GS 1983 art 166

ARTICLE 166Appeal br. J. Werkman re decision of the Regional Synod West (Sept. 20-22, 1983)

Committee I presents:

A.  MATERIAL –  Agenda J,10 Appeal br. J. Werkman


Brother Werkman requests General Synod:

  • “to judge that the Regional Synod was wrong when it decided that, ‘it cannot grant the request of br. Werkman that it judge that classis Alberta-Manitoba was wrong in its judgment on the sermon of Rev. DeBruin, and that  Rev. DeBruin is worthy of being suspended as minister of the Word.'”
  • 2. Brother Werkman adduces the following grounds:
    • a. In reply to the statement of Regional Synod West of September 20-22, 19 83, that “Although the Confession speaks of true and false, this does not imply that the use of such expressions as ‘Churches with errors and weaknesses’ is unscriptural” he points to Art. 29 B.C.: “in short, if all things are managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto rejected.”
    • b    In reply to the consideration of the Regional Synod “When Classis said (ad c) that brother Werkman did not prove that the view that all believers belong to the Church is in conflict with Scripture and Confessions, Classis did not wrong brother Werkman,” he refers to his objections against the sermon on Lord’s Day 21 as he presented these to the Consistory, claiming that Regional Synod did not abide by Scripture and Confessions.
    • c.   In reply to the consideration of the Regional Synod “Classis did not wrong brother Werkman when it stated that brother Werkman did not prove that the teaching that Churches which in some minor points of doctrine and practice deviate from the Three Forms of Unity, may still be called true Churches. necessarily implies the pluriformity of the Church as it has become known in recent times,” and that Rev. DeBruin “states that he teaches a plurality of Churches,” he states that “if this is true, then we better do away with Art. 28 B.C.,” and that. in this case, also Art. 29 B.C. falls by the wayside.
    • d.   In  reaction to the refusal of Regional Synod to allow his appeal, he states that “the consistory of the Immanuel Church, the Classis of Alberta-Manitoba and the Regional Synod of Western Canada, all have left the door open for freedom of doctrine,” and that “They all seem to have forgotten that any Church that does not ward off false teachings, is already a false church (Art. 55 C.O.).”
    • e.   “The  teaching of Rev. DeBruin on Lord’s Day 21A and the “Hand-out” and his reconsideration is against Scripture and Confession, which makes him worthy of being suspended as minister of the Word.”
    • f.    “Rev. DeBruin has attacked our Confessions … and by doing so has made himself guilty of breaking his promise, which he made when he signed the subscription form.”


  • 1.  Brother Werkman overlooks the fact that our Confession does not say that er­rors and impurities  make a Church a false church. but that  the false church is the opposite of the true Church.
  • 2.  Although unspecified parts of the sermon on Lord’s Day 21 were withdrawn, Rev. DeBruin himself stated that the “Hand-out” contains what he teaches concern­ing the Church.
  • 3.  In Lord ‘ s Day 7 we confess that those are saved who are ingrafted into Christ by a true faith.
  • Regional Synod West of September 20-22, 1983, correctly stated that the true believers “thus are included in the Church gathering work of Christ (congregation).” Regional Synod, however, upholding the judgment of Classis Alberta-Manitoba of May 3-5, June 15, 16, 1983, hereby leaves room for identifying being “in­cluded in the Church gathering work of Christ” and “being a member of Christ’s Church,” thus trying to answer the question how it is possible that there are true believers who yet are not members of Christ’s Church (coetus).
  • Rev. DeBruin clearly tries to find an answer to the same question, the answer to which the LORD has reserved for Himself, Deut. 29:29.
  • 4.  However, the statement that “all who have received a true faith become by vir­tue of that faith ‘a member of Jesus Christ and of His Church’ and as mutual members of the same Body (Art. 28) they are therefore duty-bound to join them­ selves to Christ’s Church” in fact nullifies what we confess in this very same 28th article, namely,
    • that no person ought to withdraw from the Church;
    • that all men are in duty bound to join and unite themselves with it; that all believers are to join themselves to this congregation:
    • that all who separate themselves from it or do not join themselves to it act contrary to the ordinance of God.
  • 5.  The statement that there is a plurality of Churches in fact undermines the Con­fession that everyone is in duty bound to join the Church and to this end “ought diligently and circumspectly to discern from the Word of God which is the true Church.”
  • 6.  Although some statements and teachings of Rev. DeBruin are to be rejected, yet it cannot be said that he attacks the Confessions and has thereby broken the promise given when he signed the subscription form for ministers of the Word. Coming with a certain interpretation of the Confession which is to be rejected does not necessarily mean launching an attack on the Confession.


Synod decide:

To send the above considerations as Synod’s judgment on the appeal of br. J. Werkman.

The Recommendation is adopted as amended.