Skip to main content

What is your church doing with the Belhar Confession? Synod 2009 has recommended that the CRC adopt it as a fourth confession and thus has promoted a three-year process of discussion around the denomination. All that arose after a well-led and participated series of round tables led by the Ecumenical Relations Committee throughout the denomination in the year or more leading up to Synod 2009’s recommendation.

Funny thing, though—after a flurry of presentations around many (probably all by now) classes by members of the Ecumenical Relations Committee; and despite a pretty well-built webpage with resources to discuss the confession, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of public conversation.

This IS important—isn’t it???? Are we quiet about this because we’re thinking? Or are we quiet about it because we’re not really engaging in the discussion except to say we’re “fer it or agin it”? I pray it’s not the latter, because this IS important.

Is your church doing anything to take part in this conversation? A relative's church council looked at the Belhar over the course of a few meetings, but didn't use outside resources to structure that study. A synodical office staff member recently mentioned that requests for Belhar study resources are not what they thought they'd be at this point--even though they've been promoted in a variety of ways (including a flyer and copy of the devotional mailed to every church).

My congregation hasn’t done much with Belhar yet, but we are requesting to Classis Niagara this Wednesday, February 20, that we engage in a “circle discussion” led by members of CRCs from Classes Toronto and Quinte. The idea of this kind of conversation is that, as all are seated in a circle, everyone respond to a series of questions that do NOT pounce on the end issue of whether or not we should adopt Belhar; that seems antagonistic and not a healthy way of facing the real issue at hand. Rather the proposed conversation deals with the question of the importance and need of the doctrines and teachings of the Belhar: “How do you respond to the need for racial reconciliation as expressed in the Belhar?”

OK—today is Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate love. Doesn’t the best and truest of all love come from God? Can we talk about the love and reconciliation from God among races within the framework of Belhar? Let’s see if we can get some healthy discussion going on this—maybe in a forum, in comments, certainly within our congregations. A video trailer for the resources, plus other links are available at our main Belhar page.

What is YOUR church doing to study The Belhar?


It should be noted that if someone characterizes "Jesuit spirituality" as a kind of spiritual fast food, that would be quite misguided and uninformed. The Jesuits promote precisely what the Banner article is trying to propose, and it may be that the author recognizes that fact. Despite the fact that it may only take 15 minutes to go through the Ignatian exercises, this is simply a discipline that prepares on to actively reflect on Christ throughout the day. If we are ignorant of a tradition we should not use it as a negative example, because the result is that we might end up bearing false witness--in this case, against a spirituality that is not far from our own, and perhaps even more disciplined and focused (Jesuit theology aside).

Bev Sterk on April 21, 2011

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I apologize for setting the Jesuits in a negative light...believe you me, that is not my intent...I love their spirituality and "mystic" experiences, their awareness of God with every breath...yes, our Catholic brothers and sisters are not far apart from us in many ways and it is a treat to worship with them from time to time....It would be awesome if we could really practice it the way it was meant, we would see amazing results...this world would be a different place....  my concern, since the Banner article does not fully explain the Jesuit practice and most of us are not as disciplined as the Jesuits were (and get weirded out over mystic experiences), is that the general reader might assume that 15 minutes a day with God is enough, and the rest spent with other activity, with not much thought of our relationship with God again.    Again, 15 minutes of focused quiet time might be someone's personal call when they practice the Presence of God as Brother Lawrence does.  I personally know I need more than 15 minutes a day of quiet time with Him in the secret place, and have found that many leaders and intercessors I pray with need far more than 15 minutes of quiet time with Him as well...  It really comes down to a deep concern over prayerlessness in the church and in leadership, which when people/churches are honest with themselves, is a problem...  but no one likes to 'fess up to it...  I have seen amazing turn around when people vocalized it and admitted that they really struggle with prayer... God loves to answer the prayer "Lord, teach us to pray"  as the disciples requested...they didn't ask Him to show how to serve or preach but how to pray, LORD, help our congregations/churches become houses of prayer for You.

Thanks Dutch, I was asking rhetorically. I knew who he was from the article and researched him extensively. I respect accomplished people but I know wisdom and knowledge are distinctly different. The kind of leadership and insite on some of these issue's are matters of the heart not the brain. Thanks Dutch you are someone I can relate to.


Ken, that was an inappropriate comment about Dr. Cooper. To suggest that he is knowledgeable but not wise is inappropriate, since you do not know him, even though you claim to have researched him extensively, whatever that means. Stick with the issues he raises, and debate them if you will, but don't presume to judge his wisdom, particularly not in such a patronizing way.


 Well here,s my rebuke. What I refering to Is Mr Cooper is no more qualified than anyone eles in these matters including me and you. You took my words anjd applied them as if i'm degrading Mr. Cooper. You keep missing the point. This is a issue of the heart not the mind. Randy, I'm not going to treat you like your treating me so if you want to get angry go ahead. I would like you to lay it all out Randy. I will continue to pray for everyone and suggest praying to everyone.I'm broken and your broken Randy so that is the problem. I will admit to sinfulness but can you?


OK...back to the Belhar folks!

One of the most prevalent offshoots of our denominational heritage is a lack of civility when it comes to doctrinal issues that spell "culture."

While we are on the subject, can we all spell "schism"?

You know, that word from Greek: σχίσμα, skhísma- from σχίζω, skhízō, "to tear, to split;" refers to a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination; most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within some other religion.(Wikepedia)

Yes, once again the CRCNA as discovered a way to tear itself apart- you know, just like it has done in the past.

CRCNA begat the Free Reformed Church, Protestant Reformed Church, Orthodox Christian Reformed Church, United Reformed Church in North America...but that's how we do business as "Reformed Churches;" right- we keep "reforming" ourselves when we can't agree with each other to get along.

Perhaps one of the most contentious issues of late was women in ecclesiastical office: first we discussed, then we became at odds, then some simply walked out! Even more churches and people than the big split over common grace!

This past Synod we had a couple of churches that said. "Folks, we just can't square yet this issue of women in office with our theology- so let us stay with the CRCNA fellowship and go to another Classis- it was done before." The originating Classis of each church said "fine;" Synod at first said "fine"...then a bunch of delegates who just couldn't figure out how to live with someone that thinks differently said: "no you can't do that," and convinced Synod to retract it's initial thinking. Now that is a sure way to say, "just get out!" "Follow the historical template!"

Are we now going to do the same with the Belhar? It seems the church is split on how to handle this...can't we come up with a compromise for all those folks that want our denomination to stick together- follow the great commission, and agree to disagree- CIVILLY? So we start calling each other that is adult! And this is the same church that is talking "faith formation" of our children?

No, from what I have read on this blog, Network, and in other printed material, the" lines in the sand are being drawn." And it isn't even 2012 yet!

Of course...we probably will do what we know how to do best from history: discuss, cuss(more or less), then "reform" into another "reformed church."

Good thing we all go by the "grace of God"...and aren't we fortunate with that!

So now let's get back to the Belhar, and work this out- and just maybe by the time we turn 175 years old as a denomination we will not have added to that list of "reformed churches" that seems to keep growing!

Then again…perhaps we just can‘t help ourselves, if we miss breaking apart with this one- we sure won’t on the next one; what’s that going to be… 

Let's Discuss

We love your comments! Thank you for helping us uphold the Community Guidelines to make this an encouraging and respectful community for everyone.

Login or Register to Comment

We want to hear from you.

Connect to The Network and add your own question, blog, resource, or job.

Add Your Post