The Synod concluded on Wednesday evening. Wednesday’s Acts are filled mostly with discussions and decisions regarding various foreign churches. The FRCA will stay the course with their sister churches in South Africa and Indonesia. There was a proposal to enter into a sister-church relationship with the Reformed Churches of Brazil. The synod elected not to do this since, according to the Acts, geography makes it impractical and since theological, academic, and financial support can still be given apart from a sister-church relationship. That’s unfortunate: the Brazilian churches are small too and they could really benefit from the closer tie that a sister-church relationship entails, i.e. regular contact, encouragement, and advice. As far as geography goes, the FRCA are now pursuing relations with the URCNA. The distance from Perth, WA to Escondido, California (the nearest URCNA): 15,078 Km. The distance from Perth, WA to Curitiba, Brazil (the nearest IRB): 13,447 Km. Both are huge distances, but obviously one is a bit bigger than the other.
The Synod wrapped up with various appointments. The next Synod is scheduled for 2018 and will be convened by the Bunbury FRCA.
BTW, the Press Release for Week 2 can be found here.
Coming soon from Inter-League Publication Board.
Publisher’s blurb from the back cover:
“In this book Rev. Bredenhof explains the covenant of grace in simple terms, and clearly explains how this doctrine sets us apart from most other “New Calvinist” churches. He also delves into how this affects the way we raise our children, and the way we conduct our worship services. Whether you read this on your own for personal edification or as part of a study group in the communion of saints, you will see that in the doctrine of the covenant of grace we find comfort, hope, and joy in Jesus Christ. In this doctrine, we discover the gracious way of life given by God and the blessed way of life before God.”
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 – Introducing the Big Idea
Chapter 2 – Promises and Obligations
Chapter 3 – Dying and Living in the Covenant of Grace
Chapter 4 – Our Children in the Covenant of Grace
Chapter 5 – The Covenant of Grace and Public Worship
Appendix – Seven Essential Distinctions in the Doctrine of the Covenant of Grace
Recommended for Further Study
Free Reformed Church of Baldivis
The Synod finished up on Wednesday evening and all the draft Acts are now available. For today, we’ll just have a look at developments on Tuesday. I’m summarizing from the Acts that can be found here.
There were two noteworthy items. One is a bit baffling to an outsider. Articles 106 and 109 deal with an appeal from the church at Busselton. This is baffling because there’s no background provided in the Acts. If you don’t know the background, the decision doesn’t mean very much. All I can say is that it looks like it had something to do with labour union membership.
The other item worthy of note has to do with one of the church federations made up of brothers and sisters who’ve left the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated). Their Dutch name is De Gereformeerde Kerken (Hersteld), translated as The Reformed Churches (Restored), usually abbreviated as DGK. Their website can be found here. The FRCA have been in contact with these churches. One of the complicating factors with the DGK is their official relationship with a group of schismatics calling themselves the Liberated Reformed Church at Abbotsford. This group broke away from the Canadian Reformed Churches some years ago over concerns of “increasing corruption.” Synod Baldivis decided to maintain some contact with the DGK and with another group of churches known as Gereformeerde Kerken Nederland (made up also of those who left the RCN). The Australian churches will continue to monitor developments in the Netherlands and the deputies will also liaise with their Canadian Reformed counterparts. Will one or both of these Dutch churches some day be in a sister church relationship with the FRCA? Time will tell…
Executive of Synod Baldivis: Br D Bonker (First Clerk), Rev E Rupke (Vice Chairman), Rev S ‘t Hart (Chairman), Rev C Vermeulen (Second Clerk)
Yesterday’s Acts from Synod Baldivis have been published. The most noteworthy item is in regard to theological training. For the foreseeable future, the FRCA are going to continue supporting the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary (CRTS) in Hamilton. FRCA theological students will also continue to be directed to take up their studies here. However, there was also a decision to study the feasibility of establishing an FRCA seminary. The deputies are mandated to consider these four aspects:
- The desire of the churches for such a seminary
- The potential student numbers that would attend such a seminary
- The impact that the establishment of such a seminary would have on the student numbers and viability of CRTS in Hamilton
- The resources required for such a seminary, and the availability of such resources
As mentioned previously (in this post), the Rockingham church sent a proposal to Synod Baldivis dealing with some of these points already. However, Rockingham’s letter was declared inadmissible since it was a new proposal and also apparently arrived late at the convening church. Nevertheless, perhaps the deputies can make use of some of Rockingham’s research. But we have to conclude that if an Australian Reformed seminary is to become a reality, it seems that it’s still a few years away.
By now, many readers are already aware of what took place at Synod Baldivis last Friday. After all, there was a press release already last week. Nevertheless, the Acts were not published until today and I prefer to summarize from the Acts. Two significant decisions are worth noting.
The first has to do with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated). Two possible courses of action were put forward by the deputies: 1) Break off the relationship with the RCN altogether, or 2) Suspend the relationship. Synod Baldivis chose the second course of action. The relationship between the FRCA and RCN is now suspended. This entails the following:
- Attestations will no longer automatically be accepted from the RCN. Attestations will only be issued to members departing for the RCN “with due care.”
- FRCA pulpits are no longer open to RCN ministers. If an FRCA congregation wishes to call an RCN minister, the call must be approved by a classis.
- Fraternal delegates from the RCN will still be invited to the next FRCA Synod, but will only be accorded the privileges of visitors from churches in temporary ecclesiastical contact.
The FRCA will be taking additional measures, including:
- A letter will be sent to the next RCN Synod informing them of these developments and warning them that the relationship will be untenable if there is no repentance before the next FRCA Synod in 2018.
- FRCA congregations are encouraged to pray for the RCN that they would “uprightly uphold and defend the Scriptural truth as maintained in the three forms of unity.”
- All RCN consistories are to receive a copy of the letter sent to Synod Ede, as well as the letter to be sent to the next RCN Synod.
From all this, it is apparent that the relationship between the FRCA and RCN is anything but “business as usual.” What a sad course of affairs!
The other important decision had to do with the Book of Praise. The Australian churches have officially decided to produce their own version of the CanRC songbook. We’ll call it the AuBoP. It will be slightly different from its Canadian counterpart. For example, the 19 extra hymns adopted by the CanRC (but not FRCA) will be left out for now. There will be two versions of the AuBoP: one using the NKJV (with capitalized pronouns for God), the other using the ESV. It will also include the Australian versions of all creeds, confessions, liturgical forms, and church order. The deputies were mandated to have this AuBoP ready to present to the next synod in 2018. In the meantime, the 19 extra hymns will be investigated for possible inclusion. Moreover, the churches are also encouraged in the meantime to use the 2014 edition of the CanRC BoP.