Article 59 Assent to Creeds

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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.

 

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Community Builder

Henry, perhaps a "lemming footrace" to the edge of the cliff regarding doctrinal and polity change would have been tempered by the Overture that also was refused which called for a vote by Classes regarding major change in the way we do church?

Now you notice I emphasized "major,"  I don't think every Synod decision needs to be voted on by the "bush;" but a major decision on doctrine or polity would get a "check and balance" of sorts by the Classis. 

Community Builder

I hear you loud and clear, Dutchoven.  And I might even agree if it were limited to creeds, confessions, and amendments thereof.  If the overture had done that, perhaps it would have been acceded to.  Instead, the overture asked for all the "matters" referred to in Article 47: "adoption of creeds" but also "Church Order" and "principles and elements of worship."  I don't know why the overture included these as well, but I'm convinced that's what led synod not to accede to the request.

At the same time, I still like our current system better because instead of ratifying changes at our classis meetings all by ourselves, we give classes lots of opportunity to "weigh in" and have their delegates come to synod so that classes remain accountable to one another in a deliberative setting when trying to make final decisions on major matters.

This thread makes  a VERY IMPORTANT observation.  Without "a demand that our people assent to the Apostles' Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed and the three historic Reformed confessions" the CRC is a branch of the generic US civil religion. 

Henry, your first comment i agree with completely.   Your second comment is unclear.  But I do think a distinction needs to be made between the importance of the confessions and the flexibilities of church order and elements of worship. 

Participant

Has any progress been made on this issue?

Community Builder

Yes, Randy, Synod 2012 reinserted the sentence into Article 59-b as originally proposed.  See Acts of Synod 2012, page 771.

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