Synod 2011 made some very wise decisions. It also made one huge mistake to prove that, unlike the pope, our broadest assembly is not infallible.
An amendment from the floor was quickly discussed and then carried. And just like that, a provision that has always been a hallmark of the Reformed churches since the sixteenth century was wiped off the map: the provision, namely, that a profession of faith must include a commitment to the creeds and confessions of the CRCNA. Reformed churches insist on mature membership, not a "blind laity" following the sounds of an "all-knowing clergy." Note on page 573 of the Agenda to Synod 2011 that the second sentence of proposed Article 59b simply repeats what was then the current 59b. Regardless of what we do with children and communion, and regardless of what we do with Faith Formation, it must be the case that our educational ministry and acceptance of members from elsewhere must include a demand that our people assent to the Apostles' Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed and the three historic Reformed confessions. I was totally dumbfounded to watch this sudden action on the webcast.
Of course we do not want this "full-fledged" assent from young children other than, perhaps, in the form of an age- and ability-appropriate statement of faith on the way to adulthood. An "early profession" can certainly remain in our system as an event on the way to confessing membership as a mature member. But that latter membership must be "mature." We must demand a profession of faith at an adult age that includes a commitment to our confessional stance. We don't need that to be a memorization of the Canons of Dort. But we do need that to be a simple understanding of its main teachings.
I sincerely hope that the Faith Formation Committee will place this on its agenda for next year's report and that Synod 2012 will reconsider this particular item, then decide to re-insert the sentence in Article 59b.