ARTICLE 56: Administration of Sacraments
The sacraments shall be administered only under the authority of the consistory, in a public worship service, by a minister of the Word, with the use of the adopted forms.
The sacraments shall be administered only under the authority of the consistory, in a public worship service, by a minister of the Word, with the use of the adopted forms.
3.3. Concerns about content:
3.3.1 Hamilton has provided meaningful responses to the grounds used by Smithers 2007 to rescind Article 115 of the Acts of Synod Chatham 2004. It is clear that the practical concerns raised by several churches in regard to inserting the Apostles’ Creed into the baptismal forms are not insurmountable. However, Hamilton has not given convincing reasons as to why the place of public profession of faith in the worship service should not be left to the discretion of the churches. Given that several churches expressed strong discomfort to Synod 2007 with regard to linking profession of faith with baptism, it would not be wise to make this change mandatory by including it in the baptismal forms. Local churches are free to make this change at their own discretion.
That Synod decide to deny the appeal of the church at Hamilton-Cornerstone.
3.1 The letters from the churches were all submitted as interaction with the report of the Standing Committee of the Book of Praise. However, the letter from Guelph interacts with a decision of Synod Chatham, Art. 115. The church at Carman West incorrectly assumes that the SCBP itself proposes to insert the Apostles’ Creed into the baptismal forms. Its objections, however, are in line with those of Guelph and ought to be considered with it. The church at Smithville objects to the proposal of the committee about where to insert the Apostles’ Creed in the baptismal forms. After giving its grounds it contends that the proposed addition does nothing to enhance the form. Hence its objections are also in line with those of the church at Guelph and ought to be considered with it.
3.2 The concerns raised by Guelph in Observations 2.2.1 and by Smithville in 22.214.171.124 merit consideration, particularly the following:
3.2.1 The orders of worship are not mandatory but suggested: therefore it should be left in the discretion of the churches where to place the profession of faith.
3.2.2 The profession of faith is already part of our liturgy, and as such there already is adequate “connection” between baptism and the congregational profession of faith in the Triune God.
3.2.3 Synod Chatham did not prove that the 1563 form is more scriptural than our present form. Therefore to depart from our current forms would be unwise.
3.2.4 The fact that the Apostles’ Creed is part of the Form for the Lord’s Supper does not necessarily mean that it should be included in the baptismal forms.
3.2.5 To incorporate the Apostles’ Creed in the baptismal forms would lead to undue repetition.
3.3 The Apostles’ Creed is not found in the baptismal forms of our sister churches. This element of catholicity should be kept in mind.
4.1 To instruct the Standing Committee for the Publication of the Book of Praise not to include the Apostles’ Creed in the baptismal forms.
2.5 Introduction to the Form for Public Profession of Faith (13.4)
2.5.1 The committee notes that the Form for the Baptism of Adults has an introductory explanation and that this form contains a section “Public Profession of Faith” for use by those who are baptized as adults. The Form for Public Profession of Faith, however, has no such introduction. The committee recommends that in order to make it clear that this form is intended only for those that were baptized as infants, the following introduction be adopted to the Form for the Public Profession of Faith: (Prior to admission to the Lord’s Supper, those who were baptized as infants must be thoroughly instructed in the Christian doctrine. After having confessed this doctrine before the elders, they may publicly profess their faith, for which the following form shall be used.)
2.5.2 The church at Fergus Maranatha says it has no objections to these introductions, but suggests that to be consistent it should be done for all forms.
2.5.3 The church at Fergus North does not agree with the addition of the introduction since:
126.96.36.199 The form itself has a long history of use in the churches.
188.8.131.52 None of the churches have requested such an introduction.
184.108.40.206 The form itself refers to the prior baptism form. Hence there is no reason to add an introduction to make this issue more clear.
220.127.116.11 If the words of the introduction are strictly enforced, there would be no opportunity for those who are mentally handicapped to profess their faith since many of them cannot be “thoroughly instructed in the Christian doctrine” but may still be able to profess a simple and childlike faith in Christ.
3.7 re 2.5 – Fergus North and Fergus Maranatha have valid points.
4.8 To not adopt the proposal of the committee in 2.5.1.
3.2. Forms for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper:
3.2.1. While the proposal of the SCBP to change “He declared saying …” to “He declared …” is an acceptable change, the broader change proposed by the church at Burlington-Ebenezer (“He taught us to understand that …” and then change the following section of the form from the first person to the third person) is a better direction. Burlington-Ebenezer is correct: when written in the first person, this section of the form gives the impression that this is a word which the Lord spoke directly, which it is not. With this change the content (conveying the assurance we receive from the Lord) would not be lost, while the form gains a more accurate presentation in this section. The SCBP should be instructed to make a change and take into consideration the rewording suggested by Burlington-Ebenezer.
3.2.2. The proposal of the SCBP to remove the parenthetical “For the Second Service” at the head of the Abbreviated Form for the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper does not take into consideration the reasoning of Synod Smithville 1980. Burlington-Ebenezer correctly points out that removing the subtitle “For the Second Service” would present the Abbreviated Form as an alternative or replacement of the original form; the Abbreviated Form is not meant to be such, according to Synod Smithville 1980. If the SCBP wishes to pursue this further and is not convinced by this line of reasoning, it needs to interact with the decision of Synod Smithville 1980 (or a church should take up the way of appealing the decision of that Synod).
3.2.3. The recommendation of the SCBP to add a heading/section “Profession of Faith” in the Abbreviated Form for the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper does not come with any rationale.
4.2. Forms for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper:
4.2.1. To approve the proposal of the church at Burlington-Ebenezer regarding the rewording of a part of the Assurance section of the form and to instruct the SCBP to make the necessary changes interacting with the suggestion of Burlington-Ebenezer (18.104.22.168.3).
4.2.2. Not to adopt the recommendation of the SCBP to remove the words “For the Second Service” from the Abbreviated Form.
4.2.3. Not to adopt the recommendation of the SCBP to add a heading/section “Profession of Faith” to the Abbreviated Form.
2.4 Proposed changes to the Lord’s Supper form (13.3 of report):
2.4.1 Regarding the paragraph, “From the beginning… eternally. By His perfect obedience He has fulfilled for us all the righteousness of God’s law. He did so especially when the weight of our sins and the wrath of God pressed out of Him the bloody sweat in the Garden of Gethsemane”:
22.214.171.124 the committee opines that in the phrase “fulfilled for us all” the word “all” refers to the righteousness of God’s law and should not be read as “us all.” The committee recommends that synod adopt the following as a better formulation: “He has for us fulfilled all the righteousness of God’s law.”
126.96.36.199 London and Carman West point out that the committee’s proposed phrasing “He has for us fulfilled all the righteousness of God’s law” has already been incorporated in the latest edition of the Book of Praise. Carman West suggests either “He has fulfilled all the righteousness of God’s law for us” or “He has fulfilled for us all the righteousness of God’s law.”
2.4.2 Regarding the phrase “He did so especially when the weight…”:
188.8.131.52 The committee opines that this phrase gives the wrong impression that ‘fulfilling the righteousness of God’s law’ is limited to Christ’s suffering. The committee therefore recommends that synod adopt the following formulation: “We remember in particular that the weight of our sins and the wrath of God pressed out of Him His sweat like drops of blood falling to the ground in the Garden of Gethsemane.”
184.108.40.206 Carman West opines that the phraseology “the weight of our sins and the wrath of God” sounds as if there are two distinct elements involved in the burden that Christ bore. The connection could be made stronger by this phraseology: “We remember in particular that the weight of the wrath of God caused by our sins pressed out of Him…” This would be consistent with Answer 17 of the Heidelberg Catechism which speaks of “the burden of God’s wrath,” and with Answer 37 which indicates that “Christ bore in body and soul the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race.”
2.4.3 Regarding the adverb “innocently”: The committee opines that in the statement, “He was innocently condemned to death that we might be acquitted at the judgment seat of God,” the adverbial form “innocently” is not correct. The committee recommends that synod adopt the following solution as this best captures the original meaning: “Though innocent, He was condemned to death that we might be acquitted at the judgment seat of God.”
2.4.4 Regarding the structure of the paragraphs:
220.127.116.11 The committee reports that while studying this section it was also discovered that where it reads (top of p. 597): “First of all, let us…” it is not anywhere followed by “Secondly” to complete the thought. In the original German version it essentially reads as follows: “We are to remember in the following manner first of all.” In this way it can exist without a “secondly.” This can best be corrected by altering the paragraph structure slightly as follows: “(Par.1) Let us now consider… (Par.2) First of all, let us fully trust… (Par.3) We remember in particular that the weight…” The committee recommends that synod adopt the above paragraph restructuring.
18.104.22.168 London feels that the committee’s analysis is wrong. The point is not that there needs to be a “secondly” to complete the thought, but that the “first of all” is to direct our primary focus on the promises of the Old Testament, that Christ is the fulfilment of those promises, and that we are to have complete trust in that. The final paragraph deals with the suffering of Christ, and should not be truncated, with part placed in the second paragraph, and the rest in the final paragraph. The current division is correct: the one paragraph describes how Christ fulfilled the Old Testament promises and became true man; the other paragraph describes the nature and extent of Christ’s sufferings.
2.4.5 Regarding the section on Assurance:
22.214.171.124 The committee states that this section has a problematic expression in that the words “and He declared, saying” indicate that what follows is a literal quote of the Lord Jesus when in fact it is not. The committee suggests that if the statements from the gospel of Matthew are inserted this difficulty is avoided. The committee therefore recommends to adopt the reworked formulation of the section on Assurance as follows: “In order that we might firmly believe that we belong to this covenant of grace, the Lord Jesus Christ instituted the holy supper during His last Passover. While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” That means: As often as you eat this bread and drink from this cup, you are reminded and assured of My hearty love and faithfulness toward you.”
126.96.36.199.2 To add the marginal reference of Mt 26:26-28.
188.8.131.52 Fergus North agrees that the current wording in the section on Assurance is problematic, but opines that the proposed change (184.108.40.206) goes too far in that it virtually repeats the earlier section on the institution of the Lord’s Supper. The church at Fergus North suggests the following (changed wording in italics): “In order that we might firmly believe that we belong to this covenant of grace, the Lord Jesus Christ during His last Passover instituted the holy supper. He gave the bread and the cup to His disciples in remembrance of Him, so that as often as you eat this bread and drink from this cup, you are reminded and assured of His hearty love and faithfulness toward you…”(change the rest of the first person pronouns in this section to the third person pronoun in order that people understand that this is not a scriptural quote from the Lord).
3.3 re 2.4.2 – Carman West gives a good recommendation.
3.4 re 2.4.3 – The committee’s proposal is sound.
3.5 re 2.4.4 – As the church at London says, the current division is correct: the one paragraph describes how Christ fulfilled the Old Testament promises and became true man; the other paragraph describes the nature and extent of Christ’s sufferings.
3.6 re 2.4.5 – the committee’s phraseology is less awkward and more suitable than that of Fergus North; yet neither are entirely satisfactory.
4.3 To adopt the proposal of the committee in 220.127.116.11.
4.4 To adopt the proposal of Carman West in 18.104.22.168.
4.5 To adopt the proposal of the committee in 2.4.3.
4.6 To not adopt the proposal of the committee in 22.214.171.124.
4.7 To not adopt the proposal of the committee in 126.96.36.199.1.
2.6 Regional Synod West (November 14, 2006) considered:
2.6.1 It is not the numbers of attendees nor the venue that constitutes a “public worship service,” but the presence of office bearers together with congregation members (the ‘form of the church’).
2.6.2 The current recognition of the form of the church in multiple places can by extension be applied to extraordinary circumstances in the congregation, in the sense that the consistory could have a worship service for those who cannot come to the normal gathering. In principle this does not differ from a consistory calling the congregation together at two times (e.g., because the building is too small, necessitating two services back to back) or calling the congregation together at two locations (e.g., because members live too far apart).
2.6.3 Consistories are responsible for the pastoral care of the members. If in consistory’s judgment a shut-in member requires the encouragement contained in the Lord’s Supper, consistory ought to do what it can to provide that encouragement.
2.6.4 While the administration of the Lord’s Supper does belong to the churches in common, it remains debatable whether or not a revision of certain Church Order articles is needed.
2.6.5 Even if an alteration to the Church Order is not deemed necessary, a decision on the topic by synod may be beneficial for the churches.
3.1 Synod takes note of the observations of Regional Synod West 2006 and agrees with the first four considerations of Regional Synod West which means that there is no need for a revision of the Church Order to make the administration of the Lord’s Supper to shut-ins possible.
4.1 There is no need to make special provisions in the Church Order for the administration of the Lord’s Supper to shut-ins.
3.1 By agreeing to the Considerations 2.6.1 – 2.6.4 of RSW 2006 in coming to its decision in Article 96, Synod Smithers 2007 did make a decision on this topic. Thus, it is not necessary to reconsider Article 96, or to appoint a study committee to prepare a recommendation on the matter.
3.2 The reasoning of RSW 2006, as taken over by Synod Smithers 2007 and disputed by Burlington- Ebenezer, namely, that it isn’t the place that determines a public worship service; it isn’t the number of people which determines a public worship service, but the presence of office bearers and members; that therefore consistory could have a public worship service in a separate place for those who cannot come to the normal gathering (“the form of the church”); and that therefore the administration of the Lord’s Supper to shut-ins is allowed by the present Article 56 of the CO, is not faulty.
3.3 Synod Smithers 2007, in agreeing with Considerations 2.6.1 – 2.6.4 of RSW 2006, correctly judged that the administration of the Lord’s Supper to shut-ins, conducted according to the provisions of Article 52 of the CO, is to be seen as a legitimate way for consistories to address a need within the congregation.
3.4 Synod Smithers 2007 correctly judged therefore, that the administration of the Lord’s Supper to shut-ins, conducted according to the provisions of Article 52 of the CO, is not in fact a “private celebration of the Lord’s Supper,” but rather, constitutes a public worship service, and thus is allowed under Article 56 of the CO.
That Synod decide: to deny the appeal of Toronto-Bethel and the appeal of Burlington-Ebenezer (8.5.n, Contents – Part 3).
4.2 While it is true that the confessions (e.g., BC Art. 35, Lord’s Day 29) do not set wine as the “absolute norm” (Obs. 3.2), Synod Neerlandia and Synod Chatham properly state that the confessions speak of wine as the element used. Synod Chatham also highlights why, namely its celebratory character (Acts of Synod Chatham, Art. 109, 4.2). Hence while exceptions can be allowed in certain circumstances, wine should normally be used.
4.4 It is true that “wholesale exceptions” get farther away from the normal usage of wine than individual exceptions, and thus should be contemplated only in extreme situations. Aldergrove, however, is correct in pointing out that it is arbitrary to allow for exceptions in cases of individuals, but to absolutely forbid this for the congregation as a whole.
4.5 As the broader assemblies have consistently stated, it is important that wine be the element normally used. Even Regional Synod West 2003, which upheld Aldergrove’s appeal, states that “it stands to reason that a change in local circumstances would necessitate a review of [the church at Aldergrove’s] current practice” (Art. 4, ground 4).
5.1 That the church at Aldergrove is correct in pointing out that it is arbitrary to allow for exceptions from the usage of wine in cases of individuals, but to absolutely forbid this for the congregation as a whole.
5.2 That it is important to maintain that wine be the element normally used.
The following was adopted:
4.1 It is true that the council of the church at Aldergrove submitted new information to Regional Synod West 2003. This information pertained to the special circumstances which led to the consistory’s decision to abolish alcohol from the communion table. However, this new information did not influence the judgment of Regional Synod West 2003 because it refrained from determining what qualifies special circumstances. This was left to the jurisdiction of the local consistory.
4.2 Synod Neerlandia judged that “the clear and consistent language of our confessions” indicate “that the norm is to use wine at the Lord’s Supper” (Acts, Art. 70). This judgment by Synod Neerlandia shows that it used the word “norm” in connection with the confessions. Since the confessions are normative in the churches, Synod considers that wine should be used at the Lord’s Supper. “Wine makes an important contribution to the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. This alcoholic drink, therefore, should be maintained in the celebration of this sacrament.” (Dr. N.H. Gootjes, “The Meaning of the Lord’s Supper” in Koinonia, vol.xiv, 1993 no. 1, p. 33. See also Dr. N.H. Gootjes “The Meaning of the Lord’s Supper” in Clarion, Vol. 41, nos. 5-10.) This does not exclude the possibility of making an exception. Allowing for an exception demonstrates Christian love and compassion for those with difficulties.
4.3 Regional Synod West 2003 erred in judging that Classis Pacific East wronged the church at Aldergrove. Synod agrees with the appellants that the consistory of the church at Aldergrove should make wine available at its Lord’s Supper celebration.
4.4 Regional Synod West 2003 was correct in its judgment that it belongs to the local consistory to determine what constitutes an individual exception.
5.1 To deny the first request of the appellants (Observation 3.7.1 above), since Regional Synod West 2003 was not wrong in dealing with the appeal of the church at Aldergrove.
5.2 To grant the second, third and fourth requests of the appellants (Observations 3.7.2-3.7.4 above), since Regional Synod West 2003 erred in its judgment that Classis Pacific East wronged the church at Aldergrove.
3.3 A careful review of our existing Forms as well as the production of a Form on the Reception of New Families also has merit.
3.1 The main point in the appeal is the question whether the Bible prescribes the use of a communal cup for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Br. Van de Burgt says the Bible does. Synod is not convinced that we can read in the texts a rejection of the individual cups. If we would take it literally when the Lord Jesus says: ‘The cup’ (Luke 22:17) and see it as prescriptive for the use of the common cup, then in the same vein we should also take literally the words ‘this cup’ in Luke 22:20. Since we don’t have that specific cup anymore, it would then be impossible for us to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Br. Van de Burgt focuses too much on the cup and not on what the Lord Jesus says about the new covenant in his blood.
3.2 Synod agrees with the line of Regional Synod West 2002: Since Scripture does not prescribe the number of cups at the Lord’s Supper, no one may insist on usage of communal cups only. The point of the statement “Do this in remembrance of me” is that the outward symbols of bread and wine point to Christ. The form for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper tells us to “lift our hearts on high in heaven, where Christ, our advocate, is, at the right hand of His heavenly Father.”
3.3 Although the interpretation of Luke 22:17, that the one cup was poured out into individual cups which the disciples would have had before them, is questionable, classis only used this to show that the use of the one cup by our Lord Jesus would not necessarily mean that we must use only one cup at the Lord’s Supper celebration.
3.4 The use of historical testimony can not be a basis for a decision regarding the use of the communal cup. In the past some churches have used only a communal cup, others have used individual cups. Also the quoted decision of Synod Leeuwarden does not clearly state that the use of individual cups is not allowed.