Two groups of people who left the RCN (GKv), with each group forming a different church federation, are now progressing towards unity.
The first group of about a thousand left in 2003 after repeated calls and appeals had been made for the wayward RCN to return to faithful obedience to God’s Word. The calls had fallen on deaf ears and so the concerned brothers and sisters instituted what is now known as the DGK.[i]
In 2009 another group formed what is now known as the GKN.[ii] It developed as an amalgam of concerned people who had left the RCN, and disenchanted people from the DGK. Both the DGK and GKN shared grave concerns about developments in the RCN (GKv) relating to Scriptural criticism and disrespect in relation to God’s Word. This was reflected in, amongst others, church services, marriage, homosexuality, and women in office.[iii]
FRCA synod 2018 expressed the hope that these two federations—DGK and GKN—would unite. Evidently that is also the desire of the DGK and GKN and to that end deputies from both church federations have had discussions. Whilst it appears that the view of the church may have been a sticking point, that seems to have been resolved when Rev M A Sneep, chairing such a discussion between the two deputyships, made this concluding statement:
“You can have the confidence to recognise the church of Christ, but you cannot limit Christ’s church gathering work to what we see. However, Art. 29 of the Belgic Confession does give clear directives, not so much to lay all churches along a yardstick, but to call upon the believers to seek out where Christ gathers His church. And to see their obligation to join the church of Christ. Furthermore, spiritual unity must also drive to ecclesiastical unity.”[iv]
Both sets of deputies agreed to this summary statement and it was presented to an extraordinary DGK synod held to progress the move to unity.
The GKN had earlier (late last year) recognised the DGK as true churches. The latter have now, at this synod, recognised the GKN as true churches. This follows a report of DGK deputies that there is unity between DGK and GKN in the fundamental teachings[v] of Scripture, confession and church order.
DGK synod 2019 has now made the following decisions:[vi]
De Gereformeerde Kerken (restored) [DGK] recognize the Gereformeerde Kerken Nederland (GKN) as churches of Christ, standing on the foundation of apostles and prophets.
Grounds for decision 1
The discussions held by deputies of DGK with the deputies of GKN have made it sufficiently clear that there is
- Unity in dealing with the authority of the Holy Scriptures.
- Unity in the binding to the reformed confession.
- Unity in the way they view the church order and the functioning of the bond of churches.
The decision was adopted unanimously. Hereby the mutual recognition of DGK and GKN as churches of Christ has become a fact!
To communicate this decision to the synod of the Gereformeerde Kerken Nederland (GKN) with great gratitude and with the urgent request that also from her side the path to implementing ecclesiastical unity continues to be pursued.
The decision is adopted with 12 votes in favour, that is unanimously.
A third decision is taken on the follow-up of this recognition.
Having no more things to discuss that may relate to church-division, to decide as follows:
To instruct the ACOBB deputies to continue the discussions with the GKN; to give deputies the following instruction, which replaces instruction 17 of the General Synod Lansingerland:
- In consultation with deputies of the GKN, to discuss the route through which church unity can be achieved with all due care as quickly as possible, and with all diligence, and also to speak about how to approach this at the local level. As soon as there is clarity about this route, the deputies are to inform the local churches.
- To discuss all the other points that could stand in the way of federative church unity and, if possible, to eliminate them.
- To keep the local churches informed about developments as much as possible. Furthermore, local churches may draw the attention of ACOBB deputies to relevant matters.
- To be available to provide advice and assistance to the local churches in their approach to the churches of the GKN, should the local churches request that.
- In case of positive developments, to present ‘Deputies Art. 49 CO’ grounds for possibly calling an extraordinary or early synod – allowing a period of 2 months for submitting the report.
Grounds for decision 3
- Since there are fundamentally no grounds to justify the separate existence of both church federations any possible impediments must, in view of Christ’s command for church unity, be removed as soon as possible.
- The removal of impediments that could stand in the way to giving expression to that unity at the local level is primarily a matter for the local congregation.
- Since ACOBB deputies were involved in contacts between the church federations, they are most qualified to answer questions and assist where necessary.
The decision was taken with 11 votes in favour and 1 vote against.
[i] DGK: De Gereformeerde Kerken (hersteld)
[ii] GKN: Gereformeerde Kerken Nederland
[iv] See https://www.gereformeerdekerkennederland.nl/2019/05/29/gesprekken-gkn-dgk/
[v] Dutch: kernzaken
[vi] These synod decisions have been translated from http://www.eeninwaarheid.info/index.php?rub=12&item=1747