Synod 2012 restored a requirement that public profession of faith include a commitment to the creeds and confessions of the Christian Reformed Church. Synod 2011 removed the requirement in response to a motion from the floor that the Faith Formation Committee did not anticipate, and did not respond to quickly enough when the motion was made.
Rev. Kathy Smith, Calvin Theological Seminary: Requiring a commitment to the creeds and confessions “has always been there.”
Photo: Karen Huttenga
“We didn’t catch in time what was happening on the floor,” said Syd Hielema, a member of the Faith Formation Committee. “In hindsight, we wish we had addressed that.”
However, some delegates had concerns about young members expressing their commitment to documents they might not understand.
“If this passes, and an 8-year-old professes his or her faith publicly, that child is required to make a commitment at that time to the Reformed confessions,” explained Rev. Terry Genzink, Classis Georgetown. “That’s what it says. So I’m confused.”
Rev. Ray Vander Kooij, Classis Huron, also was concerned about what this meant for younger individuals.
“I often work with 14-, 15-, 16-year-olds excited about their faith,” said Vander Kooij. “I find it a challenge to see how vitalizing the faith can include . . . them having to read through long documents that I could barely find adults excited to read.”
Rev. Tom Van Engen, Classis Heartland, argued that the word “commitment” implies a developing process.
“It seems that the definition of the word tells us that there’s sort of an ongoing process,” he said. “Commitment doesn’t say I have to understand the creeds and confessions before I make profession of faith.”
However, this requirement is nothing new to the church, said Rev. Kathy Smith, faculty adviser from Calvin Theological Seminary.
“I think that synod should be aware that this whole matter is about retaining something that has always been there: a commitment to the creeds and confessions in profession of faith,” she said. “It could be that the Faith Formation Committee needs to talk more about younger individuals . . . but the issue here is about restoring something that is very important.”
The Faith Formation Committee is currently discussing different milestones in the profession of faith process.
Synod 2012 approved the requirement with the expectation that the Faith Formation Committee will continue its work and present a clearer report on profession of faith to a future synod.