14 Oct GS 1989 art 86
GS 1989 ARTICLE 86 – Address br. Jac. van der Kolk
The chairman gives br. Jac. van der Kolk who is at Synod as a delegate of the Gereformeerde Kerken (Vrijgemaakt) the floor to address Synod. Br. van der Kolk addresses Synod with the following words:
Brother chairman, esteemed brothers,
Thank you very much indeed for the opportunity given to me, to address this Synod of our Canadian sister churches.
A few months ago, our Committee on Relations with Churches Abroad of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, appointed its member, brother D.J. van Wijnen as the first delegate to your Synod in Winnipeg. I myself was appointed as second delegate. Unfortunately brother van Wijnen is unable to travel because of illness. So his knowledge, particularly his know-how with respect to the I.C.R.C., will not be available.
It was also impossible to delegate one of the ministers belonging to our Committee. Consequently, Mr. Chairman, your meeting will have to make do with me, the second delegate.
At your Synod of Burlington-West 1986, no representative of our churches in Holland was present. Our Committee wrote to your Committee for Relations with Churches Abroad, that it had been decided to send a deputation to every second Synod. We will deviate from that rule whenever our presence is expressly required. I may mention in this connection that our Committee was represented during the last three Synods of our sister churches, the Free Reformed Churches in South Africa, as this was considered to be strictly necessary.
Our Committee instructed me to convey its Christian regards to your meeting, on behalf of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands. We pray that the LORD our God may bestow upon your meeting the wisdom and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in your discussions and in making your decisions.
Kampen Theological University
Brothers, your Synod takes place in between our Spakenburg-North 1987 Synod and the Leeuwarden 1990 Synod. In Spakenburg-North important decisions were made in connection with the training of our future ministers. The name of our Theological Seminary was changed into Theological University. This is a consequence of changes in the legislation in the Netherlands with respect to higher education.
Further, and that was even more important, a number of vacancies were filled, and on top of that, several new university teachers were appointed. These appointments were necessary for two reasons:
- 1. a gratifying growth in the number of students, both from at home and from abroad. No fewer than 147 students were enrolled this year;
- 2. our ministers have to face an increasing number of urgent questions from our society, for example:
- the total ignoring of God in public life attacks on the reliability of God’s Word the permeation of ungodly individualism questions concerning life and death, sexuality, marriage and divorce, and so on attacks on our youth (and adults too!) by the modern mass media.
The greater part of the problems which I just mentioned are dealt with in the Netherlands in a secular and horizontalistic way. To us is the task to give answers based on Holy Scripture and on our Reformed confession.
We are thankful that the Lord gives us possibilities to prepare our future ministers in such a way that they will be well-armed and that they shall not be ashamed when they have to speak with the enemies in the gate in the last decade of this twentieth century and also in their ministry in the twenty-first century.
Brothers, the time in which we live is called ‘post-Christian’. But you in Canada, and we in the Netherlands, believe that the Christian era has not come to an end. For it is and will remain the time of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of His church, the Lord of the world. Anno Domini! The time is His!
Our churches in Holland are therefore glad and grateful for the reinforcement of our Theological University in Kampen.
Hamilton Theological College
Your agenda also features items concerning your Theological College in Hamilton, including appointments. You appointed Prof. Gootjes and Drs. De Jong.
Prof. Gootjes is well-known to us. I may say that he did a lot of good confessionally Reformed work at the Theological Seminary at Pusan (Korea). I congratulate your College with his appointment. And we pray that Prof. Gootjes will give a positive answer. May he, together with the other professors of the Hamilton College, contribute to the reinforcement of the training for the ministry, to the edification of the church of our Lord in Canada and so to the glory of God.
And may the training at the Hamilton College result in a strong confessional preparation of your future ministers and also be for the benefit of the already active ministers in the Canadian Reformed Churches.
Besides matters dealing with the Theological University, our Spakenburg-North Synod occupied itself extensively with contacts with churches abroad.
It was a pleasure that the decision could be taken to continue the ecclesiastical fellowship with the Canadian Reformed Churches because your churches continued to be faithful to the Reformed confession in doctrine, worship, church government, and discipline. (Article 121 of the Acts)
With respect to our Committee for Relations with Churches Abroad, the Acts of Spakenburg-North mention in Art. 151:
14 general instructions to deputies 31 special instructions and 18 authorizations.
Of these contacts, mentioned in the Acts of our Spakenburg-North Synod and summarized in your Report of Churches Abroad, some are of recent date, other ones are of longer standing, some are superficial, other contacts are more profound.
Of course, we too sometimes have our questions about the development of these contacts. But in our opinion you have to make contacts first, before you can investigate the possibilities seriously. After that, you have to come to a decision: intensify or break off.
As Dutch churches we have to watch out that we do not give the impression of the schoolmaster with the raised finger, as if only we from Holland are able to tell the other churches in the world how they have to live according to the will of God, and how they should organize their church life. Holland has the name of being pedantic, and not in the ecclesiastical field only.
Furthermore, it will be clear to you that with such an extensive field of action, the rules governing ecclesiastical contacts are extremely important. Therefore our Synod instructed our Committee to go more deeply into the various problems connected with these rules. Because of the great number of contacts (often very different from each other) we do not, at this moment, have a clear picture yet of the rules that have to be applied.
The number of churches that we meet is increasing, not in the last place as a consequence of the increasing ‘mobility’ of our church members, more extensive traveling, and better communications.
Although these contacts do not often lead to sister-church relations, yet we discover churches which want to live in accordance with the Word of our Lord. And then we find ourselves confronted with many questions like:
which relationship should be entered into with these churches? how can we help these churches ? and how can we do that in a responsible manner?
I will give you a few examples by mentioning the various countries where these churches are located: Zaire (Central Africa), the Philippine Islands, Sri Lanka and Singapore (all three in Asia), and Spain (Europe). These examples can easily be multiplied.
From all over the world
Christ our Lord gathers His church all over the world. He uses to that end people of different tongues, cultures, customs, and, last but not least, different histories. And yet, people who are all inspired by His Word.
That applies to you here in Canada and also to us across the Atlantic Ocean, in the Netherlands. In that way we have to let ourselves be engaged in the worldwide work of gathering the church of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We have to do so with all the means that we have received from Him. And we have to do this being aware of the unique cultural, historical, and ecclesiastical development of all these churches.
For the rest I can be short. You were able to take note of the words which were exchanged between Dr. Hendriks, chairman of our latest Synod, and your delegate Prof. K. Deddens, who visited the Synod Spakenburg-North 1987, together with your brother Berends. (Pro-Acta, Art. 36)
That was plain language! Not a word of French. Not a word of English. And not even a word of ‘double Dutch’!
Brother Chairman, Rev. Stam, I humbly request you to excuse me for any deficiencies in the English of my address. I take comfort in the thought that many members of this Synod as ‘Mannen van Neerlands stam’ were able to understand what I wanted to say.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the kind and brotherly words spoken by Rev. Berends on behalf of your General Synod.
From my side I wish you the indispensable blessing of the Lord upon your work as Synod of the Canadian Reformed Churches.
“Hold fast what you have, that no one may seize your crown!” (Revelation 3:11) Thank you!
Rev. M. VanderWel responds to br. Jac. van der Kolk with the following words: Esteemed brother van der Kolk After the chairman gave me the assignment to welcome Rev. Jack Peterson of the OPC, I have now been asked to address you, br. Jac. van der Kolk. That makes me, I guess, a “Jack of all trades”. Yet this is not the case. I am not even a member of the Standing Committee on Relations with Churches Abroad. So if my words betray a certain ignorance with respect to the latest developments in the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland, please forgive me. Nevertheless it is a special pleasure for me, as a minister who has received his theological education in Kampen and could start his ministry in one of the Dutch provinces, to respond to the well-chosen words you have spoken on behalf of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands. The old ties with the mother country may in the course of the years perhaps lose some of their colour, but they will never go lost. As an example of such a strong attachment, I could mention the fact that quite some years after the establishment of the Reformed Churches in Canada, one could hear people still speak about “our” General Synod in Hoogeveen!
But br. van der Kolk, let me first of all thank you for the Christian greetings which you have conveyed to us on behalf of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and also for your prayer that our assembly in its discussions and decisions may be led by the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit. As you may have noticed from our agenda, General Synod 1989 has to deal with several important issues regarding our internal church life, as well as with respect to our relationships with churches abroad and with respect to our ecclesiastical contact with the OPC. In addition to this we also have to give attention to a number of appeals. To go about these matters in a responsible way requires indeed wisdom from above.
We have taken note with gladness of the flourishing condition in which your Theological Institution in Kampen finds itself at the moment. The fact that four new professors could be appointed, six docents could be added to its faculty, and that no less than 147 students were enrolled this year makes us almost jealous. Yet we should not complain. The “change of the guard” which is to take place at our College in Hamilton reminds us anew of the share which we were allowed and still are allowed to have in the treasures of Kampen. In the solid Reformed teaching of Dr. J. Faber, for whose retirement this Synod has now made the necessary preparations and in the new appointments which Synod could make, we may thankfully acknowledge the fruits which we as Canadian Reformed Churches are allowed to reap from Kampen’s Theological education. That “The School of the Churches” has now become a Theological University is something to which we still have to get used. The beloved “Schoolday” which is held annually has now become a “University day”, I suppose. It is our sincere wish, that in spite of this name change, your Theological University in Kampen may continue to keep that warm spot which it always has had in the hearts of the churches, and that the Lord may continue to make it a blessing for the Reformed faith at home and abroad.
The latest report of our Committee on Relations with Churches Abroad has given us indeed an impressive list of the International Relations in which you as Churches in the Netherlands are involved. In this aspect you are far ahead of us. Meanwhile we can understand it, when you state that because of the variety of contacts, at this moment you do not have a common and clear picture of the rules that have to be applied in each and every case. It could very well be that it is in this area, that we as Canadian Reformed Churches are having difficulties in keeping step with you. Over against the progessiveness of the Flying Dutchmen, we may look rather conservative. From the correspondence with our Deputies, as well as from our current discussions at this Synod you may have noticed, that in the midst of our churches there are indeed concerns when it comes, for example, to a further formulation of the basis of the ICRC, and when it comes to a further realization of the ecclesiastical contact which we have with the OPC. As far as your contact with the OPC is concerned, the willingness of your Committee on Relations with Churches Abroad, to work in close deliberation with our churches, is then also greatly appreciated. May there also grow a better understanding of each other’s point of view as far as our participation in the ICRC is concerned, and may the upcoming Conference in Cloverdale, B.C., contribute to that. As a characterization of our approach, one can say, that as Canadian churches we are aware of our ecumenical task towards other faithful churches in this world in making them share in our Reformed heritage. But we like at the same time to be mindful of the fitting exhortation with which you have concluded your brotherly address to us; “hold fast what you have that no one may seize your crown”. We realize that this crown is a crown of grace. and that we therefore have to follow our Master in steadfastness and humility.
Br. van der Kolk, it was a pleasure to have you in our midst. May your visit to us be instrumental in the further strengthening of the bond which we may have with our sister churches in Holland. Please convey in return our Christian greetings to them. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!