According to Nederlands Dagblad (ND) 15-11-2014, emeritus professor Dr Jochem Douma (82) has left the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands (RCN). He made this known Saturday at a closed gathering of concerned church members. They are part of over 1500 church members who had appealed to synod to remain reformed. Douma has instead joined a small federation of churches of less than 1000 members which, with the Revs E Hoogendoorn and R van der Wolf, broke with the RCN a few years ago.
ND reports that Douma said he and his wife have left because the RCN are losing their reformed identity. As examples he refers to the decline in liturgy, doctrine and church unity. Since 2010, he said, he has been a voice crying in the wilderness. In 2012 he had appealed to those troubled about the developments not to leave the RCN but to do everything possible to stem the tide of change.
That aim has now ended, reports ND, with the decision of the RCN to seek unity with the Nederlands Gereformeerde Kerken. [These churches, formerly known as the ‘buitenverbanders’, broke away from the RCN in the late 1960s because they wanted greater tolerance towards those who proclaimed deviant doctrines. They also wanted a broader view of the church.] These churches also have women ministers, elders and deacons, something the RCN at its synod earlier this year said should not be seen as an obstacle to unity. By promoting unity with these churches, said Douma, the RCN have in effect adopted the unbiblical and unreformed view of women in office.
The earlier generation of RCN church members knew Douma as an influential church leader who wrote about many practical and academic subjects in relation to the reformed way of life. He also sought contacts with other Christians and churches with a view to working together, for example, in politics. ND quotes him as saying that what he also sought and seeks to do is to oppose the unity of iron and clay, truth and lie, white and black.
My (JN’s) comments on the ND report
That someone of Douma’s calibre should leave the RCN speaks volumes about just how far these churches have strayed from the truth. After all, Douma had been publicly criticised in the past for his liberal views by, for example, referring in the 1970s to members of the Baptist churches in England as “his brothers”. He was at the forefront of promoting unity with Christians of other church federations in various social and political organisations. He saw some validity in the doctrine of common grace as a means of cooperation with various Christians, distancing himself from Schilder in some key elements of this subject, and he sometimes spoke highly of Christian leaders who nevertheless had deviant views. For a man such as Douma, therefore, to leave the RCN accentuates all the more how sadly this church federation has moved away from being reformed.