The following speech by Rev de Marie was presented at Hamilton 24 June 2013.
One of the great misunderstandings we have among Christians and even in reformed churches is the Scriptural doctrine of the church. That misunderstanding becomes especially evident if a church is considering unification or relations with other groups of Christians.
This is particularly challenging in our situation with many denominations calling themselves churches of Christ. That is not a new phenomenon. The Belgic Confession already mentions that the church of Christ has to be distinguished from a variety of sectarian churches all pretending to be a church of Christ. In article 29 Belgic Confession we confess the Scriptural guidelines for that distinction, while article 28 deals with everyone’s duty to join the church of Christ.
Our confession urges us to assess and reassess the need and possibility for unification every time the church is confronted with those who are presenting themselves as true believers but are still not united with it. In such an assessment the church should resist any tendency to follow own desires for unity at the cost of compromising the truth of God’s Word.
Not because ‘compromising’ in itself is so objectionable, for compromising on non-essentials is an inevitable part of unification, but because the one truth of God’s Word has to form the unique and only valid foundation for the church of Christ and for all its church relationships and unifications.
Article 28 Belgic Confession deals with Scriptural unity while article 29 deals with Scriptural truth. Both articles of faith are complementary to each other. Both are dealing with the ongoing duties of the same church and the ongoing duties of all true believers in relation to that church.
If we will not obey what we confess and believe as being the truth of the church gathering work of our Lord, we will easily compromise the foundation of the church, and so lose our bond with Christ as the only Head of His Church and the acts regarding His church and not ourselves or our partners.
To keep that always in mind, reformed churches have to uphold the Three Forms of Unity faithfully and correctly.
2. The liberated reformed churches and their relationships
If we look back to the time after the Liberation of 1944 in the Netherlands, we see the liberated reformed churches searching for ecclesiastical unity with the Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerken (a sisterchurch of the Free Reformed Churches of North America) which had and upheld these same Three Forms of Unity. The liberated reformed churches considered that the way for unification with them was open using the criteria in the Confession.
However, in 1969 it was recognized that this process was frustrated by the raising of nonessential objections from the side of the Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerken. So then it was decided to suspend the attempts towards unification. Later in the early eighties, these attempts even appeared to be blocked due to the emergence of Scripture criticism within de Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerken.
Nevertheless, very surprisingly, just a few years later, the process of unification with the CGK was started again, resulting in the fusion of many local liberated reformed and Christelijke Gereformeerde congregations.
This process of unification also occurred at that time in relation to the Netherlands Reformed Church (also known as the ‘buiten verband’ or ‘open brief’ churches). Although federative unity has not yet been achieved with either federation, many so called fusion (or joint) congregations have emerged. In the meantime, Scripture criticism has also settled firmly within the liberated reformed churches.
Nowadays the liberated reformed churches are showing a steady progression in being even more open to, and co-operating with, as many denominations as possible. This process of openness, with its related tolerance of heresies, Scripture criticism and secularization, appears to be unstoppable, at least if the Lord will not bring about repentance.
Their participation in the ecumenical National Synod, and their request to become a partner of the ecumenical Council of Churches in the Netherlands, are examples of their false ecumenical drive. As a result of this openness to false ecumenism, tolerance of errors and wrong practices are now spreading further and further over many areas of doctrine, worship, church government and discipline.
In a recent book1, Prof Dekker, a sociologist of religion, describes the results of his study of the internal opinions, official decisions, church life and practical life within the liberated reformed churches for the period 1970-2010. Dekker himself is not intending to call the liberated reformed churches to repentance and conversion as a result of his study. He had another purpose in mind.
In his book Prof Dekker points in another direction instead of admonishing and calling to repentance – a direction the theological university of Kampen is already working towards, namely a church that is serving the world with a neglect of the antithesis. There the great man or prophet of this time – as they call him – is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a teacher of universal atonement.
Dekker performed his research by using all the yearbooks of the liberated reformed churches in the study period, as well as some additional writings from liberated reformed authors. Dekker did not use restored reformed people or concerned people as his sources.
What Dekker observed in the liberated reformed churches was that, over time, there was an increase in secularization in almost all the areas of doctrine and life he studied. Dekker compared these developments to those within the synodical reformed churches of an earlier period of time. He could easily identify similarities between both churches in their decline and deviation from the principles to which they had adhered in their earlier days.
His conclusion that the liberated reformed churches walked in the footsteps of the synodicals cannot be denied. They went from ongoing reformation at the beginning of his study to an ongoing revolution that has not yet ended.
Brothers and sisters, why should I mention these sad developments in the liberated reformed churches?
Well, first of all because I was one of them until 2003. In 2003 other brothers and sisters and I had to liberate ourselves from the liberated reformed churches because these churches had, already at that time, definitely lost the marks of the true church by maintaining lies instead of the truth, by tolerating errors instead of rejecting them. That which had been the true church had become a corrupted church.
Unfortunately, our intense calling to its members did not result in a mass repentance. Therefore, we as restored reformed churches are now only about 1% of the total of the liberated reformed church members.
The second reason for mentioning these sad developments is that these are largely the result of an erroneous view of the church, the church gathering work of Christ, and the foundation of the church. Principally the previously mentioned developments originated from an erroneous view of what Christ demanded from His people in order to remain His true church, as a pillar and ground of the Truth.
When the former chief editor of the Nederlands Dagblad characterizes the truth for liberated reformed members in general as the things they themselves feel as being true, then that is a very serious indication of postmodern secularization. But it is even much worse when subsequent synods maintain wrong decisions and keep tolerating publications which are against the Word of God despite specific repeated warnings, appeals and callings.
The result is that this church is not a pillar and ground of the Truth anymore. This is the result of openness, false ecumenism and related tolerance including Scripture criticism and secularization.
The gap between them and the restored reformed churches seems unbridgeable and is widening more and more over time. Staying in the liberated reformed churches, and still accepting these churches as true churches, means partaking in their sins before the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, the third and last reason why I mention these sad developments is because your synods did not, until recently, understand the disastrous process within these liberated reformed churches, and even now their understanding is only partial. I will come back to that later.
3. The Truth about the one body and its faith, Ephesians 4
But let us now listen to Scripture itself. What does Scripture tell us about the truth and the unity that should be preserved by the church of Jesus Christ in following Him as the only Head?
The apostle Paul formulated the challenge to obey the Scriptures, even in confusing circumstances, in 1 Corinthians 11: 19, saying:
“For there must also be factions among you that those who are approved may be recognized among you.” (NKJV)
So, there must be factions, sects, divisions. These factions are against God’s Word, but God still uses them to test his people. He does this to see whether they will follow Jesus Christ and His Word in a divided situation or whether they will go their self-willed ways, to avoid trouble, to please the masses, and to preserve human connections rather than the connection with the Lord.
Every time errors, heresies or schisms emerge within the church each member is tested to prove whether he or she is really obedient to the Head of the church and whether he or she is really following the voice of Jesus Christ as the one Shepherd of the sheep, wherever He will go.
We have read in chapter 4 of the epistle to the Ephesians that the apostle Paul exhorts the congregation to act and live worthy of the calling with which God has called them. What does this calling mean? This is a calling to come out of the world, to the church of Christ and the salvation in Christ.
Paul would bind it upon the hearts of the Ephesians, so that they would act in church and social life according to their calling, their vocation; their vocation to live in the God-given grace and peace within the one body of Christ, and their vocation to live according to the God-given faith and truth to the edification of the church of Christ.
They were called in Christ by God out of darkness into His marvelous light. As excluded gentiles God had called them to Christ. In and through Christ they were no longer strangers and foreigners but full members of the household of God Himself (Ephesians 2). This was the result of God’s election, the atoning love and the sanctifying work of Christ.
With all His gifts of faith, peace and unity, Christ gave them His tasks and commands as well. It is in His grace that He granted them faith, peace and unity. He had paid for it with His blood and had given His Word and Spirit for it. Faith, peace and unity are immeasurable gifts of Christ and His Spirit to the church. However, the church should not be passive with these gifts.
The church should welcome them, but also preserve, maintain and even augment them, for which the church continually needs the help of Christ and His Spirit. What is true for the church is also true for its members.
Therefore Paul, on behalf of Christ, calls the congregation of the Ephesians “one body”. There is one body, verse 4 says. In fact, that one body could only be the one body of Christ, in which His Spirit is present. It is this one body to which He is connected as its Head, as its Leader, as its Savior, by His Spirit.
So verse 4 says.
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in the one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all and in you all.” (NKJV)
Paul refers to the church of Christ as a local church but through that he also refers to the one catholic church of all times and places. In this one body there is one Spirit. We encounter the Spirit of Christ in His body where He as Head is followed, where His pure word is preached, where the sacraments are administered purely, that is according to His commandments, and where the discipline is performed correctly.
So that body is also characterized by the presence of the Spirit of Christ Who makes use of all means of grace as gifts from Christ, sanctified by Him.
Paul exhorts the congregation to show love, patience and tolerance towards each other, but that should not lead to acceptance of deviations from the Head, or corruption of the Truth. If the Spirit of Christ is persistently grieved because there is no repentance, He will leave that body. Then the candlestick will be taken away by Christ.
If Paul says there is “one Lord”, it means that in the one body of Christ everyone must, together, submit their necks under the yoke of this Lord. Therefore we are confessing, in article 28 Belgic Confession, what we are to believe.
It also means that we have to accept Christ’s rule in submitting ourselves in all things under the pure word of God, just as we confess in article 29 Belgic Confession.
Only then will we be one body with one Spirit and one Lord, having a real unity in the Truth of Christ, a unity in communion with Christ our Lord, our King, our Head and Leader.
By following Him in obedience wherever He goes, as one flock listening to His one Voice—the Voice of the Good Shepherd. Only in that way may we form the true communion of saints.
Verse 4 continues: there is also “One faith”. Namely, the one true faith worked by the only Spirit of the only Lord. That one true faith is that which we all confess together with one voice and one heart. ‘One faith’ refers here to the content of God’s Word. It is the content of our faith.
The church has one faith; that means: all members share the same truth of God’s Word, they all agree in their confession; they all have a consensus in the content of their faith. That faith is worked out by the only Word and the only Spirit of the only Head.
In the communion of the church we should not be wiser than the Lord’s instructions to us in His very Word. We are not allowed, in self-willed worship, to have our own tabernacle that deviates from the model which the Lord has given us. We could do so by accepting errors and deviations. Then we don’t have the same faith Christ has given us, but we then have adapted, distorted and corrupted it. Then reformation is needed, a return to the Word of God for otherwise the church is not the body of Christ anymore.
As true believers we are also not allowed to separate ourselves from the one body of Christ, even if we would otherwise adhere completely to the truth of God’s Word. If we would so separate, we would be schismatic by not joining the church that fulfills the marks of the true church. Then we are schismatic and in fact a sectarian church.
Therefore, if we recognize other groups or churches to be true Christians with the same faith, we shall approach them with the goal of unification. But if we observe that they preserve errors or deviations from God’s Word, then we have to call them back to God’s Word because in the one body of Christ there is only one Spirit and only one faith!
We are not allowed to tolerate deviations which are against the Word of God. That would be against the marks of the Church of Christ. That would be a denial of the Head. In article 32 Belgic Confession we confess:
“Therefore we reject all human inventions and laws introduced into the worship of God, which bind and compel the consciences in any way. We accept only what is proper to preserve and promote harmony and unity and to keep all in obedience to God. To that end, discipline and excommunication ought to be exercised in agreement with the Word of God.”
The exhortation of Paul to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called is not only referring to the need for unity, per se, but refers also and especially to the need to preserve the truth within the communion of the church.
Thank God, Christ has given His ministers and pastors to help the church with that in order to guide it and to protect it from false teachings (Ephesians 4: 11-14). They have the important duty to guarantee the safety of the sheep in the Name of the Lord. They should edify the body of Christ and help the members edify it. This edifying must be done in regard to the unity of the one faith. Not merely as a unity of believers, but as a unity of the faith, a unity of the knowledge of the Son of God (verse 13). A unity of the knowledge of Christ, because Christ Himself is still the very content of the Scripture! Well, that is the great task of the office-bearers.
Following verse 14, these edifying tasks of the office-bearers imply further that the members should “no longer be children that are tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting”. Paul is here elaborating on the holy duty to reject all which is against the pure Word of God. Only then can office bearers help protect the believers, in the name of the Lord, from errors and heresies.
Only in that way can office bearers promote the true harmony and unity and keep all in obedience to God, with the help of the Head and in the power of His Spirit.
Office-bearers therefore have a very important task in preserving the unity in the truth, in the one body of Christ.
This task is not only difficult but it is also very rewarding, and God will bless it if done in obedience. For the result will be that the church speaks the truth in love (verse 15). Then we may see the church “grow up in all things into him – who is the head – Christ”.
Brothers and sisters, that is what the Lord is aiming for in His one body: that the one truth about Him will be preserved and spoken in love, members of the body serving each other with all the gifts He has distinctly given each member. In such a true church of Christ, all speak the same thing; that is as Paul demands in 1 Corinthians 1:10.
That does not mean that there are no different opinions anymore in the church, but that means that all members are in a full consensus in confessing the Lord, all agree with the truth that is preached, all have the same confession that is consistent with God’s Word. Such is the unity, the unity in the Truth, as demanded by the Lord Himself from His one body; yes, that is what He Himself is working out in His body by His Word and Spirit.
4. Self-willed ways
But, brothers and sisters, what are we to do if there is not a full agreement in confession when we seek to be united with others? What are we to do if there are different confessions with divergencies? What are we to do if there is not ‘one faith’ but more than one faith, even different faiths, pluriform and multiform faiths?
Well, then we should call the others, or let ourselves be called by the others, with Scripture and with our adopted Confessions that are in accordance with Scripture. We need to do this in order to abandon deviations from the Truth, and supra-scriptural bindings; in order to have the same one faith, the same one Spirit and the same one Lord.
Only then should we become one with others in one body by joining them, in unification, and not via a so called ecclesiastical fellowship when we live in overlapping areas. For there is only one body of Christ – and there are no divided bodies of Christ.
That is how we will obey the Lord in His church gathering work. Only then will there really be harmony in peace, only then will the church be a pillar and ground of the Truth, being the true church despite its weak members; the true church, despite the daily need for Christ’s atoning blood; the true church where the proclamation of God’s Word and the exercise of discipline may serve as keys to the Kingdom of the Lord, one which brings its members in crisis to choose the right ways of the Lord.
When we have unification, but still have more than one faith, we cannot claim to be the one body of Christ, for then we are not following our Head wherever He goes on His paths. Because then we are not rejecting all that is against His pure Word.
What can we say about the situation of having ecclesiastical fellowship with others and yet having divergencies? Then we are also not obedient to the Lord.
Then, too, we do not have one faith, and we are not one in body. Then we have multiple bodies, sharing the pulpits and the Lord’s tables without being really unified. Then we are left with a house which is divided against itself, unless… unless we tolerate the deviations and divergencies! Then we may not seem divided to ourselves but in fact we are, for we still do not have one faith and one Lord from the perspective of Christ.
Tolerance in deviation of doctrine, in administration of the sacraments, in worship, in discipline, such tolerance is not acceptable to the Lord. It doesn’t make us the body of Christ. It is a self-willed way to be church. How can that be consistent with being a pillar and ground of the truth? How can we then still be one body with one Spirit and one faith?
That is what we should have in mind if we discuss relationships and unifications with others, or when we are confronted with errors and heresies in churches that we have contact with, or in our own churches.
The question we have to answer is always: how are we really faithful to our Lord who bought us, our Lord who is the Head of His body in which we are called? How can we walk worthy of the calling with which we are called (verse 1)? That is what we should have in mind if we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper and other people are requesting to join that celebration while not being a member of the body of Christ.
When we in the Netherlands had to assess the situation of the liberated reformed churches in 2003, we had to ask ourselves: How do we fulfill the marks of the true church and how do we maintain the confession about the church that reflects the Scriptural doctrine about the church of Christ?
Well, we had to conclude that this doctrine had become merely a historical doctrine. It was no longer adhered to in all aspects. That had become apparent not only in the teachings, but even more in practice. It had become evident that we as churches in 2003 had failed to meet the criteria of the true church.
5. The Canadian reformed churches and their relations
What is the situation in the Canadian Reformed Churches today? From 2001 the Canadian Reformed Churches maintain interchurch relationships with a number of churches that are living in overlapping geographical areas but are still not unified with them.
Surely the situation of great distances in Canada and the US is not comparable with the situation in a small country like the Netherlands, but the Canadian Reformed Churches themselves are accustomed to that, they are calling themselves Canadian and American reformed churches. So they are now exercising exchange of pulpits and Lord’s tables with other churches they recognize as churches of Christ. As we have seen, such a model is not consistent with the commandments of the Lord regarding His one body.
But this unity is not the only problem, because there is also a problem of truth.
In the beginning of this process, around 1977, important divergences concerning the confession of the OPC were recognized, which required solutions, but these were postponed. But since 2001 these unsolved divergencies were dismissed by synod Neerlandia and subsequent synods, including the most recent one at Carman.
You probably all know the nature of these divergencies with respect to the OPC. Let me only summarize them in 4 issues:
1st. The doctrine about the church which, following the Westminster Confession, teaches pluriformity, an invisible church, and a visible church with more or less pure churches. This means the acceptance of more than one body and more than one faith.
2nd. The doctrine about the covenant which, following the Westminster Confession, allows the teaching of the covenant with the elect only. But Scripture says that the covenant of grace is for all believers and their children and “for all who are afar of, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2: 39).
3rd. The lack of confessional membership, which leads to the acceptance of members on the basis of a core faith in forgiveness of sins through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Thereby more than one faith is allowed among the members themselves. But believing only such a core faith is not enough for salvation, for the Lord Himself has commanded his apostles to teach new disciples to observe all things He had commanded them (Matthew 28: 20).
4th. The lack of fencing discipline of the Lord’s table, which allows the participation of members of another ‘body’, with a different ‘faith’, sharing the one table of the one Lord. However, by doing this the Lord’s table will be desecrated as will the congregation itself (1 Corinthians 5).
By accepting these unscriptural forms of tolerance one is disobeying the one Lord, which is destructive for the one body and the one faith in that one body.
For the other EF churches similar lists of divergencies can be made.
In our letter to Synod Carman, we as restored reformed churches addressed these issues with reference to article 28 and 29 of the Belgic Confession. As practical examples of tolerance we mentioned the allowance of Baptists to the Lord’s Supper in the OPC as is defended on the official website of the OPC. This issue did not meet with any objection from the Canadian Reformed Churches.
Further, we noted the invitation of a Baptist speaker by a Canadian Reformed congregation for a speech to church members, and no objections appear to have been raised. And as a third example, an article in a family magazine which originates from members of the Canadian Reformed Churches, and is read in their families, which mentions a group of Arminians as a church of Christ for which we should thank God. This article also did not meet with any objection.
Yes, these were just a few examples. They themselves were not official decisions. But the fact that they were tolerated is significant. This is telling us that tolerance to deviations has become a characteristic of the Canadian Reformed Churches. Along with postmodern influences, this tolerance originates from the failure to understand the Church as the one body of Christ, in which only one faith is found, and the failure to understand the government of the one Lord Christ.
6. Internal and external appeals at Synod Carman 2013
Over time subsequent synods of your churches have dealt with repeated appeals and requests for revision regarding the divergencies I mentioned before. All were dismissed so far. However Synod Carman had, for the first time in the history of your churches, two different kinds of letters of appeal. The first kind of appeal came from your own churches and the second kind came from those who were united or had a sister church relationship with you in the past.
The first stream of appeals was not new. Even before 2001 appeals were tabled against a relationship with the OPC. But after 2001 new appeals against this EF were declared inadmissible, since divergences were considered to be not important anymore and they did not form an impediment. Therefore, Synod Carman judged new appeals as lacking in new arguments.
Has not the church orderly way already been finished for some time? Is there a church orderly way remaining, to stop this process by Scriptural arguments?
The train of ecumenism has gone further, and is now including the NAPARC membership with her 12 member churches. Appeals from within your churches against the NAPARC membership were discussed and answered by synod Carman. It was said that NAPARC is only a council, not a federation. And that membership of NAPARC does not mean acceptance of other members as true churches.
But both answers are not consistent with the accepted rules of this NAPARC itself. NAPARC still includes the transfer of members to other denominations in her golden rule among other agreements. And in their constitution the criteria for membership in NAPARC includes recognition of the marks of the true church.
In addition to these internal appeals, two letters came for the first time from outside your churches. The first was submitted by the Liberated Reformed Church at Abbotsford and contained a request for reformation. It pointed to various synod decisions dealing with fellowships and memberships that were not based on agreement with the Three Forms of Unity. It further pointed to the deviations from Scripture resulting from such relationships in the areas of doctrine, sacraments, and government. It finally requested reformation so that reunion with them could be made possible.
So, to say it with my own words, this letter from the Liberated Reformed Church at Abbotsford asked for one faith, in obedience to the one Lord, to become again one body of the Lord. Unfortunately this letter was judged inadmissible and its message was dismissed, just as were the many internal appeals at synods during the last 10 years.
The second letter came from The (restored) Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, which we have already partly discussed. First, the question posed in that letter was why it took so long for the Canadian Reformed Churches to recognize the decline of the Liberated Reformed Churches! Why wasn’t it possible to recognize earlier a deformation that was so evident from a large series of documents and made manifest on such a large scale?
Further, this letter pointed to the origin of the decline of the liberated reformed churches, being the openness towards other denominations and to a broad, false ecumenism. The developments within these churches could serve as a mirror for the Canadian Reformed Churches because of the similarity of the ecumenical process that is now going on in the Canadian Reformed Churches as well.
To draw out this similarity, we stated that the phenomenon of ecclesiastical fellowship does not meet the Scriptural picture article 28 Belgic Confession is giving us for the unity of the church within certain geographical areas. Furthermore, we wrote that the EF churches did not meet the marks of the true church of article 29 Belgic Confession since they have false doctrines of a pluriform church and of the covenant, as well as unscriptural practices of not fencing of the Lord’s table, and the lack of binding their members to the adopted confession.
Finally, we requested the synod, in a brotherly manner, to repent and to suspend all EFs in order to examine their Scriptural character, and to end the membership in NAPARC. Furthermore, we requested them to recognize The (restored) Reformed Churches as being true and faithful churches and to rescind their judgment about them as being schismatic.
In short, and using my own words, both external letters demonstrated that the existing EFs and related practices did not meet the Scriptural requirements for being one body, having one Spirit, one faith and one Lord.
Unfortunately, Synod Carman used our letter only selectively, and decided not to answer our requests but to use our letter only for “personal reflection of the members of the synod”.
Synod Carman apologized for the fact that members of the subcommittee had judged the liberated reformed churches as being liberal. Nevertheless, they sent a letter of admonition to the liberated reformed churches in Holland, in which is expressed the love to them as church of the Lord (!), but in which also is described some observed deviations from the confession, being the Scripture criticism at theological university of Kampen, the erroneous use of the Scripture in the report of deputies concerning the roles of men and women, and the growing relationship with the Netherlands Reformed Churches despite crucial differences such as women in office and subscription to the confessions.
Although these objections would form themselves already a major impediment to continue a sister church relationship, Synod Carman did not yet stop nor suspend their relations.
In addition to that it is also important to consider what Synod Carman has omitted in its letter of admonition to the liberated reformed churches. These omitted issues concerned God´s commandments (especially the fourth and seventh commandment), ethics, discipline, liturgy and last but not least false ecumenism*. Although all these issues were not addressed in the letter of the Canadian Reformed Churches, they should also be judged incompatible with Gods’ Word and the Three Form of Unity.
Of the 7 issues the Australian sister churches selected for their letter of admonition to the liberated reformed churches, the Canadian Reformed Churches selected only 3. That is remarkable since the deputies of Canadian and Australian churches have consulted each other in the preparation of their respective letters of admonition.
7. What to do now after Synod Carman?
Do we have to conclude that you, as members of the Canadian Reformed Churches, are now left with an ongoing and apparently unstoppable process of ecumenism, at least for the next three years? With methods that are not in agreement with articles 28, 29 and 32 of the Belgic Confession, and with tolerance of matters the Lord is forbidding for His sake? Do we have to conclude that all appeals regarding that process have definitely been denied by many synods and that the church orderly way has now been blocked?
Now that the synod has been completed, all consistories and members have to be confronted with art. 31 of the Church Order, that is telling you that you should consider the synod decisions settled and binding unless they are proved to be in conflict with the Word of God or with the Church Order. Every consistory, but even every church member, is co-responsible in cases of accepting unscriptural decisions.
The only thing you have to do in that consideration is to remain faithful to the Lord under every circumstance. Worthy of the calling with which you were called you have to act accordingly – following Him wherever He goes, as the Lord of His one body with one faith.
You have, therefore, to make up your mind with God’s Word, beseeching the Lord for wisdom, strength and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, holding the truth and going the way the Lord indicates.
1. G. Dekker, De Doorgaande Revolutie: de Ontwikkeling van de Gereformeerde Kerken in Perpsectief, Ad Chartas-series no. 23, De Vuurbaak, Barneveld, 2013.
* These untouched issues include:
– the violation of the fourth commandment and seventh commandment,
– the introduction of many unscriptural songs,
– the voting of women,
– the use of a deviating Bible translation,
– the non-confessional relationships with other churches such as CGK,
– the practice of an open Lord’s Supper,
– the participation of the churches in ecumenical councils and in the interchurch national synod with agreement of an unscriptural creed,
– the agreement of synods with evangelism methods using Scripture criticism,
– the nonfunctioning of discipline,
– the use of a secularized marriage form, and last but not least
– the practice of self-willed liturgy and worship.