September 28, 2007

The Consistory
Canadian Reformed Church at Abbotsford, B.C.
P.O. Box 66
Abbotsford, B.C.
V2S 4N7

Dear members of the Consistory:

Having considered your letters to us dated September 3, 2007 we note the following:

Consistory writes (1st paragraph):

It is with sadness that the members of the Consistory take note of the letter dated July 17th, 2007, in which you addressed the members of the Canadian Reformed Church at Abbotsford. To date, the Consistory has not received any Scriptural evidence nor any confessional statements to support your action to separate yourself from the Church of Christ, at Abbotsford under the name Canadian Reformed Church.

We object to the allegation that we have separated from the Church of Christ.  We have presented overwhelming evidence to prove that the consistory’s actions have caused the Canadian Reformed Church at Abbotsford to lose the marks of a true church.  We have indicated this in our letter dated July 17, 2007 where we state “The attached Appendix B outlines some of the consequences of acceptance of the above General Synod decisions. As the highest authority in the church it is the responsibility of the consistory “to have supervision over Christ’s church” (Articles 22 and 27 C.O.).  However the correspondence and the consequences we allude to above, confirms that the consistory of the Canadian Reformed Church of Abbotsford has now repeatedly and deliberately refused to fulfil these responsibilities.  Instead it insists in reserving for itself the right to admit to the Lord’s Supper those who have not publicly professed the Reformed faith in accordance with Article 61 C.O.  It permits pulpit exchanges with and the issue of attestations to sister churches without resolution of the confessional divergencies.  We can only conclude therefore that this consistory no longer practices the pure preaching of the gospel, it no longer maintains the pure administration of the sacraments, no longer exercises proper church discipline, and no longer governs itself according to the pure Word of God.

In the same letter, we have also written that “In their book Decently and in Good Order, (see page 63) Prof. K. Deddens and Rev. G. VanRongen state that "After one has gone the full ‘ecclesiastical way’ … one has either to except the latest decision as yet - which does not create any insurmountable difficulties whenever it is not a matter of conscience - or he has to ‘liberate’ himself from the binding decision."  We have now completed the appeal process under Article 31 C.O.”  The consistory continues to ignore Article 31 of the Church Order by not interacting with the Scriptural, confessional and Church Orderly evidence we have repeatedly presented, and by stating that they themselves “consider the matter finished” as indicated in their letter to J. Vantil dated May 31, 2007.

These points were made in the above letter and have still not been interacted with by consistory.  Therefore the last sentence in the consistory’s paragraph above is simply untrue.  The consistory has indeed received the Scriptural, confessional and Church Orderly evidence, but has refused to interact with it.

In addition, consistory ignores its own statement at the beginning of its Appeal to General Synod Chatham 2004 that Article 45 of the Acts of Synod Neerlandia 2001 “conflicts with the Word of God and the Church Order….”  Consistory has not shown how any of the statements that it made in this Appeal were incorrect.  Numerous requests were made of consistory to recognize the failure of Synod 2004 to consider the material that was presented to it, but these requests went unheeded.

Additional Scriptural, confessional and Church Orderly evidence pertaining to the above requests was presented to consistory in letters dated October 4, 2005, June 7, 2006, October 11, 2006, December 11, 2006, and January 19, 2007.  This material provided proof that the general synod decisions in question are in conflict with Scripture, the confessions and the Church Order, however the consistory’s responses did not interact with this material either.

Evidence was also presented to consistory regarding the secession from the American Reformed Church of Lynden in June 2006.   This consistory had persistently refused to interact with the matters presented, and had imposed church discipline on those who were unable to participate in the consequences of these unscriptural decisions.  As a result concerned members in the church of Lynden were forced to liberate themselves in order to remain faithful to Scripture, the confessions and the Church Order.  In this situation also the points at issue were pulpit exchange, admission to the Lord’s Supper, and the acceptance and issuance of attestations involving the sister churches we have listed.  Instead of honestly dealing with this material, the Abbotsford consistory responded with obfuscation, deceptive language, as well as hostility.

Despite all this correspondence, consistory paid no heed.

Instead consistory admitted a guest to the Lord’s Supper without a valid attestation contrary to Articles 61 and 62 of the Church Order.  Consistory withdrew the lawful appointment of a brother to the office of elder contrary to Article 3 of the Church Order.  Consistory publicly called members to repent without following Matthew 18 or the agreed upon process in Articles 66 and 68 of the Church Order.  Consistory accused a brother of sin against the ninth commandment and of being a party to “divisive actions” without any proof and then subsequently placed this brother under church discipline.  Consistory instituted a Lord’s Supper admission policy that permits violations of Articles 61 and 62 of the Church Order, as described in a letter to consistory dated April 5, 2007.

Although we consistently addressed consistory regarding the above matters, consistory continued to ignore the points we brought forward.

Even so we did not give up.  Appeals were made to consistory on the basis of Article 31 of the Church Order to repent and to rescind the above decisions that were in conflict with Scripture and the Church Order.  We beseeched consistory to abide by the Church Order in accordance with its commitment under Article 76.  However all of this effort was fruitless.  All of these appeals were disregarded.  Consistory had proven itself totally lacking in pastoral care.

When we consider the sequence of events referred to above it is all the more astonishing to read that “the members of the Consistory take note of the letter dated July 17th, 2007….”  If the consistory deemed it important enough to write us, one would have expected an interaction with the points brought forward in our letter!  Consistory does not recognize that the evidence contained in this letter proves that consistory no longer has the marks of the true church.  Consistory refuses to recognize that its own failure to maintain the confessions or the Church Order is the act of schism that led to our secession.

Consistory writes (2nd paragraph):

The consistory also takes note that despite the different approach between you and the consistory in trying to resolve the existing divergencies that still exist between the Canadian Reformed Churches and the churches which you have listed, there is still our common conclusion that these churches may not be considered false churches. Such a position would prove to be very short sighted with respect to the Reformations the Head of the Church has worked among them, specifically in the twentieth century.

The above statement is a misrepresentation of our position.  Consistory does not recognize the point we make that the failure on the part of the Canadian Reformed general synods to properly witness to these churches on the basis of 1 John 4 renders it impossible to consider these churches as true churches.  We have not resolved the differences nor completed the testing that we are commanded by Christ to do.

Instead the Canadian Reformed Churches have compromised, and so given up the Scriptural, confessional and church orderly basis of its existence.  Consistory does not recognize that after more than 40 years of discussions, nothing has changed in the OPC with regard to the supervision of the Lord’s Supper and confessional membership.  Instead it is the Canadian Reformed Churches that have changed.  This is not the fault of the OPC or the other churches, but solely that of the Canadian Reformed Churches.

Consistory writes (3rd paragraph):

The change of Ecclesiastical Contact to Ecclesiastical Fellowship did not lead any Synod to decide that the existing divergencies should not be dealt with. In fact, there is ongoing understanding that we, as Canadian Reformed Churches, are called to share what we have gained since 1944 and 1950 in understanding the relationship between the doctrines of Election, Covenant and Church.

The above consistory statement would be correct if the decision of Synod 1989 (Acts, Article 94, Recommendations I.5.c) “to be diligent to continue the discussion on and evaluation of the divergencies …” was maintained by subsequent general synods.  However starting in 1992 general synods have repeatedly stated that the divergencies in confession and church polity did not need to be dealt with before entering into ecclesiastical fellowship.

Synod 1992 decided (Acts, Article 72, Recommendations C.2) “to [only] continue the discussion of divergencies which are considered to be impediments to ecclesiastical fellowship, …” and these were (C.5.a) “the matter of confessional membership,” (C.5.b) “the matter of supervision of the Lord’s table, and” (C.5.c) “the matter of the relationship with the Christian Reformed Church.”  No grounds were given for the fact that the other divergencies were no longer considered impediments to ecclesiastical fellowship.  And no decision was taken to continue the discussion of these divergencies.  At this point the Canadian Reformed Churches had officially “given up” any doctrinal gains made as a result of the 1944 Liberation.

The above consistory statement also misses the point that the first two “impediments” listed above were no longer considered impediments nine years later.  Committees had been reporting to general synods ever since 1965.  However not one of them had ever reported that the OPC has changed its position that “the church is competent to determine as valid and credible a confession of the Christian faith for communicant membership that is not also in accordance with the church’s confession.”  Not one has reported that the OPC has taken away the right to “admit to membership and to the Lord’s table those who do not make profession of the Reformed faith.”  (See for reference, Acts, Synod 1998, Article 130, Considerations C.2 and C.3).  The consistory continues to ignore the point that both the OPC and the Canadian Reformed Churches, by not maintaining their confessional foundation, have in fact given up their confessional foundation (see attached article by J. Vantil entitled “Maintaining the Reformed Confessions”).

Consistory writes (4th paragraph):

The consistory considers it most uncharitable to expect all the Churches you have listed to understand and embrace the very doctrines which took our forefathers a number of years before the liberation of 1944 to understand.

The consistory statement above begs the question.  After more than 40 years of discussions, why have we not made any progress in the understanding of the doctrinal differences?  What has happened to the process by which we were to come to scriptural unity?  And why is it that the consistory compromises, in the name of charity, both the doctrinal gains of the 1940’s, and the place and function of the Reformed confessions and Church Order in the Canadian Reformed Churches?

Consistory writes (5th paragraph):

Therefore the Consistory very much deplores your actions of schism, We believe that they constitute terrible shortsightedness toward the work of the Head of the Church, as well as a deplorable underestimation of what is still presently confessed and proclaimed as the Reformed faith by these Churches (despite the presence of divergencies as listed by our Synods).

Consistory misses the point that it is itself the one guilty of schism.  As we have shown above, the consistory has deviated from Scripture, confession and the Church Order.  The consistory has forfeited the marks of the true church, as we have explained in our July 17, 2007 letter.  The consistory does not recognize our obligation under Article 31 of the Church Order to refuse to consider settled and binding decisions that we have proven to be in conflict with the Word of God or the Church Order.  Who is shortsighted?  The consistory’s acknowledgement of divergencies contradicts the claim that these churches confess and maintain the Reformed faith.

On the basis of the above points we hereby request consistory to as yet interact with the material we have submitted to it, and return to Scripture, confessions and the Church Order, in accordance with its obligations under the Subscription Form and the Form for the Public Profession of Faith.  We continue to pray that consistory would repent of its schismatic actions.  We also pray that the present Canadian Reformed Church at Abbotsford may be lead in a return to faithful obedience to God’s Word so that all of us may again be united in true faith.

In Christ’s service,


J. Vantil                      M. Thalen                  J. VanLaar                 R. VanLaar