Concerned about the need to speak to the issues of the day in relevant but biblical language, Synod 2008 adopted a newly revised version of Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony.
The revision addresses changes in the world since the testimony was first adopted in 1986 and fine-tunes the testimony’s wording while retaining much of the original text.
“We have tried to keep the tone of the original version and smooth some things out but speak to contemporary issues,” said Rev. Morris Greidanus, chair of the revision committee. He also helped to write the original Contemporary Testimony.
Hundreds of people, including students, pastors, lay people, and Calvin Theological Seminary faculty, submitted comments to the team assigned to the revision.
“Other denominations would give their eyeteeth for anyone who cares as much about denominational statements as this denomination does,” said Rev. Clayton Libolt, secretary of the revision committee. “It was a great thing to see the passion to pass this on to the next generation.”
But some delegates wanted church members to have more time to review the testimony.
“We haven’t had time to pore over it heart and soul,” said Elder Tobias Lewis, Classis Atlantic Northeast. The final version of the committee’s report was available to the churches only three months before synod met.
“I find the new language rather objectionable,” said Elder John Kooiker, Classis Heartland, adding that changes suggested by his church members were not incorporated into the document.
In response Greidanus said the testimony is in line with statements and decisions made by previous synods. “We tried to stay strictly to what synod has said,” he told the delegates. “We never go beyond what synod has said confessionally.”
Several delegates expressed concern that several paragraphs of the document—addressing the environment, the global marketplace, and science and technology—are “too political.”
“I’m not scared of being political,” said Greidanus. “When you look at the two versions side by side, you see that things have changed.”
Other delegates said that it is important to get the document in the hands of church members so they can use it to help explain the Reformed faith to new believers who are eager to know about the faith but have little background in the historic confessions of the Christian Reformed Church.
“As we plan and lead worship services, the Contemporary Testimony can serve us well,” said Rev. Joy Engelsman, Classis Rocky Mountain. “It can help us speak to things that are of concern to people in our congregations today.”