How #RCASynod is backing into a Confessional Conversation on the floor of its General Synod.

rca two denominations

Watching the RCA Livestream

Watch the Saved Livestream here

This afternoon the RCA Synod voted to send its “one man and one woman” liturgy to the classes for ratification. To me that’s not the big news.

Then the topic came up of having an “affinity classis” for LGBTQ inclusion.

The RCA General Synod rules (unlike the CRC rules) has a strange, and in my opinion counterproductive practice of allowing “substitute motions” to be inserted into the discussion. A substitute motion looking for a “grace-filled and orderly separation” into two denominations.

I almost fell off my chair! You can just propose this from the floor of Synod?!

Anyway. It failed.

Then this came next.

rca hermeneutics

Daniel Meeter, who I respect immensely,  noted that he asked for this and nobody wanted it. Then Rene House (spelling?) moved an amendment.

rca scripture

And she says “and we will get nowhere on any discussions that are complex unless we do this work together.”

From there the discussion divides into three camps,  all of them right.

  • “We already HAVE this in our ‘standards’ (RCA language for confessions), creeds and confessions.”
  • “I would LOVE to sit down and talk about this… What is scripture, how do we read it…” There was a one point where someone was remarking about the neo-orthodox distinction “the Bible CONTAINS the Word of God” and “the Bible IS the Word of God, and another woman “Jesus is the Word of God…” Apartheid came up.
  • “We need to figure out what it means to be Reformed” and then “We already know what it means to be Reformed, the Reformers have been talking about these issues…”

I was nearly jumping up and down in my chair. We are making progress!

What both the CRC and the RCA Need

  • We should understand what we both believe on paper but have forgotten in practice. Confessions administer the unity of the church. This is why signing them is the gate for inclusions into the leadership of the church. We already HAVE the system. We must use it.
  • We do not need a hermeneutic conversation, where we try to figure out what individual passages say, we need a confessional conversation where we look at the bigger context. We will not resolve this by trying to agree on what Leviticus says, we must first work on and find agreement, or disagreement, on what Leviticus IS. 
  • The process of having this confessional conversation cannot be delegated to experts. It cannot be a top-down process because the goal if it now is for local clergy and lay leaders to re-understand confessions and the reason for them. As I’ve said many times there may be many proto-confessions that could arise from this. Maybe there might be separation and re-organization of denominations. Maybe there will be new structures of unity. The point is that we need to do this work together, and apart. We need to have words and terms mean something that both sides can understand, and then agree or disagree or find ways to work with disagreement.
  • This is bigger than one denomination. The RCA would be an ideal conversational partner with us.
  • The political process is distinct. Again, I’ve written a lot about this in the last month.  Again, although the current context is LGBTQ inclusion, the issues are far larger and broader and if we don’t have the conversation now we’ll have it 10 years from now over another issue just like we didn’t have it 30 years ago over WICO.

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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2 Responses to How #RCASynod is backing into a Confessional Conversation on the floor of its General Synod.

  1. Timothy Pieters says:

    Hey Paul, I’ve been following your postings and trying to understand exactly what the advantage is of the confessional conversation… could you concisely (sorry, i read better when it’s shorter!) what do you think this gains us? wouldn’t it be simpler to divide into two groups based on the interpretation of Leviticus (i.e. one group that agrees Scripture supports it and one that doesn’t)?

  2. Pingback: The Difference Between a Hermeneutical Study and a Confessional Conversation |

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