(Excerpt from Press Release of Classis Pacific
held at Chilliwack, B.C. on April 14, 1971,
obtained from Shield and Sword, Vol.4, No.6, May 1971, pp.13-14)
ARTICLE 6 - PROPOSALS AND INSTRUCTIONS OF THE CHURCHES
The only proposal on the agenda is the proposal of the Church at Chilliwack re: Correspondence with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. This proposal is discussed extensively. During the discussion the following proposal is made and seconded:
Classis concludes from the report of deputies appointed by General Synod of Orangeville 1968 for contact with the representatives of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church:
in the Scriptures required unity of faith is missing between the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Canadian Reformed Churches:
in confession re: "church", "covenant" and "faith"
in church polity re: authority of ecclesiastical assemblies
in church correspondence re: relationship with other churches
since these points are by the O.P.C. confessed and practiced in contraposition to the confessions, the church order and the rules for correspondence of the Canadian Reformed Churches.
that offering correspondence to the O.P.C., according to the rules for correspondence of the Canadian Reformed Churches, is in conflict with the nature of the confessions and church order of the Canadian Reformed Churches, since these confessions and church order are by the Canadian Reformed Churches so adopted, that they are in agreement with the Word of God and that all things repugnant thereto are to be rejected.
offering correspondence to the O.P.C. is also in conflict with the decision of the General Synod, Edmonton, 1965, Acts, art. 141 II. This decision reads:
"Correspondentie met Kerken in het buitenland behoort niet to worden aangegaan dan nadat door een nauwgezet er ernstig onderzoek is gebleken, dat deze Kerken de Gereformeerde belijdenis en Kerkregering niet slechts officieel hebben aanvaard, maar metterdaad handhaven." [Translation: 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.]
the establishing of a fraternal relationship, suggested by the committee of the O.P.C. (see page 3 of the report of Deputies), is only found in the unity of true faith.
Deputies have drawn the invalid conclusion that the divergencies in confession between the Canadian Reformed Churches and the O.P.C. are of such a nature that they should not prevent the Canadian Reformed Churches from entering into correspondence with the O.P.C., since this conclusion is drawn "on the ground of" considerations which are unjustified.
Deputies from their consideration of the divergencies in church polity between the Canadian Reformed Churches and the O.P.C. unjustly conclude, that there is no difference in the essential truth of Christ's headship over His Church and of the absolute authority which His Word should have in the government of the Church.
Deputies themselves admit that the membership of the O.P.C. of the Reformed Ecumenical Synod is still an impediment to enter into a correspondence that is truly ecumenical in nature.
Classis proposes to General Synod:
A. Not to offer correspondence to the O.P.C., as recommended by Deputies, neither to establish a fraternal relationship, as suggested by the committee of the O.P.C.
B. Not to change the rules for correspondence with foreign churches for the sake of giving room for that kind of correspondence that does not require the unity of the faith.
C. To express appreciation to Deputies for the work which they have done, and to discharge them.
D. To appoint Deputies for further contact with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church with the following mandate:
1. to explain to the O.P.C. that the unity of the faith between the churches requires agreement in one anothers confessions and church polity and the maintenance thereof.
2. to explain further that permitting statements in the confessions and the church polity of the O.P.C. which are in contraposition to the confessions and church order of the Canadian Reformed Churches, for the sake of entering into correspondence with the O.P.C., undermine the binding force of the confessions and church polity in both churches and will lead to liberalism in doctrine and to licentiousness in the life of the members.
3. to carefully examine which statements in the confessions and rules for church government and worship of the O.P.C. are in contraposition with the Three Forms of Unity, the church order and the forms and prayers of the Canadian Reformed Churches.
4. to notify the O.P.C. of such an examination.
5. to communicate to the next General Synod the results of their contact with the O.P.C., to submit to this Synod a report of the results of this examination, and to send a copy of this communication and report to Synod to the churches six months prior to the date of convening of Synod.
THE RESPONSE TO THE ABOVE PROPOSAL
IS CONTAINED WITHIN THE FOLLOWING EXCERPT
OF THE ACTS OF GENERAL SYNOD NEW WESTMINSTER 1971
Contact Orthodox Presbyterian Church
Committee II presents:
Materials - Agenda 8
D.1 - Report of the Committee on the contact with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, appointed by General Synod 1968. (See Supplement V)
D.2 - Overture Church at Toronto, Ont.
D.3 - Letter Church at Burlington-East, Ont.
D.4 - Overture Church at Burlington-West, Ont.
D.5 - Letter Church at London, Ont.
D.6 - Proposal Classis Pacific, April 1971
D.7 - Overture Church at Brampton, Ont.
D.8 - Proposal Church at Carman, Man.
D.9 - Letter Church at Smithville, Ont.
D.10 - Letter Church at Lincoln, Ont.
S.1 - Letter Br. J. DeKoning, Toronto, Ont.
1. Synod Edmonton 1965 decided:
a. to request the Orthodox Presbyterian Church to appoint Deputies to establish contact with Deputies of the Canadian Reformed Churches;
b. to inform the Orthodox Presbyterian Church about our Confession and Church government;
c. to discuss frankly with the Deputies the differences in Confession and Church-polity and to compare these differences with the Word of God.
2. Synod 1968 gratefully acknowledged the facts:
a. that the Orthodox Presbyterian Church can accept the Canadian Reformed Churches as true Churches on the basis of the Creeds and Church government;
b. that in many respects, the good fight of the faith is being fought in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
3. Deputies, appointed by Synod 1968, have examined the differences in Confession, Church Polity and Church Correspondence. They have evaluated them to see whether these differences are of such a nature that they would prevent the Canadian Reformed Churches from recognizing the Orthodox Presbyterian Church as a true church and from entering into correspondence with this Church. (Mandate General Synod 1968, Acts, Art. 154.)
1. The Orthodox Presbyterian Church "is of the conviction" that the correspondence with the (Synodical) Gereformeerde Kerken in the Netherlands "requires termination". (Minutes of the 37th General Assembly, 1970, p.105.)
2. The Orthodox Presbyterian Church still maintains 'fraternal relationship' with Churches that have correspondence with the (Synodical) Gereformeerde Kerken in the Netherlands.
3. The Orthodox Presbyterian Church is still a member of the Reformed Ecumenical Synod.
4. The discussion and talks of the Deputies of both Churches, which have lasted almost six years, have not resulted in a recommendation to, gladly and without reservation, enter into correspondence with these churches.
5. Deputies of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church have expressed the stand of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, namely a preference for 'fraternal relationship' instead of 'rules for sister-church relationship'.
6. The time has come that the Canadian Reformed Churches state clearly their position toward the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in the matter of entering into correspondence.
To acknowledge gratefully,
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;
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);
3. that the Orthodox Presbyterian Church "is of the conviction" that the correspondence with the (Synodical) Gereformeerde Kerken in the Netherlands "requires termination". (Minutes of the 37th General Assembly, 1970, p.105.)
Synod further conclude
4. that the relation with Churches, that maintain a correspondence with these Churches is still existing;
5. that this fact and the membership in the Reformed Ecumenical Synod, are impediments to enter into correspondence;
6. that the preference for 'fraternal relationship' prevents the use of the rules for correspondence as a condition for entering into correspondence;
7. that divergencies in confession and in Church polity are serious enough to remain the subject of further and frank discussion.
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;
2. to also terminate their relationship with Churches, that maintain correspondence with the (Synodical) Gereformeerde Kerken in the Netherlands, as well as membership in the Reformed Ecumenical Synod;
3. to consider to adopt the rules for correspondence of the Canadian Reformed Churches.
Synod further decide
II a. to express the gratitude of Synod to the Committee on contact with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church for their work done in this matter;
b. to appoint a Committee with the mandate:
1. to prepare and forward a letter as outlined above to the forthcoming General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church;
2. to serve as contact - address, and to remain diligent in the matter of contact with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church;
3. to report to the next General Synod, and to keep the Churches informed about the developments of this contact.
The Proposal by Classis Pacific was received by General Synod New Westminster 1971 under Agenda item 8.D.6. The excerpt from Article 92 of the Acts is General Synod's official response to this Proposal. General Synod acknowledges receipt of the above Proposal in the section of the above Article entitled "Materials," however no reference to or interaction is made by General Synod with any of the above Classis considerations or proposals!
Generally the major assemblies summarize the contents of material they receive in a section entitled "Observations." However this is not evident in the response contained in Article 92 above. No reference is made to the substance of any of the material that was submitted or to the requests that were made other than the report of the Committee that was appointed by the previous General Synod (which was appended to the Acts of General Synod 1971 - see Supplement V). Consequently, the only reasonable conclusion that can be made is that the material submitted by Classis Pacific, was, for the most part, ignored by this General Synod!
For further information regarding the decisions of General Synods regarding the O.P.C., see the discussion paper prepared by John Vantil entitled "Acts of Synod of the Canadian Reformed Churches: An Analysis of General Synod Decisions Regarding the Orthodox Presbyterian Church From the Period 1965 to 1989" on this web site.