Christian Reformed Church

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by Greg, Oct 16, 2008.

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  1. N. Eshelman

    N. Eshelman Puritan Board Senior

    At least he didn't say Jerry Springer!
  2. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I'd have to disagree with this, but not in the sense that I find issue with Lane's observation. It might well be quite accurate for his area. But my personal observations would differ with the "That's the entire problem" part of Lane's point of view. The whole problem is their change in their view of the Bible as authority. All the other problems fall under that issue.
  3. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    If you read a lot of the documentation surrounding the decisions, you will find a dearth of biblical references. It is more talk of 'making progress' (see any of the articles from the Synod 2006 Banner or even the most recent Synod 2008 Banner issue). It's like they feel that throwing scripture into the mix will only 'muddy the waters' so they'll stick to talking about 'inclusiveness' and 'progress'.
  4. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I think you're right, Kevin, though I don't have any proof of that anymore. Back when I was still in the CRC then there was a lot of disagreement over the five major issues. These discussions would often argue over different personal interpretations over the same texts; and at some point it became moot to cite any proof texts at all. At the grass roots level this was what was happening.

    But that's not really what I was referring to. I was thinking about the fact that the early arguments for women-in-office, for example, could write off texts as "culture" or "temporal" simply because they didn't fit with this present culture. To be able to do that to any part of the Bible was a great shift from 20 or 30 years earlier.
  5. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    There still is some good in the CRC. I've seen it for myself. In the past their ecclesiology was surpassed by none, in my estimation. On some things they could fall a long ways before others catch up, even the more orthodox denominations. They may have fallen on their qualifications for office, but their practice of oversight and help within their congregations from the offices is still better than some orthodox churches I've known.

    There's a depth of practice there that is not easily wiped away. There is still a flicker of the old CRC burning there, it seems to me.
  6. calgal

    calgal Puritan Board Graduate

    :eek: Was that at the last synod?
  7. Greg

    Greg Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks for the input everyone.

    Yea, sorry about that...I figured that might be an ignorant question to ask. We just moved and there's a CRC church around here, so I was just trying to learn a little bit about them as we're trying to find a church home.
  8. Seb

    Seb Puritan Board Junior

    They started to allow it, and then pulled back from it for a "study" that has up to four more years to provide their report.

    The Banner - No Communion Without Profession
  9. Seb

    Seb Puritan Board Junior

    Sadly yes. From Synod 2008 Wrap-up - Christian Reformed Church

  10. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    The CRC is in transition, not, as some think, directly to liberalism but to the dominant American religion, "evangelicalism." The CRC is not much like it was theologically or liturgically (theology, piety, and practice) even 50 years ago. The CRC is headed, indirectly, to the mainline. We can always hope and pray but since Synod '95 they've not moved in a confessional direction on a single major issue. That's why I call them a "borderline" church, as distinct from the NAPARC (sideline), and liberal mainline (NCC).

    See Recovering the Reformed Confession for more.
  11. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    So in such a case, what is the best route for CRC members? Stay and fight, or leave? For myself, I would stay and fight to bring back orthodoxy. But it is the environment that my children will live in that worries me. Some of what young women are wearing to church is simply beyond the pale. What are considered acceptable practises by teenagers would ground my children for a month.

    So what to do?
  12. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    But if we have the 3FU in hand, and good bible commentaries, this could not happen. There's where I think the CRC walked away from the confessions and commentaries and went with "This is what the Lord is saying to me right now," coupled with Zondervan's "What's Cool for Your Church Today, 9th edition". Disaster.

    You betcha. And if you got the Banner the next month, she's on the cover, smiling like a Cheshire cat.
  13. calgal

    calgal Puritan Board Graduate

    Oh dear. :banghead:
  14. N. Eshelman

    N. Eshelman Puritan Board Senior

    I have not started the book yet, but I have had a friend who is really into it read me paragraphs. Looking forward to it!
  15. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    In '86 I had a theological discussion with an emeritus professor from Calvin. In response to my questions, he kept quoting the confessions by heart. After an hour or so of this I said, "You keep quoting the confessions. When I grew up people made a lot of "Sola scriptura". What ever happened to that?
    His reply was, "Oh, no one reads the Bible anymore. Theological understanding is so much easier with the confessions."

    My theory which may be wrong: In the demise of a church or a denomination, a common scenario is that sola scriptura first becomes sola confession. The Bible is put aside as the passages that teach truths not taken up by the confessions are simply ignored. Then the confessions are put aside with perceived impunity because they are not infallible anyway. Sola synod comes to reign.

    Note that by truths not taken up, I don't mean to imply that these passages contradict the confessions. It's simply that the writers of the confessions set out to outline systematic theology, not to exhaustively interpret every passage. An example would be the scriptural teaching on gluttony.
  16. Seb

    Seb Puritan Board Junior

    I've talked at length with a CRC pastor who expressed the same problem.

    He said when he attended WTS Philly that he could quote the HC front and back but soon realized that he didn't know the Scripture proofs behind those doctrinal summaries expressed in the catechism.

    Conversations with others in my Church that were raised CRC have said the pretty much the same thing. The HC was drilled into them in rote memory style, but they didn't study and "learn" the Scripture that goes with it.
  17. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    I started it on the plane this week. While I cannot follow him on all points (e.g., 6 day creation), it is a GREAT read!
  18. Kaalvenist

    Kaalvenist Puritan Board Sophomore

    Do you know which one? I grew up ten minutes from Visalia, and there's two CRCs there, one of which runs a K-12 school. It would be great for me to recommend to my semi-Reformed family; the RP church in Fresno is just a bit too far for them to commit to, especially since they're not RPs.
  19. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor


    That wasn't my experience, but wow.
  20. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    It would be easy to agree that, somehow, the church would be more scriptural if only we did not have a Confession. Non-credal churches sometimes make that claim- that they are more "spiritual" because they let everyone read the Bible, and evaluate everything themselves, and not require they be bound by or even have to consider a creed.

    The problem with that is that,
    1) What doctrine summarized in the Confession specifically do they disagree with?
    2) As church's fall away, they quit following the Confession as well as the Scripture.

    If you believe the Confession is putting aside Scripture, you must take an exception to the statement or proposition that you think is doing that.

    Confessions can be amended, which shows they are not infallible.

    If you cannot receive the Confession as a faithful summary of the doctrine contained in Scripture, one should not be in a Confessional Church.

    What doctrine, specifically, do you believe the Confession gets (biblically) wrong?
    I don't understand what you mean here- if the Confession is not contradicting Scripture why would you not receive it as a faithful summary of the doctrine contained in Scripture?

    That's right- the Confession is not intended to cover every single doctrine or proposition of Scripture, so how is the confession replacing scripture (and that, incorrectly) in these instances when it doesn't even address it? It seems the problem here would not be with the Confession, since it doesn't address that doctrine?

    Can you name one denomination that has abandoned its historic Confession and become more biblical?

    Remember, in Reformed Theology, the unity of the church must be based on doctrinal agreement.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2008
  21. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    Trinity CRC. Here's their website:

    Trinity Christian Reformed Church of Visalia - Sermons
  22. Kaalvenist

    Kaalvenist Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks Mark. I figured it was probably Trinity... the pictures of 1st CRC's "worship services" didn't look like they're ready for the URCs anytime soon. Do you have any other info? I'm guessing it was decided at a congregational meeting or something quite recently... when the full transition will take place, will they be able to keep the building, etc.?
  23. jaybird0827

    jaybird0827 PuritanBoard Honor Roll


    I was faced with a similar decision when I was in the PC(USA) back in the 80's. I was concerned not only with the teaching that we were imbibing as a family and my responsibility (and accountability!) as spiritual head of the house. We simply could no longer stay as "missionaries" to the denomination. I especially had to think of our son quickly rising to Sunday school age and how far the PC(USA) agenda had gotten as far as the curriculum.

    Considering all things, I opted to move us to the PCA.
  24. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    Hi Dennis,

    What did you read me to say about 6 day creation?
  25. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    Hi Mary,

    I don't know who that was, but his comments are, as far as I know, not representative of what's been happening in the CRC since the 1950s. Someone, in this discussion, said something about people in the CRC learning the HC by rote. Again, I ask, when was that? Precious few catechumens have been asked to memorize the HC for quite a long time.

    Confessional Reformed folk do believe and practice sola scriptura. Indeed, we confess sola Scriptura in our catechism and confession! It's appropriate for someone to quote the catechism as the summary of the Reformed understanding of Scripture because we confess what we do because we believe it's biblical.

    That doesn't mean that our people, officers and laity, should be excused from knowing God's Word thoroughly and being able to discuss it intelligently. it's not an either/or matter. It's a matter of "both...and." The catechism does summarize a great deal of Scripture. It's what Van Til (and many others) have called "the one and the many." The catechism and confession give us a broad over view of the panorama of Scripture.

    I'm so glad this man was able to quote the Three Forms by heart! God bless him. If the CRC had more like him they wouldn't be ordaining females, and rejecting Q. 80, allowing paedocommunion, indeed there wouldn't have been a split in '95.

    Did he really say "Oh, no one reads the Bible anymore. Theological understanding is so much easier with the confessions."

    If so, he was quite errant. If one reads the recent Muether biography of Van Til one will see a nice picture of the old Reformed piety. Kees Van Til grew up hearing God's Word read at the table every day and he did it himself. Reformed piety is thoroughly biblical. If that prof said what you report, then he wasn't being faithful to the confession and catechism he was quoting!

    As to your theory that sola Scriptura becomes "sola confession," can you give us an example where this has happened? I ask because, as I read modern church history, the pattern has been exactly the opposite. The American Presbyterians began marginalizing the confession in the 18th century, and gradually it became immaterial to their theology, piety, and practice. The same is true of the RCA, the old German Reformed Church and so on. I can't think of a single example of where sola Scriptura became sola confessio.

    I don't know exactly when the CRC began to set the catechism and confession aside, but there is some evidence that it was happening, in some ways in the 1920s, as "conservatives" began to ignore the RPW. By the 60s there was open rebellion in the CRC against the Canons (e.g. Harry Boer), and by '75/'76 the HC was being marginalized. Who could memorize the '76 translation?
  26. Seb

    Seb Puritan Board Junior

    That was me.

    The folks I've met at my Church that were Catechized this way are mostly 55+ years old. Nowadays many of these same people almost have a disdain for the HC.

    The whole experience to them was very legalistic and not comforting nor gracious. They weren't so much "taught" the HC, it was more drilled into them. I know it's wasn't the fault of the HC. It was over zealous parents that treated the HC as the "final truth" rather than "a teaching tool". When they describe what they went through I'm reminded of the nun in the Blues Brothers movie.

    But thankfully that experience and opinion is not shared by all in that generation. There still quite a few elders (and thankfully Elders too :)) at out Church that are crying out for the TFU to be taught and held in high esteem in the CRC again.

    I don't know how much to be encouraged by it, but the Spring '08 issue of CTS's Forum magazine was exclusively about the CRC returning to the confessions. It had an interesting a round-table discussion / article where some of the staff talked about the need for the CRC to come back to the confessions and why they think she abandoned them over the past couple of decades. They also alluded to some of the same sentiments and experiences that I'm hearing from folks in my local Church.

    I pray that our Denomination returns to her previous truths and obedience to the Scripture's plain and clear teaching that she walked away from in the name of tolerance and eccumenticalism.

    Interesting sidebar:

    My Pastor laments the low attendance of teens in HC class.

    He says that when he was young, the HC teaching materials were poor, but the turnout was great because parents knew how important it was.

    Nowadays there are great HC teaching materials, but he can't get the parents to bring their parents to class.

    It's as though the bad experiences and horror stories of some in previous generations, has helped create this problem and put them on the road to fundy / Evangelicalism.
  27. Leslie

    Leslie Puritan Board Junior

    I have no problem in having the confessions. I have a few differences but nothing much and I expressed these when joining the PB.

    The problem is one of emphasis. One doesn't have to reject the confessions, but In my humble opinion it is akin to treason to place them on a par with scripture by implication.

    As has been written in previous posts, children are made to memorize long passages from the HC but not the scriptures. In the catechism classes I attended the scriptures were ignored. The teacher didn't have to have a Bible with him or her. What value system was taught by this? Wasn't it that HC was primary and scripture secondary? Was it not that the Bible is valuable merely as a database for the confessions but is otherwise irrelevant?

    Also sermons in the churches referenced the HC far more than the scriptures. A pastor would read a short scripture passage, then a HC question and answer and from there on in it was all HC, teaching without reference to either supporting or problematic scriptures. He was teaching children, not verbally but by example, and implication, that the HC is at least on a par if not better than the scriptures.

    It doesn't have to be that way. I've attended a CR church with relatives in which the pastor holds the scriptures in high esteem and the HC is "oh by the way, this fits". This pastor reads large sections of scripture and explains them. If and when the HC is applicable, he'll read a short passage. The first time I heard this guy my response was, "He certainly wasn't raised CR; he honors the scriptures far too much." I was right. He wasn't raised CR.

  28. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    Trinity had been absenting themselves from Classis meetings for about 2 years. The last couple of Synods especially demonstrated to Trinity that the denomination shows no evidence it ever intends to repent. After the consistory provided guidance and time for reflection, the congregation voted {approx. 94%} to leave the CRC {or as I like to say, to finally recognize that the CRC had long ago left them}. That was followed this summer by another congregational vote {approx. 96%} to seek membership in the URC. The URC approved acceptance of Trinity this week, so the important transition is now complete: Trinity is now a URC church. Just need to change the bulletin, church sign, website, secretary state filing, etc.

    So yes, the property stayed with the congregation. No loss of membership. In fact, there are signs there will be some numerical growth.
  29. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    Oops! I was just trying to commend your book as a great read, not engage the author and reveal my own narrowness. :eek: Over the past decade, my thinking has moved from a pretty open Hugh Ross type agnosticism regarding origins ("as long as there was a literal Adam and fall, I don't care about the timetable") taught to me at Westmont and Fuller to a more traditional interpretation (cf. Kelly, Mohler, or Sproul).

    You were heard by me as saying that young earth creationism ("6/24 creation") ought not be a boundary marker for Reformed orthodoxy. You associate 6/24 creation with a fundamentalizing QIRC. Specifically, you summarize the argument of the 6/24 boundary marker folks as saying that the Bible teaches a 6/24 view of creation and not to accept the Bible's teaching here is tantamount to not believing it anywhere. You see the argument in such form as being fallacious, comparing it to Luther against Zwingli at Marburg.

    Grudem has convinced me that evangelical feminism bears a causal relationship to liberalism as a precursor. In a similar way, it seems to me that some of the difficulties we face with uncertainty regarding homosexuality today have more than an accidental connection to a refusal to take Genesis 1-11 at face value. Some of the science types (PhDs in biochemistry, astrophysics, and genetics) at Answers in Genesis have been effective in convincing me that the data of science are compatible with a more or less straight forward reading of Genesis. The problem would not seem to be with the "science" per se, but with the presuppositional worldview (naturalism vs. theism) that animates the proponents in the discussion.

    We would probably both agree that good people of impeccable orthodoxy can be found on both sides of this issue and that it ought not be a boundary marker for orthodoxy. My contention, however, would be that while people like Kline hold their view for honest exegetical reasons, such mediating and compromising positions tend towards "too clever by half" evasions of the "plain" or "staightforward" meaning of the text in places such as Romans 1 or 1 Timothy 2.

    Stated reductionistically, when scholars try to interpret the text saying that "you think it means this because it says that, but it REALLY means something else according to this very technically complex rabbit trail of argumentation I will lead you down," the practical result is a loss of confidence in the perspicuity of the Bible. For example, some of the strongest proponents for the "no divorce" exegesis behind the "consanguineous marriage view" (aka "incest" view) are utterly orthodox conservatives with the best of intentions. However, I have seen these kinds of exegetical gymnastics used to "explain away" the Biblical force of Pauline dicta regarding homosexuality and women in leadership.

    Back on point . . . I might quibble with you on how important 6/24 creation should be (yet still agree with you that it ought not be a boundary marker for orthodoxy any more than one's view of the millennium), but that was my only demurer regarding your OUTSTANDING book. As one rapidly moving from a Calvinistic Baptist position to a more Reformed point of view, I resonate with almost everything you say in RRC (at least as far as my reading has taken me).

    You have done a great service by the publication of this book. Thanks!
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2008
  30. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    Thanks Dennis, I appreciate the encouragement.

    I asked because I wanted to be sure that I was being understood. I didn't want to say more in the question because I wanted to see what you would say.

    For what it's worth, I think I am taking Gen 1-2 "at face value," but I understand what you're saying.


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