Thursday, June 28, 2007

FOR THE TRUTH Chapter 1 A Wrong Report

For the Truth, A booklet written in 1953 by Rev. J. Tamminga, (1907-1984) at the time of writing, minister of the Free Reformed Church of Chatham, Ontario.

A note about this booklet.

Sinful people make up our denomination, and it is by the grace of God that we are sustained. This shows in our history. Mistakes are made and goals are pursued that are based on tradition, or the opinions of man. Although there are rough spots in our history, we should take note of them and learn from them. The past contains important lessons for the future. I translated this booklet with the intention that we would be aware of important junctions in our past. Many questions find an answer in this booklet.

Did you know that our church was once called the “Old Christian Reformed Church?

Did you know that a church split took place surrounding the St. Thomas FRC, creating a new denomination called Free Christian Reformed Church?

Do you know what other congregations were involved?

Do you know why such a thing happened?

Did you know that the entire consistory of the St. Thomas Church was deposed (removed from office) by the classis?

Do you know what led to their deposition?

Do you know what happened after that?

Did you know that a new FRC was started in Hamilton because of this split?

Did you know that the differences were later resolved?

Read on, and you will know.

Rev. Tamminga writes:

You will know that the churches of Chatham and St. Thomas have decided to retract from the Old Christian Reformed denomination. We can assure you, that the decision tot leave was not taken lightly, but it was the only way we could continue to function as churches. We were forced to take this decision.

We really did not want to publicize these matters, rather, we would have preferred to have maintained silence and calmly followed our course. It is sad that there is distance between those who should be walking together. We need each other. Correspondence flying back and forth between parties only aggravates our separation. We are deeply grieved about this situation.

Since the publication of the Old Christian Reformed Church “The Gospel Banner” has seen fit to inform her readership, it is no longer responsible to maintain silence. In its issue of June 1953 a report of the classis meeting of April 22, 1953 is presented, containing the heading “CHURCH SCHISM”. With great amazement and great sadness I have read this report. With great amazement, because the question continues to occupy me: why would anyone want to publicize, in this manner, the rupture in a church?

With deep sadness, because I conclude, that the disagreement which culminated in a parting, was so one sidedly reported that it severely twists the truth, and even contains outright lies. Both articles are so inaccurate that I believe they sin against the 9th commandment. It grieves me to have to write this, but I can do no other.

That “The Gospel Banner” reports the position taken by the classis and reports its own perspective on this matter is understandable. It is the privilege of each party to make clear their side. It is obvious that the article “Church Schism” was written by Rev. Zijderveld, and it is also likely that he is the author of the classis report, and if he is not, as editor of the magazine he is responsible for the publication of this report.

I am saying, it is certainly his privilege to publish his opinion on the matter. No one would dispute that. But it is his Christian duty to report truthfully in publishing both sides of the conflict, and in a balanced manner publish the objections and positions of the other side. If this is not done, and certain facts are omitted or distorted, then the truth is not served. Half truths are lies.

It is my sincere conviction that this is what has happened in both mentioned articles. This is the reason why I feel compelled to distribute this booklet.

To do justice to the matter published in “The Gospel Banner” and to inform those who do not subscribe to this publication, I will quote those sections of the classis report that relate to this matter, as well as the article “Church Schism” in full.

The classis report quotes:

“Incoming correspondence:
Appeals from Chatham and St. Thomas. The delegates of these congregations cannot agree with the decisions of the previous classis meeting to call home missionaries for the young immigrant congregations in Canada. They are of the opinion that this type of care for the new congregations and groups in Canada is unbiblical and contrary to church order. For this reason they have submitted appeals to the classis.
It is indicated that other denominations in Canada, e.g. the Christian Reformed Church, have been taught by experience that the practice of sending home missionaries to fledgling congregations and small groups of believers is beneficial.
The classis pronounces that the decision to from now on call home missionaries is for the wellbeing of these groups and congregations. The care of the young immigrant congregations was already discussed earlier at the classis meeting of September 24, 1952, and has now been brought to our table by Smithville.
The representatives of St. Thomas are spoken to, because they have completely ignored the decision of the classis. They are asked if they, in the future, will submit to the decisions of the major assembly (classis).
They answer that they will never submit to the classical decisions regarding home missionaries, because they consider this decision to be in conflict with the scriptures and church order.

The classis pronounces that, if St. Thomas continues to disregard the classical decisions, they will immediately be dealt with according to church order.

Following this the delegates of the church of St. Thomas leave the meeting. The delegates from the Chatham church follow their example, because they do not agree with the decisions of the classis.”

End of the quotation from the classis report.

I continue with a quotation of the article “Church Schism”.

Rev. Tamminga has (together with the churches of Chatham and St. Thomas) torn these churches out of our denomination. He shouldered the responsibility to lead two churches in schism out of the denomination, without having lawful grounds.
Rev. Tamminga and the congregations he is leading are objecting, because our classis decided , that in the future young immigrant congregations in Canada will be served by home missionaries, until such time that they are able to look after their own finances. Rev. Tamminga said at the classis meeting that the appointment of home missionaries is unscriptural and un-church orderly. He declared that he did not have the least objection to the preaching in the Old Christian Reformed Church, but because of the adoption of the above decision no longer wanted to be associated with the denomination.

It is unbelievably sad when a minister leaves his church for only a practical matter such as the appointment of home missionaries. No one in the Old Christian Reformed Church has forced Rev. Tamminga to leave, he voluntarily took this step.

We lament very much that he has so superficially torn the church and attempts to begin a new denomination. It is our desire that he will return straightway from the path he has chosen.
The Lord himself cares for His church, and this is a consolation for all His poor and upright people. The Lord himself judges all our actions, particularly when we receive a place in the church, each shall, before God, give an account of his actions. Let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the unity of God’s Church.”

End of quote from “The Gospel Banner”.