THE REFORMED POLITICAL PARTY (SGP)
The Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij (SGP) -in English: the Reformed Political Party- was founded in Middelburg in 1918 by a number of nonparty persons who did not feel at home in the then existing parties any longer. One of the founding fathers, a catalyst in the history of the development and the expansion of the party, was the well-known minister, Rev. G.H. Kersten. He and his political friends held the view that neither the then existing Christian parties nor the liberals were voicing the feelings of those who aimed at a strictly biblical organization of political and social life.
The results of the parliamentary elections of 1922 were rather surprising: 26,700 votes for the SGP, sufficient for obtaining one seat. Thus, Rev. G.H. Kersten, only 30 years of age, entered the Second Chamber. In the following years, the SGP grew steadily. This resulted in a second seat for the party in 1925, which was occupied by Rev. P. Zandt, whereas ir. C.N. van Dis became the third representative in 1929. The SGP has been represented in parliament without interruption ever since.
The SGP has never shown a spectacular expansion. However, this small party has not appeared to be a miracle tree, withering as quickly as it shot up. During all those years, the SGP has remained a small but constant party in a dechristianizing world. Nevertheless, in 1994, a relatively small decrease in votes caused the loss of one seat in the parliament.
THE AIM OF THE REFORMED POLITICAL PARTY (SGP)
The aim of the SGP is expressed in its constitution. It states that the party strives for "our nation to be reigned entirely on the basis of the ordinances of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures" - an essential word in this statement is "entirely" - and makes its object to "induce the principles of the Word of God to greater recognition into the nation".
Following the Bible (Romans 13), the SGP states that the governing authorities are God's servants. Therefore, they are accountable to Him, by Whom all things exist. The Ten Commandments offer us a touchstone of this obedience and serve as the guidance for all authorities. They do not only contain rules with respect to relations between people, but also with respect to God and the public service of Him. Some of the consequences are that the government should not tolerate public blasphemy, that it should foster the rest on the Lord's day and that it should protect human life (including unborn life). In short, the government's calling is to see to it that God's Law is observed.
THE REFORMED POLITICAL PARTY (SGP) AND THE THREE FORMS OF UNITY
In its articles of association the SGP states that it "entirely and unconditionally endorses the Three Forms of Unity". These Three Forms are: the Heidelberg Catechism, the Dutch Confession of Faith (Confessio Belgica) and the Five Articles against the Remonstrants (the Dort Canons of 1618-1619).
The Three Forms of Unity, which give a concise summary of the reformed doctrine, unite all reformed Christians in line with Calvinism. It is the intention of the SGP to stand in this tradition too, consciously and firmly.
The SGP claims to be interdenominational. Not tied to one or more ecclesiastical denomination, it aims to unify all those church members who confess the reformed faith and teaching.
THE REFORMED POLITICAL PARTY (SGP) AND ARTICLE 36
In the party programme of the SGP, article 36 of the Dutch Confession of Faith is mentioned explicitly. It is because this article clearly states what ought to be the place and task of the governing authorities, also with respect to the church. This article runs as follows:
On the duties of the Authorities
We believe that, for reason of the perversity of the human race, our good God established Kings, Princes and Authorities; desiring that the world should be governed by laws and police so as to curb man's lawlessness and to ensure that everything among men should be in perfect order. To that end He has given the Authorities the sword to punish those who are evil and to protect those who are godly. And their duty is not only to attend to and watch over the Police but also to enforce the holy divine service; in order to prevent and to exterminate all idolatry and heresy, to break down the dominion of the Antichrist and to promote the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, to allow the word of the Gospel to be preached everywhere, so that God might be honoured and served by all, as he commands in His Word. Further, everybody, no matter what his qualities or state be, is obliged to subject to the Authorities, to pay taxes, to honour and to respect them and to obey them in all things not running counter to the Word of God; praying for them in their prayers that the Lord may guide them in all their ways and that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity, 1 Tim. 2:2. And in this we reject the anabaptists and other rebellious persons, and in general, all those who reject the Authorities and Magistrates and who want to overthrow the Law, introducing the community of goods and mistaking the virtues God has established amongst men.
In the reformed confession cited above, there are two main thoughts, the first of which has already been mentioned. The duty of the autorities, established by God, is to govern, to regulate and -if necessary- to punish "in order to curb man's lawlessness and to ensure that everything among men should be in perfect order".
The second main thought expresses that governing authorities should never take a neutral or carelessly passive attitude towards the nation's religious life. It goes without saying that article 36 does not demand of the governing authorities to organize church life. But it does emphasize the calling of the authorities to take away all obstacles that could impede the preaching of the Gospel. By doing this, they enable the church to lead the tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity Paul's letter to Timothy speaks of.
Today, article 36 means that the governing authorities should nor can co-operate in and support making laws which would lead our nation away from God, His Word and His service. Since, unfortunately, our society is alienating itself from the church and the Bible, the calling of the governing authorities is primarily to oppose anything which stimulates the process of dechristianization of our nation and to promote everything which would bring the people closer to the Word of God and His Commandments.
The article speaks of enforcing the divine service. Please, note that it does not say to interfere in the divine service. Although the areas of the church and the government are related, they are separate areas. Both have their own specific tasks and authorities.
On no condition will the SGP give up its theocratic view on the governing authorities (i.e. the authorities are subject to the Laws of God), no matter if the nation becomes more and more dechristianized. Does this imply that the SGP clings to one article of a written confession with desperate tenacity?
Certainly not, for in its explanation of the Ten Commandments, the Heidelberg Catechism offers exactly the same vision. Moreover, this idea can be found in ample detail in, for instance, the final chapter of John Calvin's "Institution". This reformer regards the governing authorities as 'external means which God uses to invite us to the fellowship with Christ and to keep us in it'.
This is a far-reaching perspective, holding the promise of a well-regulated society in which peace and rest reign. This is inextricably bound up with the coming of God's Kingdom into the hearts of people. God wants to use such a society to build the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and to make the Word of the Gospel be preached everywhere so that -in the literal expression of article 36- He will be served and honoured by everyone, as He commands us to do in His Word.
THE PRESENT TIME
Our society is involved in a sweeping process of dechristianization. As early as the eighteenth century, the adherents of the Enlightenment critized the foundations of our Christian society, rejecting every authority and opting for human reason as their sole guide.
After the Second World War, several secular philosophies, such as existentialism, neo-Marxism and post-modernism influenced our society very deeply. In fact, several of these central thoughts have become part of the thinking of many people.
Due to the philosophies of the Enlightenment and its twentieth-century expressions people became loose from the christian religion and its moral values. The present time has become a post-christian era. People think they have unlimited freedom; the freedom to scoff at useful traditions, freedom of abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality and blasphemy. Freedom to regard the Bible no longer as the Word of God. These are all indications of a radical break with the Christian past.
Both in society and in politics, the modern idea of freedom is leading toward a clear crisis of basic views and values. People have lost their sense of course and direction. Especially in this situation, a warm testimony and a moving appeal under the blessing of God can be of vital importance. The SGP, however, understands its calling to point people to the fundamental norm, the Word of God.
Stewardship, sense of responsibility, charity and care for our fellow-creatures - all in the light of our responsibility towards God, our Creator - are themes wich return continually in the contributions of SGP-representatives to the decision-making at a municipal, provincial, national and European level. Not only when it concerns ethical questions, but also in debates about e.g. financial- or social-economic affairs, public health or public order. The SGP wants to offer no testimony from the side-line, but a fundamental and practical contribution with a view of the present and a vision for the future.
THE REFORMED POLITICAL PARTY (SGP) IN THE NETHERLANDS ....
Today, two of the 150 seats of the Dutch Second Chamber are held by the SGP-parliamentarians: Mr B.J. van der Vlies and Mr C.G. van der Staaij. In the First Chamber, two SGP-representatives - Mr G. Holdijk and Mr G. van den Berg - are holding two out of the 75 seats.
As for the provinces, 21 representatives of the SGP are seated in the 12 provincial governments. At the local level, about 300 councillors are representing our party in the various municipalities.
.... AND IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
Since 1984, the SGP has held one seat in the European Parliament. It was represented by Mr L. van der Waal, a former executive of Esso. This Strasbourg seat has been won in strong co-operation with the two other small christian political parties in Holland, the GPV and the RPF. In 1994, this co-operation led to a second seat, wich is held by Mr J. Blokland of the GPV. In 1997, Mr Van der Waal was succeeded by Mr R. van Dam of the RPF.
In 1999 the SGP-GPV-RPF get three seats, Mr B. Belder (SGP) came in the European Parliament.
GPV and RPF becomes to one party: the ChristenUnie (ChistianUnion).
Today, after the elections in May 2004, the two Dutch protestant parties are represented by two members (Mr Blokland and Mr Belder) of the European Parliament.
Article 18 of our party programme declares the following on this subject:
'The Reformed Political Party (SGP) does not reject the idea of co-operation in various areas by different nations. Still, it advocates to maintain the national independence and, therefore, it is against a United Europe under a supranational government. This would strongly enhance the influences of Rome and humanism, undermine the work of the Reformation even further and, probably, lead to the abolition of monarchy.'
On the basis of this article an important minority within the party holds the view that as the formation and existence of a European Parliament indisputably represent a step towards a United Europe, the SGP should not partake in the elections for this parliament. However, a majority have the opinion that our calling to stand up for the name and the sake of the Lord is not confined to the Netherlands. Rather we should call all the people of the earth to return to His Laws and commandments. Having an opportunity to do so in Strasbourg, we should make good use of it. For this reason, the SGP take part in the European elections.
THE REFORMED POLITICAL PARTY (SGP): NO ENDLESS TASK
Today, there is a lot of work to do for the SGP. Not only by its representatives, but also by the staff of the party-organizations and - last but not least - by its great number of volunteers. But by all that have to be done, note that the SGP will stand or fall by retaining or abandoning its aim. Our aim is the reason for our existence.
If we consider what can be realized, it seems to be an endless task for the SGP to realize its aim. But this way of thinking is not biblical. We believe that the outcome of man's work lies in the Hand of God. This knowledge gives us strength and courage.
If you would like to receive more information about the Reformed Political Party (SGP) and its actual points of view, please write to:
Reformed Political Party (SGP)
Burgemeester van Reenensingel 101
2803 PA GOUDA
+31 (0) 182 69 69 00
We hope that this information will have given you some understanding of the existence and the aims of our Reformed Political Party (SGP). We count and trust on your sympathy and prayer.