Churchism in Kampen – liberty above all things

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Prof. A. de Bruijne,[3] in his column in N(ederlands) D(agblad) of November 9, 2013 under the title “Delen in de gescheurde kerk” (Sharing in the torn church), calls on readers to share his views about the division between the churches.

He writes that current discussions continue to focus on the question of how the churches will ever be able to achieve unity. But he disagrees with this focus, remarking that he feels increasingly uncomfortable with all this ‘unification zeal’. He detects in it a lack of vision about ecclesiastical division. People condemn that division, he says, as being abnormal, as though it should never have been allowed to exist. But is that opinion of those people in their ‘unification zeal’ correct? Would that really be true? He wonders whether that division should not rather be considered as a positive decree of God.

And then he declares himself in favour of the pluriformity doctrine of Kuyper, who recognised in the different churches something of the multiformity in creation. He, too, advances that explanation, and says that God’s creation is infinitely varied and multicoloured. It’s what you also observe in all those different churches, and for that reason he calls it “a necessary artificial division which the Lord Himself has established”! He then applies this as follows: Each church must retain its own character and use it to “govern what God has entrusted to her”.

We ask: Would that then be acceptable, given the prayer and commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ? Shouldn’t we long for and work for church unity?

Not according to Prof. de Bruijne. His entreaty is: “Giving up elements of that multiformity is the last thing you should do. In the totality of the ecclesiastical division it is your task to maintain that kind of distinction. Let the charismatics not relativise their spontaneous dependence on the Spirit.  And Roman Catholics should not surrender the papacy as a symbol for global unity. The Nederlands Hervormden must not lose their orientation on the tradition, and evangelicals should not abandon their boldness to experiment. The Reformed also should not delete valuable aspects from their confession in order to expedite an easier entry with others through the same church doors. Let us concentrate in the best possible open relationship with ‘fellow churches’ on what God has entrusted to us.

So his conclusion is that the ecclesiastical divisions should certainly continue to exist. Each church should then continue to uphold its own ideas and opinions, and definitely not pursue ecclesiastical unity. After all, he argues, in the torn church you recognise Christ’s broken body. The resurrection of that body comes only by way of the cross. Whoever longs for unity must first learn to participate in the torn body of Christ.”

My response is this: There is nothing new under the sun. Led by God’s Spirit about what in his days was propagated by the false prophets, Isaiah had to declare: They call evil good and good evil.

All this is however not a speaking to the heart of Jerusalem, but speaking as the false prophets did. It is speaking in accordance with the sinful hearts of men, who consider only their own desires, and who therefore like to hear all these things.

This reasoning will lead church members on a sinful pathway.

And if we look further back we see how the fall of man in Paradise occurred by listening to the devil who told them: You will yourself know good and evil. That is: Decide for yourself what is good and evil. That is the sin that remains throughout the centuries—especially where it concerns the church. You just choose for yourself where you feel most comfortable and what appeals to you most.

That is what the future ministers are being told; it’s the spirit governing what the youth of the church are being taught. It is, in fact, nothing but church-ism: “Build Your Own Church” according to people’s own tastes without considering the commandment of the Lord.

 

Two additional comments:

First, this is in such flagrant contradiction with the confession—which Prof. de Bruijne undersigned and promised to defend against all heresies—that it is, so to say, a test case. Response to this will test to what degree the training of the ministry of the Word in the Reformed Churches (liberated) in Kampen is still somewhat protected against unscriptural teachings.

Second, [the Kampen Theological University at which Prof. de Bruijne lectures] is the training [institute], with which the Theological University at Apeldoorn wishes to merge in order to form a centralised reformed training institute.

What a blessing that we [DGK members] do not need to expose our students to such evil doctrine! But as church members we must recognise that spirit as a false one and arm ourselves against it, and teach especially the youth to uphold Scripture and the Confession which tell us that it is the Lord Jesus Christ who gathers His congregation in the unity of the true faith. And let us warn them against every self-willed choice in regard of the membership of the church.

P. van Gurp


 

[1] Translated from De Bazuin, Vol 44, 11 December 2013.

[2] The title ‘liberty above all things’ is a translation of the Dutch expression: Vrijheid blijheid. Another interpretation is: Everyone can be saved after his own fashion.

[3] Prof. de Bruine is lecturer at the GKv Theological University at Kampen, the Netherlands.