12 Aug GS 1989 art 55
GS 1989 ARTICLE 55 – The chairman welcomes Prof. Dr. and Mrs. N.H. Gootjes with the following words:
Esteemed Dr. and Mrs. Gootjes:
On behalf of Synod, let me first of all express our gratefulness that you could arrive safely in Winnipeg after what has surely been a long and tiresome journey from Pusan, Korea. We are happy that the Lord has protected you on your way and granted you to be in our midst here at General Synod. We hope that in the short time allotted us together we may be able to get to know each other somewhat and especially that you may get a good impression of what lives amongst us as members of Synod and in the Canadian Reformed Churches.
We congratulate you sincerely with your appointment as professor of Dogmatology at our Theological College in the forthcoming vacancy due to the retirement of Dr. J. Faber. You knew that we would be discussing your possible appointment, and now it has become a reality. Our discussions of your nomination centered largely on the fact that for most of us you are unknown, and we wanted to avail ourselves of as much information as we could manage to gather. But all the information received before and during Synod increased the confidence that we have in your person and ability. And so it is with great happiness and full confidence that Synod has accepted the nomination of the Board of Governors and directed them officially to appoint you to this position. I understand that today you have received the official letter of appointment from the Board of Governors, and we inform you that we look forward to your definite answer within ten days of the receipt of this letter.
Although the other members of Synod did not know you personally, I do have the honour and privilege of having studied in Kampen also when you arrived there as student. We were together members of the same “Dispuut”, whose name I shall not mention here but whose electrifying effect has certainly manifested itself in both our lives. I must say that I recall a somewhat shy and quiet young man, whom
I never would have placed in the bustle of Pusan, South Korea, but that was due perhaps to my own youthful brashness at that time. I do remember that all your peers already then regarded you as a gifted and meticulous student, and this has shown to be true in your subsequent studies and work.
We admire your courage and that of your wife to have gone as a young family to South Korea to take up the difficult and, we presume, sometimes exasperating life in an oriental nation with its different attitudes and customs. You must at times have felt very lonely and isolated there, even though the Batteau family was also working with you in the same city. Also the work at the Theological Seminary there will not have been easy. You are a “continental European” Reformed theologian who had to work in an oriental surrounding geared towards American Presbyterianism. In the Canadian Reformed Churches which have also come out of the Dutch Reformed tradition, we have some serious concerns about aspects of the Presbyterian way of thinking. I refer here to our well-known list of divergencies between the Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster Standards, between the Church Order of Dort and the Presbyterian Form of Government as it is generally applied. While we recognize the Presbyterian confessions to be of Reformed character, still we feel that on some key matters further discussion is required for the well-being and the future of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. Since you, Dr. Gootjes, are well-acquainted with both “worlds”, we trust that you as a committed Reformed theologian will be able to give wise and solid direction in these matters.
Should you come to Canada, you will experience it in many ways as a homecoming. Canada is not the Netherlands — and we know that you were looking forward to repatriation — but Canada (and especially — the locals will forgive me now — southern Ontario!) is the next best thing to being there! We are sure, sr. Gootjes, that you and your children will soon feel at home in the midst of our churches and in the congregation where you would be living. By God’s grace we have also in the Hamilton area excellent schools with a dedicated Reformed staff, and you will discover that living among us has many attractive elements. Immigration to Canada though initially difficult perhaps — has led for all of us here to great blessings! Also Dr. and Mrs. Faber and their family will attest to this!
Most of all, our churches need and seek qualified Reformed professors who can work in the training for the ministry of the Word. Our College, established in 1968, has been a great blessing for us. All but two of our ministers at Synod graduated from the Theological College at Hamilton and in our federation there are 26 graduates of Hamilton working as active ministers. Also the Free Reformed Churches of Australia have received three of Hamilton’s graduates as their ministers. The College in Hamilton has since 1968 gained much respect in other circles as well. I think here especially of the Free Reformed Churches in Canada. There lies in Hamilton, Dr. Gootjes, an important and exciting task for a Reformed theologian, and we ask you to come and help to strengthen the ranks of those already working there!
So on behalf of Synod, as I welcome you in our midst, I appeal to you to consider this appointment with serious consideration, and I express the wish that your answer may be positive for us. We pledge that we will assist you in every way we can and that we will provide honorably for your needs as is befitting for a minister of the Word. We expect from you that you will teach the true and full doctrine of the Word of God to our students and in our churches and will vigorously defend and promote the Reformed confession in our midst and beyond, and so we trust that our mutual association will be a blessing for all of us, for the churches, for the college, and for you.
May the Lord give you and your wife wisdom in your deliberations, unity in your conclusions, and peace of mind in your decisions.
He requests the assembly to rise and sing Psalm 134:1,3.
Prof. Dr. N.H. Gootjes addresses Synod with the following words: Esteemed Chairman, Beloved Brothers in the Lord and Guests:
I am grateful for the appointment that you have made. I am grateful for the trust you have shown in me. I feel it to be an honour. As a student (freshman), I remember when Dr. J. Faber was appointed as professor of Dogmatology in the Theological College of the Canadian Reformed Churches and had never thought that I might be appointed to become his successor.
It was when our second son Albert had just been born that I received the call to be sent as missionary professor to Pusan, Korea. It was a difficult decision because in a way the work of a minister is more rewarding than that of a professor. A minister may serve the LORD more directly among His people. It was, however, decided that we should serve the Lord in Pusan, Korea, to help them in the ministry of the Word. While there I became well-acquainted with the Westminster Standards and viewed them as one who has grown up and been taught in the Reformed Confessions of the Continent. I will not go further into that now because it will mean a lecture. We had a good time in Korea and thought that some day we would return to the Netherlands and serve one of the congregations as a minister of the Word. This appointment interrupts what we thought would happen.
At this time I am not yet sure what I will do. On the one hand I would like to serve as a minister in a local congregation and on the other hand as a professor one receives more opportunties to study which I really enjoy. I trust that the Lord will give guidance to come to a decision. Pray for us, keeping in mind what is good for the churches, for our family that the work of God may progress until Christ returns.
The chairman requests the assembly to sing Psalm 100:2,4.