November 3, 2003

The Consistory, Council

The Canadian Reformed Church Abbotsford, BC

Esteemed Brothers:

I am thankful the Lord has directed the consistory to make a stand against the erroneous decision made by Synod 2001 regarding ecclesiastical fellowship with the OPC. Yet this is only one small step in resisting the sinful decisions of Synods 2001 and Synods past in declaring ecclesiastical fellowship with the OPC, PCK, RCUS, FCS and URC. The consistory of Abbotsford makes a passive decision to uphold the decision of Synods in establishing ecclesiastical fellowship without properly testing the spirits. (1 John 4) We have entered fellowship with churches that have mishandled the keys of the kingdom of heaven in particular by not properly fencing the Lord's Supper.
The OPC, PCK, RCUS, FCS and URC all accept the pluriformity of the church by not properly fencing the Lord's Supper. Similarly to that of an unmarried couple "shacking up" before marriage, we as a federation have decided to establish ecclesiastical fellowship without addressing the real issues that conflict with the Bible, our own Confessions, and Church Order. There has been no explanation from Synod after establishing ecclesiastical fellowship of how we have been wrong all these years and Synod makes no effort to explain new Scriptural insights to justify these decisions. Q&A 83 LD 31 of the Heidelberg Catechism mentions quite clearly "The preaching of the Holy Gospel and church discipline" are the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Combined with what we confess in Article 29 of the Belgic Confession "The true church is to be recognized by the following marks... It exercises church discipline for correcting and punishing sins. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and regarding Jesus Christ as the only Head." Compared to what we have endorsed with ecclesiastical fellowship this presents us with a double standard. Each of these churches is unfaithful to our confession and to the Biblical principles of discipline by having an open Lord Supper and practicing pluriformity in other ways.

The RCUS Constitution Article 189 states: "Members, in good standing. of other congregations of the Reformed Church, and of other denominations holding the essential doctrines of the Gospel, should be invited to participate in the observance of this sacrament." (Lord's Supper) From this we can see that members can partake who are not of reformed churches or who have not even professed the Reformed faith. They only need the minimal knowledge of the Gospel without any account of lifestyle or sound doctrine. This is not simply a matter about "procedures" (whether and interview is done or attestation submitted) but a matter of whether there is a Biblical basis for *our* Article 61 (Church Order), which requires members who attend our own Lord's Supper to have made a public profession of a "Reformed faith". We who DO embrace the requirement for a "Reformed faith" because of its scriptural basis are guilty of a double standard. The RCUS committee did not carefully do their job in determining if the Lord's Supper is fenced with integrity in the RCUS.

The URC for example has departed the CRC for the reasons of "questionable changes and tensions" yet does the URC outwardly state the CRC is false? As well as pulpit exchanges, there has been undeniable evidence that churches within the URC have allowed ministers from the CRC preach on their pulpits. This is contrary to the "established" practices of the CanRC as per Art. 15., CO. It is a common practice in the OPC and URC (and in the rest of the Presbyterian & Reformed world). to allow ministers to preach from other "denomination" with whom no proper "relationship" exists. This is partly based on acquaintanceships etc., with the understanding that they have an agreement on the "basic tenants" of the Christian "faith" as members of that "invisible" church. This leaves us with tatters of a confession. How can we admonish brothers/sisters who intend to go to the CRC when in fact the very churches we have established ecclesiastical fellowship with do not oppose the CRC's teachings and welcome their ministers to their own pulpits'? The church becomes a human organization. This enables members to join "the church of your choice" as modern pseudo-Christians say, and is an action of self-willed worship.

The URC Church Order states that visitors can be admitted to the Lord's Table when "the Consistory is assured of their biblical church membership, of their proper profession of faith, and of their godly walk." Biblical church membership is a very vague statement and cannot truly hold persons to account for their lifestyle without proper attestation. Any one person can succeed in "convincing" the consistory of a Godly lifestyle but without accountability can "slip through the cracks" in terms of proper church discipline. Q&A 82 of LD 30 should convince us enough that an attestation is a necessary requirement or are we loosely willing to risk "His wrath kindled against the whole congregation"?

October 26 we had a sermon on 1 Samuel 15 by Rev Wielenga about Saul's sin with regard to sparing Agag and some of the best cattle. Among other things, we were warned of rationalizing a little act of disobedience under the cloak of false righteousness. Are we not in danger of doing the same as a federation'? We are accepting ecclesiastical fellowship without adhering to our own confessions all in the name of pious unity. By following Synods decisions we as churches take a step of disobedience by giving approval to. and uniting with, churches that have not proven faithful and obedient. These little steps of disobedience ultimately lead to deformation and death. Therefore I urge the consistory of Abbotsford as one voice to oppose the decisions of Synod 2001 and of past Synods decisions to endorse ecclesiastical fellowship without properly testing the spirits in regards to the OPC, PCK, FCS, RCUS, and URC.

With brotherly concern.

Richard Van Laar


Consistory Response:

Dec 1st, 2003

Richard VanLaar
37120 Wells Line Rd.
Abbotsford, B.C.
V3G 1Z9

Dear Richard:

At our meeting November 27th, the Council dealt with your later dated Nov. 3rd, 2003. We are happy that you took the time to carefully express your views to us regarding decisions of Synod Neerlandia. We agree with you that some of our new sister churches have weaknesses as you described them as do churches we are not yet in fellowship with such as the URCNA. We differ with you, however, in that we do not believe that these weaknesses are of such a nature that they should lead to suspension of ecclesiastical fellowship or of our mandate to seek unity with them. Instead, we are convinced that we should our relationship with these other church federations to show them a better way. In the bond of fellowship, we hope to influence them for the good and to be influenced by them for our good as this may be necessary. The Reports of our various Synodical Committees to the upcoming Synod Chatam demonstrate that there is indeed a willingness on the part of various sister churches to hear our concerns and to reflect on their own practices.

May the Lord guide you as reflect on the church gathering work of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

For the Council

P. Blom, Clerk
R. Schouten, minister