12 Aug GS 1989 art 60
GS 1989 ARTICLE 60 – Committee II presents: Agenda Items VIII, B, 1, a-i
- 1. Report 1 of the Standing Committee for Publication of the Book of Praise (Creeds)
- 2. Letter from the Church at Hamilton, ON.
- 3. Letter from the Church at Attercliffe, ON.
- 4. Letter from the Church at Chilliwack, BC.
- 5. Letter from the Church at Orangeville, ON.
- 6. Letter from the Church at Brampton, ON.
- 7. Letter from the Church at Smithville, ON.
- 8. Letter from the Church at Burlington West, ON.
- 9. Letter from the Church at Cloverdale, BC.
- 10. Letter from the Church at Burlington East, ON.
- 1. The Standing Committee for the publication of the Book of Praise received the following mandate from Synod 1986, to see to the linguistic revision of the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed and to present a draft of this revision to the churches no later than 1 year before the next General Synod and to include this revision in the report to the next General Synod for the final edition of the Book of Praise. (Acts, Burlington-West 1986, Art. 118, D,2,g)
- 2. Synod 1986 also decided (upon the proposal of the reporter of the Standing Committee for the Book of Praise, Dr. J. Faber, Art 118, B, 3), to “set a target date for the definite adoption of the creeds and confessions and appoint a committee for the preparation of this final edition.”
- 3. The Committee took the 1984 edition of the Confessions and Creeds as a provisional edition.
- 4. The Committee decided to interpret its mandate to offer a linguistic revision as a re-translation of the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds.
- 5. The Committee dealt with a communication of the Deputies Church Book appointed by Synod 1985 of the Free Reformed Churches of Australia sent to the Standing Committee of the Book of Praise, and with a decision of Synod 1987 of these sister churches on the word “Christian”.
- 6. Although the mandate of the Committee does not speak about the linguistic revision of the Apostles’ Creed, the Committee was nevertheless of the opinion that it should not bypass the report of the deputies, sent to the Committee and the decision of Synod 1987 of our Australian sister churches with respect to the word “Christian” in art. IX.
- The Committee proposes to rescind the decision of Synod 1983, Art 70, II and of Synod, 1986 Art. 101 and to delete the word “Christian”.
- The Committee recommends to consistories of the Canadian Reformed Churches to place this item on the agenda of General Synod 1989.
- 7. Synod 1986 in its recommendation 2,g, decided “to see to the linguistic revision of the Nicene Creed . . . and to present a draft of this revision to the churches no later than one year before the next General Synod and to include this revision in the report to the next General Synod for the final (emphasis Synod) edition of the Book of Praise.”
- 8. The Committee became aware of the work done by the International Consultation of the English Texts (ICET) and anticipated a report of the Committee on Ecumenical Creeds for the International Conference of Reformed Churches (ICRC). In view of these developments since Synod 1986, the Committee did not expedite the mandate regarding the Nicene Creed but prefers new guidelines for the revision of this Creed.
- 9. The Committee has included in its report samples of the Ecumenical Creeds (Apostolic and Nicene) as prepared by the ICET for the purpose of facilitating the discussion on this matter. The Churches of Chilliwack, Orangeville and Burlington East treat these samples as actual proposals and submit comments to that effect.
- 10. The Committee proposes to adopt the new English text of the Athanasian Creed by J.N.D. Kelly, The Athanasian Creed (London: Adam & Charles Black, 1964), with changes in a few instances.
- 11. The Church of Cloverdale observes that
- a. the committee has submitted more than simply a linguistic revision of the Athanasian Creed as per mandate 1986;
- b. the committee gives no reasons for the more substantial changes in it’s (sic) proposed text. (Art. 9,32,38,39)
- 12. The Churches of Attercliffe, Burlington-East, Cloverdale, Hamilton draw attention to or question the following proposed changes in the articles of the Athanasian Creed:
- “the” glory and “the” majesty to “their” glory and “their” majesty (6) “uncreate” to “increate” (7)
- “incomprehensible” to “infinite” (9,12) “compelled” to “obliged” (19)
- the reversal of “unity in trinity” and “trinity in unity” (27) “reasonable” or “rational” soul to “human” soul (32) descended “into” hell to descended “to” hell (38)
- the absence of “on the third day” (38)
- ascended “into” heaven to ascended “to” heaven (39) the addition of the word “steadfastly” (42)
- 13. The Church of Hamilton observes that this creed in distinction from the other creeds does not end with the word “Amen”.
- 14. Since the Committee assumed the 1984 edition of the Book of Praise still to be provisional after Synod 1986, the Committee includes for proposals for changes in “the other prose parts of the Book of Praise, e.g. the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism and the Liturgical Forms and Prayers ”
- 15. The Committee proposes to authorize the Standing Committee to add Scripture references to the articles of the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort, the Liturgical Forms and the Prayers, and to make it clear in the Preface of the final edition that the added Scripture references do not form an integral part of the confessions.
- The Committee also proposes to have the Prefaces to the Confessions and the Creeds updated since they contain “obsolete material.”
- The Churches of Brampton, Cloverdale, Hamilton and Smithville have expressed support for these recommendations.
- 1. Among the entire mandate of the Committee a linguistic revision of the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed is the only revision called for. (Art. 118,D,2,g)
- 2. The target date set by Synod 1986 is Synod 1989. (Art. 118,D,5) By making various proposals to Synod 1989 the Committee gives the impression as if this target date does not have to be met, while the unfulfilled mandate concerning the Nicene Creed necessitates the prolongation of the revision process.
- 3. Synod 1986 observed that “except for the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed, our creeds and confessions are now presented in the more modern version provisionally adopted by the 1983 General Synod” (Art. 118,B,4), upon the basis of which Synod 1986 considers, “that the Committee did fulfill its mandate in this respect.” (Art. 118,C,1) In line with this, General Synod 1986, in Art. 91, dealt with Dr. J. Faber’s request concerning Art. 8 B.C. and Canons of Dort II,3,4 as a request for revision of an adopted version.
- 4. The Church of Cloverdale considers that
- a. the Committee has not delivered a linguistic revision of the Nicene Creed as per mandate of Synod 1986
- b. (except for) slight linguistic changes . . . the text as published in the 1984 edition of the Book of Praise has in principle been accepted by the churches.
- 5. A communication of a sister church is not the ecclesiastical way to re-open a discussion on a Creed adopted already.
- 6. The Churches of Chilliwack and Cloverdale consider that the Committee exceeded the mandate in its proposal of a linguistic revision of the Apostles’ Creed. Synod 1986 did not charge the Committee to see to any kind of revision of the Apostles’ Creed.
- The Church of Attercliffe considers that, “if we want to appeal this (i.e. the word “Christian”) we should as churches and members follow the churchorderly way”, a procedure of which the Committee seems to be well aware. (Report p.5)
- 7. The Churches of Attercliffe, Cloverdale and Hamilton consider that the Committee did not fulfill its mandate with respect to the Nicene Creed. Synod considers that committees appointed by Synods receive specific mandates in order to implement decisions made by Synods.
- 8. The consideration of the ICET’s ongoing academic research on ancient texts could prevent the churches from ever adopting a final version of the creeds, while Synod 1986 had decided to have the entire Book of Praise in general, and the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds in particular adopted at Synod 1989.
- 9. Although it could enhance the expression of ecumenicity among the churches involved with the ICRC in using the exact same wording in the Ecumenical Creeds (an ecumenicity which cannot be assumed among the denominations which accepted the work of the ICET), the matters of concern mentioned by the Committee regarding the Ecumenical Creeds are not weighty enough to deprive the churches of its long-awaited final edition of the entire Book of Praise.
- 10. The Committee does not offer an explanation for the changes it proposes with respect to the Athanasian Creed.
- Synod offers the following explanation:
- art. 6: the second part of the article expresses the trinity (hence the pronoun ‘their’), while the first part of this article expresses the unity (‘the’).
- art. 7: increate is closer to the Latin word “increatus” *
- art. 9: infinite is closer to the Latin word “inmensus”, Dutch: “onmetelijk” (Cf.art.12)
- art. 19: no explanation **
- art. 27: trinity in unity (art.3ff), unity in trinity (art.11ff)
- art. 32: “human” soul is a linguistic improvement (See art.18 B.C. for the same terminology) art. 38/39: the exact translation from the Latin
- art. 42: “steadfastly” is a translation from the word “firmiter”
- * Although “increate” is closer to the Latin, Synod considers uncreate as a better known English word.
- ** The word “compelled” is closer to the Latin word “compellimur” and corresponds better with the word “forbidden” in art. 20, and also denotes greater absoluteness than the word “obliged”.
- 11. The Church of Hamilton considers that for the sake of consistency with other creeds used during the public worship service the word “Amen” be recommended.
- 12. Although Synod 1986 did not state explicitly that the entire Book of Praise was adopted with the exception of the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds (Art.118,D,2,g), it implicitly shows that the Nicene and the Athanasian Creeds were the only parts to be linguistically revised. (See also Art.118,C,1)
- 13. Mandates given to committees should not be subjectively interpreted nor implemented but be carried out in keeping with the mandate given.
- 14. Since the Committee (incorrectly) assumed that the Book of Praise was still provisional, the proposed Scripture references and updated prefaces can still be included. The same can be done with the work submitted by the Committee for the linguistic revision of the Three Forms of Unity. (See Agenda B,2,a-f which will be dealt with in a separate report)
Synod judge that:
- 1. the Committee was incorrect to conclude that the edition adopted at Synod 1986 was still provisional in matters other than the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds.
- 2. the Committee should have complied with the mandate “to set the General Synod of 1989 as target date for the final edition of the Book of Praise.”
- 3. it is not within the province of a committee to invite churches to appeal matters to which the Committee received an unsatisfactory decision in the past.
- 4. the considerations of the Committee concerning the ICET and ICRC did not warrant the delay in the fulfillment of its mandate and as a result caused an unnecessary delay in the desired target date.
- 1. to express its appreciation for the great amount of work done, yet it is disappointed about the manner in which the Committee carried out its mandate as stipulated in Art.118 of the Acts of General Synod 1986.
- 2. to include the changes contained in the above considerations 10 & 11 in the final version of the Athanasian Creed and thus adopt this version in its entirety as final.
- 3. to charge the Committee to add the proposed Scripture references to the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort and to the Liturgical Forms and to update the Prefaces of the Confessions and Creeds.
- 4. to charge the Committee to complete its mandate of Synod 1986 regarding the Nicene Creed (i.e. to see to its linguistic revision).