid John 15:10 on my mind: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.” After studying the basics, I went back to the agenda material, and then I could clearly see the error preached by Reverend Overway, which error was being defended by his consistory at Hope and by Classis East. Then I could not “un-see” the problem. It became very clear that the truth was at stake and that there was a serious error in the PRC—a serious error about basic and fundamental doctrine that would lead the churches back to full-blown works-righteousness, for we always have to see where an error will end up if it fully develops. I kept wondering in amazement how some of the most learned men in the denomination could stumble or struggle like me over the building blocks of the Reformed faith. History shows though that the reason is easy to understand: the lie never comes out stating that it is a lie. We all know that the lie always has an element of truth to it and pretends to be just that. For, indeed, the devil himself comes as an angel of light. “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). Furthermore, we always find the lie attractive, as it appeals to our sinful flesh. The lie was cloaked with Reformed language and took many off guard. It sounds very pious: “We only want to promote holiness.” Nevertheless, it remains a destructive lie. I became very concerned as Synod 2018 approached, for as I read and reread the material, it became clear to me that there was a deep division in our churches. At a minimum it had begun back in 2015 already. A serious division not over homeschooling, Church Order article 21, Psalter revision, or NAPARC, but actually over fundamental scriptural truth. It could not be more serious. Already then I feared that there might be a split coming in the denomination. Finally, Synod 2018 started. I was nervous and excited. I was humbled as synod appointed me to the committee that was to deal with Connie Meyer’s protest. My humility stemmed from the fact that the Lord appointed me for this work when there were many other elders more capable and better experienced in and knowledgeable of the Reformed faith than I. Our committee spent seven very long days and nights preparing our report. After some initial disagreement, our committee became unanimous that we should sustain Mrs. Meyer in her appeal to synod. Her main contention was against her minister’s “teaching…that our obedience is a condition that we must perform in order to experience the fellowship of God.” Her protest was sustained by synod, which was significant, for Mrs. Meyer clearly stated that this is the teaching of a conditional covenant! Think about this: Reverend Overway taught that God saves us, but we don’t know it. God keeps that knowledge from us until we do something—some good work, some obedience—and then only do we know and experience the joy of salvation. Stop doing the good works, and you don’t know you are saved. If I sin (which I do every day), I lose the knowledge and assurance of my salvation. If I do good works and even more good works, I maintain my salvation and gain richer blessings and more fellowship. There simply is no comfort but only terror in such an erroneous teaching, which really is the heresy of Pelagianism brought back from hell. How can the holy God overlook the sin in my best good works? Even that one little sin in my best work still damns me before God. God’s people will live in dreadful terror if in any sense works are instrumental in salvation, or our salvation depends on or is based on what we do. The correct order is, in fact, the opposite: because God saves, redeems, and delivers us from bondage to sin and through his gift of faith, we assuredly know (experience) that we are saved, and we are incredibly thankful for that salvation. Therefore, we are obedient; we must, we will, and we can do good works; but only because of what Christ has first done for us and keeps doing in us. God always first, then us! versus that his teaching was “out of harmony with the confessions.” Nonetheless, advice written in love and not in anger is still the truth. It will still penetrate into the heart of our denomination and lead to repentance. We were going to “drop a bomb” on synod! I think it is safe to say that the majority expected that we would simply go along with the previous advice of Classis East and again reject Mrs. Meyer’s protest. So we did not state as clearly as we should have that Reverend Overway taught and others defended conditional theology. Remember, conditional theology is federal vision theology, which is in effect Arminianism, which is Pelagianism, which is out of hell! But people will connect the dots. The truth of God is at stake! Salvation is at stake! Knowing you are saved, experiencing salvation is at stake! Surely, these learned theologians (Overway, Hope’s consistory, Classis East, and the committee of classis assigned to assist Hope), whom we rebuked by telling them they had erred, would connect the dots. We don’t need to call the error rank heresy. T hey would know; they would repent; and they would confess their error. Surely, the recommendation that the Lord led synod to I have recalled many times over the years the days when our committee worked on answering Mrs. Meyer’s protest. I have pondered much over the fact that I did make some concessions while working with the committee members, holding before me the truth that “in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (Prov. 11:14). I wanted the committee’s advice to be stronger—forcibly condemning the error—for example, that Reverend Overway’s teaching “undermined the confessions” versus that his teaching was “out of harmony with the confessions.”4 Nonetheless, advice written in love and not in anger is still the truth. It will still penetrate into the heart of our denomination and lead to repentance. We were going to “drop a bomb” on synod! I think it is safe to say that the majority expected that we would simply go along with the previous advice of Classis East and again reject Mrs. Meyer’s protest. So we did not state as clearly as we should have that Reverend Overway taught and others defended conditional theology. Remember, conditional theology is federal vision theology, which is in effect Arminianism, which is Pelagianism, which is out of hell! But people will connect the dots. Surely, these learned theologians (Overway, Hope’s consistory, Classis East, and the committee of classis assigned to assist Hope), whom we rebuked by telling them they had erred, would connect the dots. We don’t need to call the error rank heresy. They would know; they would repent; and they would confess their error. Surely, the recommendation that the Lord led synod to adopt with minimal change will be a surprise to many, an embarrassment to many, and hopefully a shame to others as well. But they are brothers in Christ; no doubt they will respond with a contrite heart. Even the seminary professors—who I am reliably told all agreed prior to synod that Neil and Connie Meyer were antinomians, as supported by their personal appeals and writings—will admit their mistake, difficult as that might be, for they are men whom others look up to, and they are training the next generation of ministers who will bring the gospel to my children and grandchildren. In my heart I felt this would be the smallest obstacle to overcome. For the child of God is spiritually sensitive. When his sin is pointed out, he cries out in shame, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.” And there would be no greater joy! Unity will be restored in our beloved denomination, for the truth has been maintained! Thus I even defended Hope’s consistory when it was suggested that the officebearers all should be either deposed or replaced, as they surely could not lead their minister out of the error if they themselves had missed it. I was naive, terribly so. The repentance never came. The shame and embarrassment was covered up by a continued deflection of the issue and insisting that the real problem was antinomianism. Men and their reputations were sheltered.

The Other Issue: Professor Cammenga and Neil Meyer’s Deposition
For many who did not follow the events of Synod 2018 and prior assemblies closely, it should be stated that there were several other issues in the background of this all-important synod. One of these was a protest from Prof. Ronald Cammenga that originated in 2017. He protested that Synod 2016 had erred when it did not declare Neil Meyer to be an antinomian. Professor Cammenga made a fatal flaw in his protest when he favorably quoted a federal vision theologian’s book to support his contention of antinomianism against Neil Meyer. In my mind this was significant; for according to the Form for the Installation of Professors of Theology, one of the main tasks of the professor of theology is to “caution them [the students] in regard to the errors and heresies of the old, but especially of the new day” (Confessions and Church Order, 297). However, Professor Cammenga did exactly the opposite. He failed to warn the churches against a new book from Mark Jones. Instead of pointing out the errors in the book and warning the churches against Jones’ false teaching (the book essentially calls those who maintain an unconditional covenant antinomian), he used the book in support of his (false) arguments. Surely, this will create a firestorm. Surely, Professor Cammenga will need to be rebuked, perhaps even disciplined, and perhaps even removed from the seminary. Most certainly, synod will connect the dots: a professor uses a federal visionist in order falsely to call Neil Meyer an antinomian! Reverend Overway preached federal vision theology, and Professor Cammenga supports Reverend Overway. Surely, even the so-called “spiritual idiot” can connect the dots. Sadly, the opposite happened. Neil Meyer was instead rebuked for his “charges of heresy against Prof. R. Cammenga.” Yet more reason for Hope’s consistory to wrongfully keep Neil Meyer under discipline for the false charge of antinomianism. Let’s not forget that Neil Meyer by then had been deposed from office and was under discipline for three years. Let’s not forget that the litmus test for elders in applying discipline is that the sin is so serious that it needs to lead to excommunication if not repented of; it needs to be so serious that eventually the sinner will be placed outside the kingdom; he will not be saved; he will go to hell and eternal damnation if he does not repent. But the charge was false! Neil Meyer did not sin! The opposite is true. A straw-man argument, a distraction from the real issue. Conditional theology was preached, defended, and maintained for years. Neil Meyer correctly pointed this out. Not a word was said against Professor Cammenga— sadly, not by me either.

After Synod 2018 and Currently
God’s truth triumphed momentarily in the PRC. The correct doctrine was upheld. Repentance will follow, as these men are brothers in Christ. Preaching and writing will have to follow to expose the error—to explain to the people exactly what the error was, to explain the error clearly, and to set it over against the truth—so that it will never, ever creep back into the PRC. If I did not see the error, if Professor Dykstra admitted on the floor of synod that he did not see the error, if Hope’s consistory did not see the error, if Classis East did not see the error, obviously many in the denomination did not see it either. But they all see it now because synod explained it to them. God judged through synod and spoke. The decision is settled and binding, after all. I could not have been more wrong! The aftermath was completely the opposite of what I had hoped and prayed for. Instead of being rooted out, the error would develop and grip the denomination further. The soft rebuke was twisted to state that the synod was actually “balanced”— incredibly, even to the point of stating that Classis East and synod actually agreed in 2018, which was a fullorbed lie. This lie became evident already at synod. Right after the decision was passed to sustain Mrs. Meyer’s protest and the doctrinal statement was condemned, Rev. Carl Haak—one of the authors of the doctrinal position paper that contained the same error as Reverend Overway’s condemned sermons—stood up and addressed the synod. Reverend Haak expressed that this [the doctrinal errors just condemned by synod] was the way he had always preached, and he would continue to preach that way. He was not rebuked for his open and public rebellion. As a delegate, I did not rebuke him; Rev. Ronald Van Overloop, the president of synod, did not rebuke him; nor did any delegate publicly rebuke him.

Nobody brought up the “settled-and-binding”-Church Order-article-31 argument at that time. No, that would be reserved for others. The Standard Bearer began right after synod to sound a word just slightly different than the synodical decision. I was disappointed in Professor Dykstra’s article in the Standard Bearer right after synod. We had worked closely together in a committee for several days, hammering out the advice. He had admitted on the floor of synod that he had not seen the error before. Surely, if anyone was going to take the lead in exposing the error, it would be Professor Dykstra! Yet he did, indeed, minimize the error by distraction—focusing on warning and threatening with excommunication anybody who would call the error “Federal Vision, or a conditional covenant.” That was not what synod had said! Our committee was not going to be harsh. Professor Dykstra even pleaded for soft language for those “solid Reformed men” when our committee came to deal with the erroneous doctrinal position paper. But we all knew it was conditional theology; we all could connect the dots. The error was boldly and forcibly repeated with the well-known article by Rev. K. Koole: “If a man would be saved, there is that which he must do.” A clear heretical statement that he has never retracted but continues to defend. Open criticism of the correct theology of Rev. Herman Hoeksema followed. Dreadful promotion of Witsius’ conditional theology followed. Professor Cammenga came out with his insistence that there are antinomians in the denomination. He brought distortion and destruction of assurance. He further denigrates Christ in his preaching: “Jesus [does not] accomplish himself personally every aspect of our salvation.” The fact that the professor qualifies his statement with “personally” makes no material difference, as you cannot separate Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Christ. After Synod 2018 there never was any clear explanation of the error; it was never exposed. And it’s not just that there was silence in the Standard Bearer and on many pulpits (our own included) regarding the error; there was rather a continuation of the same error that synod had rejected. God’s judgment on this led to the preaching of full-orbed false theology, as pointed out by Rev. Nathan Langerak in the Sword and Shield: grace that is available to us, Christ who did not personally do everything for our salvation, two-track theology and conditions in the maintenance of the covenant, being active in the matter of assurance—all Arminian statements!14

What Was and Remains the Error
Because God saves, redeems, and delivers us from bondage to sin and through his gift of faith, we assuredly know (experience) that we are saved, and we are incredibly thankful for that salvation. Therefore, we are obedient; we must, we will, and we can do good works. In short: Faith was made a work. Faith was twisted to be the activity of faith or the exercise of faith, which can still be correct if it means that we turn from self to Christ, cling to him, embrace him, hunger after him, thirst for him, rest in him. Faith has fruit (good works and obedience), but the fruit of faith was confused with faith itself. The fruit of faith (wrongly defined as either the “activity of faith” or the “exercise of faith”) is held out as a condition (prerequisite) that we must fulfill first, before we experience fellowship with God. But faith is never a work. Faith is an instrument that keeps us in communion with Christ. Faith is chiefly a bond, so that we become bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. Faith is active. Nobody denies that, but the chief activity of faith is to look away from self to Christ—to his work, his obedience, his merit, not ours. Faith is not being presented as a gift from God but as something “we must do.” T he Reformed faith has always maintained that the essence of faith is assurance, but erroneously, assurance has been destroyed by making faith a work. Herman Hoeksema is quite emphatic regarding faith and assurance in his commentary on Lord’s Day 32:

True and saving faith does not require any props, or external supports. It can and does indeed stand alone. For faith is itself assurance… We must therefore never say that faith is assured by good works. For faith itself is assurance. We must never attempt to make our good works the ground of our assurance of faith… Never forget that the Holy Spirit is the author of our faith. And He is also the author of the assurance of faith. Faith and the well-being of faith both are the work of the Holy Spirit. I will give but a few examples of how faith is being made a work. Reverend Overway preached, “We look at our good works [the fruit of faith] in the same way. Never of any value to make me be declared righteous before God, but always of help in finding and maintaining assurance…”16 T he doctrinal position paper—after first wrongly defining the activity of faith this way: “It is by the exercise of this faith [later defined as obedience] that the believer experiences fellowship with the Father”—concluded with this: “It is important to establish why a holy life of obedience [exercise of faith] is necessary to experience fellowship with God.”17 Professor Cammenga wrote just four weeks ago in the Standard Bearer: “These are the evidences of grace [earlier defined as obedience and good works] within the children of God, which confirm their assurance of salvation…But assurance that they have been ‘chosen to everlasting life’ [election] is enjoyed by those who are faithful, living and active church members.” Note that it is not faith itself that assures us but rather being faithful. Faith is made synonymous with being “faithful,” a clear and classic line of argumentation from the federal vision. Even more troubling is Professor Cammenga’s favorable attitude toward the “mystical syllogism” in this article, but that as a side note.18 Finally, it is my contention that Synod 2020 and Synod 2021 at the very least have severely weakened the decision of Synod 2018, and at worst the decision has effectively been overturned. I will try to demonstrate this briefly. Synod 2018 declared as doctrinal error the following statement: If we but meet these requirements [obedience and godliness] a little bit, by the grace of God, of course, and by God’s grace working them in us— if we meet these requirements but a little, then we will enjoy a little of God’s fellowship. That’s the truth. If we meet these requirements a lot, then we will enjoy much of God’s fellowship. Yet Synod 2020 and Synod 2021 dealt with protests against Reverend Overway’s preaching in December 2018, which preaching stated: We do little, God rewards greatly. And yet there is a correlation, so that we understand the less of a good work, or the less good that a good work is, the less or smaller the reward. The less number of works, the less of a reward one receives. So too with regard to the more. The more that one walks in good works, the more of a reward is received. [Significantly, part of the reward was described as fellowship.] Synod 2020 and Synod 2021 failed to uphold protests that showed that these statements militated against Synod 2018.21 They failed to judge these statements as heretical and failed to point out that, although different language was used, the exact same principle had been taught. Synod 2021 even agreed that the two statements are similar, yet synod declared that that does not prove militancy.22 T his is erroneous though, because the same minister continued to preach false doctrine after it had been condemned as false by Synod 2018. Now that false doctrine becomes the very definition of heresy. That continuing false doctrine must be judged as militating against previous settled and binding decisions. If not that, it should have been declared heresy. How will we ever get rid of the error, if in love for God we are not willing to condemn it when it is repeated? Going the way of articles 79 and 80 of the Church Order is still an act of love for the brother. I am also concerned that the decisions [that became doctrinal positions] of Synod 2020 and Synod 2021 weaken and will compromise the gospel, especially as they are given in the context of protests against conditional preaching.

Synod 2021, in rejecting a protest against Reverend Overway’s preaching, declared: Mr. Doezema denies the plain teaching of the Canons by saying, “Canons V-5 does not teach that repentance is some necessary activity that we must perform before we will again experience God’s fatherly countenance.” Mr. Doezema’s understanding is contrary to Scripture’s teaching that repentance precedes the reception of God’s merciful pardon in Christ by faith: Prov. 28:13, Ps. 32:5… Repentance occurs temporally prior to the reception of God’s pardon by faith. I am very concerned about the current emphasis that there is some necessary, temporal, God-wrought activity that precedes a blessing from God. For if we develop this concept, we can completely justify De Wolf’s heretical statement from 1953: “Our act of conversion is a prerequisite to enter into the kingdom.” De Wolf clarified later that he was emphasizing “daily entering, always entering, and conscious activity.” This presentation also strongly suggests that a heretical statement, such as “If a man would be saved, there is that which he must do,” is indeed completely correct. Synod 2021 quoted Psalm 32:5 as proof of its assertion. However, studying Calvin’s commentary on the entire Psalm 32, Calvin emphasizes that God first declares the blessedness of man established on the basis of Christ’s work for us in reconciling us to God and removing our guile. That is the blessing (vv. 1–2). This includes removing the guile of not having a heart that is bothered by God’s wrath or heavy hand against sin. Then we are placed under the heavy hand of God, in time, before we repent. This heavy hand of God, this anguish of bones waxing old and moisture turned to drought, however, is part of the blessing of salvation. It is a blessing, not a curse. The blessing is not for the wicked; it is only for the elect, as Calvin states: “Those [the elect]…whom God has truly awakened so as to be affected with a lively sense of their misery, are so constantly agitated and disquieted that it is difficult to restore peace to their minds.” After this follows repentance and confession with its joy, and the first verse is again experienced. And the wicked reprobate are never bothered by the hand of God. They “put away from them, as far as they can, the terrors of conscience, and all fear of Divine wrath.” Thus always God first, in every aspect, even temporally. Another text illustrates this: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love” (John 15:10). Calvin comments, “For the obedience that believers render is not the cause why he continues his love toward us, but rather the effect of his love.” Not us, but God f irst, and then because God has regenerated us, God has called us, God has given us faith, we do experience his blessings (which can include the severe anguish of his hand); we do repent; and we are converted to experience the blessing already established. Finally, in support of the argument of Synod 2021, appeal is made to Lord’s Day 45: “God will give His grace and Holy Spirit to those only who with sincere desires continually ask them of But faith is never a work. Faith is an instrument that keeps us in communion with Christ. Him” (Confessions and Church Order, 134). This exposes the danger of focusing on the temporal order, which is far less important than the logical order of our salvation, leading to conditional thought. A good friend reminded me what Ursinus wrote regarding Lord’s Day 45: “The effect [receiving God’s grace after prayer] is not prior to its own cause in order and nature, but in time they both exist together.”27 In other words, praying and then receiving grace happen simultaneously. Ursinus states this repeatedly.

Edmonton, Rev. A. Lanning, and Rev. N. Langerak
I cannot agree with the manner in which Classis West dealt with Edmonton’s consistory. Calling it a “revolt” to voice serious and valid concerns about the compromise of the gospel, truth, and salvation completely misses the point. Classis West matter-of-factly dismissed the consistory’s concerns and enforced the church visitors’ advice that Edmonton’s grounds for separation were unsubstantiated and then, even worse, sinful and slanderous. T he truth of the matter is that Edmonton’s concerns were not unsubstantiated slander. Edmonton’s officebearers were fulfilling their duty to watch over the flock
Christ has appointed them, to “maintain faithfulness to the only Head and King of the Church our Lord Jesus Christ.” For Classis to pretend that “all is okay” and “there is nothing to see here or be concerned about” is not an honest assessment of what transpired over the last several years in our denomination. A consistory has the God-given right, in the care and interest of the spiritual welfare of themselves and the f lock, to remove the congregation and itself from a denomination. Rev. T. Miersma, the church visitors, Immanuel’s consistory, and finally Classis West undermined the autonomy of the local congregation in this sordid affair by leveling charges of sin against the consistory. They should have allowed the consistory to deal with this matter as they saw fit. T he proper procedure for the Miersma group would have been to separate from Edmonton if they did not want to acquiesce with the consistory’s decision “to remove the Church.” But until then the Miersma group still remained under its consistory, which was still the God-appointed rule of Christ over the group. Be consistent: if you want to insist that the consistory removed itself, you must necessarily admit that the entire congregation is then also removed from the PRC. And the documents make it clear that the consistory’s intent was only to act once the congregation had approved the consistory’s recommendation. T his letter’s content also points out that Rev. A. Lanning and Rev. N. Langerak were absolutely correct in calling out the denomination for minimizing and not ridding herself of the error. They have been valiantly fulfilling their God-given calling. Their deposition and suspension were wrong. Indeed, they were persecuted for rebuking her for her errors (Confessions and Church Order, 64), while the rebukes of ministers and consistories against them (and Edmonton) are not deemed sin but instead justified. Principles work through. If the above is not understood by a minister, it will reflect in his preaching. I do believe that the preaching in our own congregation has indeed changed. It is not my intention to demonstrate this at length, but suffice it to say that I had significant difficulty with recent sermons. In essence, the preaching is not Christ-centered but centers on man, our “activity,” and our experiences. Reverend Bleyenberg sadly missed the point of the whole controversy with his letter “Pastor’s study.” In his very first concrete writing about the controversy, he completely ignores that the “activity of faith” was and still is wrongly presented as obedience. When that happens, preaching essentially becomes Christless. For then who has a need of Christ if our good works must be brought to the congregation as necessary for any blessing of salvation? I also want to emphatically state that the recent events that happened in the school, the implied charges of sin leveled against us by a deacon, and the whole difficulty with COVID plays absolutely no part in our decision to withdraw. It is and always will be distracting background noise. None of those things concern salvation.

Conclusion
I never intended to be this long-winded. It is difficult to summarize all that has happened in the last six years. Many other issues could be mentioned. There are wrongs on both sides, and I am not blind to that. I do not claim to know it all. I do not claim to know more, have more spiritual insight, and have more knowledge or ability than any of you. Yet I cannot ignore these issues. I cannot live with this theology. I cannot agree with the PRC’s dismissal of the controversy as a mere weakness. It is repackaged Arminianism in the covenant. It will choke me, my wife, and our children to death. In Christian love, Hilgard
 
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