The Research Report on the Westminster Standards to
Synod Groningen 2014
of the DGK (hersteld) (majority report)

(Not adopted by General Synod Groningen)

The Westminster Confessions of Faith

In the Light of Scripture and the Three Forms of Unity

Deputies for Relations with Foreign Churches

Chapter 1 Introduction

The Deputies received the following mandate from the General Synod of Hasselt 2010 – 2011 as described in point 7 of the instructions:

They shall prepare a grounded study of the Westminster Confession of Faith (combined with the Westminster Catechisms) in regard to the Scriptural soundness in these writings of the vision on the church and the covenant.

In this report we as deputies have studied the background and diverse key points of the Westminster Standards.

In Chapter 2, prior to a detailed discussion of the contents, we outlined the historical background of the Westminster standards and of the meetings in Westminster where these writings were confirmed.

In Chapter 3, we deal with how the Reformed churches and reformed scholars have judged the Westminster Standards.

In Chapter 4, we subsequently deal specifically with the teachings on the assurance of faith. Even though the instructions did not specifically mention that this topic be studied, it is certainly an important matter of faith, which is necessary to include. Since the instructions did not set a limit to the topics, we felt including it would do justice to the mandate.
Connected to this, the teachings about the covenant are dealt with in Chapter 5 and the teachings about the church in Chapter 6.
For the topics dealt with in Chapters 4 to 6, the following three questions are answered:

13. What precisely do the Westminster Standards state about this?

14. What is said about this by the Reformed Churches and reformed theologians?

15. Are the teachings of the Westminster Standards in accord with Scripture and the Three Forms of Unity?

We have the resources in Chapter 7.

In the original the Citations from the Westminster Standards are taken from the translation of Rev. G. van Rongen: The Westminster Confession with the Larger and Shorter Catechism, De Vuurbaak 1986,

*In this English translation of the Report they are taken from the OPC website.

Chapter 2 The Historical Background of the Westminster Standards

For a proper assessment of the Westminster Standards, a review of the historical background of the Westminster Standards should also be included as well as that of its composer: the Synod of Westminster in 1643 -1649.

In this chapter the following subjects will be discussed:

1. Grounds for convening the Westminster Synod.

2. Composition and purpose of the Westminster Synod.

3. Why were the Three Forms of Unity not used?

4. The Westminster Standards in different church federations.

2.1. Grounds for Convening the Westminster Synod.

The break between King Henry VIII and the Roman Catholic Church in 1532 created a matrix for further reformation in England. Henry VIII’s break with Rome was not actually based on the ideals of the reformation, but concerned matters dealing with the annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. In 1534 the Law of Supremacy was adopted. The king now became the head of the church in England instead of the Pope.

The Reformation in England, different than on the continent, became stronger through the confluence of political powers. Considering earlier history it may be a considered a wonder that a confession like the Westminster came into existence. On the one hand there was King Charles I who favored the Episcopate being head of an Anglican church. On the other side stood Parliament, which busied itself more and more with the Reformation.

In 1572 the first seceded congregation was instituted with a Presbyterian form of government at Wandsworth, London. (3) This initiative had little following. There was discontent among the church membership about how the reformation in the 16th and 17th century had taken shape but only a particular number of Puritans judged that the state church of England was a false church and founded an independent congregation. These ‘separatists’ were ruthlessly persecuted and many fled to other countries. (4)

Next to the King and the English Parliament there was a third important power factor, the Scottish Parliament. The King of England was also King of Scotland and therefore head of the Scottish (Anglican) Church. In Presbyterian Scotland under the rule of King Charles I, there was strong resistance against the new liturgy and a more powerful Episcopate that the king intended to adopt in the late 30s of the 17th century. War broke out between the King and the Scottish parliament in 1639. In 1640 the king was defeated, and the Presbyterian form of church government was again honored and reestablished in Scotland.

The event that caused the definite break between the king and the English parliament was the Grand Remonstrance by the English parliament on November 22, 1641. They proposed to convene a general synod consisting of deputies from English, Scottish and other churches to resolve all matters which would serve peace and good church government. The king did not accept this proposal. The English Civil War began in August 1642 as a result of this conflict.

The English Parliament quickly sought support from the Scots resulting in the formation of the ‘Solemn League and Covenant’. This covenant formed the basis for the agenda of the Westminster Synod.

2.2 Composition and Purpose of the Synod.

The Synod was convened by Parliament and not by the churches. It actually was not about having a synod but about forming an advisory board which should advise the authorities about reforming the church. The gathering was officially opened on July 1, 1643.

The synod consisted of 30 members from the upper and lower houses, 121 English Divines and a delegation of Scottish Presbyterians. The Scots did not have voting rights but could share in the deliberations thereby being able to greatly influence the decisions. They participated in the discussions and committees. There were no deputies present from abroad. All those present had puritan views about doctrine and life. The Puritans received their name from their struggle with the Anglican Church where they demanded a ‘pure church’ and a ’pure life’. (5)

Notwithstanding there were deep seated differences among the deputies regarding church and church government. Of those present, the majority were Presbyterians, however the Episcopalians, Erastians, and Independents were also represented. It was therefore a heterogeneous interchurch group..

The Episcopalians proposed a hierarchical Episcopal form of church government. With a few exceptions they were not represented at the synod because of the king threatened the participants that he would take away all their ecclesiastical rights.

The Erastians claimed that the authority of the church belonged to the civil government. For them it was not the responsibility of the consistory to enforce church discipline, or even to keep someone from the sacraments.

The Presbyterians had the majority at the synod and according to them ecclesiastical authority lay with the church assemblies, consistory, classis and synod . The Presbyterian form of government resembles the reformed church government but there are actually some major differences. They do not place the minister in the service of the local congregation but with a ‘higher’ assembly.

The position of the independents was the autonomy of the local church. In short they did not recognize the authority of the major assemblies and stood directly opposed to the Presbyterians on this point.

Of the different topics dealt with by the synod, the sections on Church government and church order were completed first. The organization of the worship service and liturgy followed. Thirdly the Westminster Confession was finalized on Dec. 4, 1646 and the Westminster Larger Catechism and the Westminster Shorter Catechism in 1647. Later the scriptural references were added to the confessions.

2.3. Why were The Three Forms of Unity not used?

In the ‘Solemn League and Covenant’ of 1643 the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland promised to safeguard the reformed religion of Scotland in doctrine, worship, discipline and church government and to bring to reformation, according to the Word of God, to the religion of England and Ireland to accord with the same insights. The Scottish churches would concede their Scottish Confession of 1560 for the purpose of unity and adopt the new one. The fact that a political goal was being pursed in the kingdoms of the English king and so that the king had to find a compromise for the various church groups suggests the possible reason that they did not take over existing confessional documents such as The Three Forms of Unity.

Even though those in Westminster were willing to listen to advice from the Netherlands in the creation of a new confession, the closest source, from which many things were taken over literarily, was the Irish Confession of 1615. On account of this the Westminster Confession of Faith was strongly oriented to the Irish Confession. The Scottish delegates also had an influential role in giving advice for the definitive form of the Westminster Standards and thus they also show the defense of the doctrine of election as opposed to the disruptive remonstrant influence in the Anglican Church.

Following the Reformation, there was a strong scholastic current, also in the Netherlands and beyond; recognizable amongst other influences, in the ”Nadere Reformatie” (see translator‘s note). After 1618/1619 there was an aversion to remonstrant ideas and a wish to accept a closed theological system with a preference for the view of predestination in approaching various faith matters such as the order of salvation and the church gathering work of Christ.

It is supposed that the delegates were aware of The Three Forms of Unity. Why these confessional documents or parts thereof were not adopted is difficult to discover. The above mentioned political and national influences may have been responsible. The thought also comes to mind that the extremely different views about the church and church government played a part (see 2.2)

2.4. The Westminster Standards in Different Churches

The Westminster Standards have had no continuing significance in England because of the political and ecclesiastical developments. During the rule of Oliver Cromwell between 1654 and 1658 the structure of the Anglican Church was restored and English Presbyterianism disappeared from the political scene.

The Westminster Standards retained their validity in the Presbyterian churches. The widespread migration of Puritans in the 16th and 17th centuries caused the Westminster Standards to be known in many parts of the world and many Presbyterian Church federations around the world use them. Some of these federations have adapted parts of the Westminster Standards. Various American General Assemblies adopted important changes regarding the relationship between church and state and the addition of Art. 34: the Holy Spirit and Art. 35: the Love of God and Mission, in the 18th and 19th century. (6)

From the 16th century onward the Presbyterian churches have branched out widely so it cannot be completely ascertained whether some federation may have adopted their own version. The following federations (calling themselves denominations) use the Westminster Standards - although not all in the same form - as their confessional document:

England : Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales

Ireland : Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland (RPC)

Scotland : Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, Free Church of Scotland, Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland

Austria and Switzerland : Evangeilisch-reformierte Kirche Westminster Bekenntenisses

USA : The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARPC), The Korean American Presbyterian Church (KAPC), Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), Presbyterian Reformed Church (PresRC), Reformed Presbyterian Chrurch of North America (RPCNA)

Canada : Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA), Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland, Presbyterian Church of Canada, Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Canada

Australia : Australian Free Church, Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church of Australia, Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia (PCEA), Presbyterian Reformed Church, Reformed Presbyterian Church of Australia, Westminster Presbyterian Church of Australia, Southern Presbyterian Church of Tasmania

Japan : Reformed Presbyterian Church of Japan, Presbyterian Church of Japan

South Korea : Korea Jesus Presbyterian Church, Independent Reformed Church, Presbyterian Church of Korea, Presbyterian Church in Korea (Koshin), Presbyterian Church in Korea (KoRyuPa), Presbyterian Church in Korea (Ko-Ryu-Anti-Accusation)

(3) G. van Rongen, The Westminster Standards, page 8
(4) Dr, R. Bisschop, The Westminster Synod, 1643 – 1649, page 25
(5) F.W. Grosheide (red.), Short Christian Encyclopedia, J.H. Kok Kampen 1934.
(6) G. van Rongen. The Westminster Standards, pages 23 & 24

Chapter 3 The Judgments of Past Synods in Regard to the Westminster Standards

The judgments within the Reformed Churches liberated (GKv or RCN) have changed in regard to The Westminster Standards. Therefore it is important to note the conflicting decisions of General Synods Amersfoort 1948 to that of Amersfoort-West 1967 and the development of the Amersfoort-West 1967 with that of Groningen-Zuid 1978.

3.1. General Synod Amersfoort 1948

At the General Synod Amersfoort 1948 the invitation from the Reformed Ecumenical Synod was rejected in article 75. This was found to be unacceptable because:the basis set for these ecumenical synods may not be ours due to inconsistencies in the confessions listed (Acts Article 75 sub 3A).

The Committee Report (of which Prof. Dr. K. Schilder was a member) proposed the recommendation (Acts Amersfoort 1948 appendix 19), which shows that the confession enumerated by this ecumenical synod, that is the Westminster Confession, is not consistent with the Three Forms of Unity (these do not confess the same things). The report states:The Westminster Confession speaks differently about the covenant and about the government of the church than The Three Forms of Unity. Also the government of the church is a part of our confession and is grounded on God’s Word. This deviation from each other in the confessions, makes having a common base already illusory (Acts page 120).The decision of General Synod Amersfoort 1948 points to the "contradictions", especially in regard to the Westminster Confession of Faith when compared to the Three Forms of Unity.

3.2 General Synod Amersfoort-West 1967

At the General Synod Amersfoort-West 1967 the Westminster Confessionwas implicitly accepted as a Reformed confession to serve as basisfor accepting a sister church relationship with a Korean Presbyterian church (Article 241). This was not expressed in an explicit decision, but as an observation:D. that the deputies of the Particular Synod of Groningen 1966 after testing the Westminster Confession thought they were allowed to conclude that the Westminster Confession is a fully reformed confession. However, it was noted that this confession sometimes deals with matters, of which it is doubtful they belong in a confession and sometimes also in a way that is too belabored. However this did not take away, that our conclusion could yet be, that, the fact that the Korean churches have the Westminster Confession do not form an obstacle to church correspondence.With this observation synod did not clearly confront the above mentioned judgment of General Synod Amersfoort 1948. The statement of 1948 is not recalled and no grounds are given for the new conclusion. Synod refers only to the final conclusion by the deputies of the Particular Synod of Groningen. The question is; how does this relate to Article 30 CO? At later synods no formal appeal against the accepted assumption has been tabled, nor against the method of dealing with the matter by General Synod Amersfoort-West 1967.

3.3 General Synod Groningen-South 1978.

At the General Synod Groningen-South 1978 in a committee report regarding"Correspondence with Foreign Churches" the decision of 1948 is compared to 1967 and is referred to as the beginning of a "new phase": In this Amersfoort-West 1967 clearly differs from Amersfoort 1948; for General Synod 1948 mentioned as one of the considerations for her rejection to participating in the Reformed Ecumenical Synod, besides the position of the Synodically Reformed Churches in the Netherlands as mentioned in sub 3-2, that the basis of this ecumenical synod cannot be ours because of inconsistencies in the confessions listed (Acts Article 75 sub 3A). The committee that proposed this statement cited as evidence: "The Westminster Confession speaks differently about the covenant, about the government of the church and the doctrine of the church than do the Three Forms of Unity.” The General Synod Amersfoort 1967 however defers to the judgment of the deputies of the Particular Synod Groningen, “that the Westminster Confession is a fully reformed confession” (Acts Article. 241 sub D). This was for her no impediment to church correspondence. Here the Reformed Churches (GKv - RCN) began a new phase in correspondence with foreign churches (Acts, Appendix 17, 3.3).

The course set in 1967 is continued:That in the Westminster Confession (as in the catechisms) the Covenant, church government and the doctrine of the church are dealt with somewhat differently than in The Three Forms of Unity, which may be cause for further discussion between churches, but does not form an impediment to ecclesiastical correspondence according to the adopted rules, nor to coming together in a Reformed International Synod (ICRC). This last statement definitely follows the line of Amersfoort 1967. For this Synod offered the “Presbyterian Church in Korea” which holds to the Westminster Standards, a sister church relationship in the LORD (Acts appendix 17, 4.1).

Where General Synod Amersfoort 1948 found unacceptable inconsistencies between the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity, the committee report of Groningen 1978 saw no impediment to sister church relationships with Presbyterian churches. The conclusion is that in 1978 it has been determined that in 1967 another path has been taken. The basis for the difference in judgments by 1948 on the one hand and by1967 and 1978 on the other, is not shown by the committee.

3.4. Canadian Reformed Churches

The Canadian Reformed Churches wrestled longer with the matter of the Westminster Standards. These sister churches of the GKv/RCN have at the General Synod Coaldale 1977, with reference to the Acts of Synod Amersfoort-West 1967, decided that the Westminster Standards are a reformed confession (Acts General Synod Hoogeveen 1969, appendix 17). On this basis the Canadian Synod decided to recognize the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) as a true church as confessed in Article 29 of the Belgic Confession and to offer the OPC a temporary relationship of “ecclesiastical contact”.

Yet, when Canada entered into this new relationship there were still "Divergences" - confessional differences - on several issues regarding doctrine and related ecclesiastical practices which were brought forward via the ecclesiastical way. In 1972, these contestable issues from the Westminster Standards were articulated in a Deputies Report as follows: the concept of two covenants, the concept of two churches and the concept of two kinds of faith.

In regard to the ecclesiastical practices two points were central: 1. ”Lack of Confessional Membership”. In the OPC, at their public profession of faith, the members are not bound to all the components of their adopted creeds. However, they are nonetheless considered members in full rights and as such are welcome to partake of the Lord’s Table. 2. “Lack of Fencing of the Lord’s Table”. The supervision by the elders assumes that members and non-members attending the Lord’s Table are sound in the reformed doctrine and have demonstrated a Godly walk of life. However, in the absence of an attestation, a cautionary word from the Minister is considered sufficient.Both practices are defended by the doctrine of the invisible church and the related doctrine of the pluriformity of churches (more and less pure denominations). Baptists are not regarded as members of a false church, but as members of a less pure denomination, which is still considered to be a church of Christ.

Even though many appellants regarded these divergences as a hindrance for entering into a formal ecclesiastical relationship, and also the General Synods of the CanRC of 1992, 1995, and 1998 considered it as such; at the General Synod Neerlandia 2001 an ecclesiastical relationship (‘Ecclesiastical Fellowship”) was entered into with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Herewith, dealing with the divergences came to an end.

These developments within the Canadian Reformed Churches in regard to matters related to the Lord's Supper, the doctrine of church and the covenant, have led to the liberation of our sister church in 2007; the Liberated Reformed Church in Abbotsford (General Synod Emmen 2009, Article 98).The deputies for Relations with Foreign Churches of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands(DGK(h)/RCNr) have sent a letter to General Synod Carman-West 2013 of the Canadian Reformed Churches in which they brought these matters to the attention of this synod.

Chapter 4 The Westminster Standards and the Assurance of Faith

4.1 The text of the Westminster Standards concerning the Assurance of Faith.

Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 14 - Saving Faith 1. This faith is different in degrees, it is weak or strong; may often be and in many ways assailed, and weakened, but gets the victory: growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance, through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.

Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 18 - Assurance of Grace and Salvation 1. Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favor of God, and estate of salvation (which hope of theirs shall perish): yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before him, may, in this life, be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed. 2. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God, which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption. 3. This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it: yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of ordinary means, attain thereunto. And therefore it is the duty of everyone to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance; so far is it from inclining men to looseness. 4. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God's withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light: yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart, and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may, in due time, be revived; and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair.

Westminster Larger Catechism, Question and Answer 80:Q. Can true believers be infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace, and that they shall be saved?A. Such as truly believe in Christ, and endeavor in all good conscience to walk before Him, may without extraordinary revelation, by faith grounded upon the truth of God’s promises, and by the Spirit enabling them, to discern in themselves those graces which the promises of life are made, and bearing witness with their spirits that they are children of God, be infallibly assured that they are in the estate of grace, and shall preserve them unto salvation.

Westminster Larger Catechism, Question and Answer 81:Q. Are all true believers at all times assured of their present being in the estate of grace, and that they shall be saved?A. Assurance of grace and salvation not being of the essence of faith, truebeliever may wait long before they attain it; and, after the enjoyment thereof, may have it weakened and intermitted, through manifold distempers, sins, temptations and desertions; yet they are never left without such a presence and support of the Spirit of God as keeps them from sinking into utter despair.
(under lining added by report authors)

4.2. Assessment in the Light of Scripture and the Three Forms of Unity.

In the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 18, par. 1 and 2 and LC, Q&A 80, many good things are said about the assurance of faith (“may in this life be certainly assured that they are in a state of grace). But following this comes a consideration of how a believer comes to this assurance. Both the WC (chap 18, par. 3) as well as LC (Q&A 81) state that the assurance does not belong to the ‘essence’ of faith. WC 18, par. 3 this can be interpreted somewhat better when it states: this assurance does not so (to its full extent) belong to faith, but that a true believer may wait long before he is a partaker of it. In other words even a true believer may have to wait long before he is assured of his faith. But the LC, Q&A 81 states it much stronger: the assurance does not belong to the essence of faith. It appears that the WS teach that a believer initially may experience a stage where there is no assurance. It ‘can’ come to them later.

What does Scripture (NKJV) attest about the Assurance of Faith?

Hebrews 11:1.Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.Romans 4: 20-22. - faith in Abraham’s case:He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore it was accounted to him for righteousness.James 1: 6-8.But let him ask in faith, not doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not a man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Heidelberg Catechism L.D. 7: Q&A 21:Q. What is true faith?A. True faith is a sure knowledge whereby I accept as true all that God has revealed to us in His Word. At the same time it is a firm confidence that not only to others, but also to me, God has granted forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation out of mere grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.

Canons of Dordt, Chapter V, Articles. 9 -11:

Art. 9 Believers themselves can be certain of this preservation of the elect to salvation and the perseverance of true believers in the faith. And they are indeed certain according to the measure of their faith, by which they firmly believe that they are and always shall remain true and living members of the church, and that they have forgiveness of sins and life eternal.

Art. 10 This assurance is not produced by a certain private revelation besides or outside the Word, but by faith in the promises of God, which He has most abundantly revealed in His Word for our comfort; by the testimony of the Holy Spirit, witnessing with our spirit that we are children and heirs of God; and finally, by the serious and holy pursuit of a clear conscience and of good works. And if the elect of God did not have in this world the solid comfort of obtaining the victory and this unfailing pledge of eternal glory, they would be of all men the most miserable

Art.11 Scripture meanwhile testifies that believers in this life have to struggle with various doubts of the flesh and, placed under severe temptation, do not always feel this full assurance and certainty of perseverance, But God, the Father of all comfort, will not let them be tempted beyond their strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, and by the Holy Spirit will again revive in them the certainty of perseverance.

As well as from Scripture and from the confession of Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 7 which follows, it is clear that assurance belongs solidly to the essence of faith. Saying it stronger: faith is having assurance. Based on Romans 4:6 and James 1: 6, it is clear that doubt is a characteristic of unbelief.That undeniably leaves us with the fact that every believer knows of moments of weakness, and that he can have moments of doubt and not feel the assurance. The Canons of Dordt speak of it, particularly in Chapter. V, Articles 4 -11. Article 5 says this about the saints:By such gross sins, however, they greatly offend God, incur the guilt of death, grieve the Holy Spirit, suspend the exercise of faith, severely wound the consciences, and sometimes for a while lose the sense of God’s favor--This condition cannot however be referenced to as also belonging to faith, but as a sign of unbelief. Repentance is possible in this situation (see the form for celebrating the Lord’s Supper, invitation and admonition) and see Canons of Dordt Article 11 above.Our confession does not deny there can be a time of uncertainty which can afflict a believer, but this uncertainty does not belong to faith. This uncertainty belongs to unbelief and must be resisted.
The doctrine of the assurance of faith in the Westminster Standards easily makes room for an incorrect experientialism with different stages of faith such as developed in the Netherlands in the “Nadere Reformatie” (see translator’s note) and must be rejected.

Chapter 5 The Westminster Standards and the Covenant

5.1. What position do the Westminster Standards take on this?

First we will give an overview of the parts of the Westminster Standards which are relevant to the Covenant, subsequently from the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Westminster Larger Catechism and the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 7: Of God’s Covenant with Man

1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.
2. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.
3. Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life his Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.
4. This covenant of grace is frequently set forth in Scripture by the name of a testament, in reference to the death of Jesus Christ the Testator, and to the everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed.
5. This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel: under the law, it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come; which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called the old testament.
6. Under the gospel, when Christ, the substance, was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper: which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity, and less outward glory, yet, in them, it is held forth in more fullness, evidence and spiritual efficacy, to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles; and is called the new testament. There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations

The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 19; The Law of God 1. God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience, promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to keep it.

The Westminster Larger Catechism, Question and Answer 30 Q. Doth God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?A. God doth not leave all men to perish in the estate of sin and misery, into which they fell by the breach of the first covenant, commonly called the covenant of works; but of his mere love and mercy delivereth his elect out of it, and bringeth them into an estate of salvation by the second covenant, commonly called the covenant of grace.

The Westminster Larger Catechism, Question and Answer 31 Q. With whom was the covenant of grace made?A. The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.

The Westminster Larger Catechism, Question and Answer 166 Q. Unto whom is baptism to be administered?A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, andSo strangers from the covenant of promise, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, but infants descending from parents, either both, or but one of them, professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are in that respect within the covenant, and to be baptized.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question and Answer 12 Q. What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the estate wherein he was created? A. When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.
(under lining added by the report authors)

5.2. How Was this Judged by Reformed Theologians in the Course of History?

5. 2.1. Is the Term “Covenant of Works” Correct? The Westminster Standards make a distinction between a Covenant of Works, before the fall into sin, and Covenant of Grace, after the fall into sin. The Covenant of Grace has two periods, namely the period after the fall until Christ’s birth, and the period after Christ until His return (Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 7).
Calvin made no distinction between a Covenant of Works and a Covenant of Grace. With Calvin grace always precedes the law, even in paradise. Man cannot earn his acceptance by God through obedience, but by being obedient he shows that he is thankful to God for His gracious dealings with him. Life is always a gift of God, not earned by merit. When people do what they ought to do, it is always a response to God’s grace.
Zacharias Ursinus was first among the reformed to express a distinction between a covenant of works and a covenant of grace. Dr. Abraham Kuyper and Prof. Hepp also made a distinction between a covenant of works and a covenant of grace.
S. G. de Graaf and Prof. Dr. K. Schilder also recognized two Covenants but had difficulty with the term 'covenant of works'. This term has the danger that man, in the original situation before the fall, was placed on the foundation of merit and reward. As a result, the two covenants were not only differentiated but they were even held as contradictory. The one covenant based on works, the other on grace. S. G. de Graaf prefers to speak of a covenant of favour before the fall and a covenant of grace after the fall. The covenant community of man with God is based on nothing else than on the gift of God's love and goodness.
Prof. Dr. K. Schilder (Heidelberg Catechism including Part I, page 403. 1947), Prof.J. Kamphuis (Aantekeningen bij J A Heijn’s Dogmatiek, 1982) and Rev. Joh. Francke (Lichtende Verbintenissen, 1984) had an eye, especially for the continuity of God's covenant with man before the fall and after the fall. The last mentioned author therefore prefers to speak about different phases of the covenant.
Prof. J. Kamphuis wrote about the Covenant of Grace as seen by the Westminster Standards in ‘Rondom het Woords’ (Volume 38, no. 11 & Volume 39 no.1, 2, 3). Translated in: Notes on the Westminster Confession.
Another point is that the Westminster in the chapter on the covenant occasionally uses terms which do indeed raise questions. It is a beautiful thing that this Confession expressly speaks about the covenant God had with man already before the fall into sin. Here one can ask whether the term covenant of works is the right choice in distinction from the covenant of grace. This wording leads so quickly to the dangerous idea that Adam could have earned eternal life by his own performance before the fall into sin. We should say that also then it was God’s favour to promise Adam eternal life in the way of obedience. But, such questionable wording does not have to be a stumbling block; also because the Westminster Confession is very clear in confessing that establishing the covenant was a deed of God’s good pleasure and “voluntary condescension.”

5.2.2. With Whom is the Covenant of Grace Made?The Covenant of Grace is made with the elect (Westminster Larger Catechism 31) and with their children (Westminster Larger Catechism 166).

Prof. L. Doekes wrote about this as follows: Furthermore, this Confession is unclear when speaking about the Covenant of Grace. With whom is this covenant made: with the chosen ones to be saved, or with believers and their seed? That this question is not superfluous is shown by Westminster Larger Catechism, which in Question 31: With whom was the covenant of grace made? For which the answer given is: "The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.” No wonder that the comfort of God's covenant promise is not clearly reflected when the Confession speaks about children dying in infancy. (Westminster Confession of Faith, Almanak Fides Qudrat Intellectum, X, 3)
Also Prof. J. Kamphuis expresses his concern: Then it states that in his covenant God freely offers life and salvation unto sinners, requiring of them faith in Him, “while God promises to give His Holy Spirit to all those that are ordained unto eternal life to make them willing and able to believe” (Chapter 7). Speaking about God’s promises this way the question can be raised whether we do not run the danger of making a distinction between a general promise of salvation and a specific promise only to the elect. (In: Rondom het Woord, Volume 38, no. 11 & Volume 39 no.1, 2, 3, translated in English from: Notes on the Westminster Confession)

5.3. Assessment in the light of Scripture and The Three Forms of Unity

5.3.1. Is the term “Covenant of Works” Correct?

There are at least two objections against the term “covenant of Works”. The first is that this term does not appear in the Bible. The second is that the term incorrectly suggests that man can earn God's blessings through his works.Regarding the first, it is indeed true that this term does not appear in the Bible. But a term does not necessarily have to be literally found in the Bible to be scriptural. An example is the term "Trinity '.
In paradise God gave His grace to man. He gave him all the gifts required for him to serve Him in truth in the state of righteousness. In His graciousness God also promised the man eternal life. The condition of God's covenant in Paradise was that man would show perfect obedience (test command). The "works" of man was a condition, but not a merit.
As such, it is better not to describe this covenant as a covenant of works. Further it is also good to note that in the covenant of grace God also demands an active and believing attitude from man. Not to earn anything, but to believe and accept God’s grace in faith and to live out of it.
Nevertheless, the further explanation in the Westminster Standards of the contents of the covenant is in accordance with the Scriptures. The unmerited favor of the Lord is very clearly emphasized in Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 7 paragraphs 1 and 2.

5.3.2. With Who was the Covenant of Grace made?

In the Westminster Larger Catechism, Question and Answer 31 we read that the Covenant of Grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed. The Westminster Larger Catechism, Q&A 31 names Galatians 3: 16 as the proof text:
“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does notsay, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who isChrist.” NKJV The promises are for Abraham and his Seed and that Seed is Christ.

The Westminster Larger Catechism, Question and Answer 31 mentions Isaiah 53: 10 and 11 and following as proof text that in Christ all the elect are meant. We read there that God’s Servant (which is Christ) shall see His offspring and make many to be righteousHow should we read the texts mentioned, in regard to the human party in the covenant? First Gal. 3: 16. This text is part of the larger argument made in Gal. 3 about the value of faith in Christ as opposed to self righteousness, earned by the works of the law. In that argument, we also read in verse 29 about the seed of Abraham in relation to Christ. And so that when you are of Christ, you are in Him as the true seed of Abraham, and thus are heirs of the promise.Is this about the believers or about the elect? Abraham is the father of all believers (Gal. 3: 7). The covenant is made with Abraham and his seed (Gen. 17). In Gal. 3: 16 Christ is designated as the seed of Abraham, so that believers are considered as belonging to Christ, and though faith in Him are included in Him. So the believers because of their faith in Christ, are the seed of Abraham and thus heirs. Thus the way of believing acceptance and obedience, such Abraham had to show remains a requirement. The call to faith and conversion of the believer on earth will still be necessary. Thus it was taught to the congregation of the Galatians. Notice also the use of “all” in the verses 26 – 28. That is the framework for reading Galatians 3:16. The text does not give any evidence to support the notion that the covenant is only made with Christ, but that the promises will be valid for the believers only via Christ.

Now we deal with the other text: Isaiah 53: 10 & 11:

10. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief, when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring , he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

This text speaks about the wonderful promises which in Christ are for all who shelter in Him and follow Him. By faith they are born of God (John 1; 12), and so are also children of Christ. Salvation is in fact only for all who by a true faith are grafted into Christ and accept all His benefits (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Days 7, Q&A 20). The connection with election is that God in His mercy works faith in whomever He wills (Romans 9: 18).
The Scripture passages used to support the Westminster Larger Catechism Q&A 31, actually point to the new covenant in the blood of Christ, that God makes with the believers and their seed as the true seed of Abraham (also see Genesis 17: 7, Acts 2: 39 and Galatians 3: 14, 29).On the relation between faith and election in regard to the covenant, much more can be said. In particular, this was of importance in the development towards the Liberation of 1944. About these matters we can point to: S.O. Los e.a., S. Greijdanis, D. van Dijk, H. Meulink, D. Roorda: Verklaring van Gevoelen met bijlagen (Clarification of Feelings with attachments); S. Greijganus: De Openbaring Gods in Het Nieuwe Testament over Zijn Genade Verbond (God’s Revelation in the New Testament about His Covenant of Grace), Boersma, 1946; J. Kamphuis: Een Eeuwig Verbond (An Everlasting Covenant) Vijlbrief, Haarlem , 1984.

Two Covenants?

While the Westminster Larger Catechism, Q&A 31 points to a Covenant only with the elect, the Westminster Larger Catechism Q&A 166 speaks about a Covenant with covenant promises for those who have faith in and confess obedience to Christ (members of the visible church) and their children.This covenant of Q&A 166 thus appears to be a different covenant than that of Q&A 31. After all, of these children but also their professing parents it cannot be said with certainty whether they are also elect. Thus it presents itself as two covenants: one with the elect, and one with the believing confessors and their children.
The same can be found in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 7 where on the one hand is spoken of the offer of free grace to sinners as a general promise of life and salvation through Jesus Christ, while on the other hand there is the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit to all who are ordained to everlasting life.This differentiation fits with the dualism in the Westminster Larger Catechism between the covenant of the elect for whom the specific promise of the Holy Spirit and faith are (unconditional) sure, and the covenant with believing confessors for whom the offer of grace comes with the demand of faith in Christ.

Thus one comes to a twofold covenant with twofold promises. However, we must conclude that such a concept is not in accord with Scripture. We can possibly see this as a product of scholastic reasoning about God’s Covenant from an election perspective. Such scholastic thinking was in vogue at that time at the Universities. A place was given to Greek Platonic influences in this scholastic thought process, where they made a distinction between the “being” (ideal) and the “administration” (shape or appearance). The “being” (sure gift of the Holy Spirit) applies to those saved, the elect; and the “administration (offer)” or “appearance” then applies to the confessors of the faith.

This dichotomy betrays the puritan background of the authors. After the time of the reformers, election was given an overly predominant place in regard to the purity of the covenant and of the church. These teachings are also referred to as the Scottish covenant teachings (see J. van Genderen & W. H. Velema: Beknopte Gereformeerde Dogmatiek (Concise Reformed Dogmatics), 1985 page 496).
In the course of time, this approach also left a significant mark on the covenant idea, in the Netherlands via the “Nadere Reformatie” (see translator’s note).

It is also noted that there is a certain similarity to the teachings of the Westminster Standards with those of the internal and external covenant as developed by Prof. Dr. A. Kuyper. Also with Kuyper, the everlasting covenant was "reserved for Christ as Mediator and acting as the Head of the elect". “That which falls beyond the idea of the everlasting covenant, is after all, merely an appearance (reflection) of this world”. (A. Kuyper: Dictaten Dogmatics, Locus de Foedere, page 131, cited via J. Kamphuis: An Everlasting Covenant, 1984, page 28 & 29)This heresy by Kuyper and his followers has played a major role in the Liberation of 1944. This doctrine leads to spiritual superficiality, a false sense of assurance in some and uncertainty among others.

The Reformed Congregations also rely on the Westminster Standards for their church’s accepted Covenant doctrine (J. van Genderen: Covenant and Election, 1983, page 18). It is precisely within this group that the religious life of passiveness dominates.

The concept of a double covenant (one with the elect, and one with the confessors of the faith and their children) easily compromises the fact that the two parts of God’s covenant, being a promise and a requirement (condition) are applicable to all members of just one covenant. For God, by His covenant places on all His covenant children an ongoing responsibility. He comes to all only in the way of an obedient living faith to fulfill His solid promises.

The concept of a double covenant can also lead to uncertainty about the promises offered, as if this security is to be found in the results of self-examination to determine if one is or is not elect.

The concept of a double covenant in the Westminster Standards seems also to be related to the concept of a double church (see Chapter 6 of this report).

Chapter 6 The Westminster Standards on the Government of the Church and the Doctrine of the Church

6.1. Westminster Confession of Faith in regard to the Government of the Church

6.1.1. Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 31: About Synods and Councils
Paragraph 2:It belongeth to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of his church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same: which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission; not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in his Word. (underlining added by the report authors)
The underlined passage of the Westminster Confession of Faith speaks of direct Godly authority of synods (assemblies). References given from Holy Scripture are: Acts 15: 15, 19, 24, 27-31; 16:4; Matt. 18: 17-20. However these are really not convincing because they relate either the authority of the apostle himself (Acts 15 and 16) or to the authority of the local congregation (Matt. 18: 17-20).
The Belgic Confession speaks differently, rather reticent about the rule of the *church within the church federation, The Belgic Confession of Faith Article 32 places great emphasis on the obedience to God’s Word. It does not speak of a direct authority given to a synod.Neither does the reformed church order speak of it. We recognize a delegated authority to the broader/major assemblies, an authority outside of the offices, agreed to voluntarily. Article 31 gives the basis by which synod decisions can be given authority: the Word of God and the agreed upon church order.
In the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 31 room is given for the evil of hierarchy and synodical domination. We possibly have to regard this as a consequence of the political compromise in the direction of the English Parliament (See also chapter 23: paragraph 3 of the original text).
The matter of church government was one of the reasons the General Synod of Amersfoort 1948 could not accept this confession as a common basis for contacts with others (see Chapter 3, paragraph 1 of this report).

6.1.2 Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 23: The Civil Magistrate and the Church
In Chapter 23 paragraph 3 the Westminster Confession of Faith, in the original version which is used outside of North of America (with the exceptions of possible adaptations elsewhere speaks about the civil magistracy. It gives them authority to convene and attend synods and to provide that whatever is transacted therein be in accord with the mind of God.
It will be clear that here is spoken of the merging of the authority of the state and church which is not in accord with God’s Word. Here the magistrate is assigned authority in the church, which it is not entitled to..
In the adapted American version of 1788 (adopted also in Korea and other places) this is left out (see van Rongen 1986 pg. 66, 67).There paragraph 3 reads: It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger. (Isaiah 49: 23) And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in His church, no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denominationof Christians, according to their own profession and belief (Acts 18: 14-16, Psalm 105: 15).
(underlining by the authors of this report).
In this adapted version we see evidence of the dangerous American denominationalism. “Denominations of Christians.”. Within denominationalism, different ‘denominations’ are compared to the branches of a tree (the catholic church). According to the Westminster Confession of Faith, these ‘denominations’ are to be treated equally by the civil magistrate, when referring to the rule of Christ in His church. How differently the Belgic Confession speaks in Article 29 about the true church, as distinct from sects which unlawfully call themselves church.
Although the church and the other church groups (federation is not applicable to Presbyterian churches) will be viewed by the civil magistrate in a different way, we are dealing here not with government regulations but with a confession of faith. Here also the body of Christ is referred to as the body for which He has given His life. When speaking of the church of Christ it must be done purely in accordance to the truth of God’s Word..
What is presented in Chapter 23 is consistent with that which the Westminster Confession of Faith explains about the doctrine of the church in chapter 25.

6. 2. The Westminster Confession of Faith Concerning the Doctrine of the Church

6. 2.1. The Text of the Westminster Confession of Faith Concerning the Doctrine of the Church
Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 25:

1. The catholic or universal church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.
2. The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.
3. Unto this catholic visible church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and doth, by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto.
4 This catholic church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less visible. And particular churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.
5. The purest churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated, as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan. Nevertheless, there shall be always a church on earth, to worship God according to his will.
6. There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.

Ds. G van Rongen (1986) adds the following about paragraph 6: Paragraph 6 is not circumscribed by all Presbyterian churches. For example The Evangelical Church of Ireland has: The church has no head other than Jesus Christ. The pretension that anyone would be Christ’s representative and head of the church is unscriptural, finds no factual justification anywhere and is an illegal presumption and a dishonoring of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The OPC on its official website has left off the last part of paragraph that it states: There is no other head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the pope of Rome be head thereof, in any sense.

6.2.2 How did the Reformed Churches and Reformed Theologians Historically Judge this Church Doctrine?

General Synod Marienberg 2005 When dealing with church practices in the Presbyterian Churches maintaining the Westminster Confessions, it is important to note the decision of General Synod Marienberg 2005 to consider invalid the decisions of General Synod Ommen 1993, General Synod Berkel and Rodenrijs 1996, General Synod Leusden 1999, and General Synod Zuidhorn 2002-2003 to accept sister church relations with the Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia (Article 25 J). Considerations for this are, firstly, that the FRCA has no sister church relationship with the PCEA because according to the judgment of the FRCA the PCEA deviates from Scripture and confession by amongst others, allowing ministers from other denominations (e.g. Baptists) on their pulpits, and for allowing people from outside the PCEA participate in the Lord’s Table based on their own testimony.

General Synod Marienberg 2005 adds further in its considerations:

- Scripture teaches that Gods whole counsel must be proclaimed (Acts 20-27; Rev. 22:18-19). A Baptist can certainly not do so when speaking about the covenant. The confession says that the purity of the preaching is a mark of the Church of Christ (Article 29 Belgic Confession of Faith). The purity not only concerns the contents, but also the preacher. The Church Order emphasizes the great care that must be taken when office bearers are recognized and accepted, Article 3, 9. The lawfulness of the calling is at stake..
- Furthermore Scripture teaches us that God’s wrath will come upon the congregation when church discipline is neglected (1 Cor. 11: 17-34). In regard to the unsubstantiated participation in the error of accepting a personal testimony, the synod points to John 5: 31.
- The church confesses that the Lord’s Table must be kept holy. Also the administration of the sacraments is a mark of the church of Christ (Article 29 BC).
- An appeal to Article 50 (CO) in regard to minor matters is not appropriate, here we are not dealing with matters of minor importance.
- This does not concern differences which in the past did not prevent a sister church relationship with Presbyterian churches. Entering into a sister church relationship must be based on current information and testing in submission to the Word of God and not only on the basis of past synod decisions about the status of a denomination (sic, church).


K. Schilder, G. van Dooren, C. Trimp, and L. Doekes Prof. Dr. K. Schilder wrote in the De Reformatie of May 20 1950 under the heading “Ware of Valse Synagoge” (True or false synagogue”) Verzamelde Werken, De Kerk (Collected works, the Church), vol. III, Osterbaan & Le Cointre 1965, pg. 364). He called the Westminster Confession of Faith “far from being reformed” in the following passage: The Westminster Confession (far from being reformed in its doctrine of the church doctrine) claims that some (!) of the purest churches under heaven can degenerate from churches of Christ to becoming synagogues of Satan.

Rev. G. van Dooren (CanRC) wrote a thesis for a Masters of Theology degree (Toronto) in 1963 entitled: “Paul or Plato, a Search for the Origin of the Concept of the ‘Invisible Church’ as an Existing Entity”. He concluded in a well-grounded and thorough study into the concept of an “Invisible Church” that was rejected by him as unscriptural: Our final conclusion must be that the whole body of ecclesiological Scholasticism as present in Chapter 25 of the Westminster Confession of Faith; and that this scholasticism, in clear distinction from the teachings of Calvin and the early reformed Creeds betrays taints of Greek philosophy. Although other influences cannot be denied, the platonic kinship is, in our opinion, more distinct and clear, while generally speaking a strong scholasticism with its inclination to complicated distinctions is perceivable everywhere.

Prof. Dr. C. Trimp wrote an article in De Reformatie of May 30, 1964, entitled: “Calvijn over de Kerk”: (“Calvin about the Church”) regarding the invisible church. In conclusion we would say the following about this matter: The distinction“visible- invisible church” plays no significant role in Calvin’s doctrine and does not represent in a dominant principle. This may be one more reason to consider the opinion of K. Schilder’s that it would be better for us not to use the term “invisible church” at all. After Calvin’s time the idea of ‘invisible church’ has been abused in many ways. As such the idea has been connected with views from pagan philosophies concerning the insubstantiality of the visible and could in this manner result in the marginalization of the seriousness of official concrete church gathering.
For example the concept of the invisible church could be developed, in a Kuyperian way into a scholastic construct that attempts to place the ‘mystical body of Christ’ and the earthly church-institute in a primary-secondary relationship, with the serious faults of the church concepts in the Philosophy of the Law Idea (Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee).

Furthermore here are the connections to thought processes that are related to the so called outward call and the outward covenant in the visible church and the inner call and the inner covenant in the invisible church. Examples of all these constructs can be found in fairly recent literature. According to Karl Barth the invisible church is God’s preserve for us, and the visible church is our venture in God’s direction. Added to that we must realize that the French and Dutch confessions have not taken on the term ‘invisible church’ but speak concretely of God’s catholic (universal) church as the concrete gathering of true Christian believers via the official administration of the churches.

It would be worth the effort, to research how far the evil influences of theconfessional codification of this distinction reaches (e.g. America) as seen in the Westminster Confession of 1647 (chapter.25),. (underlining by the authors of this report)

Prof. Dr. L. Doekes ended his article about the Westminster Confession in Fides Qudrat Intellectum Almanack (1970, pages 145-192) after positive and critical remarks with a remarkable conclusion after 1967: In the meanwhile we have observed deviations, which make it impossible tointegrally accept this Confession and to endorse it. (underlining by report authors) The way in which the confession speaks about the church promotes and justifies criticism. The fact that the term ‘denominations of Christians’ appears more than once is understandable in chapter 23 about the civil authorities, even though this expression is more suited to a political program then to a confession of the church. But to speak in a confessional manner about an invisible and a visible church is contradictory and self-defeating, and cannot be defended or based on Scripture. Where does God’s Word say that the catholic or universal church is invisible? And why is the phrase “body of Christ” applied to the invisible church while Scripture, for example, uses this attribute for the local congregation at Corinth? Also what is said here about the catholicity of the church is confusing. According to the Westminster Standards the catholic or universal church consists of the total of all the elect and is called invisible. At the same time there is talk of the visible church being catholic as well. Christ has entrusted the administration of the gospel to it; it is sometimes more and sometimes less visible (…) Fortunately the Reformed churches of the Netherlands have not taken up this kind of confessional language. They speak differently, more Scripturally about the church of the Lord.

6.2.3. Assessment in the Light of Scripture and the Three Forms of Unity
Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 25, par. 1 and 2: the ‘invisible church’ and the ‘visible church‘.

The concept of the invisible catholic church as a matter besides the visible catholic church is not defendable from Scripture. The Westminster Confession of Faith calls this invisible church the assembly of all elect, throughout all time. However even though the Westminster Confession calls this church invisible it is also named Christ’s bride and body. That the ‘invisible church’ is not an ‘aspect’ of the one church of Christ becomes clear when in paragraph 2 another church is labeled visible and ‘likewise’ called catholic, universal. But it receives other names (Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God) and other members. Thus according to the Westminster Confession of Faith there are two churches as distinct entities, with other members.

The Westminster Confession of Faith uses the following scripture references to validate the invisible church as a separate entity: Ephesians. 1: 10, 22, 23; & Chapter 5: 23, 27, 32 and Col. 1: 18. We wish to determine whether these references support this concept.

The letter to the Ephesians is directed to a congregation with an address, and therefore visible. In Eph.1, Paul, as apostle of Jesus Christ, focuses himself specifically on the congregation as “the saints and believers in Christ Jesus in Ephesus” (verse 1). This concerns a visible congregation, the congregation as the body, of which Christ is the head (verses 22, 23). It points thus also to the one catholic church which the Lord visibly gathers on earth, as it is spread and dispersed over the whole earth (Article 27 Belgic Confession of Faith). In all this Paul never turns his discussion in the direction of an invisible church, comprised of all of the elect.

In Ephesians 1: 1-14, God speaks of His intention to bring sons to glory in Jesus Christ. Indeed this Godly intention certainly affects His election of all the elect. This will take place only in the way of adoption as sons through Jesus Christ (verse 5). This is a process, an ongoing work through the means of becoming knowledgeable of the secret will of God (verse 9). Faith may come via hearing the Word of Truth (verse 13). In that work of Christ, He is head of all those He gathers in order to receive the inheritance on the last day, in the fullness of time, to come to the praise of His glory (verse 10, 11).In order to come to that end the Lord gathers His own in His church, which have local addresses, and whose Head He is (see for example Revelation 1-3). In short, the church gathering work that is accomplished as intended by God is still incomplete. It will only be completed on the last day.

While Ephesians 2:11 - 22 and 4: 1 - 16 speaks primarily about the local congregation, there is also no reason to understand it differently in Ephesians 5: 23, 27, and 32. Yes, here it also denotes the one catholic apostolic church to which the local church belongs. However, here the congregation is not an invisible catholic church, which exists out of the full number of the elect, who have been gathered into one, or will be gathered into one, under Christ their Head, as the Westminster Confession of Faith calls her in paragraph 1.

What about Colossians 1: 18, here is a citation from Rev. Van Dooren: How can someone maintain that Col.1: 18 refers to the invisible church, while a little further on (verse 24, 25) in the same chapter, the letter speaks of the visible church (“… for the sake of His body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the Word of God fully known.…”).

With further reference regarding the concept of the “invisible church” the following observation by Prof. Schilder from his dictation ‘De Kerk’ can also be referenced::

1. Christ’s church gathering work is an ongoing work that He continues from the beginning of creation until His return (HC Lord’s Day 21). His work is not finished. As living Lord He gathers His church every day. This gathering goes on every day during the unfinished present time.
2. Christ’s gathering work requires a service of cooperation from all believers toward the building of His body and for reaching the full number of all true believers with the completion of all things. In this way His church becomes larger every day, although divided between heaven and earth until His return. Therefore there is no invisible church thought of as coming from election which is already “complete”, beside a visible church which still changes and increases.
3. The Nicene Creed says clearly that we believe one, holy catholic and apostolic church. It is one church, separated by the Lord in the world, which is universal and built upon the apostolic foundation of God’s Word.
4. The Apostles Creed professes that we believe in the communion of saints. This communion is identical to the church, and assumes a joint and mutual activity.
5. We can believe that there is one catholic church although we cannot see it in every aspect. People cannot see the whole church of Christ any more than they can see an entire nation. There are also other invisible aspects; the faith of its members, their election or the hypocrites present. These are matters only the Lord truly knows. To our eyes the church can also appear to become very small, so that she may not always be detectable. See Article. 27 of the Belgic Confession of Faith, where it refers to the dangerous time in the reign of Ahab. Although Paragraph. 4 of Chapter 25, Westminster Confession of Faith rightly states this (see the above mentioned) however speaking of a visible universal or catholic church is a contradiction in terms.
6, There is one Lord and therefore one church, the one catholic church, as we confess in Belgic Confession Article 27 which is spread and dispersed throughout the entire world, However, it is joined and united with heart and will, in one and the same Spirit, by the power of faith. Of this same church we confess how we recognize her in Articles 28 and 29 and what our calling is in regard to the one church of Jesus Christ.
7. No one may keep away from this local church that is a visible and discernable holy congregation (Article 28 Belgic Confession).
Conclusion:The construct of a so called invisible church as an assembly of other members next to a so called visible church, as the Westminster Confession professes it in Chapter 25 is contrary to Scripture; blurs the recognition of the church gathering work of Christ; hinders the proper cooperation of the true believers in this church gathering work and promotes the idea of pluriformity.
It is also contrary to what we believe in the 12 Articles of Faith and the Nicene Creed: “There is one (not two) holy catholic and apostolic church”. Also, the Belgic Confession Articles 27- 29 do not know of such an invisible church beside the visible one.The construct presented in the Westminster Confession, Chapter 25 of two “phenomena” is to be refused, as a platonic philosophical concept of essence and appearance.
The practice in presbyterian churches of an open Lord’s Supper table for non church members, such as the Orthodox Presbyterian Church does and which confess the Westminster Confession of Faith, and as seen from the arguments these churches present, flows from the promotion of the invisible church as it is conveyed in Chapter 25 of the Westminster Confession of Faith. (see letter sent by deputies Relations with Foreign Churches (BBK ) of the DGK(h) to Synod Carman West of the CanRC).


The Westminster Confession of Faith; Chapter 25, paragraph 3.

As a consequence of the impossible distinction between two catholic churches, there is also a distinction between, on the one hand, the terms “bride” and “body” of Christ that are reserved for the so called invisible church and on the other hand the terms “Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ” and “House and Family of God” that are reserved for the so called visible church. Such a distinction is not compatible with Scripture. These are human distinctions, not distinctions made by the Lord in His Word.The church also is not identical to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, which has to be considered as being broader than just the church.(see Prof. Dr. S. Greijdanus, Kerk en Koningkrijk Gods (Church and Kingdom of God) in Referaten bundel Congress van Gereformeerden, 1948, pages 29 - 52).The Westminster Confession of Faith; Chapter 25, paragraphs 4 and 5. The Westminster Confession of Faith substantiates its distinction of individual member churches of the catholic church as being ‘more or less pure’ with the following Scripture proofs: 1 Corinthians. 5: 6, 7 and Revelation 2 and 3. These Scripture references actually contain serious admonitions against abuses in a number of New Testament congregations: Corinth and several of the seven congregations to which the letters in the book of Revelation were sent. Over against this, the congregation of Philadelphia was praised and comforted by the Lord (Rev. 3: 10).

These churches were instituted by the apostles and their co-workers, and are as such churches of Christ. In the aforementioned texts the norm to be and remain church of Christ and the doing away of sinful practices, is placed before them. Thus we read of the threat that the candle stick will be removed if there is hardening in sin (Rev. 2: 5).The summarizing mark of the church as formulated in the Belgic Confession, Article 29 was at issue in these churches: 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.When the Westminster Confession of Faith calls these churches ‘less pure’ but still, without further comment will acknowledge them as ‘true churches’ of Christ. It by passes the above mentioned need for earnest admonition and the urgent appeal contained in the given Scripture proofs.

Even in faithful true Churches errors can arise at a given moment. Then it comes down to doing away with error and to break with unrighteousness (2 Timothy 2:19).
Within Chapter 25 of the Westminster Confession there is no room for the sharp distinction between true and false church as is professed in Article 29 of the Belgic Confession. Nor does it distinguish between all kinds of sects, which falsely call themselves church, and the body of the communion of the true church as it is presented in Article 29 of the Belgic Confession.
We are also not called on “to discern diligently and very carefully from the Word of God what is the true church” Belgic Confession, Article 29.

In its place a whole spectrum of purity is presented of the ‘visible church’, a sliding scale is given, from ‘the purist churches under heaven which are subject to mixture and error’ on the one hand, to, the other end of the spectrum, churches which are so ‘degenerated’ that ‘they are no longer churches of Christ but have become synagogues of Satan‘.

At the ICRC (International Conference of Reformed Churches) in 1993 it was conceded after a lengthy discussion that the Westminster Confession of Faith accepts the concept of more or less pure churches, but that it supposedly refers to the variations between congregations within one federation (see C. Trimp: Meer of Minder Zuivere Kerk, De Reformatie Volume 70/6 1994, page 108-110).However a well-known presbyterian commentary on the Westminster Larger Catechism (J. G. Vos - edited by G. I. Williamson: The Larger Catechism; a commentary, P.R. Publishing, 2002, page 136) points clearly in the direction of pluriformity of church ‘denominations’ and not particularly to congregations within one church in its comments on the Westminster Larger Catechism Article 62.

“What denomination is the true visible church? Not one denomination can rightly claim to be the true visible church. Each denomination (and congregation) which is loyal to the truth of the gospel according to God’s Word is a branch (or part) of the visible church. When any one denomination claims to be the true visible church, this necessarily implies that the others are false. Such a claim is presumptuous and sinful. We must realize that the true visible church is greater than any one denomination. While we believe that our own denomination holds a broader and more consistent testimony of the truth than others (which is our proper reason for being members of it), we should freely recognize that the visible church includes many branches which hold the gospel with a greater or lesser degree of consistency”. (under lining by the report authors)It is not possible to bring the doctrine of more or less pure churches, into conformity with the reformed church doctrine as is confessed in Article 29 Belgic Confession of Faith..

The command that the church should preserve the truth (1 Timothy 3: 15) is thus greatly relativized in the Westminster Standards. The call to reject what is contrary to God’s Word in order to remain church of Christ is absent. People describe a situation without norms or constraints. The toleration of error by a church will not be an impediment to keep seeing such a church as also a “denomination (member)” of the universal church of Jesus Christ.


Along with the invisible church concept, the spectrum of the members of the visible catholic church being ‘more or less pure’, clears the way for pluriformity of the church.
This pluriformity is an intrinsic proposition of the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC) in North America. By seeing the affiliated churches as branches of the same tree (church) this council accepts this ‘denominationalism’ or pluriformity .

This leads to church indifference and the undermining of the need to fight against all error. This fighting is clearly underwritten in the Reformed form of subscription, the form for the Installation of office bearers and ministers and the Reformed Church Order (article 18) dealing with the training for the ministry by the church. (SdM: that professors should defend the pure doctrine against heresies and errors is missing from the Canadian Book of Praise, Article 19, but exists in the dutch (also Gkh) church order!)

This also leads the way to an open table and even pulpits to members of other churches (lack of fencing the Lord’s Supper). People will also be less concerned about being bound to the accepted confessions of the church (lack of confessional membership).The words of Prof. Trimp in 1963 appear to have been proven to be prophetic (see 6.2.2. above).

Also for some within presbyterian churches there came an awareness for the inaccuracies in the previously stated Westminster church doctrine because of bad consequences. First of all, we mention the well-known Dr. J. Murray of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, who rejected the concept of an invisible church alongside the visible church, as not based on Scripture and dangerous, (The Church: Its Definition in Terms of ’Visible’ and ’Invisible’ Invalid, in: Collected Writings of John Murray, Volume 1., The Banner of Truth Trust, 1976, pages 231 - 236).

K. Kok and B. R. Hofford, two ministers from the OPC, were brought to a crisis so that they for this reason liberated their congregations (Blue Bell and Tri-County Congregations) and joined the Canadian Reformed Churches! This happened in 1984/1986 and 1983/1987, note well, after the synod of 1977 where the CanRC first officially recognized the Orthodox Presbyterian Church as a true church! These ministers accounted for this by stating that there is a clear correlation between the church doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards and the doctrine of pluriformity with its associated erroneous Lord’s Supper practices (K. Kok: Presbyterian or Reformed - The History of the Controversy at Blue Bell, Orangeville, 1986; B.R. Hofford: Principle or Preference? Shield and Sword, 1988,Volume 21 no. 1).

Finally it is a remarkable fact that the (RCUS) Reformed Churches of the United States (a sister church of CanRC) which have the Three Forms of Unity as basis, call upon the Westminster Confession of Faith to support their position of advocating pluriformity (http://rcus. Orgrcuswp/church-unity).


6.3. The Westminster Larger Catechism and the Westminster Shorter Catechism concerning the Doctrine of the Church

6.3.1. The Text of the Larger Catechism and the Shorter Catechism about the Doctrine of the Church

The Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. & A. 54.Q. How is Christ exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God?A. Christ is exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God, in that as God-man he is advanced to the highest favor with God the Father, with all fullness of joy, glory, and power over all things in heaven and earth; and doth gather and defend his church, and subdue their enemies; furnisheth his ministers and people with gifts and graces, and maketh intercession for them.
The Westminster Larger Catechism, Q & A. 60Q. Can they who have never heard the gospel, and so know not Jesus Christ,norbelieve in him, be saved by their living according to the light of nature? A. They who, having never heard the gospel, know not Jesus Christ, and believe not in him, cannot be saved, be they ever so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, or the laws of that religion which they profess; neither is there salvation in any other, but in Christ alone, who is the Savior only of his body the church.
The Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. & A. 61Q. Are all they saved who hear the gospel, and live in the church?A. All that hear the gospel, and live in the visible church, are not saved; but they only who are true members of the church invisible.

The Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. & A. 62Q. What is the visible church? A. The visible church is a society made up of all such as in all ages and places of the world do profess the true religion, and of their children.
The Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. & A. 63 Q. What are the special privileges of the visible church?A. The visible church hath the privilege of being under God's special care and government; of being protected and preserved in all ages, notwithstanding theopposition of all enemies; and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation, and offers of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel, testifying, that whosoever believes in him shall be saved, and excluding none that will come unto him.

The Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. & A. 64Q. 64. What is the invisible church?A. The invisible church is the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ the head.
The Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. & A. 65Q. What special benefits do the members of the invisible church enjoy by Christ? A. The members of the invisible church by Christ enjoy union and communion with him in grace and glory.
The Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. & A. 68 Q. Are the elect only effectually called?A. All the elect, and they only, are effectually called; although others may be, and often are, outwardly called by the ministry of the word, and have some common operations of the Spirit; who, for their willful neglect and contempt of the grace offered to them, being justly left in their unbelief, do never truly come to Jesus Christ.
The Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. & A. 69Q. What is the communion in grace which the members of the invisible churchhave with Christ?A. The communion in grace which the members of the invisible church have with Christ, is their partaking of the virtue of his mediation, in their justification, adoption, sanctification, and whatever else, in this life, manifests their union with him.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. & A. 95The church gathering work of Christ is not specifically spoken about in the Shorter Catechism. However in this Q.& A baptism is relegated to the ‘visible’ church.Q. To whom is baptism to be administered?A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him; but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized.

6.3.2. Assessment of the Westminster Larger Catechism and theWestminster Shorter Catechism on the Church in the light of Scripture and The Three Forms of Unity.

The dichotomy of visible and invisible continues in the citations mentioned.Everything is included in the scheme of election, so the demand for faith and obedience is neglected. This becomes clear when we compare Westminster Larger Catechism Q.& A. 71 with Heidelberg Catechism Q. & A. 20, for example.
Also we read in the Larger Catechism Q. & A.68 of a twofold calling: an ’effectual calling’ of the members of the invisible church (elect) on the one hand and a calling by the ‘outward ministry of the word’, on the other hand, for the others.
The Canons of Dordt speak differently in Chapter III/IV for in Article 10 we also read of an effectual calling of the believers by the Lord, but the way in which the calling comes to those who don’t believe is not described as an ’outward ministry’.
In the Canons of Dordt, Chapter III/IV, Article 9, we confess: It is not the fault of the gospel, nor of the Christ offered by the gospel, nor of God, who calls through the gospel and who even confers various gifts upon them, that many who are called through the ministry of the gospel do not come and are not converted. The fault lies in themselves.
The Canons of Dordt defends the doctrine of election on all fronts, but here it points out directly that unbelief is the cause of becoming lost. There is, in comparison to the Westminster, a much greater appeal to yet accept the Word of God and not to reject the gospel of Christ as Redeemer.

6.4. The Connection between the Doctrine of the Covenant and the Doctrine of the Church in the Westminster St6andards.

For both of these matters of faith, we see in the Westminster Confession of Faith intensive theologizing from the election perspective. Examples (to only mention the Westminster Confession of Faith) are:Westminster Confession, Chapter 7, paragraph 3,‘and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life his Holy Spirit,’Westminster Confession, Chapter 8, paragraph 1‘unto whom He did from all eternity give a people, to be his seed’ Westminster Confession, Chapter. 8, paragraph 5‘but also an eternal inheritance in the kingdom of heaven for all those whom the Father hath given unto Him.’ Westminster Confession, Chapter. 8, paragraph. 6‘yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof were communicated unto the elect, in all ages successively from the beginning of the world,’ Westminster Confession, Chapter 10, paragraph.1‘All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased,’ Westminster Confession, Chapter 25, paragraph 1‘The catholic or universal church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect,’

Godly election is without doubt a fully Scriptural given, but it is not defensible to view our calling from out of the secret will of God. It is not asked of us if we can know the election of God, but it is asked that we show evidence of faith.With such an overwhelming election perspective we end up losing sight of the call to obedience and having a living relationship with God in Christ. Then God’s secret will (unknown to us) predominates, as it were, over God’s revealed will (which we must know).Having such a perspective on the faith life, can lead to a false despondency. It can easily also feed a covenant automatism (election without the stipulation of faith) and an ecclesiastical indifference.

That which the Lord demands is found in Deut. 29:29:

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
It appears from the Westminster Standards that the covenant is made primarily with the elect (see chapter. 5).This covenant membership is again irrevocably tied to the membership in the invisible church in which God in Christ has placed the elect from all time.With such a point of departure from election, the appeal of God’s Word to take part in the fellowship with Christ, under Christ’s banner, to live in fellowship with Him and to gather with Him in His church gathering work, is quickly lost into the back ground.

We see the effect of it in presbyterian churches with the toleration of heresy (in baptism), in slack adherence to church confessions (‘lack of confessional membership’), in the recognition of all kinds of church federations (pluriformity, denominationalism, membership in NAPARC), and in opening the Lord’s Supper to non-members (’lack of fencing the Lord’s Table).
We deem that the way the Westminster Standards deal with matters of faith, such as covenant and church is irreconcilable with the way that the Three Forms of Unity speak of these things.
Consequently, these doctrines form a danger for the church that should not be underestimated.

Chapter 7 Literature Consulted

Acts of GKv General Synod Amersfoort 1948Acts of GKv General Synod Amersfoort-West 1967Acts of GKv General Synod Hoogeveen 1969Acts of GKv General Synod Groningen 1978 (appendices…)

Acts of DGK(h) General Synod Mariënberg 2005Acts of DGK(h) General Synod Emmen 2009

Letter Deputies BBK (For Relations with Foreign Churches) of the DGK(h)/RCNr to the CanRC General Synod of Carman-West 2013

L. Doekes, De Westminster Confessie. FQI, 1970
G. van Dooren, Paul or Plato, A Search for the Origin of the Concept of 'the Invisible Church' as an Existing Entity, Masterscriptie Theologie (Toronto), 1965
Joh. Francke, Lichtende Verbintenissen, Kampen, 1987.
J. van Genderen & W.H. Velema, Beknopte Gereformeerde Dogmatiek, (Concise Reformed Dogmatics), 1985
J. van Genderen, Verbond en Verkiezing (Covenant and Election), 1983
S. Greijdanus, De openbaring Gods in het nieuwe testament over zijn genadeverbond, Boersma, 1946
B.R. Hofford: From OPC to CRC: Principle or preference? Shield and Sword, Volume 21 no. 1, 1988.
J. Kamphuis: Aantekeningen bij J.A. Heijns Dogmatiek, Kampen, 1982
J. Kamphuis: Een Eeuwig Verbond (An Everlasting Covenant), Vijlbrief, Haarlem, 1984.
J. Kamphuis: Rondom het Woord vol, 38, no.11; vol. 39, no. 1,2,3
K. Kok: Presbyterian or Reformed - The History of the Controversy at Blue Bell,Orangeville, 1986
S.O. Los, S. Greijdanus, D. van Dijk, H. Meulink, D. Roorda, Verklaring van Gevoelen met enkele bijlagen; 1944
Murray, J. The Church: Its Definition in Terms of ‘visible’ and invisible’ Invalid, in:Collected writings of John Murray, Vol. 1., The Banner of Truth Trust, 1976.RCUS: htttp://rcus.orgrcuswp/church-unity 1999
G. van Rongen: De Westminster Confessie met de Grote en de Kleine Catechismus, Vuurbaak, Barneveld, 1986
K. Schilder, Heidelbergsche Catechismus, deel I, 1947
K. Schilder, Verzamelde Werken, De Kerk III, Oosterbaan & Le Cointre 1965
K. Schilder, De Kerk, college-dcitaat. Kampen, 1978
C.Trimp, Calvijn over de Kerk, De Reformatie, jg 39/34,1964
C.Trimp, Meer of Minder Zuivere Ware Kerk, De Reformatie Jg 70/6, 1994
J.G. Vos – edited by G.I. Williamson: The Westminster Larger Catechism; acommentary, P.R. Publishing, 2002