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The final (published) version of the Acts of Synod 2006 is available as a single PDF file here.
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Tuesday 18th July 2006 - Afternoon Session


Article 92 - Reformed Churches in The Netherlands - RCN(R) (refer Articles ...........)

I. Material:

Agenda Item 12f(iv) - Relations with the Reformed Churches in The Netherlands (RCN)
Agenda Item 10c - Overture from FRC Mount Nasura dated 17 June 2003

II. Recommendation of deputies:

Please refer to Appendix ......

Amendment 1:

Replace Recommendation 2 of the Deputies' Recommendations (majority) as follows:
  1. To postpone a definitive judgment on the claims of the RCN(R) and to request deputies to investigate further whether or not the decision to "liberate" was lawful.
Grounds:
  1. Although we understand that the RCN(R) have concerns with decisions and directions of the RCN, the information provided to us by the RCN(R) does not adequately explain why the liberation had to occur at this time (ie. 2003) and in the manner that it did. In this further investigation the extensive work done thus far by deputies should be used as well as the decisions of this synod. These can be used to investigate further the separation in 2003 and the developments after 2003.

  2. Even though the liberation took place in 2003, subsequent events including that of Synod Amersfoort 2005 need to be discussed with the RCN(R) to ascertain whether or not their liberation is lawful. Now that our churches have made decisions about some of these crucial areas (refer Articles ....) we should place them before the RCN(R) and discuss these with the RCN(R).

  3. 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.

  4. There is also the need for diligence in our sister relations with the RCN. Deputies in their submissions to the GS of Zuidhorn and Amersfoort have specified their concerns as they related to the reports about the fourth commandment, reports about marriage and divorce, the decision re the blessing as given by a non-elder, the liturgical changes and proposals about the same, including the proliferation of new hymns, as well as the decisions re the chaplaincy and celebration of the Lord's Supper in war zones. We thus have registered our concerns as well. Such diligence will need to continue, in accordance with the rules for sister relations.

  5. Deputies have shown that diligence in discussing developments and trends in the RCN churches has led to some good results. This should be continued. For there continue to be some trends within our Dutch sister churches that do cause concern.

  6. Scripture teaches that a tree is known by its fruit and therefore the faithfulness of the RCN(R) and the RCN will become apparent over time. In the interim we must urge our brothers in the RCN(R) to leave justice to the Lord.
Amendment 2:

Amend Recommendation 2 as follows:
  1. To postpone a definitive judgment on the claims of the RCN(R) and to request deputies to investigate further whether or not the decision to "liberate" was lawful, and to defend the honour and reputation of our Dutch sister Churches.
ADOPTED

Amendment 3:

Add the following to the end of point e of the amended Recommendations 2:
  1. The matter of church discipline and mutual discipline among the churches also requires further information since discipline from consistories and churches among themselves will provide evidence of adherence to or deviation from the official statements of Synod.
ADOPTED

Amendment 4:

Insert the following in the amended Recommendation 2:

"(as made in their letter dated 4 February 2005)"

ADOPTED

Amendment 5:

Total amended Recommendation 2 (to deputies recommendation):
  1. To postpone a definitive judgment on the claims of the RCN(R) (as made in their letter dated 4 February 2005) and to request deputies to investigate further whether or not the decision to "liberate" was lawful and to defend the honour and reputation of our Dutch sister Churches.
Grounds:
  1. Although we understand that the RCN(R) have concerns with decisions and directions of the RCN, the information provided to us by the RCN(R) does not adequately explain why the liberation had to occur at this time (ie. 2003) and in the manner that it did. In this further investigation the extensive work done thus far by deputies should be used as well as the decisions of this synod. These can be used to investigate further the separation in 2003 and the developments after 2003.

  2. Even though the liberation took place in 2003, subsequent events including that of Synod Amersfoort 2005 need to be discussed with the RCN(R) to ascertain whether or not their liberation is lawful. Now that our churches have made decisions about some of these crucial areas (refer Articles ......) we should place them before the RCN(R) and discuss these with the RCN(R).

  3. 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.

  4. There is also the need for diligence in our sister relations with the RCN. Deputies in their submissions to the GS of Zuidhorn and Amersfoort have specified their concerns as they related to the reports about the fourth commandment, reports about marriage and divorce, the decision re the blessing as given by a non-elder, the liturgical changes and proposals about the same, including the proliferation of new hymns, as well as the decisions re the chaplaincy and celebration of the Lord's Supper in war zones. We thus have registered our concerns as well. Such diligence will need to continue, in accordance with the rules for sister relations.

  5. Deputies have shown that diligence in discussing developments and trends in the RCN churches has led to some good results. This should be continued. For there continue to be some trends within our Dutch sister churches that do cause concern. The matter of church discipline and mutual discipline among the churches also requires further information since discipline from consistories and churches among themselves, will provide evidence of adherence to or deviation from the official statements of Synod.

  6. Scripture teaches that a tree is known by its fruit and therefore the faithfulness of the RCN(R) and the RCN will become apparent over time. In the interim we must urge our brothers in the RCN(R) to leave justice to the Lord.
ADOPTED

Amendment 6:

Synod proposes Recommendation 3, Ground b. be deleted.

Grounds:
  1. The proposed grounds accurately reflect the discussions.

  2. The proposed grounds give an clear statement without judgement.
ADOPTED

Amendment 7:

Change Recommendation 1 to:
  1. To express grief that some members felt the need to separate from the RCN and formed the RCN(R).
Ground:

Clarifies the recommendation of the deputies.

DEFEATED

Amendment 8:

Change Recommendation 1 to:
  1. To express grief that a separation has occurred in 2003.
Grounds: Such a separation always causes much grief as it divides believers who used to sit around the same Lord's table. It especially grieves our Lord who prayed fervently that the apostolic witness would build one, apostolic church.

DEFEATED

III. Decision (Recommendation incorporating all amendments):
  1. To express grief that some members separated from the RCN and formed the RCN(R).

    Grounds:

    1. Such a separation always causes much grief as it divides believers who used to sit around the same Lord's table. It especially grieves our Lord who prayed fervently that the apostolic witness would build one, apostolic church.

    2. It also means that brothers who all want to keep the church on a strongly reformed basis now stand divided. Some are in the RCN(R) and some in the RCN. This is both a pity and a grievous hurt.

  2. To postpone a definitive judgment on the claims of the RCN(R) (as made in their letter dated 4 February 2005) and to request deputies to investigate further whether or not the decision to "liberate" was lawful and to defend the honour and reputation of our Dutch sister Churches.

    Grounds:

    1. Although we understand that the RCN(R) have concerns with decisions and directions of the RCN, the information provided to us by the RCN(R) does not adequately explain why the liberation had to occur at this time (ie. 2003) and in the manner that it did. In this further investigation the extensive work done thus far by deputies should be used as well as the decisions of this synod. These can be used to investigate further the separation in 2003 and the developments after 2003.

    2. Even though the liberation took place in 2003, subsequent events including that of Synod Amersfoort 2005 need to be discussed with the RCN(R) to ascertain whether or not their liberation is lawful. Now that our churches have made decisions about some of these crucial areas (refer Articles ......) we should place them before the RCN(R) and discuss these with the RCN(R).

    3. 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.

    4. There is also the need for diligence in our sister relations with the RCN. Deputies in their submissions to the GS of Zuidhorn and Amersfoort have specified their concerns as they related to the reports about the fourth commandment, reports about marriage and divorce, the decision re the blessing as given by a non-elder, the liturgical changes and proposals about the same, including the proliferation of new hymns, as well as the decisions re the chaplaincy and celebration of the Lord's Supper in war zones. We thus have registered our concerns as well. Such diligence will need to continue, in accordance with the rules for sister relations.

    5. Deputies have shown that diligence in discussing developments and trends in the RCN churches has led to some good results. This should be continued. For there continue to be some trends within our Dutch sister churches that do cause concern. The matter of church discipline and mutual discipline among the churches also requires further information since discipline from consistories and churches among themselves, will provide evidence of adherence to or deviation from the official statements of Synod.

    6. Scripture teaches that a tree is known by its fruit and therefore the faithfulness of the RCN(R) and the RCN will become apparent over time. In the interim we must urge our brothers in the RCN(R) to leave justice to the Lord.

  3. We cannot at this time positively respond to the request of the RCN(R) to acknowledge them as "the lawful continuation of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands."

    Grounds:

    As decided at Synod Rockingham 2003, we as FRCA acknowledge the RCN as giving "evidence of continuing faithfulness." At the same time the FRCA want to "discuss and to continue to discuss with the RCN deputies the concerns as to the development within the RCN and as outlined and recommended in the report of deputies" (Acts of Synod Rockingham 2003, Article 41).

  4. Not to accede to the request to enter sister relations with the RCN(R).

    Ground:

    Not being able to recognise them as the continuing RCN means that we cannot enter sister relations with them.

  5. To maintain official contact with the RCN(R) so that we can work for reconciliation between them and the RCN, on the basis of truth and love.

    Grounds:

    1. We hear in the voice of the brothers of the RCN(R) a strong desire to remain reformed. One cannot but appreciate this desire to remain reformed. Thus we need to continue to have contacts with them so that we can speak to them and continue to urge them, as well as our Dutch sister church, to work for reconciliation on the basis of truth and love.

    2. Indeed, unwarranted separation is against Christ's prayer for unity, and we need to address this in these contacts.

    3. Visits can be made to the RCN(R) at the same time as those to the general synods of our sister churches.

    4. There are those in the RCN who share similar concerns and have openly and publicly indicated their concerns.

    5. The RCN(R) seceded in 2003. Much has occurred since then. There is a need for up-to-date contacts, especially after the GS of Amersfoort and its decisions, including its attempts to re-open official contacts. Also, we must take into consideration the synod which the RCN(R) will hold (as yet) in 2005, D.V.

  6. To have synod respond to the letter of the RCN(R).

    Ground:

    After a decision is made by synod, only then can an official response be sent. Synod should send such an official answer to the RCN(R) in accordance with this decision.
ADOPTED


Article 93 - Reformed Churches in The Netherlands - Overall Recommendations (RCN) (refer Articles ...........)

I. Material:

Agenda Item 12f(iv) - Relations with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (RCN)
Agenda Item 10c - Overture from FRC Mount Nasura dated 17 June 2003

II. Recommendations:
  1. Overall recommendations concerning the RCN (from deputies):

    1. To continue sister-relations with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands according to the adopted Rules for Sister-Relations.

    2. To discharge Deputies and to appoint new Deputies with the mandate to:

      1. To exercise sister-relations with the RCN according to the adopted rules;

      2. According to the rules, to discuss and to continue to discuss with the RCN Deputies the concerns as to the developments within the RCN, and as outlined and recommended in the report of deputies (see below);

      3. To urge the RCN to continue to engage in meaningful dialogue with the "new liberated" Reformed Churches, having an understanding of their concerns and grievances, and addressing these concerns Scripturally and confessionally in truth and love;

      4. To instruct deputies to send two delegates to the next general synod of the RCN (subject to available finances);

      5. To report to next Synod.

    Grounds:

    1. The RCN gives evidence of continuing faithfulness to the Word of God, their Reformed Confessions and the Church Order.

    2. Deputies have pointed out and given evidence about some specific concerns. These should (continue to) be addressed, according to the rules.

    3. The 2005 GS Amersfoort sent an appeal to the newly liberated Reformed Churches (RCN(R)) and has thus initiated contact with these churches. This contact should be encouraged to continue, from both sides.

    4. Personal visits to synods is often more helpful than correspondence from a distance. As deputies have shown, it improves relations. Delegates should use the opportunity to visit the RCN(R) as well.

    DEFEATED

  2. Alternate Recommendation of Deputies (refer to Appendix ....):

  3. Amendment 1 (to amended alternate recommendation):

    Replace Decision 3 with:

    1. To express thanks that the RCN attempted to engage in meaningful dialogue with the RCN(R) churches, showing a greater understanding of their concerns and grievances, and Scripturally and confessionally addressing these concerns in humility and love and to monitor the responses from the RCN(R).

    And to replace 5d in the mandate for the new deputies as follows:

    1. d. To encourage the RCN to continue to work toward reconciliation with the RCN(R).

    DEFEATED

  4. Amendment 2:

    To delete 5 c 2+3

    Grounds:

    1. These are covered by the Rules.

    2. Trying to see underlying causes is also very subjective.

    3. Investigating trends in churches does not belong to the official task of deputies. Deputies already read broadly and try to acquaint themselves as broadly as possible.

    DEFEATED

  5. Amendment 3:

    Add a new point to Decision 5c2 with a new ground

    1. the admission of non-sister church members to the use of the sacraments.

    Ground (to be inserted after existing Ground c):

    1. Synod Amersfoort decided that non-sister church members, under certain circumstances, may be admitted to the use of the sacraments

    DEFEATED
III. Recommendation:

A decision was adopted. The final text of this decision is found in Article 94.


Article 94 - Relations with The Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (RCN) - Fully collated decision

I. Fourth Commandment and Sunday (Refer to Article 47):

Decision:
  1. To acknowledge with thanks that the mandates to stay informed about developments and decisions in the RCN about the Sabbath/Sunday issue and to continue the discussions with the RCN on this matter have been amply fulfilled.

  2. To accept Amersfoort's decision as largely allaying our concerns.

  3. To have deputies monitor the application of this decision, seeing there are still concerns about its application and clarity of Sunday, Lordly Day. A Pastoral Guideline.
Grounds:
  1. The deputies have had to study long reports from the Dutch deputies and interacted with intensive discussions, both by letters and by personal meetings, with our Dutch sister churches on this issue

  2. In distinction from synods Leusden and Zuidhorn, Synod Amersfoort took the view that "no matter how you approach Sunday rest, both lines take their starting point in a commandment to rest on Sundays." This means that the RCN has come to the conclusion that the New Testament Church's obligation to cease working on Sunday is based on God's command.

  3. General Synod Amersfoort acknowledged the need "to endeavour, while looking upward in prayer to God, to come to renewed conviction regarding the celebration of the Sunday and its place within a Christian style of life as a whole." (Decision 3) This gives the impression that our Dutch sister churches are determined to insist - on the basis of God's Word - that church members should not work on Sunday.

  4. According to the adopted rules for Sister Relations it is our task to "assist, encourage and exhort one another to live as churches of God in this world."
II. Divorce and Remarriage (Refer to Article 48):

Decision:
  1. To express thankfulness that our Dutch sister churches could take a strong Scriptural stance regarding God's teachings against divorce and remarriage.

  2. To express regret that, while the issue regarding the approval of divorces for reasons beyond the Scriptural reasons of adultery and wilful desertion was not endorsed by synod and thus implicitly excluded, synod did not explicitly state this.
Grounds:
  1. Synod Amersfoort in the "Principles and Guidelines" that it approved, gives strong Scriptural guidance showing how divorce and subsequent remarriage are a serious evil and must be so dealt with by consistories.

  2. Synod Amersfoort gave no explicit guidance regarding the danger of moving in a direction that allows divorce for reasons beyond adultery and wilful desertion (Matt 19 and 1 Cor 7).
III. Liturgy and Hymns (Refer to Article 49):

Decision:
  1. To express appreciation for not developing a separate order of worship on the basis of the Ordinarium texts.

  2. To express appreciation for not releasing for use in the churches the order of worship for the "leerdienst" (teaching-service) as presented by the deputies.

  3. To express concerns about the continuing proliferation and the contents of the hymns from the "liedboek voor de kerken;" and to continue to suggest more time be spent on the Psalms and on songs based directly on Scripture.

  4. To keep monitoring RCN's decisions in accordance with our Rule b (to mutually care for each other that they do not depart from the reformed faith in liturgy) and to become more acquainted, in a selective manner, with the hymns that are approved and are being approved.
Grounds:
  1. Although GS Amersfoort stated that GS Zuidhorn has added to GS Leusden that a hymn should not be in conflict with the Reformed Confession, GS Zuidhorn decided not to change Leusden's criterium into "a good hymn should not be in conflict with Scripture and Confession".

  2. The contents of hymns should be unambiguously biblical and reformed. There are too many hymns in "Liedboek voor de kerken" which are not unambiguously biblical and reformed.

  3. Deputies have asked that the Psalms, the Book of Praise in the Bible, receive more attention. Without replacing the present rhymings and tunes of the Psalms, to work on new rhymings which are more Christ-centred and on tunes other than Genevan ones. Thus more attention can be given to the Psalms.

  4. More than once Deputies have asked the RCN, in line with John Calvin, to put to rhyme Bible texts and passages. It is better to spend time and energy in composing hymns directly derived from Scriptures than in dealing with appeal upon appeal to unbiblical thoughts that have crept into the hymns. And probably those hymns can be sung if the congregations, by singing, every time translate the ambiguous sentences in a reformed way, but always those hymns shall be found inferior to the faithful Cantica which are based on God's own reliable Word.
IV. Sacraments in Military Situations (Refer to Article 50):

Decision:

To express our concerns to the Dutch sister churches that GS Amersfoort's decision regarding the administration of both sacraments for military personnel goes beyond the common consent of the Church Order and leads to the danger of interdenominational (against Article 28, B.C.) administration of sacraments.

Grounds:
  1. GS Amersfoort has not alleviated our concerns that were sent to deputies. We are still not convinced that there is no danger in making exceptions to the commonly agreed regulations of the Church Order and then apply them in exceptional circumstances within the military environment.

  2. GS Amersfoort should have referred to Belgic Confession, Article 28, where we confess that it is everyone's duty to join the church and unite with it, maintaining the unity of the church.

  3. The possibility of administering the Lord's Supper, under certain conditions, to those who are not members of the RCN (or sister churches) has been expanded to the sacrament of baptism (again under certain conditions). Baptising children of believing servicemen who are not members of the RCN (or sister churches) is now also possible.

  4. The exceptional situations, which previously referred to "war zones" and "areas of crisis" have now been broadened to include all military zones where the RCN servicemen are isolated for lengthy periods of time.
V. Nederlands Gereformeerde Kerken (NGK) and Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerken (CGK) (Refer to Article 66)

Regarding CGK:
  1. To encourage our sister-churches in their pursuit of unity with the CGK to do so on the proven basis of God's Word as confessed in the Three Forms of Unity and as practiced by the Church Order of Dort.

  2. To monitor further developments and to report to the next synod.
Grounds:
  1. These churches have the same basis. The Union of 1892 should have seen both within one federation. Though this did not occur then, the mandate of our Lord and His prayer to be one obliges us to seek this unity.

  2. Since these developments are ongoing, it is good to keep the churches posted.
Regarding RCN:
  1. To encourage the RCN in their contacts with the NGK to continue to insist on the need within the NGK for binding to God's Word as confessed in The Three Forms of Unity, and also to insist on the proper place of the Church Order to counteract independentism.

  2. To express thanks that the RCN carefully assessed the request to reconsider the decisions of GS Amersfoort-West (1967) and Hoogeveen (1969/70).

  3. To encourage the RCN to pursue the recent developments in the NGK for justifying women as elders and ministers, since this is a barrier to unity.

  4. To keep in close contact with the Dutch Deputies and to report to the next synod.
Grounds:
  1. The binding to the Scriptures and confessions as well as the proper place of the Church Order for the bond of churches are the crucial points of division. We should encourage our Sister Churches in these matters."

  2. The subject of the split in the 1960s has been carefully investigated. It was decided that it's not necessary to change the decisions of previous General Synods.

  3. The declaration of the NGK to justify women in the offices of minister and elder indeed sets a barrier to unity. Our sisters need to address this with the NGK.
VI. Overall Recommendations (RCN)

Decision:
  1. To continue sister-relations with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands according to the adopted Rules for Sister-Relations.

  2. To express our thankfulness to the RCN churches regarding the openness and frankness in which their deputies and ours could be engaged in concerns and discussions.

  3. To urge the RCN to engage in meaningful dialogue with the RCN(R) churches, having a greater understanding of their concerns and grievances, and Scripturally and confessionally addressing these concerns in humility and love.

  4. To express our concerns regarding the directions being taken, particularly in regard to the manner in which Scripture and the commandments are interpreted and applied to today's circumstances, taking into account decisions made by our synods.

  5. To discharge Deputies and to appoint new Deputies with the mandate to:

    1. Exercise sister-relations with the RCN according to the adopted rules;

    2. To discuss with the RCN the nature and cause underlying the directions being taken by their churches as expressed above;

    3. Discuss with the RCN Deputies the concerns as to the developments within the RCN, including:

      1. those that deputies have already been busy with, and the decisions already made by Synod West Kelmscott 2006, so that this work does not need to be done all over again;

      2. the RCN dealings with views on hermeneutics, work of the Holy Spirit and the application of church discipline;

      3. the influence of the charismatic movement on the RCN;

    4. Implement decision 3;

    5. Report to next Synod;

    6. To instruct deputies to send two delegates to the next Synod of the RCN.
Grounds:
  1. The RCN gives evidence of continuing faithfulness to the Word of God, their Reformed Confessions and the Church Order.

  2. Our deputies have been able to correspond with Dutch deputies in a good and brotherly way, and their deputies have brought our concerns to their Synod table. This is in the spirit of the rules for sister church relations to which both our church bonds have committed themselves.

  3. FRCA deputies express concern about a subjective interpretation of Scripture in relation to the RCN considerations about marriage and divorce that was not expressly denied by the RCN synod. Via books, the media and websites, members from within the RCN have raised matters of concern including the work of the Spirit and the application of church discipline. These matters of concern need to be investigated.

  4. Synod has made decisions on fourth commandment, divorce and remarriage, sacraments in military situations, liturgy and hymns.

  5. In order to pave the way towards reconciliation, it is important that the RCN be urged to work towards reconciliation with the RCN(R) on the basis of truth, love and humility.

  6. Deputies need to continue to address the concerns in accordance with the rules of sister church relations.

  7. Personal visits to synods are often more helpful than correspondence from a distance. Delegates should use the opportunity to visit the RCN(R) as well.
ADOPTED


Article 95 - Overture of Mount Nasura Re relations with the RCN

I. Material:

Agenda Item 10d - Overture re relations with Reformed Churches in the Netherlands

II. Proposal:

To defeat the proposal of Mt Nasura.

Ground:

Mt Nasura in effect asks for greater awareness and diligence in considering members and ministers from the RCN that come here. Synod regards this adequately covered in the tasks the consistories already have in the exercise as overseers of the church.

ADOPTED




last updated 21 Jul 2006
 
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