Church: Its Unity in Confession and History
Subject: History /
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by G. Van Rongen
"The planet on which we live is becoming smaller
and smaller. It seems as if it is no longer true that the East is far from the West. Distances are shrinking. At
the same time, our world of interest is becoming larger and larger. What is happening on the other side of the
globe can be watched as it happens.
"In the field of church life, too, this process of
shrinkage and expansion is going on. These modern times have brought us into contact with other churches which we
had hardly ever heard of a few decades ago. After the war, our immigrant churches went through a period in which we
settled into a new country and had to build up our church life from scratch. Now, however, we are able to have
closer contact with our ecclesiastical environment and have discovered some of these churches.
"This has raised the question: How are these other
churches to be regarded? Must we, with a good conscience, leave them alone? Or, knowing that Christ wants His
Church to be one, ought we to initiate dialogue with them? This is why our immigrant churches in various countries
have been involved, sometimes for many years, in discussions with other churches."
"The best we can do in such a situation is to read
and study our confessional standards and try to learn some lessons from history. That is the aim of this book. For
that reason, we shall pay particular attention, first of all, to what the Belgic Confession says about this
important subject, focusing on Articles 27, 28, and 29, since they contain the Scriptural fundamentals. Then we
shall listen to what Church history teaches us about unity of faith as something basic to Church unity. Finally, we
shall see how Church unity was endangered but, by God's grace, also preserved in the events connected with the
Liberation in the Dutch churches during the 1940s."
This is what eighty-year-old Rev. G. Van Rongen
writes in the Prologue of his book, which deals with what we believe concerning the Church of our Lord Jesus
Christ. Rev. Van Rongen has spent the major part of his life pastoring and shepherding God's people in Reformed
Churches in The Netherlands, the U.S.A., and Australia. Throughout this book and many of his other writings, it is
clear that it is a great joy for him to serve his God and Saviour, as well as God's covenant community, the Church,
by following in the footsteps of one of his earthly mentors, Dr. Klaas Schilder. Like Dr. Schilder, he has laboured
in obedience to the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ in John 17: "That they all may be one!"
It is no surprise to find the following paragraphs
at the end of this book: "In our church life, we try to avoid synodocracy, ministeriocracy, and even
consistoriocracy. All of our church members are involved in the issues that require our attention, and that is why
I express the hope that all who have reached the years of responsibility would join me in contemplating what we
actually believe regarding the Church.
"Let us not forget that it is the Church of our
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