June 13, 2006
Dear brothers and sisters of the American Reformed Church at Lynden:
Out of our desire to remain faithful to the scriptural and confessional norms under which the church at Lynden was instituted, we are compelled to address you once again as concerned members of His church. You may remember our public letter of April 25, 2003, in which we brought to your attention the wrong directions being taken by the consistory regarding the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), the Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS) and the United Reformed Churches of North America (URC). We enclose this letter again for your information.
Out of our love for you as members and our desire to keep the church of Christ here in Lynden faithful to scripture and confession, we have continued to bring God's Word to the consistory regarding these matters. However, contrary to Articles 22 & 27 of the Church Order, the consistory has now refused to interact with us any further on these issues, incorrectly claiming that their past correspondence has satisfactorily answered us. This refusal to properly respond was appealed to the March 2006 classis, but our appeals were wrongly denied. This denial of our appeals has effectively closed the door to further discussion of these issues.
Although it is not feasible to send copies of all this correspondence to each of you (copies of our correspondence with the consistory are available upon request; see also www.calltoreform.com for some documents), the situation can be summarized in this way. In the face of repeated warnings and admonitions, the consistory persists in upholding and implementing un-Biblical synodical decisions. The un-Biblical decisions in question are those which have established and maintained ecclesiastical fellowship with the Presbyterian Church in Korea, the Free Church of Scotland, the URC, the RCUS and the OPC. All of these churches hold to and practice the pluriformity of the church, do not properly guard the Lord's Supper table, and, particularly in the case of the OPC, do not maintain confessional membership.
Consequently, the consistory has issued attestations to our members to permit them to go, with approval, to congregations of the RCUS and the URC. According to their own rules, these federations do not properly guard the Lord's Table in their admission practices. In the case of the URC we are aware that they admit to their pulpits ministers from the CRC, a denomination that we have openly rejected as unfaithful.
More recently the acceptance of these unscriptural synodical decisions has resulted in the consistory's acceptance of people into our church upon attestation from the OPC, in the full knowledge that the OPC does not practice confessional membership. As a result we do not know if there is unity of faith at the Lord's Table. This is one of the reasons why we have not been able to participate in the Lord's Supper at Lynden. And for this abstention we have now been placed under discipline by the consistory.*
Not only have these practices been approved by the actions of the consistory, but the preaching of Rev. Wielenga has also demonstrated public approval of such actions. We refer here to a sermon on Lord's Day 30, delivered in July 2005, about which we have also addressed consistory.
You may wonder why we do not continue to appeal these matters. Under ordinary circumstances, when a new matter arises, the path of further appeal would be the proper one to follow. However, the situation in our federation and local church, regarding decisions on ecclesiastical fellowship with the churches listed above, is not ordinary. These are not new matters. The decisions reached by synods about these matters have been maintained despite years of study and countless appeals from various churches showing these decisions to be wrong. The decisions to extend ecclesiastical fellowship to the OPC, URC and RCUS have already been dealt with by two successive general synods. The consistory of the American Reformed Church at Lynden has accepted and implemented all of these unscriptural synod decisions. In this respect we believe that it is the consistory of Lynden which has the highest authority in the government of the church, and thus we have come to the end of the appeal process.
We write with profound sadness that the consistory at Lynden has hardened itself in its position. What we confess in Belgic Confession Article 29 now characterizes the Lynden Church under this consistory. "The false church assigns more authority to itself and its ordinances than to the Word of God. It does not want to submit itself to the yoke of Christ...It bases itself more on men than on Jesus Christ. It persecutes those who live holy lives according to the Word of God and who rebuke the false church for its sins ". Nevertheless, we must continue to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Head of His church, will Himself ensure its preservation, and that He will use us, ordinary church members, for that purpose.
We have attached a sheet with quotations from various reformed sources that demonstrate the proper Scriptural response to situations such as this. In light of all this we call you in the Name of Christ to join us in liberating yourselves from the unscriptural decisions and practices of this consistory and in returning by secession to the faithful application of scripture, confession and church order.
We plan to do this by meeting for worship at 10 AM on June 18, at the home of Barry and Maureen Hofford at 320 Third St., Sumas.
With deep concern,
Barry Hofford, Glenn Hofford
* It is important to note the following: In 1986, Classis Ontario South determined that the secession of the Laurel, MD congregation from the OPC was legitimate, and that the OPC should be called to repent. In 1987, Classis Ontario South determined that "Tri-County Reformed Church has rightfully separated itself from the OPC". These decisions were never appealed or rescinded by any classis or synod. Now, 20 years later, we are being asked to repent for refusing to sit at the Lord's Supper Table with members from the OPC!