Canadian Reformed Church at Attercliffe
85950 Canboro Rd.
It appears that the consistory's position continues to be that unity WILL be established as both the claim that both CanRC & the URC base themselves on Scripture and the Three Forms of Unity. However, both parties need to examine if in fact they do submit without reservation to this basis. For if that was the case, most of the current discussions under "Phase Two" could be dispensed with. Therefore both the CanRC and URC need to examine themselves. A simplistic unity concept has become like motherhood and apple pie. Who could disagree that it is a requirement, for scripture is clear. But on what is unity of the church actually based? Is it not the truth, the whole truth? Not just the parts that appeal to us, or which we consider important. Tota Scriptura was as much a principle of the great reformation as Sola Scriptura. Christ gathers a church "in the unity of the true faith" LD 21 HC. And true faith is defined in the HC as "a sure knowledge whereby I accept as true ALL that God has revealed to us in His word'. So, the unity of the church consists of the faithful adherence to the teaching of the prophets and apostles. We must "discern diligently and very carefully" Art. 29 BC, whether these confessions are being upheld today and be prepared to return to faithful obedience.
The consistory continues to cause us much grief in their persistant, yet inconsistent support of Synod Neerlandia's unwarranted position and decisions in regard to Unity. Premature actions are taken, based on hoped for future agreements (shacking up on the basis of a future intent to marry) and thereby compromising the faithfulness of the Church of our Lord in Attercliffe.
You have stated that you have the intention to appeal the synod decision in regard to the establishment of EF with the OPC, while at the same time approving and helping to accelerate the move to unwarranted unity with the URC.
The OPC and URC have many common unscriptural positions, so your position is inconsistent. A few examples will be sufficient. In both the OPC & URC ministers are allowed on the pulpit, which their consistory, session or presbytery are not able to supervise, where no proper agreement exists. Recently at Jordan URC we saw the CanRC minister followed to the pulpit by a Christian Reformed minister. Thus we continually see the mocking of Christ's church in the promotion of an invisible church, where as a result the church and her office bearers are robbed of their scripture given authority and function. Thus neither the OPC nor the URC are able to put into practice the concept of confessional membership or exercise discipline based on doctrinal unfaithfulness.
In both the OPC & URC the pluriformity of the church is practiced with the admission of guests to the Lord's Supper. To put it more clearly, neither of these churches uphold what we in the CanRC have agreed to practice in Art. 61 CO. You have only to read the documents of these churches to confirm that this is so. If our official, narrower, practice of Art. 61 CO goes beyond scripture, as more and more CanRC's now believe (evidenced by Synod's decisions), we must repent of our sectarianism. We may not impose standards that go beyond Scripture and thus exclude those who should be allowed to attend the Supper of our Lord. If, however our practice of Art. 61 CO faithfully reflects what we confess in LD 30 of HC, then we may not risk kindling His wrath against the whole congregation by accepting other practices, first of all in our churches or, in other churches with which we wish to unite.
Both the URC and the OPC show by their actions that they do not maintain a Scriptural concept of the church or understand fully that Christ does not gather individuals but a church, an assembly, a body, a gathering of the elect. This is proven by the individualistic approach to selecting ministers from other "denominations" with whom no proper "relationship" is established to preach on our pulpits. This is contrary to the "established" practice of the CanRC, as per the previously accepted understanding of Art. 15 CO. CanRC ministers are not allowed to conduct services in churches of another "denomination" and we, also as members are not allowed to accept them on our pulpits. "Accepting such an invitation would amount to a practical denial of the call by the church he is serving" (With Common Consent on Art. 15 CO). It is common practice in the OPC & URC (and the rest of the Presbyterian & Reformed world), to allow on the pulpit to preach, ministers from other "denomination" with whom no proper "relationship" exists. This based on acquaintanceships etc. with the understanding that they have agreement on the "basic tenants" of the Christian "faith" as members of that "invisible" church. We may not allow that in our actions as the church becomes a human organization; "the church of your choice" as modern pseudo-christians say and action of self-willed worship.
Brothers I can go on with more examples of inconsistency, but I do not wish to test your endurance & patience for what some of you, with little knowledge of church history, may consider nitpicking. That we cannot impose standards on others, due to that fact that we in the CanRC no longer uphold or own agreements (as you argue in your previous response in reference to Women's Voting - dd Feb.21,2002) does not wash either. It only imposes a greater responsibility on you to act to ensure these agreements are upheld and to combat independentism.
Brothers, the Lord hates a double standard (Prov. 20:10,23)
Further in the matter of "women's voting rights", most churches today are influenced by the secular culture around them, they do not have the zeal or courage to stand up for the truth. The "new hermeneutic" is used to reinterpret God's Word and to culturally acclimatize it. The CanRC is not immune to this either, we repeatedly see proposals brought to Synod to reinterpret scripture in the hope of making our practice less offensive to the World. The CRC had long ago given in to the new hermeneutic with the adoption of Report 44 about the "Nature and Extent of Biblical Authority" and the URC have not been able to throw off the full extent of that yoke of apostacy when leaving the CRC. And now we in the CanRC are going to make it a Church Orderly matter? Will such shameful opportunism not go unpunished by the Lord of the Church?
The URC churches are generally incorporated. This means that the ministers, as an employee, may not be the chairman of the governing body, but what is much worse, the church becomes a democratic organization subject to the majority view of the members. Christ's rule becomes conditional!
The article by Rev. Agema in the bulletin of October 27th took Prof. Schilder's views out of context. Trying to make his opinion apply to a very different situation is unfair, as many in the congregation only vaguely remember his role in the Liberation, so it defames his reputation and misleads the congregation. We have yet to see a real willingness to submit to the authority of God's Word by either the CanRC or the URC in the current situation. Is that not why the phase process is deemed necessary?
Brothers, how can we but conclude that scripture clearly leads us to see that you are on a wrong road? How can Synod make decisions contrary to the established CO? How can you promote such decisions? Please reconsider your responsibility. Are we, as church members, to accept your authority unconditionally? Therefore, is your call to attend church legitimate when you take on authority you have not been given, and set on the pulpit those who do not belong there and later accept those at the Lord's table, who do not wish to apply the biblical principle about self testimony? Your authority as office bearers is based on your faithfulness to God's Word. Your current actions are contrary to the preaching we have heard over the years. Or was that just the theory, and now reality, in a sinful world, is different?
Brothers, please take the unity of this congregation more seriously, rather than forcing unity where it is not yet warranted. Please concentrate your efforts on encouraging the reformational work, so sorely needed, in the CanRC federatively and here in Attercliff. Do not discourage the zeal of the believers, who are struggling to remain faithful.
Ed & Alice Helder