GS 1989 art 112

GS 1989 ARTICLE 112


  • 1. From the material submitted it appears that br. C. J. Burger was excommunicated from the Church at Grand Rapids. Br. Burger, appealing the decision of Regional Synod, October 15,16 and 22, 1989, requests General Synod to declare, “that the Consistory of Grand Rapids should not have censured br. C. J. Burger, since his letter of September 13, 1986 does not contain, ‘unproven accusations’, (and) . . . [T]hat the Consistory of Grand Rapids had no valid reason to put me under censure. Therefore, the censure should be lifted . . .” According to the rule and spirit of Art. 31 C.O. this appeal is admissible.


  • 1. Br. Burger refutes Regional Synod’s consideration which upheld Classis’ judgment (confirmed by means of further examples) of making “unproven accusations”. He adduces as factual criticism statements which express his personal assessment of the work done by the consistory with,
    • a. his quote, “if she (the consistory C.B.) would have only acted promptly and according to her duty and responsibility.”
    • b. his P.S. to his letter of September 13, 1986 referring to unofficial information.
    • c. his reference to “background information . . . as evidence of the attitude of the consistory . . .”
    • d. his judgment on the way the consistory handled the matter within its jurisdiction regarding a request for admission of a person without an attestation.
  • 2. a. Br. Burger requests General Synod to declare “that it is not true that the consistory of Grand Rapids in her phone call to me on Saturday, September 13, 1986 at 8 pm stated, “herein you were asked to receive the elders to discuss the consistory’s letter with you.”
    • b. Regional Synod considers that br. Burger did not refute as untrue the information given by the church visitors upon the testimony of br. Burger, saying that he would not avail himself to meet with the consistory.
    • c. Br. Burger adds in his appeal, as reason for this refusal, that another brother had been approached in the same way as he was, and who seemed to be willing to comply with the consistory, but who still was put under censure without first being admonished.
  • 3. a. Br. Burger requests General Synod to declare “that the Regional Synod of October 1987 erred in its judgment, ‘you make judgments concerning matters with which the Consistory is dealing in closed session’.” He explains this request by saying that “it was Rev. Kingma himself who stated, ‘this will put your membership of the church in a different light.’” He concluded from this that the matters regarding the church membership of the family Spaanderman was dealt with in the open and not as the Regional Synod states, “in closed session.”
    • b. He adds a quotation from his letter dated September 13, 1986, saying, “I also hope that this matter will become important to the Consistory and that it will show as a result the permittance of br. and sr. Spaanderman to the Lord’s table on Sunday, September 14 (fourteen) 1986.” He explains that this should be understood as, “it was not our intention to interfere with the normal procedures concerning acceptance of membership by the Consistory. However, the normal procedure for membership for the family Spaanderman was departed from.”


  • 1. Br. Burger does not prove that Regional Synod’s consideration wronged him, but he shows that he does not understand it and therefore fails to prove Regional Synod’s decision wrong. Br. Burger’s own assessment of the work done by the Consistory and the motives behind its approach, which assessment is judged to be wrong by Classis and Regional Synod, is used by him as proof of fact. Br. Burger does not understand that Regional Synod is saying, as it were, “Br. Burger, you add accusations instead of justifying them; instead of justification there is continued accusation.”
  • 2. a.   From the documents submitted to General Synod it can be deduced that br. Burger, on the envelope of his letter dated September 13, 1986, “demanded” a meeting with the Consistory. The Consistory invited br. Burger to its meeting on Saturday evening, September 13, but br. Burger declined this invitation. Then (as the Consistory explained in its letter of December 1, 1986) the Consistory read a statement on the phone to persuade him to receive two elders for the purpose of admonition and explanation with a view to the seriousness of the allegations contained in his letter of September 13.
    • b. The church visitors judged upon br. Burger’s own testimony that “the complaint that the Consistory did not make admonition possible is unfounded and insincere.”
    • c. Br. Burger’s attitude, instigated by someone else’s response to the Consistory, is another example of acting and accusing in a way that is forbidden in the ninth commandment and confessed in Lord’s Day 43.
  • 3. a. Both Classis and Regional Synod have proven very clearly that the original matter of the Spaanderman attestation as challenged by br. Burger was a matter which belongs to the consistory in closed session and thus is completely outside the province of the individual church member.
    • b. A statement by Mr. Spaanderman quoting Rev. Kingma does not make it a public matter. Br. Burger does not prove that the matter at hand, which is a matter for the Consistory in closed session, can be appealed by a third party while the Consistory is still actively pursuing it.


Synod judge:

  • 1. that Classis and Regional Synod have clearly proven that br. Burger’s accusations and allegations are unproven and unsubstantiated;
  • 2. that in the process of discipline the Consistory of Grand Rapids has shown patience, integrity and diligence in order to convince br. Burger of his sinful ways;
  • 3. that the censure applied to br. Burger was well-founded and necessary in order to bring about repentance from his sinning against the ninth commandment.