Synod declined to make any official declarations in response to the writings of two Calvin College professors on issues of human origins but, rather, decided to wait for a report from the college.
Rev. Peter Jonker: “There need to be boundaries, but we are also concerned about creating an atmosphere that does not stifle those around us from doing their work with all their curiosity.”
Photo: Karen Huttenga
“There need to be boundaries, but we are also concerned about creating an atmosphere that does not stifle those around us from doing their work with all their curiosity,” said Rev. Peter Jonker, Classis Grand Rapids East.
An overture (request) came to synod from Classis Central Plains to declare part of a 1991 report the official position of the CRC on creation and science.
“We need to say something because the perception is that the denomination believes in evolution. I have had to say in council meetings and in interactions with those outside the denomination—no we don’t,” said Rev. Jon Gorter, Classis Central Plains.
However, Synod 2011 found the proposed section “inadequate” as an official position statement.
Rev. John Gorter: “We need to say something because the perception is that the denomination believes in evolution.”
Photo: Karen Huttenga
“The issue is whether or not what is stated in [the 1991 report] . . . can do the job that we want it to do,” said Rev. Dan Gritter, Classis Grand Rapids South.
Rev. Scott E. Hoezee, Calvin Theological Seminary faculty adviser at synod, said, “To make something an official position of the church is a big deal, so to lift out a section of a 20-year-old report and to make it an official position of the church is very dangerous.”
Elder Chad Werkhoven, Classis Columbia, focused on the proposal being a first step. “I know it’s short and I know it’s incomplete, but it’s a starting point. We have a responsibility here.”
Rev. Stephen M. Hasper, Classis Georgetown, reiterated the church’s current position. “We have the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dort, and they speak quite eloquently to it. It’s not that we have no position,” he said.
“It’s one of the largest issues facing the church. What we’re dealing with here, the whole church is dealing with,” said Jonker.
After an extended debate, synod decided to limit its response to requiring Calvin College to send to synod its report on the balance of academic freedom and the church’s confessions.
For more coverage while synod is in session, including webcasts, photos, discussion forums, reports, and more, visit the Synod 2011 website.