Free Reformed Churches of Australia
 FRCA navigation
. home
. synod
 
 Synod 2006
. synod 2006
. deputy reports
. acts of synod
. agenda
 
The final (published) version of the Acts of Synod 2006 is available as a single PDF file here.
The Acts available in HTML format are an "Approved Draft", and contain spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and typos.
These draft acts are being retained online for convenience and ease of access. Quotes should not be taken from these draft acts.
 
Address by Brother P Drijfhout
on behalf of the Committee on Relations Abroad of the Gereformeerde Kerken in de Nederlands (Restored)
Tuesday 11th July 2006, Synod West Kelmscott, Western Australia, 2006 (Acts Article 27)

Beloved brothers (and sisters) in our Lord Jesus Christ.[1]

On behalf of the Synod of The Reformed Churches (restored) in Holland, I wish to express our thanks for your kind invitation. Our preparation had to be done in a hurry because your invitation reached us unluckily two weeks before your synod-sessions would start.

On behalf of our Synod I would like to extend our sincere en heartfelt greetings to you.

More than 40 years ago the first Dutch emigrants, maybe your ancestors, were confronted with the unwillingness of the Australian Reformed Churches' to choose between the Dutch Reformed Churches and the Dutch Reformed Churches Liberated. We learned that in those years the Free Reformed Churches of Australia have still frequently impressed upon the same Reformed Churches the necessity to recognize the reformation and liberation of 1944 as a work of God.

Now, more than 60 years later you are again confronted with a reformation. Now YOU have to choose. And now you have to answer the question: was the reformation of 2003 a work of God or not? Although the question is the same, the grounds are different. Different because theological constructions about baptism are not involved this time but the main issue now is: how do we interpret Scripture in every days life?

During the past 15 years we were confronted with changes in our churches. Changes regarding the interpretation of Scripture, the confession and the Church Order. Changes, which may have an impact on your churches too. You will find that many of our points of controversy are mentioned in the report of your deputies.

In our letter to your deputies for contact with Churches abroad we wrote about some of the most important grounds for our liberation.

We mentioned our repeated appeals regarding:
  • the decision about the fourth command

  • ecclesiastical unity with the Christian Reformed Church and the PCEA

  • Scriptural criticism

  • the songs from the interdenominational Liedboek (hymnal)

  • the interpretation of 1 Cor. 7 concerning marriage and divorce

  • Lords Supper and the army

  • the blessing by a non-elder
All the above mentioned issues were tabled at two synods by the way of appeals.

These two synods disregarded the many warnings and many objections based on Scripture against the decisions, repeated in many letters of appeal, tabled on ecclesiastical meetings, and despite so many warnings published in articles of Reformanda, brochures and brought forward in many public meetings.

In the end, all requests for revision of the major decisions were rejected by the Synod of Zuidhorn. And according to Art. 31 of our Church Order, appeals cannot be brought forward again after two synods have dealt with them. Except, of course, when they are substained by new grounds.

In our appeals to the different synods we gave evidence from Scripture that different decisions were contrary to Gods Word. Not Scripture changed but a new interpretation of Scripture caused the above mentioned decisions. We asked the local churches of which we were members not to ratify Synods decisions, but in many cases church-councils were unwilling to investigate our objections. Time and again they answered that we should direct our objections to the synods. In their defence they answered that they trusted the members of the synods and that they did not have the professional experience to deal with our objections. In this way the church-councils evaded their responsibilities. The unity of Christian life, clearly seen in the unity between doctrine and life in accordance to the doctrine, was broken.

Evidence of continuing faithfulness to the Word of God, the confession and the Church Order is not only found in spoken words, but also and explicit in our practical way of living.

Therefore, according to Art 31 CO the end of the ecclesiastical way was reached for these issues.

In February 2003 a call for reformation, entitled "Let us repent", was made and distributed to all churches, together with a brochure and letter.

We hoped and prayed that church members would request their church councils in the Netherlands not to ratify the contested decisions, causing a return to Scripture, confession and church-order within our beloved church.

Unfortunately, no single positive response from the church-councils followed these requests. Therefore, it had to be concluded with great sadness, that the possibilities to serve the Lord in obedience to his Word was no longer permitted without sharing responsibility to all these unscriptural decisions.

According to the Belgic Confession Art. 29, the Reformed Churches Liberated could not meet the criteria of the true church any more. They did not reject all that is contrary to God's Word but legalized NO as well as the YES of the Word of God in many issues. They declared openly to continue on this road as they deem it reformed and ecumenical.

In obedience to God's Word, formulated in Art. 31 of the Church Order, the only way that was left to us was to liberate from a church that had become pluriform, where everybody has his own truth. To observe the maintaining of the unity of the church more effectively, it is the duty of all believers, according to the Word of God, to separate from those, who do not belong to the church. We have to join the assembly wherever God has established it (Art. 28 Belgic Confession).

We continued the Church according to Article 28 of the Belgic Confession by re-instituting the Church and calling away our brothers and sisters from the Liberated Reformed Churches. We did so for the first time seven months after the deadline for ratification was passed. According to the new church order, churches could appeal against synod decisions within 6 months after the acts had been published somewhere (Website or publication on paper).

Therefore we now come to the following questions:

How can you declare unity with churches which testify that resting on Sunday from all unnecessary labour is not based on a divine command but on an ecclesiastical and human institution? A church that declares: under what circumstances (professional) labour is necessary shall be determined in Christian liberty.[2]

How can you declare unity with churches that allow or even approve instructions that doubt the historical facts of Genesis 1 as stated by Rev. Doedens: "on exegetical grounds we should leave room to read this overture of the Scriptures as a story from the aspect of the Sabbath week, well-known in Israel? Genesis 1 is not written as a literal-chronological report but as a logic-thematic description from the Sabbath-aspect as God gave Israel later on" (102).

How can you declare unity with churches that admit that distinction exist between Word and Scripture? Not a difference of content, but the Word in the form of writing is not the same as the word that dwells in and sounds amidst people. In the latter we see the Holy Spirit working. What the Holy Spirit said in earlier days, he will now sound in the mutual presence within the congregation and use it so to re-create the people in the imitation of Jesus after the image of God (225,226) [3].

How can you declare unity with churches that admit an interpretation of 1 Cor. 7 as given by the deputies, suggesting that the church (that means the elders) has the right and the duty of making their own decisions? By analogy the church has the ability, through the Holy Spirit, to form their own conclusions as Paul did.

Many possibilities for divorce are possible because our situation and our culture differs from the situation in the days of Jesus Christ and Paul. We need other solutions, based on Scripture in the style of Gods kingdom. We are entitled to new decisions. There is no reference to the covenant between man and wife as a reflection of the bond, the covenant between Jesus Christ and his bride, the church. It seems that the starting-point in this whole discussion is not the Scripture but the sin of human beings and his problems in modern civilization.

How can you declare unity with churches which made no objection against Prof. De Bruijne's (who teaches at Kampen) introduction that it is possible that writers of the Scriptures could have used incorrect information [4]. He states that it is not unthinkable that the writer of the Scripture according to his resources could not in all situations present a uniform picture (187). And the author of Scripture with his power of imagination has his own contribution in his writing of biblical history (184).

How can you declare unity with churches which declares that: Assen 1926 pointed merely to a concrete point of view of Dr. Geelkerken, not based on Scripture, with respect to a number of elements in describing the fall into sin in Genesis 2 and 3; the synod wanted to say no more concerning the authority of Scripture than maintain what the Belgic Confession confesses on this point. The Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Churches Liberated have contact on the basis of this confession; private expressions of ministers and others within the Christian Reformed Church do not have the character of ecclesiastical fixed position and are therefore no reason for discussion with the Christian Reformed Church; because the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Churches Liberated have discovered each other in the communal acceptance of the confession also with respect to what is said therein of Holy Scripture. It is not necessary to bind each other to declarations that have been made in a specific case.[5] Here again we see that today's situation and today's culture changed our vision on decisions made by synods in earlier days (Assen, 1926 and Arnhem 1981). It is not necessary to withdraw these two decisions because they were taken in complete different situations and culture. The synod of Amersfoort took a further step than Zuidhorn.

On the one hand personal opinions (Gomarus, Coccejus, van Dijk, etc) were used to proof that within the Church in the past years the view that the Sunday as a day of rest is not based on the 4th commandment, while on the other hand deviations from Scripture by Dr. Geelkerken and Prof Oosterhof are called personal opinions of ministers and others.

Brothers, we find no pleasure in mentioning these things. The decisions are not merely theoretical. They have practical consequences! During the last years many of these decisions have been implemented in different churches.

The liturgy has changed in many ways. God's Word and the preaching are no longer the centre of the liturgy. Each part is viewed as of similar importance. The covenant-conversation is not anymore the starting-point of the liturgy. Sermons have little exegesis, but man-centered applications. The involvement of church-members is extended. Children and adults read Scripture passages in public worship services, discussions between ministers and children are being held in church service prior to the sermon. All sorts of attributes are used during the sermon to illustrate certain points. Special groups, like children, get special attention, worships for special groups are held (e.g. people with special needs, children). Normal worship services are used as special 'low step' services to accommodate for people with the purpose of evangelization.

Youth churches with an interdenominational character are being visited by teenagers with the consent of church-councils, parents and major assemblies. People from other denominations are admitted to Lord's Supper without attestation.

The elder and deacon visits are, according to the new church policy, extended or replaced by ward visits. Ward teams, consisting of minister, elder, deacon and a ward sister to discuss the problems in the ward. And these discussions are reported at the church council meetings.

In the worship services the demand to covenant obedience is replaced by an appeal to God's wonderful work in Jesus Christ which should appeal more to the heart of the people.

Is the work of the Holy Sprit still connected to the Word of God? Or does the Holy Spirit work independently without the Word of God?

Although the Reformed Churches Liberated confess that the church, according to Art. 28 and 29 of the Belgic Confession is recognized by the certain marks, why then, did they in The Hague begin with a joint evangelization project with the Nederlands Reformed Churches and the Christian Reformed Churches?

Is it correct that a classis can advise a church council to resign, as happened in Kampen?

Is it correct that because of an evangelization project a church can be dismantled, as happened in Amsterdam? Do we, in obedience to God's Word, still believe in the independency of the local church as the highest authority? Which church order was used to make this possible?

Do I have to say more about our appeals for reformation? Do I have to say more about the reasons of our liberation?

Brothers, observe these aspects. We urge you to verify if these things are according to the truth.

Our struggle for the truth of God's Word in our everyday life, our struggle to obey God's Word only, is also your struggle. With this appeal we want to warn you.

In our struggle we need you. As true churches we are obliged to help each other in our struggle to main true according to Scripture and Confession in obedience to our covenant God.

We came here with the prayers of our congregations that the Holy Spirit may guide you and us in our struggle to remain faithful to our catholic and undoubted Christian faith. Without His guidance through Scripture and our obedience to Scripture, we will never gain victory over Satan and our sins.

Thank you.


1. See J Kamphuis, Een Eeuwig Verbond (Haarlem: Vijlbrief, 1984), pg 95.
2. cf Kamphuis, pg 35ff. He mentions JC Sikkel, SG deGraaf, A Janse, K Schilder, all of who insisted that the congregation must be seen as a covenant people.
3. Cf page 43ff.
4. Kamphuis, pg 21ff. Also, and especially, pg 99.




last updated 21 Jul 2006
 
copyright © 2002-2017   all rights reserved.  maintained by   web by mpot.
.