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Assassination in Kampen

D.J. Bolt




- George speaking. 


- Hello George, Wim here. Did you read my little article about Kamphuis? 


- Sure. 


- What did you think of it? Do I still have to change something?


- Well, you’ve made it pretty powerful. Haman’s lot was not worse. But as far as it concerns me, just publish it.


- But, eh, being my boss you will be held responsible for it. Will it not make problems for you?


- Oh no, not at all.


- Yes, but your earlier radio interview a couple of years ago caused much commotion. You were even worried that they might fire you.


- Yes, but things have changed. Just look at the topics I raised at that time. Take homosexual relations. If you now see what De Bruijne can say at the conference without causing any uproar, then you will notice that I gave the right stimulus to the intelligentia.


- Yes, and also these female office bearers, George. Also there you led the way, saying: It should already have been done yesterday. Brilliant. And they did not dare to discipline you for it. More than that, you have contributed to a complete change in climate with respect to women in the church. No one will now stop the progress of women in leading positions. Young people no longer understand why it should not be allowed.


- I agree fully, Wim. Pieter Niemeijer with his synod is still bravely trying to mutter objections and insist that research in the hermeneutics is required. As if the matter had not been decided long ago. Mees asked last year already at synod to consider how we must deal with different practices in the church: the one congregation has them, while the other has not. But those differences are there already now. The vrijgemaakten are overtaken left and right at this point by their cooperation with the Nederlands Gereformeerden. What kind of influence do you think it has, for example in Amersfoort, on vrijgemaakte younger and older people when they see that female elders function very well?


- That is true. However, those older vrijgemaakten are tough customers. They do not give up easily. That’s also why in my article I put matters firmly. The time for a soft approach has passed. Especially Kamphuis has for many years attacked the synodicals with criticism on Berkhouwer, Ridderbos, Harry Kuitert, Cees den Heijer and all those others. Now let them taste a pie of their own dough. It is like a thin layer of tough ice in your churches, hard to penetrate. But let a heavy rock fall on it. That should go through.


- I think you’ve had success. Glorious and powerful, the way you compare Kamphuis with extreme Moslims. And that you charge him with the early deaths of Nederlands Gereformeerden like Jager and Bouwsma. That will appeal, I suspect, certainly to younger people. I’m not, however, entirely sure whether it is true, and certainly not whether that made them finish up in mental institutions, but it is a good story. Just let it stand. We will be told if it is not true. But Wim, why did you not write this article before Jaap passed away? Now it gives the impression of character assassination after the funeral.


- Character assassination?


- Come now, be honest, you crush him completely. Turn him into a mad church dictator who did not acquire even a basic academic degree. I do agree with you, he deserves it, but perhaps he should have had the opportunity to defend himself.


- To be honest George, I considered it. But it seemed strategically better to do it after his death. If not, chances are that he would again have defended himself in flaming rhetoric, you know him. Then the fat would have been in the fire. It is better this way, also for the young people.


- How come, Wim?


- Well, young people no longer do much reading. They’re also not interested in brochures like that of the late Wietse de Vries, you know, Which church was broken? and the like. Altogether much too heavy reading. But an article is still OK. Guaranteed if you combine it with all kinds of gut feelings. That still has the young people’s interest. In today’s ‘flower power’ climate among vrijgemaakten, you’re about forty years behind in everything, haha, much can be achieved with touching stories about poor Nederlands Gereformeerden who were treated so disgracefully by Kamphuis. It makes a person turn immediately to a feeling of shame. Works perfectly!


- I believe that. You see how fast the developments are in these churches. But how will you raise sufficient attention for your article? You do not think that vrijgemaakten will read it on your web site, do you?


- No, George, I do not think so. It would be too liberal for them, hihihi. But what if you would phone Peter Bergwerff, whether he can publish it in Nederlands Dagblad. Then you will reach a large audience. Well, not large, but in any case many vrijgemaakten, in so far as they still read that paper. But first another question. Will you not get problems at the Theological University in Kampen? That’s where you are also working as professor.


- Ha, problems in Kampen? What makes you think that. No, Kampen supports it. Perhaps they would have preferred a milder approach because they are still somewhat afraid of a reaction, but in their heart they are fully behind it. In fact, they are happy that you have taken responsibility for this hot potato. Take Mees. As an ex-student of Kamphuis he knows the lay of the land. But I am sure that rather sooner than later he would like to be rid of the break of the nineteen-sixties. The man thinks wide and broad, and shows that on every occasion. Kamphuis with his continuing reformation and outrageous behaviour no longer fits in that frame. Mark my word, he will gladly involve you as historian in the truth commission you proposed. As a matter of fact, also a splendid idea, Wim. With that you put people like Kamphuis, Trimp and Douma right in the bad books of the apartheid. Great!


- Yes, it was a creative idea. You mention Douma. In my article I also made short work of him. For I really find him to be a hypocrite. Always sailing on a progressive course, and now throwing in the towel at every occasion when people can reap a harvest of the seed he himself sowed. Do you still expect a reaction from him, George?


- For sure. He will still show his anger. But that will have no effect. All those agitated theologians and others in the GKv are hardly read anymore. They may well bleat, but when push comes to shove they crawl back protesting into their holes. Moreover, Jochem is already eighty years old, and has indicated that in any event he will stay the coming five years in the GKv. There will be no more fireworks from him. If anything at all were to happen, people in their thirties, forties and fifties should rise and say: this should stop. But there are no such people, at least not in the ranks of prominent leaders. OK therefore, just put your piece on the website. I’m very curious!

I will still phone Peter.


- See you!




- Peter speaking.


- George here. Say, Peter, did you already see that article on


- Yes, Gerard told me about it just now. A little undelicate, I think. Oh boy. But a nasty stone in the vrijgo pond. This Berkelaar chap has courage. On the other hand, it needs not that much courage when you’re sitting pretty in the VU fortress with George Harinck as your boss, and on top of that your target having been buried recently. In any case, as ND boss I do not dare to take it over as a whole. We have to also keep an eye on our circulation figures. Things are not going all that well.


- Well Peter, that was going to be my question. Can’t you put a summary of that article on page 2? It seems to me that with this article you can effectively separate yourself from that piece of romantic church history, that typical vrijgemaakte anabaptist realm from after the liberation which you and I desire to forget as quickly as possible.


- I agree, George. Right, I will ask Gerard to make something of it. He is a broad thinker and should have no problem with it.


- OK. But don’t let him include all kinds of confessional points, like Lord’s Day 22 and the Canons of Dort, and so on. Not too deep, that is not useful. Berkelaar has also kept them out of it. Do you think that there will be many responses? Will it cost you readers, what do you think Peter?


- Yes, it is possible that there will be a small revolt, George. There will be a few older ministers and perhaps some dissatisfied church members who react. But it will generally turn out better than expected, I think. Today’s vrijgemaakten show hardly an interest in the liberation, let alone in the church struggles of the nineteen-sixties.


- And you too, don’t you? Anyway, I remember that in 1996 the book Begrensde ruimte published a selection of articles from Kamphuis when he reached 75. A series of those typical war-articles he wrote. And guess who was a member of its Committee of recommendation, Peter?


- Uhuhuh, yes I know it, I. But that is already fifteen years ago. I would not do that now. I must honestly admit that also I have said farewell to his religious violence, as Wim Berkelaar calls it. It is time to glue the pieces he made together again. And then…


- You mean unity with the Nederlands Gereformeerden. And what next?


- Yes. You know as well as I do, George, that the vrijgo-zuil cannot continue to exist. Like the Gereformeerd Gezinsblad could not continue, and is now a broad protestant newspaper decorated with a little Roman Catholic orthodoxy. The vrijgo-zuil is therefore also not relevant for today. But! Slowly, slowly, easy does it! First become one with NGK and CGK. Then step by step to the PKN. The liberality in our churches is not much different from that there, not counting Hendrikse and them. With the passage of time we fit well in the PKN colour scheme. A beautiful colour variation next to the Gereformeerde Bond. Don't you think, George?


- Wholeheartedly agreed. Has the quality problem at the TU in Kampen finally been solved? Can students and professors all go to the VU. Abraham Kuyper will at last have his wish. After all, there are now already three Kampen professors teaching there. And many young people prefer to study theology in Amsterdam rather than in Kampen.


- There is still one point I should mention. I advise you to contact Berkelaar, and try to get him to remove the sharp edges from his article. Knowing him, he will not do that, but it does make a good impression. And if it so happens that as editoral staff you have to reply, draw attention to the positive and romantic ideaols of Kamphuis. His so-called protection of the ordinary believers. Try also to hint at the characterological and sociological side. But, if I may advise you, do not use the old rhetoric of keeping to the Word and confession, and so on. That belonged to Kamphuis and his mates, but does not suit with our days. Pay more attention to brawls, issues, anecdotes. That reads well. I have still a few shoe boxes of material for you. Also from Jongeling’s Gereformeerd Gezinsblad. I shall be glad to help you. And if Berkelaar cops too much flak, give him the opportunity to defend himself. For the rest, he will not retract anything, that’s my prediction.


- Sure, see you.


The article of Wim Berkelaar can be found at website