Other Church News

(Grand Rapids) The synodical decision of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands to clarify their earlier declarations on the Wiersinga case seems to have increased tensions within that church. Whereas, in the past the traditional confessional element has been most vocal in addressing and criticizing the leadership and the direction of the church, recently an open letter was published which appealed to all “church members and church leaders from consistory to synod” to do everything possible to avoid the catastrophe of another schism in the church. The letter describes a vision of a church which allows the freedom to seek new answers to new questions in the light of the Gospel” and which is not afraid to “bring anew into discussion old confessional statements.” The letter expresses shock at what it calls the “sharpening” of the situation by the recent synodical decision, and sees it as an unwarranted pressure put on Dr. Wiersinga—one which threatens to break on discussions.

Dr. H. Ridderbos, in commenting on the letter, asks why the authors never raise the heart of the matter: whether the Synod was right in saying that Wiersinga’ s view constitutes a denial of an essential part of the churchs confession. The signers of the letter have thereby lost sight of the priorities of the faith: they espouse a vision of the church which sees it as an ethical voice in the world, e.g., in denouncing racism, and as an ecumenical force, but which loses sight of the heart of religion. Not the Synod, Dr. Ridderbos points out, but Dr. Wiersinga has narrowed and limited the scope of the atonement. In doing so, he is undermining what is for others the ground and foundation of their faith. In challenging the propriety of Synod to impress upon Dr. Wiersinga to reconsider whether his position does not threaten the foundation of the unity of the church, the signers are hindering the Synod’s attempt to minister to the church’s truth and unity.

The letter, thus appeals to a unity which abjures pressure from either confession or church order, Dr. Ridderbos concludes. It regards the Synod’s way of seeking unity, namely by pointing to the binding force of the church’s confession, as intolerable. This raises the prospect of a church which will increasingly dissolve into groups, each of which goes its separate way. The spiritual and confessional unity of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, Ridderbos predicts, will then be surrendered in favor of the contemporary ecumenical model. (RES NE 2/4/75)


(Grand Rapids) The Presbyterian Church of East Africa has decided to send Rev. Mugo as its missionary to the United States. The East Africa church, which originated from Scottish Missionary efforts, acted in response to an urgent call from the American Presbyteran Church. The financial support will be provided by the African church. (RES NE 2/4/75)