30 May GS 1983 art 121
GS 1983 ARTICLE 121 – Reopening-Correspondence with Churches Abroad (ICRC-continued)
The report of Committee IV is further discussed and, after emendations, the Recommendations D, 1, 2, 3. 4, 5. and 6 are ADOPTED. Since the Majority Report is adopted, a Minority Report presented by the Rev. P. Kingma is not voted on.
Committee IV presents:
A. MATERIAL – Agenda VIII, H, 1
Report of the Committee for Correspondence with Churches Abroad and an enclosure entitled: “A report on The Constituent Assembly of the International Conference of Reformed Churches.”
- 1. Synod Smithville 1980 charged the Committee on Correspondence with Churches Abroad with regard to the proposed Reformed International Conference:
- a. to send two delegates to this Conference:
- b. to analyze its basis, aim, powers. structure, members and agenda, and to come with a recommendation to the next Synod how to proceed further in this matter;
- c. to refrain from any official endorsement of this Conference due to its preliminary character
- 2. The Committee reports:
- a. That Rev. M. VanBeveren and Rev. J. Visscher represented the Canadian Reformed Churches at the Constituent Assembly of the ICRC. held from October 26 – November 4, 1982, in Groningen. The Netherlands
- b. That the following Churches were represented:
- The Free Reformed Churches of Australia
- The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Taiwan. S P The Presbyterian Church in Korea
- The Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ireland The Free Church of Scotland
- The Free Reformed Churches in South-Africa The Reformed Churches in The Netherlands The Canadian Reformed Churches.
- c. That our representatives criticized the fact that the Dutch Churches kept to themselves the power of determining who should or should not be invited to the Assembly and as such rejected the Committee’s request to invite the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
- d. That our representatives objected to the proposed agenda to discuss first the differences in confessions. Church polity, relations with other Churches and missions and then to deal with the matter of the constitution and regulations.
- e. That the Assembly decided to give the matter of the constitution and regulations primacy of place on the agenda and that the papers to be delivered be scheduled to accommodate this change.
- f. That not only the Three Forms of Unity but also the Westminster Standards form the Basis of the Constitution.
- g That according to the Committee the opinion “that only the Three Forms of Unity should have been used in the Basis ·suggests· that either the Three Forms of Unity are sufficient for the task and/or they are superior to the Westminster Standards in various ways.”
- h. That the exclusion of the Westminster Standards form the basis of the ICRC can only be construed as “insensitive” and/or “unhistorical” since “for many years the Reformed Churches have recognized that the Westminster Standards belong to that group of confessions called Reformed.”
- i. That with the exception of the South-African delegates all the representatives, by rising from their seats, expressed agreement with the fact that the Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster Standards should serve as the Basis of the ICRC.
- j. That the Assembly decided to delete the following sentence from the Basis: “Subscription to this Basis means that we find nothing in the Confessions of the member Churches that hinders us from the fullest participation in this Conference in respect to its purpose.” (On behalf of the committee, the Rev. J.N. Macleod of the Free Church of Scotland stated that such a clause would mean that a participating Church need not feel itself compelled to express agreement with every expression or formulation in. for example. the Westminster Confession).
- k. That the purpose of the Conference shall be:
- i to express and promote the unity of faith that the member Churches have in Christ:
- ii to encourage the fullest ecclesiastical fellowship among the member Churches:
- iii to encourage cooperation among the member Churches in the fulfillment of the missionary and other mandates:
- iv to study the common problems and issues that confront the member Churches and to aim for recommendations with respect to these matters:
- v to present a Reformed testimony to the world.
- I. That those Churches shall be admitted as members which:
- i adhere and are faithful to the confessional standards stated in the Basis:
- ii furnish:
- a. their confessional standards:
- b. their form of government:
- c. their form of subscription;
- d their declaratory acts (if applicable):
- iii are accepted by a two-thirds majority vote of the member Churches, every member Church having one vote;
- iv are not members of the World Council of Churches or any other organization whose aims and practices are deemed to be in conflict with the Basis;
- v termination of membership shall be by a two-thirds majority whenever the Conference is of the opinion that the member Church in its doctrine and/or practice is no longer in agreement with the Basis.
- m. One of our delegates did not want the Reformed Ecumenical Synod mentioned in the Constitution. He pointed out that such a restriction in the Constitution would be unacceptable to the Canadian Reformed Churches which have accepted the Orthodox Presbyterian Church as a true Chur c h even though it is still a member of the RES.
- n. Article V – Authority
- The conclusions of the Conference shall be advisory in character. Member Churches are urged to receive the decisions of the Conference and are recommended to work towards their implementation.
- 3. The Committee recommends:
- a. that the Canadian Reformed Churches agree to join the International Conference of Reformed Churches:
- b. that the Committee for Correspondence wit h Churches Abroad be authorized to send, in accordance with the Constitution of the ICRC. two of its members as delegates to the first meeting of the ICRC to be held in Edinburgh in 1985, and that Dr. J. Faber be designated to attend as advisor;
- c that the Committee for Correspondence be charged to recommend for membership in the ICRC the Orthodox Presbyterian Church ;
- d. that the Committee be authorized to inform the Convening Church of the ICRC that the Canadian Reformed Churches would like to see the following sub jects placed on the agenda:
- i the doctrine of the Church in the Reformed Confessions ;
- ii the doctrine of the Covenant in the Reformed Confessions; iii the exercise of interchurch relations;
- e. that the Committee be authorized to invite the ICRC to hold its second meeting
- to be held in 1989, in Vancouver. BC. as guests of the Canadian Reformed Churches;
- f. that the Committee for Correspondence with Churches Abroad report to the next General Synod on the activities of the ICRC.
- 4. The Committee on Relations with Churches Abroad of the Reformed Churches in The Netherlands has decided to make the following proposal to the General Synod of Heemse 1984 regarding the ICRC:
- a. to set up a study group with the following tasks:
- i to present the member Churches with information about relevant literature on missionary matters ;
- ii to present the member Churches with information about existing colleges and/or courses for missionaries. and about opportunities for co ordination:
- iii to serve the member Churches. if possible. by setting up a missiology on a truly Scriptural basis. for instance, by compiling an Introduction;
- b. to institute a consultative committee with the following tasks:
- i to advise the member Churches on choosing mission fields;
- ii to investigate and indicate opportunities for the coordination of development work on mission fields:
- iii to investigate and indicate opportunities for the exchange of missionaries.
- 1. The Canadian Reformed Churches (CRC) have neither “Ecclesiastical Fellowship” nor “Ecclesiastical Contact” with:
- a. The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, S.P
- b. The Presbyterian Church in Korea
- c. The Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ireland
- d. The Free Church of Scotland.
- 2. Churches which were invited but “for one reason or another were not able to come” are:
- a. The Korean Presbyterian Church of Sao Paolo, Brazil
- b. The Dutch Reformed Church of Sri Lanka
- c. The Reformed Church of Japan
- d The Reformed Church in South Africa (which “was absent due to the fact that adequate progress had not been made in establishing temporary ecclesiastical contact between it and the inviting Dutch Churches”).
- 3. The Dutch sister Churches by inviting the above-mentioned Churches introduced the Canadian Reformed Churches to Churches with which the Canadian Reformed Churches do not have any ecclesiastical relationship. It should be noted that by joining the ICRC the Canadian Reformed Churches will be faced with “third party” relationships.
- 4. From the context of the discussion about the Basis of the ICRC, it might be understood that the charter members at the Constituent Assembly upon joining the ICRC subscribe to every expression or formulation of both the Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster Standards; however. membership in the ICRC must not be taken to mean that the Canadian Reformed Churches subscribe to the Westminster Standards.
- 5. Since there are divergencies between the Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster Standards, it 1s imperative that at the Conferences discussions on these divergencies receive priority. It is therefore wise to follow the recommendation of the Committee on Correspondence to request that the following sub jects be placed on the agenda of the next Conference:
- i the doctrine of the Church in the Reformed Confessions;
- ii the doctrine of the Covenant in the Reformed Confess ions;
- iii the exercise of interchurch relations.
- 6. Having acknowledged that the Orthodox Presbyterian Church is a true Church of Christ does not imply that the Canadian Reformed Churches consider member ship in the RES and ICRC acceptable.
- 7. The nature of the matters to be discussed at Edinburgh make it desirable that the Canadian Reformed Churches send a special advisor along with the delegates.
- 1. to join the ICRC with the clear instruction to move the following amendments to the proposed Constitution:
- a. a stipulation in the Basis of the ICRC that the delegates subscribe only to the standards of the Churches of which they are members;
- b. that membership of the RES is an impediment to membership in the ICRC;
- c. that under “Authority” (Art. V) change “are urged to receive the decisions” to “urged to consider”;
- d. to add to Purpose (Art. V, 5) “to encourage each other as member Churches to.”
- e. to amend the Regulations (Art. II, 4, b, iv) “to forward to the Churches material”·
- f. to amend the Regulations (Art. II) “Each Conference shall elect.
- 2. to request the ICRC at Edinburgh to deal with:
- a. the doctrine of the Church in the Reformed Confessions;
- b. the doctrine of the Covenant in the Reformed Confessions;
- c. the exercise of interchurch relations.
- To give these matters priority after amendments to the Constitution before at tending to matters of mission.
- 3. to appoint Prof. Dr. J. Faber as an advisor to accompany two of the members of the Committee for Correspondence to the Conference 1985 at Edinburgh;
- 4. to report to the next General Synod on the activities of the ICRC;
- 5. to authorize the Committee to invite the ICRC to hold its second Conference, to be held in 1989, in the Vancouver area, as guests of the Canadian Reformed Churches;
- 6. to express its gratitude for the substantial work done by the Committee on Correspondence with Churches Abroad.
E. MINORITY REPORT (Rev. P. Kingma)
Not to adopt the recommendations of the Report of the Advisory Committee IV regarding the International Conference of Reformed Churches.
- 1. The International Conference of Reformed Churches is proposed to be a Conference whose character is unknown in the Church Order of the Canadian/American Reformed Churches.
- 2. The Church Order does not regulate an official ecclesiastical representation of the Canadian/American Reformed Churches to a Conference.
- 3. The Church Order only knows of ecclesiastical assemblies – of Classes. Regional Synods and Genera l Synods constituted by delegates from minor to major assemblies.
Session is adjourned.