Restored Apostolic Mission Church

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Scheme of several Apostolic Churches inside and outside the Netherlands from 1830 until 2005. Click on the image to enlarge.

The Restored Apostolic Mission Church (Hersteld Apostolische Zendingkerk - HAZK) was a Bible-believing, chiliastic church society in the Netherlands, Germany, South Africa and Australia. It came forth from the Catholic Apostolic Congregation at Hamburg that separated itself from the mother-church in 1863. In 1969-1971 it had fallen apart into three sections.

Introduction: short history and schisms[edit]

The Restored Apostolic Mission Church (HAZK) placed great emphasis on the fourfold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastors (according to Ephesians 4:11). According to the official church-doctrine, apostles are placed 'first' (compare 1 Corinthians 12:28) and as the only ministry authorised to ordain ministers and to 'seal' members (comparable with the Catholic confirmation). Following the sealing the spiritual gifts became evident in the apostolic congregations, among which the gift of prophecy.

In 1897 the current New Apostolic Church (in those days still called the Hersteld Apostolische Zendinggemeente in de Eenheid der Apostelen (Restored Apostolic Mission Congregation in the Unity of the Apostles)) tore itself away from the HAZK. Here among other things the office of chief-apostle was introduced. (compare "I am the vine, you are the branches." - John 15:5) The New Apostolic Church in turn produced in 1951, amongst others, the Apostolisch Genootschap (Apostolic Society).

In 1931 the Haarlem HAZK-congregation in the Jacobijnenstraat cut itself loose and continued on as Hersteld Apostolische Zendinggemeente (Restored Apostolic Mission Congregation). Some of the underlying reasons were the Haarlem point of view on the 'equality of the ministries' and strife over the doctrinal opinions around Christ.

In 1969 again a schism took place in the Restored Apostolic Mission Church under the leadership of the Amsterdam prophet H.M. van Bemmel, who had already for years opposed the apostolic supervision both verbally and in writing. He therefore also rejected the apostolic prophesying of J. van der Poorten, who in 1968 was called and ordained to the office of apostle. This prophesying called for the restoration of the original apostolic order. It turned into an insurrection against the lawful apostolic supervision, where vB and two other schismatic prophets during a last discussion with the practically complete apostolate on 29 November 1969 rejected the Old Testament as a guideline of faith and doctrine, unless the NT explicitly referred to it. However, the separatists, who are sometimes called 'Bemmelians' after their leader, maintained the old name HAZK, so now there were two church-societies with this name.

In the second half of 1970 a second group of prophets set itself up and on 14 October 1970 at Arnhem had themselves separated as 'the Elijah of this time' and who in roughly a year brought the HAZK to ruin by their prophesying. J. van der Poorten, who had already distanced himself before, laid down his ministry on Good Friday 1971, while confessing that the schism of 1863 was already unlawful. At Easter he was restored on prophetic direction to the office of apostle, but now at the re-established altar of the Catholic Apostolic Church. He was followed by a majority of the congregations of Amsterdam, Enkhuizen, a part of Utrecht and the congregation in Sydney. Since then there is in fact nothing left of the original HAZK.

History[edit]

Origin[edit]

Apostle Schwartz later in life

Cause of the schism with the mother-church in 1863 was the calling of a new apostle by mouth of the German council-prophet Heinrich Geyer. In the course of a few years already five of the twelve British apostles had died, including Carlyle, apostle for North-Germany. A possible apostle-calling had been rejected the British apostolate in advance, but the angel (= overseer, compare Revelation 2 and 3) of Hamburg, Friedrich W. Schwartz, accepted the called Rosochacki as apostle with the agreement of nearly the whole congregation and withdrew the congregation from the supervision of apostle Woodhouse, who exercised the care for Germany. After a few weeks Rosochacki receded, but an attempt by Schwartz to then heal the breach, was rejected by Woodhouse. In Hamburg now the priest Preusz is called as apostle for North-Germany Schwartz for the Netherlands. The congregations under Preusz were called Allgemeine christliche apostolische Mission (ACAM). The ACAM also sent apostles to other German states and even to Hungary and the United States. In September 1863 Schwartz settled in Amsterdam, where he founded a flourishing congregation, in those days still known by the name Apostolische Zending (Apostolic Mission). Smaller congregations came into being during these years at Enkhuizen, Haarlem, IJmuiden and Hoorn.

Relationship with the ACAM in Germany[edit]

A chasm soon developed between the Dutch HAZK and the German ACAM because Schwartz had abolished the liturgical services and vestments. In the early years Schwartz had good contacts with the Free Evangelical Congregation) of Reverend Jan de Liefde, the well-known founder of the Association for the Salvation of the People (Vereniging tot Heil des Volks) in Amsterdam. Several ministers allowed themselves to be sealed in the HAZK, such as F.W. Menkhoff. The latter was first sent out as evangelist (1867) to Bielefeld (Westfalen) (which then was still part of the area of responsibility of Schwartz), after which he was called as angel in 1869 and as apostle in 1872 and soon founded several congregations. In 1869 Schwartz came also in contact with Dr. Groenewegen, who wrote The Book for our times) some of it based on the notations of Schwartz.

After the death of Preusz in 1878, in Hamburg a certain Güldner was called as apostle by prophet Geyer. When Güldner was to be ordained, some, among whom Friedrich Krebs, tried to prevent this, which made Geyer and Güldner leave, followed by nearly all 300 members of the congregation. The little group of ten rebels joined up with the HAZK, after which Schwartz and Menkhoff, in spite of protests of the ACAM, appointed Krebs as counter-apostle to Güldner.

From Germany, Krebs soon began to make an end to the autonomous work methods of the HAZK-apostles in the work- or tribal areas allotted to them. In his quest for the 'Unity of the apostles' he abolished the callings by mouth of the prophets and declared the office of prophet redundant, for Krebs would from then on appoint the most important ministers himself. Later the Australian apostle Niemeyer reacted to this with the mocking remark, that thus Krebs 'was surrounded by his own court of yes-men'. Since he deemed himself equal to the Christ, Krebs' words were more important than the Bible, for didn't he speak 'living words for these times'. Krebs' supporter and later chief-apostle Hermann Niehaus did call the Bible 'withered hay and stinking stagnant well water', while the opponents of Krebs in turn were denounced as 'Bible riders'. (This quote has been attributed to a church periodical which was published in Nov. 1896; from the date it must be concluded that it was in Wächterstimmen aus Zion, no. 11 of 1896). Krebs was the first who assumed the ministry of a chief apostle in the church in 1896. His successor was Hermann Niehaus.

Schism of the 'New Light' (1895-1897)[edit]

When Menkhoff died in May 1895, Krebs managed to accomplish that Niehaus became the successor of the first. This caused a fierce fight, and led by the faithful to the Bible prophet Hugo at least half the tribe separated. Half a year later, on 6 December 1895, Schwartz also died. Because the people in the Netherlands hardly knew what was happening in Germany, they accepted Krebs as caretaker apostle, until a successor would be called by one of church-prophets in a calling service which would be held especially. Meanwhile, the period of mourning of twelve weeks was lengthened by Krebs to a year and six weeks and Niehaus, who could speak Dutch reasonably well, was engaged to win the Dutch ministers to the 'New Light,' as Krebs' teachings were mockingly called. When in the Netherlands people began to fear that Krebs himself would indeed appoint a new subservient apostle, the ministers of the main congregation of Amsterdam demanded that the calling service would as yet be held according to the prescribed rules. This happened on 17 January 1897 conducted by Krebs and Niehaus, and here the Amsterdam deacon Martin van Bemmel was called as apostle for the Netherlands (indicated as the tribal area 'Judah') by means of an overwhelming number of prophecies and visions. He was accepted on the spot by all and inducted into the apostolate. When Van Bemmel did not wish to acknowledge Krebs' chief authority, a month later Krebs - without authorisation - informed Van Bemmel that he was deposed from the office of apostle. Kofman of Hoorn, supported by Krebs and Niehaus, now instigated a revolt against Van Bemmel and separated approximately half of the thousand members of the HAZK. They called themselves since then the 'Hersteld Apostolische Zendingkerk in de Eenheid der Apostelen' (Restored Apostolic Mission Church in the Unity of the Apostles), later to become the New Apostolic Church. Kofman was immediately appointed there as apostle by Krebs.

Developments under apostle Van Bemmel (1897-1925)[edit]

Under Van Bemmel important apostolic principals came under pressure. Shortly before his death Schwartz in his 'Concept' had laid down what was the correct order of the ministries. He literally wrote that the supervision and the authority in a tribal area rested with the apostolate, with all overseers (angels) of the congregations bound thereto. And further: The Apostle of the tribe is the Angel of the portal congregation. He has an angel-helper, who is called for this. The angel-helper can have a helper or elder with the purpose to assist in the ruling. Finally, in every congregation as many prophets, evangelists and pastors may be added as is necessary. Schwartz concluded his Concept with the compelling proclamation: This arrangement will remain as order for the tribe of Judah, given to the tribe by the Lord Jesus Christ by means of His Apostle.

Having become obstinate due to the conflicts with the Amsterdam ministry, apostle Van Bemmel put this spiritual law aside. He did not want to hear of any very much needed appointment of new ministers. He thought that the office of prophet was un-biblical; - the Holy Spirit revealed Himself by anyone with the gift of prophecy. Callings he found unnecessary, helpers he could appoint himself. Neither did he believe in the election of deacons by the congregation, he appointed them himself. Thus in a short time did not only the ministries of overseer (angel) and elder disappear, but also those of evangelist and prophet. In 1903 Van Bemmel was gravely rebuked for this apostasy in a word of prophecy with the words: 'Was it not I Who gave My deceased ap. Schwartz the Law of the Spirit? Therefore, My apostle, I want that thou shouldst bring this Law unto fulfilment,' etc.

Meanwhile Van Bemmel began to proclaim the Sabellian fallacy in which the Trinity of God is denied; the Godly Being would not exist of three independent Persons but of one single Person. In old times God had revealed Himself as the Father, after that He became man as Jesus in Mary and finally He made Himself known as the Holy Spirit. All these deviations led to a parting of spirits in 1904. His father-in-law, pastor N.J. Verkruisen of Haarlem, closed his congregation to him, pastor Meijnders left Amsterdam to join Verkruisen, and pastor T. Korff of Enkhuizen wrote a sharp, warning letter. In 1913 the breach with Haarlem was healed, but there was no mention of the restoration of the disappeared ministries. Van Bemmel did hold calling services for Haarlem and Enkhuizen to replace the deceased Verkruisen and Korff, but because he regarded the office of prophet as unnecessary, he appointed deacons who had the gift of prophecy as 'acting prophets.' In 1920 because of internal pressures he held a calling service in Amsterdam, where by mouth of deacons a pastor and an evangelist were called, and, probably as a great shock to him, also a prophet. It would be a long wait, however, till the restoration of the congregational election of deacons.

Developments since apostle Kalwij (1925-1968)[edit]

In 1925 the deceased Van Bemmel was succeeded by the pious deacon-evangelist J.G. Kalwij. Rather quickly he already had problems with evangelist Verkruisen in The Hague, who proclaimed the democratic order that supervision and rule rested with the council of priests and not with the apostolate. After he was suspended for this in 1929 he separated his congregation. In 1931 in Haarlem, where J.W. Verkruisen had succeeded his father as pastor, there developed a terrible spectacle, when it was attempted to bring a deceased person back to life. After his suspension he followed his brother, whose opinion on the so-called 'equality of the ministries' he shared. He separated the congregation, which was joined by the congregations in Vlissingen and Australia. They adopted the name of Hersteld Apostolische Zendinggemeente (Re-established Apostolic Mission Congregation).

Under apostle Kalwij and his successor Dielof W. Ossebaar, who was called in 1947, there was some prosperity and the HAZK consisted of congregations in Amsterdam, Enkhuizen, Haarlem, Arnhem, Wageningen, Den Haag, Utrecht, Amersfoort, Groningen and Zwolle, and some in Germany, Austria, Australia and South Africa. At her height she had altogether about 2000 members, led by four apostles.

The schism of 1969[edit]

In March 1968 the number of apostles was augmented by three to a number of seven, wherefore the expectation that a revival was imminent seemed justified. Something happened, however, that no one had expected. The apostle Jacob van der Poorten (vdp), recently called for England (tribe Reuben), was moved to prophesying grave penance, in which the HAZK was called upon to return to the original apostolic order. It led to a fierce hurricane which in a short time brought the little hazk-ship to its doom. The deeper cause of this drama was the late apostle Van Bemmel's contempt for the spiritual law of Schwartz on overseer-ministries, instead of which he had introduced the unwise one-man-rule of the apostle. This understandably had led to opposition, not only of the Verkruisens, but also of others, among whom the Amsterdam prophet H.M. of Bemmel (vB). They again, however, made the mistake to violate the biblical order by stripping the office of apostle of its authority and to assign the church rule to a general counsel of priests. Already from the beginning of the commission of apostle Ossebaar, vB had tried to undermine the former's authority and when the apostolate had forbidden a communion-blessing favoured by vB and had forcefully prescribed the consecration form of the mother-church, his aversion towards the apostolate had grown into a bitter feud. The nucleus of the forbidden blessing read: 'We bless this bread into the sacramental body and this wine into the sacramental blood of our Lord Jesus Christ,' etc. As vB had expressly declared in word and writing, his main purpose was the use of the words blessing into, wherefore it had the meaning that the priest made bread and wine into (sacramental) flesh and blood. By the rejection of these consecration-words he was so embittered, that he had considered separating himself. He even asserted that because of the abolishing of his communion-blessing the HAZK was under the judgement and was punished with satanic prophesying.

Already an opponent of apostolic authority, vB turned very quickly against the apostolic prophesying of vdp, asserting that it was a violation of the office of prophet. When vdp in early 1969 was moved to prophesy callings for the diaconal ministry, vB called for resistance: deacons should be chosen by the congregation, wherefore prophesied callings were un-biblical. Moreover, according to him, only prophets were authorised to prophesy callings. He neglected to mention that shortly before he had rejected the restoring of sub-deacons and had prevented a proposed diaconal election. When on Pentecost 1969 vdp was moved to prophesy the callings for the disappeared ministries of elder and angel, everything came to a head. vB and a number of supporters accused him that he, under devilish influence violated the 'spiritual law of Schwartz' and sought to restore the ordinances of the mother-church that Schwartz would have abolished. In reality it was vB himself who did not want anything to do with those old ordinances, while he knew very well from a book written about the mother-church by vdp that the latter was rather critical of her ordinances.

It soon became apparent that the 'Bemmelian' party were aiming for a split, with which vB had his own intentions. During tumultuous meetings they were completely uncooperative. Although it was shown with documents that the apostolic prophesying was in full accordance with Holy Scriptures and the spiritual law of Schwartz, they closed their ears and cried that they were not concerned with whatever evidence. Because in the apostolic prophesying reference was often made to the Old Testament and the mosaic tabernacle, they cried unashamedly to be unconcerned with this either and they said the same of the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Revelation, where there is spoken with such emphasis about the tabernacle. It was remarkable that up to the split there was not an incident of counter-prophesying. On the contrary, many, amongst whom their later prophets Hobé and Grimmelius, were often moved to prophesy impressive confirmations.

During the 'robbers-meeting' of September 1969, the rebellious party carried out her intentions. With an air of importance the Haarlem pastor Rijnders, father of the current leader of the 'Bemmelians' put the following ultimatum to apostle Ossebaar: the prophesying of vdp had to be rejected as satanic and he as well as the other apostles called for the countries abroad should leave the country. With increasing indignation the meeting had heard the malicious man, not knowing what the rebels were planning to do. When with the concurrence of the majority of the meeting Ossebaar rejected the ultimatum, the trouble-makers stood up and left the meeting cursing.

At the insistence of the wavering ministry of Arnhem as yet an attempt was made in November to heal the split. At the beginning of that meeting of only apostles and prophets, where also the schismatic prophets vB, CB and Sch. were present, Ossebaar proposed to take Holy Scripture as the basis of the discussions. vB replied that he only wished to speak about 'the doctrine of the beginning,' which he understood as: 'Everything that is written in the N.T. and absolutely nothing more,' with which his two followers concurred. Then something shocking happened. Immediately after their Marcionitic rejection of the Old Testament, their own prophet CB was moved to contradict vB by prophesying that the entire Holy Scriptures contains the testimony of God. They would not be corrected, however, and continued to absolutely reject 'that there are matters that could be derived from the O.T. that were not explicitly written in the N.T.' Everyone knew that especially vB was lying, who with the exception of feast days, used to preach exclusively from the O.T., while his prophesying was similarly permeated with Old Testament figures. But because the acceptance of all Bible books would mean that he would have to acknowledge the apostolic prophesying of vdp as biblical, he preferred this awful denial. Thus the schism had become definite. The congregations led by the rebels of Haarlem, Utrecht, Amersfoort and Wageningen put themselves under the leadership of vB, who were joined by some members of Amsterdam and Den Haag. Then it also became apparent what had always been vB's purpose: at his command his communion-blessing was restored in the schismatic congregations. This company kept on calling itself HAZK, for which Ossebaar's enemy of years, J. Schaap was appointed as 'apostle' by mouth of vB.

The chaos of 1970/71 and the end[edit]

Although the large congregation of Arnhem had reluctantly concurred with the restoration of the old apostolic order of the ministries, she also entertained the sectarian opinion that prophesying was the exclusive task of prophets. When Ossebaar wanted to silence vdp because of prophecies he disliked and found support for this with the prophets, Ossebaar was warned in the word of prophecy that if he preferred their prophesying to the apostolic prophesying, he would get what he desired: the prophets would decline into a Jezebel and he himself into an Ahab. With this it was announced that Ossebaar would be dragged along by false prophesying and the congregations would be dispersed. Within a few weeks already this became reality in Arnhem. In a meeting led by Ossebaar great chaos developed because unauthorised prophets and members of the congregation prophesied commands and callings. This was the beginning of a terrible rule by the prophets that would totally destroy the HAZK.

When vdp was moved to reject what had happened, Ossebaar and the prophets decided to silence him, whereupon he withdrew himself in July 1970. After his departure the false prophesying of the prophets burst forth with full intensity. On their command during October 1970 Ossebaar appointed in Arnhem twelve prophets as 'the Elijah of this time'. According to their own 'prophesying' they would produce a tremendous light and would perform world-shocking miracles. Before the commencement of this meeting a messenger read out a prophecy spoken by vdp, in which all were seriously advised to leave the church-building and that whoever would participate in this folly, would be consumed by fire from heaven.

To strengthen the confused members of the congregation against the false prophesying, vdp was moved to a counter-prophesying, which he regularly sent to the ministers of the HAZK. Because of this the Arnhem fools deteriorated into a great frenzy and they poured out their curses over him and everyone that would oppose them. On Good Friday 1971 vdp laid down his ministry in the HAZK and in spirit reunited himself with the British apostles, whereby he expressed that he rejected the schism of 1863. Dozens of priests and deacons openly indicated their readiness to do the same, whereupon Ossebaar on the command of the prophets deposed them, denied them the admission to the church and robbed them of their salary. When the prophets from the pulpit cursed everyone that supported the expelled ministers and believed the prophesying of vdp, Enkhuizen separated herself and the majority of the members of Amsterdam fled to seek comfort in other churches, or to attend the services that vdp was holding at his home.

Among the expelled were also all the members of the executive of the association 'De Amsterdamse Kas' (The Amsterdam Fund) that managed the properties of the congregation of Amsterdam, such as the church building on the Bloemgracht. The authority to depose and replace these managers, rested with the meeting of members of the congregation of Amsterdam. Without calling a meeting of the eligible members and without notifying them according to the rules, Ossebaar and overseer vdB fraudulently appointed themselves as managers and thus stole the church building and other property.

Now that the resistance had been broken, the leaders of the prophets of Arnhem, WS and vH, gave themselves over to an unbelievable anti-Christian prophesying. Almost every old heresies was poured out over the poor multitude. The Godhead of Christ was denied, He would have been begotten by Joseph; every one would be a little bit god and christ; the concept of sin was a fantasy, for both good and evil were godly characteristics; every one should do what he thought was good and much more of those 'wonderful' things. Whoever believed this 'prophesying' of vH and WS had then properly become a spiritual human being and had no further need of any sacrament. As a sign symbolising this, the Lord's Supper was solemnly buried. With bread on a silver paten and wine in a silver chalice and followed by a number of ministers, Ossebaar proceeded to the toilet of the church-building of Arnhem, reverently tossed bread and wine into the toilet-bowl and flushed them with a solemn 'amen' into the sewers. During a gathering in the church-building of Arnhem vH even got in such a frenzy that he (respectfully watched by Ossebaar and consorts) smashed the furniture on the dais into pieces.

When the prophets had finished their frenzy, Ossebaar and a small remnant came back to their senses. The ring-leaders refused, however, to become Christian again and left. Of the twelve prophets, that formidable Elijah, not one remained and there was nothing left of the altars but smoking piles of rubble, as it had been foretold in October 1971. The remnant again celebrates communion from time to time and with every effort remains silent on all the terrible things that had happened. They call themselves now Hersteld Apostolische Zendingkerk - Stam Juda (Restored Apostolic Mission Church - Tribe Judah) which only consists of a few small groups in Amsterdam and Arnhem.

Further reading[edit]

  • Johannes Albrecht Schröter: Die Katholisch-Apostolischen Gemeinden in Deutschland und der "Fall Geyer"; (Tectum Verlag) 3rd lightly improved print, 2004 – ISBN 3-89608-814-9.
  • Dr. M.J. Tang: Het apostolische Werk in Nederland (tegen de achtergrond van zijn ontstaan in Engeland en Duitsland); (Boekencentrum) Den Haag, 1st print 1982, 4th print 1989. - ISBN 90-239-1472-4.
  • Helmut Obst: Apostel und Propheten der Neuzeit; (Verlag Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) Göttingen. - ISBN 3-525-55438-9
  • Kurt Hutten: Seher - Grübler - Enthusiasten; Stuttgart, various prints.
  • M. van Bemmel (and others): De ware oorzaak der scheuring in de Hersteld Apostolische Zendinggemeente in Nederland; Amsterdam 1897.
  • A.J. Korff: Beknopte geschiedenis der Apostolische Kerk; (1st print, approx. 1935; 2nd print - supplemented by J. van Bemmel - 1963)
  • J. van der Poorten: Mijn Koninkrijk is niet van deze wereld; Woodridge, 1976.