10 Sep GS 2022 art 150
GS 2022 Article 150 – Appeal against GS 1980 and GS 1983 (Changes to Liturgical Forms)
- 1.1 Appeal of the Burlington-Fellowship CanRC (188.8.131.52).
- 1.1.1 Burlington-Fellowship requests: “that GS 2022 judge that the 1980 and 1983 General Synods erred in the way they made changes to the questions in the Forms for Baptism and for the Public Profession of Faith, and for GS 2022 to reassess the decisions of the 1986, 1989 and 1992 General Synod, where these Synods denied several appeals about these changes.”
- 1.1.2 Burlington Fellowship requests “this Synod to judge that the questions in the forms be changed back to the pre-1980 formulations.”
- 1.1.3 Burlington Fellowship requests that “If the Synod determines that the changes were legitimate because the meaning did not change…you do not ‘bind the conscience’ and that the churches be free to change the questions to the pre-1980 formulations since ‘the meaning is the same’.”.
- 2.1 The appeal was declared admissible.
- 3.1 To deny the appeal of the Burlington-Fellowship CanRC against GS 1980 and GS 1983 re changes to liturgical forms for Baptism and Public Profession of Faith;
- 3.2 To deny the request that the churches be free to change the questions to the pre-1980 formulations.
- 4.1 Re 3.1: Although Burlington-Fellowship (ground 1) is correct in asserting that we “do not pledge allegiance to any human document”, the only synod that mentions “allegiance” (GS 1986 Art. 144 Cons. 2), was simply taking over the same language that was used by the original appellants (cf. GS 1986 Art. 144 Obs. 5), where the appellant’s letter is summarized).
- 4.2 Re 3.1: Burlington-Fellowship is incorrect (ground 2) in stating that GS 1983 brought an internal contradiction into the forms when it asked, “How can a summary of the doctrine be the complete doctrine?”. In the Form for Infant Baptism (the only form in which the phrase “complete doctrine” appears), the question “do you confess that the doctrine of the Old and New Testament, summarized in the confessions and taught here in this Christian church, is the true and complete doctrine of salvation?”, does not ask whether you confess the doctrine of the Old and New Testament as summarized by the confessions and taught here in this Christian church, but whether you confess that the doctrine of the Old and New Testament is the true and complete doctrine of salvation. The phrase “summarized in the confessions and taught here in this Christian church” makes a declaration about the true and complete doctrine of salvation, namely that it is summarized in the confessions and that it is taught here in this Christian church.
- 4.3 Re 3.1: Burlington-Fellowship is incorrect (ground 3) in asserting that GS 1986 misquoted the forms to say “…. as is taught here in this Christian Church…” and that “the forms have never included this wording”. In the 1971 edition of the Book of Praise, the fourth question of the Form for Adult Baptism asked “Do you assent to all the articles of the Christian religion, as they are taught here in this Christian church from the Word of God…”.
- 4.4 Re 3.1: While it is true that Synods 1986 and 1989 did not explicitly respond to various references brought forward by the appellants (Bouwman, Ursinus, Synod 1923 GKN, P. Dathenus, R. Schilders, VanderHeyden, Elsevier, National Synod ’sGravenhage 1586, etc.), Burlington-Fellowship (grounds 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14) does not prove that these Synods did not even consider the references when formulating their responses or that a synod must even explicitly respond to every reference brought to its attention.
- 4.5 Re 3.1: Burlington-Fellowship (ground 5) is incorrect in asserting that GS 1986 judged that the questions have always referred to the Reformed confessions. What GS 1986 (Art. 145 Cons. 2) said was that “the questions asked never excluded the allegiance to all the confessions which are maintained by the Canadian Reformed Churches” (italics added).
- 4.6 Re 3.1: Burlington-Fellowship (ground 6) is correct that the Acts of Synod 1983 contain a typographical error. In article 145, consideration 2 (page 107) is obviously out of place. Consideration 5 on page 107 follows Consideration 4 on page 100 (starting with 4A, Form for the Baptism of Infants); therefore, GS 1986 was correct in observing that GS 1983 “considered under number 5 (p. 107) that “the use of the word ‘confessions’ instead of ‘creeds’ in the questions of the Forms for Baptism and Public Profession of Faith answers the question posed by brother W. VanderKamp.””. Misplaced numbers are not grounds for overturning previous decisions (especially considering the fact that in the physical cut and paste process for preparing documents for printing at that time, it is quite possible for this type of error to have occurred).
- 4.7 Re 3.1: The changes made by GS 1980 were the result of a general mandate given to the Standing Committee for the Publication of the Book of Praise (SCBP) by GS 1977, which included the mandate to “to re-translate the Liturgical Forms into present-day English” (Art. 60, Rec. 4). Although in dealing with the overture from CCO 5-20 on the questions in the liturgical forms, RSE 2020 (Art. 13 Cons. 7) acknowledged that there were errors made in how the churches have arrived at the current formulation (cf. Burlington-Fellowship, appeal, grounds 12, 13), GS 2019 (Art. 64 Cons. 4.4) also considered that “The fact that the decision of GS 1983 has served in the churches for more than 30 years is also significant. During all that time, the 1983 decision was honoured as settled and binding. Also for this reason, the request of Hamilton-Blessings should come in the form of an overture that follows the ecclesiastical route (see Cons. 4.2 and 4.3), seeking support. In this way, all the churches will have ample time and opportunity to interact with it through this filtering process.”
- 4.8 Re 3.1: Burlington-Fellowship (ground 15) is incorrect in its assertion that “Neither the ‘specific question’ nor the avoided ‘misunderstanding’ have been recorded in the Acts of Synods 1983, 1986, 1989 or 1992”. GS 1983 was responding to a question put forward by Br. W. VanderKamp (Art. 145 Obs. 8). These Synods were not responding to a particular misunderstanding but were seeking to avoid future misunderstandings.
- 4.9 Re 3.1: Burlington-Fellowship (ground 16) is incorrect in using a decision of GS 2019 (Art. 130 Cons. 4.1) to judge the actions of GS 1992, which had been convened 21 years prior. The decision of GS 2019 was based on the decision of GS 2013 (Art. 125 Obs. 4.5) that “All requests concerning other changes to the contents of the Book of Praise (e.g. translation of confessions, changes to metrical psalms, rewording and rhyming of psalms and hymns, changes to liturgical forms) need to arise out of the churches in the ecclesiastical way, namely from consistory to classis to regional synod and general synod”.
- 4.10 Re 3.2: The request of Burlington-Fellowship presumes that in denying their appeal, GS 2022 has affirmed “that the changes were legitimate because the meaning did not change”. GS 2022 has made no judgment in this regard, and in doing so, leaves room for a church to overture a future general synod to make the desired change to the liturgical forms.