GS 1992 art 73

GS 1992 ARTICLE 73Address of Rev. P.G. Feenstra

The chairman gives Rev. P.G. Feenstra the opportunity to respond to the address of Rev. S. Phillips, fraternal delegate of the OPC. He speaks the following words:

Rev. Stephen Phillips, I have been asked to speak to you on behalf of Synod Lincoln 1992. We thank you for coming to us and speaking to us on behalf of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Tonight we have decided to continue our relationship with you. We pray that this decision may be to our mutual benefit and upbuilding. During the past years you have shown willingness to stand up for the truth of God’s Word. Furthermore, you have illustrated a desire to address the matters we have placed before you as concerns. The contact and discussion we have had with you on a committee level has been open, honest, straightforward and brotherly.

I would like to interact with a few comments you made last evening. Rev. Phillips, you mentioned the decision made by the 59th General Assembly regarding your relation with the CRC. You informed us that the Committee on Ecumenicity and InterChurch Relations has been instructed “to review the propriety of the OPC’s continued fraternal relations with that body.” We are grateful that you take this matter seriously. To say it in the words of Larry Wilson who wrote about this decision in your magazine New Horizons: “Unity with one another also involves responsibility for one another.” A federation of true churches should not allow unfaithfulness in its own ranks or in its contacts with other churches. We, therefore, believe the strong words of warning your delegate spoke to the CRC Synod were in place.

We have had contact with you for a number of years. Fraternal delegates have addressed our respective assemblies and we have had joint committee meetings. Yet something is lacking. There hasn’t been any pulpit exchange, intercommunion, or joint activity on a local level.

In 1977 we established a relationship of “temporary ecclesiastical contact” with you. In 1980 your delegate to Synod Smithville commented that such a relationship raises the question, “Where do we go from here?” That’s why we, at this Synod had to grapple with and answer the questions “How far have we come?” and “How far can we go?” These concerns are living in many of our churches. We hope that the course we set out on this evening may bring us further.

In your address you referred to the decision made at the 58th General Assembly regarding the establishment of a committee to study the question of fencing of the Lord’s Supper: this is a source of encouragement. Last night, you cautioned us not to be under any delusions that the study will necessarily lead to change in the OPC’s stance on this matter. Yet we hope that you will look at what we have said to you before: your present practice regarding guests at the Lord’s Supper runs contrary to your own Standards and Form of Government. This is not simply a practical but a confessional matter. May your committee be given the wisdom and insight to deal with this matter in a biblical manner.

Criticism of each other should not be construed as mistrust. Picking at flaws isn’t helpful and neither would it be constructive to “bark” at you. We value you, and the relation we have with you too highly for that.

In our contact with you our motive is not to have it our way or to get what we want but to be faithful and obedient to the command of Christ. We are not a federation of perfect people. Far from it. Please point out our faults and errors. It can only be to our benefit. Forgive us if we have come across as being haughty and set in our ways. It is our sincere desire to be faithful to the Lord, to His Word and to Ecumenical Creeds and Reformed Confessions which summarize what the Bible teaches. To continue walking together we need to pull in one and the same direction in doctrine and practice. What we desire is full ecclesiastical fellowship built upon a solidly biblical and confessional basis.

Rev. Phillips, may our contact be built on the apostolic foundation established by Christ and may the Spirit of the Lord guide us into all the truth and bind us together. Thank you.