The Geremformeerde Kerken and US

What is striking if one reads the addresses of the fraternal delegates of the CKN to our synods of the last number of years, is that, almost without exception, they make a strong plea for understanding, patience and a degree of acceptance for what is taking place in their churches today. Between the lines one can almost read: What are you people here in North America so worried about? Things are not as bad as you think, and besides, sooner or later you will be facing the same problems. So just take it slowly, and relax.

What these delegates apparently don’t seem to understand is that such an approach does the exact opposite of what it is intended to do. It does not put us at ease, but rather raises our suspicion and concern even more. If these delegates would frankly admit that there are serious deviations from the truth in their churches, and that they too are very concerned about them and are determined to correct them with all due haste, then our fears would somewhat subside. If these delegates said: We really appreciate your deep concern for our doctrinal integrity, and we want you to keep expressillg this concern to us, in order to help us along, then we would be so much more ready to listen, and also to have patience. But by and large one does not hear this. We are rather made to feel that perhaps we shouldn’t be as concerned as we are. And that does nothing allay our fears.

The address by Dr. Hietveld to the Synod of 1977 was true to type. I was not impressed or pleased with it at all. He referred to a book he had written about the situation in their churches. But that book does not help to change our minds either. The well-known Professor at Apeldoorn, the Seminary of the Christelijke Geref. Kerken, wrote a review of Rietveld’s book. I conclude with an excerpt from that review: This writing is written in the tone of: To know everything is to understand everything . . . 

Rietveld, who at the time received his degree on the topic “Secularization,” is a master in analyzing and explaining. But to my notion that means that the author talks along far too much and as a result whitewashes the actual situation. To say it in a different way: Rietveld explains much, but he does not deal according to the norm of Scripture and confession . . . .

He is so caught up with the time and he listens so eagerly to the situation of today. The time (in which we live) is an authoritative something for him. And who will deny that time is an important factor?

But does a Christian not have the calling to gauge the time in which he lives, to examine it critically? Is it not precisely the Christian who knows that the spirit of the age is an important power in the hand of the prince of darkness? Why is no recognition given to the reality of the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the air? Why is it not possible that there could be an internal process of apostasy underway, and that the hearts of Reformed theologians are not immune to that? . . .

It is true, the author does not exactly take Kuitert under his protection, but he does try to bring up considerable sympathy for him, and he wishes to arouse that in his readers too.

But that is an extremely dangerous position, a position which has been adopted by many. One is not entirely in agreement with the new developments, he does have objections, he would not have come to that position himself, but one should have understanding, even respect, for people who try to understand our present time and above all the modern man. One should applaud the fact that newer theologians nowadays attempt to interpret the old Gospel for the modern man. That it is then said in a different way at times than before is no objection. That will have to be accepted as part of the bargain.

But then we no longer have any resistance and we will be washed overboard; we can offer no opposition but must allow everything, and then one gets the situation where the Reformed life is hollowed out under the eyes and with the consent of those who know better, but who have eliminated themselves from the contest in advance through their much understanding.