Resolutely yes 13
On April 7, 2018, General Synod Lansingerland of the Reformed Churches restored (DGK) assembled for the fifth time. Being an important issue the work and propositions of deputies ACOBB were on the agenda. Part of these deputies’ work is the unity of churches in The Netherlands. At this publicly accessible assembly the relation with the Reformed Churches in The Netherlands (GKN) and the committee’s work on these matters were discussed extensively.
After an intensive discussion in a good atmosphere the following decision was carried unanimously.
Decision GS Lansingerland on the relation DGK – GKN
General Synod Lansingerland of the Reformed Churches restored (DGK), assembled in Zwolle on April 7, 2018,
- that the resented article in De Bazuin reflects only quotations of parts taken from the Acts of the previous Synod and from a brochure of DGK Zwolle. Nevertheless, the timing of publication of this article could have been better.
- that through talks between DGK and GKN deputies the perception and the principal aspects of the recent church history can be mutually discussed and thus mutual objections can also be removed.
- that it is important for these talks that on the fundamental matters under discussion agreement has been reached.
- to acknowledge with disappointment the fact that the GKN Synod of March 17, 2018, by requiring the church federation of DGK to publicly distance itself from an article in the magazine De Bazuin makes an unreasonable and unfair condition for the continuation of the talks between DGK and GKN.
- to maintain the invitation, made by GS Groningen 2014/15, while awaiting the reaction of GKN and as yet to continue the talks with each other on the remaining subjects.
- to express that the GKN are seen as churches which want to stand on the foundation of apostles and prophets, which must be the ground for further talks.
- to send a letter to the GKN church federation in which an invitation for talks is repeated and in which the intentions of the maintained invitation are further explained.
- to mandate deputies ACOBB to remain diligent on any openings for talks with the GKN and to authorize them to enter these talks.
- The resented article in De Bazuin as such is no official statement of the church federation of DGK. Synod can only give its opinion with regard to the contents and aspects of the article after the intended talks about them between DGK and GKN have taken place.
- The fact that deputies ACOBB are the legal representatives of the DGK church federation in the talks with GKN is incorrectly disregarded.
- Although a hindrance is seen by GKN for the continuation of the talks and a continued contact can’t be forced, the invitation of GS Groningen 2014/15 remains no less valid from the calling formulated then.
- The GKN letter of March 12, 2016, demands an answer from synod. Moreover synod confirms that it has approved the acting of the deputies during the past period.
- Conducting talks on behalf of the synod is part of the tasks of the deputies ACOBB.
We are happy with this clear decision. The brother hand remains extended to ‘the brother people GKN’ in spite of all the troubles caused by historical and actual events.
The work of deputies of the past three years received full approval of the synod. DGK states that the talks can be continued, ‘simply’ and unabated. So now a reaction is expected from GKN whether they will accept the offered hand.
By the way, the synod had an idea on a practical issue, i.e. to propose to GKN to make use of a ‘technical’ chairman at the talks. Such a chairman doesn’t interfere with the contents of the talks, but only looks after a technically correct progress of the assembly. E.g. if each side gets enough room for what they want to say and if questions are adequately answered. Such a chairman might also help soften emotions, if needed give the assembly a time-out, etc.
If we may take the liberty, we’d like the talks to be publicly accessible for members of DGK and GKN. As it is they are about issues which have consequences for the members themselves. Issues which are interesting to each and everyone, at least they should be.
Public deliberations on the issues have all kinds of positive effects. Church members are directly informed and no longer only dependent on a (necessarily) concise press release. They can taste the ‘atmosphere’, how do deputies talk to each other, is there indeed love for one another and are the issues actually discussed in the light of the Scripture. And on the platform the talks with each other as brothers and sisters, who otherwise seldom or never meet, can help to remove contrasts, misunderstandings and caricatures ‘on the church floor’.
It might be that the presence of public also has a softening effect on unavoidable emotions. You can’t just say anything and matters must be discussed quietly and candidly. Of course there may be moments in which the doors will be closed, i.e. when personal matters are at stake or mutual censorship has to be imposed in order to be able to continue. But everybody will understand that.
In the last edition of Resolutely no 12 (Vastberaden nee 12) we published the last letter of GKN (17-03-2018) to DGK and gave our comments on this letter. The letter also states the reproach that I hold the GKN accountable for ‘a double agenda’: GKN actually says they want a quick union with DGK, but in practice we see ‘a delaying tactic’.
First, the words ‘double agenda’ are not my words, although I used the words ‘delaying tactic’ in connection with the GKN decision of March 2016. This GKN synod decided to stop the talks with DGK and to await what the DGK synod of 2018 would decide concerning objections against the so-called ‘list of points’ of the DGK synod of 2015. And subsequently, in October 2018 GKN synod might decide whether and how the talks could be continued.
I expressed my great grief about this and asked the question:
I hope the reader won’t blame me, but doesn’t this very much look like a delaying tactic? 
Today it is already April 2018. GKN still requires satisfactory answers to the same questions as in 2016, or else DGK will be punished with a definite ending of the talks. That is quite conform the original planning in 2016 and convinced me that the question I already asked in 2016 was justified.
Rev. J.R. Visser (GKN), who was closely involved in the talks, reacted on this in his letter which he sent to the editors and also directed to me personally. He emphatically denies that any thought of delaying the talks had occurred to him. He consistently says that he still remains convinced that unification with the DGK must happen as soon as possible.
I’d really like to believe that rev. Visser is sincerely convinced that both separated church federations, sharing so much, should unite as soon as possible. And that all kinds of hindrances for this should be talked over and removed. As far as this is at stake there is little disagreement between us.
At the same time, and that is and remains my great trouble, I do see that the acting of GKN in practice is continually showing a different picture. It is really difficult for me to accept that since June 2015 hardly any progress has taken place. On the contrary, just now the talks are once again definitely ended by the GKN. And we’ll have to wait for the GKN synod in October 2018...
It might be that the tactic we mentioned is not intentional, but no one can deny that the unification process has been considerably delayed and takes place in a terribly slow way.
I extensively pointed out these facts in Vastberaden nee (10 and 11). It would help me (and us) if at last rev. Visser would react on the contents of these articles. For that he’ll get all the space he wants on this site.
Maybe I’m allowed to make a proposition with which GKN can show clearly to each and everybody that they really want the approach between the two churches. For if we have again to wait for the GKN synod of October 2018 it won’t be till spring 2019 (if positively decided by GKN synod) before the talks can be re-opened. So what prevents GKN deputies from acting on the above DGK synod decision and to re-open the talks without any delay?
I suppose it can prove that it can reverse the mutually negative feelings on this point and that GKN is also sincere on the issue of unity of Christ’s church. So that we can proceed with our series under the mutually accepted title of Vastberaden ja, Resolutely yes!
DGK synod also made a public statement on something which had apparently been an issue in the talks of the deputies. It says:
“During the talks the representatives of the GKN made it clear that within the GKN no room exists to publicly proclaim opinions by which the historical reliability of Gen. 1-3 is doubted.
The church-orderly acting on published unscriptural visions will be reconsidered during the talks on the catholicity of the church”.
We are thankful for this. The issue creation and evolution, for that’s what it’s of course all about , is a hot topic in our days. Many Christians are slowly but certainly brain-washed in this matter, e.g. by books such as En de aarde bracht voort of prof. dr. Gijsbert van den Brink (PKN/GB). Fortunately we also hear powerful counter voices as e.g. from Institute Logos (with which also rev. Visser is connected) and the popular scientific magazine Weet.
It is gratifying that reformed churches adopt a clear vision on this subject, although according to the statement talks about church-orderly aspects apparently still need to be continued. But we cherish good hope that also on that issue agreement may be reached.
 Vastberaden nee 1, 19-03-2016, click here. (Dutch)
Vertaling: R. Sollie-Sleijster