Rev. Tan and his consistory have conducted six classes on the PRC’s controversy so far, beginning in January 2022. In almost every class, Rev. Tan, like his sister churches, refuses to condemn Rev. Overway and his conditional theology. If you listen to those classes, you will notice that Rev. Tan goes to great lengths to protect the name and reputation of Rev. Overway and the PRC.
Rev. Tan repeatedly told CERC that Rev. Overway was merely confused and ambiguous in his preaching and teaching throughout his four years of instruction during the controversy. Rev. Tan often praised Rev. Overway for being an “honorable” man who followed the church orderly way at each step of the controversy. Rev. Tan even admitted that although Rev. Overway preached heresy and heretical statements, Rev. Overway must not be considered a heretic because he did not persist in teaching those false doctrines.
Rev. Tan: “Rev. Overway…taught heresy. Another way that you can say it is that he taught heretical statements” (Class recording, 1:02:50).
Rev. Tan must take his audience for fools. Rev. Tan expects us to accept that a man who teaches heresies and heretical statements must not be judged and condemned as a heretic because he did not teach those heresies consciously and deliberately.
Rev. Tan has exerted himself in protecting Rev. Overway’s and the PRC’s name. Rev. Tan has also exerted himself in condemning Rev. Lanning and the Reformed Protestant churches as disobedient schismatics.
The result of such an exertion to protect Rev. Overway is that Rev. Tan has himself embraced the theology of Rev. Overway. In his refusal to condemn Rev. Overway’s theology as the theology of a conditional covenant, God has given Rev. Tan over to embrace conditional theology. “But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels” (Ps. 81:11-12).
Rev. Tan’s theology today is a continuation of Rev. Overway. In condemning Rev. Lanning, Rev. Tan must also condemn Rev. Lanning’s theology. In protecting Rev. Overway, Rev. Tan must also embrace Rev. Overway’s theology.
Recall that what caused the PRC’s controversy in 2015 was Rev. Overway’s sermon on John 14:6. Rev. Overway preached three statements that were protested against:
- “The way unto the Father includes obedience.”
- “The way of a holy life matters. It is the way unto the Father.”
- “…He is the way, your way unto Me, through the truth which He works in your hearts, through a godly life….” (PRC Acts of Synod 2016, p. 45).
Rev. Tan has tweaked the language a little, but his theology remains the same as Rev. Overway’s. It is the same conditional theology (Rev. Tan is braver—he defends conditions explicitly). It is the doctrine of what man must do to be saved. It is the same man-first; God-second theology. It is a man-prior, God-following theology, as Rev. Tan readily informed us but yet denied with a bold face that it is conditional theology.
Rev. Tan: “Repentance is part of faith…you can’t have faith that lays hold of Christ without repentance” (Class notes, p. 14).
Rev. Tan’s theology is that you cannot have Christ by faith alone without repentance. Rev. Tan’s theology is that you have Christ by faith and by repentance. His theology is: “The way unto the Father includes repentance. The way of a repentant life matters. It is the way unto the Father.”
Synod 2018 examined 17 more of Rev. Overway’s heretical sermons. Synod 2018 singled out and condemned these two statements from his sermons on Lord’s Days 32 and 45.
Rev. Overway: “We do good works so that we can receive God’s grace and Holy Spirit in our consciousness. So that we can consciously and with awareness receive the grace and Holy Spirit of God” (Acts of Synod 2018, p. 62).
Rev. Overway: “When the Catechism mentions requisites or requirements, it’s talking about obedience. I must obey. It’s required of God. God requires it of me. God requires a certain obedience from me. Obedience is required here, obedience that I must perform in order to enjoy fellowship with God” (Acts of Synod 2018, p. 64).
Again, Rev. Tan is in perfect agreement with this theology. He merely substitutes “obedience” for “repentance.”
Rev. Tan: “Jesus Here is teaching, that for salvation/ justification/ forgiveness of sins to follow, something must happen prior, that is a man believing in Jesus. That is a man, abasing himself and casting himself completely on Jesus. Without this, salvation will not follow” (Class notes, p. 5).
Rev. Overway taught that obedience is required in order to enjoy fellowship with God. Rev. Tan teaches that repentance is required in order to be saved, justified, and forgiven. Both of them are theological buddies.
Rev. Tan did not take heed to Synod 2016’s admonition: “In today’s Reformed church world, where the Federal Vision theology wreaks havoc, PRC sermons must be unmistakably clear that man’s obedience has no part in man’s coming to God” (Acts of Synod 2016, p. 51).
Like Rev. Overway, Rev. Tan is an Arminian heretic. Both believe and propagate the same doctrine that if a man would be saved, there is that which he must do. Both believe that man’s activity is prior to God’s activity. Both teach that God’s blessing is contingent on, waits for, and depends on man’s prior activity.
Rev. Tan lies to CERC when he says the PRC has already corrected its doctrinal errors. Neither he nor the PRC is sorry for them. They love those false doctrines and are advancing them. The truth is that Rev. Tan has himself embraced Rev. Overway’s theology and developed those false doctrines. Whereas Rev. Overway did not teach conditions explicitly, Rev. Tan does not blush in defending conditions.
Rev. Tan: “Is faith a condition? Yes, it is necessary” (Class recording, 14:50).
Rev. Tan, with all his co-workers in the PRC, is a continuation—indeed a development—of Rev. Overway.
Rev. J. Tan,
Your church bulletin on 4 December 2022 is blatantly false.
First, you indicate that you and CERC are suffering for the gospel’s sake—“For the gospel, we take the fiercest mockery and scorn” (p. 2). Let it be made plain to you: the gospel that you teach is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel that you teach is a gospel of Man, which is no gospel.
You have taught CERC that salvation is not by Jesus Christ alone, but by Jesus Christ and Man’s doing. In your fourth class notes on the controversy, you taught that “repentance is part of faith…you can’t have faith that lays hold of Christ without repentance” (Fourth class notes, p. 14). In that same class, you also taught that God does not save, justify, or forgive sins until man first believes and repents: “Jesus Here is teaching, that for salvation/ justification/ forgiveness of sins to follow, something must happen prior, that is a man believing in Jesus. That is a man, abasing himself and casting himself completely on Jesus. Without this, salvation will not follow” (Fourth class notes, p. 5).
We marvel that after teaching these gross false doctrines and heresies in your fourth class, you remain silent about them in your fifth class. We ask in sincerity: Do you still stand by those teachings in your fourth class?
These statements that you teach are not the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ alone by faith alone. The gospel that you teach is the gospel of Man and what Man must do to be saved, a doctrine entrenched in your sister churches.
Second, you indicate that you and CERC are suffering because you “insist on a life of holiness” (p. 2). Again, that is very far from the truth. In the RPC, we insist on a life of holiness as the life of a thankful and grateful child of God for God’s great gift of salvation to him. A life of holiness is necessary because it is evidence of God’s grace working in him. It is simply impossible that the believer who is united to Christ by faith should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness in a life of holiness. Our sharp doctrinal difference lies in the why of a life of holiness.
You and your sister churches insist on a life of holiness as the way to obtain God’s blessing, or the experience of God’s blessing. In your fourth class, you taught that “Without repentance there is no forgiveness of sins. While we remain in the sin of an unforgiving spirit against others, there is no forgiveness for us” (Fourth class notes, p. 12). The Reformed faith condemns these statements as false doctrine. The child of God repents and forgives his neighbor because God in Christ has first forgiven all of his sins at the cross. The believer’s life of repentance and forgiveness of his neighbor are evidences of God’s forgiveness of his sins at the cross. Repentance and forgiving one’s neighbor do not obtain or bring about God’s forgiveness of our sins.
Third, you say that CERC and the PRC have been wrongfully slandered: “A faithful denomination as the great whore” (p. 2). Revelation 19:2 describes the judgment of the whore: “For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.” It is not difficult to prove that the PRC has become the great whore. The PRC has sold the gospel of Jesus Christ for a wicked doctrine of Man. In the PRC, it is no longer “Jesus saves sinners,” but “Jesus and sinners save.” Rev. Kenneth Koole teaches this false doctrine openly: “If a man would be saved, there is that which he must do.”
Also in the PRC’s membership are plenty of wife abusers and child abusers. Among her most influential and powerful clergy members is a recently deposed minister who for years sexually preyed on young women and committed adultery. Of his repentance we have not heard.
That the PRC has also become the great whore is evident from the blood of faithful prophets dripping from her hands. She wickedly slew Rev. Lanning and Rev. N. Langerak for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ faithfully, and for opposing the false doctrines of false teachers.
Fourth, it is an ignorant and shameful statement that we are making up what you believe. You say: “Many say what they think we believe. But we know what we believe” (p. 2). We do not know what you believe apart from what you have actually preached, written, and taught. We have carefully documented what you have actually taught from your sermons, classes, and writings. We have studied and examined them, and have condemned the false doctrines from your sermons, classes, and writings on the basis of Scripture and the Reformed confessions.
For example, on 17 April 2022, you preached this heretical statement in your sermon: “When you don’t forgive your brother, you’re forfeiting the forgiveness of God” (sermon recording, 56:45). Is this statement what you actually taught and believe? Or is this statement what you actually taught but don’t believe?
In your fourth controversy class, you also taught another heretical statement: “Is faith a condition for justification or forgiveness? Is faith a condition? Yes, it is necessary” (Class recording, 11:07; 14:50). Is this statement what you actually taught and believe? Or is this statement what you actually taught but don’t believe?
Fifth, you are suffering from a delusion that CERC is suffering for righteousness’ sake, or suffering for the truth’s sake. You make a very bold but false claim that CERC is suffering “for righteousness’ sake,” and “for the truth’s sake” (p. 2). CERC loved not the truth when it was corrupted in her sister churches. She remained ignorant of, and indifferent to, the false doctrines corrupting the truth in her sister for over six years. (A mere letter from CERC’s Session to the PRC’s contact committee in 2016 is no evidence of CERC’s love for the truth). For this reason God is sending you a strong delusion, that you should believe a lie (2 Thess. 2:11).
This delusion in CERC takes the form of indifference to the controversy (consider how many of your members are actually interested in and studying the controversy); or the delusion of false doctrines.
Sixth, God is using you mightily to send a strong delusion in CERC. The Lord has put a lying spirit in your mouth so that you deceive CERC with your false doctrines. When we point out your false doctrines and condemn them, your response is either silence or to lie that we have misrepresented you.
Your doctrine is an apostasy from what our Reformed fathers taught us. In his warning against teaching conditions, Prof. Herman Hanko had this solemn warning: “What is meant when the term “condition” is applied to the work of salvation? When faith is made a condition, the meaning is that salvation will not be granted to anyone unless he fulfills the condition of faith. Man must first believe for salvation to be given to him” (Ready to Give An Answer, RFPA, 1997, p. 189).
Your doctrine today is exactly what Prof. Hanko warned against and condemned: “Jesus Here is teaching, that for salvation/ justification/ forgiveness of sins to follow, something must happen prior, that is a man believing in Jesus. That is a man, abasing himself and casting himself completely on Jesus. Without this, salvation will not follow” (Fourth class notes, p. 5).
Seventh, we grieve at the apostasy of our mother church. Not very long ago you confessed the sovereignty of God’s grace and His unconditional covenant. Now you teach what man must do to be saved, justified, or have his sins forgiven. Although we grieve, we are comforted that these developments are the unfolding of God’s sovereign decree for the good of His church and the preservation of His truth. God uses controversy to sharpen our understanding of His truth and to grow in our love for His truth.
In the RPC, we confess that Jesus saves sinners. We repudiate the false doctrines espoused by CERC and the PRC that if a man would be saved, there is that which he must do. We repudiate the false doctrine that for salvation, justification, or the forgiveness of sins, there is something which man must first do. We repudiate these false doctrines as the lie that Jesus and sinners save. To remain in CERC and the PRC is bondage to the law: what man must do to be saved. Only in the RPC is there the glorious liberty of the gospel of Jesus Christ: Jesus saves sinners.
The current pastor of CERC, Rev. Tan, has made numerous references to the former pastor of CERC, Rev. Lanning. In these references, Rev. Tan condemns the former pastor for impenitently violating the fifth and ninth commandments. Rev. Tan exhorts CERC to mark and to avoid Rev. Lanning on account of his impenitence in these sins, according to Romans 16:17-18.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:17-18).
What Rev. Tan fails to see is that the former pastor of CERC preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ. The former pastor of CERC taught that Jesus saves sinners. He taught that man is nothing, and that God alone works salvation in His elect church entirely apart from the working of Man.
The doctrine of Rev. Lanning is best captured in his Sword and Shield editorials. (We urge interested readers to read and study these lovely editorials here). In these editorials Rev. Lanning taught that salvation is absolutely unconditional, a free gift of God in Jesus Christ.
Rev. Lanning: “The fact of salvation and the experience of salvation are both salvation. They are both the gracious work of God in Jesus Christ. God graciously accomplishes the fact of man’s salvation and God graciously bestows man’s experience of salvation. Inasmuch as salvation is all of God, both the fact of salvation and man’s conscious experience of salvation are all of God” (Sword and Shield, August 2020, p. 6-7).
Rev. Lanning: “…man’s experience of covenant fellowship with God is entirely a free gift of God’s grace that is given him without any help from man’s works—the grace principle” (Sword and Shield, July 2020, p. 7-8).
Rev. Lanning: “Fellowship with God is by grace and is unconditional” (Sword and Shield, Dec. 2020, p. 9).
The current pastor of CERC teaches a radically different doctrine. His doctrine is emphatically and unashamedly a doctrine of Man. Rev. Tan teaches that man must do something to be saved. Jesus alone does not save sinners. Man must believe, repent, and obey, among other things, in order to be saved. (Interested readers ought to read the entire class notes published by CERC’s consistory here).
Rev. Tan: “Repentance is part of faith…you can’t have faith that lays hold of Christ without repentance” (Fourth class notes, p. 14).
Rev. Tan: “Jesus Here is teaching, that for salvation/ justification/ forgiveness of sins to follow, something must happen prior, that is a man believing in Jesus. That is a man, abasing himself and casting himself completely on Jesus. Without this, salvation will not follow” (Fourth class notes, p. 5).
Rev. Tan: “Without repentance there is no forgiveness of sins. While we remain in the sin of an unforgiving spirit against others, there is no forgiveness for us” (Fourth class notes, p. 12).
The few quotes above are but summaries of the two radically different doctrines between the former and current pastor of CERC. Those who are interested in studying the controversy and seeking the truth should study both sets of documents thoroughly.
The former pastor’s doctrine is that Jesus saves sinners.
The current pastor’s doctrine is that Jesus and sinners save.
The difference could not be sharper. The former pastor taught a doctrine that is faithful to Scripture and the Reformed creeds. The current pastor teaches a doctrine that is “contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned” (Rom. 16:17).
The former pastor serves our Lord Jesus Christ. The current pastor serves his own belly.
The former pastor faithfully preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ. The current pastor “by good words and fair speeches deceive[s] the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:18) by his seductive doctrine of Man and what Man must do (by God’s grace) to be saved, justified, and forgiven.
To those who still love the truth that Jesus saves sinners, flee from the false church. Mark and avoid them who cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned.
We’ve added an extra speech on 10 December. The speech details are as follows:
Speech 1: Doctrinal Developments in CERC
Saturday, 10 December, 10 am (Friday, 9 pm EST)
Speech 2: A Response to CERC’s Charge of Schism and Deposition
Saturday, 10 December, 1 pm (Saturday, 12 am EST)
Speech 3: The Christian School in Singapore
Saturday, 17 December, 10 am (Friday, 9 pm EST)
All 3 speeches will be held at Seletar Park Residence if you are attending in person. Please inform us if you are attending as lunch is catered.
The speeches will be live-streamed on our YouTube link here.
(The link has been updated)
In an effort to warn CERC’s members against attending Rev. Lanning’s speeches in Singapore, CERC’s consistory has labelled Rev. Lanning and the members of the RPC as schismatics and unrepentant sinners.
The Bible speaks of schism as division in the body of Jesus Christ. “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another” (1 Cor. 12:25). There is division in the body when members do not have the same care, which care is the love of Jesus Christ, for one another.
There is also division in the body when the body is divided from her Head, Jesus Christ. This division happens when false doctrines are introduced into the body of Jesus Christ, so that the body is drawn away and divided from the Head. Instead of being drawn to her Head, the body becomes deceived by false doctrines and is led away from her Head.
The Bible therefore exhorts God’s people to unity. “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). True unity is expressed in speaking the same thing concerning the truth of Jesus Christ. Causing divisions over the truth is schismatic.
Prof. Herman Hanko warned against heresy in the church because it causes schism:
“A heresy is any teaching in the church of Christ that is contrary to Scripture and the doctrines established by the creeds. The Greek word for “heresy” in the New Testament suggests that heresies create schism in the church. One attribute of the church is her unity; the unity of the church is the unity of the truth. Heresy destroys that unity” (Contending for the Faith, RFPA, 2010, p. 1).
Rev. Lanning and the members of the RPC are not schismatics. They have spoken and taught the truth faithfully. Anyone who has read Sword and Shield faithfully knows this. By speaking the truth faithfully, they have promoted true unity in the truth of Jesus Christ. (If anyone disputes this, they should demonstrate from Scripture and the Reformed confessions that what Rev. Lanning and the RPC have taught is contrary to them).
CERC’s consistory would like to think that she is safeguarding her unity by warning her members against attending Rev. Lanning’s upcoming speeches in Singapore. But she is only promoting a carnal unity—a unity to an ecclesiastical institution (CERC), not a unity in the truth of Jesus Christ. She is promoting a unity in ignorance, and a unity in the lies and false doctrines taught by her leaders. If she were zealous for true unity, she would take up the sword against the false doctrines taught by the RPC if there are any. But this she has not done.
If CERC’s consistory were zealous for true unity, she should fight against the multitude of false doctrines and heresies in her midst. Remember: her pastor teaches that faith is a condition because it is necessary; that repentance is part of faith and you cannot have Christ without repentance; and that God does not save, justify, or forgive your sins until you first believe and repent.
These heresies are evidence of Rev. Tan’s mark as a heretic. He handles the “word of God deceitfully” (2 Cor. 4:2); he carries CERC about “with divers and strange doctrines” (Heb. 13:9); his lips speak wickedness and his tongue utters deceit (Job 27:4); he deceives every one his neighbor, and will not speak the truth; he has taught their tongues to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity (Jer. 9:5).
Rev. Tan is the real schismatic according to Scripture’s definition of a schismatic. With his lies and false doctrines he causes the members of CERC to err from the truth. With his lies and false doctrines he deceives CERC, and leads them away from Jesus. With his lies and false doctrines he divides God’s people away from their Savior, and tears the body away from their Head.
Jesus warned us: “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:11).
To those in CERC who will still hear the truth: attend Rev. Lanning’s speeches. If what Rev. Lanning speaks is false doctrine, reject it according to the Word of God. The Spirit of truth in you will reject it. But if what he speaks is the truth, embrace it and believe it. Hold to it at all cost.
CERC’s fifth class on the controversy gave a rosy but false conclusion to the PRC’s controversy. In the judgment of CERC’s consistory, God’s grace preserved the PRC from “the serious error of making our experience of salvation dependent on man” (Class notes, p. 9).
God did not preserve the PRC from the serious error of making man’s experience of salvation dependent on man.
God gave the PRC over to the error of making man’s experience of salvation dependent on man.
Soon after Synod 2018, a senior minister of the PRC, Rev. Kenneth Koole, gave his analysis of the controversy. Rev. Koole taught that if a man would be saved—experience his salvation—there was something that that man had to do. Writing on the pages of the Standard Bearer, the PRC’s mouthpiece, Rev. Koole taught:
“…if a man with his household was to be saved and consciously enter into the kingdom, placing himself with his family under the rule of Christ as his Lord and Savior, he was called, he was required, to respond obediently to the call and command of the gospel—“Repent and believe, that thou mightiest be saved with thy house”” (SB, Oct. 1, 2018, p. 8).
“If a man desires to be saved (in sincerity, which would be due to the inward working of the Spirit), there is that which he is called to do to be saved (that is—if he will be saved)” (SB, March 1, 2019, p. 253).
“I say again, “If a man would be saved, there is that which he must do.” Which is to say, there is that which he is called to do. For until a man responds to the truth and call of the gospel by believing it, confessing it, he is not, and cannot be saved. Understood properly, a perfectly orthodox statement” (SB, March 1, 2019, p. 254).
“But it is the renewed sinner who does the responding. One must actively, willingly respond in faith “if one is to be saved” (which is nothing less than biblical language), that is, if one is to appropriate salvation for himself in a personal way” (SB, May 15, 2019, p. 372).
“Scripture teaches that something must be done that we may saved…Whence it is, that by how much one is more holy, by so much he is the more acceptable to God” (SB, Dec. 15, 2020, p. 127).
“But certainly our works, or rather these, which the Spirit of Christ worketh in us, and by us, contribute something to the latter” [possession of life] (SB, Dec. 15, 2020, p. 127).
“Scripture teacheth that man must do something, that he may obtain the possession of the salvation purchased by Christ” (SB, Jan. 1, 2021, p. 150).
Right after Synod 2018 and all the way till 2021, a senior minister of the PRC continued teaching on the Standard Bearer the very same false doctrines that Synod 2018 had condemned. Those who opposed his false doctrines—Rev. Lanning and N. Langerak—were cast out of the PRC.
Rev. Koole continued teaching unopposed the doctrine that man’s experience of salvation is dependent on what that man does. He was eventually forced to apologize for a number of his Witsius statements, but the theology nevertheless stands: “If a man would be saved, there is that which he must do.”
CERC’s consistory does not mention anything about Rev. Koole’s false teachings, in the name of protecting big sister. The consistory knows that Rev. Koole’s theology stands unopposed as the official teaching of the denomination. CERC herself embraces this false theology, as evident in Rev. Tan’s theology of conditions. Rev. Tan has only made explicit what Rev. Koole was ambiguous about. Rev. Tan teaches that if a man would be saved, justified, or forgiven, he must first believe and repent. Without man’s believing and repenting, salvation, justification, and the forgiveness of sins will not follow that man.
God did not preserve the PRC and her sisters from the serious error of making man’s experience of salvation dependent on man.
For their lack of love for the truth and abundant love of man, God gave the PRC and her sisters over to a delusion, so that they should believe the lie that if a man would be saved, there is that which he must do.
For those who yet love the truth of God’s sovereignty in salvation and hate the lie that man must do something to be saved, we say: Flee.
CERC’s fifth class on the controversy painted a rosy but false picture of the PRC’s assemblies. In her fifth class, CERC’s consistory said:
“The health of PRCA’s Church Polity
- Proper use of CO A 31
- Assemblies show themselves to be clearly
- Slow and methodical
- Righteous judgement & and Impartiality” (Class notes, p. 9).
CERC’s consistory and Rev. Tan (conveniently) avoided speaking on the wickedness of the Protestant Reformed assemblies. The consistory omitted crucial issues that were dealt with by the PRC’s assemblies. That is not speaking the whole truth. CERC’s consistory wants their members to think that there were only weaknesses in the assemblies, and that all is well. The assemblies have repented; they have grown; and they have corrected their faults.
We have a few serious questions for CERC’s consistory:
- Did the assembly of Hope PRC’s consistory act slowly and methodically when it charged Mr. Neil Meyer for a multitude of sins after he protested against Rev. Overway’s false doctrines? Did Hope’s consistory act righteously and impartially when it kept Mr. Meyer under discipline for over three years?
- Did the assembly of Classis East act slowly and methodically when it slandered Mrs. Connie Meyer for being a heretic? Did Classis East act righteously and impartially when it refused to apologize to her after Synod 2018 had upheld her appeal against the false doctrines at Hope PRC?
- Did the assembly of Byron Center PRC’s consistory act slowly and methodically when it suspended Rev. Lanning? Did Classis East act righteously and impartially when it recommended to depose Rev. Lanning?
The answers are obvious.
When it came to defending false doctrines and heretics, the Protestant Reformed assemblies were exceedingly slow but not methodical. They took over four years, slowly but not methodically, to figure out and then to deal with the false teachings of Rev. Overway. The assemblies were indeed slow but not methodical in rejecting false doctrines that had displaced Christ, corrupted justification by faith alone, and the unconditional covenant. When Rev. Overway continued repeating those false doctrines, the assemblies continued in their slowness, until they finally released him from the ministry for his lack of gifts for the ministry (not for teaching heresies).
The same slowness could not be applied to Mr. Neil Meyer. Soon after he protested against Rev. Overway’s false doctrines, Hope PRC’s consistory suspended, deposed, and placed him under discipline. Classis East (wickedly) rejected his appeal against his (wicked) discipline. When it came to keeping him under discipline for over three years, Hope’s consistory was indeed slow and but not methodical.
When Classis East made an unrighteous judgment on Mrs. Connie Meyer, damning her as heretic, the righteous thing to do would be to apologize to her after she had been proven right by another assembly. But Classis East could not even bring itself to apologize to her, or to correct the evil judgement that they had made against her.
When it came to dealing with Rev. Lanning, the Protestant Reformed assemblies were anything but slow. The assemblies took over four years to deal with the false doctrines of a minister’s preaching; but they took less than two months to deal with the supposed bad behavior of Rev. Lanning.
This is the state of the Protestant Reformed assemblies—wicked, partial, and man-centered.
CERC’s consistory ought not to continue lying about the state of the PRC’s assemblies. The Protestant Reformed assemblies are a broken system; they are neither righteous nor impartial. They are slow but not methodical when it comes to dealing with false doctrines and heretics and their defenders, but swift in their abuse against those who stand for the truth.
CERC’s consistory ought to tell the whole truth about the PRC’s assemblies. Only in this way can she, to use her consistory’s own words, avoid “extreme and out-of-touch-with-reality judgements and accusations.”
After seven months of hiatus, CERC’s consistory resumed her classes on the PRC’s controversy. Interested readers can find the class notes from the consistory here, and the video recording of the class here.
At the end of CERC’s fourth class, we documented and condemned numerous false doctrines and heresies that were taught in that class—none of which CERC’s consistory has responded to, rescinded, or rejected. They persist in their false doctrines and lies about God’s truth. “Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil against thee” (2 Chron. 18:22).
In that fourth class, CERC’s consistory revealed that the doctrine of Synod 2018 was a doctrine of conditions. According to CERC’s minister, conditions are used in a formal sense in Scripture because there are some things that God has made to precede other things.
Rev. Tan: “…conditions are used in a formal sense. This is because there are some things that God have made to precede other things” (4th Class notes, p. 5).
There are conditions, declared CERC’s minister, in Lord’s Day 45 and James 1:6, although these conditions are not conditional theology. That is because “God provides that which He demands of. There is no condition in which man fulfills on his own power, therefore it is ALL OF GRACE” (Class notes, p. 5).
Making the conditional theology of CERC explicit, Rev. Tan taught CERC that man’s believing and repentance precede God’s salvation, justification, and forgiveness of that man’s sins.
Rev. Tan: “Jesus Here is teaching, that for salvation/ justification/forgiveness of sins to follow, something must happen prior, that is a man believing in Jesus. That is a man, abasing himself and casting himself completely on Jesus. Without this, salvation will not follow” (Class notes, p. 5).
In the end, faith is a condition, according to Rev. Tan.
Rev. Tan: “Is faith a condition? Yes, it is necessary” (Class recording, 14:50).
CERC’s consistory must have realized that egregious false doctrines and heresies were taught in that class, but lacks the honesty and integrity to admit them. One only needs to compare the fourth class notes here, with the fifth class notes here.
Having taught CERC that the doctrine of Synod 2018 is that there are conditions in Scripture because God has made some things to precede other things, CERC’s consistory does not even blush a word of it in the fifth class notes. Having taught CERC that there are conditions that man fulfils by the grace of God, the consistory does not even mention this devilish doctrine anymore. Having declared to CERC that faith is a condition because it is necessary, Rev. Tan barely utters the word in the fifth class.
Why the complete difference between the fourth and fifth class?
Does CERC’s consistory now realize that her fourth class was full of false doctrines? If they do, they should repent, because according to their doctrine of forgiveness, God will not forgive them unless they first repent. If they do not realize that what they taught was wrong and believe those doctrines to be true, then they should continue developing those doctrines. They should not be silent about them and pretend that they did not teach those doctrines.
We have questions for CERC’s consistory to answer. (If they truly love those who have departed, then they should correct our erroneous doctrines.)
- Does CERC’s consistory still believe that faith is a condition because it is necessary (Class recording, 14:50)?
- Does CERC’s consistory still believe that there are conditions in Scripture because God has made some things to precede other things?
- Does CERC’s consistory still believe that “for salvation/ justification/forgiveness of sins to follow, something must happen prior, that is a man believing in Jesus. That is a man, abasing himself and casting himself completely on Jesus. Without this, salvation will not follow? (Class notes, p. 5).
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:1-2).
Rev. Andy Lanning will be in Singapore from 8 to 19 December to minister to the Berean RPC. He will also be giving speeches on the following topics.
Speech 1: Doctrinal Developments in CERC
Date and time: 10 Dec (Sat), 10 am [Friday, 9 pm EST]
Venue: Seletar Park Residence (function room)
Speech 2: The Christian School in Singapore
Date and time: 17 Dec (Sat), 10 am [Friday, 9 pm EST]
Venue: Seletar Park Residence (dining room)
All are welcome to attend. Let us know by 4 December if you are attending in person. Lunch will be prepared.
More details on the livestream to follow.
Officebearers in the church of Jesus Christ carry a weighty responsibility. When they take up their office, they sign the Formula of Subscription, in which they vow “diligently to teach and faithfully to defend the aforesaid doctrine.” Moreover, they vow “to reject all errors that militate against this doctrine,” to be “disposed to refute and contradict” these errors and to exert themselves “in keeping the church free from such errors.”
Professors of theology occupy an important and vital role in a denomination. Their unique office is “to expound the Holy Scriptures and to vindicate sound doctrine against heresies and errors” (Church order article 18). When professors take up their office, they are charged “with the task of instructing and establishing in the knowledge of God’s Word the students who hope once to minister in His church.” The professors must, furthermore, “caution them in regard to the errors and heresies of the old, but especially of the new day” (Form for the Installation of Professors of Theology).
Prof. Russell Dykstra of the Protestatant Reformed churches did exactly the opposite. When controversy arose in his denomination and ravaged his churches for close to half a decade, his concern was not to expound the Holy Scriptures to vindicate sound doctrine against the heresies and errors that were responsible for the chaos and destruction in his churches. His concern was not to see to the destruction of the lie and the vindication of the truth.
Rather, Prof. Dykstra’s concern was to downplay the controversy and to minimize the seriousness of the false doctrines that had crept into his denomination. After Synod 2018 had waged a violent battle over the controversy, the professor of theology gave a baffling assessment to the denomination that there was in fact no division in the controversy.
Prof. Dykstra: “No one may imagine that in the PRC one group wants to have works contribute to salvation, and another group does not” (SB, July 2018, p. 414).
After Synod 2018 fought a fierce battle against the lie, the professor of theology shouted a warning—not against the lies that had displaced Christ and corrupted justification by faith alone and the unconditional covenant—but against radicalism.
Prof. Dykstra: “The point of this editorial is to examine the Protestant Reformed Churches with respect to radicalism…Protestant Reformed ministers can contribute to a spirit of radical suspicion with extremely harsh language in preaching and writing” (SB, Sep. 15, 2018, p. 485-6).
As the controversy raged on, Prof. Dykstra brought his concerns—concern not for the truth but for carnal ecclesiastical unity—to the PRC’s sister churches. Prof. Dykstra’s concern was not to address the controversy and to vindicate sound doctrine against heresy. His concern was not to give instruction to his sister churches about the dreadful controversy that had been swallowing up his denomination. His concern was to keep these sister churches ignorant and quiet.
(If you ever wondered why the learned Rev. A. Stewart in Northern Ireland was deathly silent throughout the controversy, or why Rev. Ibe in the Philippines kept mute over the controversy, ask the PRC’s contact committee. In particular, ask Prof. Dykstra what he told his sister churches to do.)
When the professor was in Singapore for six months between December 2020 and May 2021, he saw to it that the members of CERC remained ignorant of, and indifferent to, the controversy by not speaking a public word on it. The few members in CERC who had expressed interest and concern in learning about the PRC’s controversy were huddled into private, secretive meetings with the professor behind closed doors. There they were given secret materials on the controversy by the professor, and warned by the same professor that they may not record or distribute those materials. To date these materials have not seen the light of day.
In December 2021, the professor came to CERC again for church visitation. When he got wind that a group of members had come together to start a Bible study on the PRC’s controversy, he expressed his disapproval to a couple of them, and asked them disapprovingly why they were so interested in studying the PRC’s controversy.
Can you imagine a professor of theology actually disapproving of members of a sister church studying the PRC’s controversy? For the professor, studying a controversy to discern the truth from the lie; and expounding Scripture to vindicate sound doctrine against heresies is deplorable behavior. When the members of the Bible study group refused to stop meeting, the professor-politician assisted the Session in murdering them.
Prof. Dykstra’s carnal efforts to stop the Bible study meetings in Singapore bore evil fruit in CERC. The vast majority of CERC’s membership remain ignorant of and indifferent to the PRC’s controversy. CERC’s members are happy to be ignorant; their leaders—themselves ignorant—are happy to keep the members ignorant. The way of peace and unity, in their minds—and also in the professor’s mind—is in being ignorant and keeping silent. (Despite the best efforts of the Session today to instruct the congregation in the PRC’s controversy, most simply don’t care).
The unfolding of the PRC’s controversy has shown that Prof. Dykstra was never interested in expounding the Holy Scriptures to vindicate sound doctrine against heresies and errors. He was not the least concerned in exerting himself to keep the church free from errors. He exerted himself to keep the churches ignorant and indifferent to the heresies and errors that were swallowing them up. He exerted himself to downplay the seriousness of the controversy and the false doctrines that were swallowing his churches up.
Prof. Dykstra’s ungodly efforts have borne fruit in his denomination. False doctrine has swallowed up his denomination. In his denomination, man and man’s reputation occupies a central place. In his denomination, if a man would be saved, there is that which he must do.
The Lord uses evil leaders for the destruction of a carnal denomination, but He is gracious in sparing a few. He gives faithful men to sound the trumpet of His gospel—men who count all things but loss for the excellency of the gospel. The Lord uses faithful men to reform His church, and appoints faithful office bearers who exert themselves to keep the church free from error. The Lord uses these faithful men to expound the Holy Scriptures to vindicate sound doctrine against heresies and errors; and to caution His beloved flock in regard to the errors and heresies of the old, but especially of the new day.