Is This the “Bride” Christ Bought?


“The Church Goes Underground”

On Monday evening, March 9, 1970, the Reverend Hugh A. Koops, an ordained Christian Reformed minister serving as a teacher in Western Theological Seminary, Holland, Michigan, spoke to a public meeting held in the Calvin Theological Seminary building, Grand Rapids, under auspices of the Woodlawn Christian Reformed Church. His topic was, “The Church Goes Underground.”

In his lecture Prof. Koops contended that the mission societies and Sunday Schools started as underground movements which were later incorporated into the life of the Church itself. Using this fact as justification for the current existence of an underground church among us, he then went on to show that this large underground church movement is a reaction to the failure of the organized church as we know it to worship and witness effectively. He pointed out that the organized church today is in real trouble. Membership rolls are decreasing. Church attendance is declining. Ministers are leaving the ministry. Seminarians show a strong aversion for the regular parish ministry and are seeking other kinds of service.

Koops pointed out that most of the criticism of the church is coming from within rather than from without. Some Christian Reformed young people and their sympathetic leaders are asking, Why do we have to observe set times for worship? Why have a set place for worship such as we usually find in the structured organized church? Why must we dress up for church worship? (Read Exodus 19:9–25) Why do we have to abide by rules and regulations laid down by ecclesiastical assemblies? Why must we sit on pews rather than on the Soar? Why must we have ordained ministers and duly installed elders and deacons? Why must we sing only some old songs imposed upon us by the institutional church? Why can’t we sing our own songs?

Here are a few examples of the songs which some Christian Reformed young people (not all) are using in various types of gatherings.


I danced in the morning when the world was begun And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun And I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth

At Bethlehem I had my birth.

I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee But they would not dance and they wouldn’t follow me.

I danced for the fishermen, and James and John They came with me and the dance went on.

I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame The holy people said it was a shame They whipped and they stripped and they hung me on high

And they left me there on a cross to die.

I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back They buried my body and they thought I’d gone But I am the dance and I still go on.

They cut me down and I leaped up high I am the life that’ll never, never die I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.

Chorus: Dance, then, wherever you may be; I am the Lord of the Dance, said he. And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be And I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he.

Another “new song” is:


Verse one:

The Lord said to Noah
You better build an arci-arcie
Make it out of hickory barkie, barkie
Children of the Lord.

Verse two:

The Lord said to Noah
There’s going to be a floody-floodie
Get them children out of the muddie-muddie
Children of the Lord.

Verse three:

The animals they came in, they came in by twosies, twosies
Elephants and Kangorosie-rosies
Children of the Lord.

Verse four:

It rained and it rained for forty nights and daysies-daysies
Almost drove the animals crazy-crazy
Children of of the Lord.

Verse five:

The sun came the sun came and dries up the landie, landie
Everything looked. fine and dandy, dandy
Children of the Lord.

Verse six:

The animals they came out they came out by threesies-threesies
Chimpansees and bumble beesies-beesies
Children of the Lord.

There were many other songs in the booklet which was given to me. Almost all are very poor with regard to poetic structure and grammar. None are really confessions of sin in the deeper Biblical sense. Almost all continually emphasize ideas of the hope for universal brotherhood, “freedom,” the abolition of racial prejudice, loving the neighbor, and the like. They are, for the most part, songs which one could sing if only he is a loyal American or a merely decent human being. Of the need for the spiritual re-birth through the Spirit of God there seems to be little awareness. Theological discernment is almost totally lacking.

Some young people feel that “the traditionalists” are maintaining tradition just for its own sake. Have these young people ever seriously examined the evidence in Scripture upon the basis of which the church creeds—the Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism and Canons of Dort for the Christian Reformed and other churches—say what they do? Have they ever really given historical and traditional Christianity “a fair shake?” Are today’s youth perhaps blindly following some misguided leaders?

It may be that some of those who are involved in or are promoting the underground church do not realize the full implications of what they are doing. But this is serious business—dead serious! It is all part of a movement on a national and international scale to get rid of the church. Even the Roman Catholic Church feels the threat of a rebellious “underground church” movement. Life magazine of March 20, 1970 says: “Paul has said that he is open to any change in the Church-except where fundamental dogma is concerned…Paul is bedeviled not only by the erosion of traditional theology, but by the breakdown of convent discipline, the creeping acceptance of divorce, the rebellious demonstrations by priests and seminarians and the growth of an ‘underground church’ defying ecclesiastical laws.”

Not long ago Life magazine carried a lengthy illustrated feature on the remodeled church buildings across our land. My blood froze in my veins as I read it. It vividly portrayed churches remodeled into restaurants, dance halls, homes, art galleries and museums. Is this what we want in the Christian Reformed Church?

Not long ago Time magazine predicted that in ten years denominations will no longer exist. will that be true of the Christian Reformed Church? I pray earnestly that it will not. But if the underground movement continues to grow, the Christian Reformed Church will most certainly fall. Make no mistake about it.

Satan works so subtly If he would come to our young people and say, “You must quit this habit of going to church,” a few might obey but most would resist him. So he comes in different garb, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He tells them that the institutional church is dead, irrelevant, unable to communicate to their needs. He appeals to their pride and convinces them that they cannot function in the organized church anymore. He makes them dissatisfied with rules, regulations, office-bearers, ordained ministers, true preaching of the Word. He produces through them a spiritual anarchy which could result in SPIRITUAL DEATH.

In 1969, staff members of Ladies Home Journal conducted a survey in which they interviewed one thousand women from various climes of life. Almost all, while still holding membership in some church, admitted that they never attended church. When asked what the church should do to regain their interest, the amazing reply of many was this: “If preachers would preach the way they did when I was a little girl, then I would go to church.”

Liberalism has descended on almost every existing denomination and it is upon us too. It is because I am convinced that the Christian Reformed Church is in jeopardy that I take great personal risk to sound the alert and urge action. We are dealing in this article with the area of worship but an article equally disturbing and intimately related could well be written on the attacks which Satan is making on the historical character and verbal inspiration of the Word of God within our own denomination.

The Professor Likes It

Prof. Koops offered an enthusiastic description of the “beautiful freedom, tremendous ecumenicity, and sweet fellowship and sense of community” which exists between the participants of the underground church. He said that many “underground churches” are serving their own communion, baptizing their own children and performing their own marriages. “Very soon the Christian Reformed Church too, will pass through other stages. There will be group communion in homes and even baptism and marriage ceremonies within this more intimate context, without an ordained minister.”

The speaker made it abundantly clear that the real hope for the survival of a dynamic Christianity lay in the pursuit of the goals set by the unstructured underground church. This is the group that really knows how to worship. It crosses all denominational lines (these are, after all, man-made, Prof. Koops asserted), and brings together people of all varieties of “faith” into one grand communion. Thus a closeness is achieved in which people can discuss their work, their problems, and their religious experiences.

These are the people who are really doing the witnessing of the church. They are witnessing with respect to the problem of air pollution. They call for the easing of racial tensions. They expose the presence of poultry monopolies in certain counties, and so forth. Significantly, no mention was made of the worship of God as the purpose of church worship. The emphasis appeared to be predominantly horizontal, of man to man rather than of man to God. This is not to say that the man to God relationship is altogether missing in the “new worship” of the underground people, but it is obviously not of overwhelming importance.

What About Preaching?

A question and answer period followed which proved to be as revealing as the lecture itself. In the process of answering questions from the audience, Prof. Koops expressed his views on preaching. If there is to be preaching, he said the sermon ought not to last longer than thirteen minutes. It must not be instructive but merely inspirational. A dramatic presentation of Christ’s intervention in history or some such theme is perhaps most appropriate.

This writer understands that classes for religious instruction are being held under sponsorship of this underground church movement. There are no rules and no binding authority as to the content of what is being taught. This must result in a form of spiritual anarchy in which each one teaches and believes what is right in his own eyes. It is not at all impossible that such a “church” could deteriorate into the mystical spiritualism experienced in many hippie communes. There must be law and order in a nation or she will fall. There must be law and order in the church too, or she will most certainly fall.

One person asked if the proclamation of sin, repentance, and faith in Christ as Savior from sin comprised a significant part of the underground church’s explained further by saying that the fact of sin and witness to the world. Prof. Koops said it did not. He salvation is simply assumed and this church is out to show the world how to live with respect to such things as anti-pollution, racial integration, exposure of monopolies, and the like. He said that these people seek to express Christ’s sacrifice in terms of their sacrifice to the community. One person asked if Prof. Koops envisions any merging of the underground church and the institutional church in the foreseeable future. Professor Koops replied by saying that he did not envision such a merger. He felt that the underground church would grow so fast and so large and would affect the organized church so greatly that eventually the organized church would cease to exist and would be replaced by the movement of the underground church. He admitted that small vestiges (remnants) of the organized church might remain in various localities, but would be ineffective for all practical purposes, He said, “Why have denominations anyway? They arc only man-made, a product of the development of American history. Other countries do not have denominations. Why should we?”

No Authority in the Underground Church

Another observer asked what part confessions, creeds and catechism should play in the functioning of this new church. Prof. Koops replied that these arc beautiful documents and the young people should know about them. Their binding force as now acknowledged by the Christian Reformed Church was not mentioned.

A question was raised with regard to discipline in the underground church, to which Prof. Koops replied that there was no discipline for two reasons; First, there were no membership rolls, and second, the confessing of sin to one another in the confines of worship provided its own discipline.

Another observer asked about the necessity of maintaining the offices of minister, elder and deacon in this new kind of church. Prof. Koops answered by saying that the New Testament saw a need for ministers, elders, deacons, evangelists and teachers, so they ordained them. But this act was not binding for all future churches. Times change and needs change. If there is a need for these offices, let’s have them. If there is no need, let’s not.

Two Dangers

The only two dangers which Prof. Koops sees with regard to the underground church are that it might become too exclusivistic and also organized to the point where it too becomes an institution. It is significant to note here that he did not mention the greatest danger of all, the eventual annihilation of the Reformed faith itself in such an uncontrolled, interfaith setup.

In his book, The Protest of a Troubled Protestant, Harold O. J. Brown says:

“If twentieth century Christian worship is syncretistic, it is not fulfilling its purpose. As syncretism it can neither please God, nor help man. It is not a question of religious purism or Puritanism. It is simply a matter of fact. If the God of the Bible is really God, we cannot serve him each in his own way we have to serve him each in His way. The spread of unrecognized syncretism is attacking the vitals of the church. Intellectually, it is a problem in the theological seminaries…it is a tremendous and growing problem in worship…

“The only way to bring the different Christian traditions together in worship is to tone down doctrine and emphasize ceremony and ritual. This is precisely what is taking place…Religious ritual without doctrine ultimately becomes self-mystification, and points in the same direction as the ‘religious’ use of L.S.D. toward feeling and ‘experience’ which cannot he interpreted or communicated.”

Author Brown demonstrates even further the grave errors of the ecumenical worship and social activism when he says:

“Instead of talking and preaching about it (ecumenical unity), which might involve them in a discussion of their doctrinal differences, they prefer to worship together. But in so doing, both sides imply that their doctrinal commitments mean nothing important. As soon as this kind of thing is established, it means ultimately that both sides are cutting themselves off from Christ, and will have only each other, in a kind of Christian togetherness—without Christ.

“There is a major difference between ecumenism within Christianity and inter-faith contacts which embrace other great religions. But to the extent that ecumenis1l1 minimizes the importance of doctrine and the content of religions ceremonies, as is currently being done in ecumenical worship, it is laying the necessary groundwork for inter-faith worship, which is religion without doctrine, without meaning, and ultimately without God. The so-called ‘radical theologians’ who want to dispense with God in their theology, are only the intellectual expression of something which is very widespread on the level of everyday Christian life and worship.”

Author Harold Brown continues:

“The current activism of large segments of the major churches is in part a responsible and necessary recognition of the fact that the church lives in the world with the rest of mankind and has obligations to the world. In large part, however, it is a substitute for the church’s primary commitment, which is to God and to his truth.”

It is difficult for this writer to suppress the desire to expose and explain the weaknesses and errors of many of the ideas expressed hy Prof. Koops. In view of the fact however, that many of the readers of these pages are thoroughly acquainted with the teaching of Reformed doctrine concerning the true nature of the church, I will he content at this time simply to lay this matter before you, providing a few guidelines for discussion and throwing out a challenge for action. The younger generation has coined an excellent and popular phrase, “tell it like it is,” and that is what I am attempting to do.

Prof. Koops has been given an appointment to lecture at Calvin Seminary for the next year by the Board of Trustees. Knowing that he has signed the Form of Subscription required of all ministers in the Christian Reformed Church and that his ministerial credentials now reside in a Christian Reformed Church, it is difficult to understand how he can give impetus so freely in public assembly to a movement whose goals are so clearly a violation of the Belgic Confession and the Church Order and the Form of Subscription which he signed. (Subsequent to the writing of the first draft of this article, it was learned that Prof. Koops has turned down the invitation to teach at Calvin Seminary.)

A Confession and Some Questions

It must be confessed before we proceed any further, that it is probably true that the institutional church and too many of its pastors have indeed reneged on their duties in the area of pastoral concern, either consciously or unconsciously so. It is likewise true that the institutional church has neglected to utilize its young people in the best way possible. However, much has been done to remedy this situation in the recent past.

But, having conceded that the institutional church has certainly had its failings, we must now ask in all fairness to our precious parents and grandparents, in all fairness to the faithful pastors and the beloved denomination that nurtured us, has the segment of the younger generation which is now rebelling, and their disgruntled leaders ever seriously sat down with those in power to talk over their problems? It seems rather, that these dissatisfied leaders have taken matters into their own hands and have organized and urged worship for the Christian Reformed young people which conflicts directly with the confessional stand of the Church in which they claim membership.

Much of the criticism of these people is indiscriminate and misleading, very unfair to the history of the Church, extremely dangerous to immature minds, and a grave distortion of the institutional church. Have these unhappy young people who are now rebelling given unstintingly of themselves in their own local Young People’s Societies, in their visits to the poor and ill in their own congregations? Perhaps they should consider this statement: “What’s wrong with the Church today may be ME.”

The Underground Church and the Belgic Confession

The question may well be asked at this point, how do the ideas of the underground church to which Prof. Koops has given impetus, conflict with the Belgic Confession? For answer I would refer you to Articles 29–35, found in the back of the Psalter Hymnal. These articles deal with the marks of the true church, and wherein it differs from the false church, the government of the church and its offices, the ministers, elders and deacons, the order and discipline of the church, the sacraments, holy baptism and the holy supper of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To show how these same ideas conflict with the Christian Reformed Church Order, permit me to point out just a few pertinent articles.

Article 51 – The congregation shall assemble for worship at least twice on the Lord’s day to hear God’s Word, to receive the sacraments, to engage in praise and prayer, and to present gifts of gratitude.

Article 52 – The consistory shall regulate the worship services. The consistory shall see to it that the synodically-approved Bible versions, liturgical forms, and songs are used, and that the principles and elements of the order of worship approved by Synod are observed.

Article 53 – The ministers of the Word shall conduct the worship services.

Article 54 – In the worship services the minister of the Word shall officially explain and apply Holy Scripture.

Article 63 – Each church shall instruct its youth—and others who are interested in the teaching of the Scriptures as formulated in the creeds of the church, in order to prepare them to profess their faith publicly and to assume their Christian responsibilities in the church and in the world.

Article 64 – Catechetical instruction shall be supervised by the consistory. The Heidelberg Catechism and its Compendium shall be the basis of instruction….

(See also articles 2, 5, 11, 20, 24, 85, 86, 87)

It is obvious from the foregoing description of the underground church and its thinking, that we in the CRC are obliged to maintain our position as a strictly CONFESSIONAL CHURCH.

Significant Statements

The Christian Reformed denomination would be well served if, in the very near future, its members would undertake a study of Calvin’s Institutes, Vol. II, Book IV, entitled “Of the Holy Catholic Church,” and also of the valuable books written by Dr. Peter Y. De Jong, Taking Heed to the Flock, The Church’s Witness to the World, and The Ministry of Mercy For Today. These lay out most clearly what was through the ages and what is now the task of the elders and deacons and the task of the church in its witnessing to the world.

There are also n number of shorter treatises which would be most helpful at this time: a sermon preached by Dr. Joel Nederhood on the Back to God Hour and reprinted by the Back to God Hour office in its Radio Pulpit pamphlet of October, 1969. The sermon is entitled, “What’s Worship?” Other articles include: a letter to the editor by Rev. Edward Heerema describing an underground church service in the November issue of TORCH AND TRUMPET, 1969, an article by Rev. J. Tuininga in the January, 1970 issue of TORCH AND TRUMPET, an article by Professor John Zinkand in the December, 1969 issue of TORCH AND TRUMPET, an article by Dr. Edwin Palmer in the November, 1969 issue of TORCH AND TRUMPET, a lucid article by Rev. John H. Piersma in the August, 1969 issue of TORCH AND TRUMPET, and an article entitled “Come…Let Us Worship” in the September 5, 1969 issue of The Banner.

Articles like those which have been listed and the one which you are now reading would be considered inflammatory, too controversial, if not schismatic by some people. But may I suggest that those who are upholding the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions are not the ones who are raising controversy or appearing to be schismatic. It is rather those who are undermining and devaluating the confessions who are tearing the “bride” of Christ apart.

To the Battle!

The Christian Reformed Church has fallen upon difficult days. Its very existence as a denomination is being threatened in a very real way. Let no one think that it cannot fall. It is falling. Some may doubt this, but if they do. it is perhaps because they lack an intimate knowledge of what is going on and/or they are insufficiently grounded in the Scripture and therefore are unable to discern truth from error. Whether or not the Christian Reformed Church capitulates completely to a social gospel sell-out and to views of Scripture which are a complete denial of the historical character of divine revelation will depend solely on what you, the believing laymen, do to prevent it.

There is an urgent need for all consistories to examine if this underground church typifies that kind of church they want for their children and grandchildren. They must ask if this kind of church is one which is obedient to all that Christ demands of his church in the Word, explained and enforced by the confessions and Church Order to which we subscribe. Is this underground church the “bride” which Christ bought? Consistories must also face squarely this question: Do we want our future leaders to be trained or influenced by men who lead or support an underground church of this type? It is a provable fact that Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff, Chairman of the Department of Philosophy at Calvin College, and Rev. Eugene Rubingh, Recruitment Secretary for the Board of Foreign Missions, are examples of such leaders. (See Reformed Journal, Feb., 1970) Paradoxically, Prof. Wolterstorff serves on the Liturgical Committee of our denomination. Could this possibly be one of the reasons for the inadequacy of the new proposed baptismal form?

A debate was held between Dr. Carl Kromminga, Professor of Practical Theology in Calvin Seminary, and Dr. Wolterstorff. The Calvin College Chimes reported on it. Dr. Wolterstorff, in his speech, substantiated much of what has been said regarding the “new worship” people. Dr. Kromminga, however, while acknowledging rightly that there are definitely improvements and changes which could profitably be made in the worship service, made a very noble defense of the necessity of confessional commitments, the need for discipline, and the irreplaceable function of the sermon. Dr. Wolterstorff said that although proclamation was necessary, he was not convinced that it needed to be done by one man preaching. He thought it could take place through film or drama, or merely admonishing one another. Dr. Kromminga maintained that proclamation could not be separated from the sermon. We are grateful to Dr. Kromminga for his position and the courage and willingness with which he defends it.

Rev. Donald Postema, Christian Reformed pastor of the Campus Chapel in Ann Arbor, Michigan wrote an article in the Reformed Journal of March, 1969. In the judgment of this writer Rev. Postema presented a grave distortion of the institutional church and a gross misrepresentation of the task and the motives of the ordained pastor. He suggests changes which he feels are necessary if the church is to remain attractive to young people. Ladies’ and Men’s Societies, catechism and Sunday School classes ought to write the liturgy. The congregation should participate in the preaching and the serving of communion. Choral reading, poetry, drama, dance, film, dialog can be used as a means of proclamation instead of preaching.

“Experimental Venture”

In the section of The Banner. “Our Churches Report,” Feb. 6, 1970, the Rev. William Lenters, pastor of the Maple Heights Christian Reformed Church of Ohio, reports the following: “Our evening worship service has been an experimental venture. We occasionally have a short service of prayer and praise after which we either invite neighbors to our homes or visit the homes of friends in the community. We believe that we can share Christ more effectively in the context of being real friends to our neighbors. Another variation of the evening service is the discussion service. Exchanging various interpretations of Scripture and giving expression to our commitment to Christ can be a refreshing experience.”

Prof. John Worst, instructor of music at Calvin College, has expressed his views regarding our church’s music in The Young Calvinist, Feb., 1970. In his article entitled “Youth and Church Music” he states the following:

Man, that Psalter Hymnal is bad news. Those waddayacallem – “Dutch Psalms” – are a real drag. Those crummy, square hymns really turn me off. And that choir definitely hurts; it’s a fright and a bore at the same time. I mean, the music in this church doesn’t swing, it doesn’t groove; it just doesn’t move me! How about a guitar and bass on the platform some Sunday doing some religious folk stuff? Or maybe some Ray Charles type soul jazz? Man, that’s outta sight! I would even settle for a little finger snapping by the preacher.

Maybe this attitude is a bit extreme; yet I think all of us have had at least some misgivings about our church’s music. Let’s look closely at this area of church ml1sic. Perhaps the attitude expressed above has a point…

…In the concept of worship there are two parties involved, the object of worship and the worshipper—God and you. Who is more important? Is worship time a time of bestowing great honor and duc respect to God om Father, or is it an opportunity to give vent our personal emotions, to let Him know what we think of Him? (Again, a horizontal emphasis.)…Do you think that a formal, dignified worship service is important? Do you think that it is more important that religion and worship be a highly personal experience and that each person he allowed to communicate with and worship God in his own way?

Mrs. Connie Van Dyke, editor of the Young People’s Page of The Banner, expresses her views on worship in The Young Calvinist of October 1969. They too do not differ substantially from those of Dr. Wolterstorff and the “new worship” people. In the same issue of the Young Calvinist, Dr. Bernard Veenstra says:

Young Calvinist, I submit to you that your label is a poor one: in fact it is a lousy one. For it speaks of following a mere man; of adherence to a tradition often just for tradition’s sake, and one at that which is poorly understood by both you and your parents; of doctrines that are not central to being a Christian but that [they]…are rather those doctrines peculiar to Calvinism as a theological system. It doesn’t say anything about the Book you believe is God’s message to man.

The Young Calvinist magazine, its annual convention, and the Federation itself attempt to exert a great deal of influence on our young people. It demands much of the denomination’s time, resources, and money. But the significant thing about it is that there is no ecclesiastical control over this organization. If any consistory has objections to the influence exerted, it is powerless to change the organization because of the complete lack of denominational control. Certainly overtures to Synod requesting control arc very much in order at this time, especially in view of some of the ideas which have been propounded through it.

In my research on this subject of “new worship” I have continually run across terms such as these: the underground church is a “community of life,” a “community of joy,” a “new society.” There is no recognition given to the fact that the church always has been a community of life and joy. There is no reference made to its being a “body of believers.” There is little evidence of doctrinal discernment. These “community” phrases are becoming as trite as the “tradition” phrase which they ridicule.

What to Do?

A discerning reader will discover that all the people mentioned above occupy strategic positions of leadership in our denomination. All, with the possible exception of Mrs. Van Dyke and Dr. Veenstra, have signed the Form of Subscription. All speak very freely and authoritatively about their views, and yet, none have followed the procedure of Consistory, Classis and Synod, as outlined by the Form of Subscription which states:

And if hereafter any difficulties or different sentiments respecting the aforesaid doctrines should arise in our minds, we promise that we will neither publicly nor privately propose, teach, or defend the same, either preaching or writing, until we have first reveals such sentiments to the Consistory, Classis, or Synod, that the same may there be examined, being ready always cheerfully to submit to the judgment of the Consistory, Classis, or Synod, under the penalty, in case of refusal, of being by that very fact suspended from our office.

It is ironic, isn’t it, that the very denomination which these people are devaluating is the same one which pays their salaries. One wonders if it has ever occurred to the advocates of the “new worship” (which is so clearly a violation of our confessional standards) that the words and actions which they use to influence Christian Reformed youth against the official stand of the Church place a real “bind” on the consciences of those who sl1pport with their gifts, the denominational projects. Circumstances such as those described in the foregoing lines make “giving” less than cheerful, if not impossible for many.

There was a man named Tobiah who opposed Nehemiah at every turn. He was an enemy of the church. And can you believe it? When Nehemiah left the country for a time, Tobiah was given an apartment in the temple! Right in the temple which he had opposed! But God’s people were angry about it and they refused to bring in their tithes and offerings. The Levites, the religious leaders, had to go out into the fields and work for a living. When Nehemiah came back he was FURIOUS! He demanded that Tobiah be thrown out of the temple and that is what happened. What did the people do then? They brought in their tithes and offerings. And, mind you, Nehemiah appointed a consistory, so to speak, to take care of the funds! Things are not well in the Zion of our beloved denomination either. There are many with heavy hearts. Is the withholding of money the only means left for the laymen, the institutional church, to show their disapproval of much that is going on?

This underground church is flurishing now among the intellectuals. But be assured that it will soon permeate the outlying areas of our denomination too, if it has not already done so, when these leaders, teachers, and preachers filter into your schools and your pulpits. It is perfectly obvious that the Reformed faith can never be preserved or propagated in such a church. Only you, the laymen, by the power of the Holy Spirit, can stop it by employing, with haste, all the ecclesiastical machinery which is in your power. With all due respect to the faithful ministers of the Gospel in our denomination, do not depend on them to fight all the battles.

Many articles have appeared on the subject of the underground church. To date, there has been no substantial action on the part of the constituency to stem the tide of one of the largest threats to the preservation and propagation of the Reformed faith in the future. Every person who by word or deed supports tile goals of the underground church, could be requested by consistories to submit to their respective Boards or responsible consistories, a complete statement of their views with regard to all articles of the Belgic Confession and Church Order specified above. It could be accompanied by a statement from the persons involved that their conduct corresponds to these articles. The Boards could send this on to each consistory which requests it. Any consistory which sends its quotas each year for the support of these Boards, may expect cooperation in this regard. If the statements or the practice of the people involved conflicts in any way with the above mentioned articles, measures must be taken to insure conformity to the official stand of the Christian Reformed Church. Our stand as a CONFESSIONAL CHURCH must either be enforced on the part of its leaders or we may as well abandon it and cease to be called Christian Reformed.

Whatever you think of the Association of Christian Reformed Laymen (ACRL), they are a group in the Christian Reformed Church that is concerned and doing something in the way of providing information on the state of the church to the constituency of the Christian Reformed Church. The Bible exhorts us, does it not, to “test the spirits” whether they be of God.

There is a great deal of agitation these days among many of the youth and misguided leaders to abolish the preaching service and usher in the goals of the “underground church.” Most ministers in and around the Michigan area (and perhaps others too) are beginning to feel its impact. This pressure will continue to mount around the country if something is not done speedily to counteract it. Men and women of COURAGE are the pressing need of the hour, men and women who count it nothing to be called “reactionary,” “heresy-hunters,” “radical right-wingers,” for the sake of Christ and the “Bride” he loves! May God equip you to be such a man, such a woman!

Laurie Vanden Heuvel, a graduate of Calvin College, is Mrs. Thomas C. Vanden Heuvel, wife of the pastor of Central Avenue Christian Reformed Church, Holland, Michigan.