A discussion paper
prepared by John Vantil
of Abbotsford, B.C.
1.1 My previous discussion paper, entitled "An Analysis of General Synod Decisions Regarding the Orthodox Presbyterian Church from the Period 1992 to 2004" (dated September 2005), discusses the recent extension of Ecclesiastical Fellowship by General Synod Neerlandia 2001 of the Canadian Reformed Churches to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
1.2 The previous discussion paper demonstrated that the significant differences between the Canadian Reformed Churches and the OPC, on the matters of confessional membership and the fencing of the Lord's Supper, were considered to be unacceptable by Synods 1992, 1995 and 1998. The consequence of the decision of Synod 2001 is that these differences are now considered to be acceptable.
1.3 The previous discussion paper did not deal with the most important basis for the extension of Ecclesiastical Fellowship with the OPC, which was cited by General Synod Neerlandia 2001. This Synod considered (Article 45, Consideration 4.13) that "Acknowledging each other as true churches implies unity of faith (see Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 21 and 22)." This Synod also considered (Consideration 4.14) that "When Synod declares a church to be a true church and does not rescind that decision, there is an obligation according to our confession to live together as sister churches." [My emphases].
1.4 The considerations referred to above clearly refer to the decision by General Synod Coaldale 1977 to recognize the OPC as a true church. What follows in this discussion paper is an analysis of General Synod decisions before, during and after 1977, to determine whether there was indeed appropriate justification for entering into and maintaining this recognition. Synods 1992, 1995 and 1998 were specifically concerned with the question of whether the OPC actually maintains their confessional standards. This discussion paper will be limited to a discussion of this question as it was dealt with at Synods 1965 through 1989 and the role this question played in the recognition of the OPC as a true church.
1.5 The consequences of the decisions of Synods 1977 and 2001 in respect of the OPC are far reaching for the individual members of the Canadian Reformed Churches. In the previous discussion paper I concluded that the decisions of Synods 2001 and 2004, in respect of the OPC, are in conflict with Scripture, confession, Article 61 of the Church Order, and Rules #1 and #4 of the Rules for Ecclesiastical Fellowship which were entered into by Synod 1992. In this discussion paper I am going to examine whether the decision of Synod 1977 is also in conflict with Scripture, confession and Church Order.
2. THE PRELUDE - GENERAL SYNODS 1965, 1968, 1971 AND 1974
2.1 It was a decision of General Synod 1965 that first initiated contact with the OPC. This Synod decided (Article 26 of the English Brief Report - which is a translation of Article 141, IV of the official Acts):
A. to appoint three deputies for contact with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church;
B. to request the General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church to appoint deputies, that these may receive our deputies;
C. to instruct our deputies as follows:
i) to inform the Orthodox Presbyterian Church through her deputies about our confession and church polity, and to ask her whether on the ground of this confession and church polity she can accept the Canadian Reformed Churches as true churches of the Lord Jesus Christ;
ii) to discuss frankly with the deputies of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church the differences in confession and church polity which exist between the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and our Churches, and to compare these differences with the Word of God;
iii) to show The Orthodox Presbyterian Church through her deputies from the rules adopted for Church correspondence to what effect this correspondence is for our churches; and to make themselves acquainted with the views of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in this respect;
iv) to discuss with the deputies of The Orthodox Presbyterian Church the existing correspondence with other church-groups, which is being maintained by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and our Churches;
v) to keep the Churches informed about the matters dealt with in their contact and to report to the next General Synod.
D. to add the historical part of the "Report on an eventual contact with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church" as an appendix to the publication of the Acts of this Synod.
2.2 Synod 1965 also stated (Acts, Article 141, II) that it is of the opinion that "Correspondence with Churches abroad should not be entered into, until upon a conscientious and serious investigation, it has become apparent that these Churches not only officially embrace the Reformed confession and church polity but also in fact maintain them." [originally in Dutch - my translation and emphasis].
2.3 In reference to whether the OPC maintains the Reformed confession, I quote the following from the Acts of Synod 1968 (Article 154, Considerations 7 and 8):
The Consistory of the Church at Winnipeg "also learned from the report of our deputies that the Orthodox Presbyterian Church does not gather the believers in the unity of faith as defined in our confession (catechism L.D. 21), but that 'common believers who want to join the church are admitted to the church on their profession of faith in the Lord Jesus as their Saviour and that no complete knowledge of the entire confession nor agreement with each section of it is demanded' (Report, page 5)."
The consistory, without argumentation, places two statements in contraposition, the first one being an expression of opinion of the consistory, the second a statement of the Representatives of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. This places Synod on the horns of a dilemma which can not be accepted.
The consistory should have proved that not demanding "complete knowledge of the entire confession nor agreement with each section of it," necessarily means "that the Orthodox Presbyterian Church does not gather the believer in the unity of faith as defined in our confession," which the consistory fails to do.
[Note: For details of the above-mentioned Report of our deputies see Supplement IV, pages 58-63 of the Acts of Synod 1971].
This does not mean, however, that the statement of the Representatives of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church mentioned under 7, does not raise serious questions about the correctness of the distinction made between officebearers and "common" believers, its impact upon the maintenance of discipline, and the function of the creeds in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. [My emphasis].
2.4 Synod 1968 acts on the above concern by including (among others) the following instruction to its Deputies for Contact with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (Article 154, Recommendation E.3):
To investigate how the Creeds, the Form of Government and the Book of Discipline function in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and whether they are actually maintained. [My emphasis].
2.5 The Report of Deputies for Contact with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church to Synod 1971 (see Supplement V, pages 69 and 70 of the Acts of Synod 1971) contained the following statements:
Deputies are however not sufficiently acquainted with the local churches to be able to report on the life within them. It is known that several of the local churches are planted as a result of home mission work. This implies that the congregations are given milk to drink and not solid food yet. It causes the OPC, according to the testimony of the Committee, to see the sharper to it that faithful men are called to the ministry who are able to teach others also.
Deputies learned on inquiry that the Communion Table in the OPC is neither "open" in the sense that everyone who presents himself as a believer is admitted to the Lord's Table, nor "closed" in the sense that exclusively communicant members of the OPC are allowed to partake in the Lord's Supper. The officers of each local church decide whether or not one who is not a member of the OPC on his request is to be admitted to the Table of the Lord. In many O.P. churches admission is granted on the basis of a public statement by the minister or by the session without an appearance of the person concerned before the session. [My emphasis].
2.6 The conclusion of the deputies that the Lord's Supper is neither "open" nor "closed" in the OPC must be challenged. It should be obvious that even if a door is open just a very small amount, it cannot be considered closed. This also holds for the Lord's Supper (see "Explaining What We Confess and Practice" by Ron Dykstra in Reformed Polemics, February 28, 2005 issue).
2.7 Synod 1971 concludes (see Article 92, conclusion 1) "that the Orthodox Presbyterian Church is a group of churches that commit themselves to the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God, and that wish to maintain the Creeds, based on this Word of God;" (and conclusion 2) "that the Orthodox Presbyterian Church desires to regulate and order the government of the Church in accordance with the Scriptural confession, namely that "all its decisions should be founded upon the revealed will of God." (Form of Government, Chapter I, 7) ." In the light of the information provided by the Deputies in 2.5 above how is it possible for Synod 1971 to come to these conclusions?
2.8 Synod 1971 decided (see Article 92, decision I) "to forward a letter directly to the General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, (a) informing this Assembly of the forgoing observations, considerations and conclusions; (b) requesting it brotherly and urgently: (1) to regulate, order and maintain church government wholly in accordance with the Scriptures; " This decision was made in spite of the conclusions referred to in 2.7 above!
2.9 In accordance with the mandate given to the Deputies for Contact with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, a letter was sent in March 1972 detailing some of the decisions made by past synods regarding the OPC (see page 101-108 of the Acts of Synod 1974). A close examination of this letter will determine that while the inconsistent conclusions and decision referred to in 2.7 and 2.8 above are mentioned, there is no reference to, indication of, or question relating to any of the deficiencies raised in the Report to Synod 1971 referred to in 2.5 above.
2.10 As no response was received from the OPC to the March 1972 letter referred to above, Synod 1974 (Article 149) decided to continue the Committee for Contact with the OPC with the mandate (among others) (3b) "to study the forthcoming answer on our letter of March 1972, and continue the discussion with the Committee of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church on existing divergencies."
2.11 It is clear from the above discussion that Synods 1971 and 1974, and the Committee for Contact with the OPC as appointed by these Synods, were not concerned anymore with the question of whether the OPC actually maintains their confessional standards. Instead the focus was on the divergencies between the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity, the OPC Form of Government and the Church Order, the differences in the forms of ecclesiastical correspondence and the third party relationships.
3. THE DECISION TAKEN - GENERAL SYNOD 1977
3.1 From the Report to General Synod of the Committee for Contact with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church the following was determined:
a) The Committee received a letter dated April 14, 1976 from the Committee on Ecumenicity and Interchurch Relations in response to its letter of March 1972.
b) In its Report the Committee acknowledged that it "still is in the process of studying the answer to our letter of March 1972" and reported that "it is not able to complete its full mandate in time for the opening of Synod 1977."
3.2 Synod 1977 (see Article 91, Observations II. 3) observed that in their letter of April 14, 1976 the Committee on Ecumenicity and Interchurch Relations of the OPC "asked our Committee whether the Canadian Reformed Churches are prepared to say that the Orthodox Presbyterian Church shows the marks of the false church as given in Article 29 of the Belgic Confession."
3.3 Synod 1977 responded to the above request with the following (Article 91, Recommendation II): "Synod decide with thankfulness to recognize the Orthodox Presbyterian Church as a true church of our Lord Jesus Christ as confessed in Article 29 of the Belgic Confession." [My emphasis].
3.4 Article 29 of the Belgic Confession identifies the marks of the true church as follows: "It practices the pure preaching of the gospel. It maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them. It exercises church discipline for correcting and punishing sins. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and regarding Jesus Christ as the only Head. Hereby the true church can certainly be known and no one has the right to separate from it."
3.5 In support of this decision Synod provides 12 considerations (see Article 91, Considerations II (a) to (l)). Considerations II (a), (b), (f), and (g) refer to statements made by previous Synods which, taken by themselves appear to show that previous Synods had considered the OPC to be a true church. When compared to the statements quoted in 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5 and 2.7 above (taken from Acts of Synods and Reports of Deputies), it is clear that these considerations are one-sided and do not provide an honest assessment of the decisions of these Synods.
3.6 Considerations II (c) and (h) demonstrate acceptance of statements made by the OPC Committee in their letter of April 14, 1976 without any additional verification. Considerations II (d) and (e) take over statements made by our sister churches in the Netherlands about the Westminster Confession of Faith without investigating the basis for these statements. Considerations (i), (j) and (k) refer to positive developments in the ecclesiastical relationships of the OPC, but given the remaining outstanding issues, are not in themselves adequate support for a "true church" recognition. Consideration II (l) ignores the fact that after 12 years we still do not have the evidence required to properly respond to the OPC Committee.
3.7 At the same time Synod 1977 could have directly answered the question posed by the OPC Committee. This Committee asked (3.2 above) "whether the Canadian Reformed Churches are prepared to say that the Orthodox Presbyterian Church shows the marks of the false church as given in Article 29 of the Belgic Confession." In view of the ongoing discussion, which was taking place, a very simple statement that no conclusion can be reached as yet should have sufficed.
4. THE AFTERMATH - GENERAL SYNODS 1980, 1983, 1986, AND 1989
4.1 Synod 1980 (Article 97) dealt with a number of appeals against the 1977 decision. Specific to the question of whether the OPC actually maintains their confessional standards the following is noted in the Observations:
Observation II.A.i.5 states that "The Appellants state that with regard to consideration (g) that the words "commit," "wish" and "desire" used by the Synod of New Westminster 1971 in the Acts (Article 92, Conclusion 1) do not prove that the OPC practices what it "wishes" and "desires" to do ;"
Observation II.A.i.6 states that "The Appellants state that with regard to consideration (h) that they object to the fact that the OPC letter of April 1976 confirms that the OPC "wholeheartedly adheres to the Westminster Confession of Faith ," does not prove that this is actually practiced ;"
Observation II.A.ii includes objections based on the charge that Synod Coaldale did not prove that the marks of the true church are present in the OPC. Under the heading of Preaching and Doctrine was included the objection concerning "The distinction between office bearers and common believer: The common believer is not bound by the confession; whereas the office-bearers are bound." Under the heading of Sacraments was included the objection that "There is the fear that the Lord's Supper is not kept "holy" when people are admitted who (only) believe in Jesus as their Saviour and that the Lord's Supper is "open."" Under the heading of Discipline was included the objection that "The OPC obstructs its own discipline because common believers are not bound by the confessional standards, and because they have an "open table," and permits believers of "any" denomination to partake in the Lord's Supper over whom the session has no authority."
4.2 The only consideration which deals with any of the above stated observations is Consideration B.ii.7: "The Report of our Committee for Contact with the OPC to Synod New Westminster 1971 "learned on inquiry that the Communion Table in the OPC is neither 'open' in the sense that everyone who presents himself as a believer is admitted to the Lord's Table, nor 'closed' in the sense that exclusively communicant members of the OPC are allow to partake in the Lord's Supper. The officers of each local church decide whether or not one who is not a member of the OPC on his request is to be admitted to the Table of the Lord." Admitting non-members, after an examination, to the Lord's Supper is not a sufficient reason for denying that the OPC is a true church."
4.3 It is significant that this Synod failed to include the last sentence of 2.5 in the above quotation. Therefore Synod also misses the point of the assertions in 4.1 above that the OPC does not practice its confessional principles when it admits to the Lord's Supper solely on the basis of a public statement. In addition, the above consideration does not define the content of "an examination" for admission to the Lord's Supper. If such an examination is equivalent to one normally required prior to profession of faith that would certainly be acceptable. However no information has been provided to prove that this indeed occurs, therefore the above consideration cannot defend the recognition of the OPC as a true church.
4.4 Synod 1983 (Article 55) indicates (see Article 7 - Adoption of the Agenda) that an appeal was received from the Church at Lincoln re Acts 1977, Article 91 and Acts 1980, Article 97 on the OPC. Interestingly, Synod 1983 does not observe nor consider material presented by this church relating to previous General Synod decisions. In the Recommendations (Article 55, D.1) we read that Synod 1983 decided "Not to grant the request of the Churches of Lincoln and Smithville, to terminate or suspend temporarily the relationship with the OPC."
4.5 Synod 1983 also observed new developments in the relationship with the OPC as follows: (a) the deposition of Professor Norman Shepherd from Westminster Seminary; (b) the secession of Tri-County Reformed Church of Maryland from the OPC because of a dispute over "fencing" of the Lord's Supper; and (c) the actions of the OPC's Fiftieth Assembly regarding the "fencing" issue and the implications for Church discipline and the doctrine of the Church.
4.6 With respect to these new developments Synod 1983 considered the following (Considerations 2 a - e):
a. With a view to the new developments (see B Observations 2, a and b) there is even more reason to evaluate the divergencies.
b. The Committee should consider the implications of the so-called "Shepherd case," as mentioned in B Observations 2, a, i, ii, iii).
c. Because the "Hofford case" has already been dealt with in the Classis Ontario-South, the Committee should also include this development in its evaluation.
d. The Church at Chatham rightly states that the matter of "fencing" the Lord's Supper and the admission to the Lord's Supper concerns the Church discipline as well as the doctrine of the Church and should be looked into by the General Synod (see B Observations 2, c, i, ii, iii).
e. The Committee should therefore be instructed to inquire diligently into the actions of the Fiftieth Assembly in this matter (B Observations 2, d).
4.7 Therefore Synod 1983 decided to add the following to the mandate of the Committee for Contact with the OPC (Article 55, Recommendations D.2.e) "to pay special attention to the new developments in the OPC, with respect to the so-called Shepherd case (see B Observations 2, a, i, ii, iii), the Hofford case (see B Observations 2, b) and the "fencing" of the Lord's Supper (see B Observations 2, c, i, ii, iii, and d), and to come to the next Synod with recommendations in this respect;"
4.8 At the same time, Synod 1983 decided (Article 55, Recommendations D.2.b) "to publish, for the benefit of our churches, a detailed evaluation of the confessional and church-political divergencies, showing proof that these divergencies do not form an impediment in recognizing the OPC as a true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ;"
4.9 Synod 1983 (see 4.6 (d) above) makes an explicit connection between certain divergencies and the "fencing" of the Lord's Supper. However one can immediately question the objectivity of the evaluation that the Committee is to perform, given that it must show "proof that these divergencies do not form an impediment in recognizing the OPC as a true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ!"
4.10 Synod 1986, in its Article 126, disconnected the association between the divergencies and the new developments after 1977. This Synod rejected a consideration (see Article 126, Defeated Consideration B.2) specifying that "Because of various developments in the OPC after 1977, further discussion with the OPC concerning the divergencies remains necessary (Synod of 1983, Acts, Art. 55, C, 2, a)." Instead Synod 1986 considered (Article 126, Consideration B.4) that "This mandate was not connected with the ongoing evaluation of recent developments." Synod then decided (Recommendations B.2) that "Synod receives this report as the detailed evaluation of divergencies which the General Synod of 1977 neglected to give for its decision to recognize the OPC as a true church of our Lord Jesus Christ."
4.11 Synod 1986, in its Article 128, then reconnected the association between the divergencies and the new developments with its Consideration C.4 which stated "Synod of 1983 expressly tied the evaluation and discussions of the divergencies to the new developments (Synod of 1983, Acts, Art. 55, C, 2, a), and the Committee itself stresses that the doctrinal issues re Blue Bell "are almost precisely the same as the confessional and church government divergencies which we have been discussing with the OPC for some time now" (p. 13)."
4.12 Synod 1986, in its Article 132, then deals with the Committee report regarding the new developments in Considerations E, a - e, as follows:
a) It is evident (Observation 2), that the "Shepherd case" is not a matter of the OPC as such, but of an independent Theological Seminary and that Dr. N. Shepherd voluntarily withdrew his membership from the OPC.
b) Although the committee considers that the GA has not allowed deviation from their standards, nor has it sanctioned heresy such as would require us to break off our relations with the OPC, its recommendation that "the Canadian Reformed Churches should use their ecclesiastical contact to address the OPC on this issue of fencing the Lord's table" indicates that the matter of fencing the Lord's Supper is, indeed, a serious confessional divergency, which is a major issue of mutual concern.
c) The practice in the Canadian Reformed Churches with respect to the admission to the Lord's Supper is clearly regulated in Article 61 of the Church Order as follows: "The consistory shall admit to the Lord's Supper only those who have made public profession of the Reformed faith and lead a godly life. Members of sister churches shall be admitted on the ground of a good attestation concerning their doctrine and conduct."
d) Although guests are not specifically mentioned in Article 61, Church Order, the conclusion of the committee, Observation 5, cannot mean that Article 61, C.O., has no bearing on the admission of guests to the Lord's Supper. Synod considers that Article 61, C.O., is the rule which governs the admission of all those who seek to partake in the Lord's Supper.
e) The Canadian Reformed Churches have from the beginning of contact with the OPC considered the admission to the Lord's Supper as an essential matter of discipline.
4.13 Synod 1986, in its Article 136, denies appeals requesting termination of the official contact with the OPC, instead stating (Consideration C.4) that "Although the "new developments" in the OPC are of concern and may perhaps be reason to review our official ecclesiastical contact with the OPC, the Churches at Attercliffe and Smithville should not overlook that time is needed to solicit a response to our concerns about "new developments" and to evaluate the reply which the OPC gives."
4.14 Synod 1986, in its Article 137, gave a similar response to an Overture by Classis Ontario-South regarding the doctrinal and church political issues which compelled the Reformation Church at Blue Bell to withdraw from the OPC. In its decision Synod included the request to discuss these issues with the OPC in the mandate of the Committee for Contact with the OPC. It should also be noted here that Synod 1986 considered (Article 137, C, 3) that "Synod recognizes that the "Hofford" issue is a matter which is as yet not finished in the minor assemblies (Art. 30, Church Order)." Synod recognizes here that the minor assembly must first deal with this matter before the major assembly can deal with it. Furthermore, the major assembly must take into account the decision made by that minor assembly before making any decision that differs from the decision of that minor assembly.
4.15 The "Hofford" issue was finally dealt with at Classis Ontario South held March 25, 26 and April 1, 1987 and Classis Ontario South held December 9, 1987. The press releases of both classes contain the statement that "the Tri-County Reformed Church has rightfully separated herself from the OPC." [My emphasis]. The press release of the Classis held December 9, 1987 provides extensive grounds for this statement, as published in the March 18, 1988 issue of Clarion (Volume 37, No. 6).
4.16 The above decisions of Classis Ontario South were also communicated to the Committee for Contact with the OPC, as indicated in the Report of this Committee to General Synod 1989 (see section 2.6 on page 174 of the Acts of Synod 1989). A review of this Report has determined that the above Classes decisions are not interacted with, either in the Report of the Committee, or in the Acts of Synod 1989 itself (Article 94).
4.17 Considering that Article 28 of the Belgic Confession does state that "All therefore who draw away from the church or fail to join it act contrary to the ordinance of God," we are faced with a crucial question. Does the above failure to interact with the grounds provided by Classis Ontario South, now place the federation of churches "on the horns of a dilemma which can not be accepted?" (see 2.3 above, Acts Synod 1968, Article 154, Consideration 7).
5.1 In the quotation referred to in 2.2 above, Synod 1965 sets the standard for the exercise of ecclesiastical relations with other churches "that these Churches not only officially embrace the Reformed confession and church polity but also in fact maintain them."
5.2 As discussed in 2.9 above, the concern about whether the OPC actually maintains what it believes and confesses was not expressed by the Deputies for Contact with the OPC which were appointed by Synod 1971. These concerns did not reappear until appeals were received by Synod 1980.
5.3 The decision by Synod 1977 "to recognize the Orthodox Presbyterian Church as a true church of our Lord Jesus Christ" was made without regard to the concern that the OPC does not maintain their confessional standards, which was the standard set by Synod 1965 as discussed in 2.2 above. It is therefore clear that this recognition should not have occurred.
5.4 From the information presented in 4.1 to 4.3 it is clear that Synod 1980 did not adequately consider the material presented to it. It is therefore clear that this recognition should have been rescinded at that time.
5.5 From the information presented in 4.4 to 4.9 Synod 1983 assigned to the Committee for Contact with the OPC a task it could not perform with objectivity. It had to show "proof that these divergencies do not form an impediment in recognizing the OPC as a true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ" and at the same time "pay special attention to the new developments in the OPC."
5.6 From the information presented in 4.10 to 4.14 Synod 1986 clearly left open the possibility that the new developments "may perhaps be reason to review our official ecclesiastical contact with the OPC." However it deferred judgement on the development in Laurel, MD by stating that "Synod recognizes that the "Hofford" issue is a matter which is as yet not finished in the minor assemblies (Art. 30, Church Order)."
5.7 Both, the Committee for Contact with the OPC, and Synod 1989 did not consider the decision of Classis Ontario South that "the Tri-County Reformed Church has rightfully separated herself from the OPC." This is contrary to the decision of Synod 1986, which clearly put this issue within the mandate of the Committee.
5.8 No appeal of the decisions and evidence provided by Classis Ontario South regarding the Laurel, MD situation has ever been accepted by any subsequent Synod. Both the Committee and Synod 1989 were obligated to consider the material provided to the Committee by Classis in determining whether or not to continue the recognition of the OPC as a true church. Neither the Committee nor Synod 1989 did so. It is therefore clear that at this point the recognition of the OPC as a true church was compromised (see 4.17 above).
5.9 Based on the material presented above, the decision of Synod 1977 that the OPC is a true church of our Lord Jesus Christ must be rescinded. I John 4:1 states that we are to "test the spirits to see whether they are from God." It must be asserted that the Canadian Reformed Churches have failed to complete the testing that is required in coming to the decision of Synod 1977. It must also be asserted that they have failed to call the OPC to repentance based on the evidence provided by Classis Ontario South. Therefore the decision of Synod 1977 is indeed in conflict with Scripture, confession and Church Order.
6.1 Acts of General Synod Edmonton 1965, Article 141, Article 26 of Press Release and Appendix
6.2 Acts of General Synod Orangeville 1968, Article 154
6.3 Acts of General Synod New Westminster 1971, Article 92 and Supplements IV and V
6.4 Acts of General Synod Toronto 1974, Article 149
6.5 Acts of General Synod Coaldale 1977, Article 91
6.6 Acts of General Synod Smithville 1980, Articles 97 and 152
6.7 Acts of General Synod Cloverdale 1983, Article 55
6.8 Acts of General Synod Burlington 1986, Articles 126, 128, 132, 136 and 137 and Appendix II
6.9 Acts of General Synod Winnipeg 1989, Articles 94 and 143 and Appendix II
6.10 "Press Release of Classis Ontario South" in Clarion Vol. 37, No.6, dated March 18, 1988
6.11 "Explaining what we Confess and Practice, Common Cliches and Popular Fallacies (9)" by Ron Dykstra in Reformed Polemics, Volume 9, Number 10, February 28, 2005