GS 2001 art 70

GS 2001 Article 70Appeals br. and sr. B. Van de Burgt

Committee 4 presented its proposal on the appeals from br. and sr. B .Van de Burgt.

The following was adopted:

1. Material

Appeals from br. and sr. B. Van de Burgt.

2. Admissibility

Synod declares these appeals admissible in accordance with CO Article 31.

3. Observations

  • 3.1. The appellants asked Regional Synod Dec. 5, 2000 to judge various matters concerning Scripture and confession with respect to wine at the Lord’s supper. They had previously appealed to Classis Pacific East of March 30-31, 2000 concerning various statements that the Chilliwack consistory made regarding this matter.
  • 3.2. The appellants make three appeals. In the first place they ask Synod to judge:
    • • 1.That Regional Synod West – Dec. 5, 2000 erred in denying our first request for judgement.
    • • 2. Christ instituted wine (not unfermentable grape juice) as the drink of His supper.
    • • 3.To use grape juice is inconsistent with what we confess, and thus is contradictory. (Our subscription form speaks of office bearers that promote contradictory things in relation to the confessions.) The appellants also state, “Article 35 of the Belgic Confession is the heart of our appeal.”
  • 3.3. In the second place they ask Synod to judge that:
    • • 1. Regional Synod West – Dec. 5, 2000 erred in denying our request ‘the use of wine (not grape juice) is prescribed since the Lord commands “Do this in remembrance of Me” and because we confess, as a mark of the true church, in Art. 29 of the Belgic Confession “It maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ has instituted them,” in relation to Art. 35’s B.C. statement “… Christ instituted… wine as a sacrament of His blood.’” since:
      • a) it is only through exegesis that the truth of God’s Word is revealed.
      • b) All our confessions and forms speak about the drink of the Lord’s supper as wine.
    • • 2.Regional Synod West – Dec.5,2000 is not justified in considering ‘It is impossible to declare that fermented wine is the prescribed drink of the Lord’s supper’ since:
      • a) no reasons were given to qualify this statement.
      • b) our exegesis was not refuted.
  • 3.4. In the third place they ask Synod to judge that Regional Synod West December 5, 2000 erred in declaring their appeal re individual cups inadmissible. Regional Synod had considered that “since the available material does not provide us with further details concerning interaction between brother and sister Van de Burgt and the consistory of Chilliwack, it is impossible to decide whether they should appeal to a classis concerning the decision of their consistory or to Regional Synod concerning the decision of classis.”  They also ask General Synod to judge the matters that they had asked Regional Synod to judge.
  • 3.5. Br. Van de Burgt indicates that he is an elder in the consistory of Chilliwack and that he has addressed this point with his consistory (Appeal 3,point 5).

4. Considerations

  • Re: Appeals 1&2
  • 4.1. The first and second appeal deal with the same matter, namely, the use of wine at the Lord’s supper.
  • 4.2. Regional Synod rightly considered that it was not its task to judge the validity of various exegetical statements made by an appellant, but to deal with matters where the appellant has shown that the minor assemblies have wronged him.
  • 4.3. It is agreed by the appellants, the consistory, Classis and Regional Synod that wine is the common drink used at the Lord’s supper. This is evident from the following documents:
    • 4.3.1. The consistory announcement in the bulletin of Feb 28,1999.
    • 4.3.2. The decision of Classis Pacific East March 30-31, 1999, in which it is acknowledged that Article 35 does use the word “wine.”
    • 4.3.3. The decision of Regional Synod East Dec. 5, 2000, which stated, “it is generally accepted that the Lord Jesus Christ used fermented wine at the institution of the Lord’s supper.”
  • 4.4. Making grape juice available instead of wine is an exception and not the norm. The appellants agree that special arrangements can be made as a solution to an individual problem (see the letter of the appellants to the consistory dated March 1,1999).
  • 4.5. With respect to the Lord’s supper the confessions clearly and consistently speak about “wine.”   In Article 35 BC we confess “Christ has instituted earthly and visible bread as a sacrament of His body and wine as a sacrament of His blood.”  Lord’s Day 29 also speaks of “bread and wine”. Also within the Reformed tradition, the Form for the Celebration of the Lord’s supper speaks about wine (cf.“…one wine is pressed out of many grapes” and “when He will drink the wine new with us in the kingdom of His Father”).
  • Re: Appeal 3
  • 4.6. In their appeal to General Synod br. and sr. Van de Burgt give more information than they did to Regional Synod, namely, that the brother is an elder and he has addressed his consistory on this matter.
  • 4.7. The appellants were correct that they have the right to appeal the decision of a minor assembly to a major ecclesiastical assembly.
  • 4.8. General Synod cannot judge the matters that br. and sr. Van de Burgt asked Regional Synod to judge because “a major assembly shall deal with those matters only which could not be finished in the minor assembly…” (CO Article 30).

5. Recommendations

Synod decide that:

  • 5.1. Regional Synod was correct in not judging the validity of various exegetical statements.
  • 5.2. Regional Synod was incorrect in not interacting more closely with the clear and consistent language of our confessions, which indicate that the norm is to use wine at the Lord’s supper.
  • 5.3. Based on the information that Regional Synod had at that time, it did not err when it declared the appeal re: individual cups of br. and sr. Van de Burgt inadmissible.

Rev. E. Kampen abstained from voting.