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The proper response to original sin is to embrace the teachings of Jesus, although one will remain always a sinner nevertheless. The proper response to White Privilege is to embrace the teachings of—well, you can fill in the name or substitute others—with the understanding that you will always harbor the Privilege nevertheless. Note that many embrace the idea of inculcating white kids with their responsibility to acknowledge Privilege from as early an age as possible, in sessions starting as early as elementary school. This, in the Naciremian sense, is Sunday school.

Think of it. A certain class of white person, roughly those who watched 30 Rock and Mad Men, lustily pumps their fists at the writings of a Coates who says that he is surprised that white people—i.e. ones like them—are interested enough in black people and racism to even bother reading his work. Coates is telling these people that they are sinners, in a sense, and they are eagerly drinking in the charge, “revering” him for it. This, ladies and gentlemen, is worship, pure and simple.


I'm just trying to follow the thread here. Yellowbox Church uses Orange, the negative example from the article. 

So the point of this comment contradicts the posted article's point. 

I'm just trying to understand. pvk

Paul VanderKlay on May 10, 2012

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thanks Jeff for your comment. 

When I talk about confessional growth and development you're very much on the same page with your metaphor. In the Karin Maag article she pretty clearly illustrated how the Belgic confession was forged as a way to communicate and defend the Reformation to their Roman Catholic overlords. The document reflects that purpose. 

Our present Form of Subsription tried so give latitude for this by having us subscribe to the doctrines, not necessarily the wording of the doctrines found in the actual documents. It's an interesting distinction really in that it gives leeway but what it doesn't necessarily do is create a path to improve our confessions. 

Even though at this point we're not facing a threat like Guy De Bres did, we still have a vital need to communicate our profession to the world and attempt to do so as a community. This has been expressed more recently in the Contemporary Testimony of course. 

Confessions are in a certain sense a way of crowd-sourcing our witness. We probably can't crowd-source writing, but the Christian church has long been about the community figuring out its faith together. 

The recent push for the Belhar has activated this because now the church is being asked to do this work again, and in some ways we're still stumbling around as in a sleepy stupor. We haven't done it for 400 years and the world has changed considerably. 

I'd like to have us find a way to make this a regular part of the church and do so in a healthy way. 

Two Calvin profs were recently "dismissed quietly", like Joesph tried to do with pregnant Mary. The issues they raised are real and have confessional implications. The issues don't go away just because they do. We need to figure out how to process these hard questions over long periods of time just like we've done with Women in Office. 

The church is a very long term project, theology sometimes takes hundreds of years to sort through and come to consensus on. This is difficult to do with a community of persons who live less than 100 years, but this is our calling. We are stewards of the message and when applied there is real work to do. pvk

Posted in: Faith Modeling

Nice piece. I think we also have to calibrate "it will be OK" by the cross and the resurrection. "It will be OK" is a common refrain in most American movies and that means some emotional settling or something vague like that. "Success" in the Christian life easily slides into the shiny, happy faces deal.

The core message of the gospel is that following Jesus is designed to lead us to the same places it led him, to the cross, tomb and out again. Christianity wasn't designed to sit next to all of the other self-help books offering good advice in "making life work" but rather to be the only path that actually results in Creation 2.0. This reality is best communicated as you said through watching people actually do it and it won't usually look like a script about adopting some poor child who will grow up to be an NFL millionaire.

Thanks for your piece. pvk

Neil I think this is a very helpful post on a very difficult subject. Thanks for taking the time to write and to help lead the church. 

Excellent excellent excellent! If the network continues to put out stuff like this I think it should become a very valuable resource for the CRCNA and the broader church as well. Thanks for taking the time to treat this subject with wisdom and credibility. pvk

I think it's the right choice. the RCA West has been using the term and I think it's worked well for them. This will help us collaborate more closely with them. Dual terminology has been frustrating. 

Paul VanderKlay on July 8, 2011

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Rob, I think it's helpful to resist looking at this on a two dimensional scale. "higher/lower", etc. 

A credential is a tool that affords a community to grow beyond a "face to face" size. It is a piece of paper that allows a group of people outside of a natural, relational network to trust and afford authority upon someone to serve in their context. 

Subscription to doctrinal standards are one element of that matrix of trust. There are many who can subcribe but who should not lead because they don't not have the gifts, training, experience necessary.

In our traditional system Seminary is more than just a school, it is a vetting process. Professors get to know students, students get to know each other, a community is formed where at least to a degree people know and are known. These multi-purposed arrangements are helpful but complicated. Some people are vetted because there are competency issues, others for character issues, others for content concerns. The broader credential (Art 6) is afforded because of hopefully the elongated vetting process. It is always a risk, of course. 

The central question with respect to credentially is how can the community establish a tool that builds trust and affords authority beyond personal experience and face to face knowledge. 

A second concern that you raise is how the broader church does discipleship, of which theological education and doctrinal subscription are an element. Our system suffers not only from point leaders that are wobbly theologically but also elders, deacons and members that are not always able to discern and lead from the positions they occupy. These are deep and complex issues. The Faith Formation Committee undertook a multi-year effort to address some of it, especially with respect to sacraments, but the issues run deeper and are intertwined with deep cultural and practical issues. 

The Art. 7 conversation is a grappling with how we trust and invest authority for the important work of the church. Do we believe so much in the academy for ministrial preparation and vetting? Our "regular" process says "yes". It's track record isn't bad and there are good reasons for it. Your comments here also highlight that our system must also focus on what happens after the credential is awarded. That tends to be the work of classes and its work too is uneven. 

The RCA West has done some good work with their "Credentialed Pastor" program. We can learn something from what they've done. pvk

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