Letter to the Editor
In response to Classis Wisconsin’s communication with the Board of Trustees of Calvin College last September, Dr. Hessel Bowna III presented his position on abortion to Classis Wisconsin on March 1, 1994. After meeting with Dr. Bouma for approximately two hours, the majority of the delegates still have substantial disagreement with Dr. Bouma’s views. Accordingly, Classis Wisconsin again on March 1 officially communicated its concerns to the Calvin College Board of Trustees.
Although some very difficult questions must be raised about Dr. Bouma’s views on abortion, Rev. Oord’s article raises different issues, such as fairness and truth. While it is not our intention here to endorse Dr. Bouma’s actual position, we believe Rev. Oord has seriously distorted it. As delegates who have also heard Dr. Bouma firsthand, we challenge the accuracy of Rev. Oord’s subjective characterizations of Dr. Bouma’s position.
For example, Rev. Oord says that Dr. Bouma “blatantly promoted abortion” and that the termination of the fetus is “totally acceptable” to him. However, much of what we heard him say can be summarized as follows: While the vast majority of abortions are morally wrong; in some particularly difficult circumstances abortion may be the lesser of two evils. It seems to us that Rev. Oord has twisted Dr. Bouma’s position into something he himself would not recognize as his own.
We must be fair to a Christian brother, and adequately careful to maintain the truth. There can be no doubt that James 4:11–12 and Lord’s Day 43 of the Heidelberg Catechism are just as applicable to us as any other teachings of the Bible or our confessions.
We would also like to report that our experience in arranging to meet with Dr. Bouma was very different from that reported by Rev. Oord. Following our Classis’ communication with the Board last spring, the Board offered to have Dr. Bouma come and speak to us. There was no cost to Classis for the considerable time and expense it took for Dr. Bouma to come to Milwaukee to speak to us. We have found both the Board and Dr. Bouma to be more than cooperative.
Rev. Dan Brouwer, Sam Winkel, Rev. Xay Xay Yang, Chaw Her, Rev. Peter C. Kelder, David Hamson, Rev. Roger Gelwicks, Harold Mulder, Rev. Larry Meyer, David Katsma, Rev. Adrian Dieleman, Mark Buteyn, Rev. Anson Veenstra, Bob Derksen, Donald L. Hughes, Don Hendrikse, Rev. Steven J. Alsum, Rev. Edward Laarman, Rev. Ralph Mueller, Rev. John Bylsma, Scot K. Konings (delegates to Classis Wisconsin)
Wybren Oord Responds
I want to thank Classis Wisconsin for seriously looking into the views of Dr. H. Bouma III concerning abortion. I am grateful that a classis has communicated its disagreement with Dr. Bouma to the Calvin Board of Trustees. Perhaps a letter from an entire classis will be more effective than letters from a single church. I also want to make clear that this response is not to Classis Wisconsin but to the individuals who signed the above letter.
Apparently, Dr. Bouma told you that his presentation to the South Olive CRC congregation was virtually identical to his presentation at Classis Wisconsin. That may well be. However, after Dr. Bouma made his presentation, there was a forty-five minute question and answer period at South Olive. I’m certain there was one at Classis Wisconsin too. Were the two question and answer periods also “virtually identical”? That would be more than amazing! Did anyone at Classis Wisconsin ask Dr. Bouma if he thought abortion was ever murder? And if so, did he answer. like he did at the South Olive meeting: “No.” If only the South Olive meeting had been taped, we could see how “virtually identical” the meetings, held six months apart. were. Unfortunately, Dr. Bouma told South Olive he would not meet them if they recorded the meeting.
As for the accuracy of my “subjective characterization” of Dr. Bouma’s position: the quotes I cited in my article came from a letter sent to the Board of Trustees by the South Olive Christianity and Current Events Committee shortly after Dr. Bouma spoke to the congregation. The local Board of Trustees representative was also given a statement informing the Board that all the quotes and statements regarding Dr. Bouma were, if not word for word, in essence what he said at our meeting. Accusing me of misrepresenting Dr. Bouma and questioning the “fairness and truth” of my report, is to accuse not only me of violating the ninth commandment, but also the entire Council of the South Olive Christian Reformed Church, every member of South Olive’s Christianity and Current Events Committee, and a host of other people, all of whom signed the letter the Board of Trustees member was given. That’s a serious charge! Especially when they were all at the meeting. How many of the above signed names were at the September 15 meeting in Holland, Michigan? Zero! How can you with a clear conscience accuse over forty people of misrepresenting Dr. Bouma when none of you were even there!
Finally, the point of my original article in The Outlook was to explain that people are not leaving the Christian Reformed church because of hearsay, rumors or false accusations leveled at the denomination. We are leaving because we have done the research and found out exactly what the truth is! It is pitiful that even when the research is done we are still not believed. It is more pitiful when those in agreement with one another fight against each other rather than fighting the problem itself. It is my hope and prayer that those who remain within the Christian Reformed Church can work together to correct the problems they see rather than fight with one another over the depth of the problem.
Rev. W. H. Oord served as the pastor of the South Olive Christian Reformed Church until May 1994 when he accepted a call to the Faith Independent Reformed Church of Borculo, Michigan.