GS 2007 art 143

GS 2007 Article 143 – Reformed Churches in The Netherlands – Restored (GKH)

The advisory committee presented its second proposal:

1.      Material

  • 1.1     CRCA Report 5, section 5.6 re GKH and Addendum (pp. 94-95)
  • 1.2     Letter from Fergus North
  • 1.3     Letter from the GKH (March 19, 2007) with an attached article
  • 1.4     Email from the GKH (May 7, 2007) with an attachment containing English translation from their recent Acts of Synod Marienberg

2.      Admissibility

With respect to the submissions from the GKH, synod can admit the letter as it takes issues with the CRCA Report regarding itself. It notes that the appended copy of “Do not take words away from this book of prophecy,” had been previously received by the CRCA which interacted with it (see the Addendum to the report). With respect to the email, it simply is information, not requiring action. As such, it can be “received for information.”

3.      Observations

  • 3.1     The report of the CRCA and the Addendum, which are included in the Appendices in the Acts, serve as Observations.
  • 3.2     The CRCA recommends that Synod 2007:
    • 3.2.1    [] Express sadness over the schism in the GKN which began in 2003.
    • 3.2.2    [] Urge the federation to pray for the restoration of unity between the GKH and
    • GKN.
    • 3.2.3    [] Not accept the GKH request to acknowledge these churches as sister churches.
    • 3.2.4    [] Mandate the CRCA to communicate, and to the Deputies BBK of the GKH and maintain contact with them.
  • 3.3     Fergus North believes the committee has not given sufficient proof for the statement made in 5.6.6, “we must therefore reject the allegations of the GKH, and express regret that unproven accusation has been made and illegitimate actions have been taken with respect to the GKN.” 3.4 The letter from the GKH dated March 19, 2007 interacts with the CRCA Report and Addendum. It explains that no delegate was invited to their synod because their deputies had no authorization to do so. With respect to the CRCA’s comments, they state that the CRCA has “drawn conclusions without indicating anything on which it is founded.” They feel the GKN brochure ‘Not Beyond What is Written’ “underexposes the facts or at times facts are not even mentioned.” They also feel the CRCA wrongly gives the impression that the separation was over liturgical issues and provides no factual basis for this. They indicate that the deformation is visible to all who take the time to see publications in the press and church magazines. It is their conclusion that “the Word, the Sacraments and church discipline were no longer safe in the GKN.”
  • 3.5 From the submitted translation of the Acts of Synod Marienberg it can be gathered that the issues of concern are as follows: Women’s voting rights; New Bible Translation; Salutation and Benediction; Ordinarium; Marriage Form; Hymns; Articles 65 and 67 of the (Dutch) Church Order; Relationship with Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerken, Nederlandse Gereformeerde Kerken, PCEA; Divorce; Fourth Commandment. The GKH, seeing itself as the lawful continuation of the GKN, rescinded a series of decisions about these matters made by Synods Ommen 1993 through to Zuidhorn 2002.

4.      Consideration

  • 4.1     It is true that the CRCA does not give details in their Report leading to their conclusions. However, all the issues raised by the GKH, as listed at 3.5, have had the attention of the CRCA over the years. The CRCA has been aware of the critiques of the decisions and studied them (see Acts of previous synods and the most recent CRCA Report). They have been able to conclude that the GKN has remained faithful. The documents provided by the GKH did not lead the CRCA to change their assessment as presented in their Report (see Addendum). In this respect, it is good to refer to the comment of the CRCA in which they express concern that “the GKH is in danger of not carefully examining what has actually been decided by GKN Synod” (p. 66).
  • 4.2     The GKH clearly indicates that they consider the GKN a false church. This shows in the way that they consider themselves the “lawful continuation of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands” (Report 5.6.4). Further, they are unwilling to consider reconciliation unless the GKN would see “the need to return to the Scriptures, confession and Church Order” (Report 5.6.5). For this reason, synod agrees with the CRCA when it speaks of the separation that occurred as “schism.” The CRCA should be instructed to admonish the GKH in a brotherly manner on this matter as this action is not scripturally valid according to Belgic Confession Article 28 where we confess that “all therefore who draw away from the church or fail to join it act contrary to the ordinance of God.” At the same time, the CRCA should continue to look for ways to facilitate reconciliation.

5.      Recommendation

Synod decide:

  • 5.1     To express sadness over the separation in the GKN that began in 2003.
  • 5.2     Not to accept the GKH’s request to acknowledge these churches as sister churches.
  • 5.3     To urge the churches to pray for the restoration of unity between the GKH and GKN.
  • 5.4     To mandate the CRCA:
    • 5.4.1    To admonish the GKH in a brotherly manner for its unlawful separation as outlined in Consideration 4.2.
    • 5.4.2    To communicate 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 to the Deputies BBK of the GKH and continue to seek ways to facilitate reconciliation between the GKH and GKN.