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The elect are those who repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. The purpose of the church is to be a "Word and Sacrament" ministry as proclamation of the Word and administration of the sacraments is the way that God saves people. Unfortunately, far too many fall into an unbiblical understanding of Reformed soteriology along the lines of "justification by election" as opposed to Justification by Faith which God imputes to the elect through the Gospel proclamation-see Peter's first sermon in Acts 2:38. Part of the problem, I think, is that in North America the temptation is to define ourselves over and against Wesleyan-Arminianism. The other issue is too many in the Reformed family have done a bad job teaching doctrine. 

Founders Ministry is actually a Calvinistic wing of the Southern Baptists. It is my observation that much of the broader evangelical world has moved closer to Reformed theology (or at least soteriology) in the past couple decades while many in our circles have been trying to water down our doctrine. The issue shouldn't be "Do we teach doctrine or emphasize outreach?" It should be "How do we teach doctrine well, so that we share the Good News with more people?" Now for the record many of our churches and pastors are doing a good job, but there often seems to be a lack of focus on the denominational level, at least in my anecdotal experience. 

The overture, I suspect is motivated by a couple impulses. The first is a desire by some in our denomination to embrace a mainline social gospel where the church works as a political activist organization, often for perspectives from a certain place on the political spectrum. 

The second, is a desire to push back against the obsessive "pro Israel" theology of the dispensationalists. Their zeal for pro-Israel activism often takes on an unbiblical, racist attitude toward the Palestinian Arabs.

In both cases, I think it would be better to challenge our seminary and Faith Alive to provide better discipleship materials. Regarding the first issues, we ought to learn about the Reformed 2 Kingdoms view of Calvin as well as Kuyper's concept of Sphere Sovereignty. On the second, why not promote better discipleship materials on eschatology? I see that we do have a video series "God Wins" on the Book of Revelation and that seems like a good start. 

Put another way: the antidote to bad public theology is good public theology. 

Nick, you obviously have strong opinions about this topic. What is it that you would hope to accomplish by getting the denomination directly involved? Are you not free to petition your own member of Congress or Parliament? 

In the examples you give, I would disagree that it is the role of the denomination to intervene directly. We could denounce persecution of religious and ethnic minorities or point out the sinfulness of government segregation but I don't think that the CRCNA had any particular expertise to advise the governments of the U.S. or Canada how to approach those issues. Apartheid was a unique case in that churches in South Africa had adopted an unbiblical justification for it- to that extent it made sense to respond in the theological area since that is ostensibly the church's sphere of competency. Similarly, I have no problem with the CRCNA denouncing the excesses of Dispensational theology.  

I appreciate the passion many members bring to various issues, but I am concerned unless we return to a higher view of Sphere Sovereignty our Synods are going to more and more become political forums. Where do we draw the line?

Nick, I would hope if we are being effective in discipleship that our members would be discerning when engaging Fox News, the New York Times or any other source. I find that most people, if you get past a few key issues that they are passionate about tend to have more nuanced views than the party line often pushed by various cable news commentators.

My concern, however, is that if we take Total Depravity seriously, there is no individual or group of individuals we can count on to be completely objective, this includes within the church. There are few people who would argue that Sojourners, for example, does not generally promote a liberal Democrat agenda or a group like the Family Research Council does not promote a conservative Republican agenda. The vast majority of Christians including clergy, college faculty and others generally "engage public policy" along the lines of one of these camps.

Again, though, I am curious where the line should be drawn in terms of issues that the church should address? What is adiaphora in terms of public policy? I know of divisive issues like gun control or taxes where people in my own church of reputable character and biblical knowledge vehemently disagree. 

As I said in my prior post, better teaching of Reformed views of eschatology would help with regard to Israel and Palestine. My concern is that increasingly our denomination is more comfortable asserting itself on political than theological issues. 

Jesus is the Lord of All Life, but the sinners who comprise the church are not. The Reformed tradition going back to Calvin has always affirmed the 2 Kingdoms (Right hand and Left hand) even if not always agreeing on where the lines should be drawn.

As far as the abortion issue, the church has always opposed elective abortion from the earliest times. This does not mean that I am comfortable with the church endorsing or lobbying for specific legislation, rather we need only disciple our members on why the destruction of innocent human life is wrong. Similarly we ought to reflect on Augustinian Just War principles, this does not mean that the institutional church ought to take positions on nuanced foreign policy decisions of the U.S. or Canada. 


New believers have to learn words like "propitiation", explaining our polity is just another part of discipleship. I didn't grow up CRC, the first time my pastor talked about "going to Classis" I thought he was talking about vocational training. Still, I see no reason to get rid of a perfectly useful traditional word. Too many are too eager to throw out the Reformed baby with the Dutch bathwater, pulling us either in a broad evangelical or mainline direction. Being a little unique here and there isn't necessarily a bad thing. 


Doug, I became aware of the "official" link in the 2018 Synod agenda under the Ecumentical and Interfaith section:

I do not know the history of this relationship. While I don't believe that this was anything the percolated up from local churches overturing Synod, I cannot find evidence that it has ever faced any scrutiny either. 

Yes, to be clear my concern is not simply Sojourners or their politics. While the case can certainly be made that they are a polarizing and ideologically driven organization, it is that they are at their core, a political organization. The CRCNA belongs to Christian Churches Together, which advocates on hunger/poverty issues and the National Association of Evangelicals which sometimes speaks out on pro-life topics, but these groups are properly "ecumenical" in the sense that they are composed of Christian denominations and their purpose is not purely or primarily political activism. 

And let us also be thankful for the men and women who are called to the fossil fuel industry. Their pursuit of this noble call has allowed humanity to flourish in modern times at levels few could have dreamed of in past centuries. 

The problem is so called "civil religion" which those of us in evangelical (or if you prefer "orthodox Reformed") traditions have sought to avoid. It is a difficult balancing act of wanting to be out among our communities proclaiming the Gospel but not pretending that Jesus Christ is simply "another path" and putting him on a mantle next to pagan gods of other religions. In the U.S. a lot of these tensions arose in the wake of 9/11 when there were several "interfaith vigils". 

I am no theologian and I don't have a simple answer, I would just say that we need to carefully consider interfaith engagement and certainly steer clear of any forum where we are not able to declare Christ as "the way, the truth and the life". 

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