The Consistory with the Deacons
Canadian Reformed Church of Abbotsford, B.C.
P.O. Box 66
Re: Withdrawal of Appointment of Br. J. VanLaar to the Office of Elder
With concern for (1) the maintenance of good order in the Canadian Reformed Church of Abbotsford, and (2) the integrity of a brother, we address Consistory with the Deacons regarding 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.
In connection with this withdrawal of appointment we observe the following:
a) Br. VanLaar was lawfully elected to the office of elder as a result of an election held on May 14, 2006.
b) In accordance with the results of this election Consistory with the Deacons appointed him to the office of elder.
c) Consistory with the Deacons twice published the name of Br. VanLaar to determine whether there were any lawful objections to his ordination. This ordination was scheduled to take place on June 11, 2006, in the afternoon service.
d) Br. VanLaar has indicated that the decision to withdraw his appointment was taken by Consistory with the Deacons at a meeting held on the evening of June 10, 2006.
e) Before the morning service on June 11, 2006 the following announcement was made by the Consistory to the congregation:
Considering Br. VanLaar's refusal to participate in the Lord's Supper on May 21, 2006; also considering that his stated reason was that a member of the URC was allowed as guest to the table; also considering that Br. VanLaar has stated that he will repeat this action in a similar situation in the future; also considering that Br. VanLaar has never formally appealed synodical decisions regarding the URC; Council decides to withdraw the appointment of Br. VanLaar as officebearer.
In connection with the above announcement to the congregation we request that consistory with the deacons give consideration to the following:
a) The completion of the procedures (a), (b), and (c) above indicates that Br. VanLaar has been lawfully called to the office of elder in accordance with Article 3 of the Church Order.
b) The Form for Ordination states (page 628, Book of Praise) "Since no one has brought forward anything lawful against their doctrine and life, we shall now in the Name of the Lord proceed to their ordination."
c) Seeing that this brother has been called by the Lord, the absence of "anything lawful against [his] doctrine and life" obligates the consistory with the deacons to proceed with his ordination. The above quoted announcement to the congregation does not specifically refer to any lawful objection against Br. VanLaar's doctrine and life.
d) The above quoted announcement leaves the congregation with the implication that there is something "lawful against [his] doctrine and life." However we reject this implication as follows:
i) The failure of consistory to refer to any lawful objection to Br. VanLaar's doctrine and life means that he has not been charged with any sin.
ii) The implication given that Br. VanLaar has done something wrong makes Consistory with the Deacons guilty of public sin against the ninth commandment, because of its failure to clearly convey what it was that he did wrong.
iii) The above quoted announcement incorrectly states that Br. VanLaar never formally appealed synodical decisions regarding the URC. Br. VanLaar has indicated that the evidence for this can be readily obtained from Consistory minutes. The propagation of this error in the announcement also makes Consistory with the Deacons guilty of public sin against the ninth commandment.
iv) The above quoted announcement wrongly implies, but does not prove, a requirement to formally appeal synodical decisions. In this situation, decisions regarding the URC have been maintained by two successive general synods. Consequently, notification to the local consistory, as the highest authority in the church, of objections based on Scripture or the Church Order, constitutes fulfilment of our brother's obligation in this regard.
e) The admission of any guest, without a proper attestation, is clearly in conflict with Article 61 of the Church Order (see also our letter dated May 19, 2006 regarding verbal attestations).
f) 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 order to be eligible for office Br. VanLaar is forced to participate in the implementation of, what he has proven to be, unscriptural ecclesiastical decisions.*
Therefore we hereby request that Consistory with the Deacons rescind its withdrawal of appointment of Br. J. VanLaar to the office of elder and proceed forthwith to his installation as soon as possible.
Brothers, we hope and pray that this matter will be resolved to the benefit of His Church here in Abbotsford. We wish you the Lord's blessing upon your deliberations.
Yours in His service,
John Vantil Ann Vantil
* Note: 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).