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The enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer (1 of 6): The relationship between the RFPA board and her Standard Bearer editors

The enduring freedom of the Standard Bearer (1 of 6): The relationship between the RFPA board and her Standard Bearer editors

This series is written by Joshua Hoekstra, current RFPA board president.


    Writing a blog is a new experience for me. So why not jump in and write a six-part series? My topic may seem dry at first glance, but I assure you it is not. This blog series is about Christian brotherhood, authority, influence, freedom, and criticism. This blog series seeks to answer the following question: what is the relationship between the RFPA board and the editorial staff of her Standard Bearer?

    The question is not: what is the relationship between the church and the Standard Bearer? This answer is simple. The Standard Bearer is free from ecclesiastical control. Writers are still responsible for what they write though. Writers, like all of us, have their membership papers in a church. Church members abide by the decisions of those churches. Simply put, the church order governs all of us in these matters.

    The question we will be addressing in this series is about how much control the RFPA board has over the Standard Bearer.

    When I was elected to the board for a prior term several years ago, this topic befuddled me. I thought to myself, why is this even a question? Why does it matter? Why do we operate this way? Why are some of the seasoned board members so concerned with this topic? The answer to this question is more fundamental than you may first imagine, for the answer to this question is at the very core of the RFPA and her crown jewel, her most prized possession, our beloved Standard Bearer (SB). The relationship between the board and the SB staff is unique. I know of none other like it in all the world, and it is designed with a special purpose that we will examine in this series.

    Our relationship is (now) governed by a policy (I promise it gets more exciting than policies) that was first attempted in 2014 and finally agreed to by both board and editorial staff in 2018. This policy is rooted in one hundred years of history and has this defined purpose:

    Both the RFPA Board and the Editorial Staff of the Standard Bearer have a shared purpose. Our constitutions set forth this shared purpose to defend, maintain, develop, and promulgate our distinctively Protestant Reformed principles as contained in the word of God and the Three Forms of Unity by means of the printed word. To effectuate this purpose, we jointly work to write, publish, promote and distribute a magazine called the Standard Bearer.

    It’s a noble goal. To spread God’s word! To sound forth the doctrines of sovereign grace, of full and free salvation wrought by God alone for his people, to defend against all heresies that would compromise this gospel. To accomplish this goal requires men, sinful men, to work together. Working together takes charity, patience, time, and shared expectations. Sinful men can only do this when they are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

    Some quick terms and then tomorrow I’ll see you back here to show you how this policy is a labor of Christian brotherhood.


    —The RFPA is an association of believers who have rallied together to glorify God by making accessible to the broadest possible audience material that testifies to the truth of scripture as understood and developed in the Reformed tradition.
    —The RFPA board is a group of twelve men elected to three-year terms to govern and operate the nonprofit organization focused on the mission of the association.
    —The Standard Bearer is the regular periodical magazine of the RFPA distributed around the world.
    —The editorial committee (or SB editors) are the co-editors of the magazine. Presently, they are Prof. Dykstra, Prof. Gritters, and Rev. Koole, who labor with the managing editor, Chuck Terpstra.

    —The editorial staff (SB staff, or generically referenced as editors) is the group of writers and contributors who regularly write to fill the rubrics of the Standard Bearer. There are currently over 40 writers. They annually appoint new writers, the editorial committee, and one member of the editorial committee to a three-year term as editor-in-chief.

      Don’t gloss over those last two definitions too quickly. Notice that the editorial staff appoints the editorial committee annually. The entire SB staff has authority over the contents of the magazine. It is not three men who control the content. The SB staff exercises its authority through the work of writing, the appointment of the editorial committee, and by majority vote.

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