Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I find it very interesting that the Call to Reform now charges various of our sister churches with having an improperly supervised table rather than an open table. That still begs the question whether having EF with a church federation that practices an "improperly supervised table" makes one a false church and calls for secession. I think the approach of our Austalian sister churches is better. Recently (in the context of a decision about the recent Dutch secession), their synod said:
It is a serious matter to allow deformation to go unchallenged, but it is also a serious matter to separate when it is not warranted. The injunctions to remain one in the Lord (eg. John 17 and Eph 4) sometimes even when serious problems arose, as in Corinth, can be read repetitively in the Bible (cf Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, Ephesians, and Colossians). The letters of Paul and the other apostles constantly remind us of this.
A very biblical approach from Australia!


Dennis A Bratcher said...

And yet these same churches because of the furor caused by their participation in the ICRC withdrew from the ICRC.
Participation in the ICRC is not formal ecclesiastical fellowship but it does indicate those with whom you are strongly inclined to consider EF.

Did the matters raised by those opposed to having EF with the OPC get satisfactorily resolved or is it more as C. Stam noted that, since no one was ever able to get the contact overthrown let us now have ecclesiastical fellowship.

Agricola said...

I'm not sure exactly why the FRCA withdrew from the ICRC. I think it had more to do with the ICRC not fitting the FRCA's original vision of the ICRC. If I remember rightly, they wanted it to be made up only of sister churches. I don't think it had anything specifically to do with the OPC's membershp but, more generally, an objection to the membership of non-EF churches.

John Vantil said...

A review of the Proceedings of the ICRC (held September 1 - 9, 1993 at Zwolle, The Netherlands) will uncover the following additional information:

On the question of admission of the OPC, which took place at this particular ICRC, the following was noted concerning the position of the Free Reformed Churches of Australia (see Article 11 of the Conference minutes):

[Quote]“Mr. Kleijn (FRCA) read a prepared statement indicating why the FRCA delegates would abstain from voting on the matter of new memberships. They gave as reason that their churches are still studying the point of what "unity of faith" implies (cf . Constitution, Art. III. 1). Their concerns related to whether it is ethically correct to say that there is unity of faith in the ICRC while at home member churches have not been able to recognize each other as true churches.” [End-of-quote]

This issue resurfaced at the next Australian Synod in 1994, where the Synod decided to [Quote]"propose to the next ICRC to adopt the following amendment of the first Purpose of the ICRC as stated in its Constitution so that it will read: "1. to express and promote unity in the reformed faith which the member churches confess." One of the grounds for this amendment is that the present reading, "the unity of faith that the member churches HAVE in Christ" implies to many that unity already exists, while full ecclesiastical fellowship has not yet been realized."[End-of-quote] (see Appendix VI of the Acts of General Synod Abbotsford 1995). The subsequent termination of the membership of the Australian churches in the ICRC, by Synod Kelmscott 1996, does not negate this position.

The history of their decisions in the 1990’s shows that the churches in Australia had considerable concerns over the question of unity in the reformed faith! What happened in Australia since then? And do not the E.F. decisions by the CanRC Synods 2001 and 2004 effectively accept (and even adopt) the OPC position that unity in the reformed faith (confessional membership) is *not* required before expressing unity at the Lord's Supper?

Agricola said...

John, picking up where you left off (which seems to be the burden of your main concern and that of your "Call to Reformation" colleagues): No, the EF decisions by the CanRC Synods 2001 and 2004 do not effectively accept or adopt "...the OPC position that unity in the reformed faith (confessional membership) is *not* required before expressing unity at the Lord's Supper." We did not embrace a new position. The church order, Article 61, stands unassailed. Rather, we recognized that what we might consider to be a less than perfect way of fencing the table does not render the OPC (or other EF churches) false or unworthy of a sister-church relationship. You and your colleagues are "guilty" of *Konsequenzmacherei.*

Dennis A Bratcher said...

for the German-challenged, Google points to "state a false syllogism" or "causality-mongering." It seems to be a term attached to Arthur Schopenhauer _The Art of Controversey_.
Google also links to an interesting dissertation on a _Rhetorical Analysis of the Letter to the Galatians_ at

Article 61 may stand unassailed at this point in time, but what is allowed as consistent with the, though not identical to our, understanding of what the True Church does in executing and living out the Marks of the True Church now has precedent.