23 Jul GS 2013 art 62
GS 2013 Article 62 – Liberated Reformed Church at Abbotsford
Committee 5 presents its proposal. With a minor change, this was the result:
Letter from the Liberated Reformed Church at Abbotsford, dated Feb. 28, 2013 (8.1.24)
- 2.1. The churches of the Canadian Reformed federation set the agenda for general synod. We also receive correspondence from churches with whom we are in Ecclesiastical Fellowship. The letter from the Liberated Reformed Church at Abbotsford (made up almost entirely of persons who were once Canadian Reformed) fulfills neither criteria and so Synod is under no obligation to admit this letter.
- 2.2. This is, however, the first time the LRCA addresses a Canadian Reformed general synod. Their departure from our midst is recent and the situation is in flux. Moreover, this letter contains “an urgent call to reform the church and to return it to its confessional basis as summarized in the Three Forms of Unity.” The human heart is inclined to pass off calls to repentance and Scripture shows that the Lord repeatedly held it against His people when they did so. A posture of receptivity and humility is therefore fitting in the face of a call to reform. For these reasons, at this time, General Synod deems it fitting to admit this letter and give an appropriate response.
- 3.1. The Liberated Reformed Church at Abbotsford sees evidence of deformation in the Canadian Reformed Churches, with the root being decisions taken at general synod on the subject of inter-church relations. Their letter lists the decisions taken over the span of the last 40 years in relation to OPC, FCS, PCK, ICRC, RCUS, URCNA, ERQ, NAPARC and the fact that the “lawful secession by De Gereformeerde Kerken (Hersteld)” was termed “schismatic.”
- 3.2. The LRCA claims that appeals against any of these decisions were all denied which in turn has led to corruption in the preaching, in the administration of the sacraments and in the exercise of church discipline.
- 4.1. In recent years, several current members of the LRCA, while they were still members of a Canadian Reformed Church, have appealed Canadian Reformed decisions and actions on inter-church relations to multiple major assemblies. These decisions have never been proven to be in conflict with Scripture, the Reformed confessions, or the Church Order.
- 4.2. The LRCA has sent letters to all the Canadian Reformed Churches to explain why they seceded from the Canadian Reformed Churches. From the fact that no Canadian Reformed Church has directed communication to major assemblies on behalf of the LRCA, it is evident that no church was convinced that their arguments for seceding were valid.
- 4.3. In her internal conduct as well as in her inter-church relations, the Canadian Reformed Churches have reflected the thinking of John Calvin penned more than 400 years ago (Institutes, IV.1.12): “The pure ministry of the Word and pure mode of celebrating the sacraments are, as we say, sufficient pledge and guarantee that we may safely embrace as church any society in which both these marks exist. The principle extends to the point that we must not reject it so long as it retains them, even if it otherwise swarms with many faults. What is more, some fault may creep into the administration of either doctrine or sacraments, but this ought not to estrange us from communion with the church. For not all the articles of true doctrine are of the same sort. Some are so necessary to know that they should be certain and unquestioned by all men as the proper principles of religion. Such are: God is one; Christ is God and the Son of God; our salvation rests in God’s mercy; and the like. Among the churches there are other articles of doctrine disputed which still do not break the unity of faith. Suppose that one church believes – short of unbridled contention and opinionated stubbornness- that souls upon leaving bodies fly to heaven; while another, not daring to define the place, is convinced nevertheless that they live to the Lord. What churches would disagree on this one point? Here are the apostle’s words: ‘Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be of the same mind; and if you be differently minded in anything, God shall reveal this also to you’ (Philippians 3:15). Does this not sufficiently indicate that a difference of opinion over these nonessential matters should in no wise be the basis of schism among Christians? First and foremost, we should agree on all points. But since all men are somewhat beclouded with ignorance, either we must leave no church remaining, or we must condone delusion in those matters which can go unknown without harm to the sum of religion and without loss of salvation.
- But here I would not support even the slightest errors with the thought of fostering them through flattery and connivance. But I say we must not thoughtlessly forsake the church because of any petty dissensions. For in it alone is kept safe and uncorrupted that doctrine in which piety stands sound and the use of the sacraments ordained by the Lord is guarded. In the meantime, if we try to correct what displeases us, we do so out of duty. Paul’s statement applies to this: ‘If a better revelation is made to another sitting by, let the first be silent’ (1 Corinthians 14:30). From this it is clear that every member of the church is charged with the responsibility of public edification according to the measure of his grace, provided he perform it decently and in order. That is, we are neither to renounce the communion of the church nor, remaining in it, to disturb its peace and duly ordered discipline.”
- 4.4. The LRCA and its members should bear these words of Calvin in mind and return to their brothers and sisters in the Canadian Reformed Churches.
That Synod decide to send this article as reply to the Liberated Reformed Church at Abbotsford.
A new proposal from the floor was put forward with this result:
Letter from the Liberated Reformed Church at Abbotsford (LRCA), dated Feb. 28, 2013 (8.1.24)
2. Observations re: Admissibility:
- 2.1. The LRCA addresses Synod Carman 2013 out of a deep concern over “the deformation and apostasy that is growing in the Canadian Reformed Churches” which is rooted in the decisions of general synod dealing with inter-church relations. The LRCA conveys its “urgent call to reform the church and to return to its confessional basis as summarized in The Three Forms of Unity.”
- 2.2. The churches of the Canadian Reformed federation set the agenda for general synod. No church has asked us to address this issue. Synod also accepts correspondence received from churches with whom we are in Ecclesiastical Fellowship. The letter from the LRCA does not fulfil either criterion.
ThatSynod decide to declare the letter from the LRCA inadmissible.