Classis Pacific East - September 14, 2006
C/O Canadian Reformed Church of Yarrow
42285 Yarrow Central Road
With grave concern for the Truth, the integrity of God's Word, the maintenance of the Church Order, and on the basis of Article 31, C.O. we hereby appeal the response by the Consistory with the Deacons [Council] of the Canadian Reformed Church of Abbotsford to our attached letter dated June 21, 2006. This letter is in regard to the withdrawal of appointment to the office of elder of Br. J. VanLaar, as announced to the congregation at the beginning of the morning worship service on June 11, 2006.
We believe that the response by Consistory with the Deacons has wronged us by incorrectly judging the material we submitted to it. Therefore we appeal the response by Consistory with the Deacons as follows:
Observations and Material Referred to in this Appeal
1. We enclose our letter to Consistory with the Deacons dated June 21, 2006, to which we also attach our letter to Consistory dated May 19, 2006. The reason for the attachment of our May 19, 2006 letter is the reference we made to it in our letter dated June 21, 2006 (see consideration (e)).
2. We also enclose the response of Consistory with the Deacons [Council] to us dated July 14, 2006, hereafter referred to as the Response.
1. In accordance with the Form for Ordination of Elders and Deacons (p. 628, Book of Praise), a "lawful objection" constitutes an objection against the doctrine and life of the brother. In this respect we object to Consistory with the Deacons erroneously alleging a deficiency in our brother's doctrine and life, without him being formally placed under church discipline.
2. The question of whether Br. VanLaar has formally appealed General Synod decisions is in fact not relevant. The Consistory with the Deacons has not proven an obligation to formally appeal. Article 31 C.O. refers only to a right to appeal. There may be a moral duty for Br. VanLaar to express his objections to Consistory relating to the General Synod decision concerning the URC, however, the Consistory with the Deacons does not prove an obligation to formally appeal prior to refusing to sit at a table which he was convinced was not pure.
3. The representation to the congregation that Br. VanLaar had an obligation to formally appeal, in the absence of any stated biblical or church orderly requirement, is incorrect. The Consistory with the Deacons has not shown how "not appealing a synodical decision," which one (justly or unjustly) considers to be in conflict with God's Word, can be a reason why an appointment to office can be withdrawn.
4. The question of whether Br. VanLaar will sit at the Lord's table and participate in calling others to the Lord's table has been incorrectly separated from the question of whether guests were properly admitted to the Lord's table in accordance with Article 61, C.O. (see consideration 5 below). Br. VanLaar did not refuse to sit at the Lord's table as such, but at a table which, he was convinced, was not pure due to the admission of someone without sufficient and good testimonials.
5. As explained in consideration (e) of our June 21, 2006 letter (together with our attached letter dated May 19, 2006 regarding verbal attestations), the admission of any guest without a proper attestation, as defined in Article 62 C.O., is clearly in conflict with Article 61 C.O. When this occurs the Scriptural principle, maintained in Article 62 C.O., that "every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses," is not met (Matthew 18:16; see also II Corinthians 13:1). As it is generally known that the URC do not issue travel attestations, the conflict with Article 61 C.O. is self-evident.
6. As explained in consideration (f) of our June 21, 2006 letter, the act of withdrawing the appointment of Br. VanLaar effectively denies him his right, under Article 31 of the Church Order, to refuse to consider settled and binding decisions he has "proved to be in conflict with the Word of God or with the Church Order." The Consistory's act of withdrawing the appointment of Br. VanLaar indicates that the "unless" in Article 31 C.O. has now become an "until" in the Canadian Reformed Church of Abbotsford. In their book Decently and in Good Order, (see pages 63 and 64) Prof. K. Deddens and Rev G. VanRongen state that "After one has gone the full "ecclesiastical way" - from the consistory to the classis, from the classis to the regional synod, and from the regional synod to the general synod - 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." They continue by stating that "The latter way had to be followed when the general synod of the forties in the Netherlands took decisions which were indeed in conflict with the Word of God and with the Church Order, and when they interpreted the word "unless" in Article 31 as "until" - which does not make any sense as we have shown in the above lines, and led to moral constraint." (our emphasis).
7. The indication in the Response that br. VanLaar must "uphold the decisions of the broader assemblies as accepted by his own consistory" misses the point that Br. VanLaar cannot participate in a practice that is contrary to Article 61 C.O. It also misses the point that Br. VanLaar could not participate in good conscience when confronted with the admission of a guest to the Lord's table without a proper attestation.
8. The Response does not consider the scriptural obligation of br. VanLaar to refuse to consider settled and binding decisions he has "proved to be in conflict with the Word of God or with the Church Order" (Article 31 C.O.). Due to the self-evident conflict (see consideration 5 above) with the stated requirements of Articles 61 and 62 C.O. no further proof can be required of Br. VanLaar. The Response does not consider that this scriptural obligation also affects his ability to participate with integrity in the consequences of such decisions. Instead the Response, contrary to Article 31, C.O., requires that Br. VanLaar, in order to be installed to office, agree to accept and participate in the consequences of such ecclesiastical decisions.
On the basis of the above we hereby request Classis
to make the following determinations:
1. That the Consistory with the Deacons of the Canadian Reformed Church of Abbotsford erred in withdrawing the appointment of Br. J. VanLaar to the office of elder.
2. That the Consistory with the Deacons of the Canadian Reformed Church of Abbotsford should rescind its withdrawal of appointment of Br. J. VanLaar to the office of elder and proceed forthwith to his installation as soon as possible.
We would appreciate your written response to the above considerations and requests. In the event that you do not agree with any of the above considerations and requests, we would appreciate receiving from you a detailed response based on Scripture, Confession and Church Order.
Brothers, we sincerely hope and pray that this matter will be resolved to the benefit of His Church. We wish you all the Lord's blessing upon your deliberations.
Yours in His service,
John Vantil Ann Vantil