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The supportive material for Overture 7 (at http://www.crcna.org/pages/synodical.cfm) provides a superb summary of the reasons why four leaders of the CRCNA should not have committed the denomination to the AGW activist political movement. Synod should support both Overtures and appoint a Study...
June 13, 2010 0 13 comments
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At www.crcna.org/Synod you'll find the live webcast, synodical reports, photos, prayer support page, and more.

To get the latest news delivered to your inbox, subscribe to the Synod News email list.

June 11, 2010 0 0 comments
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ADMIN NOTE: Now that we have a forum dedicated to Belhar conversations, we've closed this original thread (and moved it here for reference purposes). Please post discussions as new topics within this Belhar forum.

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To discuss the 2009 report regarding the Belhar...

April 30, 2010 0 25 comments
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To discuss the 2010 progress report on Form of Subscription, post your comments here. The report begins on page 647 of the 2010 Agenda for Synod.

Excerpt from the progress report:

The Form of Subscription Revision Committee II began its work with a meeting in October 2008. At that...

April 30, 2010 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

To discuss the 2010 report on the Migration of Workers, post your comments here. This report is also available in Korean and Spanish. 

For further reading, see this article from the The Banner: CRC Urged to Seek Better Treatment for Undocumented Immigrants

Excerpt from the...

April 30, 2010 0 2 comments
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To discuss the 2010 report of the Faith Formation Committee, post your comments here. This report is also available in Korean and Spanish.

Excerpt from the report overview:

The Lord’s Supper is a gracious gift of God that sustains and nourishes our faith. In response to our mandate...

April 30, 2010 0 0 comments
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To discuss the 2010 report on Church Order Revisions, post your comments here.

Excerpt from the introduction:

In its report to Synod 2007, the Board of Trustees (BOT) observed that

Over the past decade, a number of changes to the Church Order have...

April 30, 2010 0 3 comments
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To discuss the 2010 report from the Abuse Victims Task Force post your comments here.

For further reading, see this article from The Banner: New Guidelines for Abuse Cases Proposed

Excerpt from the report's introduction:

For most members of the CRC, the local congregation is...

April 30, 2010 1 12 comments
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Were the agendas mailed to the delegates yet?
April 15, 2010 0 1 comments
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We have already been discussing some of the matters, including overtures, before Synod over at the CRC-Voicesgroup at Yahoo! Groups, a free, easy-to-use email group service. To learn more about the CRC-Voices group, please visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CRC-Voices To start sending messages...
April 7, 2010 0 4 comments
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The agenda for this summer's Synod has just been posted to the Synodical Resources page. And here's a direct link to it:

2010 Agenda for Synod (pdf)

Use this forum to discuss specific reports, or anything else about Synod 2010.

April 1, 2010 0 0 comments

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Brian, you are asking practical questions which in a way have simple solutions which are difficult to follow sometimes.  So, attending a homosex wedding?   In general, I would say don't attend.(including and especially family).  Be polite and considerate, and explain why, but don't attend.   I'm reminded of where Jesus said if you think your family is more important, then you are not following Jesus...    You have to ask the purpose for attending, and the main purpose is to celebrate the event, which seems directly contrary to any message you might have about why Christ came to die for us.  If Christ died for sin, and you deliberately participate in or celebrate it, why do you need Christ? 

Voting for laws should be obvious;  why would you vote against your own principles and beliefs? 

Unless churches are publicly funded community centers, it would seem obvious that they would not rent out facilities for activities or events  that are contrary to the beliefs and teachings of the church.  If they rent out the facilities, it will be obvious to all that they approve of homosex marriage. 

Will society say it is bigotted and hateful?   Perhaps.  Likely some will.   Will they be right?  Do they have God's spirit as you do?  Are they interested in being obedient to God our of faith in Christ?    Are you going to let them control you and your message of salvation and godly living?   Did Paul worry about the Athenians when they got upset with him?   Was he not stoned and beaten and chased many times?   Did it change his message?   Did he say that maybe the goddess Diana was not so bad, or that homosex was okay, or did he not write I Cor. 6:9 and 10 and Romans 1?   Does James 1 not say, "consider it pure joy brothers, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance/endurance."? 

Love the sinner.  Make sure you love the sinner.   But true love would not attend a homosex marriage.  We would call that "enabling", which is often more a matter of loving self rather than doing the good thing for the good of those we say we love. 

When we say we have difficulty, it is because we are looking for answers outside of scripture, and maybe outside of God's will, I think.   There is much literature on this;  I suggest read it for various perspectives, and then go back to scripture to discern the truth and the wise way.   When you think it is difficult, and you are experiencing difficulties, yes you will, we all will.   But remember difficulties are not avoidable.   And remember Paul's sufferings, and consider how yours compare.  

 

NO.  But will another study really matter?  In 1973, the CRC made a fairly brave declaration about homosexuality.  In the 40 years since, we have done little to live out those initial convictions, or to follow them through to reasonable conclusions.  Ironically, that same era launched the "women in ecclesiastical office" foray.  Forty years later (forty years?!?) synod is asked to deal with requests to form a classis for congregations that want neither to live with the decisions arrived at studiously, prayerfully, and painfully nor to join with those who have "left" us to form a more perfect union.  While I appreciate the sentiments that "culture" should not dictate our interpretations of Scripture, has anybody considered that there have never been interpretations of Scripture (including the creeds and confessions) outside of "culture?"  Perhaps, more importantly, have we considered that WE ourselves may have become the "culture" we should be most cautious about allowing to influence our confrontation with the Scriptures.  In the early 1970's, I was privileged to have breakfast with William Stringfellow.  As I bumbled around explaining my little-known-mostly-Dutch denomination, he responded to the effect that immigrant congregations represented great hope for American Christianity since they were as yet untainted by the absorption of the faith into a national enterprise.  That was yesterday.  I fear that today the CRC is also "church as enterprise," absorbed in management debates, cautiously holding onto our original customers, avoiding the controversial, packaging for new consumers while "walking back" any bold Kingdom imperative that might offend.  Like most of the rest of American "conservative" christianity, we have little or nothing to say of great Scriptural mandates about wealth and power, catering to economic "success," the market as servant rather than god, creation-keeping, the stranger in our midst, war and peace, or the overwhelming prophetic call for social justice.  We are silent (and complicit) in the demonizing of gay people, the scape-goating of the world's economic and war-ravaged refugees, and the devastating devaluation of humanity that accompanies the growing global gap between the very wealthy and the rest of us.  If another study will help...well, why not?  But I'm not holding my breath...at my age, I don't have that much to hold.

If the denomination splits, can my U.S. congregation join the Canadian side? 

I say this only half jokingly. Speaking as a US person who has served on one bi-national board in the CRC and worked in a number of contexts (denominational and otherwise) with Canadian CRC folks, I guarantee that the US CRC will be less effective, less wise, and less able to fulfill its unique mission without our Canadian siblings.

Maybe we need to find ways to acknowledge Canada's unique needs through our governance structures while still maintaining our unity and our strength through diversity. It might make for some discomfort at times for us U.S. folks. But it'd be worth it.

John Zylstra. The overtures do not ask us to revisit the biblical grounds of our position on homosexuality. That is a good thing. But they do ask us to address issues that have come before us since the 73 report was written. Are we equipped to give pastoral advice on for example, attending a gay wedding ,voting for a pro gay marriage law or amendment in a local or federal election? How about churches renting out their worship space for gay weddings? How about a parent of a gay person struggeling with whether or not they should attend the wedding of their child? I would love for our denomination to wrestle with some of these questions and to provide us with some advice on how to live in a culture that is increasingly coming to accept homosexuality as right and good and anything less than affirming as bigoted and hatefull.  

It seem to me that there was someone else who wanted to identify "the main thing" by asking Jesus to define it.  Jesus reply was that there were 2 things that were the main thing: love God and love your neighbour (Matthew 22:34-40).  Social Justice/Earth Care is the main thing.  Just like evangelism is the main thing.  To abandon either is to proclaim an incomplete gospel.

 

The April 27, 2013 issue of the Economist has an interesting article that might be of interest to those at synod involved in the discussion on affirmative action. Highly recommended.

Since as Brian says, these overtures do not ask to revisit the biblical grounds, nor the pastoral advice, then that leaves only the question of legal implications for refusing to marry homosex couples.  I was under the impression that our policy was already not to marry couples under circumstances or conditions which are contrary to biblical principles, and that our facilities would not be used for that (relative to Jeff Brouwer's comment).  If all we need to be covered legally is to state that in our bylaws or minutes, then it would not seem we would need a study committee for that.   Correct me if I am missing something....  

1) Yup - I can read my Bible just as well as my bothers and sisters in the Denomonation or its assemblies

2) Yup - same reason

One of the ways of refocussing priorities, is to evaluate how much time we spend on environmental and social issues compared to spiritual issues.   When is the last time you saw an announcement about someone's spiritual growth or development in the bulletin, or a testimony about the power of prayer in the service, or a cry for help with the lifestyle or disobedience of a child, husband or neighbor, or a rejoicing in the communication and progress with a witnessing?   Compare that to the announcements about choirs, bands, christian world renew, facilities, budgets, etc.  Even renaming CRWRC to WR is counter intuitive to the mission goals and priorities of proclaiming the name of Christ, which has now been eliminated from this effort.  Christ's kingdom is "not of this world",  it is in this world, but it will not exist in our lives no matter what we do, if we do not first acknowledge Christ in what we do.  

As we can see in the quote Bev, from your linked site, the difficulty is usually in deciding what is essential, and what is not.  We know from the epistles of John that obedience is "essential" to sanctification, to christian living and christian witness, and we know from Jude that we should contend for the faith, and that "certain people have turned the gospel of grace into a license for immorality", which would suggest that morality is also essential.   But the details, the details of how to work this out.... that's where we often run into trouble... 

"Schultze’s sermon indicates, though, that by 1902 there was no agreement on just what things were essential and which were non-essential within the Moravian Church let alone in the wider church. Despite the fact that the “Moravian motto” does not clarify what are essential things, the call for a type of unity that allows liberty of expression in some things clearly resonates with many people. Other denominations today claim this same phrase as a motto, especially churches that emerged out of the Campbellite movement in 19th century America."

At our last congregational meeting we thought it would be time to look at the issue BEFORE we have a member that wants to be part of a gay marriage. No body knows how such a look would be and nobody knew how to start such a look. A careful and thoughful study may help us.

Meg, thank you for your opening questions dealing with these two overtures coming before Synod. Your questions get down to the nitty gritty of what these overtures ask. Contrary to what some may think or say ,these overtures do not ask us to revisit the solid biblical exegisis of the reports of 1973 or 2002. That is why it is important that people actually read them. The oveture from Classis Zeeland affirms the reports from 1973 and 2002. It states that, "we do not wish to challenge or replace the 1973 report in any way, but ask for guidance on how to apply the report's conclusions in these new situations". The overture from Classis Pacific Northwest says that, "previous reports from synodical study committees ,while excellent in their biblical focus and pastoral care ,do not directly address the issue of the legalization of gay marriage and how churches should respond." If someone is looking to change how our denomination currently addresses homosexuality ,these reports do not ask us to do that. We need to be theologically orthodox and at the same time pastorally progresive on this very contintious issue .I agree with Randy ,we must ask questions and talk about issues like these in confidence not fear. 

Originally, I don't think this post followed on the heels of the one about re-studying to advise the church on homosexuality.  That changes whether I thought it would recieve more or fewer hits. ;-)

I agree with the overture. Our main purpose is stated in the great commission. 

Some of our denominational leaders are getting involved with global warming and dialoguing with the Roman Catholic Church about different issues. Some of these things are distractions from our main purpose in reaching out to the lost and in discipling the found. 

No. I would strongly support Synod's consideration of these recommendations.

I think there is room to help all of us grow in our understanding of this issue and how to respond, both personally to those in our lives, and as churches. I especially appreciate the need suggested by the first question. 

While I appreciate and respect those who have commented and and encouraged us not to bend to cultural influence, I think the current questions before the U.S. Supreme Court are likely to have an outcome that is going to necessitate that we are more prepared than we are now to respond. (My apologies to Canadians who may be following along, as I am not up to date on the social/political climate where you are.)

Even if I'm wrong, which I may be, and even if any study committee makes no changes to the current theology/position, we help the church by reviewing and responding to the cultural changes, scientific work and Biblical scholarship that has taken place, especially with a long time having gone by since this topic was last addressed.

I'll throw one in, Meg!

In the N. Illinois overture, the complete statement was "to mandate all denom. agencies and the BOT to focus and prioritize their energies to develop concrete strategies..."

I agree with you that anxeity should not be the primary ground or reason for developing strategic planning. But was that the context in which the ministry plan of the denomination was developed?

My real curious question is about whether or not most leaders withing the denomination (boards, agencies, congregational) even pay attention to the Ministry Plan (c. 1997, updated 2010)

I agree with the overture, like you, as far as it calls us to focus and prioritize. But what I don't think this entails is ignoring our core value of affirming a kingdom perspective. Let's pray that every Synod helps us as a denomination to focus and prioritize our energies!

I like your comments, Meg. I have always had and still do have a difficult time with the thinking that somehow the call to the Great Copmmission and to dig in re social issues is somehow mot the main thing. When I recently read Rob Bell's interesting book Jesus Came To Save Christians I think this sort of thinking is, in part, what Jesus came to save us from. I want no part of that dualistic thinking. It is not part of  my theology. And I am personally very passionate about the call to go and make disciples! Amen to that.  

"as I imagine the proportion of comments to this blog post as opposed to the one previous will amply attest." So do you think this will get more or less responses than your previous blog ; )?

"we are getting awfully distracted by many things."  This is so true.  On a related note, we as a denomination need to make the same choices as you and I do in my home and congregations do. There is so much we would love to attend to--especially with our broadsweeping view of the reformation. But if we want to attend to more and more and more, more so than we have the energy or income to do well, we get spread so thin we are not effective at any of it.  I and many others in local ministry have had our salaries frozen since 2008--that is one of the sacrifices to make it through difficult times. In those same days we as a denomination seem to have added one good thing after another, after another. And we are told that ministry shares are declining. Hmm. What do we call it if our income is declining, yet we keep projecting more responsibility and new projects?

I do hope we do not drive ourselves into a hole that we implode financially as has happened with Faith Alive.  The seeds for Faith Alive's demise were laid with decisions made back in the 80s--not just with changes in the publishing world the last five years.

What this overture does call us to is making hard decisions about what is core to us as a denomination for task and what may be discretionary. Something has to give somewhere or we may kill ourselves as a denomination.

Nope. We need more help on this one.

We could use more pastoral guidance and help in this regard.

I find it ironic, not to mention troubling, that people here seem to speak contemptuously of study committees (it seems that disdain for such committees reflects disdain for the CRCNA) and then those same persons say the study committee from 1973 is good enough, despite the fact that it's 40 years old and uses outdated and unhelpful terms such as "homosexualism." It seems like this reflects fear that the CRCNA is going to cave into the "gay agenda" that Meg mentioned. If you really want to minister to persons, families, and churches struggling with this issue, you shouldn't be afraid to discuss it. Fear is not a Christian virtue. And a "robust" theology is not opposed to a biblical one; rather, it is a reference to the virtue of Reformed theology that it deals thoughtfully with biblical interpretation and scientific understanding. This does not imply that we must or even should change our basic position on the issue, but given our current social climate on this issue, a 40 year old study is no longer adequate to address the challenges pastors and church members face.

One resource that may serve as an example of how we could be better served with deeper reflection and practical, pastoral guidance is Dr. Heather Looy's article "Same Sex Attraction" in the volume Delight in Creation, edited by Deborah Haarsma & Scott Hoezee. You can read it online here: http://ministrytheorem.calvinseminary.edu/essays/wiwmpk/4_looy.pdf
 

My answer is "Yes!"  Stand fast on the Word as we have tried to do in the past.  Do not let culture sway us from the Word!

Just a small correction.  There are 7 denominations in Canada that are both in the Canadian Council of Churches and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.  The Salvation Army, Reformed Church in America (Canada Synod), Mennonite Church Canada, Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec, Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, share this with us.  Also, the Pentecostal Assembly of Canada (PAOC) is an "Observer" of the CCC and attends events.

What this means is that the alienation between "Mainline" and "Evangelical" that exists starkly in the US is much less evident in Canada.  This comes from the fact that we Christians in Canada can't afford to fight each other, there are plenty of other spiritual battles to take up our energies.

 

I agree. Thank you, John!

so the question to me is... to what extent do we need a "restructure"... is it a simpler remodel (which is never simple or convenient) or a more comprehensive rebuild (a lot of work, and stepping on some sacred toes, etc.)?  from what I read in the agenda from the task force (the 5 smooth stones example and 5 streams proposal), I don't think they've even hit a remodel level yet (except maybe with the Canadian/binational issues)...  so do i dare say, what I read still seemed a lot like re-arranging the furniture?   as Mike pointed out, the execution of it will be the telling indicator, so in most ways it's too early to tell...

posted in: Deck Chairs?

Hey Meg... just an fyi on the quote, it's not Augustine, although that is a common misperception...  it took me a while to follow up on this, but finally did...  it sitll is a great quote and was well used by many great leaders  ;)...

http://theflamingheretic.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/in-essentials-unity/

 

Another example of the problems with basing evolutionary theory on the geologic column.  Absence of evidence is not proof of absence.  The geologic column does not provide absolute proof of absence of particular life forms, even though it does provide evidence that certain species existed in the past.  Therefore the geologic column does not provide proof of common descent.   Evolution is the faith that does not fit the facts, says this video ...   youtube.com/watch?v=lTWZJBXAZJA

posted in: Genesis - Again!

Specifically in terms of church order, what may need to be discussed is an expansion/explanation of church order article 69c, "ministers shall not solemnize marriages which would be in conflict with the word of God."

so, yes and no.

For those who don't feel equipped, I suggest that you look for and purchase some  Christian literature on the subject, as there is much available.   In response to Daniel Z, while we agree that it is not always easy to love the sinner while not making the sin seem acceptable, this is something that does need to be done and worked at.  There is not always a simple formula for it. 

On the other hand, Daniel's other comments stray into the area of making the sin seem acceptable.   By simply saying that there are two points of view on this, both supposedly equally valid, and that we ought to study this all over again, the sin begins to seem acceptable.   This is an old topic now, discussed at least for forty years.   There is much literature available on understanding the scriptures that speak to this issue.   No matter what physiological conditions are attributed to certain inclinations, it does not really change the moral implications.   So putting together a new study on scripture directions for homosex will never make it better, only worse, because of our own sinful inclinations to make excuses for sin.  

We can better concentrate on how to love the sinner without excusing the sin, without making the sin seem acceptable.   This applies to a much broader area than just homosex, since it also includes dealing with premarital sex, adultery, theft, porn, vulgar language, abortion, etc.    I think we already have lots of information on that, and know what our direction should be on that, but we instinctively don't want to walk the talk.   We are naturally inclined, as our confessions and scripture indicate, to make excuses for our sin, to "turn the grace of God into a license for immorality" (Jude).   What we need to do is pray more for God to give us strength to mount up like eagles and live the life of faith.  As in Romans 1, we are "called to the obedience that comes from faith..." 

Nope.

 

I think, Jonathan, that there are two things "missing" from the '73 report. The first is that the issue was not as immediate, or prevalent, or out-in-the-open as it is today, and so the pastoral end of things, while a good start, does not get into as much of the nitty-gritty as we might like. As John was saying (I think this may be one of the first times I've agreed with him ;-) ), the question of how to "love the sinner, without making the sin seem acceptable" is a very deep and difficult one.

The second thing that is missing is on the theological/scientific end of things. There has been significant scientific research since '73 that, obviously, could not have been addressed by that committee. Some of it tends towards supporting gender attraction as a genetic predisposition, whereas other research tends towards supporting gender attraction as a nurture/choice issue. A thorough look at those things in the background of a newly updated study may be helpful for those who are dealing with "informed" folks who believe it to be incontrivertably proven that homosexual tendencies are a choice or that it is something you're born with. In addition, there has been significant theological movement on this issue since '73 as well. Some prominent theologians stress the belief that homosexuality prohibitions in the bible are either more about social hospitality laws, than they are about monogomous, committed, 2-person homosexual relationships (for example the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah had more to do with raping guests than it had to do with the homosexuality). Other theologians stress that the bible is clear that homosexual behaviour is clearly, biblically, classified as "unnatural", and therefore contrary to God's intended design for us, and that, therefore, engaging in homosexual activity is sinful. Regardless of which side of that theological debate you're on, having those theologies looked at and addressed can help us all be more equipped for the situations we face within the church, and outside of it.

The Reformed tradition offers a plethora of scholarship on a number of issues, but unfortunately, the Synod of Dort, Bavinck, and Calvin weren't in contexts anything like the context that we presently face in North America. Our robust theology and understanding that pastoral care needs to offer balanced accountability and support require more than a brief position statement and report that most pastors find insufficient (hence, the overtures). 

As someone who hopes to be ordained in the CRC soon, I have been frustrated with how the North American Church has allowed popular culture to dictate the conversation about, and define, sexuality. It is time to reclaim the conversation as the Church. Reformed theology puts us in an excellent position to show how every square inch of human hearts, minds, souls and communities belong to our Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer and Restorer.

For those who don't feel equipped; is there something lacking in the official CRC postion on homosexuality or the report on Pastoral Care for Homosexual Members (PDF) that is lacking?

Is there more needed than what these documents provide?

 

I have lost the thread of this discussion so my comments may relate to earlier comments. The distribution regionalization of Classis, certainly in Canada is purely arbitrary and has no relation to churches being in geographic areas. Just looks at the the two Classis in British Columbia Canada . I live in Classis SE but attend a church in Classis BC NW! Thirteen km from my house, I pass two Crc churches on the way. One of Classis BC NW churches is almost a 1000 miles away from the church I attend. 

No matter what a synodical committee came up with, this is a difficult issue to deal with, and their report will not make it any easier.   It is always difficult to find a balance between grace and sanctified living, which means how do you love the sinner without making the sin itself seem acceptable?   Nor is it easy for people to live sexually pure lives.   It often takes a lot of hard work, especially when we remember what Jesus said about adultery, for example, that if you even look on someone with lust you have already committed adultery.  (or presumably fornication).   I'm not sure what is implied by "robust theology";  why not concentrate on a biblical theology?   and it seems to me we already have that.... just how eager are we to live by it?   

The Apostle Paul needed neither a Synodical Study Committee nor a "robust theology of embodiment and sexuality" (???) to identify certain lifestyles as sinful and neither should we.

People who struggle with these temptations need what all of us sinners need- to die away to our old selves and come to new life in Christ.

I'd say no. I think a study committee could offer us what we need to address these issues in the church.

Good questions.  I'd say "no"... let's revisit the questions.

John, you are right that that statement is not definitive for women in church office. But it does make clear the point that scripture is not clearly against it either. That's why we are where we are on this, lots of diversity of opinion. This is just like all the other issues you rightly mentioned.

The question is how do we live with the diversity of opinion? Do we insult each other? Do ignore each other? Do we boycott our classis? Do we eventually boycott synod? Or do we work together inspite of our differences? Do show up and participate at classis meetings even though we disagree with some of the choices our classis has made?

Your statement that the bible no where says "...." sounds definitive, but is not.  The bible also no where says that infants of believers should be baptized, nor that rebaptism is wrong.  The bible also no where says that only "ministers (servants) should preach, or that there should be different denominations, or that worship services should be held on Sundays, or that elders should have limited terms.    The weight of evidence leans in a certain direction, and in this case it seems synod went against the weight of the evidence, instead of following the weight of the scriptural evidence. 

Hey all,

I think that this banner article is an interesting read, but I'm afraid I have to disagree with Harry on a couple of things.

1) I don't believe that the Egypt or racial metaphors are at all appropriate. No one is holding Canadian CRCs captive in any way, shape or form.

2) I don't think we will necessarily be stronger as independant partners for several reasons:

   a) The differences in our contexts does not have to get in the way of our work together-- in fact, there are many mutual benefits to working with people from a different culture. We, as Canadians and Americans should get this by now! Yes, Canadian issues are different in many ways (more on that later), but that makes it all the more important, to me, that we work with folks who have a different context and perspective. You don't marry yourself, you marry someone different from you.

   b) The agencies that we do have as a shared resource would be significantly poorer if we were trying to go it alone in the U.S. or Canada. There's a reason why big companies like Wal-Mart can out-sell, and undercut the (smaller) competition: pooling resources has advantages! 

   c) In a similar vein the publishing and studies and research and so on would all be poorer if we were trying to do it seperately. I have a complete set of Acts and Agendas of Synod from 1930-today sitting on my desk, partly as reference, but partly as reminder of what good can come of working collaboratively. My father-in-law who comes from a loose association of baptist churches often bemoans the lack of study resources like these. If we split ourselves up, we would loose the ability to do these kinds of studies on the same level -- a significant loss, even if you don't really like the outcomes of the studies all the time.

   d) Going away from a relationship based on negative things (like those in Harry's article) is almost always not only a bad idea, but counter to biblical mandates. When people come to my office agonizing about what church they should attend, or whether they should stay at our church, or come to our church, one of the things I always explore with them is why they're wanting to move. If they're wanting to move for negative reasons (bad relationships, poor preaching, no people to relate to, etc.), then I usually say to them, "Okay, those are important things to think about, and maybe you need a break from this community for a while, but the real question is: where is God calling you? The relationships need to be fixed, regardless, but you move from one church to another because of God's calling. Not because the preaching is better somewhere else, or the programs, or the people, etc.. 

        The same should be true for us as a denomination, if we're going to consider having a Canadian CRC (CCRC?), and a USCRC, we need to ask ourselves why. And the reasons proposed thus far are not clinchers. The ONLY okay reason that I can see would be that we, as a bi-national denomination, together determine that it is God's will for us to be independent.

As to the Canadian context, Meg, it is true that there are significant differences. We had folks come up from 3dm ministries to do a discipleship conference recently, and they were saying that something like 4% of 30 somethings are going to church. The reality in Canada is that there are only about 9% of Canadians going to church AT ALL! Significantly lower than the U.S. average. Yet, only 100 years or so ago, about 90% of Canadians went to church on a regular basis. Canadians also tend to have a weird mix of US and European values systems. We are heavily influence by both of these giants on our boarders. Additionally, the Canadian CRC, because it (still) is made up of largely post-WWII imigrants, has a VERY Kuyperian view on things, and is still somewhat culturally separate from larger Canadian society (Christian schools up here are still often called "Dutch schools" by other Canadians, and CRCs are called "Dutch Churches" often too).

The CRC in Canada is also in a slightly different space with relation to other denominations in Canada. The CRC is the only church in Canada to be both a member of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and the Canadian Council of Churches (a more mainline church organization). We kind of stradle both the evangelical and the mainline church worlds up here. I know that this is somewhat true in the U.S. too, but my sense is that the U.S. CRC is slightly further into the Evangelical end of things.

We also struggle with different issues, as Harry mentions, regarding aboriginal relations (though there are significant similarities there too), environmental concerns, government and political relationsh, dwindling church numbers, how to evangelize the non-believers in our society, etc., etc. A lot of these differences, though, are matters of degrees, not of polar opposites.

I still believe very much that we have a great deal to offer one another across this friendly border, and I deeply hope that we will, with God's help, get through the "tough stuff" together and contribute to the visible unity of the church for many years to come.

You're about 40 years late. Synod asked what do the scriptures say about women in church office begining in 1970 at the request of our ecumenical partners/associations. The study reports (yes there multiple reports using both liberal and conservative Biblical interpretations) all came to the same conclusion. "The practice of excluding women from ecclesiastical office cannot conclusively be defended on biblical grounds."  Thus began our long journey.

1995 was a compromise that one can have differing and conflicting perspectives (i.e. interpretations and applications of scripture) while still utilitizing Reformed hermeneutics. But the underlying assumption to this is simple: The Bible no where says "Women cannot be elders." "Women cannot be pastors." And the Bible does mention a female deacon (though whether this has anything to do with office is debatable.)

The questions may or may not be super-different, but the issues are certainly more immediate. There are several families within our little congregation alone who wrestle with some of these issues. As a pastor, I do my best, but it would sure be good to have more updated denominational resources help us.

I appreciated Synods actions very well. Many texts show different positions on the same question. It is only a Greek view that wants to enforce one position only. I am sure that every text in the Bible was well meant. Whether each statement mentioned in the Bible is of the same force today depends on a lot of factors, not just what some people wish or not.  Prayerful deliberations, listening to the Spirit is so important.  Realizing that not anyone has a full grasp of the full truth in all its detail means that Christians have to try and see how we can work together even if there are differences. Only our stubborness has forced various denominations and have thrown others out. Each church community has been guilty of this sin and we should confess our short comings. In heaven there will not be any denominations, I am sure. 

"The real issue here is not Women in Church Office/Keep Women Out of Office."   As a conservative I find the framing of this issue highly offensive.  The real issue for the church is rightly discerning the truth of the scriptures.  This synod did not do.  It claim it was "wise" to let both contradictory positions function in the church.   And then it adopted only one by writing IT in the church order.   Allow me to define the issue in  similar manner to the above quote.  The real issue is whether chertain passages of scripture will continue to be declared null and void or whether all scripture will be the final authority.  The real issue is whether "we are going to decide which scripture no longer applies" or whether we accept all scripture as inspired revelation. 

Furthermore, Trinity Sparta and Second Kalamazoo are not rogue churches going their own way.  They are seeking carefully to follow Synodical procedures to receive the church's approval.  That exhibits far more faithfulness and care for the church that individuals, churches, or even Synod deciding that parts of scripture are not longer valid.  What Synod has abandoned is nothing less than being a "bondservant of Jesus Christ"  See my previous post for details.

So Bill, if this new classis is formed, what will stop it from creating the same issues at synod that these congregations created in their respective classes? Does this actually solve the underlying problem? Or doesn't it move the problem back up to the synodical/denominational level?

The real issue here is not Women in Church Office/Keep Women Out of Office. The real issue is ecclesiology. What do we believe about the church? What do we believe in how the church should operate? Namely, is it ok for congregations or classes to become non-participatory when a decision didn't go their way.

This synod needs to address these questions, just as Synod 1996 already did (p. 561).

"4. That synod not accede to Overture 5.

Grounds:

a. Formation of a classis based on theological affinity should be rejected on the same grounds as C, I, b and c above.

                            (b. Departing significantly from the principle of geographic proximity may well impair effective ministry

                             c. Classis provides a framework for churches to work together even when they disagree and provides a forum for continuing interaction, which  may lead to understanding.)

b.  Formation of a new classis based on theological affinity would lead only to further fragmentation within the denomination.

c. "It would not be in the best interest of the churches in general, if certain groups of churches would be at liberty to form a new classis whenever a movement in this direction was sponsored, and it would not be advisable if a church could just decide all by itself to change from one classis to another," (Monsma and Van Dellen), The New Revised Church Order Commentary, p. 163)

-Adopted"

 

Sorry if there are formatting issues.

In 2010 synod told these churches that they could not transfer to a classis that shared their convictions because the distance was too great.  Synod told them to seek a classis closer to home.  Since then they have contacted every classis in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.  Either those classes do not share their complementarian conviction or they are not open to receiving new churches via transfer.  Having exhausted every conceivable option offered by Synod 2010, they now return asking conceptual approval for a classis that is reasonably geographically contiguous and that is also complementarian.  And there are now fierce arguments to close that door as well. 

Second CRC in Kalamazoo has not attended a classis meeting for several years.  Does that irreparably damage their local ministry?  At a minimum, it cuts them off from any collegial contact.  Trinity has missed fewer meetings, but only because the congregations in Grand Rapids North that have women elders have deliberately not delegated those women except when there was no other option.  I know that to be fact because I have been stated clerk here for several years.  This creates an additional burden on those churches.  Approving these overtures would create a process where not only these two churches but others of the same conviction could operate at the classical level while being true to their convictions.  It would also free the egalitarian churches in Grand Rapids North the freedom to operate at the classical level in conformity with their convictions without the concern about offending another church.

Synod has established the basic principle that there can be classes that operate with complementarian convictions, and there are several, primarily in the upper Midwest.  Synod has said that churches in Michigan may not transfer to these classes because of the distance.  So these overtures ask that synod allow the only option left open to them, and set in motion a process that will create a classis that is not geographically distant that operates with complementarian conviction.  If synod now says no, is it leaving any options for these congregations other than to either operate in violation of their deeply held convictions or to leave the denomination or to remain within the denomination but live in isolation?

That's a really interesting point about "a scarcity mentality."  I don't want us plotting our future from a place of anxiety, fear or lack of trust in God's provision.  AND I want us to be wise, recognizing that at some point, the top gets so heavy it begins to crush what is underneath it.  I don't know how to reconcile these two thoughts, though both are important to me.

posted in: Wag the Dog

As someone who works for one of the agencies that is suggested for four offerings per year (we don't get ministry shares though), I sincerely hope that the offering calendar does not inhibit local ministry. It's a suggestion, not a mandate. I know of many churches that don't take any special offerings - instead everything is budgeted. 

You seem to imply that having strong denominational ministry must come at the expense of local congregations. I think God's vision has room for both. I just posted an article about churches that think they are too poor to do missions http://network.crcna.org/content/global-mission/your-church-too-small-or-too-poor-do-missions - and will be posting another one next week. I hope that we can overcome this scarcity mentality and recognize the immense wealth of gifts that God has given us. 

posted in: Wag the Dog

Meg, I agree that 2013 will be an inward looking Synod. Many years ago there was a concern expressed about Boardism. In reality not much has changed. The CRCNA at a corporate level has 4  key ministries and a host of smaller ones.The large ones have their own Boards and Managment and it would take a pretty strong leader at the Excutive Director level to take those folks on. Three of the large ministries have an "International/World" component to them. Overlap and duplication  must be taking place. A few years ago we had over 20 people from the CRCNA meeting in Haiti. The travel budgets of the all the agencies must be in the hundreds of thousands.

The issue that the church must deal with is that who is driving all this international activity? The Boards of the large agencies are generally self perpetuating and with Board Member threee year terms, the staff of these agencies tend to carry the day in the meetings. Once an Agency gets approval of its Board for a project what is the BOT going to say?  And then Synod?

The number of immigrants and refugees (not to mention illegals) entering North America must  be around 3 million per year. If Canada does 250,000 a year and the US is ten times bigger, it probably allows in 2.5 million. Maybe the CRCNA should abandon all foreign mission work and focus on North America as the name implies. An exception would of course me made for World Renew.

Bob de Moor had an interesting idea for the selection of a leader for the CRCNA in the Banner. I am personally surprised that the CRCNA has not done a better job of "grooming" leadership within its own organization(s).

More food for thought.

posted in: Deck Chairs?

Good point about offerings.  It is essential that the local church decides, and is encouraged to decide where to send money, and for whom to take offerings.   This is part of their spiritual growth, and if the decision is apparently taken away, or seems to be taken away, it will discourage spiritual growth. 

posted in: Wag the Dog

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