11 Dec GS 1986 art 144
GS 1986 ARTICLE 144
Letter re Form for Public Profession of Faith and Baptism (See Art. 142) Committee 4 presents:
Agenda, VIII, B, 3 Letter from br. B. Moes c.s. re: Forms for Public Profession of Faith and Baptism.
- 1. The brs. note that in the previous edition of the Forms for Public Profession of Faith in the first question and in the Form for Baptism in the second question the formulation was, ” . . . the articles of the Christian faith and which is taught here in this Christian church to be the true and complete doctrine of salvation” and that the General Synod of 1983 decided that the formulation of this question in these forms be “summarized in the confessions and taught here “
- They request this synod to “rescind the current formulation and to return to the original wording.”
- 2. These brs. contend that the present formulation is “in conflict with the confessions” in that “it conflicts with question and answer 22 of the Heidelberg Catechism which teaches that a Christian must believe ‘all that is promised us in the gospel which the articles of our catholic and undoubted Christian faith teach in a summary.’ Answer 23 goes on to explain that these articles are, in fact, none other than the articles of the Apostles’ Creed. No mention is made of additional confessions.”
- 3. These brs. contend that the present formulation is “in conflict with accepted reformed practice.” They refer to the General Synod of Utrecht of 1923, and the formulation of the General Synod of Arnhem of 1981. From this they conclude that ”since attestations are issued on the basis of one’s public profession of faith and walk of life, it is inconsistent lo admit members of the Dutch sister churches unless they declare agreement with what the new formulation asks of members of the Canadian Reformed Churches.”
- 4. The brs, question the procedure by which the General Synod of 1983 made a change in formulation from the committee report which used the word “creed” instead of “confession” to the present formulation without request from any of the churches. They state that “no mention is made of changing the meaning of the existing forms .”
- 5. The brs. contend that the present formulation is “in conflict with reality” because “it is questionable whether every believer must, or even is able to give allegiance to ALL formulations used in the confessions in order to be admitted to the sacraments.”
- 6. Synod of 1983 observed (Acts, Art. 145, 8) that “brother W. VanderKamp re quests synod to inform him whether the interpretation of the word ‘creeds’ in the questions found in the forms for baptism and for the public profession of faith includes the Three Forms of Unity.” This synod considered (under Consideration B, 4) that “in the fourth question on page 121, the wording should be as follows . . . the Word of God summarized in the confessions and taught here in this Christian church’ “and it considered under number 5 (p. 107) that “the use of the word ‘confessions’ instead of ‘creeds’ in the questions of the Forms for Baptism and Public Profession of Faith answers the question posed by brother W. VanderKamp.”
- 1. The brs. are incorrect in suggesting that the present formulation is in conflict with the confessions because when we confess in the Heidelberg Catechism, Q & A 22,
- Q. “What, then, must a Christian believe?
- A. All that is promised us in the gospel, which the articles of our catholic and undoubted Christian faith teach us in a summary” it does not suggest that this basic summary excludes the further confession given in the “Three Forms of Unity.”
- 2. It is historically correct that the formulation “articles of the Christian faith” has been used. However, by removing this phrase from its context, the brs. overlook that the questions asked never excluded the allegiance to all the confessions which are maintained by the Canadian Reformed Churches. The statement ” . . . as is taught here in this Christian Church” means one gives allegiance to all the confessions of the church. Synod of 1983 has already judged that the formulation, “the Creeds as taught here in this Christian Church,” means “the confessions as they are taught here in this Christian Church” (See Observation 6).
- 3. The brs. are correct in stating that the Committee for Liturgical Forms as given the mandate by the General Synod of 1977 to “update the language” and therefore the General Synod of 1983 had no right to change the meaning of the forms. But from the above consideration ” 2″ , it is evident that the meaning of the forms is not changed by the linguistic revision which was made.
- 4. Although the Dutch sister-churches have a different formulation ” . . . in de Apostolische Geloofsbelijdenis is samengevat en in de christelijke kerk alhier geleerd wordt,” the meaning is not different, as is evident from the above consideration 2. The formulation adopted by the General Synod of 1983 does therefore not introduce “tension and endangers Inter-Church relations “
- 5. The brs. do not prove that the present formulation is “in conflict with reality” nor that it is impossible for anyone to keep the Scriptural command (Romans 10: 9, 10; Rev. 2: 26) and “wholeheartedly believe (agree with) the doctrine of the Word of God, summarized in the confessions and taught here in this Christian Church.”*
- *This quotation is taken from the Form for the Public Profession of Faith. The same formulation is used in the Form for Adult Baptism, except that instead of the word “believe,” the word “agree with” is used. In the Form for Infant Baptism the formulation, “Do you confess the doctrine ” is used.
- Synod decide not to grant the request of the brs. B. Moes, P. Roukema, D. Vander Boom, and W. VanderKamp.
- The recommendation is ADOPTED .