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The final (published) version of the Acts of Synod 2006 is available as a single PDF file here.
The Acts available in HTML format are an "Approved Draft", and contain spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and typos.
These draft acts are being retained online for convenience and ease of access. Quotes should not be taken from these draft acts.
 
Thursday 20th July 2006 - Morning Session


Article 110 - Re-opening

Br F Bosveld opens with Scripture reading from Isaiah 40:1-15 and invites those present to sing from Hymn 11:1, 2 and 3. He then leads in prayer.


Article 111 - Letter FRC West Kelmscott Appeal re Forgiveness of Sins

I. Material:

Agenda Item 8c - Letter FRC West Kelmscott Appeal re Articles 132, 153, 155, 156, 160 Acts 2003

FRCWK requests synod to rescind various articles of Synod Rockingham and revise those decisions. The decisions under appeal are Articles 132, 153, 155, 156, 160.

FRCWK argues that Synod Rockingham's decisions concerning the forgiveness of sins leads to the unscriptural conclusions that:
  1. man is unable to forgive fellow man in the absence of repentance;

  2. man's forgiveness means to pardon sin and remove guilt.
II. Admissibility:

To declare this request admissible.

Ground:

There is a widespread perception that Synod Rockingham made doctrinal decisions that were binding on all the churches. For the wellbeing of the churches it is necessary to deal with this appeal.

ADOPTED

III. Decision:

Not to uphold the appeal.

Grounds:
  1. The statements on the forgiveness of sins were made by Synod Rockingham in response to an appeal related to a specific pastoral situation. It is therefore not binding on every local congregation or individual member of the Free Reformed Churches in Australia. It "does not constitute a general pronouncement by which all the church members are bound (...) [but] concerns only the one who appealed to the major assembly." (WWJ Van Oene, With Common Consent, 154.)

  2. The decisions made by Synod Rockingham were intended to give direction to the Kelmscott consistory and various appellants in the circumstances which they were in at the time of the appeal. Since none of those parties have requested revision of decisions which pertain to them, synod would do them injustice if we would now revise these decisions.

  3. Synod Rockingham 2003 made lengthy statements which caused confusion in the church.

  4. The following observations clarify the matter:

    1. Synod 2003 made a distinction between the primary and secondary meaning of forgiveness.

    2. The primary meaning is this (the second aspect of Calvin's definition): "receiving a brother into favour (Mt 18,15), forgetting the injury and thinking favourably of him, being convinced that the remembrance of his offence is blotted out in the sight of God." (art 132, ground 6, page 87 & ground 3b page 86).

    3. The secondary meaning is this (the first aspect of Calvin's definition, i.e. unconditional forgiveness): "seeking no revenge (Deut 32,35; Rom 12,19), repaying injury with kindness (Rom 12, 17), harbouring no hatred against the offender in our heart, but loving him who deliberately provokes us (Mt 5,43.44), and who adds to his former load of offences (Mt 5,39), endeavouring by every sort of good work to win his favour and commendation (Rom 12, 21)." (art 132, ground 3a, page 86).

    4. Synod Rockingham's statement in Ground 9 of article 132 (& parallels), that "The Scriptural norm is that repentance is necessary for forgiveness, not only regarding God forgiving us our sin but also of us forgiving those who sin against us" should be understood as applying specifically to what Synod Rockingham called the primary meaning of forgiveness, not to the secondary meaning.

    5. While Synod 2003 emphasised the primary meaning of forgiveness, it should not be read as though it excludes the secondary meaning as is clear from this statement: "It is indeed correct to teach that Christians, in preparing to forgive others their wrongs, must learn to put away the desire of revenge as well as feelings of hatred and self-pity, must learn not to repay evil with evil, but must endeavour to win the brother who is in the wrong, must pray for him, be willing to help him, and be fully prepared in his heart to forgive the wrong, even well before the wrongdoer acknowledges his fault (Rom 12:9-21; 13:8-10; LD 40; LD 51)." (art 132, ground 7, page 88).

    6. In summary: when the word 'forgiveness' is used in what Synod Rockingham called the 'primary' sense, repentance must come before forgiveness. But when it is used in the 'secondary' sense, repentance does not need to come first. (art 132, ground 1, page 85).

  5. The FRC West Kelmscott does not show that the conclusions are contrary to Scripture and Confessions.
ADOPTED


Article 112 - Letter FRC Byford Appeal re Forgiveness of Sins

I. Material:

Agenda Item 8h - Appeal FRC Byford

FRC Byford asks synod to judge the Scriptural and the confessional accuracy of three statements made by Synod Rockingham 2003 in response to various appeals.

II. Admissibility:

To declare this request admissible.

Ground:

There is a widespread perception that Synod Rockingham made doctrinal decisions that were binding on all the churches. For the wellbeing of the churches it is necessary to deal with this appeal.

ADOPTED

III. Decision:

Not to uphold the appeal.

Grounds:
  1. The statements on the forgiveness of sins were made by Synod Rockingham in response to an appeal related to a specific pastoral situation. It is therefore not binding on every local congregation or individual member of the Free Reformed Churches in Australia. It "does not constitute a general pronouncement by which all the church members are bound (...) [but] concerns only the one who appealed to the major assembly." (WWJ Van Oene, With Common Consent, 154.)

  2. The decisions made by Synod Rockingham were intended to give direction to the Kelmscott consistory and various appellants in the circumstances which they were in at the time of the appeal. Since none of those parties have requested revision of decisions which pertain to them, synod would do them injustice if we would now revise these decisions.

  3. Synod Rockingham 2003 made lengthy statements which caused confusion in the church.

  4. The following observations clarify the matter:

    1. Synod 2003 made a distinction between the primary and secondary meaning of forgiveness.

    2. The primary meaning is this (the second aspect of Calvin's definition): "receiving a brother into favour (Mt 18,15), forgetting the injury and thinking favourably of him, being convinced that the remembrance of his offence is blotted out in the sight of God." (Article 132, ground 6, page 87 & ground 3b page 86).

    3. The secondary meaning is this (the first aspect of Calvin's definition, i.e. unconditional forgiveness): "seeking no revenge (Deut 32,35; Rom 12,19), repaying injury with kindness (Rom 12, 17), harbouring no hatred against the offender in our heart, but loving him who deliberately provokes us (Mt 5,43.44), and who adds to his former load of offences (Mt 5,39), endeavouring by every sort of good work to win his favour and commendation (Rom 12, 21)." (Article 132, ground 3a, page 86).

    4. Synod Rockingham's statement in Ground 9 of Article 132 (& parallels), that "The Scriptural norm is that repentance is necessary for forgiveness, not only regarding God forgiving us our sin but also of us forgiving those who sin against us" should be understood as applying specifically to what Synod Rockingham called the primary meaning of forgiveness, not to the secondary meaning.

    5. While Synod 2003 emphasised the primary meaning of forgiveness, it should not be read as though it excludes the secondary meaning as is clear from this statement: "It is indeed correct to teach that Christians, in preparing to forgive others their wrongs, must learn to put away the desire of revenge as well as feelings of hatred and self-pity, must learn not to repay evil with evil, but must endeavour to win the brother who is in the wrong, must pray for him, be willing to help him, and be fully prepared in his heart to forgive the wrong, even well before the wrongdoer acknowledges his fault (Rom 12:9-21; 13:8-10; LD 40; LD 51)." (Article 132, ground 7, page 88).

    6. In summary: when the word 'forgiveness' is used in what Synod Rockingham called the 'primary' sense, repentance must come before forgiveness. But when it is used in the 'secondary' sense, repentance does not need to come first. (Article 132, ground 1, page 85).

  5. The FRC Byford does not show that the conclusions are contrary to Scripture and Confessions.
ADOPTED


Letter Br G Spaanderman Appeal re Forgiveness of Sins

I. Material:

Agenda Item 8k - Letter Br G Spaanderman, Albany, Appeal re Article 120 Acts 2003

Br. Spaanderman appeals Articles 120 & 132 of Synod Rockingham 2003.

II. Admissibility:

To declare this request admissible.

Ground:

There is a widespread perception that Synod Rockingham made doctrinal decisions that were binding on all the churches. For the wellbeing of the churches it is necessary to deal with this appeal.

ADOPTED

III. Decision:

Not to uphold the appeal.

Grounds:
  1. The statements on the forgiveness of sins were made by Synod Rockingham in response to an appeal related to a specific pastoral situation. It is therefore not binding on every local congregation or individual member of the Free Reformed Churches in Australia. It "does not constitute a general pronouncement by which all the church members are bound (...) [but] concerns only the one who appealed to the major assembly." (WWJ Van Oene, With Common Consent, 154.).

  2. The decisions made by Synod Rockingham were intended to give direction to the Kelmscott consistory and various appellants in the circumstances which they were in at the time of the appeal. Since none of those parties have requested revision of decisions which pertain to them, synod would do them injustice if we would now revise these decisions.

  3. Synod Rockingham 2003 made lengthy statements which caused confusion in the church.

  4. The following observations clarify the matter:

    1. Synod 2003 made a distinction between the primary and secondary meaning of forgiveness.

    2. The primary meaning is this (the second aspect of Calvin's definition): "receiving a brother into favour (Mt 18,15), forgetting the injury and thinking favourably of him, being convinced that the remembrance of his offence is blotted out in the sight of God." (art 132, ground 6, page 87 & ground 3b page 86).

    3. The secondary meaning is this (the first aspect of Calvin's definition, i.e. unconditional forgiveness): "seeking no revenge (Deut 32,35; Rom 12,19), repaying injury with kindness (Rom 12, 17), harbouring no hatred against the offender in our heart, but loving him who deliberately provokes us (Mt 5,43.44), and who adds to his former load of offences (Mt 5,39), endeavouring by every sort of good work to win his favour and commendation (Rom 12, 21)." (art 132, ground 3a, page 86).

    4. Synod Rockingham's statement in Ground 9 of article 132 (& parallels), that "The Scriptural norm is that repentance is necessary for forgiveness, not only regarding God forgiving us our sin but also of us forgiving those who sin against us" should be understood as applying specifically to what Synod Rockingham called the primary meaning of forgiveness, not to the secondary meaning.

    5. While Synod 2003 emphasised the primary meaning of forgiveness, it should not be read as though it excludes the secondary meaning as is clear from this statement: "It is indeed correct to teach that Christians, in preparing to forgive others their wrongs, must learn to put away the desire of revenge as well as feelings of hatred and self-pity, must learn not to repay evil with evil, but must endeavour to win the brother who is in the wrong, must pray for him, be willing to help him, and be fully prepared in his heart to forgive the wrong, even well before the wrongdoer acknowledges his fault (Rom 12:9-21; 13:8-10; LD 40; LD 51)." (art 132, ground 7, page 88).

    6. In summary: when the word 'forgiveness' is used in what Synod Rockingham called the 'primary' sense, repentance must come before forgiveness. But when it is used in the 'secondary' sense, repentance does not need to come first. (art 132, ground 1, page 85).

  5. Br Spaanderman does not show that the conclusions are contrary to Scripture and Confessions.
ADOPTED


Article 114 - Letter Br P 'tHart Appeal re Forgiveness of Sins

I. Material:

Agenda Item 8o - Letter Br P 'tHart Appeal Articles 132, 153, 155, 156, 160 Acts 2003

Br. 'tHart appeals articles 132, 153,155, 156 & 160 on the grounds that:
  1. the statements concerned go beyond the teaching of the Confessions;

  2. the synod was never asked by the churches to make doctrinal statements;

  3. Scripture does not teach repentance or forgiveness as a process.
II. Admissibility:

To declare this request admissible.

Ground:

There is a widespread perception that Synod Rockingham made doctrinal decisions that were binding on all the churches. For the wellbeing of the churches it is necessary to deal with this appeal.

ADOPTED

III. Decision:

Not to uphold the appeal.

Grounds:
  1. Synod Rockingham's statement that forgiveness may well be a process was intended not as a doctrinal statement but as an application of doctrine for victims of sexual abuse.

  2. The statements on the forgiveness of sins were made by Synod Rockingham in response to an appeal related to a specific pastoral situation. It is therefore not binding on every local congregation or individual member of the Free Reformed Churches in Australia. It "does not constitute a general pronouncement by which all the church members are bound (...) [but] concerns only the one who appealed to the major assembly." (WWJ Van Oene, With Common Consent, 154.)

  3. The decisions made by Synod Rockingham were intended to give direction to the Kelmscott consistory and various appellants in the circumstances which they were in at the time of the appeal. Since none of those parties have requested revision of decisions which pertain to them, synod would do them injustice if we would now revise these decisions.

  4. Synod Rockingham 2003 made lengthy statements which caused confusion in the church.

  5. The following observations clarify the matter:

    1. Synod 2003 made a distinction between the primary and secondary meaning of forgiveness.

    2. The primary meaning is this (the second aspect of Calvin's definition): "receiving a brother into favour (Mt 18,15), forgetting the injury and thinking favourably of him, being convinced that the remembrance of his offence is blotted out in the sight of God." (art 132, ground 6, page 87 & ground 3b page 86).

    3. The secondary meaning is this (the first aspect of Calvin's definition, i.e. unconditional forgiveness): "seeking no revenge (Deut 32,35; Rom 12,19), repaying injury with kindness (Rom 12, 17), harbouring no hatred against the offender in our heart, but loving him who deliberately provokes us (Mt 5,43.44), and who adds to his former load of offences (Mt 5,39), endeavouring by every sort of good work to win his favour and commendation (Rom 12, 21)." (art 132, ground 3a, page 86).

    4. Synod Rockingham's statement in Ground 9 of article 132 (& parallels), that "The Scriptural norm is that repentance is necessary for forgiveness, not only regarding God forgiving us our sin but also of us forgiving those who sin against us" should be understood as applying specifically to what Synod Rockingham called the primary meaning of forgiveness, not to the secondary meaning.

    5. While Synod 2003 emphasised the primary meaning of forgiveness, it should not be read as though it excludes the secondary meaning as is clear from this statement: "It is indeed correct to teach that Christians, in preparing to forgive others their wrongs, must learn to put away the desire of revenge as well as feelings of hatred and self-pity, must learn not to repay evil with evil, but must endeavour to win the brother who is in the wrong, must pray for him, be willing to help him, and be fully prepared in his heart to forgive the wrong, even well before the wrongdoer acknowledges his fault (Rom 12:9-21; 13:8-10; LD 40; LD 51)." (art 132, ground 7, page 88).

    6. In summary: when the word 'forgiveness' is used in what Synod Rockingham called the 'primary' sense, repentance must come before forgiveness. But when it is used in the 'secondary' sense, repentance does not need to come first. (art 132, ground 1, page 85).

  6. Br 'tHart does not show that the conclusions are contrary to Scripture and Confessions.
ADOPTED


Article 115 - Letter FRC Mt Nasura Appeal re Forgiveness of Sins

I. Material:

Agenda Item 8p - Letter FRC Mt Nasura Appeal Article 132, 153, 155, 156, 160 Acts 2003

FRC Mt Nasura appeals Articles 132, 153, 155, 156 & 160 on the grounds that it is in conflict with the teaching of Scripture. FRC Mt Nasura argues that "Synod Rockingham made a number of pronouncements on what forgiveness is and elevated its application to a particular Scriptural norm." Consistory expresses concern because "it now appears all these statements made by synod in its grounds along with everything written in the appeals that were upheld are binding on the churches."

II. Admissibility:

To declare this request admissible.

Ground:

There is a widespread perception that Synod Rockingham made doctrinal decisions that were binding on all the churches. For the wellbeing of the churches it is necessary to deal with this appeal.

ADOPTED

III. Decision:

Not to uphold the appeal.

Grounds:
  1. The statements on the forgiveness of sins were made by Synod Rockingham in response to an appeal related to a specific pastoral situation. It is therefore not binding on every local congregation or individual member of the Free Reformed Churches in Australia. It "does not constitute a general pronouncement by which all the church members are bound (...) [but] concerns only the one who appealed to the major assembly." (WWJ Van Oene, With Common Consent, 154.)

  2. The decisions made by Synod Rockingham were intended to give direction to the Kelmscott consistory and various appellants in the circumstances which they were in at the time of the appeal. Since none of those parties have requested revision of decisions which pertain to them, synod would do them injustice if we would now revise these decisions.

  3. Synod Rockingham 2003 made lengthy statements which caused confusion in the church.

  4. The following observations clarify the matter:

    1. Synod 2003 made a distinction between the primary and secondary meaning of forgiveness.

    2. The primary meaning is this (the second aspect of Calvin's definition): "receiving a brother into favour (Mt 18,15), forgetting the injury and thinking favourably of him, being convinced that the remembrance of his offence is blotted out in the sight of God." (art 132, ground 6, page 87 & ground 3b page 86).

    3. The secondary meaning is this (the first aspect of Calvin's definition, i.e. unconditional forgiveness): "seeking no revenge (Deut 32,35; Rom 12,19), repaying injury with kindness (Rom 12, 17), harbouring no hatred against the offender in our heart, but loving him who deliberately provokes us (Mt 5,43.44), and who adds to his former load of offences (Mt 5,39), endeavouring by every sort of good work to win his favour and commendation (Rom 12, 21)." (art 132, ground 3a, page 86).

    4. Synod Rockingham's statement in Ground 9 of article 132 (& parallels), that "The Scriptural norm is that repentance is necessary for forgiveness, not only regarding God forgiving us our sin but also of us forgiving those who sin against us" should be understood as applying specifically to what Synod Rockingham called the primary meaning of forgiveness, not to the secondary meaning.

    5. While Synod 2003 emphasised the primary meaning of forgiveness, it should not be read as though it excludes the secondary meaning as is clear from this statement: "It is indeed correct to teach that Christians, in preparing to forgive others their wrongs, must learn to put away the desire of revenge as well as feelings of hatred and self-pity, must learn not to repay evil with evil, but must endeavour to win the brother who is in the wrong, must pray for him, be willing to help him, and be fully prepared in his heart to forgive the wrong, even well before the wrongdoer acknowledges his fault (Rom 12:9-21; 13:8-10; LD 40; LD 51)." (art 132, ground 7, page 88).

    6. In summary: when the word 'forgiveness' is used in what Synod Rockingham called the 'primary' sense, repentance must come before forgiveness. But when it is used in the 'secondary' sense, repentance does not need to come first. (art 132, ground 1, page 85).

  5. The FRC Mount Nasura does not show that the conclusions are contrary to Scripture and Confessions.
ADOPTED


Article 116 - Letter Brs Reitsema/VanBurgel Appeal re Forgiveness of Sins

I. Material:

Agenda Item 8u - Appeal brothers Reitsema and VanBurgel:

The Brs. Reitsema and VanBurgel appeal Articles 132, 153, 155, 156 and 160. They allege that Synod Rockingham 2003 made doctrinal statements which are contrary to Scripture and Confession. The appellants argue that "synod doctrinal statements have the strength that our Confessional documents have."

II. Admissibility:

To declare this request admissible.

Ground:

There is a widespread perception that Synod Rockingham made doctrinal decisions that were binding on all the churches. For the wellbeing of the churches it is necessary to deal with this appeal.

ADOPTED

III. Decision:

Not to uphold the appeal.

Grounds:
  1. The statements on the forgiveness of sins were made by Synod Rockingham in response to an appeal related to a specific pastoral situation. It is therefore not binding on every local congregation or individual member of the Free Reformed Churches in Australia. It "does not constitute a general pronouncement by which all the church members are bound (...) [but] concerns only the one who appealed to the major assembly." (WWJ Van Oene, With Common Consent, 154.)

  2. The decisions made by Synod Rockingham were intended to give direction to the Kelmscott consistory and various appellants in the circumstances which they were in at the time of the appeal. Since none of those parties have requested revision of decisions which pertain to them, synod would do them injustice if we would now revise these decisions.

  3. Synod Rockingham 2003 made lengthy statements which caused confusion in the church.

  4. The following observations clarify the matter:

    1. Synod 2003 made a distinction between the primary and secondary meaning of forgiveness.

    2. The primary meaning is this (the second aspect of Calvin's definition): "receiving a brother into favour (Mt 18,15), forgetting the injury and thinking favourably of him, being convinced that the remembrance of his offence is blotted out in the sight of God." (art 132, ground 6, page 87 & ground 3b page 86).

    3. The secondary meaning is this (the first aspect of Calvin's definition, i.e. unconditional forgiveness): "seeking no revenge (Deut 32,35; Rom 12,19), repaying injury with kindness (Rom 12, 17), harbouring no hatred against the offender in our heart, but loving him who deliberately provokes us (Mt 5,43.44), and who adds to his former load of offences (Mt 5,39), endeavouring by every sort of good work to win his favour and commendation (Rom 12, 21)." (art 132, ground 3a, page 86).

    4. Synod Rockingham's statement in Ground 9 of article 132 (& parallels), that "The Scriptural norm is that repentance is necessary for forgiveness, not only regarding God forgiving us our sin but also of us forgiving those who sin against us" should be understood as applying specifically to what Synod Rockingham called the primary meaning of forgiveness, not to the secondary meaning.

    5. While Synod 2003 emphasised the primary meaning of forgiveness, it should not be read as though it excludes the secondary meaning as is clear from this statement: "It is indeed correct to teach that Christians, in preparing to forgive others their wrongs, must learn to put away the desire of revenge as well as feelings of hatred and self-pity, must learn not to repay evil with evil, but must endeavour to win the brother who is in the wrong, must pray for him, be willing to help him, and be fully prepared in his heart to forgive the wrong, even well before the wrongdoer acknowledges his fault (Rom 12:9-21; 13:8-10; LD 40; LD 51)." (Article 132, ground 7, page 88).

    6. In summary: when the word 'forgiveness' is used in what Synod Rockingham called the 'primary' sense, repentance must come before forgiveness. But when it is used in the 'secondary' sense, repentance does not need to come first. (art 132, ground 1, page 85).

  5. Brothers Reitsema and VanBurgel do not show that the conclusions are contrary to Scripture and Confessions.
ADOPTED


Article 117 - Letter FRC Legana Appeal re Forgiveness of Sins

I. Material:

Agenda Item 8w - Letter FRC Legana Appeal re Forgiveness of Sins Acts 2003

FRC Legana alleges that Synod Rockingham (2003) made doctrinal statements which are wrong, and that synod's decisions, based on these doctrinal statements, are also incorrect. The appellant specifically finds fault with Synod Rockingham's exegesis of Luke 23:34 and Acts 7:60. FRC Legana requests synod to rescind the articles 132, 153, 155 and parallels.

II. Admissibility:

To declare this request admissible.

Ground:

There is a widespread perception that Synod Rockingham made doctrinal decisions that were binding on all the churches. For the wellbeing of the churches it is necessary to deal with this appeal.

ADOPTED

III. Decision:

Not to uphold the appeal.

Grounds:
  1. The statements on the forgiveness of sins were made by Synod Rockingham in response to an appeal related to a specific pastoral situation. It is therefore not binding on every local congregation or individual member of the Free Reformed Churches in Australia. It "does not constitute a general pronouncement by which all the church members are bound (...) [but] concerns only the one who appealed to the major assembly." (WWJ Van Oene, With Common Consent, 154.)

  2. The decisions made by Synod Rockingham were intended to give direction to the Kelmscott consistory and various appellants in the circumstances which they were in at the time of the appeal. Since none of those parties have requested revision of decisions which pertain to them, synod would do them injustice if we would now revise these decisions.

  3. Synod Rockingham 2003 made lengthy statements which caused confusion in the church.

  4. The following observations clarify the matter:
    1. Synod 2003 made a distinction between the primary and secondary meaning of forgiveness.

    2. The primary meaning is this (the second aspect of Calvin's definition): "receiving a brother into favour (Mt 18,15), forgetting the injury and thinking favourably of him, being convinced that the remembrance of his offence is blotted out in the sight of God." (art 132, ground 6, page 87 & ground 3b page 86).

    3. The secondary meaning is this (the first aspect of Calvin's definition, i.e. unconditional forgiveness): "seeking no revenge (Deut 32,35; Rom 12,19), repaying injury with kindness (Rom 12, 17), harbouring no hatred against the offender in our heart, but loving him who deliberately provokes us (Mt 5,43.44), and who adds to his former load of offences (Mt 5,39), endeavouring by every sort of good work to win his favour and commendation (Rom 12, 21)." (art 132, ground 3a, page 86).

    4. Synod Rockingham's statement in Ground 9 of article 132 (& parallels), that "The Scriptural norm is that repentance is necessary for forgiveness, not only regarding God forgiving us our sin but also of us forgiving those who sin against us" should be understood as applying specifically to what Synod Rockingham called the primary meaning of forgiveness, not to the secondary meaning.

    5. While Synod 2003 emphasised the primary meaning of forgiveness, it should not be read as though it excludes the secondary meaning as is clear from this statement: "It is indeed correct to teach that Christians, in preparing to forgive others their wrongs, must learn to put away the desire of revenge as well as feelings of hatred and self-pity, must learn not to repay evil with evil, but must endeavour to win the brother who is in the wrong, must pray for him, be willing to help him, and be fully prepared in his heart to forgive the wrong, even well before the wrongdoer acknowledges his fault (Rom 12:9-21; 13:8-10; LD 40; LD 51)." (art 132, ground 7, page 88).

    6. In summary: when the word 'forgiveness' is used in what Synod Rockingham called the 'primary' sense, repentance must come before forgiveness. But when it is used in the 'secondary' sense, repentance does not need to come first. (art 132, ground 1, page 85).

  5. The FRC Legana does not show that the conclusions are contrary to Scripture and Confessions.

  6. In reaching its decisions Synod Rockingham 2003 does not impose the exegesis of a Bible text upon the churches. The texts of Luke 23:34 and Acts 7:60 are used to reach a Scriptural conclusion.
ADOPTED


Article 118 - Letter FRC Rockingham re Forgiveness of Sins Acts 2003

I. Material:

Agenda Item 8y - Letter FRC Rockingham:

FRC Rockingham appeals Articles 132, 153, 155, 156 & 160. The appellant alleges that the articles concerned contain a number of controversial statements. The appellant proposes to replace the grounds, on the grounds that
  1. the existing grounds go beyond Scripture and Confession; and

  2. have caused considerable controversy in the churches.
II. Admissibility:

To declare this request admissible.

Ground:

There is a widespread perception that Synod Rockingham made doctrinal decisions that were binding on all the churches. For the wellbeing of the churches it is necessary to deal with this appeal.

ADOPTED

III. Decision:

Not to uphold the appeal.

Grounds:
  1. The statements on the forgiveness of sins were made by Synod Rockingham in response to an appeal related to a specific pastoral situation. It is therefore not binding on every local congregation or individual member of the Free Reformed Churches in Australia. It "does not constitute a general pronouncement by which all the church members are bound (...) [but] concerns only the one who appealed to the major assembly." (WWJ Van Oene, With Common Consent, 154.)

  2. The decisions made by Synod Rockingham were intended to give direction to the Kelmscott consistory and various appellants in the circumstances which they were in at the time of the appeal. Since none of those parties have requested revision of decisions which pertain to them, synod would do them injustice if we would now revise these decisions.

  3. Synod Rockingham 2003 made lengthy statements which caused confusion in the church.

  4. The following observations clarify the matter:

    1. Synod 2003 made a distinction between the primary and secondary meaning of forgiveness.

    2. The primary meaning is this (the second aspect of Calvin's definition): "receiving a brother into favour (Mt 18,15), forgetting the injury and thinking favourably of him, being convinced that the remembrance of his offence is blotted out in the sight of God." (art 132, ground 6, page 87 & ground 3b page 86).

    3. The secondary meaning is this (the first aspect of Calvin's definition, i.e. unconditional forgiveness): "seeking no revenge (Deut 32,35; Rom 12,19), repaying injury with kindness (Rom 12, 17), harbouring no hatred against the offender in our heart, but loving him who deliberately provokes us (Mt 5,43.44), and who adds to his former load of offences (Mt 5,39), endeavouring by every sort of good work to win his favour and commendation (Rom 12, 21)." (art 132, ground 3a, page 86).

    4. Synod Rockingham's statement in Ground 9 of article 132 (& parallels), that "The Scriptural norm is that repentance is necessary for forgiveness, not only regarding God forgiving us our sin but also of us forgiving those who sin against us" should be understood as applying specifically to what Synod Rockingham called the primary meaning of forgiveness, not to the secondary meaning.

    5. While Synod 2003 emphasised the primary meaning of forgiveness, it should not be read as though it excludes the secondary meaning as is clear from this statement: "It is indeed correct to teach that Christians, in preparing to forgive others their wrongs, must learn to put away the desire of revenge as well as feelings of hatred and self-pity, must learn not to repay evil with evil, but must endeavour to win the brother who is in the wrong, must pray for him, be willing to help him, and be fully prepared in his heart to forgive the wrong, even well before the wrongdoer acknowledges his fault (Rom 12:9-21; 13:8-10; LD 40; LD 51)." (art 132, ground 7, page 88).

    6. In summary: when the word 'forgiveness' is used in what Synod Rockingham called the 'primary' sense, repentance must come before forgiveness. But when it is used in the 'secondary' sense, repentance does not need to come first. (art 132, ground 1, page 85).

  5. The FRC Rockingham does not show that the conclusions are contrary to Scripture and Confessions.
ADOPTED


Article 119 - Article Adoption of Acts

Synod adopts Articles 69 and 80-109 (all open session) of the Acts of Synod.

In closed session, the Articles 70 - 79 are adopted by Synod.




last updated 21 Jul 2006
 
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