Membership Transfer From Protestant Reformed Church?

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I have always been a little bit fuzzy when it comes to membership transfer for professing members. Currently I have a couple of members of the Protestant Reformed Church who would like to join our church. From what I can tell we only accept straight transfers from RCA, EPC, and ECO. Does this mean that anyone coming from PRC, URC, PCA, etc. must profess their faith again in the CRC?  It seems harsh to say that their profession of faith in these other denominations wasn't good enough, especially since so much of our theology is the same. Could someone better versed in the church order explain how we decide?

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Participant

Hi Craig,

Thanks for your question about transfer of members from "other denominations." Confessing members who are transferring from churches in ecclesiastical fellowship (as you noted, the RCA, EPC, and ECO) may be accepted within the membership of the CRC by the consistory upon the presentation of certificates or statements. Church Order Article 59-e goes on to state that the membership is accepted "after the consistory has satisfied itself concerning the doctrine and conduct of the members."

However, if a member wishes to transfer from another denomination (not in ecclesiastical fellowship with the CRCNA), according to Article 59-f, they "shall be admitted as confessing members of the congregation only after the consistory has examined them concerning doctrine and conduct. The consisotory shall determine in each case whether to admit them directly or by public reaffirmation or profession of faith. Their names shall be announced to the congregation for approval."

To answer your question about needing to make a public profession of faith once again, only if the consistory judges that a public commitment to Reformed confessions while testifying to a living faith in Christ is needed. Much depends on communication (if any) from the church that previously held the membership (active/inactive membership?).

Regards,

Dee Recker

Synodical Services Office, CRCNA

 

Community Builder

Craig,

Article 59-f applies here.  if it were a church in ecclesiastical fellowship with us, it would be 59-e.  Note that 59-f gives the consistory a responsibility to examine the persons concerning doctrine and conduct.  Then the consistory determines whether this be a "direct admission," a public reaffirmation, or a profession of faith.  One of these three that fits most appropriately with the conclusion of the examination.  If they're PRC, I would probably lean towards the first category of direct admission and so advise the consistory (if there's no problem in the conduct area).

 

 

Participant

I came from the Netherlands Reformed Church in 1973 and made a Public Profession of Faith in the CRC at that time.

As I understand, the PRC and NRC are very similar in their professions of faith. They deal with life and doctrine, but not faith in Jesus Christ. I felt the need to profess this new faith in Jesus Christ when I came into the CRC. Here is the form that has been used for Profession in both the PRC and NRC...

1. Do you acknowledge the doctrine contained in the Old and New Testaments and in the Articles of the Christian faith and taught here in this Christian church to be the true and complete doctrine of salvation? 

2. Have you resolved by the grace of God to adhere to this doctrine; to reject all heresies repugnant thereto; and to lead a new, godly life? 

3. Will you submit to church government, and in case you should become delinquent (which may God graciously forbid), to church discipline?
Answer. Yes.

I hope that is helpful in guiding your conversations.

Guide

That's a fascinating insight, Ken, that the form doesn't actually require a confession of faith in Jesus. It's implied, of course, but that's a pretty dangerous leap to equate a living faith in Jesus with a belief that the teachings of the church are true. I do think that most PRC and NRC churches would require such a personal confession in the private conversation with a person prior to public confession, but could easily see that aspect being neglected. 

It would be fantastic if every new member was encouraged to make a brief public testimony of their faith, rather than simply answering three formula questions.  The questions are okay, but just as faith without works is dead, so agreement without spirit is dead.  These testimonies can often have a greater impact on the life of the people in the pews than the greatest sermon ever preached. 

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