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Revised Covenant for Officebearers Coming to Synod 2012

Maybe the third version of the Covenant for Officebearers will be the one that gets adopted by synod (the annual leadership meeting of the Christian Reformed Church.

Synod 2012 will receive the report from the study committee [PDF] and will decide on this latest version after previous versions were rejected in 2008 and 2011.

The proposed covenant is intended to replace the old Form of Subscription. That is the document signed by officebearers to affirm their agreement with the doctrines and teachings of the CRC, which has fallen into disuse in some churches.

The new covenant is intended to encourage discussion and respect honest questions raised about the church’s teachings, using language that “sings” rather than “plods along” and is “easily transportable across cultural and linguistic barriers.”

This process started when a church in British Columbia asked Synod 2004 to study the Form of Subscription. A committee was assigned that task in 2005 and reported in 2008, but its efforts were sent back to a reconfigured committee.

That second committee brought the fruit of its labors to Synod 2011, but delegates last year were still not satisfied. Synod asked the committee to come back with a new draft that included more positive, declarative commitments to teach, defend, and actively promote the Reformed doctrine of the CRC. (See below for the changes made for this year’s version.)

Synod 2012 will decide whether or not to adopt it when it meets in June.

All materials regarding Synod 2012 will be available in the Agenda for Synod 2012 posted online at crcna.org and sent in print to every church.

Proposed Covenant for Officebearers in the Christian Reformed Church

[showing changes from last year’s version]

We, the undersigned, believe the inspired Word of God as received in the Old and New Testaments of Holy Scripture, which proclaims the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ and the reconciliation of all things in him good news of God’s creation and redemption through Jesus Christ. Acknowledging the authority of God’s Word, we submit to it in all matters of life and faith.

We affirm three creeds—the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed—as ecumenical expressions of the Christian faith. In doing so, we confess our faith in unity with followers of Jesus Christ throughout all ages and among all nations.

We also affirm three confessions—the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort—as historic Reformed expressions of the Christian faith. These confessions continue to define the way we understand Scripture, direct the way we live in response to the gospel, and locate us within the larger body of Christ.

Grateful for these expressions of faith, we promise to be formed and governed by them. We heartily believe and will promote their doctrines faithfully, conforming our preaching, teaching, writing, serving, and living to them.

Along with these historic creeds and confessions, we also affirm the witness of Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony as a current Reformed expression of the Christian faith that forms and guides us in our present context.

We also promise to present or receive confessional difficulties in a spirit of love and fellowship with our brothers and sisters as together we seek a fuller understanding of the gospel. Should we at any time come to believe that a teaching in the confessional documents is irreconcilable with God’s Word, we will communicate our views to the church, according to the procedures prescribed by the Church Order and its supplements. Further, we promise to submit to the church’s judgment and authority.

We honor this covenant for the well-being of the church to the glory of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

From the report to Synod 2012 of the Form of Subscription Revision Committee II.

 

About the Author

Gayla Postma is news editor for The Banner.

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Comments

What isn't mentioned in this article is what isn't included in this new 'covenant' - an explicit acknowledgement that our Confessions fully agree with the Word of God.

If as a denomination we can not agree what the Bible teaches about foundational doctrines, as summarized by our Confessions, then we really have no unity whatsoever.

This committee has done a good job demagoguing our current Form of Subscription which has served the church well for over five centuries (doesn't that qualify as being “easily transportable across cultural and linguistic barriers”?), yet they've offer no specific reasons for us to jettison one of the most valuable tools God has given us.

Our Confessions are like an anchor, and the Form of Subscription is like the chain that keeps our ship attached to the anchor. The question here is do we want a strong chain which has been proven over five centuries, or do we want a flimsy string?

The problem with this analogy is that too many of us view the anchor negatively, rather than the one thing that keeps us rooted in scripture.

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