Canadian Reformed Synod 2010 (10)

The Acts from Friday are now available online.  There are decisions regarding our relationship with the OPC, FRCNA, RCUS, FRCA, and ERQ.  Except for the FRCNA (with whom we have no contact anymore), we’ll stay the course in these relationships.  I’m surprised that some Canadian Reformed churches continue to belabour the question of admission to the Lord’s Supper in some churches with whom we have ecclesiastical fellowship.  One sometimes get the impression that the system of attestations we use was handed down from heaven on a third stone tablet.  Don’t get me wrong:  it’s a good system and it has much to commend it.  However, that exact system is not biblically mandated.  Guarding the table is a good and necessary consequence of biblical teaching, but the means by which that is done can vary.

About Wes Bredenhof

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

9 responses to “Canadian Reformed Synod 2010 (10)

  • George Helder

    Reverend Bredenhof! I am disapointed that you are being so purposefuly naive in your comment about admission to the Lord’s Supper.
    As you state, “Guarding the table is a good and necessary consequence of biblical teaching.” You also say that other methods may be used. Now there’s the rub isn’t it? What other method can you propose for admitting guests that does justice to the biblical demand that the church supervises the table? The guest must present third-party verifcation (or testimony, or attestation -to use synonyms) that they are a member in good standing of a “sister” church. The CanRC method works well, any other method that I’m aware of uses self-testimony. Scripture is clear that evidence can only be given on the the testimony of two or three witnesses. This is a norm throughout scripture. Even Christ maintains it when showing that He is indeed the Christ. The Elders have responsibility. The question is then, are they excercising that responsibility?
    A corollary to this discussion is why do people find it so necessarry to be a guest elsewhere? The Lord’s Supper is meant to be celebrated as a congregation. The only reason to celebrate it elsewhere is a long-term absence from your home and therefore you should be under the supervision of the local church anyway.

    • Wes Bredenhof

      Well, we can let readers decide whether or not I’m being naive.

      Let me briefly respond:

      I agree with your last point. There’s a lot of sentimentality out there when it comes to the sacraments and church life in general. Your consistory calls you to worship in your local congregation. You really have no business going to a neighbouring church for a profession of faith, baptism, or to visit friends & family. Actually, holidays away from church are out too. But we make allowances for these things…just as we make allowances for guests at the Lord’s Supper.

      By your reasoning, the Canadian Reformed Churches have been living in sin for many years since we normally allow non-communicant members to be admitted to the Lord’s Supper by means of a self-testimony. Our consistory recently interviewed several young people and admitted them to the Lord’s Supper based on their self-testimony. We did not even bring in two or three witnesses. Their self-testimony was enough.

      In addition, the biblical model of “two or three witnesses” is always in the context of a case against someone (see Deut 17:6 & 19:15, Num 35:30, Matt. 18:16, 2 Cor. 13:1, 1 Tim. 5:19, Heb. 10:28). Even in the context of the witnesses to Christ, those witnesses function against those who reject him. Given that usage, I wonder whether it is really legitimate to take that biblical teaching and apply it to those who would like to be admitted as guests to the Lord’s Supper. Unless perhaps we take the approach that they are guilty until proven innocent, standing charged before the consistory with some sin.

      Furthermore, the practice of the Canadian Reformed Churches is not as homogeneous as some think. There are several churches that will admit guests without a written attestation, either on the basis of a self-testimony or on the testimony of a family member or friend. Other churches will be content with an e-mail or even a telephone call. Some churches allow for interviews with an elder or two, even when it comes to those who are not members of a sister church. Since these practices take place, have not been appealed to the broader assemblies and so are obviously accepted within our federation, it is hypocritical for us to be throwing stones at other Reformed/Presbyterian churches. Sort of like casting aspersion on churches that allow for the framework hypothesis when we tolerate theistic evolution.

      Finally, what is this all about? Simply, we don’t want those who are living in sin to profane the table and so to bring chastisement on God’s people. As I mentioned, a system of written attestations has much to commend it. However, I’ve seen evidence that this system is not foolproof. There is weakness, sin, and inconsistency in the development and application of every system. And ours is not the only mechanism for guarding the table. Interviews might even be more effective than attestations. The key thing is that the table is guarded. I believe that the RCUS, OPC, etc. agree with us on that point.

      I’m closing this discussion here. No further comments will be posted on this topic.

  • Edgar

    Why does the CanRC not have contact with the FRCNA? What is the story there?

    Thanks.

    • Wes Bredenhof

      We did have ecumenical relations with the FRCNA for many years. However, they were lukewarm at best to having further discussions with us and so we decided to break off our efforts. The lukewarmness has to do, if I recall, with the FRCNA’s penchant for their distinctives, especially “experiential” preaching. It’s too bad. We belong together.

  • Sebastian Heck

    Hi Wes, what is the CanRC policy (if any) regarding membership of Ref. Baptists? Not at all? As assoicate members? Something else? I cannot find anythinig directly in the documents, except for the nature of the church (memberhsip) as confessing all one and the same faith!

    • Wes Bredenhof

      Hi,

      There’s no real policy or decision that has been made as a federation. However, I don’t think a Baptist would be able to answer in the affirmative to this question in our Form for the Public Profession of Faith, “Do you wholeheartedly believe the doctrine of the Word of God, summarized in the confessions and taught here in this Christian Church?” If they can’t answer that question affirmatively, I don’t think there would be any CanRC that would admit them to membership. Also, we don’t have a category of “associate membership.”

  • Sebastian Heck

    I agree! We just translated this form (from Dordt, CRC, CanRC) into German to use in our (yet to be founded) federation!

  • Sebastian Heck

    Hi Wes, may I send you an email with a couple of questions? I need some advice. Thanks. Sebastian

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