Our Discipline: Ecclesiastical Brutality

Our discipline was not Christian discipline; it was ecclesiastical brutality. Our discipline was not discipline by Christ, but by man and man’s wicked will.

On 4 December 2021, a group of former members of CERC banded together to study and speak the truth of the PRC’s controversy. They had been starved of godly, spiritual instruction on the controversy by a Session that cared not for the truth.

(When her sister’s house was ablaze with false doctrines that corrupted the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Session told members not to meddle with her sister’s house. Now that her sister’s house has all but burned down, the Session says in January 2022 that she would like to help her sister and instruct CERC in the controversy).

In less than a week after the group’s first Bible study meeting, the Session got wind of the meeting and demanded them to stop meeting, without even so much as determining what they were studying. On 11 December 2021, Pastor Tan and two elders met with the group. Asserting their lawful authority and impressing upon the group the absolute necessity of obeying Christ’s lawfully appointed servants, they demanded the group to stop meeting (without showing from the Scriptures why their meetings, or what they were teaching and confessing was contrary to Scripture). 

The Bible study group refused, and explained their refusal, for the group believed that what they were doing was demanded by Christ who said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).

A week after the group’s refusal, the Session charged the group—under the hand and with the blessings of Prof. R. Dykstra—with sins against the 5th and 9th commandments. The Session gave the group a week to repent of their sins, failing which the Session placed them under the first step of discipline, barring them from the Lord’s Supper. Like the faithful prophets who spoke against the evils of the PRC, the Bible study group was put out of CERC for speaking and confessing the truth.

What CERC’s Session did to the members of the Berean Reformed Protestant Fellowship was ecclesiastical brutality, not Christian discipline. Christian discipline—the shutting of the kingdom of heaven—is performed “when according to the command of Christ, those, who under the name of Christians, maintain doctrines, or practices inconsistent therewith, and will not, after having been often brotherly admonished, renounce their errors and wicked course of life” (HC Q&A 85).

CERC’s Session considered a Bible study group meeting to study and speak the truth of the PRC’s controversy so wicked that they were willing to shut the kingdom of heaven against them.

What doctrines or practices did the Bible study group maintain that were inconsistent with the command of Christ? The Session—till today—has given no explanation. Their only explanation is that they are Christ’s lawfully appointed servants who must be obeyed at all cost.

The Session lies to the members of CERC when they say that they have performed this discipline out of love for us. 

They gave us a week—7 days!—to repent of our sins, and then placed us under discipline. Is that Christian discipline? The Heidelberg Catechism teaches that the objects of discipline must have “been often brotherly admonished.” CERC’s Session gave all but one admonishment to stop meeting, and then charged the members of the Bible study with sin. They were not disciplining us in love; they were eager to get rid of us for our testimony of the truth.

The Session is extremely patient with other members of the church and with false doctrine. Those who have not attended church regularly for years are given a wide berth; those who refuse to baptize their children are not subject to discipline. Those who teach false doctrines in their sister churches are neither called out nor rebuked. But those who start a Bible study group to study and speak the truth are placed under discipline (in a week’s time).

Our discipline was not Chrstian discipline. It was eccleasiastical brutality. It was rule by the will and dominion of man. It was rule by the false church that “ascribes more power and authority to herself and her ordinances than to the Word of God,” and that “persecutes those who live holily according to the Word of God, and rebuke her for her errors” (Belgic Confession Art. 29).

Having been cast out of CERC, the members of the Berean Reformed Protestant Fellowship rejoice in the liberty of speaking and confessing Christ’s truth without any oppression. “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake” (Phil. 1:29).

For a detailed timeline and refutation of our discipline, click here.

One response to “Our Discipline: Ecclesiastical Brutality”

  1. […] not just empty words, either. The session of CERC has placed members of their congregation under discipline for starting a Bible study to study the […]

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