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Report on Decisions and Discussions at the Christian Reformed Synod, 1961

OPENING SESSIONS

The meeting of Synod began with the customary prayer service on the eve of its first session, June 13. This time it met in the new and beautiful edifice of our Highland Hills congregation of Grand Rapids, Michigan, which served as host church. The church was well-filled for the occasion, even though the weather was as hot and humid as Grand Rapids often is at synod-time.

It was a lengthy service of about one and three-quarter hours—a little too long, in this writer’s opinion. The liturgy was replete with excellent features; the sermon was Biblical, Christ-centered, and strong (the Reverend Rein Leestrna, pastor of the West Leonard Church, officiated, since he serves the Highland Hills congregation as its counselor during its present pulpit vacancy); the prayers were fervent and apt; the choir’s singing of original compositions by Dr. Wendell Rooks, one of the members of the Highland Hills church, was good.

In our opinion, the tendency in late years to complicate the liturgical pattern for our pre-synodical services is not without its drawbacks. We should like to see a simpler liturgy, with greater emphasis on prayer in the light of the Word.

On Wednesday morning the synodical delegates gathered in their first regular session. Mr. Leestma called the session to order as the representative of the convening church, addressed synod briefly, offered prayer, and led in the election of officers. After four ballots the Reverend William Haverkamp was chosen as president (the Rev. William Van Peursem and the Rev. Adam Persenaire received the largest number of votes of those also nominated). Mr. Persenaire was chosen as vice-president (after a runoff with Mr. Van Peursem); the Reverend Richard J. Frens was chosen on the second ballot as first clerk, and his runner up, Elder Hero Bratt of Holland, Michigan, was chosen on the .first ballot as second clerk.

Mr. Leestma then turned the gavel over to the new president, who, after a few appropriate remarks of appreciation, requested all delegates to indicate their agreement with the creedal basis of the Christian Reformed Church. Following this, a Program Committee was chosen by the chair, consisting of one delegate from each classis. Synod adjourned until 4 p. m. in order to give that committee an opportunity to assign the delegates to the several subcommittees from which synod receives the recommendations to be considered for adoption in connection with the many items of business before it.

J.P.

REPORTS OF THE SYNODICAL COMMITTEE, THE STATED CLERK, AND THE PROGRAM COMMITTEE

At the very beginning of the second session (Wednesday afternoon of the first week), the President, Rev. William Haverkamp, called attention to the fact that for the first time converts of our African mission field were present at Synod. There were two: Mr. David Ashu and Mr. Andrew Bajah. These men are not pastors but teachers and arc able to speak English. They were requested to come forward to speak a few words. They brought the greetings of the Benui Church and the Tiv Church respectively. At a later session each will make a prepared speech.

The Stated Clerk reported on the work of the Synodical Committee during the interim between the former and the present Synod and on his own activities. One of the items on which special emphasis was laid was the fact that the money which the churches have raised for the Seminary Centennial Memorial building did not come up to expectation. 274 of our churches failed to respond to the request for such an offering.

The Program Committee presented the names of the members of the advisory committees which prepare reports on practically all the matters on Synod’s docket. Every delegate to Synod is a member of one of these committees. Twelve committees were appointed. To save space we give only the names of the chairman, the reporter, and the professorial adviser of each committee, as follows:

Committee No.1, on Church Order: Rev. B. Nederlof, chairman; Rev. H. Vander Kam, reporter; Dr. F. Klooster, adviser.

Committee No. 2, Church Order: Rev. C. R. Veenstra, chairman; Rev. J. N. Scholten, reporter; Dr. A. Hoekema, adviser.

Committee No. 3, Home Missions: Rev. M. J. Vander Werp, chairman; Rev. C. Greenfield, reporter; Dr. M. Wyngaarden, adviser.

Committee No. 4, Foreign Missions: Rev. R. Evenhuis, chairman; Rev. C. Pars, reporter; Prof. H. Dekker, adviser.

Committee No. 5, Educational Matters: Dr. R. Kooistra, chairman; Rev. J. Hasper, reporter; Dr. J. Kromminga and Dr. W. Spoelhof, advisors.

Committee No.6, Publication Matters: Rev. C. Vanden Heuvel, chairman; Rev. J. L. Meppelink, reporter; Dr. R. Stob, adviser.

Committee No. 7, Varia: Rev. J. R. Bos, chairman; Dr. C. Holtrop, reporter; Dr. H. Kuiper, adviser.

Committee No.8, Appeals [ (Los Angeles case): Rev. J. A. Mulder, chairman; Rev. W. Buursma, reporter; Prof. G. Kromminga, adviser.

Committee No.9, Appeals II: Rev. H. Erffmeyer, chairman; Rev. A. Brink, reporter; Dr. M. Woudstra, adviser.

Committee No. 10, Infallibility: Rev. A. A. Koning, chairman; Rev. B. Pekelder, reporter; Dr. B. Van Elderen, adviser.

Committee No. 11, Varia: Rev. W. Van Peursem, chairman; Rev. T. Heyboer, reporter; Prof. M. Monsma, adviser.

Committee No. 12, Budget: Mr. M. C. Vande Werken, chairman; Mr. L. Van Ess, reporter; Mr. C. Kamp, adviser.

Not until these committees report will the delegates know how the reports to Synod and the overtures are divided among these various committees.

H.J.K.

EXAMINATION OF CANDIDATES

On Friday of the first week of Synod it is customary to examine the candidates for the holy ministry. Will this be the last year that Synod conducts this examination? There has been widespread mis-satisfaction with this method, principally because insufficient time is given for it. A committee appointed at a former synod to present another method is recommending to go back to the former custom of entrusting this to the Board of Trustees (Agenda p. 8ff). An article in the May-June issue of this paper raised the objection that the churches are not sufficiently well represented in the Board of Trustees to be entrusted with this eminently ecclesiastical activity, since no elders are appointed to this Board. The same objection is raised in an overture (No. 17, not found in the Agenda) by Classis North-central Iowa. This rather extensive document wants Synod to rescind the decision of 1959 to discontinue examining the candidates. It declares that this examination should be conducted by an ecclesiastical assembly; hence not by the Board of Trustees. Neither does it favor the idea of having the candidates examined only by a classis after they receive and accept a call. They want the examination by the Synod to be continued but propose that a written examination shall be taken by all the prospective candidates. The questions should be prepared by “those who would ordinarily prepare the questions for examination at Synod.” The questions shall be sent to the President of the Seminary who will delegate the work of examining to the various members of the Faculty. The purpose of the examination should be only “to determine whether a man should be a candidate in the Christian Reformed Church” and to that end “whether (or not) the aspirant is truly Reformed.” The answers must bc sent back to the Classes who should send copies to all of the other stated clerks. The delegates to Synod shall then interrogate the students “on any aspect of the examination on which he seeks further information.”

We shall not comment on this elaborate proposal. It will doubtless be discussed at Synod.

H.J.K.

Now the report by Rev. C. Huissen on this year’s examination, as follows:

“Twenty-five young men presented themselves for examination to be admitted to candidacy. We could not attend all of the sessions. What we saw and heard was heartwarming. The consensus of opinion was that we had before us a elass of splendid young men. The examinations were satisfactory. All of the men were admitted. After the examinations the president addressed them in substance as follows:

“‘Brethren, it gives me great pleasure to announce to you that you have been accepted as candidates for the ministry of the Word and Sacraments. We rejoice with you, your wives, your parents that you are now one step nearer the goal for which you have worked and prayed.

“‘You are to be ministers of the Word. In this turbulent age there is one charge: Preach the Word. The Word must be the atmosphere you breathe. There is no room for the indolent and slothful. Study diligently. Make that preaching relevant to the needs of men in our day and age. God bless you all and make you a blessing.’

“After the singing of an appropriate song the candidates were congratulated by the members of the Faculty, the members of Synod, and the visitors.”

C.H.

ADDRESSES BY DR. BRILLENBURG WURTH

Dr. Oren Holtrop introduced Dr. Brillenburg Wurth, professor at the Theological School at Kampen, the Netherlands, and at the Free University of Amsterdam, as the delegate of the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands. We could not hear all the speaker said and therefore present the digest of his address as reported in the Grand Rapids Press of June 19, with the permission of the editor of that daily.

“Dr. C. Brillenburg Wurth, theological professor at Kampen, the Netherlands, and representative of the Reformed Church of that country, addressed the delegates. He expressed appreciation for the assistance given Dutch immigrants to Canada by the Christian Reformed Church. More than one-fourth of the membership of the Christian Reformed Church is located in Canada.

“He said that although the Dutch had lost Indonesia, mission work in the home country had been intensified, combined with various kinds of social work, especially in the large cities. The big problem faced by the Dutch church, he said, was to remain orthodox while being increasingly relevant to contemporary conditions.

“Schisms have shaken the confidence and enthusiasm for the church among young people and we must seek a responsible solution to the ecumenical problem: he concluded.”

We can add that the speaker stated that the Reformed Ecumenical Synod is of great value but that it is felt that there should be wider connections. However, he also stated that there is propaganda for much false unity in the name of ecumenicity. Mention was also made of “the dissatisfaction in America with our connection with the International Mission Council because of its affiliation with the World Council of Churches.”

Rev. H. Vander Kam responded to the address by Dr. Wurth.

Rev. Richard Wezeman, representing the Chaplain Committee, mentioned the names of the following men who are now serving with our military forces as chaplains: Lieut. Arlo J. Dahm, 1st Lieut. John J. Hoogland, Capt. Bruce Hemple, 1st Lieut. Andrew R. Rienstra, and Lieut. Raymond Swierenga. Me. Wezeman also introduced Chaplain Rienstra to Synod who spoke in substance as follows:

“I expect to be brief but I hope you will not be brief in your prayers for and support of this work. I shall tell you just a little about the work I do. The service in the military is a little different from what it was in World War II. I am in a small air force base in Missouri. Our job is to minister not only to those who fly planes but also to those who do maintenance work.

“We have four Protestant chaplains and one Roman Catholic chaplain. We divide our labors. There are two Protestant services and one Catholic service every Sunday morning. I have charge principally of the work of religious education. We have Sunday school with 100 or 500 children on or in the vicinity of the base. We have just started a new thing in military service: a family religious education night, held weekly. For three months we conducted a religious education program where children of various ages and adults attended. About 75 were present the first time, 35 or 40 of whom were adults. We went through the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, etc. After 13 weeks the people wanted more. So we added four more weeks, discussing the Sacraments. Both the wives of the commanding generals attended. After I had finished with the Calvinistic interpretation of the sacraments, the wife of one of the generals said: ‘This Calvinism has much to say for religion today.’ We hope to have these meetings the entire season after this. The attendance has been increasing. One night we had as many as a hundred present. The people want to know more about the gospel. They see how Christian people live and they want to know the secret. I don’t like to sound like a recruiting officer but I hope more of our men will meet this challenge of the chaplaincy.”

Rev. Arnold Brink responded.

HOME MISSIONS

Rev. Charles Greenfield reported for the Committee on Home Missions.

Synod approved the recommendation to continue the mandate regarding sponsorship of Dutch and Indonesian immigrants and the relocation of Dutch immigrants already in the United States. The Resettlement Committee reported to Synod through the Agenda that it has succeeded in establishing as permanent residents 133 persons in various parts of the country; also that it has placed 99 Dutch immigrants in various localities, and that it has continued cooperation with the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands in giving aid to Reformed Hungarian refugees still living in Austria.

Synod also decided to continue the Immigration Committee for Canada, as duly constituted by representatives of the various classes and of the Christian Reformed Board of Home Missions, at a somewhat reduced expense. This Committee maintains contact with the Immigration Committee of the Netherlands and others in Canada, such as government agencies, railroad agencies, etc. Though immigration from the Netherlands has been reduced, a considerable number is expected—about 800 “souls” from the Reformed Churches.

We may add this personal observation that our Dutch immigrants to Canada have been kept in close proximity to our churches through the work of this Immigration Committee. Many might have drifted away from the church and even from the Christian religion if it had not been for the activity of this Committee.

As to the work of the Home Mission Board, Synod adopted the recommendation to authorize the opening of ten new fields as proposed by the Board. However, the opening of these fields will depend on successful surveys and budget limitations.

The Home Mission Board also granted financial aid to congregations which are unable to finance their own evangelization projects. Synod approved the requests of Oak Harbor, Washington; Racine, Wisconsin; Hamilton, Ontario; Mt. Vernon, Washington; Highland, Michigan; the South Dakota Chr. Ref. Board of Missions for its work in Rapid City, S.D.; and the Greater Edmonton Chr. Ref. churches. The grants range from $2,000.00 to $6,000.00.

It was also decided to approve the request of the Board of Home Missions for two additional laymen as members of the Executive Committee.

The Home Mission Board requested Synod to approve an International Reformed Congress on Evangelism to be held in Grand Rapids at about the time when the Reformed Ecumenical Synod meets in Grand Rapids in 1963. The purpose of the Congress will be to study and spur the evangelistic labors of the Reformed Churches in all lands during these critical last days. The Board asked for approval of the appointment of a planning committee by both Mission Boards, Home and Foreign. When this matter was presented to Synod, Rev. Henry Evenhouse, secretary of the Foreign Mission Board, stated that his Board had a somewhat different view. Attention was called to the fact that the Reformed Ecumenical Synod has a Commission on Missions and that the holding of the Conference desired by the Home Mission Board might tend to deflect interest and attention from the major gathering. Both Boards indicated their willingness to give whatever assistance they can for a successful meeting of the Commission on Missions of the Ecumenical Synod.

We shall report on a following page what decision Synod finally made on this matter.

ADDRESSES BY THE REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE CHURCHES IN NIGERIA

The first speaker, who represented the Benni churches, was Mr. David Ashu. He is the principal of the Junior and Primary school of Lupwe which has 360 pupils and 11 teachers. Here follows a summary of his address:

“I deem it a great privilege to have the opportunity to address Synod. First of all, I bring you a message of greeting from the regional council of the East Benui church. We are grateful to God for all the missionaries who left America to come to Nigeria. Isaiah says: ‘How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings…” Any one who comes to Nigeria for mission work is received with open arms. We thank those who support our mission work with their prayers and gifts. We know it is the love of God which moves them. Be assured that your prayers for us have ascended to the throne of grace. We need more support until our church is self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating. Although an indigenous church has been established in Nigeria, many difficulties confront us and we need your help until we are firmly established. We have other problems. Rapid changes arc taking place in Nigeria. We attained independence on October 1, 1960. Our responsibilities are many. The northern part of Nigeria has a preponderance of Mohammedans. May the Lord give you his wisdom.

“And now my speech on behalf of the East Benui church. This is a unique occasion. This is the first time a Nigerian brother is represented at your Synod. This will go down in the history of the East Benui church and in the history of your church. You have obeyed the command of your Lord: ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to all creatures: In 1920 your churches were already represented in our area by Miss Johanna Veenstra amI others who followed her. Through the work of the Holy Spirit a church was established and it continues to grow, since daily some are being added to the church. Our Church has its own Synod. We now have 4015 communicant members. Today this church is self-supporting and self-governing. We have sixteen elementary and junior high schools, though their number is limited due to the lack of teachers. There are still millions in Nigeria who do not know Jesus Christ as their Savior. But Jesus said: ‘Other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring and they shall hear my voice’.” At this point the speaker mentioned the inroads which Communism is making in Africa, saying they can also infiltrate Nigeria. “Our only hope is in Almighty God. We in Nigeria will also pray for America. Standing before you here I can sense the spirit of oneness which binds us.” This speech in its complete form will be in the Acts of the 1961 Synod.

Mr. Andrew Bajah then addressed Synod on behalf of the Tiv churches. He is a supervising teacher in the schools on our field. He stated that “we have in Nigeria a program of education in close cooperation with the government. We have 42 elementary schools, 10 Junior High Schools, and 209 teachers. We provide the Christian teachers. I am grateful to God to speak to you on behalf of our Tiv church. We want to make Christ known to Nigeria. At present the government pursues a policy of religious freedom. No one knows the future but the prospects for Kingdom work are bright. There are 3200 communicant members in the Tiv churches and the gospel is preached in 643 places. We have four classes and our Synod meets each year. Last year 585 adults were added to the church. Over 150,000 persons receive benefit from our ministry but there are still 500,000 who do not know the Christ.” After these words had been spoken Mr. Bajah read the official letter of greeting from his Synod.

The response was given by Rev. Wilbur Van Dyk.

RESIGNATION OF A MEMBER OF THE ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON THE LOS ANGELES MATTER

Mr. Nick Moll, one of the members of the Advisory Committee appointed by Synod to report on the Los Angeles situation, resigned from this Committee on the ground that he could not be a disinterested judge in the ease since he is the brother-in-law of the vice-president of the Consistory involved.

COMMITTEE ON CHURCH ORDER

Rev. J. C. Scholten reported on Tuesday morning of the second week of Synodical sessions for the Committee on Church Order. Since these matters concerned mere details in the revision of the Church Order we do not include them in our report since we do not believe that they will greatly interest our readers. However, we make one exception here. The Synod of 1960 suggested that the words “vindicate sound doctrine against heresies and errors” should also be used in Article II with regard to ministers as they occur in Article XXII with regard to professors of theology. The Revision Study Committee did not accept the suggestion. The Advisory Committee appointed by this Synod recommended that the words should be included in Article II, on the ground that this is the duty of all ministers. A number of delegates took part in the discussion but Synod voted against the insertion of this clause.

A comment: we wondered whether this action is indicative of a growing trend of impatience with polemics in the pulpit! It is significant that the Form of Subscription, which ministers as well as professors are required to sign, mentions this as one of the tasks of both, namely in the words: “We declare, moreover, that we not only reject all errors that militate against this doctrine….but that we are disposed to refute and contradict these and to exert ourselves in keeping the Church free from such errors.”

ADDRESS BY REV. JOHN HAINS OF THE REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA

Rev. G. Vander Hill introduced Rev. John Hains as fraternal delegate of the Reformed Church in America. Here follows a synopsis of what was said by this fluent and forceful speaker:

“I am very happy to represent the General Synod of the Reformed Church at your Synod. It is always fascinating to attend synods. I have been here an hour or two and have already learned that we have much in common as to doing the business of Synod. One difference is that we have no coffee breaks. I have always had a warm and cordial feeling for the Christian Reformed Church. I was born in Detroit before it had a Reformed or Christian Reformed church and was brought up in a Methodist church. Then we moved to Coopersville, Michigan, where I became a member of the Reformed church and became acquainted with members of the Christian Reformed church. When I went to Hope College I stayed in an upper room of a house on 14th and Central. I was very close to your Fourteenth Street church. Sometimes 1 overslept on Sunday morning and then I would step across the street and listen to the very powerful and moving sermons by the pastor. Dr. Danbof. He has n fine memory. He recognized me at once when I got here. Later after graduation I went to the First Church in Fremont. It was one of the most enriching experiences in my life to associate with Rev. John Schuring and Rev. John Schaal. We were called the three Johns. Later I was married by Rev. Schaal. So you see, we a great deal to the Christian Reformed Church. I am happy to bring you the greetings of the Synod of the Reformed Church. Our Synod was presided over by Dr. Henry Bast, a very devout, evangelical pastor. It was the most spiritual and stimulating Synod I ever experienced. We felt a warmth and cordiality I have never felt before. I believe there is a new movement of the Spirit of God in our Church. We are standing more and more for the fundamental truths of Jesus Christ our Lord. True. we have our troubles but we are moving in the right direction.

“According to the Grand Rapids Press you have several overtures for unity with other denominations. We had seven overtures which spoke about the same thing. There was a fallacious report in the Press on the action taken. On all seven overtures no action was taken for merger. Nevertheless, the principle of holding conversation with other denominations was honored. In regard to those overtures, though no specific action for union was taken, we hold highly the commandment of Christ to be one spiritually. Perhaps when you consider your overtures you will think of our Church. We have a great doctrinal heritage and the same racial and national background. These are the things that bring us close together. I am happy that I may bring you the greetings of the Reformed Church. We have a high respect for the one and what it stands for. We have the truth to present to the world and on that truth we build. We stand unafraid on the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only hope for the world in which we live.”

The response was given by Rev. Wesley Smedes of Classis Muskegon.

We are making one more exception to our decision not to write on the detail-laden report that dealt with the revision of our Church Order. It concerns the following proposed article:

“A minister who is neither eligible for retirement nor worthy of discipline but who has clearly shown that he lacks the essential qualifications for the ministry of the Word, may be discharged by the consistory from his ministerial office, but only with the approval of classis and the synodical deputies.”

This is something new in the rules of our church. One of the consistories of Classis Chicago North, namely Warren Park (in Cicero). presented objections against this proposed article in the form of a protest. Six grounds were offered as a basis for this protest, as follows [abbreviated] : 1) “This proposed article is in violation of the old Church Order which reads that ‘a Minister of the Word, once lawfully called. may not forsake his office’; 2) The ecclesiastical bodies which have examined a minister previous to his ordination have declared that a minister has the necessary qualifications for this office; 3) This article would be in violation of conditions stated in the Form for Ordination. The only ground for questioning a minister’s ministerial office is if he becomes delinquent in doctrine or in life; 4) The term ‘essential qualifications’ is too indefinite and leaves room for all kinds of interpretations. One consistory may deem oratory essential while another may stress ability to do pastoral work. business ability, intellectual acumen. etc. No objective standard is mentioned. A minister may not be liked by his Consistory through no fault of his own and yet be threatened with discharge; 5) This article could be used even against an aging servant of the Lord who did not have the qualifications which he had in his younger years; 6) It might discourage young men from entering the ministry·”

However, Synod approved the article. At the same time it was stated that this protest would be taken up later.

PRE-SEMINARY SCHOLARSHIPS

Rev. J. Hasper reported on further matters pertaining to our Seminary.

The first recommendation was that scholarships, higher than the usual stipend. up to a suggested amount of $500.00 each, should be offered annually to a junior and a senior. This was adopted.

COLLEGE PASTOR

One of the most important items in this report pertained to the “Spiritual Care of Calvin Students.” The churches in the Grand Rapids area, particularly those on the east side. were aware of the insufficiency of the attention given to the spiritual needs of tile students, especially because of the recent great increase in the number of students. Classis Grand Rapids East offered to Synod an elaborate plan for the appointment and work of a “Student Chaplain.” We quote the following from its overture: “Classis Grand Rapids East appointed a committee to ‘study the means of meeting the spiritual needs of the anticipated many students in the Knollcrest area with a view to the possible establishment of a chapel or church….our committee has had many meetings and discussions. We have consulted the administration of Calvin College, the Dean of Men, and have corresponded with the Board of Trustees…made visits to the seven local consistories” who…“assured us that the problem of attendance of students at divine worship services was being met. There was concern expressed by the elder delegates, however, as to the effectiveness of our present methods in giving adequate spiritual guidance to the students. This, it seemed, was the greatest burden on the hearts of the elders. It should be remembered that the problem of the students at Knollcrest is not a problem of church facilities alone, but also a problem of effective spiritual supervision.” Then follow the recommendations:

“First, that the individual consistories continue to minister to the spiritual needs of the students; 2) that Classis take the necessary steps to initiate divine worship services on the Knollcrest campus when this will be called for; 3) that such on-campus services be considered a temporary arrangement to be suspended at such time as classis shall decide that the church life of the students can properly be taken care of by surrounding congregations; 4) that such on-campus services and related activities be governed by a body of nine men, seven elders and two men from the College…”

As to the long-range problem of the students housed at Knollcrest, the overture recommended:

“First, that classis should elect an ordained man with pastoral experience to serve as student chaplain [here the overture elaborates on his duties]; second, that Classis should designate a calling church; third, that the Class is should elect a Student Chaplain from a previously made duo or trio; fourth, that his salary should be paid by the classical treasurer from monies obtained through the synodical assessment for the School.”

The Board of Trustees was informed concerning this plan but it had other ideas. It decided to recommend to Synod to appoint “a College Pastor with Faculty status to serve the College, having, among other things, the following responsibilities: 1) Religious or spiritual counseling of students as they arc referred to him by regular faculty counselors or as they seek his counsel themselves; 2) Liaison with local churches on matters relevant to the spiritual care of student’s, and for the administration of Student Membership certificates; 3) All Chapel activities and the coordination and/or initiation of special religious activities. Further, that Synod, recognizing the propriety and importance of the concern of Classis Grand Rapids East as expressed in overture 7, approve the proposed answer of the Board of Trustees to Classis Grand Rapids East and urge Classis to avail itself of such services as offered by the Board.” This recommendation was adopted.

PROF. MARTEN WOUDSTRA, Th.D., PROF. BASTIAAN VAN ELDEREN, JR., TH.D., and DR. J. KROMMINGA

Synod was informed by its Advisory Committee that on May 17, 1961, the degree of Doctor of Theology was conferred upon Professor Marten Woudstra by Westminster Theological Seminary and that on May 26, 1961, the Pacific School of Religion conferred the degree of Doctor of Theology upon Professor Bastiaan Van Elderen, Jr. Synod decided to recognize these academic achievements with appreciation.

Professor Bastlaan Van Elderen, Jr. was reappointed by Synod as Associate Professor of New Testament for a term of four years.

The proposal to reappoint Prof. J. H. Kromminga as President was Dot acted on until after the matter of Scriptural lnfallibility had been settled. The Advisory Committee recommended that Dr. J. H. Kromminga’s term of office as President of the Seminary should be extended for one year. Grounds: “1) The Board has expressed confidence in Dr. Kromminga’s continuing as the President of the Seminary; 2) By this procedure the usual rules for reappointment can be followed in the course of the next year; 3) The objections raised by Dr. Wyngaarden in his appeal have not been sufficiently substantiated to establish that Dr. Kromminga lacks the confidence of the churches which a president of the Seminary should enjoy.” For Synod’s decision, see page 22.

Our report on the discussion of the Infallibility issue will be given later.

LECTURESHIP IN OLD TESTAMENT

As our readers may know, the Board of Trustees did not offer a nomination for the Old Testament chair, held up to this time by Dr. Martin Wyngaarden, who is retiring, though it did offer a nomination of one person last year, which did not satisfy and was nullified by the withdrawal of the nominee, Prof. Kerr. The Board now recommended “the establishment of a series of lectureships in the Old Testament department of the Seminary with the stipulations that these shall be for one year; that each lecturer shall teach at least one three-hour course each semester; that the process shall continue until terminated by the Board; and that these lectureships shall serve the Board and the Synod in the selection of a man to serve in the Old Testament department at the Seminary.” The Board nominated Rev. J. Stek to be appointed to a lectureship in Old Testament for the year 1961–1962.

Four members of the Board appealed this decision on various grounds (See our article in favor of this appeal in the May–June issue of TORCH AND TRUMPET, page 6) and Classis Grand Rapids West overtured Synod to “refrain from establishing a series of temporary lectureships to fill impending vacancies in our Seminary faculty,” adding following grounds: 1) The continuity of theological education in our Seminary is broken by temporary lectureships; 2) The impending vacancy in our Old Testament department could well be filled at this time from the nomination presented by the Seminary faculty; 3) The ministerial career of one proposed for a temporary lectureship is unnecessarily disrupted by this procedure, without sufficient assurance that his labors in a special field can be continued.” Classis Chatham also endorsed the Appeal of the four Board members.

The Advisory Committee sought to answer the objections of lectureships in the following words: “It should be noted that it is not the intention of the Board of Trustees to establish a permanent policy of providing it series of lectureships to fill the impending vacancies in our Seminary Faculty, and thus the danger of disrupting the continuity of the theological education in our Seminary…will be minimized. It must also be noted that the Board of Trustees did not feel ready to make a nomination for this important position at the present time, for neither of the candidates being considered…is at present equipped to assume full responsibilities in this field. If an appointment should eventually be granted to Rev. J. Stek, after his year of lectureship, it would be desirable that he pursue further studies that he might obtain a doctorate in this field. Although Dr. Von Meyenfeldt is academically qualified, he is not sufficiently well known at close range in the Christian Reformed Church to be a suitable nominee at this time.

“In response to Appeal No.2 it must be said that the Advisory Committee also expressed some concern about a long series of lectureships in the Old Testament department. By consultation with the Secretary of the Board of Trustees, as well as with the Seminary President, we became fully assured that this is not the intent of the Board of Trustees. Their desire is to make a nomination as soon as possible….Thus it is the conviction of your Advisory Committee that the selection of the right man for the office can best be achieved at this present time by these lectureships.”

Accordingly the Committee recommended the following: “1) That Synod authorize the Board of Trustees to engage lecturers in the Old Testament department of the Seminary with the following stipulations; (a) The lectureships shall be for a one-year period, the first one beginning July 1, 1961; (b) Each lecturer shall teach at least one three-hour course each semester; (c) The process shall continue only until such a time as the Board feels ready to submit nominations.” This was adopted. “2) That Synod appoint the Rev. J. Stek to a lectureship in the Old Testament Deparbnent for the year 1961-62; 3) That Synod authorize the Board of Trustees to appoint Dr. F. H. Von Meyenfeldt to a lectureship in the Old Testament Department for the year 1962–63.” This too was adopted.

The Advisory Committee called Synod’s attention to the fact that nominations are soon to be prepared for the Departments of New Testament, Practical Theology, and Church History.

H.J.K.

SPEECHES BY MISSIONARIES

On the Monday afternoon of the second week our foreign missionaries were introduced by Rev. H. Evenhouse and by Rev. M. Baarman.

Rev. J. R. Kamps, official delegate from the Indian General Conference, brought greetings, indicating that there is a continuing need of white missionaries, and affirming that a great future is opening up with the fields white unto the harvest. He pointed to Scott Redhouse, elder delegate from Albuquerque, as evidence of the first-fruits of the harvest.

Ceylon General Conference was represented by Rev. Clarence Van Ens, who conveyed the greetings from the Reformed Church of that Island. After having given a few statistics about Ceylon he told us about the challenge of working in the city of Colombo (400,000 population) with seven large church plants available. He pleaded eloquently for continuing the work with might and main, with disregard for the gathering storm-signals on the political horizon.

Rev. P. Ipema represented the Nigerian field. He expressed his gratitude for being able to serve the churches and brought greetings from his colleagues on the field. He reminded the Synod of the strategic situation of Nigeria in Africa, of her orderly government, of the freedom of religion that had been preserved in the process of nationalization. He cited the fact that there are now nineteen native pastors in the field with fourteen more in training to be ordained in 1962. This is the day of opportunity in Nigeria, since thousands ha vc lost faith in their ancestral religion. “Let us not grow weary in bringing the Gospel to seeking souls!”

At this point our mission secretaries introduced some new appOintees to mission work in various fields, after which Scott Redhouse was given the Boor. He spoke of the abundant fruit in tile last decade upon the labors in our Indian field but also reminded us that the facilities are still very inadequate. The Navajos, he pointed out, arc in a state of transition and the whole pressure of our American civilization is brought to bear upon them. Many of them are lost in the city jungles, and we do not have the trained missionaries for the work. We ought to provide some on-the-job training for our Seminarians, to give them first-hand knowledge of what it takes to do the job.

After Rev. B. Niemeyer, a Synodical delegate from Grand Rapids West, appointed to work in Oregon, and Rev. P. Vermaat, home·missionary in Bellingham, had addressed Synod, Rev. J. A. Mulder responded in the name of Synod.

ADDRESS BY DR. NED STONEHOUSE

At this point Dr. O. Holtrop introduced Dr. N. Stonehouse of Orthodox Presbyterian Church, who pointed out that he did not come as a stranger since he had marched across this very platform 37 years ago to get his diploma from Calvin College. He extended the greetings from his communion and assured Synod of their prayers for our purity, peace, and unity. He reminded us of Dr. Machen’s great regard for our denomination and the fact that in the first quarter century of their existence, which they were currently celebrating, none had stood closer to them than the Christian Reformed churches. He pointed out that the O. P. Assembly had approved of an even closer fellowship on the classical level.

Dr. Stonehouse said that his church was admittedly weak but eager to go forward in the work of the Lord. This is attested by its missionary zeal indicated by the fact that out of 103 ministers there are 12 foreign and 12 home missionaries. His church has a total of 11,000 confessing members. Another index of the zeal of the O. P. Church is the fact that it ranks among the five highest denominations in giving, to the amount of $160.00 per communicant member.

The O. P. Church, the speaker went on to say, had its origin out of a strong sense of the importance of the controversy for the truth, not from schismatic or sectarian motives. Today, in the Blake-Pike proposals, Protestantism is reaping the whirlwind from the heresies of twenty-five years ago. Not only is the doctrine of the trinity denied but the exclusiveness of Christ as the way, the truth, and the life. There is no longer a rationale for evangelizing the Jews.

The O. P. Church is committed to a biblical ecumenicity, not that of expediency. Due to the drift of the times and the difficulty of drawing the line between the Word of God and the traditions of men, keeping the Reformed faith is not easy.

The Reverend Clarence Vos responded.

Synod next turned to hear the Report of the Committee on Varia, VII, A with Dr. O. Holtrop reporting.

The proposal of Classis Cadillac “to engage the services of a parliamentarian for the sessions of Synod” was voted down on the grounds that the President of the Synod is its parliamentarian and that this proposed arrangement would add to the confusion.

The overture of Classis Alberta South that Synod “change the method of delegating lay delegates to denomination boards ‘by requiring a certain percentage of the classes…to delegate non-ministerial delegates for 6year periods, by rotation of classes’” was also voted down.

H.R.V.T.

WORLDWIDE RELIEF AND SERVICE COMMITTEE

On the basis of a very elaborate report by the Study Committee, which proved conclusively that it is the duty of the Church to show mercy to those outside as well as to its own members and arguing that such world-wide relief work by the church should be under the auspices of the diaconal office, the recommendations were adopted that a Deacons’ Conference should be organized in each classis and that the classes in cooperation with these existing Deacons’ Conferences should appoint representatives to serve on the Worldwide Relief and Service Committee; that Synod should appoint a number of members-at-large on this committee as advisers; that this committee should present nominations for a director to the Synod of 1962 and a detailed organizational plan for approval by the same Synod. This was adopted, after many motions to amend had been offered.

H.J.K.

PROTESTANT REFORMED CHURCHES

On Wednesday evening of the second week Rev. J. C. Scholten reported on a Request of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America (De Wolf group). The Synod of these churches had written our Synod requesting that the two churcHes unite on the basis of Scripture and the Three Forms of Unity only. To this our Contact Committee formulated a reply in which the Three Points on Common Grace were maintained as historically necessary and presently relevant for the rest and peace of the churches. With respect to procedure a new course was proposed, namely:

1. “Each congregation which deems it advisable to continue as a separate unit shall consult with the local Christian Reformed church or churches. If they agree that there is room for another Christian Reformed church in that locality, the matter shall be considered settled when approved by Classis.

2. “If in any instance there should be disagreement, the matter shall be submitted to the Classis of the Christian Reformed Church in that area and its decision shall be accepted by the churches involved.

3. “If the Protestant Reformed church has a pastor, he shall submit to a colloquium doctum at the classical meeting, which, if satisfactory, gives him regular standing as a Christian Reformed minister for the whole denomination.

4. “If a Protestant Reformed church disbands, so that the members may affiliate with nearby Christian Reformed churches, such members shall upon presentation of membership credentials be received into Christian Reformed churches.

5. “As soon as the Synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches shall have approved of the agreement of reunion, the minister of a Protestant Reformed church that disbands shall be eligible for a call in the Christian Reformed denomination. The minister will submit to a colloquium doctum after receiving a call, but a minister who desires it will be granted a colloquium doctum before receiving a call.”

This is the substance of the proposed procedures as amended by Synod after a lengthy debate. The substance of the debate follows.

Rev. B. Nederlof of Classis Alberta North: “I regret that I cannot vote for the motion as it stands, because it includes the item which says that it is still our conviction that the Three Points are relevant; it is not my conviction.

The only basis on which Reformed churches can unite is the Three Forms of Unity, as the history of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands in 1869 and 1892 has proved. That does not mean we should forget these things -I too am in agreement with the Three Paints of 1924…but things that happened 3i years ago may not have the same bearing today,…If these brethren do not violate the peace, there is sufficient ground to believe that union can be accomplished without those Three Points…Does Jesus Christ, the King of the Church, want us to retain anything that is not necessary?”

Prof. M. Monsma suggested a slight correction and went on to say that the present position was virtually a copy of last year’s letter, and Reverend N. B. Knoppers of Classis Eastern Ontario opined that “if it was the same letter, why bother to send it? We have again here fraternal delegates from Reformed churches and they say we are one and we say that we are one, but we do not come together. We ought to have a reunion in the high style of the churches of Jesus Christ.”

Rev. T. Hofman of Classis Alberta North stated that if we admit the Protestant Reformed churches only on the basis of the Three Forms of Unity, we are setting aside not only the Three Points of 1924, but by implication all Synodical decisions, perhaps 1959 also.

Elder Kwantes of Classis British Columbia, “I am of the same opinion as Rev. Nederlof. I fail to see that we need more than the Three Forms of Unity for uniting with the Protestant Reformed Churches.”

Rev. A. Persenaire of Classis Hamilton: “We made a basis of union in 1959, but that was not even considered by the Protestant Reformed Synod, but it came with the proposal that union be sought on the basis of the Three Forms of Unity alone…they did this because they had members who objected to the Three Points as official interpretations of the Confessions. Therefore we feel that the Three Points are as yet not out of date, because if we take them away, I am afraid we may destroy the unity we have enjoyed since 1924.”

Rev. Clarence Vos said he was of the same mind as Rev. Nederlof and Elder Kwantes when he first joined the committee; namely, that we must not ask for more than the Three Forms of Unity, “but I am convinced that we are not asking for more since the decisions of 1924 [on Common Grace-Ed.] arc a reflection of the Confessions…we are assuring the brethren that they have prophetic liberty.”

Rev. W. Haverkamp, President of Synod, turned the gavel over to the vice-president to remark that when we sent our communication to the Protestant Reformed Synod last year, there was a concerted movement by a certain bloc that did not want to address itself seriously to our argumentation. This was deplored by the Reverend De Wolf and others…but “some did not seriously struggle with what we wrote…If there is anything we ought to deplore, it is that their Synod did not diligently consider what we wrote.”

Rev. R. Bos affirmed that Common Grace is not a dead issue since it concerns the character of the preaching of the Gospel.

Rev. W. Ackerman related that his dealings with the Protestant Reformed brethren had been one of true fellowship and quite amiable even though 1924 was not set aside as having no relevance. “We want to be one with a true meeting of minds.”

Rev. Nederlof responded to this that he did not introduce the idea of setting aside 1924; “but I asked what is the basis of unity; must we add to Scripture and the Confessions?”

Rev. Knoppers, speaking for Dr. Kooistra as well, said: “It is not at all our intention to make this matter more difficult…we want to save the church trouble on the basis of our experience.”

To this Rev. Persenaire responded: “We agree fully that the foundation of unity is Scripture and the Three Forms, but the Protestant Reformed Church makes the setting aside of 1924 the condition for reunion.” He then called for a division of the question, namely, to vote first on that part of the letter that deals with the basis of union, and second on procedures. This was approved and part one was passed unanimously.

With regard to the question of procedures, there was a good deal of discussion about the question whether or not and when a colloquium doctum was to be taken by the Protestant Reformed ministers. The reporter argued that this interview would give them ecclesiastical standing, since some have not had a college education, and our people would be assured of their competence after their examination by classis. Rev. T. Hofman pointed out that the necessity of taking the colloquium doctum did not preclude their being placed on a trio at once.

After a prolonged consideration of the matter, in which every effort was made to guarantee the Protestant Reformed brethren a fair deal, the second part concerning procedures was passed as quoted above. The Chairman then said that this will go down in history as a very important decision of the 1961 Synod, that he hoped that it would be received with joy and gladness, and that the union might be consummated in the very near future,

H.R.V.T.

LICENSURE OF FOREIGN STUDENTS

What about foreign students who attend our Seminary? Should they be permitted to preach in our churches? Can they be expected to know how to preach to our people, to know the needs and tastes of our people?

Synod approved the following regulations regarding this matter which had been adopted by the Board of Trustees: Foreign students studying at our Seminary as regular or special students must be communicant members of a. sound Reformed Church; must have had sufficient training at our School so that the Faculty can recommend them, as to their academic competence and ability to speak fluent English; must have completed the course in homiletics required of our students or an equivalent course in some other school and must demonstrate their ability to exhort to the satisfaction of our professor in Homiletics. Further, their request for licensure must be sent to the Secretary of the Board, the Board or its Executive Committee must interview the applicants, their exhorting must be under the auspices of the School, and their licensure will be in force while they arc students at the school, extension of licensure requiring special application.

NO HANDBOOK TO THE PSALTER HYMNAL

The Synod of 1959 authorized the Psalter Hymnal Committee to prepare a handbook to the Psalter Hymnal. It was reported that very little work had been done on this assignment and that the members of the Psalter Hymnal Committee were not enthusiastic for the project and had doubts whether there would be a demand for it.

The Advisory Committee recommended that the Psalter Hymnal Committee should be relieved of responsibility in the matter but also that the decision to produce such a handbook should be reaffirmed seeing the Synod of 1959 had decided in favor of it. It also advised that a Handbook Committee should be appointed and charged with securing a suitable editor-compiler.

Synod was very lukewarm toward the project. Rev. Charles Greenfield and Rev. Clarence Vos expressed the opinion that there is no need of such a handbook; that no good ease had been made for the project. Dr. Ralph Stob said these is no enthusiasm for it but that if it were to be undertaken it could be done much better by a single editor.

1t appeared that Synod was even less interested in the matter than the Advisory Committee. No one voted foe the motion to reaffirm the decision of 1959.

All the other recommendations of the Committee on Publication Matters, Rev. J. L. Meppelink being the reporter, were adopted. We mention the following:

1. Synod noted with gratitude the expanding work of the American Bible Society and of the World Home Bible League.

2. Synod reminded our U.S. churches of the services and film offered by the Lord’s Day Alliance. It also decided to ask our Canadian Classes to aid the Canadian Lord’s Day Alliance by distributing to their consistories information letters concerning it and to remind our Canadian members that if there is a Sunday problem in their community, to contact Rev. Mr. McGrath, General Secretary of the Alliance, 606–40 Park Road, Toronto.

3. Synod acceded to the request of Classis Grand Rapids South to appoint a committee to undertake a revision of the Form for the Ordination (or Installation) of Ministers of God’s Word, the Form for the Installation ‘)f Professors of Theology, and the Form for the Ordination (or Installation) of Missionaries.

WHICH MINISTERS IN SPECIAL SERVICE MAY RETAIN THEIR MINISTERIAL STATUS?

A lengthy debate took place at Synod about his question. Many past Synods have wrestled with it. Some were inclined to be liberal in allowing ministers in special service to retain their ministerial status. Others were more strict, even to the extent of discouraging ministers from serving as teachers of Bible in Christian schools. This latter trend has received impetus through the influence of those of our Canadian ministers who have emigrated from the Netherlands, where it is customary for those who enter upon special service to become “emeritated.” This will shed light on the debate at this Synod and the final decisions.

The reporter of the Committee which presented recommendations regarding this matter was Rev. H. Vander Kam. It had to deal with two study committee reports on the subject. The one was a committee appointed by the Synod of 1959. This Committee made a special study of the Scripture as a basis for its Conclusions, asserting that such a study had not been made heretofore. Its conclusions left a broad field for special services by ministers outside of the regular work of a pastor. The other report accompanied an overture from Classis Hudson. As the Advisory Committee stated; “In this study a much narrower view of the tasks permissible to the ministry is presented than that by Synod’s Study Committee.” The Advisory Committee reported that in its opinion the recommendations of the Synodical Study Committee do not sufficiently safeguard the office of the minister of the Word.

Before we report on the recommendations of the Advisory Committee we shall give in substance the address by Rev. J. D. Hulst, representing the Synodical Study Committee; “In this report we were not concerned with the ordinary, explicit duties of the minister. It concerns itself with the duties which go beyond the explicit duties of the minister. This problem has been before the Church for many years—already in 1890, when Rev. J. Noordewier was appointed to collect funds for our School. Since that time our Church has revealed on the one hand the uniqueness of the office of minister. There has also been a certain amount of inconsistency, In 1918 Dr. H. Beets was appointed Secretary of Missions. The Church was then much concerned with the principles involved. On other occasions no concern was manifested with the principle. Synods have not always faced the matter courageously. When the difficulty was faced, they would say for example; ‘He is now no longer serving in that special capacity.’ The Church sometimes disregarded its own pronouncements. For example it said on one occasion: ‘The minister should no longer serve in the capacity of Bible teacher in Christian high schools.’ Yet our churches went on to appoint such men. The Church has seldom made direct appeals to Scripture to solve the problem.

As to the Church Order, it contains no definition of the meaning of ordination. Though it does speak of ordination, it is impossible on the basis of the C.O. to define it. Ordination is first of all the act of the church. Its purpose is to call and gather a church unto eternal life. This is a task performed through the ministry of the church. Assigned to this task, ministers are bound to it for their life. Their task is to be delineated by the church. Having once been appointed ministers for lifelong service, they should be supported by the church.

“The Church Order describes the duties of such a man. Art. 16 defines his duties as a minister in a local congregation. But the Church Order docs recognize that it is legitimate for a minister to labor outside of the local church (Art. 6, 7). The question arises, May a minister choose any field of labor he wishes? The answer is, No. Ordination is accompanied with the laying on of hands, signifying his qualification by the Holy Spirit. Then he is authorized to speak in the name of Christ.

“We sought a description of the office of the minister in Scripture. We found that he is a servant of Christ bound to service of the church for life. He is to serve the Church primarily through the gospel Tills is his ordinary and explicit duty. But we had to study the question: How far does Scripture permit us to go beyond these ordinary duties? The limiting concept is stated in Ephesians 4. Ministers are appointed for ‘the building up of the body of Christ: According to this passage, some are ‘teachers of the Christian religion.’ Elsewhere we read that they ‘serve the cause of the Lord: so that the work is not necessarily limited to the preaching of the Word. The point is: Scripture permits something other than a pastorate in a local church. Paul not only preached; he also collected funds for needy persons and even built tents. We should take note that when he collected funds they didn’t call him back to Antioch, saying: ‘You mayn’t do that, Paul!’ We do not suggest that we allow our ministers to make tents. But we do say that if the church feels that a certain work is essential to its welfare, it may assign a man to a task outside of the local pastorate. Hence we have made the following recommendations:

“‘Synod declare that a minister of the gospel may serve in various capacities other than that of pastor in a local church, provided (1) He is called by the church; (2) his work is controlled and supervised by the church and adequate Support is guaranteed by the church; (3) his work is conducted to the profit (spiritual upbuilding) of the church.’”

That was the motion made and supported.

Rev. A. Kuyvenhoven of Classis Alberta South said: “The recommendations of the Study Committee are based largely on an exegetical study of the Scripture. I would like to invite one or two men of the Seminary to give their opinion of that study.”

Dr. Ralph Stab was asked. He replied: “I am quite sorry to inform you that 1 have not been able to go through this report as meticulously as I would have liked. I have had a very busy Spring. I suggest that you ask Dr. Van Elderen.”

Chairman Haverkamp: “Professor, you are fortunate that you have your reappointment” (laughter).

Prof. Van Elderen: “I have not yet accepted” (laughter).

Chairman: “What is your opinion of the Study Committee’s exegesis?”

Prof. Van Elderen: “I shall make a few observations.

As to the material on page 113, I feel the Committee has tried to come to a definition of the office of a servant of God; but they have not dealt with some of the essential aspects of New Testament teaching; for example, the use of such words as ‘apostle,’ ‘messenger,’ to ‘evangelize,’ ‘to preach.’ [The speaker here used the terms of the Greek N.T., Ed.] Hence I think if one would want to define the office of minister, his study should be more extensive. As to their exegesis on page 114, I would interpret the last two clauses [‘unto the work of ministering; ‘unto the building up of the body of Christ’–Ed.} as being explanatory of the first: ‘unto the perfection of the saints.’ I don’t think we have four purposes here. In the original the words: ‘pastors and teachers’ are to be taken as referring to one group. First comes the delineation: ‘apostles, prophets, evangelists.’ I doubt we can regard all these as separate functions. As to the statement on p. 117, I doubt we can use the exhortation of Christ to Peter (‘Feed my lambs’) as an exhortation to Christian education.”

Chairman: “We are very thankful and happy that we reappointed you for six years” (laughter).

Rev. N. B. Knoppers: “I am so thankful to Prof. Van Elderen for his remarks. An article in Church and Nation deals with all those tents that Paul made. And the conclusion is that this proves just the contrary of the contention of the Study Committee.”

Reporter J. B. Hulst of the Study Committee: “Perhaps Prof. Van Elderen is not so willing now to admit that I was one of his students!” (laughter). “But I have a question for him: Would he agree with our conclusions?”

Prof. Van Elderen: “Here we come to the crux of the matter. The thing that will have to be defined is this: Can one in one of these positions engage in the proclamation of the Word? Right here we can conveniently turn to the department of Practical Theology” (laughter).

Rev. Vander Kam, reporter of the Advisory Committee: “We are not by any means convinced of the exegesis of the Study Committee. For example, that a minister is called a diakonos [servant–Ed.] does not at all prove their point. We have no argument with the Study Committee that there is room outside of the work in the local church for a minister. Then there would be no place for professors of theology [who are also ordained ministers–Ed.]. But we don’t believe the office is sufficiently safeguarded by the expression : ‘conducive to the spiritual upbuilding of the church.’ That can include almost anything. Elders and deacons also labor for the spiritual upbuilding of the church.”

Rev. B. Nederlof: “Let me say something in addition to what has already been said. In our opinion this is a wonderful report. I don’t want to give the impression that we desire to nullify the efforts put forth. But there arc some weaknesses. Thc N.T. even speaks of some women who ‘ministered to the saints.’ Many tasks mentioned in the N.T. are not included in the ministerial office. The question is: Does the term ‘minister’ in the Church Order have the same broad sense which it sometimes has in Scripture, for example where it speaks of ‘ministering to the saints’? When we speak of ‘ministering to the saints’? When we speak of ‘ministers,’ in distinction from elders and deacons, we refer to those who are pastors and teachers, who labor in the Word. The question before us is: May all those who serve the Church in some capacity be regarded as ministers of the Word?

“There is a way of reasoning here which is not convincing. When Paul took collections and brought them to Jerusalem he did not become a full·time financial agent. We must not reverse the question. The question is not whether one who is a minister may do something additional which is also proStable for the church but whether all those who engage in some tasks which are for the profit of the church may be called ministers. The Committee states that ministers may be allowed to devote their time to a certain work if it is conducive to the spiritual upbuilding of the church. Of course, the work of the ministry is for the spiritual upbuilding of the Church. But this does not mean that everything which is conducive to its spiritual upbuilding belongs to the work of the ministry.

“There is a fourth weakness in the report. The Study Committee is well aware of the fact that their position deviates from the Church Order. It is a basic departure. Its argumentation has a pragmatic flavor. It reasons that whatever is conducive to the profit of the churches may be done by a minister. The Synod of last year took a decision tentatively (See art 13, page 292). We took those words in our recommendation as Advisory Committee, namely, that a minister may perform another task if it is directly related to the ministry of the Word. But then he should be released from his office. We do not sec the need of retention of the ministerial office in such a case. Let us not be Roman Catholic in our conception of the office. A minister for life is the rule, but the body which confers the office may also release from office. Let us be strict in our policy; we can be broad in its application. A minister of the Word must remain a minister of the Word.”

Rev. J. B. Hulst: “As to the suggestion that we have been guided by practical considerations, it is evident when you read our report that we have addressed ourselves to history, the Church Order, and the Scriptures. We realize we did not go into the study of the various terms that are used in the N. T. They stress various aspects of the work of the ministry of the Word. The real issue is: Does Scripture teach anywhere that the church may not call a man and assign him to a task which is essential to the welfare of the church? The historical position of our Church has been: Are those positions essential to the welfare of the Church? I am not aware as yet of any organist who considers herself bound to the service of the church for life.” (Note: This was said in reply to an argument from the other side, namely, that organists and even janitors labor for the welfare of the church–Ed.)

Rev. A. Persenaire (vice.president of Synod): “I enjoy this debate very much; but I believe we have heard enough to enable us to vote.”

Rev. T. Hofman: “The important part of the matter is that of our approach. The Study Committee approaches this from the point of view of the welfare of the church. If that is permissible, then their conclusions logically follow. But if we begin with the premise; the duty of the minister is to preach the Word, then other conclusions follow.”

Reporter Vander Kam: “I move we table the motion before us [to adopt the recommendations of the Study Committee–Ed.] and take up the recommendations of the Advisory Committee.”

Rev. H. N. Erffmeyer: “This is contrary to our rules.” President Haverkamp agreed. “It is much fairer to a study committee to vote on what they propose.”

Secretary R. Frons: “I don’t feel qualified at this stage to vote this up or down.”

The President: “Then you have the privilege to abstain” (laughter).

The recommendation of the Study Committee (see above) was rejected with a large majority.

The recommendations of the Advisory Committee were then discussed and voted on. The first of these was of a formal nature. The second read: “That Synod reaffirm the church’s definition of the ministerial office as essentially that of the minister of the Word and the sacraments.”

Rev. H. N. Erffmeyer (member of the Study Committee): “Where do we find that definition?”

Reporter H. Vander Kam in reply appeals to the terms for minister used in Scripture such as “herald” etc.

Prof. M. Monsma: “Not one of us should have any doubts on this point.” Quotes the Church Order.

Rev. J. B. Hulst: “I have two questions. First, does this answer our mandate, which goes beyond the ordinary and explicit work of the minister. Second, is it necessary to affirm this? I submit this is quite unnecessary.”

Rev. H. N. Erffmeyer: “If we adopt the advice of this Committee we are not really answering our mandate. I think it would be better to appoint a new study committee.” (Note: The mandate of the Study Committee was to study comprehensively and in the light of Scripture and the Church Order the problem of the legitimacy of the minister’s engaging in special assignments and services which go beyond the ordinary, explicit duties of the minister.” Examples: Presidency of one of our Christian Colleges [Calvin, Dordt, Trinity], Editor of The Banner, Bible teacher in one of our Christian Schools, Youth Federation Director, Stated Clerk of Synod.–Ed.)

Rev. B. Nederlof: “Our Advisory Committee had to deal not only with the advice of the Study Committee but also with an overture.”

Dr. R. Kooistra, Classis Eastem Ontario: “We all agree with this point but we don’t need this. But we do need the next point.”

Reporter H. Vander Kam: “We believe it should be here in view of what the next point specifies.” A motion to withhold action on this point was defeated. A motion by Rev. J. A. Mulder to recommit the matter to the Advisory Committee also was defeated.

The question was called for and Synod adopted the second point (see above).

The next point {B in the recommendation of the Advisory Committee was as follows: “That Synod declare that a minister of the Word can and may serve in capacities other them that of a pastor in a local church, provided (a) that he is called by a church according to the provisions of the Church Order; (b) that he is subject to the supervision of the church according to the provisions of the Church Order; (c) that his task is judged to be spiritual in character and directly related to the ministry of the Word by the Classis of the calling church and with the approval of the Synodical Examiners.”

Discussion:

Rev. A. Persenaire: “I am in agreement with this point but I feel for what Rev. Hulst brought out. If we adopt this we are simply confirming what Synod has always stated. Are we doing justice to the intent of the Synod of 1959?”’

Reporter Vander Kam: “We feel that we are meeting the intent of the mandate of 1959. Here we say that there is that possibility of ministers’ serving in a special capacity but we stress the fact that the classis must judge whether the case meets these tests. I believe that is all Synod can say.”

Rev. R. Evenhuis: “I don’t think that it is necessary to say that the work of the minister should be spiritual in character.” Speaker moved to delete the words: “judged to be spiritual in character.”

Rev. W. Ackerman: “This is taken directly from the Church Order.” (The Speaker meant: the proposed new Church Order–Ed.)

Rev. Wilbur Van Dyk pleaded for the retention of these words.

Rev. R. Evenhuis tried to speak again but was interrupted by the chair.

Rev. A. Kuyvenhoven, Classis Alberta South, severely criticized the expression and reminded Synod that the Church Order, where these words are found, has not even been adopted. However, the motion to delete the words “judged to be spiritual in character” was rejected.

Dr. A. Hoekema: “According to this, a man may accept a call and then find that the classis does not give its approval. The Classis should first give its approval, according to a former decision, before a minister is called for a special service.”

Rev. J. B. Hulst: “This point really does not solve any· thing. It says: ‘this special service must be directly related to the ministry of the Word.’ One can interpret that broadly or narrowly. This does not answer the problem laid before us in 1959.”

Rev. B. Nederlof: “First of all, Dr. Hoekema has stated a few points which are covered by provisions already in the Church Order. Second, when we come to the application of this point only the future can tell us what will develop. There is room for difference in the church. There are differences even in the Synod. Must we as a Synod lay down jurisprudence or lay down principles?”

Rev. J. Haspers: “This is essentially the same as the recommendation of the Study Committee. Point a is the same. As to point b, this is not anything new either. I maintain that if we adopt this, we’ll have the same struggle over and over again.”

Prof. H. Dekker: “What is done here is to close doors in point 2 and to open them again in point 3. I have myself been involved in one of these situations. This does not solve any problem. As to the word ‘spiritual,’ who would say that the work of the President of the College is not spiritual? This point leaves room for all kinds of conflicting practices.” The Speaker moved to recommit.

Dr. D. Holwerda: “It is not possible to substantiate this on exegetical grounds. It is not possible to go by some· thing that was written 2000 years ago. The Advisory Committee substantiates its position ecclesiastically.”

Rev. B. Nederlof: “I would be at a Joss to know what to do if this were recommitted.”

Rev. J. B. Hulst: “The problem facing us is an issue which is involved. I don’t believe this Committee will accomplish anything by spending another two or three hours on the matter. What is meant by the term ‘spiritual’?”

The motion to recommit was lost.

Rev. J. R. Frens: “I believe this is a waste of time. We wrestled with the problem in Classis Hudson and Classis Chicago. This recommendation is putting us where we always were.”

Hev. W. Ackerman: “The reason we have this problem is that the Classes have not done what they should have done. If the Classes had studied it we would not have had this problem. This is a good motion we have before us. Our Advisory Committee is quite correct: We lay down the principles; let the Classes make the applications. We say: We need ministers here, we need ministers there.” (Comment: The Speaker meant to say that we sometimes say: We need ministers for this task or for that task when it is a question whether ministers are really needed for such tasks.–Ed.)

Elder Duistermars, a member of the Advisory Commit. tee, who disagreed with it: “I have reserved the right to dissent. I felt as I worked with the Committee that we did not come up with anything different. I think what Synod really wants is something different. And I think the Study Committee has really come up with something different. I think we can use a little pragmatism provided it is not contrary to the Word of God.”

Prof. M. Monsma: “We are laboring with difficulties which do not exist. I agree with Rev. Ackerman. Synod can’t do anything better. These Classes should have settled these matters.” (This means that henceforth each case will have to be decided by the classis concerned. See Pointed Paragraph on this matter.–Ed.)

After all this debating Synod adopted point 2 (see above).

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL MATERIAL

The Synod has a Committee on Education which pct!pares catechism books and other educational material for use in our churches. Its mandate also includes the preparation of Daily Vacation Bible School guides though it is not yet ready for this task. Since Our home missionaries have been clamoring for such material, the Home Mission Board offered to assume responsibility for producing it if needed; also to explore the materials available from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Reformed Church in America.

This proposal met with opposition. Discussion:

Rev. Bernard Pekeler: “If we think this is a little thing we are dead wrong. The Mission Board has plenty fields. I understand there is a strong feeling that this should be done by the Board but that the Board itself is not eager to undertake this. Why take this out of the hands of the Committee on Education? I would much rather see our home missionaries get along with the present, O.P., material.”

Rev. C. Greenfield, reporter for the Committee on Home Mission: “We propose that close contact be made with the Committee on Education.”

Rev. C. D. Vanderhill expressed agreement with the remarks of Rev. D. E. Pekelder even though he is a member of the Home Mission Board. He felt that the Board would not be able to get out this material any sooner than the Committee on Education.

Home Mission Secretary Marvin Baarman: “The interest of the Board of Home Missions is not to invade the territory of the Committee on Education but to supply a pressing need. We just intend to fill in the gap. We intend to have various committees to supplement our work, for example for art work. This work must be done soon.”

Rev. Jacob Hasper: “Your Advisory Committee on Education met last night and has a recommendation to authorize the Committee on Education to employ a part-time or a full-time editor. I would urge Synod not to adopt this motion.”

Prof. Harold Dekker: “Last year we had an extensive discussion on matters pertaining to the work of the synodical Committee on Education. This has a long history. Here is a matter of great importance. Ten years ago the Committee envisioned such a Daily Vacation Bible School course. The Committee already has authority to do this. I fail to see how the Home Mission Board can accomplish this task. Where is this found in its mandate? The key to this work is pedagogy. If we decide this we are taking a step backward.”

Rev. H. Venema: “I should like to emphasize the fact that we do have something to meet this need: the guides of the Reformed Bible Institute and of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Our Canadian churches use these with great success. I fail to see why we should load down the Home Mission Board with this responsibility and let them come out with an inferior product.”

The proposal to assign this task to the Home Mission Board was defeated. It remains therefore the responsiblity of the synodical Committee of Education.

CLOSER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ORTHODOX PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

The report on this matter mentioned “the decisions of the Synod of 1944 with respect to our ecumenical responsibilities.” Since the word “ecumenical” and “ecumenicity” are used often in our day and are not understood by all, we mention the definition given in Funk and Wagnalls dictionary, as follows: “Ecumenical: pertaining to or claiming to pertain to the Churches of the whole world.” Ecumcnicity is defined as “the quality of being ecumenical” which means therefore: the quality of pertaining to or claiming to pertain to the Churches of the whole world.

In regard to the decisions of the Synod of 1944, and the matter of seeking closer contact with the a.p.c., the report of the Study Committee on Closer Relationship with the Orthodox: Presbyterian Church offered the following explanation:

“Our committee has met four times since the Synod of 1960. One of these meetings was a joint session held with members of a similar committee from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. We are not yet able to propose a working basis upon which the organic union of the two denominations might be discussed, but we do feel that we have made significant progress this year in laying the groundwork for the actual development of such a basis. The problems to be discussed and solved in uniting the two denominations are many and great. This year we have entered into a careful discussion of the biblical basis for the necessity of seeking ecclesiastical union, into an analysis of the similarities and differences of the C.R.C. and the O.P.C., and have attempted to relate all of this to Our mandate. We will continue to work with the members of the O.P.C. committee on a possible basis for union for presentation to our respective denominations in due time.

“We deem it likely, however, that the mind of the church in general is not fully aware of all that our ecumenical responsibilities entail. It does seem that a program of education and discussion is in order…The cultivation of understanding in the area of ecumenical responsibility and privilege is necessary, we feel, for the intelligent discussion of any concrete proposals that this committee may be able to bring to the attention of synod at a later date. With a view toward increasing our ecumenical sensitivity among the churches this committee has addressed correspondence to the Synodical Committee on Ecumenicity and Correspondence with Other Churches with reference to the possibility of the Christian Reformed Church calling an ecumenical conference or conferences in connection with the Reformed Ecumenical Synod of 1963.”

Further, the Study Committee made two recommendations to Synod. The first was as follows:

“That Synod remind the churches of tile decisions 0/ the Synod of 1914 with respect to our ecumenical responsibilities. Grounds: (1) These statements are relevant and helpful in our present day ecumenical conversations; (2) Most of our clergy and many of our laymembers, having entered the ministry, or the church, since 1944, are probably unacquainted with these principles of ecumenicity to which the Christian Reformed Church has committed itself.”

This first recommendation of the Study Committee was presented by the Advisory Committee of Synod for approval and was adopted. When we read it and perused the decisions of 1944 on ecumenicity we felt inclined to make some comments on them, or at least to acquaint our readers with them; but we refrained from doing so because our Editorial Committee is making plans for publishing a series of articles on the subject of Ecumenism and the World Council of Christian Churches. In these articles the decisions of 1944 will undoubtedly be referred to and discussed.

The second and third recommendations were also adopted and read as follows:

(2) That Synod advise the Classis to exchange fraternal delegates with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church on the classical (presbytery) level wherever this is possible.

(3) That Synod urge the committee to expedite the decision of the Synod of 1959…to see an equitable financial arrangement whereby the doctrinal standards of both churches may be circulated without waiting for the final revisions of our own creed.

THE INFALLIBILITY OF SCRIPTURE

We preface our report on this important matter on Synod’s Agenda—doubtless, the most important of all—with a few remarks. First, our synopsis of the debate is quite brief. We did not hear all that was said. The P.A. system at Synod is by no means first class. Some of the microphones were not working. Besides, not all the recommendations were clear; the result was lack of clarity in the discussion. The Presiding officer, though indefatigable and alert, as always, was in a hurry, apparently to see the sessions finished by the end of the week, and at times curt toward some speakers. We cannot say we enjoyed this discussion as we did some others. Not all who spoke on the issue are quoted here, and our quotations are very brief for the reasons already mentioned.

The Advisory Committee, headed by Rev. A. A. Koning and reporting through Rev. Bernard E. Pekelder, had a good report but in drafting it was handicapped by a procedural but serious error made at the synod of 1959 with respect to the protest which had been presented by Dr. Martin Wyngaarden against a document by the Seminary President Dr. J. Kromminga, which in turn influenced the recommendation of lhe Study Committee on this point. The nature of that error was brought out by some of the speakers and will become clear, we hope, from our report.

The Advisory Committee was happy in being able to present a unanimous report. The entire report was first rend and then Synod took up the discussion of the various recommendations. But these recommendations were preceded by a section on the background of the issue and this included an “Analysis of the Study Committee Report,” which read as follows;

“a. It should be observed that the study committee proceeds on the basis of two truths which are our common conviction; that all Scripture is inspired and that all Scripture is infallible. The Conclusions of the Fourth Ecumenical Synod of 1958 express the starting point of this report: ‘…the human authors of Scripture were moved by the Holy Spirit so as to insure that what they wrote communicated infallibly God’s self-revelation….The considerations that Scripture pervasively witnesses to its own God-breathed origin and character and that as redemptive revelation it is necessarily characterized by the divinity which belongs to redemption are the explanation of the sustained faith of the historic Christian church that Scripture in its whole extent and in all its parts is the infallible and inerrant Word of God’ (Agenda, 1961, p. 124).

“b. The Study Committee bas indeed performed a significant service in its address to the mandate given by the synod of 1959. This voluminous report constitutes a serious study of the relationship between inspiration and infallibility in the light of Scripture and the Creeds. While the report should be considered in its totality, and isolated statements must be viewed in their wider context, we draw attention to the following: ‘Divine inspiration establishes Scripture as au infallible rule and sufficient canon for all of Christian faith and life by securing it against falsification, error, and deceit’ (Agenda, 1961, p. 185). Such a statement, based upon an intensive study of Scripture and creedal utterances, constitutes a clear testimony to the infallibility of Scripture.

“c. The study committee also addressed itself to the ‘periphery question.’ While it did not feel it to be in its province to adjudicate the charge against Dr. Kromminga, it did confer with him, and the report reflects these interviews. The study committee has considered the use of the word ‘periphery.’ After observing that it has been employed in the Reformed theological tradition, it goes on to say that the word may be used to describe ‘incidental and circumstantial data which have no independent revelational significance, but are dependent for their revelational significance upon the relationship they sustain to the central intent and purpose of a given passage’” (Agenda, 1961, p. 163).

Then came the first recommendation;

“A. That Synod declare, as the study committee indicates in the fulfillment of its mandate, that both Scripture and the Creeds establish an essential relationship between inspiration and infallibility, in which the infallibility of Scripture is inferred from inspiration, and inspiration secures ale infallibility of all Scripture.

“Note: Although a due appreciation of this fact requires a complete study of the entire report, the following quotations may illustrate the above:

“1. ‘Initially we may say that infallibility as an inference drawn from inspiration is to be ascribed to Scripture only in accord with the extent, nature, and purpose of inspiration’ (Agenda, 1961, p. 151).

“2. ‘Divine inspiration establishes Scripture as an infallible rule and sufficient canon for all of Christian faith and life by securing it against falsification, error, and deceit’ (Agenda, 1961, p. 185).

“3. ‘An examination of the Church’s interpretation of the Belgic Confession as weII as of the principles which it has enunciated forces us to tho conclusion that the approach of the Church to the trustworthiness of the Scripture is…to give testimony to the faith of the Church, on the basis of the demands of Scripture, to its own authority and trustworthiness”· (Agenda, 1961, p. 187).

Dr. Paul C. Schrotenboer, one of the authors of the Study Committee report, stated he had no objection against this point (A) but he wondered whether it was meant to be a summary of their report. “Does Synod restrict itself to one declaration?” Apparently he felt, if we may interpret his words, that if Synod wished to summarize their report, that summary was not complete.

Reporter B. Pekelder replied that…the Advisory Committee felt that it was necessary to draw some attention to the report. They could not summarize it in its entirety. So they asked themselves: What is the thrust of this report? Our judgment on this was concurred in by members of the Study Committee. There is much more in the report; but I feel we can declare this.”

POINT “A” WAS ADOPTED.

Recommendation B. read:

“That Synod commend this study committee report to the church Grounds: 1) This report will serve to remove misunderstandings that have arisen; 2) This report is a framework for further study of the relationship between inspiration and infallibility.”

Editorial note: The Study Committee itself, in its report, had merely suggested that Synod should “submit this study report to the Church as a guide (to form rather than to bind the mind of the Church) in understanding the concept of Scriptural infallibility.” Apparently the Advisory Committee felt something more positive was necessary. It advised that Synod should “commend” the report to the churches. Funk and Wagnalls gives the following definition; I. 1. To express a favorable opinion of; approve in terms; praise. 2. To present favorably, to recommend (a person ). 3. To commit with confidence. II. [rare] To express approval.

Synod did not intend to approve every statement in this voluminous report and to bind the church to all it contains. It seldom if ever does that with a study report. But the word “commend” does imply that Synod was pleased with this report and had no objections to its conclusions. The fact that the entire Study Committee signed this report should be cause for joy and assure our people that the Church as a whole is not ready to abandon or qualify the doctrine of Scriptural inspiration and infallibility as taught in our Creeds and defended by our recognized theologians.

This recommendation (to commend, etc.) was adopted. No one objected to it.

Point C. of the Advisory Committee report:

“That Synod declare that Dr. M. Wyngaarden’s charge (‘that President Kromminga makes an unwarranted distinction between this so-called periphery and that which does not belong to this periphery’ and that this view is inconsonant with the creeds) is unsubstantiated.

“Grounds:

“1. Dr. Kromminga has removed an ambiguity in the presentation of his view by stating that his view was in no way intended as a limitation of the extent of the infallibility of Scripture. His use of the word ‘periphery’ rather reflected on possible interpretations or applications of the data of Scripture in isolation from their necessary Scriptural context.

“2. The Study Committee in its report indicates that it is possible to make such a distinction which is not inconsonant with the creeds. ‘…there are in Scripture incidental and circumstantial data which have no independent revelational significance but are dependent for their revelational Significance upon the relationship they sustain to the central intent and purpose of a given passage: When viewed in this light, the term ‘periphery’ must be judged not inconsonant with creedal teachings on infallibility.”

Discussion:

Dr. Wyngaarden disagreed, stating that Dr. Kromminga in his letter at the Synod of 1959 had used the term “periphery” in his defense of the publication of the article by Seminarian Hoogland in Stromata and the use of that term in that paper. The Speaker quoted from that article, He was interrupted by the chair. The Speaker then quoted from the same article a statement to the effect that a proper view of inspiration might change our attitude toward Higher Criticism. He wanted to know what the Advisory Committee thought of those items.

(Note: The word peripheral means literally: the outer surface. As used here it means: small, incidental.)

Reporter Pekelder replicd that in his opinion the judgment of the Advisory Committee would be that trying to place such items under the term “periphery” cannot be vindicated.

Rev. H. N. ErHmeyer stated the important Q.uestion was

whether the so-called peripheral matters in Scripture d.re

as infallibly inspired as the rest of Scripture. He felt Synod

should be asked to state this.

Reporter Pckelder answered that already ill 1959 Synod had said that the Scripture in aU its extent is the inspired and infallible Word of God.

Dr. R. Kooistra stated he favored a somewhat different formulation of point C. He would have favored a more historical approach. Dr. Kromminga had spoken about the periphery in a slightly different way than we are used to. Speaker refers to Dr. Bavinck’s use of the term. The periphery, as handled by Kromminga, concerns a different aspect of the matter. “I would prefer that we think of this as a sort of innovation. And that we then say that Kromminga has removed an ambiguity and that his use of the term is more or less an academic matter. That would be more historical and would be more understandable for our churches.”

Dr. M. H. Woudstra urged that Synod should try to s:et down to the heart of the matter. He referred to the term “periphery” as it was used in the Hoogland article. He said Synod was getting very far removed from the context in which the statement was made originally. The charge of Dr. Wyogaarden was not against the term “periphery” but against a certain kind of periphery in which one could find an error or contradiction. The matter is not in dispute that this was attempted in the letter of Dr. Kromminga. ‘1 fear we are now obscuring the real issue. I share the difficulty of Rev. C. R. Veenstra” (who had previously inquired about what was meant in the adv. comm. report by the words that Dr. Kromminga’s use of the term periphery reflected on “possible interpretations or applications of the data of Scripture in isolation from their necessary Scriptural context”). At this point the Speaker was interrupted by the Chairman of Synod. He then continued and stressed the point that even the higher critics could subscribe to the statement about “possible interpretations or applications of the data of Scripture in isolation from their necessary Scriptural context.” Speaker: “What does the believer answer when the unbeliever raises objections against such peripheral matters?”

Reporter Pekelder stated that his committee faced the question, What is understood by peripheral matters? What is meant by the statement of Kromminga that his use of the term periphery is not intended to refer “to this or that word” in Scripture but rather to “some aspect of the content of the words which is not germane to the Spirit’s purpose”? The Speaker then sought to elucidate this by referring to the “two pence” in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Does this have independent revelational significance? This is peripheral. As to the remarks of Dr. Kooistra, there was some appreciation in the Committee for the historical approach. But the Committee felt that there was a specific charge which had to be adjudicated.

Rev. H. N. Erffmeyer stated he would still find ambiguity in what would remain if the disputed statement were removed. “Before I can vote intelligently I will have to know whether peripheral matters are inspired to the same degree as the rest of Scripture.”

Reporter Pekelder: “We can address Dr. Kromminga and ask whether he believes this or not.” Dr. Kromminga: “I make no qualification as to the degree or extent of infallibility.”

Rev. Harry Van Dyken stated he felt keenly all along for the approach of going back to the matter in its complete context. (By this he meant, we take it, that Synod should judge in the light of the article by Seminarian Hoogland and Dr. Kromminga’s defense of permitting the publication of that article–K. ). “According to the Synod of 1959 we don’t have to limit ourselves to what Prof. Kromminga meant. That is only a part of our inheritance of the Synod of 1959.” (We interpreted this to mean that Synod wants to know in what sense, if at all, we can speak of peripheral matters in Scripture, apart from what Prof. Kromminga meant by the term – K.)

Dr. Wyngaarden: “The answer of the Reporter to Rev. Veenstra and Dr. Woudstra is not to the point. The article of Mr. Hoogland contained nothing about the two pence of the parable. Rather, are there mistakes in Scripture and should we take a different attitude toward higher criticism?”

Dr. David Holwerda: “We are not dealing directly with the article of Hoogland. We are judging what Dr. Kromminga wrote about Hoogland’s article.”

Vice-President Persenaire: “Is the interpretation permissible that these peripheral matters contain errors or mistakes and are not infallible? That is the question. I have no objection against calling the ‘two pence’ in the parable peripheral.”

Reporter Pekelder: “Regarding the question whether the ‘peripheral matters’ are fallible, that was completely adjudicated in 1959. Dr. Kromminga said then that he believed that all of Scripture in all its parts is inspired and infallible. Hence that question no longer enters in.”

Dr. M. Woudstra: “I certainly grant that the illustration which the Reporter gave [two pence -Ed.] is good. I do feel, however, that his particular illustration is quite alien to the mattcr. I am interested in a sound formulation that I cannot only present to our people but which also makes sense to the scholar.” (At this point the Speaker was again interrupted by the chairman.) “We want to make no statement as theologians or as a Church which unbelievers can also employ…There is a large context to this debate which is not limited to the Christian Reformed Church.” (Apparently the Speaker had in mind the second sentence of ground 1 of recommendation C by whieh all seemed to be puzzled. This sentence was eliminated later on from this ground. – K.)

Rev. Clarence Vos: “My observation is that we are now getting into the problem in an academic way. We should stay by the charge and the matter to be adjudicated.”

Rev. B. Nederlof: “A ‘possible’ interpretation is not always a valid interpretation. Could we have some light on this?”

Reporter: “This is about the fourth or fifth formulation we made in our Committee. I don’t feel the deletion of this sentence could affect our recommendation at all. I feel it’s rather unfortunate that a formulation we made at 11:30 last night becomes the basis for a discussion.

Dr. Schrotenbocr (representing the Study Committee): “I believe that it would be a great improvement to delete this second sentence. The Synod of 1959 said what periphery does not mean. It would be well for the Synod of 1961 to say what it should mean. There is an implied contradiction between ground one and ground two.”

At this juncture it was time for lunch and Synod recessed.

cuter recess Rev. H. A. Venema of Toronto called attention to a recommendation which he alone, as member of the Advisory Committee on Infallibility, felt constrained to present to Synod. It read as follows:

“The undersigned, member of the advisory committee on Infallibility, while in agreement with the recommendation submitted by this committee, recommends: That, in view of the possible ambiguity in the use of the termperiphery’ (however intended), Synod finally commend to the Church the approach of childlike, humble faith in regard to the infallibility of Scripture.”

Rev. H. Venema: “As member of the Advisory Committee I’d like to make a clarification. We are faced with this problem. We want to be fair to Dr. Wyngaarden and Dr. Kromminga. The probability is that the Synod of 1959 did not entirely stay with the document of Dr. Kromminga on which the protest of Dr. Wyngaarden was based. We as a Committee were faced with the question: Should we follow the sequence of the Synod of 1959 [which judged Dr. Kromminga by his later explanations at the Advisory Committee rather than by the contents of his letter to which Dr. Wyngaarden objected–Ed.] or let him explain his approach.

“Now I request, on the basis of the rules which we just adopted regarding emeriti professors [that they may speak at the request of the chairman or of a member(s) of Synod–Ed.] that Prof. R. B. Kuiper give his view.”

President Haverkamp: “On the basis of the rule I must deny your request. I can honor it only if you have a specific request.”

Rev. H. A. Venema: “I had in mind only the matter of the procedure which we followed. I should like to have him reflect on the clarification which I offered.”

The President then asked Prof, R B. Kuiper: “Do you think that this procedure is correct?”

Prof. R. B. Kuiper: “There was a protest before the Synod of 1959 by Dr. Wyngaarden on the subject of infallibility. Instead of considering that protest as such the Advisory Committee in that matter questioned Dr. Kromminga. Then Dr. Kromminga altered some of his statements and Synod, instead of dealing with his original statement, proceeded to deal with the matter on the basis of the altared statements by Dr. Kromminga. The fact is that Dr. Wyngaarden was right in his protest and Dr. Kromminga’s original statement was in error. I don’t think the Synod of 1961 should repeat an error made by the Synod of 1959.”

Dr. R. Kooistra; “I am very glad with what has been done by the Committee—that they have simplified point 1 under C. But I still have some difficulty with point 2. [See above–Ed.] It is still somewhat cumbersome. I’d like to amend it somewhat. We must remember that this is a technical way of speaking. I’d like to move that we read in the place of the second ground the following.” (The Speaker then read his motion. See below–Ed.)

Some remonstrated at this juncture against amending by substitution, which is contrary to Synod’s rules, and Rev. Tymen Hofman warned against hasty formulation.

To conform to the rules it was decided to table point it. This cleared the way for Dr. Kooistra’s substitution for point 2. It read; “The Synod does not have to give its judgment on the legitimacy of Dr. Kromminga’s academic view on the term ‘periphery’ but declares that it is content by taking note of the fact that Dr. Kromminga removed a ambiguity and reaffirmed his Reformed conviction with regard to the infallibility of Scripture.”

The chairman at once asked for a vote on this motion. It carried. There had been no opportunity for discussion. But before Synod had finished voting Rev. H. Van Dyke had risen to ask for the floor. The chairman permitted him to speak.

Rev. H. Van Dyken: “This ground, as we now have it before us, is in conflict with all the preceding adjudication This says in effect that this is an academic matter. This is not properly before us.”

President Haverkamp: “I will ask for a show of hand. whether you want to reconsider.”

Rev. J. Fondse (addressing the President): “In some matters you hardly give the delegates a chance to speak.”

Rev. B. Nederlof: “On this motion to reconsider, the formulation of Dr. R. Kooistra needs a lot of rephrasing.”

Synod decided to reconsider.

Reporter PekeIder: “We avoid the mandate given us by the Synod of 1959 if we accept the amendment of Dr. Kooistra. If we adopt our recommendation by saying that the charge is unsubstantiated, then we have adjudicate the matter.”

Rev. A. Persenaire; “I’d like to delete from Dr. Kooistra’s proposal the first part [see above-Ed.]. Then we would retain this; ‘Dr. Kromminga has reaffirmed his Reformed conviction with regard to the infallibility of Scripture: We could add perhaps: ‘and Synod has accepted this’.”

Rev. W. Ackerman: “We are on dangerous ground with this business of trying to formulate these matters right her at Synod.”

Rev. N. B. Knoppers: “Isn’t it best for Dr. Kooistra to consult with the Advisory Committee?”

President Haverkamp: “Dr. Kooistra has had plenty opportunity for that. He could have seen them at the noon hour.”

Dr. Ralph Stob: “I think that this new motion should not pass. That deliverance on academic views has such wide possibilities. We should not accept anything like that. Any momentary suggestion made here is extremely hazarous. Shouldn’t we all have a typewritten copy of this motion in front of us?”

Dr. Kooistra’s motion, to take the place of the first ground under point C, was voted on. There was only on vote in its favor.

The first ground was altered and the obscure second sentence was eliminated.

It reads as follows: “Dr. Kromminga has removed an ambiguity in the presentation of his view by stating that his use of the word ‘periphery’ was in no way intended as of Scripture.”

Synod now addresses itself to the second ground for point C (see above).

Rev. H. Van Dyken: “I am afraid that if we follow this procedure we are doing a disservice. We are not addressing ourselves directly to what Prof. Kromminga wrote but to what he said afterwards to the Advisory Committee. We must deal with these matters in their actual context. Then we do justice to all parties concerned.”

Vice-president Persenaire: “I believe we should not have this second ground as it is. I feel very much for what Rev. Haspel’ has said. In reply to Rev. Van Dyken, the Study Committee has considered the matter whether Dr. Kromminga could use the term the way he used it. I am not ready to accept the statement which the Advisory Committee uses here, for example: ‘…there are in the Scriptures incidental and circumstantial data which have no independent revelational significance but are dependent for their revelational significance upon the relationship they sustain to the central intent and purpose of a given passage: You can go any way with this. We don’t need that statement. This ought to be recommitted to the committee and they should come with a reformulation.”

Dr. Oren Holtrop: “I like what the Committee has here. This gives some meat to it. It has some meaning. Does anybody question that? I think the Advisory Committee has done very well.”

Rev. Tymen Hofman: “I’m not in favor of recommittal. I don’t believe we are accepting these statements [quotations from the Study Committee Report–Ed.] ourselves. We simply say: the Study Committee has stated this. We don’t accept it or reject it.”

Reporter Pekelder: “The recommendation is that the charge is unsubstantiated. Ground No.2 simply indicates that the Study Committee says it is legitimate. Synod is not adopting these statements. It is simply saying: this charge is unsubstantiated.”

It was decided not to recommit this ground to the Advisory Committee.

Dr. Fred Klooster: “As one considers the recommendation with its two grounds one has to ask himself: Does this particular recommendation really deal with the objective of the protest of Dr. Wyngaarden? It was indicated in the discussion this morning that the last sentence of ground 1 is in conflict as a definition of ‘periphery’ with ground 2. My problem is: In 1959, as the Acts indicate, Dr. Kromminga gave to Synod a certain definition of the term ‘periphery’; namely, ‘some aspect of the content of the words which is not germane to the Spirit’s purpose.’ I am happy with Dr. Kromminga’s endorsement of point 2. Were he to remove from the record his definition of 1959, then we could accept his avowal in point 2. The question is not whether we may distinguish between the periphery and the center, but whether it is consistent that one allows for error or inaccuracy. That is not recognized in the Committee report.”

“The Study Committee in its report indicates that it is possible to make such a distinction which is not inconsonant with the creeds ‘…there are in the Scriptures incidental and circumstantial data which have no independent revelational significance, but are dependent for their revelational significance upon the relationship they sustain to the central intent and purpose of a given passage. When viewed in this light, the term ‘periphery’ must be judged not inconsonant with creedal teachings on infallibility”. Dr. Kromminga assured the Committee that the above statement reflects his view.”

The vote seemed somewhat hesitant. It appeared to us that some had abstained from voting, probably because of the obscurity of part of this statement—Ed.

Point D. was also adopted without discussion. We quote:

“That Synod declare that ‘the specific charge that President Kromminga committed himself in his policy as President to a “drastic reinterpretation” of Articles III to VII of the Belgic Confession is unsubstantiated’.”

Point E. concerned one of the members of the Study Committee. We quote:

“That Synod instruct the Stated Clerk to send a fitting letter to Dr. L. Praamsma, who suffered severe injuries in a car accident while serving on this committee, and who is again confined to the hospital, assuring him of our prayers for his complete recovery.”

Synod thcn discussed the proposal of Rev. H. A. Venema (see above).

Rev. H. A. Venema: “This issue of infallibility did a lot to disturb our Church and did not help our Seminary as much as it should. Synod spoke about the ambiguity in connection with the term ‘peripbery.’ And now to put the mind of the Church in a proper focus I believe it would be very felicitous for us to adopt this. We don’t mention Prof. Kromminga here. I believe we need this kind of thing. I hope you back me up on it.”

Rev. Wilbur Van Dyk spoke against the proposal though he said it was the kind that is hard to speak against. Elder E. Duistermars: “I believe this would serve as a salve and would heal.”

Dr. H. Kooistra: “This recommendation is made in view of the alarm among the ordinary members of our church. In that only I can appreciate it. And it will be a reminder for us all to approach such matters in a child-like faith. I can understand this recommendation.”

Rev. H. A. Venema: “It ought to become perfectly obvious to our people that our Church and our Synod is zealous for clear doctrinal statements. Do we think that this is too much, considering the misunderstandings that have been revealed, for example, in our church papers, not only on the part of our people but also on the part of some of our ministers?”

Dr. J. Kromminga: “I’ll not take Synod’s time now to say how happy I am and appreciative of the decisions in my case. I appreciate also what Rev. Venema has stated. I want to work precisely in that direction. I do believe, however that there be a misunderstanding in the opening words. rd like to say that my use of the term ‘periphery’ Deyer appeared in any public document -only in a document to the Board of Trustees. I am heartily in favor of this statement but want to see the word ‘periphery’ omitted.”

Reporter B. Pekelder: “We never had the recommendation of Rev. Venema at our Committec. But if you want to recommit this we’ll be glad.”

Rev. T. Heyboer: “While the intent of the motion is good, I don’t think we can adopt it in the form we have here.”

Rev. R. Evenhuis: “Some one mentioned the word ‘alarm.’ I find that our people have become mightily interested in the infallibility of Scripture.”

Synod decided to recommit the motion of Rev. H. A. Venema. Later the matter was again broached and Synod adopted the following formulation:

“Synod affirms the faith of the Church in the infallibility of Scripture and urges upon the Church the approach of humble faith in the Word of God.”

A REQUEST TO RECONSIDER THE DECISION OF 1959 REGARDING INFALLIBILITY

This request came to Synod in the form of an overture from Classis Alberta South on the subject of Infallibility; namely, to request Synod to reconsider the decision of 1959 that “it is inconsonant with the Creeds to declare or suggest that there is an area in Scripture in which it is allowable to posit the possibility of actual historical inaccuracies.”

The Advisory Committee recommended that Synod should not accede to the request for reconsideration. Two grounds were adduced.

Discussion:

Rev. H. N. Erffmeyer: “The Committee should have had just one ground: That the rules of Synod make such a reconsideration out of order.” (Note: According to the “Rules for Synodical Procedure,” motions to reconsider or rescind a decision can be made only at the same Synod where the decision was made. To this is added: “A succeeding Synod may alter the stand of a previous Synod; it may reach a conclusion which is at variance with a conclusion reached by an earlier Synod. In such cases the most recent decision invalidates all previous decisions in conflict with it.”–Ed.)

President Haverkamp: “I could not have ruled it out of order.”

Rev. H. N. Erffmeyer: “You can declare it out of order as being contrary to synodical procedure.”

Rev. T. Hofman: “We can’t offer much objection to that. It is in the rule book. But we could learn something from the grounds given here.”

Reporter Pekelder: “We know they were out of order but we thought we could instruct them in spite of it.”

The overture was declared out of order.

After all matters pertaining to the Infallibility question had been disposed of, Synod decided to continue Dr. J.H. Kromminga as President of the Seminary for one year.

REV. J. STEK

Synod gratefully received a communication from Rev. J. Stek that he accepted the appointment to a year’s lectureship in Old Testament at our Seminary.

THE LOS ANGELES CASE

In 1960 Synod considered a complaint from Mr. W. I. Buiten of the L. A. church that the consistory had refused to obey the instruction of Classis to lift his censure after he had withdrawn two of his charges against the minister and the consistory of neglect of their official duties. Synod decided that the censure should be lifted summarily and, in view of the gravity of the situation, appointed a committee to go to California, visit the Consistory and the Classis, and insist on the execution of its decisions. After returning from its mission the Committee sent in a lengthy report to Synod recommending drastic measures. The contents of this report have not been made public. The consistory sent a document to Synod, also of great length, protesting the decisions of the Synod of 1960 and the actions of the Synodical committee. The contents of this protest also remain confidential, except of course for the members and advisers of Synod.

All the actions taken by Synod in this matter were taken in executive session but will soon appear in the Acts of Synod and arc already partially known through the report on Synod in The Banner.

In general the 1961 decisions are as follows (stated briefly):

Synod rejects the appeal of the Los Angeles Consistory to declare that Synod of 1960 took unwarranted action in sustaining a protest and in ordering the consistory to lift censure summarily.

Though the report of the Study Committee shows that the Los Angeles Consistory and the Pastor were remiss in some important respects, Synod decides not at the present time to take steps leading to the suspension or deposition of the Pastor of the Los Angeles congregation in the hope that the ConSistory and the Pastor will profit by the experience and improve in their service for the well-being of the Los Angeles church.

Here is a summary of a final decision: The President and the Vice President of the Synod of 1961 were appointed as a committee in loco to counsel Classis California and the Los Angeles Consistory in the problems that are still unresolved. Classis California is instructed to give necessary admonition and counsel to the Minister and Consistory of the Los Angeles congregation, in Christian love, in order that our Church may have the assured confidence that this congregation is distinctively. Reformed in its practices.

THE BLUFFTON OVERTURE

The consistory of the church of Bluffton, Muskegon, sent in an overture to Synod expressing its concern over an article by one of our ministers which appeared in the April issue of the Reformed Journal entitled “Recovering a Lost Historical Revelation.” The consistory had first communicated with the minister concerned but was not satisfied with his explanation. Accordingly the consistory requested Synod to ask the brother (according to the provision made in the Form of Subscription) for a “further explanation of his sentiments concerning biblical infallibility.”

Synod declared that since the statements concerned gave rise to serious questions, the consistory of the minister concerned is instructed to consider as soon as possible the questions raised by the Bluffton overture.

We are not mentioning the name of the minister and the consistory concerned because this case has not yet become a matter of public knowledge. The Synod also appointed three ministers, synodical examiners nearest to the Classis concerned, to assist the Consistory in this matter with the help of that Classis.

THEOLOGICAL COLLEGE OF NORTHERN NIGERIA

We refer our readers to our church papers for Synod’s decisions regarding our Indian and Foreign mission fields. In this report we confine ourselves to what Synod decided regarding the controversial TCNN (Theological College of Northern Nigeria) which is a union seminary where men of non-Reformed faiths as well as Dr. Harry Boer of our Church are teaching.

The Synod of 1960 instructed the Foreign Mission Board “to meet in special session as soon as possible in regard to the interpretation of the Significance and purpose of the two-year pre-seminary course at Lupwe as related to TCNN.” That special board meeting was held on September 8 of last year. The following decisions were made as altered and, in our opinion, improved by Synod:

“1. Synod takes note that Nigerian General Conference expresses its wholehearted commitment to the Reformed faith. We appreciate this expression and assure the Conference of our confidence in them in this matter.

“2. Synod takes note that Nigerian General Conference indicates that all its training on the vernacular level and in the pre-seminary classes is wholly in line with our Reformed faith and practice. For this we express our appreciation and indicate our confidence.

“Note: In regard to the Pastors’ Training School, Synod is informed that 19 men have already graduated and been ordained, and 14 men are now in pastor’s training in the Tiv and Hausa languages. This makes a total of 33 men who have been or are being trained in this school by our own missionaries. In addition 3 men are now being trained at TCNN.

“3. The special goal of Synod, that a Reformed seminary be established, shall be kept in view and held before the churches in Nigeria as the desired objective; but the autonomy of the national churches shall be respectfully recognized in this matter.

“Note: This is as indicated by the 1959 Synod, Acts, Art. 115,5: ‘Synod instruct the Christian Reformed Board of Missions and the Nigerian General Conference to maintain and develop the Reformed Pastors’ Training Program in Nigeria with a view to hopefully establishing a Reformed Theological Seminary:

“4. The TCNN shall be recognized by our Board and Nigerian General Conference as serving the present interests of the churches of Northern Nigeria for advanced theological training, in the absence of a Reformed. Theological Seminary.

“Synod instructs the Board to remind the Missionaries of Synod’s concern with respect to the dangers of a union seminary.

“5. We continue our participation in TCNN as defined by Synod, as long as the door remains open for Reformed teaching.

“This is in line with the following decisions of Synod:

“a. ‘The Christian Reformed Church partiCipate in TCNN only to the extent of loaning Dr. H. Boer as teacher of Reformed theology in the TCNN (1959 Acts, p. 46).

“b. ‘The decision of 1958 (Acts, p. 60, 3) clearly states that such aid to the native church does not involve us in participation in the TCNN (1960 Acts, art. 141, page 81).

“c. ‘Such support is given to the students personally and is not to be construed as our participation in the schools involved (1960 Acts, article 141, p. 81)’.”

We shall comment on this and some other decisions of Synod in our September issue.

Lack of space even in this 32-page issue prevents us from presenting a complete report of Synod’s activities and its discussions in open sessions.

H.J.K.