Address by Brother A Breen
Response to addresses by Rev J Plug and Brother P Drijfhout
Tuesday 11th July 2006, Synod West Kelmscott, Western Australia, 2006
(Acts Article 27)
Thank you Rev Plug and Br Drijfhout for your addresses, your greetings, your information and your comments on behalf of the churches who have sent you as delegates to our synod 2006.
First I will respond to you, Rev Plug. We are thankful to have you and Rev Niemeijer, who was preses of the General Synod Amersfoort-Centrum 2005, in our midst.
Yesterday our Synod opened on a historical day: 10th July. It was July 10th that John Calvin was born in 1509 in Noyon. Isn't it striking: Rev Huizinga and myself, we visited your Synod in Amersfoort last year, and were welcomed on 27th May. It was May 27th that John Calvin died in 1564.
We extended a welcome to you here 10th July, Calvin's day of birth.
You welcomed us in Amersfoort 27th May, Calvin's day of death.
We have something in common, haven't we? John Calvin, the man of the true ecumene and founder of the Reformed Academy in Geneva, the cradle of Reformed preachers for all of Europe and from there for America, Africa, Asia and Australia. Where are the countries where Calvin was never known?
Yet, it's not Calvin who binds us together tonight. It's the Lord of the church who brings His children together by the Spirit of the Word, and around the Word of the Spirit. That is what our deputies sister churches have experienced when they were in Amersfoort last year. We were allowed to be advisors at your synod when you discussed matters in relation to Marriage and Divorce. We could find each other on the solid foundation of God's Word. All the foreign delegates stood up confessing their obedience to the Holy Scriptures and binding to the Reformed Confessions. We thank you for the excellent reception you gave our delegates.
In our speech to your Synod we said that we hoped from the heart that you would take our sympathetic-critical responses to heart. In the meantime, we know you did. And from your speech, Rev Plug, we hear, you do.
You really want to have a mutual relationship in which we respond sympathetic-critically to you, and you respond sympathetic-critically to us.
Sister church relationship is indeed a two-way traffic. Not two different ways which run away from each other, but one way on which we approach you and you us. Sister-churches; and the church as mother; and mother says to her children, "I love you." And the children should love each other in accordance to Scripture and show that.
Thank you that you want to think along with us. You did, when several members of your churches gave advice to our Synod Rockingham 2003 concerning forgiveness and repentance. And we know that you want to continue to do so whenever we ask you for advice. And you know that we down under just don't want to miss a thing, but want to be informed. And we confess matters thoroughly, indeed. Yes, ad fontes: back to the source. Please don't see this as meddlesome or suspicious behaviour, but as a sincere, genuine evidence of mutual relationship.
We see your large bond of churches living in a very secularized country, one of the most "progressive" countries in the world. Your country has really become multi-cultural, with all its attendant problems. We see you struggling to remain faithfully and thankfully reformed.
There are brothers and sisters who cannot live with you any longer saying that they want to stand on the basis of Scripture and Confessions.
There are also brothers and sisters who cannot live with you any longer saying that there is more than Scripture and Confessions.
And in your midst there are concerned people. You yourselves also have indicated that there are a lot of dangers in the churches. Satan tries to destroy the church also from inside out.
May the King of His church strengthen you to remain faithful showing what you have confessed this morning, namely to stay firm on the foundation of Scripture and Confessions. And that your developments will be growth. That also we stay reformed, attacking charismatism which comes to us via literature, and fighting against secularism which always should be attacked.
You know, this Synod will discuss the Overall recommendations concerning your churches, and the Alternate set of overall recommendations. It's not my task this evening to run ahead of that discussion. Tonight I will focus on what both recommendations of our deputies have in common, and that is "to continue sister-relations with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands according to the adopted Rules for Sister-Relations." May the Lord bless these contacts.
There is a second common aspect in the Overall recommendations and the Alternate set of deputies, and that is to urge you to continue to engage in meaningful dialogue with the restored Reformed churches, having an understanding of their concerns and grievances, and addressing these concerns Scripturally and confessionally in truth and love.
And with this I will respond to you, brother Drijfhout. Thank you for your address tonight. You made clear to us why there are more than two delegates from the Netherlands. Of course I will not answer your questions tonight. Let synod speak, listening to both parties and respecting the names of brothers in the Netherlands.
When our two delegates visited Synod Amersfoort there was a delegate from the Free Church in Scotland and a delegate of the Continued Free Church of Scotland. They had not spoken with each other for many months. But in Amersfoort they were sitting next to each other, spoke with each other, looked each other in the eyes, and even went home in the same plane.
We know from your address that there is more necessary than to sit around the table and to fly together. You have mentioned many obstacles for you. But the Lord can do miracles.
Our deputies sister relations, all of us, have prayed many times after our long deputies meetings asking the Lord for reconciliation between brothers and sisters in the ecclesiastical tradition of John Calvin who all confess to make decisions on the basis of Scripture and Confessions.
This morning I sat behind four delegates from the Netherlands. The preses asked the brothers to rise showing that they will discuss matters at Synod in obedience to the Bible, bound to the Reformed Confessions, and in accordance with the Church Order. All four brothers rose at the same time.
Brothers, we continue praying that the Lord will bring you, restored reformed, and the churches you have left, together. May the Lord use us here in Australia to arrange contact in order to restore the bond. To discuss -as you said- different interpretations of Scripture.
It was Wednesday evening, 1st of June 2005, when Rev Huizinga and myself met with your deputies, the brothers De Marie, H Bos, H Griffioen and J vanderJagt (Hans). It was our task as deputies to be informed. Therefore we asked you questions in relation to your letter to our churches asking for a sister relation.
Because it is the Synod which has to decide regarding this request, we had to come with recommendations. But that was only possible after being informed.
We have read all the materials you have sent to us. On the basis of this and your letter we have formulated questions to you. In order to get a good overview the two deputies have written a report in 5 columns. In the first column aspects from your letter are mentioned. In the second column you find decisions from the Dutch synods Leusden and Zuidhorn and responses from BBK (the Dutch Deputies for sister relations). In the third column our questions in relation to the first and second column are formulated. In the fourth column you find your answers. And in the fifth column our analysis. On the basis of this column recommendations were made.
What I've said earlier to the delegates from the GKV, I also say to you now: this Synod will discuss the Overall recommendations concerning your churches, and the Alternate recommendation number 2. It's not my task this evening to run ahead of that discussion. Tonight I will focus on what both deputies' recommendations have in common, and that is that we need to have contact with you so that we can speak to you and continue to urge you, as well as our Dutch sister church, to work for reconciliation on the basis of truth and love.
We can expect that this Synod will discuss matters in relation to especially the 4th, the 7th and the 9th Commandment. But all these commandments belong together. All these commandments tell us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind; and to love our neighbour as ourselves. Paul says in Rom 13:10: Love is the fulfillment of the law. And John says in his first Letter, chapter 4:
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
Brothers, let us confess together that Jesus is the Son of God and that there is no salvation but by Him. Let us draw near before the throne of God's majesty and mercy. We know that we abide in Christ and He in us, because He has given us His Spirit. May the Spirit, sent from heaven above, show us the way of truth and love. May the Promised One dwell in our heart. He, Who light and life to us imparts.
8 He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
Thank you very much.
deputy sister relations
last updated 21 Aug 2006