The Congregation of the Canadian Reformed Church of Aldergrove                May 11, 2009


Dear brothers and sisters:       


On March 22, 2009 Aldergrove consistory distributed a letter to the congregation in response to my March 16 letter. Consistory wanted the congregation to keep certain points in mind.  However, in this letter consistory has made a number of statements that are simply not true.

1) Wine vs. Grape Juice

According to consistory ‘a number of our assemblies have determined that while wine should be the norm, the leaders of local churches have the freedom to implement exceptions to the norm in the manner they deem best.’  When was this decided?  While this is indeed what Aldergrove requested in its appeal to General Synod Smithers (cf. Acts Article 112 observation 3.3.4), this request was not granted.  Rather,  three successive General Synods (2001 – Art. 70, 2004 – Art. 109, 2007 -  Art. 112) have maintained that in accordance with the confessions wine should be the element normally used.  We can only conclude that the use of grape juice in Aldergrove is contrary to the reformed confessions.

As to the biblical requirement for the normative use of  wine at the Lord’s Supper table I refer you to an article by the Rev. Doug Barnes published in the March 25, 2009 Christian Renewal.  Rev. Barnes quotes Prof. Herman Bavinck as follows:  ‘We must not be wiser than Christ, who expressly designated wine as the sign of His blood and whose command in this matter has at all times been followed by the Christian church’ (page 564, volume 4 of his book Reformed Dogmatics).  Consistory argues that the exceptional circumstances in Aldergrove necessitate a wholesale exception to the normative provisions of the confessions. Did not Aaron raise a similar argument to justify the making of a molten calf (Exodus 32)?  Did not the ‘exceptional circumstances’ created by the delay of Moses necessitate a ‘wholesale exception’ to the law of God?

2) Article 61 Church Order

According to Article 61 of the Church Order consistory has agreed to admit to the Lord’s Supper table only those who have professed the reformed faith, and lead a godly life.  Moreover, profession of the reformed faith means to declare adherence to the three forms of unity.  By accepting ecclesiastical fellowship with churches like the OPC, Aldergrove consistory has agreed to accept their members (upon presentation of an attestation).  However, members of the OPC are not bound to their own confessional standards, never mind the three forms of unity.  If Aldergrove consistory were to maintain Article 61 of the Church Order, Aldergrove consistory could not admit members from the OPC as well as other churches in ecclesiastical fellowship.

Rev. Van Dellen & Prof. Monsma in their book The Church Order Commentary  (3rd edition page 251) write the following:
‘It should be plain however that a Church, if its members are admitted without confessing the Reformed fundamentals, cannot remain Reformed.  After all the individual members, and not the clergy and the eldership, constitute the Church.  And the confessional standards of a Church can only be Forms of Unity when the membership confesses these standards.  If the members of a Church do not confess its standards to be Biblical the Church loses its power and also its raison d’etre [reason for being].  A Church which does not require of its members that they agree with its doctrinal tenets opens the doors to those who advocate false doctrines; heresy is bound to enter in, and eventually modernism may even predominate.’

How can Aldergrove consistory claim to maintain Article 61 of the Church Order, when it has agreed to accept members from the OPC and the URC for example, whose forms for Public Profession of Faith clearly show that these members have not professed the reformed faith?

3) Sermon on Galatians 5:25

On October 31, 2004 Rev. Schouten made the following statement in his sermon on Galatians 5:25:

‘Paul had taught the people of Galatia that our standing with God, our covenantal status with God, our place in God’s covenant family depends not at all on observing the law of Moses, but it depends entirely on believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.  It depends entirely on accepting His work on our behalf, in our place, as our great High Priest, as our Substitute, who paid when we could not pay, and who obeyed when we had disobeyed. Paul had been emphatic in his teaching in Galatia, our place with God, our status in God’s covenant family depends only on believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.’

This statement sounds remarkably similar to the doctrinal pronouncements of the URC General Synod Schererville, which set up a distinction between those who have only an outward relation to the covenant of grace by baptism and those who are united to Christ by grace alone through faith alone.  I maintain that our covenantal status has been sealed already at our baptisms (cf. Lord’s Days 26 and 27 of the Heidelberg Catechism and the baptismal form) and our covenantal status does not depend on our believing.  As Rev. WWJ VanOene said in his September 2007 speech in Cloverdale church:  “the manner in which a covenant child reacts to the mercies given in the promise does not determine his or her legal status as a covenant child, in no way different from all others.”  However, consistory, classis and regional synod did not interact with the material that I provided.  Copies of all correspondence are available upon request.

4) Sermon Excerpt re: Blasphemy

Consistory also refers to the December 23, 2007 sermon by Rev. Schouten on Lord’s Day 36 of the Heidelberg Catechism.  In this sermon Rev. Schouten characterizes the recent secessions in both Abbotsford and Lynden as blasphemy.  The problem with the sermon excerpt is that Rev. Schouten misdefines blasphemy.  According to the dictionary blasphemy is to speak profanely or impiously of God or sacred things.  According to the sermon, however, blasphemy is using the name of the Lord to promote your own unique interpretation which you cannot base on the Word of God.  By misdefining blasphemy, Rev. Schouten went on to characterize Paul as a blasphemer since he was promoting ideas and doing things in the name of the Lord that had nothing to do with the Lord.  Those who liberated would then be blasphemers as well because they are saying and doing things in the name of the Lord that (according to him) the Lord did not say.  However, this is not how Paul was a blasphemer.  According to Acts 26: 9 – 11 we see that Paul was a blasphemer because he opposed the name of Jesus and he tried to make the early Christians blaspheme (speak irreverently) of Jesus as well.  Paul did not recognize Jesus as God until after his conversion, and until then Paul would not have had any difficulty ‘blaspheming’ (speaking irreverently) of Jesus. Once again, consistory, classis, and regional synod did not interact with this point, and copies of all correspondence are available upon request.

5) Recognition of the liberated churches

According to consistory they have never made a decision not to recognize the liberated churches for the reason that the matter was never on their table.  This is simply not true.  In my October 14, 2006 letter I asked consistory to recognize the liberated church in Lynden, and this request was denied in consistory’s January 9, 2007 letter.  Again, in my October 6, 2007 letter I asked that consistory recognize the liberated churches, and this request was clearly denied in consistory’s January 4, 2008 response.  All these letters are available on the website

6) Right to separate

Consistory  in its public letter agrees with Prof. Veenhof and recognizes my right to separate from teachers and assemblies that make decisions that are in conflict with the Word of God while I follow a process of appeal.   However, consistory does not view the issues as being important enough that they cannot be temporarily set aside.  Our church fathers did not think in this way.  According to Prof. Bavinck the use of wine is a command of Christ.  Moreover, according to the Rev. Van Dellen and Prof. Monsma confessional membership is the raison d’etre [reason for being] of the church.  Finally, is the covenantal status of the membership not important?  Wasn’t this the issue which caused the liberation of 1944?

How can I continue to attend church in Aldergrove when the covenantal status of the membership is being questioned, and when the lawful secessions in Abbotsford and Lynden are labelled as ‘blasphemy’?  How can I reject all heresies and errors conflicting with God’s Word (Form for the Public Profession of Faith), when I continue to sit under that kind of preaching?  To continue to be instructed in the lie can only lead to spiritual death for myself and my family.

There is, however, a greater problem with consistory’s response.  According to consistory I only have the right under Article 31 of the Church Order to hold their decisions not settled and binding if I can convince the consistory that my conscience is being violated.  Moreover, my concerns would also have to be validated by the major assemblies.  Using this line of reasoning consistory is changing the ‘unless’ of Article 31 into an ‘until’!  Now I cannot hold the unscriptural decisions of consistory not settled and binding until I prove this to consistory and / or the major assemblies.  However, under Article 31 of the Church Order I have the right to hold not settled and binding all decisions that are in conflict with the Word of God and / or the Church Order.  As Rev. VanOene writes on page 363 of  his book Patrimony Profile:

“It is even more obvious that a decision which conflicts with the Word of God has to be rejected.  Are we not taught that we must obey God rather than man?  And does the Lord not tell us in His Word that man by nature is far from trustworthy, to put it mildly?  One must, of course, be firmly convinced that such a conflict exists indeed, and one must prove it too.  But no one has the right to compel the consciences and no one is obligated to consider a decision that is in conflict with the Word of God settled and binding until his proof has been accepted.  Such a demand would make a mockery of the ‘unless’ of Article 31 C.O.”

7) Unfounded Concerns?

According to consistory the arguments that I have advanced regarding confessional membership are not new, but that these matters have been on the agenda of our General Synods on many occasions.  According to consistory in each case the Synods have judged these concerns to be unfounded.  This statement is simply not true.

Already in the Act of Liberation or Return in 1944 our forefathers agreed to enter into sister church relations with other churches only on the basis of the three forms of unity (page 155 of The Liberation Causes and Consequences).  Synod 1965 (Acts, Article 141, II) is of the opinion that "Correspondence with Churches abroad should not be entered into, until upon a conscientious and serious investigation, it has become apparent that these Churches not only officially embrace the Reformed confession and church polity but also in fact maintain them."  Synod 1986 Article 132 Consideration E – b indicates that the matter of fencing the Lord's Supper is, indeed, a serious confessional divergency, which is a major issue of mutual concern.  Finally, Synod 1992 decided (Article 72, Recommendations C.5.a&b) “to inform the OPC that the matters which still require resolution for the establishment of full ecclesiastical fellowship are (see IV.A.3.v): (a) the matter of confessional membership (b) the matter of the supervision of the Lord’s table”.  Synod 1998 amended the agreement to reflect these concerns. 


I ask you the congregation to join me in calling consistory back to faithfulness to the Three Forms of Unity and to maintenance of the Church Order of Dort as indicated in the Act of Liberation or Return of 1944.

With brotherly greetings,                                                           

Maurice Vantil