GS 2001 art 72

GS 2001 Article 72Subscription Form

Committee 3 presented its proposal on the Subscription Form. The following was adopted:

1. Material

  • 1.1. Overture Regional Synod East.
  • 1.2. Overture Regional Synod West.

2. Admissibility

  • 2.1. The two overtures are declared admissible.

3. Observations

  • 3.1. Both Regional Synod East and West have presented overtures concerning the adoption of standard subscription forms to be used in the churches.
  • 3.2. Regional Synod East presents an overture:
    • 3.2.1. To establish a committee to propose standardized subscription forms for the major and minor assemblies, as well as for the professors of theology, or to mandate the Standing Committee for the publication of the Book of Praise to propose such forms in consultation with the churches for adoption by General Synod.
    • 3.2.2. To publish these forms in the Book of Praise.
      • Scriptural grounds
      • Scripture frequently calls us to hold fast to the pure doctrine of God’s Word, and guard it (2 Thess. 2:15; 2 Tim 1:13-14;2 Tim 2:2;4:3;Tit 1:9;2:1;Heb 10:23).
      • Church political grounds.
      • Article 26 of the adopted Church Order states that “all ministers of the Word, elders, deacons, and professors of theology” shall subscribe to the Confessions of the Canadian Reformed Churches by signing the form(s) adopted for that purpose.”  This implies that the churches of the federation have agreed to ensure that confessional subscription is in place in accordance with an adopted form. The duty to ensure that this “adopted order is being observed and maintained in every respect” (CO Article 46) belongs to the churches as a whole (CO Article 44). This is a matter in common to all the churches (CO Article 30) by virtue of the fact that such a form is required by the Church Order (art. 26). The common confession of the truth of Scripture is foundational to our unity as local churches in the federation. A commonly adopted Form of Subscription will serve this unity of faith.
      • Historical.
      • The Synod of Dort 1618-19 adopted a standardized Form of Subscription for use in the local churches. The Reformed churches in The Netherlands have continued to use standardized forms for office bearers after the synod of Dort (1618-19).
      • Practical.
      • It ensures that local Canadian Reformed Churches are uniform in practice with respect to their observance of CO Article 26. It promotes greater awareness and understanding of subscription to the confession of the churches and it gives greater opportunity for office bearers, students, and candidates to study the subscription form prior to signing. Since other forms used in our churches are standardized, there is good reason that local churches should have a form with the same wording.
  • 3.3. Regional Synod West presents an overture:
    • 3.3.1. To adopt a standardized Form of Subscription, with following grounds.
      • CO Article 26 specifies that all officers “shall subscribe to the confessions of the Canadian Reformed Churches by signing the form(s) adopted for that purpose.” No Synod of the Canadian Reformed Churches has ever adopted such a form to ensure consistency among the member churches of the federation.
      • To protect and promote as much as possible the unity among the churches, it is important that there be uniformity in Subscription Form so all are bound by exactly the same promises.
      • In our efforts to come to unity with other Reformed churches, it is important to be able to show that all the churches in the federation live by the same promises.
      • Regional Synod West submitted a proposed form for use in the churches with its submission.

4. Considerations

  • 4.1. The arguments presented in the overtures demonstrate that it is desirable for the churches to use identical forms for subscription.
  • 4.2. Although consistories/councils and classes already have their own adopted forms, the differences that have crept in over the years make it desirable to bring more uniformity in the manner in which the office bearers subscribe to the confessions of the Canadian Reformed Churches (CO Article 26).
  • 4.3. Since all the churches in the federation via the Regional Synods have expressed a desire for a standardized subscription forms, this is a matter that they have in common.

5. Recommendations

Synod decide:

  • 5.1. To instruct the Standing Committee for the Book of Praise to prepare standardized subscription forms to be used by local councils/consistories, classes, and for the professors of theology.
  • 5.2. To report to the churches with these recommendations at least six months prior to the next general synod.

Synod broke for lunch.