Stronger Discipleship

I am pleased that Synod 2019 declared the teachings of Kinism as heresy. Kinism teaches that God requires racial separation in all areas of societal life, and hence, forbids interracial marriage, and even transracial adoption. It is essentially Apartheid 2.0. A former Christian Reformed Church pastor espoused it and took his congregation with him in leaving the denomination. Delegates at synod cautioned that this is not an isolated incident but even a common sentiment among some CRC churches.

This issue with Kinism is personal for me, as I am in an interracial marriage. I am Chinese ethnically, and my lovely wife, Martha, is Dutch ethnically, born and baptized in the CRC. According to Kinism, our marriage is contrary to God’s will. What, therefore, does that make of our three daughters? You will forgive me if Kinism makes me bristle.

Ironically, it was through God’s providence that I met my wife in the first place. Born in Malaysia, I only ended up as a foreign student in Edmonton, Canada, because every other university—in Malaysia and abroad—rejected my application for admission. God closed every door except one. And it was at the University of Alberta in Edmonton that I met Martha through the Christian Reformed campus chaplaincy. And if it wasn’t for Martha, I probably would not have stayed in Canada, the only one of my siblings to become a Canadian citizen. And I wouldn’t be writing this today as the editor of the Banner.

Of course, I could also point to the fact that God chose to include Rahab and Ruth, both non-Jews, as part of our Savior and Lord’s lineage, as the gospel of Matthew take pains to point out (Matthew 1:5). Jesus was not a “pure-blood” Jew.

I am, therefore, relieved that synod unanimously declared it as a heresy. But the question remains, how could such a theology gain a foothold in the CRC in the first place? How could a pastor who holds to the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dort still fall prey to such heresy? This is why I also appreciate synod’s adoption of Classes California South’s and Hackensack’s joint overture’s call for better education and instruction of church leaders and lay members on Kinism’s errors. We need to prevent this from happening again.

Some at the floor of synod seemed to think stronger discipline on aberrant church officebearers is a solution. I am not so sure emphasizing accountability, though necessary, is the key to preventing heresy. It inadvertently shifts the focus to compliance or performance rather than inner transformation.

Even the abuse of power task force, whose recommendations synod adopted, recognizes that creating a mutually respectful culture is as important in the long term in preventing abuse as stronger accountability mechanisms. Rather than simply deterring people from Kinism with external punishment, we need Christians who are spiritually inoculated against such heresies. Expertise in our three confessions failed to inoculate a CRC pastor against Kinism, just as they failed to inoculate Afrikaner Reformed Christians from apartheid. I think we need to utilize the Belhar Confession, now a contemporary testimony in the CRC, more in our worship and discipleship. The Belhar, born out of a struggle against apartheid, with its themes of unity, justice, and reconciliation, should be a greater part of our corporate discipleship. Stronger discipleship, rather than simply stronger discipline, is a greater key to prevention.

About the Author

Shiao Chong is editor-in-chief of The Banner. He attends Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Toronto, Ont.

Shiao Chong es el redactor jefe de The Banner. El asiste a Iglesia Comunidad Cristiana Reformada en Toronto, Ont. 

시아오 총은 더 배너 (The Banner)의 편집장이다. 온타리오 주 토론토의 펠로우쉽 CRC에 출석한다.

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Comments

Bravo for a strong and personal editorial on Kinism! The 2019 Synod had it clear that this teaching and preaching is not God's will. However, as the editor pointed out "how could such a theology find a foothold in the CRC in the first place?" It's a discipleship issue, indeed. 

To place discipline at odds with discipleship is not the right answer, and really doesn't make sense, to the extent that discipline is part of discipleship.  All discipline in focused on inner transformation - we don't discipline in the church with an eye toward mere external conformance, but with the goal of inner transformation.  But we have to deal with the visible fruit, that being the bad fruit of false teaching, when it arises.

It also is not particularly surprising that false teachers arise.  We were warned in the Bible that false teachers would arise from within the church, and no exceptions were given for the CRC.  It has always happened and always will.  Churches started by the Apostle Paul himself had false teachers rise up.  Right now there are pastors in the CRC who question or deny substitutionary atonement.  There is a pastor who is still ordained in the CRC who was recently planting churches in the CRC who denies both substitutionary atonement and the bodily resurrection of Christ, among other core teachings.  There are denominational leaders/employees who openly promote Critical Race Theory and forms of Liberation Theology.  There is a retired CRC pastor who regularly comments on the Banner website and the Network who is a deist and who is allowed to openly ridicule the Bible and question the uniqueness and supremacy of Christ.  The devil is always seeking to deceive.  Being a confessional church helps, but it in no way guarantees that lay persons or church leaders won't be deceived.  Some errors are allowed to percolate or are even promoted in the CRC.  I haven't seen editor Chong call for discipleship for the group in the CRC that continues to seek to lead people into slavery to sin and to turn biblical anthropology on its head.  Rather, the Banner reports on them as if they were some sort of novelty or a sign of broadmindedness.  I guess concern for error in the church from the Banner kind of rides the cultural waves. 

Thank you, Shiao, for emphasizing a perspective that is increasingly becoming more apparent to most people in our Western civilization.  But it has taken decades and even centuries to come to such a perspective.  You ask, how could such a theology (as kinsman) ever make it into the CRC in the first place.  You must realize that such a theology was the norm in our culture, as well as in our churches, at a point in past history.  You could be considered a very good (moral) Christian while holding to the kinsman doctrine.  Apparently our confessions didn’t guard against such thinking in the past.  Even the apartheid of South Africa in the recent past was promoted by the Dutch Reformed churches.  How is that possible?  So I guess, Shiao, we can consider ourselves the lucky ones for the gradual change that has transformed our culture and churches.  But realize that change doesn’t happen overnight.  Significant change (like Kinsman teachings) take generations and decades.  That may well be true of the LGBT issue that is frustrating our culture and churches right now.  We can see the beginnings of change now, but acceptance will probably not be complete in the next several decades, even in our churches.  Some may cry hypocrisy, even as there were those who did the same in our churches over the kinsman spirit being eradicated from our churches.
As to the Eric’s warning about false teachers and teachings arising in the church.  That is probably how the church finally came to an open acceptance of all races.  Those promoting openness, early on were the false teachers.  And look at the church today. Christianity is made up of hundreds of denominations, all holding to distinct beliefs different from the church across town.  While we may applaud the diversity within Christianity, there are still those who cry foul when someone holds to a different belief from our own.  We think, only my view represents orthodoxy or true Christianity.  I think heaven will be populated by people that mostly believed different from my view or yours.  And I’m glad for that.
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