GS 1989 art 161

GS 1989 ARTICLE 161

Committee III, IV presents:

Agenda Items VIII, B, 3, a – f


  • 1. Letter from the Church at Burlington, ON, (Ebenezer) re Acts General Synod Burlington-West 1986, Art. 144 re Form for the Public Profession of Faith and the Form for Baptism.
  • 2. Letter from the Church at Surrey, BC, re Acts Smithville 1980 (Art. 129, 130), Cloverdale 1983 (Art. 145), Burlington-West 1986 (Art. 144), re same.
  • 3. Letter from the Church at Lower Sackville, NS, re same
  • 4. Letter from br. and sr. L. Moes, Langley, BC, re same
  • 5. Letter from the Church at Smithers, BC, re same
  • 6. Letter from the Church at Langley, BC, re same


  • 1. The Church at Burlington-East requests General Synod to restore the original formulation in the Form for Public Profession of Faith (1st question) and the Form for Baptism (2nd question)
  • Grounds:
    • a. This change is not just a “linguistic revision”
    • b. The words “Articles of the Christian faith” are historical words and are also used in L.D. 7, Q.A. 22. Therefore no Synod may change this formulation without adducing any ground.
  • 2. The Church at Surrey requests to bring back the historic formulation.
  • Grounds:
    • a. The decisions of our Synods in this matter are somewhat “inconsequent”, “poorly considered and impulsive.”
    • b. Our Synods have not considered the historical background of these questions.
    • c. Our Synods have not considered the catholic nature of the original wording.
    • d. Synod 1980 did not give any ground for bringing about change in the first place.
  • 3. Br. and sr. L. Moes request the same on the ground that “historically the phrase ‘articles of the Christian faith’ refers to the Apostles’ Creed”.
  • 4. The Church at Langley requests to return to the old wording “the Articles of the Christian faith”.
  • Grounds:
    • a. The historical origin of the expression
    • b. The relation between the Apostles’ Creed and the Sacrament of Baptism
    • c. Our sister churches in The Netherlands still use this expression
    • d. A report which served at Synod 1980 recommended retention of this expression
    • e. The Acts of 1980, 1983, 1986 give no grounds for the change.
    • f. The basic rule is that change be considered only after proper study
  • 5. The Church at Sackville requests Synod not to accede to the request of Surrey.
  • Grounds:
    • a. A change would remove clarity and re-introduce a measure of ambiguity
    • b. “There is no difference in meaning between creed and confession”
    • c. “it would impoverish the churches by clinging to the past while ignoring present realities.” “The present formulation in the Book of Praise does not in any way deny the unity with the church of all ages”
  • 6. The Church at Smithers urges Synod to maintain the present formulation.
  • Grounds:
    • a. “It states more accurately what persons, making profession of faith in the Canadian Reformed Churches, are subscribing to”
    • b. the expression “taught here in this Christian Church” is clarified when connected to the word “confessions”
    • c. by maintaining the present formulation “we remove all thought of making an unwarranted distinction between clergy and laity”
    • d. the current expression maintains our Catholic character
    • e. the “confessions” include the “creeds”.
  • 7. Both the Church at Burlington-East and Surrey state, “We have no problem with the remark of Synod Burlington 1986 (Article 144, C, 2) that ‘the questions asked never excluded the allegiance to all the confessions which are maintained by the Canadian Reformed Churches’”.
  • 8. The Church at Langley states, “The ‘doctrine’ of the Canadian Reformed Churches has always been based on the Bible and summarized in the six creeds/confessions that we have officially adopted”.


  • 1. The references to “linguistic revision” and to L.D. 7 Q.A. 22 (see above, Observation I, 1, 2) have been considered by Synod 1986 (Art 144, C, 1 and 2).
  • 2. Synod 1980 and 1983 may not have given grounds for this specific revision, but to consider the previous Synods’ decisions for this reason as “inconsequent” and “poorly considered and impulsive” is an overstatement. Synod 1983 responded to a specific question with a clear answer, “in order to avoid misunderstanding . . .”(Acts 1983, Art. 145 Cons. C 4 A 8).
  • 3. The historical character of the expression “summarized in the Articles of the Christian Faith” has been considered in Synod 1986 (Acts, Art. 144, C, 2). The appellants do not offer any new grounds on this point.
  • 4. The Churches at Burlington-East and Surrey correctly note that the historical formulation “summarized in the Articles of the Christian Faith” should not be taken in a restrictive sense as if it pertains only to the Apostles’ Creed and excludes the other Confessions (Synod 1986, Acts, Art. 144, C, 1; see above, Observation VII)
  • 5. A contextual reading of the original wording (“. . . taught here in this Christian church . . . to be the true and complete doctrine of salvation . . .”) shows that the present formulation is not a material change which is in conflict with the spirit of catholicity (see above, Observation II, 3).
  • 6. Synod 1986 has dealt with the formulation used in the Dutch sister churches but did not agree that there is any real discrepancy in confessional practice (Synod 1986, Acts, Art. 144, C, 4; see above, Observation IV, 3).
  • 7. The appellants have not demonstrated any compelling reasons to return to the original wording.


Synod decide not to accede to the requests of the Churches of Burlington East, Surrey, Langley and br. and sr. L. Moes