Tonight I was reading through some sections of the catechism of Johannes d’Outrein (1662-1722), titled Een Korte Schets der Godlyke Waarheden (A Short Sketch of Divine Truths), and thought this excerpt was worth translating into English and sharing:
“Question 11. Where is the true church now to be found?
Answer: In the congregation where the marks of the true church are found.
Question 12. What are these marks?
Answer: Where the pure preaching of God’s word is, and the Sacraments are administered according to the institution of Christ – there is the external (i.e. visible) congregation in which those who believe and are converted constitute the true Church.
Question 13. And which is presently this congregation?
Answer: The Reformed Church.
Question 14. Do you then exclude [those of] other convictions from the true church?
Answer: No, if they do not err in essential points, if there is [held among them] the justification of sinners before God, etc.
Question 15. What do you hold of the Roman Church?
Answer: That it is apostate [‘afvallig’ in the original Dutch] and a multitude of carnal confessors, who make up the beast which we see in Revelation chapter 13, etc.
Question 16. Do you then exclude all who belong to the Roman Church from the true Church and hence from salvation?
Answer: We would like to hope the best of such who are simple under Popery and trust in Christ and his merit, but those who know the depths of Satan and reject the true doctrine of the reconciliation of sinners to God through the blood of Christ alone, there we cannot see much good of expectation. See Is. 45:22-24; Jer. 17:5.
Question 17. If the Reformed Church is the true one, is the true church then entirely new, because where was the church before the Reformation?
Answer: The true church was then in the captivity of the Spiritual Babel and was greatly obscured, though at all times there were those who clung to the true doctrine. See Song of Songs 6:10; Rev. 14:6.
Question 18. Did our forefathers have reasons to separate themselves from the Roman Church?
Answer: Yes indeed, because it was then so bastardized in doctrine and morals that one could not remain in such a depraved Church without running into the greatest danger of his salvation.
Question 19. But the Reformed Church is now also much deteriorated; does one for this reason also have no reason to separate oneself from it, as the Labadists do?
Answer: By no means, because 1) The deterioration is not so general, so that there are still many who serve God in truth. 2) The doctrine of truth is confessed purely among us, and as long as this happens there is no reason for separation. 3) One must also take care that that does not apply to us which is stated in Isaiah 65:5: ‘Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou’.”
– Johannes d’Outrein (1662-1722), Een Korte Schets der Godlyke Waarheden, Chapter XX (Of the Christian Church)