PRCA Synod on Christian Schools

According to this news story (h.t. Confessional Outhouse), the synod of the Protestant Reformed Church has decided that all officebearers must send their children to Protestant Reformed schools.  The background is the dismissal of a PR minister who was homeschooling his children.  This decision raises many questions.  One of them is whether or not exceptions are made for missionaries and church planters.  Or are these officebearers expected to board out their children so that they can attend a PR school?  Or what if a PR church planter or missionary sees his work through to the point where the church is ready to be instituted?  Can he institute the church without a school to which the elders can send their children?  Of course, these questions may all be moot if church planting is not on the agenda of the Protestant Reformed.  Other questions have to do with whether or not a synod can bind its officebearers to something which has no explicit Biblical or confessional basis.  Does the Bible really teach that ministers and elders must send their children to a PR school?  Can you discipline an officebearer who does not?  Which commandment would he be breaking?  As with seminary training, I believe that Christian education has a solid biblical basis, but how that education is to be delivered is an open question that has slightly more to do with pragmatic considerations than principled ones.

UPDATE:  someone wrote me and said that apparently this PRCA decision is only applicable to those PR churches where they have an existing school.  And of course, that raise all kinds of other questions…

About Wes Bredenhof

Pastor of the Free Reformed Church, Launceston, Tasmania. View all posts by Wes Bredenhof

One response to “PRCA Synod on Christian Schools

  • Manuel Kuhs

    Hi Mr Bredenhof,

    I know this is an old post but this misinformation about the PRC decision on homeschooling is still today being propagated, which in your case I presume was simply due to you being misinformed.

    The PRC Synod 2009 did not decide that “all officebearers must send their children to Protestant Reformed schools”. Rather, it decided that Rev Dick was not following Article 21 of our Church Order, which he himself had sworn to uphold (which article is almost identical to the original Church Order of Dordt of 1618/19): “The consistories shall see to it that there are good Christian schools in which the parents have their children instructed according to the demands of the covenant.”

    Obviously, and as is the practice in many PR churches including all mission fields, home schooling is therefore practiced by ministers where there are no “good Christian schools”.

    “these questions may all be moot if church planting is not on the agenda of the Protestant Reformed.”

    Even at the time of you writing this, the PRCA was involved in church planting in several areas in the United States, as well as abroad in Singapore, the Phillipines and Myanmar.

    In fact, as of today the PRC has 4 of its ministers working abroad in missions EVEN THOUGH several PR congregations in the States are without a pastor.

    That’s how far we are from not having “church planting” on the agenda. I think you are coming very close to slander when writing such misinformed things.

    “whether or not a synod can bind its officebearers to something which has no explicit Biblical or confessional basis.”

    All Reformed Churches have required things of ministers which are not required directly by the Bible:
    1. Subscription to a certain creed – where in the Bible does it command subscription to the Three Forms of Unity or the Westminster Confessions???
    2. Preach from the Heidelberg Catechism (for which reason it is divided into 52 Lord’s Days)
    3. Give the Apostolic blessing
    4. Attend consistory meetings
    5. etc etc etc

    “Which commandment would he be breaking?”
    An office bearer who refuses to uphold the creeds and Church Order to which he subscribes is guilty of breaking the 9th commandment. And Rev. Dick subscribed to Article 21 of our Church Order when taking office.

    “how that education is to be delivered is an open question that has slightly more to do with pragmatic considerations than principled ones.”

    PR Synod 2009 decided that how Christian education is carried out (i.e. Christian schools or homeschooling) is a matter of Christian liberty. In the exact same way as preaching the Creeds is a matter of liberty also.

    But when you’re an office-bearer who is required to preach the creeds, then as an office bearer you do not have the liberty to refuse to preach the creeds.

    And the same goes for Article 21 of the PRC Church Order.

    I hope this clears the issue up a bit. For further reading, I would recommend these two articles, published by a PRC seminary professor explaining the decisions of Synod 2009 w.r.t. Article 21:
    http://standardbearer.rfpa.org/articles/synods-2009s-decisions-regarding-article-21-church-order-1?keyword%5B%5D=synod%202009
    http://standardbearer.rfpa.org/articles/synod-2009s-decisions-regarding-article-21-church-order-2?keyword%5B%5D=synod%202009

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