Shouldn’t the Christian Reformed Church Be Establishing Closer Ties with a Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians?

In terms of orthodoxy in faith and practice, it seems to me that the Christian Reformed Church has more in common with A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO) than with the Reformed Church in America (RCA). Shouldn’t this be the primary basis on which to pursue unity rather than uniting around historical roots and ethnic identity? Shouldn’t we be establishing closer ties with this new denomination?

Let’s agree that confessions (“orthodoxy in faith”) are at the heart of every denomination and that historical roots and ethnic identity are significant but secondary factors in the pursuit of unity. But here are the facts.

At their constituting convention held in January 2012, ECO Presbyterians decided to adopt as their own the confessions held by the Presbyterian Church (USA). Of these, the only ones in common with the CRC were the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Heidelberg Catechism. The ones the CRC and the RCA have never had in common with the ECO are the Scots Confession, the Second Helvetic Confession, the Westminster Confession, The Westminster Shorter Catechism, the Westminster Larger Catechism, the Theological Declaration of Barmen, and the Confession of 1967. The CRC and the RCA both have three ecumenical creeds—the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort—along with some contemporary testimonies, one of which (the Belhar Confession) we share. Currently, therefore, we have far more in common with the RCA than with ECO Presbyterians, not just in historical roots and ethnic identity, but confessionally. It is true that the new ECO denomination is currently reviewing which confessions they will retain or adopt, but that is also true of the CRC and the RCA.

I’m not sure what you mean by “orthodoxy in practice.” Perhaps it has to do with official positions on some current issues. There may be greater similarities to the ECO there than is the case confessionally.

I was delighted to note in the Agenda for Synod 2018 that Executive Director Steven Timmermans met with ECO leaders and that discussions between our denominations are continuing. Yes, we should be seeking closer ties!

About the Author

Henry De Moor is professor emeritus of church polity at Calvin Seminary, Grand Rapids, Mich. He’s the author of Christian Reformed Church Order Commentary

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Comments

I quite agree.  The CRC has always wanted to burn the wooden shoes but then not really after all, resulting in a perspective that too often weighs blood as heavier than confession in practice, even if not in words.

Note that World Renew has agreements with both the RCA and the ECO.

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