Thursday, June 22, 2017

Are the CanRC only ten or twenty years behind the GKv?

Our sister churches in the Netherlands, GKN-Liberated (GKv), recently decided at their General Synod to open the offices of minister, elder, and deacon to the sisters of their congregations. This unfortunate decision will do irreparable damage to their relationships with many of their sister churches worldwide. The GKv is a member church of the International Conference of Reformed Churches (ICRC); I cannot imagine that many of the other member churches will be content to let the GKv retain the privileges of membership.

The Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) and the Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS) must be experiencing deja vu. In the mid-1990s the Christian Reformed Church of North America (CRCNA) opened up the offices in their church to women. This became an issue in the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC). At that time the CRCNA was a member church of NAPARC, but their opening of ecclesiastical offices to women led to their suspension in 1997. The OPC and the RCUS were already members of NAPARC then. Also, the CRCNA ordination of women was largely the catalyst for the formation of the United Reformed Churches of North America (URCNA), presently a member of NAPARC.

Are the Canadian Reformed Churches (CanRC) going to follow the GKv in this? Are we a mere ten or twenty years behind? Historically we have had rather close ties to the GKv. Technically the GKv is a sister church to the CanRC, but realistically, the GKv is our mother. Many of our parents and grandparents were born and bred in its bosom. Will the closeness and the ties be the undoing of the CanRC? Will it be only a few years before we see women in our elders benches and on our pulpits?

Although I have no crystal ball, I think the answer to those questions is No. I say that with some confidence because of which churches we associate with here at home, in North America. Not a one of the twelve other NAPARC churches ordains women. At least one of them (URCNA) formed largely because of the issue, and others (OPC and RCUS) have fought the fight against a liberal hermeneutic on several fronts and, by the grace of God, prevailed for the truth.

Possibly we have an advantage that the GKv does not have. We are in a circle of churches that maintains an explicitly Reformed hermeneutic, a circle that I do not think the GKv has on the European continent.

Let us, as CanRC, be cautious about the company we keep, and let us stay in step with our NAPARC associates.