The short summary below discusses the continuation of The Reformed Church of Mariënberg (and environs). We would also like to refer the reader to the Justification, with which the consistory of Mariënberg provides disclosure of matters regarding its situation and decisions of the General Synod Lansingerland.
By: C.A. Teunis
De Gereformeerde Kerk (DGK) of Mariënberg and environs, continued in 2017
A brief description, with the addition of some posed questions and answers.
After a period with a lot of difficulties between classis and the consistory together with the congregation, classis sent a letter to all confessing members of the congregation on 18 July 2017.
Classis North-East of DGK decided on 31 August 2017 that DGK Mariënberg no longer belongs to the church federation and recognized the group which the local minister had gathered around himself as a ‘temporary church’ within the church federation.
Classis South-West, the first body of appeal, did not meet the requests of the consistory in the letters of appeal.
General Synod, the second body of appeal, dealt with all eight letters of appeal from DGK Mariënberg on 16 December 2017. Seven objections were rejected, and for one objection the consistory was directed to Classis North-East. Due to the decision of General Synod it is definite that DGK Mariënberg now no longer belongs to the church federation.
On 16 December 2017 General Synod issued a Publication. This Publication was spread throughout all the congregations by the local consistories and also published in the church magazine De Bazuin.
The consistory continued with the gathering of God’s children and continued with faithful proclamation of the Word.
The Lord is gracious. He grants the continuation of DGK Mariënberg and environs.
The following is a brief description in connection with the continuation of the church of Christ at Mariënberg, beginning with the letter of 18 July.
This description has the following content:
- 18 July 2017: Classis North-East sent a letter to all confessing members.
- 31 August 2017: Consistory asked Classis to withdraw the letter of 18 July.
- To suspend and to appeal shows the will to cooperate, to work together.
- Press release from Classis North-East in response to the session of 31 August 2017.
- Credentials, Cooperation and Suspension.
- Assessment of the Press release from Classis North-East.
- The decision of Classis South-West, the first body of appeal.
- The decision of General Synod, the second body of appeal, on 16 December 2017.
- The Publication of General Synod on 16 December 2017.
- The injustice.
- Our faith.
- Committed injustice.
- Reconciliation and rectification.
- Call: Return to the firm foundation of the true church!
- Questions that have been asked, with the answers.
1. 18 July 2017: Classis North-East sent a letter to all confessing members
- Classis North-East sent this letter without permission of the consistory.
- This letter of 18 July accused the consistory of continuing to speak untruths.
- That means that the consistory was openly put down as a liar.
- Classis gave information about confidential committee matters of consistory and classis.
- This manner of dealing with the matter seriously damaged the independence of the church of Mariënberg.
2. 31 August 2017: The consistory asked Classis to withdraw the letter of 18 July
- Withdrawal of the letter from Classis is a necessity.
- The consistory refuted the classis-letter of 18 July in 37 points.
- The consistory requested, in accordance with Article 48 of the Church Order (Art. 44 – Book of Praise 1984, exercising of censure), rectification of the accusations.
- Upholding the accusations block cooperation if:
- accusations of speaking untruths are upheld;
- the request to withdraw the proven inaccuracies of the accusations is rejected.
- During the discussion of the letter from the consistory, Classis withheld the brothers of the consistory from speaking.
- Classis did allow itself and the deputies to speak.
- This behaviour of classis is classical hierarchy.
- Classis had decided not to withdraw its letter of 18 July 2017 and to declare that everything in it is true.
- The delegates of the consistory had again called classis to withdraw the letter of 18 July.
This was necessary to take away the blockade, and essential for working together in good understanding.
3. To suspend and to appeal showed the will to cooperate
After the refusal to withdraw the letter of 18 July, delegates of the consistory, during the classis-meeting of 31 August, indicated the following:
- The difficulties of the consistory are clearly stated in the letter, in 37 points.
- The consistory appeals against the upholding of the letter of 18 July by Classis South-West.
- In connection with the appeal the consistory suspends the cooperation within Classis North-East because the cooperation is being blocked due to the letter of 18 July.
- With this the consistory has also indicated that it wishes to remain within the church federation.
- The path of appeal is in complete accordance with art. 31 of the Church Order. This shows that the cooperation in the church federation is being followed in accordance with the Church Order.
4. Press release from Classis North-East in response to the session of 31 August 2017
Press release 10 September 2017:
“Over a number of years there have been difficulties in De Gereformeerde Kerk (DGK) at Mariënberg, that has had its effect in the mutual relationships. Classis North-East has made every effort to solve the problems. Since the beginning of this year an attempt has been made, with an intensive integral approach, to achieve renewed peace and unanimity between the consistory and its minister Rev. M. Dijkstra, and between the consistory and the congregation. That has failed.
In the end this has led the consistory of Mariënberg, with the exception of its minister Rev. M. Dijkstra, to suspend the cooperation within the Classis North-East and by doing so has placed itself outside the church federation. Classis North-East has decided, in this situation, to acknowledge the group of church members, together with its minister, Rev. M. Dijkstra, as the lawful temporary ward church at Mariënberg and to place it under the care of a neighbouring church, in accordance with art. 39 of the Church Order (art. 41 – Book of Praise 1984).
In the meantime attempts are being made to make the consistory change its mind, in order to bring about the renewed unity and peace in Mariënberg sought after by so many.
Classis North-East of De Gereformeerde Kerken (DGK)
Chairman, A Weening
Secretary, J. Bouwhuis.”
5. Credentials, Cooperation and Suspension
Credentials = Trust.
Cooperation = Working together on the same case.
Suspend = Postpone; to set at a later time, concerns a time-bound period.
5.1. Credentials and Cooperation: two words with a different meaning.
1.) Credentials mean to trust.
Suspending credentials is impossible. In reality it is the breaking of trust and therefore makes a responsible cooperation impossible.
2.) Cooperation is working together on the same case.
Suspending cooperation is:
- upholding the will to cooperate, and
- the postponement of the cooperation until the blockade has been cleared, so that after this the cooperation can be continued as before.
5.2. Article 31 of the Church Order: appeal to a major assembly.
If anyone complains that he has been wronged by the decision of a minor assembly, he shall have the right to appeal to the major ecclesiastical assembly; and whatever may be agreed upon by a majority vote shall be considered settled and binding, unless it is proved to be in conflict with the Word of God or with the Church Order.
5.3. Maintaining Article 31 of the Church Order is the basis for cooperation in mutual trust.
It is in conflict with the truth to state that appealing to the competent judicial authority, to have the blockade removed, is classified as a placing of oneself outside the circle of cooperating partners.
An appeal to the appointed church body rather shows the desire to continue the cooperation in a pure manner.
5.4. Trust and compliance to article 31 of the Church Order are strongly connected.
The direct link between giving trust and the maintaining of article 31 of the Church Order is striking: whatever may be agreed upon by a majority vote shall be considered settled and binding, unless it is proved to be in conflict with the Word of God or with the Church Order.
5.5. Cooperation or working together in trust rests on the Word of God.
Working together in trust requires precision, it is based on faithfulness to God’s Word.
6. Assessment of the Press Release from Classis North-East
Decisions of Classis North-East on 31 August 2017:
- DGK Mariënberg no longer belongs to the church federation.
- The congregation members who follow Rev. Dijkstra were recognized as a lawful ward congregation of the neighbouring church.
Classis committed classical hierarchy and division.
Classis caused a rift.
7. The decision of Classis South-West, the first body of appeal
- The consistory has submitted 6 appeals to Classis South-West, regarding:
- A silent censure in DGK Mariënberg.
- The ban to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
- The Plan of Action for DGK Mariënberg.
- The extraordinary church visitation in DGK Mariënberg.
- The implementation of the extraordinary church visitation.
- Maintaining of the open letter that was sent by classis to all confessing members of DGK Mariënberg.
- Four appeals, nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 were declared inadmissible because the consistory is working together with the delegates through a Plan of Action.
- Two appeals, nos. 5 and 6 were not dealt with because an early General Synod is to be convened.
- The consistory was deprived of the right to appeal because of the appeals being declared inadmissible or being dealt with.
- Depriving the right to appeal is in conflict with article 31 of the Church Order.
8. The decision of General Synod, the second body of appeal, on 16 December 2017
- The consistory submitted 8 appeals to the General Synod, namely the 6 appeals that were lodged to Classis South-West and 2 more appeals added, regarding:
7. The inadmissibility of the appeals 1, 2, 3 and 4 by Classis South-West.
8. That appeals 5 and 6 were not dealt with, as well as an appeal against the decision of both classes to judge the dealing of the consistory as “in this way placing themselves outside the church federation”.
- General Synod has dealt with the appeals and made decisions about them. The appeals against Classis North-East, nos. 1,2,3,4.6,7 and 8 have been rejected by the Synod (rejection = to issue an order refusing a request).
For one appeal, no. 5, consistory has been referred to Classis North-East.
- The appeals have been submitted in the correct manner according to church polity.
- The rejection of 7 appeals and the referring of one appeal to Classis North-East is in conflict with article 31 of the Church Order.
- The rejection of 7 appeals and the referral of one appeal to Classis North-East is a continuation of the hierarchy.
- After a second body of appeal the ecclesiastical path is closed definitely.
9. The Publication of the General Synod of 16 December 2017
- General Synod gives information to the church members of DGK by means of a Publication, dated 16 December 2017.
- This Publication was spread throughout all the congregations by the consistories and published in the church magazine De Bazuin.
- This Publication contains 11 unproven accusations.
10. The injustice
The Publication from the General Synod contains accusations without any proof:
- The consistory was to restore certain errors in admonition and discipline.
- All attempts by classis broke down on the refusal of the consistory.
- The consistory accused classis of hierarchy.
- The consistory continually appealed to church polity.
- A spirit of independentism has taken control of the consistory.
(Independentism is a wrong form of independence.)
- The independentism went along with a form of lordship of the consistory (consistoriocracy).
- The consistory has led the congregation on a sectarian path.
(Sectarian is heretic, that is: deviation from the Reformed doctrine).
- The consistory are erring brothers.
(Erring or deviating is departing from God’s Word and the confession of the church).
- The lording of the consistory has led to the suspending and deposing of the own minister.
- The suspension and deposal of the own minister is acting on one’s own authority and is unjust.
- The suspension and deposal of the own minister is beyond all regulations stated in the Church Order.
The accusations with regard to the suspension and deposal of the own minister are not in accordance with the decision and statement in the Acts article 431 of the General Synod of Rotterdam Delfshaven, convened in 1964-1965.
The consistory of Mariënberg was entitled to take “its own responsibility” towards the great Shepherd of the sheep to proceed in suspending and deposing the own minister without the assistance of the neighbouring church because at the time of suspension the consistory did not have a neighbouring church, so that the consistory was forced into a position in which article 79 of the Church Order (art. 71 – Book of Praise 1984) does not provide; even though this suspension was not in accordance with the letter of article 79 of the Church Order. The aim of the Church Order is firstly: protection of the flock.
11. Our faith
‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself’ (Luke 10:27).
- 1st commandment: We may not have anything or anyone besides God in which to put our trust (HC LD 34, answer 95).
- 2nd commandment: We may not worship God in any other manner than He has commanded in His Word (HC LD 35, answer 96).
- 6th commandment: We may not dishonour our neighbour (HC LD 40, answer 105).
- 8th commandment: We must promote our neighbour’s good wherever we can and may (HC LD 42, answer 111).
- 9th commandment: We must not condemn or join in condemning anyone rashly and unheard. We must defend and promote our neighbour’s honour and reputation (HC LD 43, answer 112).
12. Committed injustice
By spreading the GS-Publication by the General Synod and all consistories injustice was committed against:
- The Lord
- The brothers and sisters concerned:
-all members of the congregations;
-all consistory members and brothers and sisters of Mariënberg;
-the minister concerned.
The suspension and deposition of its own minister was done after Classis North-East declared that DGK Mariënberg no longer belonged to the church federation. It is incorrect to publish unproven accusations regarding this suspension and deposition with respect to a consistory which, as a result of the declaration of Classis, no longer belongs to the church federation. This is detrimental to the honour and good name of the consistory, to the honour and good name of the minister and it is damaging for the Lord and others involved.
13. Reconciliation and rectification
Words spoken or written unjustly should be rectified by confessing guilt and asking for forgiveness to the Lord and to those concerned (Psalm 32:1-5).
After confession of guilt and asking forgiveness the Lord shall grant forgiveness and His faithful children shall also do so. Then the brothers and sisters can continue serving the Lord in unison, in faithfulness to His Word.
14. Call: Return to the firm foundation of the true church!
- We must observe all that Christ has commanded us (Matthew 28:20).
- Ever since the Fall the true church has been persecuted, sidetracked, routed, plundered and slain.
- Therefore take on the whole armour of God. God arms us with all these in His Word against all the wiles of the devil. With His Word we can withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Ephesians 6:10-20).
- For to this end we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, Who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those who believe (1 Timothy 4:10).
- Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9).
It goes through toil, sufferings and conflicts. But we are called to the marriage feast, the feast of eternal communion between Christ and His true Church.
Christ is preparing for that marriage feast. His Bride must also prepare.
- We must build on and guard what was committed to our trust (1 Timothy 6:20 and 2 Timothy 1:14).
15. Questions that have been asked, with the answers
- Why may a classis or synod not continually speak untruths of a consistory?
God’s commandments and our confessing:
- 6th commandment: We must not dishonour our neighbour (HC LD 40, answer 105).
- 8th commandment: We must promote our neighbour’s good wherever we can and may (HC LD 42, answer 111).
- 9th commandment: We must not condemn or join in condemning anyone rashly and unheard. We must defend and promote our neighbour’s honour and reputation. (HC LD 43, answer 112).
- What is evident from suspending the cooperation and at the same time appealing?
That there is a will to continue the cooperation.
- In the Press Release, did Classis use the word ‘suspend’ correctly or incorrectly?
To suspend means: to postpone. It does not mean: to end or break off.
To suspend the cooperation means to postpone the cooperation until the conflict has been dealt with by the authorized ecclesiastical assembly.
To suspend shows there is the will to continue working together in the agreed manner and it certainly does not mean the breaking off or ending the cooperation.
- When can a suspension of cooperation be allowed?
Suspension of cooperation is allowed when there is a transgressing of God’s Word within the cooperating churches and this transgression is submitted to the authorized ecclesiastical assembly to deal with the appeal in order to restore the cooperation.
- When did the church of Christ of Mariënberg receive the definite calling to continue independently and without the sister-churches?
On 16 December 2017.
The General Synod rejected 7 appeals and for one appeal they referred the consistory to Classis North-East.
After the pronouncement of the second body of appeal, decisions made by ecclesiastical assemblies are considered binding and appealing is no longer possible.
- Which unproven accusations of the General Synod are the most striking?
Very striking accusations are:
- rebellious (independentistic),
- deviating from the doctrine (sectarian),
- deviating from God’s Word and the Confessions (erring),
- lording it over others (consistoriocracy),
- unauthorized and unjustified suspension and deposition of the own minister.
- What is the sin committed by General Synod in its Publication of 16 December 2017?
Transgression of the first and great commandment of the Lord: You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10:27). This is reflected in the transgression of the 1st, 2nd, 6th, 8th and 9th commandments of God.
In short: acting without love towards God and the brothers and sisters.
- Is there a doctrinal dispute in the rift?
God’s commandments have been violated:
Allowing self-willed transgression of the 6th, 8th and 9th commandments of God.
The transgression of God’s commandments is self-willed religion and is in conflict with the 2nd commandment: We may only worship God as He has commanded in His Word (HC LD 35, answer 96).
Self-willed religion is trusting in one’s own insight and is therefore also transgression of the 1st commandment: We are not to put our trust in anything or anyone beside God (HC LD 34, answers 94, 95). It is acting without love toward God and the neighbour (Matthew 22:37-40), which shows in:
1. The Letter from Classis North-East of 18 July 2017.
2. The Press Release from Classis North-East of 10 October 2017.
3. The Publication from General Synod of 16 December 2017.
God’s Word has been violated:
The Lord Jesus teaches us: Judge not, that you be not judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you (Matthew 7:1,2).
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15).
You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles (Matthew 7:16)?
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven (Matthew 7:21).
They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service (John 16:2).
Conclusion: do not judge the person, but judge the case.
- Was the church government at issue?
Classical hierarchy is the lording it over the consistory by the classis.
This is damaging for the independence of the local congregation.
This lording it over was upheld by the bodies of appeal: Classis South-West and the General Synod.
Hierarchy is in conflict with God’s Word.
The church has one King: the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 1:33).
Domineering elders throw faithful members out of the congregation.
“I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves the pre-eminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.
Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God” (3 John: 9-11).
- What is the path of reconciliation and rectification?
The path of reconciliation and rectification is the confessing of guilt and the asking of forgiveness to the Lord and those concerned (Psalm 32:1-5). The Lord and His faithful children will then grant forgiveness and the relationships will be straightened.
- What is the cause of the continuation of DGK Mariënberg without sister-churches?
The grace of the Lord is the cause of the continuation of the church at Mariënberg.
The reason that the church at Mariënberg no longer belongs to the church federation and therefore has no sister-churches anymore is the result of the decision of Classis North-East. That decision was upheld by both bodies of appeal: Classis South-West and the General Synod.
- Justification I of DGK Mariënberg dated 23 October 2017 (www.dgkmarienberg.nl).
- Credentials, Cooperation and Suspension (www.semper-reformanda.nl).
- The Publication from General Synod of 16 December 2017 (De Bazuin of 27 December 2017, pages 358-359, volume 11, no. 25).
- Note regarding the Publication from the General Synod – Justification II, dated 9 January 2018 (www.dgkmarienberg.nl).
- Acts of the General Synod Rotterdam-Delfshaven 1964-1965, article 431.
- Return to the firm foundation of the true church!
Call from the Gereformeerde Kerk (DGK) at Mariënberg, dated 15 January 2018 (www.dgkmarienberg.nl).