November 29, 2011 / Jan. 11, 2013
Appeal to the General Synod of the Canadian Reformed Churches to be held in Carman, MB 2013
Christ our faithful Lord and Saviour rules His Church by His Word and Spirit. That is what we confess in Art 29 & 7 of the Belgic Confession.
In Art. 29 we also confess: The true Church is to be recognized by the following marks:
. . . it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and regarding Jesus Christ as the only Head.
In Art. 30 we confess: We believe that this true Church must be governed according to the Spiritual order which our Lord has taught us in His Word.
We believe that this Spiritual order was summarized in the Church Order of Dort. We also believe that it may be necessary to update this Church Order:
These articles, which regard the lawful order of the Church, have been adopted with common accord. If the interest of the Churches demand such, they may and ought to be changed, augmented, or diminished. However, no consistory, classis, or regional synod shall be permitted to do so, but they shall endeavour diligently to observe the articles of this Church Order as long as they have not been changed by a general synod. (ARTICLE 76 Can.Ref C.O.)
But does "common accord" mean "majority vote"? I realize very well that even a majority vote can afterward be accepted by "common accord". But it is exactly the matter of majority votes that easily will overrule Christ’s will for the Church. For this reason we also confess:
We believe that, although it is useful and good for those who govern the Church to establish a certain order to maintain the body of the Church, they must at all times watch that they do not deviate from what Christ, our only Master, has commanded. (Art. 32 B.C.)
If vital decisions have to be made in the Church it is important to believe that the rule of Christ will bring those in authority to common consent. And then there will be no contradictory synod decisions. But sadly, today we have many of them. In this appeal I will only deal with decisions concerning Psalms and hymns in the worship service. The 1618/19 Synod of Dort (in line with earlier faithful decisions of other synods and contrary to decisions of unfaithful synods – at least on some points) made faithful and wise decisions. The secession churches, after much struggle, re-adopted the same decisions. But opposition (without proof that these synods had made decisions in conflict with God’s Word) grew and in the 20th century we can see many contradictory decisions about this and other subjects. In our own church federation Synod Edmonton 1965 made decisions in line with Synod 1618/19 but Synod Smithers made completely opposite decisions to both Dort and Edmonton. In the understanding that the church in Neerlandia was going to appeal these decisions (which they in the end did NOT do) I did not consider a personal appeal to be necessary, apart from the fact that Synod Smithers also decided on a process of appeal (about the Book of Praise) which is questionable at best and likely contrary to art 31 of the Church Order. For every member has the right to appeal a wrong decision of General Synod directly to the next General Synod. And the history of several of the last synods have certainly driven the churches into a swamp. Like Rev. Stam mentioned in Clarion of Nov. 18, 2011: "The less Reformed we are, the more Romanist we become. The way back is always shorter than the road ahead." Therefore I appeal to you to return to the True Word of God and make all decisions based on that Word.
In order to get the churches back to that Word I appeal the following decisions of Synod Smithers:
A) Re. Article 148:
4.1 To mandate the Standing Committee for the Book of Praise:
4.1.1 To initiate a thorough review of all 150 Psalms in the 1984 text of Anglo-Genevan Psalter in the Book of Praise.
Because there was no Church that requested this thorough review. The request came solely from the Committee of the Book of Praise. Thus this request should have been refused in accordance to art. 30 of the Church Order.
Also, in order for such a decision, there should have been concerns from the churches, indicating errors in the present (1984 edition) of the Book of Praise. Since no such appeal was made this decision goes against God’s Word that "all things be done decently and in order." 1 Cor. 14:40.
B) Re. Article 149:
4.2 To provisionally approve the 28 hymns for a three year period of testing in the churches.
Since very few, if any, of these 28 hymns agreed to the standards set by Synod 1618/19 and 1965, and these standards were never proven to be in conflict with art. 31 of the C.O., the decisions of these synods are still binding upon the churches! For "Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ " (Jer. 6:16).
* * *
Since good order requires us to go back to God’s Word and to the old paths (which in this case also means to the 1984 edition of the Book of Praise, though ongoing reformation and adherence to e.g. Synods of 1618/19 and 1965 does require to filter out quite a few of the 65 hymns as well) it is with great hesitancy that I also appeal the following decisions of Synod Burlington:
A) Re. Art. 124 Hymn: We Come O Christ to You
That Synod decide to approve the inclusion of the Hymn We Come O Christ to You in the expanded hymn section of the Book of Praise as recommended by the SCBP.
This "hymn" is not only not required by the Lord of the Church but is also in conflict with His direct command that we pray TO the Father. "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name." (Matt. 6:9). He also teaches us: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6).
B) Re. Art. 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134, 137, 138, 139, 140, 163.
Since the Lord Jesus Christ does not require any of these hymns to be sung, no church or assembly may require it! It is Extra Scriptural binding to impose hymns that Christ does not require to be sung. "Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?" (Acts 15:10).
Every time a hymn is sung a Psalm is NOT sung.
C) Re. Art. 135 Hymn: Our Children Lord in Faith and Prayer
2.1 This hymn is about baptism.
2.2 There are currently no hymns on baptism in the Book of Praise.
No, and we do not need any since we do not need to neglect more Psalms than is done already! There are many covenantal Psalms suitable to be sung at the administration of Baptism! I believe that also this hymn is an insult to our covenant God!
3.2 We do have hymns intended for use with the Lord’s Supper, while there are currently no hymns intended specifically for use with baptism. It seems inconsistent to have hymns for use with the Lord’s Supper, but not hymns for use with baptism.
This is a very unscriptural way of reasoning. Does the deformation we have in regards to the Lord’s Supper also have to be applied to Baptism? Instead ministers should return to asking the congregation to sing e.g. Psalm 23 before the celebration of the Lord’s Supper!
D) Re. Art. 141 SCBP: Copyright
Since Christ is the owner of the Church and all it’s materials, the church should not have to pay royalties on anything that is sung or read in the Church. Though a one time fee to create something for the church may be paid, there should be no such restrictions in the Book of Praise. The Church needs no permission from anyone to print and sing Psalms! In essence this would make one who claims copyright on a Psalm to be a plagiarizer! Also, if (and may God forbid it) there is a "schism" in the church neither side may ever claim exclusive rights to the Book of Praise.
E) Re. Art. 142 Direction re: Hymns
2.1 At this point the SCBP is seeking direction from the Synod with respect to the question whether, with the addition of some new hymns, the search for additional hymns is completed, or whether the churches are looking for more hymns to be added in the future.The SCBP has noted that 28 hymns had been made available to the churches by way of the Augment, but only 14 are being proposed at this point.There may still be a desire to "augment" the hymn section further.
We should not ask about man’s desires but God’s requirements! The "desire" of man should not direct our decisions. God has given us His Word to sing and that should be our desire.
2.2 Some churches prefer that the committee cease its work of obtaining more hymns. Some emphasize the need to ensure that the Psalms predominate in worship. Most of these churches reason along the practical line of Orangeville, namely that "to leave the mandate open ended would potentially lead to constant changes in new printings of the Book of Praise."
This conclusion certainly will happen if there is no return to the 1984 edition!
2.3 Some churches advocate the inclusion of more hymns and some include the rationale of Synod Chatham 2004 to cap the total number of hymns at 100.
Is there any Biblical ground for the number 100? It is clear that 21st century synods are not abiding by earlier synod decisions. This makes it very likely that a next synod will simply undo the decision to cap the hymns to 100 by simply overruling it! Is Christ not mocked this way?
2.5 The SCBP recommends that, if mandated to continue their search, churches will consider carefully new hymns which may enhance corporate as well as family and personal worship, and that such hymns be presented by individual members to local consistories, and then forwarded, complete with the rationale, to the SCBP.
3.1 None of the letters from churches give principial reasons for not obtaining any more hymns than proposed.
Did they give Biblical grounds for obtaining more? Songs for corporate worship should also be applicable for family and personal worship. Other songs may be sung in the family and for other occasions but the songs of the church should remain a solid Biblical unity of UNQUESTIONABLE faithfulness to God’s Word. God has given HIS WORD to be sung in the worship of Him. Those are enough and complete in all He requires.
And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." — Rev 22:17-19
3.2 The decision of Synod Chatham 2004 (Article115, 6.1.1) not to exceed 100 hymns remains in place at this time. It illustrates that the Psalms will continue to receive primary emphasis in the worship services, and as such will continue to guide the committee in its work.
"At this time"! Synod already figures on further deformation! It is also already uncertain if the Psalms HAVE a primary place in our churches! Hymn 65 is on average likely sung 10 times as often as Ps. 148 or 149.
3.3 The adopting of a definitive Book of Praise at this time does not exclude that more hymns may be submitted and examined by the SCBP and tested by the churches in a supplement and added in a future edition of the Book of Praise.
More deformational reasonings. What needs to be done is clearly indicate what is wrong with the 1984 edition and correct that!
3.4 It would be useful to review the hymnaries of churches with which we have contact and also to make available to churches the songs which have previously been reviewed and the rationale for rejecting them.
Would it not be brotherly to urge those churches with whom we have contact to a Reformation by showing them that God requires His people to sing Psalms again?
That Synod decide:
4.1 To instruct the SCBP to seek, receive, evaluate and recommend additional hymns to be compiled and proposed at a future date for testing by the churches, and for possible recommendation to a future Synod.
In Psalm 1 we are encouraged to "walk not in the counsel of the ungodly," Nor "stand in the path of sinners," Nor "sit in the seat of the scornful;" But to "delight in the Law of the LORD,"
Why test GOD any longer by walking in the counsel of the ungodly, standing in the path of sinners and sitting in the seat of the scornful by following them in their despising of the Psalms! O yes, with the lips they "praise" God but their heart is far from Him!
F) Finally, I appeal the decision to no longer capitalize personal pronouns referring to God.:
Re. Art. 109 Appeal from Surrey re: Article 166 of the Acts of Synod Smithers 2007
That Synod decide:
4.2 To instruct the Standing Committee for Publication of the Book of Praise to bring all pronouns for God in the entire Book of Praise into conformity with the NIV.
Where is God’s honour in this? Is it not an insult to our faithful God and Father to allow this degeneration to take place after all the other insults? The NIV is raised to a standard of the English language that defies Reformational decisions of faithful synods in the past.
Brothers, I plead with you to decide to fully return to the 1984 edition of the Book of Praise. Gold is being lost and replaced by bronze.
May the Lord be merciful to His Church!
With brotherly greetings,
Roelof A. Janssen
Neerlandia AB T0G 1R0
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Last modified: June 27, 2016