Form of Subscription: Discussion

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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 meeting the committee wrestled with some foundational issues with respect to the mandate, such as the purpose of a FOS and how the committee’s work might best proceed as it drafts a document to replace the present FOS. The committee reached agreement that the purpose of any revision should be unity with a secondary concern for purity. We also agreed that the FOS revision should be clear, compelling, and easily transportable across cultural and linguistic barriers. Finally, we agreed that the FOS revision should be precise in identifying the relationship of Scripture, creeds, confessions and other documents that many affirm as useful contemporary expressions of Reformed Christianity but that have not been granted confessional status (e.g., the Contemporary Testimony).

In preparation for Synod 2009, the committee developed a “working document” as a potential revision of the Form of Subscription, a background document that briefly explains the reasoning behind the potential revision, and a discussion guide designed to encourage reflection in large and small groups that may gather to discuss matters within the study committee’s mandate. While at Synod 2009, members of the committee led a roundtable discussion of the proposed revision and background document over a meal in a small group setting.

Leading up to Synod 2009 members of the committee met with various groups within the denomination, making presentations to the Black and Reformed Conference and the Multiethnic Conference. Following Synod 2009 numerous meetings of classes agreed to welcome members of our committee for discussion of the work in particular and more generally about the nature of confessional subscription. In order to facilitate positive interactions and widespread engagement across a broad spectrum of congregations within the denomination, the committee has translated the proposed revision into Korean and Spanish for the significant numbers of CRC members whose first language is not English.

From these presentations, the committee received many positive responses as well as suggestions and constructive criticism for improving the proposed revision of the FOS. In addition, we have received numerous responses from individuals and have appreciated the depth of engagement obvious in many of these reflections. In preparation for Synod 2010, the study committee would welcome the response of churches and individuals regarding the committee’s work and on the nature of confessional subscription. To date, we have received several helpful recommended revisions as well as many appreciative comments showing gratitude for the winsome tone of the proposed revision, the explicit inclusion of Scripture and ecumenical creeds and the simplicity of the document’s language. As a result of these communications and its own ongoing reflection, the committee prepared at its January 2010 meeting a further revision of the proposed Covenant for Officebearers in the Christian Reformed Church (below) and submitted it, along with a brief background report, to the churches through the Office of Synodical Services, and requested that the churches respond to the committee’s work.

A Covenant for Officebearers in the Christian Reformed Church
(A Working Document, January 2010)

We, the undersigned, believe the inspired Word of God as received in the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Scriptures, which proclaim the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ and the reconciliation of all things in him. Placing ourselves under the authority of God’s Word, we submit to it in all matters of life and faith.

We affirm three creeds—the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed—as ecumenical expressions of the Christian faith. In doing so, we confess our faith in unity with followers of Jesus Christ throughout all ages and among all nations.

We also affirm three confessions—the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort—as historic Reformed expressions of the Christian faith. These confessions continue to define the way we understand Scripture, direct the way we live out the gospel, and locate us within the larger body of Christ.

Grateful for these expressions of faith, we promise to be formed and governed by them, conforming our preaching, teaching, writing, serving, and living to them.

As followers of Jesus Christ today we also gratefully affirm the witness of Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony as a powerful Reformed expression of biblical faith that forms and guides us as it speaks to the concerns of our day.

Should we at any time come to believe that a teaching in the confessional documents is irreconcilable with God’s Word, we will communicate our views to the church, according to the procedures prescribed by the Church Order and its supplements. Further, we promise to submit to the church’s judgment and authority. We also promise to submit or receive confessional difficulties in a spirit of love and fellowship with our brothers and sisters as together we seek a fuller understanding of the gospel.

We honor this covenant to the glory of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
 

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