Chatham, May 24, 1951
In Beacon Lights, the May issue for 1951, we read your answer, given to a daughter of the church, regarding the question, if it is right for a Protestant Reformed Serviceman to partake of Communion outside of the True Church, such as Army Chapels.
A member of our society asked during the questions at the end of our meeting on Sunday, May 20, 1951, what was the opinion of the members about this answer. After a brief discussion the society pronounced her disappointment about your answer and advice, given to our servicemen. They gave the Board the liberty to write a letter to “Schuiler”, in which they will express: 1st, their disappointment, and 2nd, that our society cannot act upon the advice of “Schuiler”, declaring at the same time the reason for this refusal.
First of all we rejected your distinguishment between pure churches, less or more pure churches and so on, because the Holy Scriptures and the Confessions do not at all speak about those different churches. Our Confession (de Ned. Geloofsbelijdenis, Art. 27-29) knows only one True Church, while the other ones are false. Further the Confession manifests plainly the three marks of the True Church. Every church that does not bear those three marks is a false church. That means: has not the authority, the competency, of the church. It is a question of credential letters and no more. The false church ascribes more power and authority to herself and her ordinances than to the Word of God. Did the Christian Reformed Church this with respect to the Three Points of Kalamazoo? Has she since 1924 still authority? We say no, therefore it is a false church. Did the Synodical Reformed Churches in the Netherlands not the same with respect to the resolutions in 1942-1944? If so, they are according to our Confession false churches.
And if you think more and more about it, you would not give this advice to our Servicemen. We will show you that with some speaking examples. A member of our societies comes in the neighborhood of Hamilton. (It does not matter if it is a Serviceman or a civil person.) There is not a Protestant Reformed Church at Hamilton. Would you advise him to go to the Canadian Reformed Church in Hamilton? Regarding your answer you would. But the Classis East of our Churches just wrote a letter to this congregation in which she called them to repentance from the sins. And advises brother Reitsma to join one of our churches in the vicinity. Do you think that Rev. H. Veldman will act upon your advice and will worship with them and partake of the Lord’s Supper? Do you think that he would give you advice to his son (if he has one?) if he was in the service. We don’t believe it. Once more it makes no difference if it is a Serviceman or a civil person. There is no special rule for Servicemen and no special Confession for them.
We do not want to enter in discussion if we, regarding the Canadian Reformed Churches, would not do it, because it might be if we discussed the matter Hamilton, that we would have another opinion about it. Do you think that Professor H. Hoeksema would go to the sermon of a Christian Reformed Church and worship with them and also would partake of the Lord’s Supper? The churches who casted him out in 1924. We cannot believe it.
Do you think that we can worship with the same churches (Christian Reformed) and also partake of the Lord’s Supper? The churches which deny the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and agree with the outcasting of Prof. Schilder, Greydanus and of hundreds of other officebearers? We say: we cannot. Never, unless they repented themselves.
And we would never advise our Servicemen or anybody else to go and listen to the sermons of any other churches and partake of the Lord’s Supper, if they do not bear the three marks, mentioned in the Confession. Once more, it is a question of Authority and this has nothing to do with the question whether other people outside of the Prot. Reformed Churches can be saved.
We advise every member of our societies and our churches to read the articles of brother K. C. Van Spronsen in Concordia, the issues of April 12 and April 26, 1951.
It is a good idea that a Committee of Classis West is arranging the printing of a Servicemen’s Meditation Booklet. That is a proof for us that they cannot also agree with this advice. That is the only way. If there is not a Protestant Reformed Church or not another Reformed Church, read a sermon or meditation. If possible with other brother- servicemen.
This letter has been read to all our members in a special meeting. All agreed with it. We hope that you will publish this letter in the next issue of Beacon Lights.
With Christian greetings,
The Board of the Youth Society of the Prot. Ref. Church at Chatham, Canada.
John v.d. Veen, President
Arend v.d. Gaag, Vice-Pres.
Tjitse Beintema, Secretary
Dien Koster, Treasurer.
First, I would kindly ask my readers to read my answer to the question: “Is it right for a Prot. Ref. Serviceman to partake of communion outside of the True Church, such as Army Chapels? If not, why not?” which you find in the May issue of Beacon Lights. And I must confess that after carefully reading my answer, and then perusing the above protest to it, I am at a loss how the young people of our Chatham church can write as they do. Perhaps it is because of the “brief” discussion. This matter is too complex to solve it simply by a “brief” discussion.
Second, the Society does not dare to take the consequences of their stand. Here is their argumentation: 1. According to Articles 27-29 of our Netherlands Confession, there is only one True Church. 2. The Protestant Reformed Churches are the True Church in these parts, because of the fact that only these Churches have the three distinguishing marks of the True Church. 3. All the other Churches in the United States and Canada are the False Church. But note the following statement in the above letter: “Once more, it is a question of AUTHORITY and this has nothing to do with the question whether other people outside of the Prot. Ref. Churches can be saved.” (I underscore, G.V.) Oh no, my dear young people! You may not make that statement, that is, on your standpoint. You say that according to the Articles 27-29 of the Confession, the Prot. Ref. Churches are the True Church and all other churches are the False Church. But note what we read in Art. 28: “We believe, since this holy congregation is an assembly of those who are saved, and that out of it there is no salvation. . . .” You see? If you maintain that the Prot. Reformed Churches are the only True Church in the United States and Canada, you will have to hold also to the statement in the Confession that there is no salvation possible “out of it.” But very plainly, you do not dare to take the consequences of that stand, for you write that the “question whether other people outside of Prot. Ref. Churches can be saved” has nothing to do with our matter under discussion.
Third, our fathers in the articles you mention plainly refer to the False Church and unmistakably point out to us whom they mean. Attend to Art. 20, where we read: “As for the false church, she ascribes more power and authority to herself and her ordinances than to the Word of God, and will not submit herself to the yoke of Christ. Neither does she administer the sacraments as appointed by Christ in His Word, but adds to and takes from them, as she thinks proper.” Do you note the underscored portion, my young friends? Very plainly our fathers point here to the Roman Catholic Church, and so do I when I think of the false church. Neither do I hold that the Roman Catholic Church is the only false church in our day, but I would not dare say that the Christian Reformed Church today is the false church. Neither would I dare to say that outside of the two dozen churches of the Protestant Reformed denomination there is no salvation possible. But you must take that consequence because of your radical stand.
Fourth, on your identical stand the Reformed Churches of Canada, largely composed of Liberated immigrants, have taken the position that we, the Protestant Reformed Churches are the False Church. And they proved it too, for they simply threw the Rev. Herman Veldman from their pulpit, deposing him. And I reckon them under the Reformed Churches in Canada for they professed in one of their last decisions that they would seek to join with them. I mention this also because of the following in your letter: “We do not want to enter in discussion if we, regarding the Can. Ref. Churches, would not do it, because it might be if we discussed the matter Hamilton, that we would have another opinion about it.” In answer to that statement I would say that you could not possibly do it, that is, you could not possibly take communion with them at the Lord’s table, since according to your radical stand there is only one Lord’s table in Canada! And that Lord’s table of the Holy Supper is in Chatham, that is, your own Prot. Ref. Church. All the other churches in Canada, including the five or six Canadian Reformed Churches of the Liberated are the False Church! Do you not see that you have bitten off more than you can chew?
Fifth, your radical stand, and I may as well add, your mistaken stand, will lead to Pharisaism pure and simple. The same fathers who composed articles 27-29, were they living today, would certainly not take the stand you take. That can be proven from the very acts of Calvin, who, as you undoubtedly know, is the source from which Guido deBres drew much of his material when he composed the Netherlands Confession. Did Calvin call the Lutheran Church the False Church? Did he refuse to shake hands with Luther? Did he condemn him as an apostate when he, that is, Luther, refused to shake hands with him? No, but he said that he considered brother Martin a dear brother in the Lord. But if we would take your mistaken stand it would foster the spirit that speaks: Depart from me for I am holier than thou! And consider that Calvin so spoke of brother Martin Luther although he took an entirely erroneous stand on the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, and Calvin knew that his own stand on this doctrine was true and according to the Word of God.
Sixth, my stand is that our Protestant Reformed Churches are the purest manifestation of the Body of Christ, but I hasten to add that this does not mean that all the other church federations are the False Church. I dare go this far: they all are travelling in that direction! Take, for instance, the Christian Reformed Churches: they have grievously erred in doctrine and Reformed Church Polity in 1924. But I still call them my brethren in the Lord, and I pray for them daily. And if God would put me in the proximity of one of their churches, and far from my own churches, I would certainly not sit down with “een boekje in een hoekje”, and proclaim to them that they were the False Church and on the way, one and all, to eternal damnation. But on your stand that is exactly what, I should have to do.
Finally, everyone is duty bound before God and men to join himself to that church which, to his conviction, exhibits in the purest way the three distinguishing marks of the true church. That is the reason why I am a member of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America.
With kind greetings,