08 Apr GS 1983 art 62
GS 1983 ARTICLE 62 – Response Rev. M. VanderWel to the representative of the OPC
On behalf of Synod the Rev. M. VanderWel responds to the words spoken by the Rev. Jack J. Peterson. representative of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church as follows:
“Reverend Brother Jack J. Peterson,
The chairman of this General Synod has given me the privilege to address you for a moment as one of our esteemed guests in the past days. If this address was only meant to be a reflection on your presence among us as a person, I certainly would not have any difficulty with expressing our sincere appreciation for the way we could converse with you. We can simply say, that our meetings with you in the committee rooms as well as at the meals were most pleasant. We got the impression !hat you felt right at home among us, and once in a while you could even help us out in finding the right words in the formulation of our reports. (Although it may be needless to say: the latter did not go for the composition of the Advisory Report on the matters concerning the OPC, for that report was already completed by the time you made your first entrance into the room of Committee II.)
However, we realize that you were not only in our midst as an interested friend and brother, but also as a representative who had been delegated to our Synod by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. In this quality you have then also addressed our Synod last night. II is in response to this address, that on behalf of this Synod I now may speak a few words to you.
First of all, we like to thank you for the fraternal greetings which you have brought us from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. We also appreciate your assurance that our aim. namely to stand for the Reformed faith, is known to many of you. Please, convey in return our Christian greetings to the Brotherhood of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
In your address to us you have more or less followed up on the letter you wrote to our Contact Committee, of which letter his Synod has received a copy. What has struck us in this letter, was the humble and honest way in which you have tried to answer several questions from our Contact Committee. We deem this to be promising for the continuation of !he fraternal relationship which we may have at the present, and also for a further discussion and evaluation of the confessional and church-political divergencies which are existing between us. It does not belong to my task to elaborate on these divergencies al this moment. I’m sure that by listening to !he discussion of the Advisory
Report last night, you must have received a vivid impression of the concerns which are living among us with regard to several points on which we differ in opinion. With a view to this I should like to say the following:
“From your address we have learned, that in the course of 50 years the Orthodox Presbyterian Church has gone through many a struggle. To mention just a few of them: battles had to be fought against liberalism, independentism, and mysticism. It must be known to you that we as Reformed Churches, having originated from The Netherlands, have had our struggles as well. If I am not mistaken. certain important elements which we both had in common in our battles have even formed a motive to look for each other as Churches on this wide continent. Issues like the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ over His Church, the reliability of God’s covenant promises, and the faithful adherence to the Reformed Confessions have, so to speak, shaped our attitude as Canadian Reformed Churches. If therefore a certain hesitance can be observed among us in our relation to other denominations today. such a hesitance must then be explained from our concern not to lose what we have gained by God’s grace in the history of our Churches.
I trust, Rev. Peterson, that we both love our Churches, and that is the way it should be. However, they are not our Churches. The Church is Christ’s. In our communication we must therefore not let ourselves be guided by reasons of traditionalism, favoritism, or even chauvinism, but by a mutual concern for the holiness of the House of God and for the preservation of the true principles of the Reformation. If such a concern is found on both sides, I am convinced, that this will bring us to a better understanding, and also to a clearer recognition of each other. It is our prayer, that for this purpose, the Lord may lead us further in all truth by His Word and Spirit, to the glory of His Name.
As it is your intention, Rev. Peterson, to depart from us tomorrow, we bid you fare well, wishing you thereby the Lord’s strength in the ongoing battle for the unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God in which you are involved in your Church. I may conclude this address with a quotation from the New Westminster Confession. In Chapter VIII, Article 1, it says: “It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man, the Prophet, Priest, and King, the Head and Saviour of His Church, the Heir of all things, and Judge of the world; unto whom He did from all eternity give a people to be His seed, and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.”
Since we then both are called by this Mediator, given by God, and since He gathers, defends and preserves His people by His Word and Spirit, in the unity of true faith, so let us then go on in obedience to His holy Word, serving and edifying each other in the relationship which has been established.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”