A synodical study committee is not needed, since biblical scholars at colleges related to the Christian Reformed Church are already doing the work.
That’s how Synod 2014 responded to a request for a new study committee to examine recent theologies that deny the historicity of the Genesis account of creation and assert that Adam and Eve are literary, not historical figures.
“The ongoing work of [CRC-affiliated colleges] doesn’t warrant us putting resources and money into [a study committee] for six years,” said Chris De Vos, reporter for the advisory committee to synod.
The overture referred extensively to two religion professors at Calvin College--Dan Harlow and John Schneider--whose 2009 papers questioned the historicity of Adam and Eve and the historicity of the Genesis accounts of creation and the fall. Schneider has since left the college.
Calvin College president Michael Le Roy said that the case of Harlow and Schneider is an example of how the college’s confessional guidelines for faculty are succeeding in their purpose. Meanwhile, Le Roy said, other faculty members are working hard to help church members who struggle with how the science of origins fits with their faith.
“For the last 25 years, science has been moving so quickly, and Christians are left with simplistic options that aren’t very helpful,” said Le Roy. “This is the kind of work that biblical scholars are only beginning now to articulate. It’s wise to not yet convene a study committee, but rather trust the process. . . . We hope to assemble sufficient resources to clarify core questions.”
Some delegates expressed their trust of this process while others were not so sure.
“’I’m so happy that the college is really looking into it--it’s important that we do something,” said John Venema, Classis Eastern Canada. “If we older folks think that this is a discussion that isn’t happening with young people, we’re wrong.”
“I don’t want to wait--no offense, professors--until you tell me what to think,” said Rev. Joshua Van Til, Classis Columbia. “Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to think about this subject. Get some resources and find out for yourself.”
In response to the overture’s request for pastoral guidance, synod instructed the Board of Trustees to have Calvin College, Calvin Theological Seminary, and other denominational colleges “make available to a future synod a list of resources on the relationship of science and theology, especially as they relate to the doctrines of creation, fall, original sin, and the atonement, and to organize one or more conferences or open conversations on these same topics.”
Synod 2014 is meeting at Central College in Pella, Iowa, from June 13-19. For continuous Banner coverage, please follow The Banner on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted at www.thebanner.org several times daily. For CRC Communications releases, webcast, and live blogging, please visit www.crcna.org/synod. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.