Reflections on the CanRC Synodical Decision to Allow Women to Vote in Congregational Elections

In a historic decision, Synod 2010 decided that who votes in congregational elections for office bearers is a matter for local regulations.  To state the obvious, this will prove to be a controversial decision.  It was certainly not a unanimous one.

To begin with, there were majority and minority reports from Cornerstone, the church appointed to study this matter.  The majority report argued for, the minority against allowing women to vote in congregational elections.  Then there were the other churches.  There were over 30 letters from the churches, most of which were in favour of maintaining the status quo.  Then there was a majority report and a minority report presented by the synodical advisory committee.  When it came time to vote, it was all done by secret ballot.  The majority report arguing against was defeated, and the minority report adopted.  Most of the decisions of Synod 2010 were made with unanimity.  This was not such a decision.  The vote was 14 in favour of the minority report and 10 opposed.  In other words, it passed by a narrow margin.

I have the utmost respect for the brothers who served at Synod Burlington-Ebenezer.  They are my fathers and brothers in the faith.  I consider them blessed with gifts of wisdom and discernment.  Many of them, both pastors and elders, are men who have shaped me and my ministry.  So, this is not at all a personal vendetta on my part.  I’m sure they were convinced that this was the best decision they could make under the circumstances and I respect that.

Yet…yet I cannot help but wonder what will happen to our churches from here on.  The days of far-reaching Canadian Reformed homogeneity are over.  Maybe that will be a good thing.  Maybe we’ve all been the same for too long.  One of our Reformed forefathers said that it’s the devil who wants us all to be the same.  Whatever you may think of that, imagine the city with two Canadian Reformed churches:  one allows women to vote, the other not.  Unless borders are strictly enforced (which we all know to be impossible), this cannot but contribute to the development of what are called “modalities.”  In simpler terms, it means that a certain kind of person goes to a certain kind of Canadian Reformed Church.  He or she picks the church that has the mindset or the practices that he or she favours.  With the passing of this decision, we can expect to see this trend developing in the years ahead.  It already happens to a certain extent, but it will happen more.

As for the decision itself, I have mixed feelings.  The Bible does not say anything explicit about congregations voting for office bearers, let alone who should be doing the voting.  To clarify:  Scripture speaks about God’s people in the OT and NT choosing office bearers, but it does not specify how this was done.  This is something that has developed as part of our church culture.  The principle of congregational involvement is biblical, but the exact shape of that involvement is not rigidly delineated in God’s revelation.  It is something that congregations and federations come to agreement upon with wisdom broadly informed by Scripture.

However, we have not always been consistent in what we have agreed upon.  Up to now, we have generally agreed that there should be democratic-style elections where only the men vote.  But we have allowed women to submit nomination letters.  Though I’ve never seen it happen, a woman could submit a letter with names that is completely in disagreement with the letter that her husband sent.  Women are allowed to participate in the nomination process.  But then the election comes and they are excluded.  Then when the approbation process comes, they are again permitted to participate.  A woman is free to bring a lawful objection to the appointment of an office bearer, even if her husband should not be in agreement.  Odd.  Inconsistent.  Who ever heard of an election where those allowed to nominate and approbate were not permitted to vote?  Include them altogether or exclude them altogether.

There is also the issue of whether voting is an act of authority.  If it is, then we aren’t Reformed, but Congregationalists.  It’s that simple.  I’m glad that Synod 2010 put that erroneous idea to bed, hopefully for good.

So, from the point of view of principles, I can see why the brothers at Synod made the decision they did.  What other way can we expect Synod delegates to make decisions?  They can’t go on gut feelings or speculations about what might happen as a result of their decision.  In this sense, it was a bold and just decision.

However, I regret that this decision was not made years or even centuries earlier, in a time when there were fewer pressures on our Reformed churches.  I look at it this way:  let’s not be naive; there are people in the Canadian Reformed Churches who would like to see women in ecclesiastical office.  However, up till now, they could make no credible argument for their position.  How can you plausibly argue for women in office when your church federation doesn’t even allow women to vote?  It would be like a woman running for Parliament before 1919, when women were finally granted suffrage in Canada.  The camel is now inching his way to the tent.

A related factor concerns me and that is the influence of N. T. Wright.  This British theologian and Anglican bishop is popular and highly regarded by some of our people.  Some people even describe him as “Reformed.”  He is a well-known proponent of women’s ordination.  In 1991, Mid-America Reformed Seminary published a booklet entitled, A Cause of Division: The Hermeneutic of Women’s Ordination.  That was against the background of the struggle of concerned members in the CRC.  Dr. Kloosterman and Dr. Venema demonstrated that there is a far-reaching hermeneutical approach that leads to these positions.  My point is that there is a hermeneutical philosophy that leads to the ordination of women.  It is not a quirk that Wright holds to this position; it’s the consistent outworking of his philosophy of biblical interpretation.  Don’t be fooled: those who are smitten by him and influenced by his hermeneutics are in danger of being led to his error on this point.

The third and final factor that makes me apprehensive about this decision is the efforts made by some to introduce the hermeneutics now in the ascendancy in the Netherlands.  There too, among other things, we see increasing openness to the possibility of women being ordained to ecclesiastical office.  These are the people we’re being encouraged to learn from as true teachers of Reformed hermeneutics.  That deeply concerns me.

The issue of women’s ordination is not where it ends.  Where it ends was ably described by Wayne Grudem in his little book, Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism.   The same hermeneutic that results in the ordination of women leads to the abandonment of the gospel.  As Grudem puts it, “Those who adopt an evangelical feminist position ‘buy into’ an interlocking system of interpretation that will relentlessly erode the authority of Scripture in our churches” (262).  Where the authority of Scripture is eroded, you can be sure that the gospel is in grave danger too.

In conclusion, I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet, at least not in the sense that I can predict the future with unfailing accuracy.  However, if I read the signs, I’m barely hopeful.  I see increasing disparity in our church federation because of this decision.  I also expect that within fifteen or twenty years we will be entertaining the ordination of women, despite Synod 2010 stating the position of Scripture on this clearly and faithfully.  Perhaps the only thing that can prevent that in the short-term is a merger with the URCNA, and I’m only marginally hopeful about that too.  All I know for sure is that the church belongs to Jesus Christ.  He hasn’t promised to preserve the Canadian Reformed Churches in pristine faithfulness until his return.  But he has promised to keep a church for himself, somewhere, with someone, somehow.  I only pray that we can continue to be a part of that.

About Wes Bredenhof

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

100 responses to “Reflections on the CanRC Synodical Decision to Allow Women to Vote in Congregational Elections

  • Thea

    Thank you for this post, Rev. B. I only wish I could have stated it as clearly and succinctly. Now the question remains, What do we do with this? Do we appeal? Or acquiesce?

  • George Helder

    I also thank-you for your careful critique.
    I know many people will get all worked up about the ‘slippery slope’ and there are certainly weaknesses to argueing ‘the thin edge of the wedge’, but I think history shows the truth of it. It is, however, not inevitable, and decisions must be made based on their veracity.
    I see the biggest negative outcome is, as you call it, the growth of modalities amongst us. What frustrates me is the unwillingness of neighbouring churches to enforce long-standing agreements on borders. This is how deformation was allowed to spread faster in the CRCs. One church was ‘conservative’ one ‘liberal’, the next ‘evangelical’ and one even ‘Spirit led’. This allowed unbiblical diversity to grow and be introduced and tolerated more and more. Are the CanRC heading down the same road?
    We all need to continue praying for the church, and specifically for the CanRC.

  • Cecilia vdVelde

    Thank you for your respectful and well-thought out post.

  • svandyken

    Thank you, Rev. Bredenhof, for this post. While I can appreciate your humility (in not claiming to see the future), I cannot help but feel as though I am being forced to watch the same movie I’ve watched a few times. Those in attendance who haven’t seen the movie keep telling me not to worry . . . that I’ll like how it turns out. I’ve seen the movie — several times now — and it always (always!) turns out the same way.

    To use a different analogy: the boat trip (for those who liken the church to the Ark). Many of you were born on this boat (the CanRC). It’s all you’ve ever known. Some of us jumped ship (e.g., CRC), others were rescued after their ship had sunk (think iceberg). But always, the CanRC ship seemed to have a very clear determination to avoid such catastrophe(s).

    I paid to get on this boat (lost business opportunities, family relationships, friendships, etc. — not all, but more than I had imagined) with the clear understanding that it was NOT going to follow the same route as all the other boats. I consider what I gave up to be a small price paid for the blessings of solid preaching, sound worship, good fellowship, etc. But now there appears to be a willingness on the part of “the crew” (urged on by a few long-time passengers?) to investigate icebergs.

    In any event, someone who’s been rescued from the Titanic is not interested in straying from the previously-announced course to investigate icebergs. It is no comfort when the crew says “don’t worry, this ship is not like all those others — this one’s UnSinkable — and once we’ve seen this one iceberg up close, we’ll get back on course”.

    While it may not yet be time to strap on a lifevest, it would be good to identify the location of the nearest lifeboat — and remain alert.

  • George van Popta

    This is a genuine question I have: If women voting is such an iceberg and basic source of apostasy, why did the URCNA not take away the vote from the sisters when they left the CRC? In order to get at the symptoms, one needs to strike the root. Since they did not, is the same movie destined to play out again in the URCNA? As I said, a genuine question, perhaps directed to “svandyken.”
    George van Popta

    • svandyken

      If I have left you with the impression that women voting is the root cause of apostasy, I do apologize for not being more direct. Obviously women do vote in many places, a precious few of which do not have women officebearers. In the URCNA, for instance, this would have been a “grandfathered” condition.

      If women had not already had the franchise at the time the URCNA was begun, I strongly doubt the URCNA would even discuss the matter today. I think it is fair to say there are some within the URCNA who wish that the rollback (of bad CRC decisions) had been more thorough.

      So while I would not say that women voting necessarily leads to women in office, I do think it is fair to assert that it is the revolutionary/egalitarian impulse (which drives the relentless push for change) which will lead to women in office in the CanRC. I doubt there is much of this drive left among those who left the CRC — any hint of it is likely to be squashed right quick.

      Among the Canadian Reformed Churches, however, this drive seems to be just gearing up. Given the facts of Synod 2010 (not least of which is the secret ballot), it appears obvious that the noisy progressives will not be so quickly squashed here as I suspect they would be in the URCNA. I doubt, for instance, that there would be any tolerance within the URCNA for discussion of women deacons — yet I understand that very topic recently appeared in the official magazine of the CanRC. As Thea so sagely summarized the situation: Pandora’s Box has been opened.

      • George van Popta

        I do not know where to begin commenting on your many assumptions, so I will not bother to try.

        Just one factual correction: the CanRC have no official magazine, but you must mean Clarion. I write for it, and read it, but I do not recall an article about women deacons.

      • svandyken

        Pardon my faux pas. I should have said the “de facto” magazine of the Canadian Reformed Churches. Or, as the masthead reads: “Clarion: The Canadian Reformed Magazine” (as opposed to, say, “A magazine for the Canadian Reformed”).

        If I understood correctly, the actual word used in Clarion was “deaconess” (read: female deacon). For the labored parsing of any difference between these two terms, you can refer to any number of articles in the Banner (the magazine of the CRC) dating from about 1975-1990 — at which point any distinction between the two terms had become moot.

      • George van Popta

        Perhaps you meant the article about Parish Nurses that begins this way:

        There have been moments during my ministry that I wished for deaconesses. On many occasions, I was confronted by pastoral situations that really called out for the greater involvement of women. I am sure that, as a pastor, I am not unique in this. Thankfully, in the several congregation I have served, and am serving, there have always been godly women who, at a moment’s notice, filled a need that only a woman can fill. Pastors, elders and deacons are limited by their maleness.

        I never went too far with my thoughts about deaconesses since that road seems to be fraught with many pitfalls.


        Do you read that as an appeal for deaconesses? Would be strange if you did.

      • svandyken

        You say “I never went too far with my thoughts on deaconesses since that road seems fraught with many pitfalls.”

        I respectfully suggest that any further thoughts on the subject of women in office be stifled. They certainly have no place in any Reformed magazine, official or otherwise.

    • svandyken

      I have known parish nurses (and the people they assist) for many years. I have never heard them, their program, or its rationale mentioned in the same breath as “deacon”, “deaconess”, or any other office. In other words, your mention of women in office as a casual introduction to the concept of parish nursing was unnecessary, provocative, and reckless. I say “unnecessary”, unless your intention was indeed to introduce as subtly as possible to your audience the possibility of at least discussing women working (for now) alongside officebearers in their ordained tasks.

      You appear to be operating under the notion that peers are best suited to meet needs in the congregation. Balderdash! If you believe that you are too “male” to effectively serve the spiritual needs of women in your congregation, then you are trying to meet needs that are not yours to meet OR you are not up to the task before you. Either way, you cannot blame your inadequacies on being male without calling into question God’s ordained roles for men and women.

      • George van Popta

        I see that civil discourse with you is impossible. Good-bye.

      • svandyken

        “Pastors, elders, and deacons are limited by their maleness.” Precisely which task to which they have been ordained are they unable to fulfill because of their “maleness?” Such a statement as you have made in the pages of the Canadian Reformed magazine has no biblical warrant.

      • Corrie

        I can think of at least one situation, and I don’t doubt there are more, where a women would be much more helpful and effective then a man. The one that comes to mind in particular is one where a woman has been victimized by sexual abuse, specifically by a father or other male family member.

      • svandyken


        Such situations as you describe are indeed horrific. They are especially abominable because they can be so destructive of a biblical view of fatherhood.

        A good discussion to have on this would, I think, include what precisely is limiting a male office-bearer’s effectiveness in such a situation. Is it really the “maleness” of the officebearer? Or could it be the suspicion that a man is going to tell a woman that she just needs to forgive and forget — and that she will have to come to terms with sitting in church next to / behind her tormentor for the rest of her/his natural life? In other words, when men can be relied upon to consistently mete out punishment to offenders, they may be more effective in bringing God’s Word of comfort to victims. It is not “maleness” that causes ineffectiveness, which was the view expressed in Clarion.

  • Michael

    You say that you “regret that this decision was not made years or even centuries earlier, in a time when there were fewer pressures on our Reformed churches”. But, of course, we know that this was not part of God’s sovereign plan otherwise it would have been so.

    Perhaps it is a benefit that this decision is made now on the heels of wrong decisions by our sister churches in The Netherlands. Perhaps this will force people to have their eyes wide open and focus on keeping our churches true to the Word of God and not waste time in keeping with the past simply for the sake of keeping with the past.

    So far as I can see, the majority of arguments against women voting revolve around two things. Firstly there is the concern about why this is an issue. Why now? Where are the hearts of the people who are pushing for change? Wasn’t everything fine the way that it was? Secondly there is the conclusion that A will necessarily lead to B. We are told that if women are voting today then just give it 15 – 20 years and we will be dealing with issues of women in office. Yet neither of those arguments are scriptural and neither are cause to keep women from voting.

    You and Synod are correct in saying that voting is not an act of authority. Should we then not welcome the opportunity in thankfulness and faithfulness to focus on other issues that are real and alive in our churches today rather than worrying about the “slippery slope”?

    God’s grace extends to us in our lives day by day. So it also is that His grace extends to our churches day by day, Sunday by Sunday and from one Synod to the next. I am thankful that Synod 2010 made a scriptural decision and not one that was based in fear about what our churches will be facing, for example, at Synod 2025.

    I do have one concern and I see that it has been mentioned from time to time. The concern is that a decision like this can be divisive from congregation to congregation and even within a congregation. I think our prayers right now for the CanRef ought to include that we all deal with each other in humility and love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, as we are so often reminded in the New Testament. For example, those that feel women voting is long overdue should be reminded that the great majority of their brothers and sisters around them do not agree. While they can be thankful to the Lord that our churches continue to strive to be faithful to the Word of God they must also show love and respect for their many brothers and sisters who are concerned about this decision. And then the opposite is true as well.

    One last thing for Dr. Wes Bredenhof – thank you very much for your comments and insight on this matter and on everything else that you contribute in this blog. It is very appreciated.

  • Art

    Dear Dr. Bredenhof.
    Thanks for your analysis and for expressing your thoughts on this matter. You wrote: “So, from the point of view of principles, I can see why the brothers at Synod made the decision they did. What other way can we expect Synod delegates to make decisions? They can’t go on gut feelings or speculations about what might happen as a result of their decision. In this sense, it was a bold and just decision.
    However, I regret that this decision was not made years or even centuries earlier, in a time when there were fewer pressures on our Reformed churches…”
    From this I can reasonably conclude that if you had been a delegate to this Synod and had the opportunity to vote, whether by secret ballot or not, you would have felt compelled to support the decision of Synod. I totally agree with Michael, whoever you are. Now is the time to go on with our lives and that of course in a brotherly (and now maybe even sisterly) manner)

    Respectfully, Art Lengkeek in a rather conservative Chilliwack.

  • Andrew Douma

    I hope that in time I can look upon this decision and believe it was a good one. For now I find it deeply regrettable for the following two reasons.

    First, nobody can make an argument that God’s Word commands us to include woman in the voting process. Nor, can an argument be made that the process used for hundreds of years has produced poor results and actually warranted a change. This issue is fueled by feminism – that deep rooted objective of being equal with men. Whether the Bible forbids woman voting or not is, completely irrelevant. The spirit of this initiative was clearly to establish equality and thereby unseat the very order of creation which God, Himself put in place.

    Secondly, the government of Canada has time and again disappointed the majority of its citizens by acquiescing to the minority. Think only of capital punishment and abortion. Despite the substantial support for the minority report, 10 synodical delegates appear to have felt their individual wisdom to be greater than the collective wisdom of the thirty consistories who submitted letters. What a pity! Minority-olisis has infected the Canadian Reformed Church.

    • svandyken

      Well said. It is the modus operandi of progressives to convince regular folk that what they think is working just fine is, in fact, broken and in desparate need of help. And, of course, they know just what is needed. All you need to do is trust them to fix things and everything will be just fine — until the next “crisis”.

      The problem stems from accepting the progressive notion that you must constantly be proving to their satisfaction that a.) their proposed change is unbiblical and b.) the status quo is biblical. In truth, you are not obliged to prove either. It is those who insist on changing the status quo who must prove a.) that the status quo is unbiblical and b.) that the proposed change is biblical. They will wear you down until you give in . . . if you accept their paradigm.

  • Ally

    It exasperates me that it keeps coming back to feminism and headship. Voting is not authority. As Bredenhof points out, we aren’t Reformed if this is the case.

    Wanting to vote dosen’t mean that I want to be in office. How does recommending a person or giving an opinion automatically translate to a want for power?

    Isn’t it (besides ultimately being God’s decision) the council’s decision whether someone comes into office? Also, our church order states that “the election to any office shall take place with the cooperation of the congregation.”

    Of course God’s Word dosen’t command us to include women in the voting process. There was no voting in the Bible! Voting is the way our Church has chosen to elect office bearers.

    I’m tired of seeing people say that now that this has happened, women will want office. One has nothing to do with the other. We know from Scripture that the task of teaching in the church, ie authority, is delegated to men. How many times does it have to be said that voting isn’t authority?

    Thea, how about another “a” word? Accept.

    • Andrew Douma

      It may exasperate you to hear that this is about feminism and a desire to be equal, but you never provided an alternative motive.

      The present process isn’t (or shall I say wasn’t) unbiblical, nor ineffective. Yet the matter remained a burning issue for some. Most people don’t often go to such great lengths, as to repeatedly bring this to Synod, for merely a preference. A principle conviction must have been driving some to persist. So, if the motivation wasn’t feminism, exactly what was it?

    • svandyken


      We all know that women demanding the vote has absolutely NotHIng to do with women demanding to serve in church office. The two have never appeared in sequence in any other church/denomination/federation — with one or two (?!) possible exceptions (e.g., CRC, UPC, PCA, RCA, the circus formerly known as the GKN, the GKN’s gullible big sister, formerly known as the NKH, the NGK, most Congregational churches in North America, the ELCA, etc., etc., etc.). No, the one never, ever, ever leads to the other. Of course not.

      • Michael

        What if the person that you are addressing genuinely loves the Lord and desires to serve Him just as much as you do? Would you then still feel the need to resort to sarcasm and a belittling tone?

        I may have to agree with George van Popta in thinking that civil discourse is impossible with you.

        Alternatively can we please treat each other with love and humility? I think of Eph 4:2 as just one example:

        2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

      • svandyken

        What if the person I am addressing has so little regard for the old paths blazed, maintained, and built up over centuries by his/her forebears (based on God’s Word) that he/she is willing to ignore the multitude of wrecked ships littering the coastline — and maintains that this ship is in no danger when it ventures into such perilous waters?

        It always amazes me how the folks who like to stir the pot (re-fashioning the church into something they think will be more “relevant”) take offense when someone calls them on it.

        Perhaps yet another illustration will help. A person who has survived a house fire will (rightly) have very, very little tolerance for people carelessly running through their home with lit candles. Some may find it harmless, others may find it amusing even. I consider it reckless, or worse.

      • svandyken

        My apologies to the those readers connected to what was formerly known as the GKN and NHK — my characterization of the two bodies as, respectively, a circus and a gullible big sister may indeed have been a stretch.

      • Jim Witteveen

        Mr. VanDyken,

        This is a logical fallacy – “post hoc, ergo propter hoc,” which means “After this, therefore because of this.” Simply because one thing has occurred after another thing does not mean that the first thing caused it, or even that it’s a sign that the next thing is going to happen.

        This issue has been discussed at our synods for decades, and if it is concluded that voting is not ruling, and is therefore an activity open to sisters in the church, it has nothing to do with sisters being invited to take on leadership or teaching roles in the church (which Scripture clearly forbids).


        Pastor Jim Witteveen
        Prince George, B.C.

  • Cor

    I’d agree with Wes and svandyken. I, too, have been on that boat and have experienced and seen the consequences of this sort of thing. Do we take God’s Word for what it says, or do we twist it to suit our own interpretation? What comes to mind as I read through these replies are, “doing what seems right in their own eyes.” and, “I think….”, are very dangerous words for the churches.

    • Michael

      I would be interested to know where you think anyone at Synod or on this blog has twisted God’s word to suit their own interpretation. I am asking this question seriously. This is a very serious allegation so I am hoping you can be specific.

  • George Helder

    It is not unfrequent that decisions are made at synods that do not reflect the thinking in the churches. Is it because the brothers delegate have more spiritual wisdom than the hoi-poloi? I doubt it. I can fully understand that in the discussions and give and take at synod, in committee, informally, and in session, that individuals are convinced to allow their initial feelings be overridden, not so much by force of arguement, but because of brotherly love. They want peace! I have spoken to past delegates who expressed such feelings. Afterward they were sorry that they had not stuck to their principles.
    How can this be avoided? I suggested in another blog that we look at, what I believe is the URCNA current practice of making these sorts of decisions. Decisions are only made provissionaly and ratified at a later synod if the majority of the churches are in agreement. There is much wisdom in sober second thought.

  • tom bosma

    Rev Bredenhof is correct this Synod decision does have detrimental affects. I believe those in our federation of churches who practiced women’s voting before synod ruled on the matter had no call to do so, they are out of order and broke with the common accord of the Canrc church. Further I find it not much more than selfishness to force the matter upon the churches. An ecclesiastical process should not be used for the advancement of practices, preferences or even strong preferences; it should be used for the defense and promotion of the word of our Lord. The result is plain to see, Synod has endorsed a divided house rather than bringing a decision that is based on a belief that can be signed off with “So says the Lord”. These kind decisions happen when we exchange beliefs for practices and preferences.

    I am alarmed when a doctorate minister such as Rev Bredenhof publically says he does not have much hope, I am discouraged and apathetic also and wish to encourage those who feel our stable ground is being shaken. I encourage you also Rev Bredenhof by quoting Romans 15:4 -6
    4For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
    5May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Art

    Art Says:
    Come on brothers why all the doom and gloom in your predictions for the future? One would almost think that Synod 2010 had taken away the voting privileges we males have enjoyed almost since the time of the reformation and given them to the ladies instead! The sky has not fallen and the Lord is still in charge of the church! Synod has simply said by their considerations and actions that the matter of whether the other half of the church members should enjoy voting privileges also, is not a matter that should be decided by the churches in common but by the local consistories with the deacons. They have passed the hot potato right back. Very smart I think, not very smart you think. The fact is that you can hardly complain to the next synod because now the guys that don’t want the women to ever vote will have to prove to the next synod that God’s Word forbids it. The burden of proof has been reversed now. Remember article 31? I love it, Art.


    • George Helder

      Brother Lengkeek.
      I think you err in characterising it as a enjoying a privilege, whether male or female. That’s not it at all. Perhaps this is why some have fought for granting the sisters the vote, to gain a privilege.
      The voting by the congregation is an exercise in responsibility; Spirit led responsibility I should say. This should not be thrown out to use the lot either, denying God’s indwelling, but accepted with humility.
      While I agree the vote is not about ruling, I still believe it is part of the male role. Not about superiority or inferiority as some would like us to feel, but a different calling, a different responsibility under the male headship.

      • Art

        Brother Helder does not think that the sisters have gained a privilege. I believe it is a privilege. I wrote: “Synod has simply said by their considerations and actions that the matter of whether the other half of the church members should enjoy voting privileges also, is not a matter that should be decided by the churches in common but by the local consistories with the deacons.” So I said in effect that now the consistories with the deacons can extend the same priviliges to the sisters. According to the church order and established Reformed practice it is the consistory that governs the congregation, the church is not a democracy. The elders and deacons are the ones who are ultimately responsible. If there are not enough suitable candidates they may even appoint or re-appoint elders and deacons. That is why I also want to call it a privilege for the congregation to be able to choose out of the nominations by the consistory with the deacons. The Oxford Canadian Dictionary says about the word privilege that it may mean a special advantage extended to a particular group. In this case the special group may also include the sisters who are professing members in good standing …after preceding prayers and accordint to the regulations aadopted for that purpose by the consistory with the deacons. of course I agree with you that those actions should always be “Spirit led”.

  • Thea

    @Art… respectfully, allowing the women to vote in our churches could effectively take away the male vote. Maybe not voting privileges, but I would like to suggest that certainly the male vote is at risk. Research has shown that there are 98 males to 100 females in Canada, so it stands to reason that that statistic would, at least, hold in the churches also. I would guess there are considerably more women than men in the CanRef churches, as in some congregations there are a lot of single women and widows.
    So, hypothetically speaking, should a husband and wife cancel each other’s votes (which this ruling may encourage women to do), the extra women will carry the day. Now assuming that the consistory puts forth a slate which contains all men eligible and capable of the office of elder or deacon, this should not in itself be a catastrophe.
    However if some time down the road, say in 20-25 years, the opening the office up to the females does happen, then it means the end of the church as we know it today. We will have become the clone of the CRCs and many other denominations which have fallen prey to Pandora’s box of evils.
    In regards to your last sentence, the majority of the churches now have to prove that the decision was illegal, as all the synods gone before have said that this issue was a matter for the churches in common and not to be left to the freedom of the churches.
    I wonder if the upheaval that is sure to come will be so lovable. I am sad that you love it.

    • Laura O

      ~ ( So, hypothetically speaking, should a husband and wife cancel each other’s votes (which this ruling may encourage women to do), the extra women will carry the day)~Thea

      This is the first time I have weighted in on this debate. I can see why Synod allowed this to happen. It is not specifically forbidden, it is not authoritive and as Godly Married women, it actually matters little.
      If us married women do what we have been doing for however many years we have been married i.e. Submitting to our husband as head of the house, then this voting for us is a moot point. To directly cancel out his vote Thea, would be a blatant disobediance to his role as head of me and our house.
      For Widows and Single women, yes, it does matter. But they do not have a husband to submit to. As Godly women they should submit to the will of the church, and with prayer and humility, they can fullfill God’s call to fill the vancancies with suitable men.
      These offices will be filled with men choosen by God, not by men chosen by men and women, and that is the point we are all missing here. God will appoint whomever He sees as right for the office of Elder or Deacon, NOT a vote by a congregation.

      • Thea

        So then, exactly why was it so important that Synod give the women the vote… if God appoints whomever he sees as right for the office? Couldn’t he do that with just the male vote?
        It doesn’t follow that although it makes no difference for the married woman, it does make a difference for the single/widowed woman. It may not seem like it matters for the married woman, but it actually does. Either her vote cancels her husband’s vote or carries his vote. So now she MUST vote, to support him. And he needs her vote, to ensure his counts. Because the single/widowed woman’s vote will split the male vote.
        How do I know that? Because of the mindset of those (single) women that have been working very hard behind the scenes to get the vote. They are not submissive women. Submissive married women did not need or want the vote.
        That’s why the male vote is actually being lost because of this Synod decision.
        Forgive me for going on and on about it. I am belaboring the point, I know. I apologize.

    • Art

      Thanks Wes for allowing us to vent our frustrations and sometimes even satisfaction about the decisions of Synod 2010 re: Women’s Voting. Thea you are afraid that the women’s vote may put the “male vote at risk”. My question is since when is the male vote so very special? We are all enjoying the office of Prophet, Priest and King (or even Queen) in the church of Christ. It is commonly called the office of all believers.
      Then the issue of whether women should be premitted to help choose elders and deacons is hardly new. it has lived in the Reformed churches for at least 100 years. Even as a boy in Holland, at the JV (Jongelings vereniging or young men’s society) I was very much in favor of allowing the women a vote. This was in the 1940,s. Nothing new under the sun.

      As far as a wife possibly cancelling out her husband’s vote, did you always agree with your husband. In my case when my wife and i discuss the candidates we may agree on four out of five, so what since when do we always have to agree on everything?

      Now, since the issue has now been left to the discretion of the local churches (read consitories and the deacons) it may still take another ten years before every female meber in good standing may vote. If the Lord wills,maybe at the anniversary of the day the women were allowed in the Federal elections in Canada. What was once simply an Inequity that neede to be discussed will become an Iniquity or gross injustice if we let it persist against our better judgement.

      In 2006 my wife and I were at the 100th birthday celebration of a relative, when i asked her a question: Is the fact that the ladies are allowed to exercise their privilege to vote for officebearers still an item for discussion here? She said oh no, I am so happy that I lived to see the day that I could vote. Now this was in one of the more conservative congregations in Holland. Oops I should not have use that bad word.
      I hope this helps to put your mind at ease, Art.

      • Thea

        It would be a gross injustice if we let what persist? Only the male voting for office-bearers? Huh? I have never voted in the church, and I never felt gross injustice, not even an ounce of injustice! It was never inequality either, because I am convinced that I am as equally righteous in God’s eyes through Christ’s work as any man. I would guess that the majority of women in the Can Ref churches also had no problem with not voting. Which proves my point about the motives which drove this decision. Certainly not gross injustice. More like entitlement and feminism. Sorry Mr. L. you are way out in left field on this one.

  • svandyken

    Rev. Witteveen:

    Women’s voting (your “A”) does not necessarily lead to women in office (your and my “B”). Agreed. I have stated that I do not assert that women’s voting will necessarily lead to women in office –the one example which has been discussed already being URCNA. What experience and history tells me, however, is that the feminist/progressive drive to eliminate gender distinction within the church (my “A”, if you will)has, without exception, led to women in office — several examples have been provided in prior posts.

    You mention the “safeguard” put in place by Synod 2010 (that voting does not mean ruling). As long as the underlying drive (for elimination of gender distinction) can be muzzled — or rooted out — this safeguard may function as intended. History shows that this drive is relentless, and will use any possible opportunity to dismantle these kinds of safeguards.

    Art: I’m curious why Article 31 becomes operative only after a previous decision of Synod (1987?) is reversed without new grounds proving it was against the Bible and/or church order. I, too, appreciate Article 31 — but only if it applies to everyone, not just when it’s convenient.

    • Art

      Brother Vandyken, you asked me: ” Art: I’m curious why Article 31 becomes operative only after a previous decision of Synod (1987?) is reversed without new grounds proving it was against the Bible and/or church order. I, too, appreciate Article 31 — but only if it applies to everyone, not just when it’s convenient?”.

      I don’t have ready access to the Acts of every Synod but I believe that this Synod 2010 has been very careful to say specifically that the issue of Women’s voting is not a matter for the churches in common. This had not been specifically addressed earlier in other Synods. They just went ahead as if it was.

      In (1987?) the matter was not left in the discretion of the local churches but the whole issue about what used to be called “women’s voting rights” was thought to have been to bed with the decision that it was not to be brought back on the table without new scriptural proof. Who gave that Synod the right to do such a thing?

      Now it is 2010, we have acquiesced now for some 23 years. That is about an entire generation.

      Last of all my apologies for a few typos in my reply to Thea above. My posting “got away on me” before I had a chance to review it. Art.

  • Wes Bredenhof

    Over at the Heidelblog, Scott Clark noticed my comment about advocates for women in office in the Canadian Reformed Churches. He wrote:

    “In that light I did note with interest what might be a new development to the URCs, namely the public observation by a CanRC minister that there are advocates in the CanRCs for women in office, but that isn’t what I had in mind.”

    This is the response that I posted to clarify:

    “Let me briefly set the record straight on “advocates in the CanRCs for women in office.” I was the one who made that observation on my blog. I know of no professors, ministers, elders, or deacons who are advocates of that position. However, I do know of a very small number of regular members of the Canadian Reformed Churches who would be either open to it or in favour of it. Yes, it’s anecdotal evidence on my say so, so take it for what it’s worth. But on the flip side, you can be sure that the vast majority of people in the CanRC do not hold that position.”

    • Henry S

      I personally think that what is advocated and what is practiced is different.

      One the one hand, no one advocates that voting is ruling. On the other hand, everybody abides by the vote of 14 against 10 in a synod, and the results of votes in congregational meetings. I saw in real live action a consistory retract the “proposed” call of a minister for a congregation, as if the people (including vocal women) knew better then the leaders.

      On the one hand, nobody advocates that voting is exercising authority, on the hand, Synod advocates that women have the right “to be heard” in the voting process, contrary to 1 Cor. 14:33-40 which commands against women speaking in Church.

      One the one hand nobody advocates women teaching in Church, yet on the other hand women teach at combined Bible studies, Ministers and Elders conferences, and at Hamilton’s panel on women voting of many years ago. There is a visible contradiction to what is advocated an what is practiced, to our shame.

      I don’t think there will ever be unity until there is submission to God’s Word and practice bears out what is being advocated.

      In Christ, Henry S

  • tom bosma

    Several posts ago Art explained it is now up those who wish to appeal the decision to bear the scriptural proof that it is not permittable. Apparently Synod was very smart in this tactic and for this reason he loves article 31. I do not understand why anyone would love the idea of having to go the way of article 31. It would be better to empathize with those who believe the church is in a precarious situation rather than equating their beliefs with Chicken Little and the sky falling. I do feel those who do not believe women should be voting have been very compassionate with the apposing ideology. Synod exemplified the same compassion in that 30 churches’s said do not allow women to vote and yet for the sake of the very few Synod left an avenue for that minority. I do not agree with the decision but I am empathetic that Synod was forced to deliberate between legalities and belief. Why would anyone love to have to bear the burden of proof of a belief?

    Synod permits women to vote without scriptural proof; it sites no biblical evidence, apparently scripture is silent when you look for democratic terminology in the book of the absolute monarchy. This does beg the question; did we serve the sheep or the Lord?

    Some find it silly to think the sky may be falling on the Canrc; we should ask ourselves if the Lord allowed these thing to happen to the faithful Churches before and did article 31 spare them?

    • Art

      Hi Tom: I did not intend to create the impression that I particularly love article 31 more than all the articles of the church order. I love the fact that the burden of proof has been reversed now. If that was not clear to you, than accept my apologies.
      Then, where did you read in(to) the Acts that “Synod exemplified the same compassion in that 30 churches’s said do not allow women to vote and yet for the sake of the very few Synod left an avenue for that minority. I do not agree with the decision but I am empathetic that Synod was forced to deliberate between legalities and belief. Why would anyone love to have to bear the burden of proof of a belief?”
      Can you elaborate on that Tom and supply some proof? Were you there in person and present at all of the discussions meetings and did you ask each member personally about their motivation? in my opinion an accusation, even with a question mark “did we serve the sheep or the Lord?” deserves some proof and substantiation on your part. Art

  • George van Popta

    Strictly anecdotal: Earlier this week I had breakfast with some local OP, RP, UR and FC colleagues. We were talking “synods and assemblies.” All four churches allow women to vote and yet do not have women in office, so it is not an inevitable regression.

    • svandyken

      Rev. van Popta:

      I understand you aren’t speaking to me (per your comment above), and I am not pleading for a dialogue. But I am genuinely curious if your breakfast conversation with OP, RP, UR, and FC colleagues went deeper than stating the obvious. In other words, most of us would be aware that URCNA, et al have women voting but not women in office. The question is: how did each of those federations come to have women voting (i.e., inherited practice; grassroots (majority) shift; or majority yielding to aggressive minority)?

  • K Bosch

    Perhaps we should consider going back to casting lots? It seems this is causing quite the uproar and being that casting lots is a method used in the Bible and voting isn’t mentioned, maybe that would be the best way to resolve this issue? As for women not being allowed to be included in decision making, in office, as teachers – while Paul does speak directly against this in his letters to the early church, we do well to remember the context of these commands – new churches with both Gentiles (who had equality of men and women) and Jews (a culture that was quite repressive to women) – suddenly these two groups are thrown together, families are sitting together in worship service (previously in Jewish worship the women and children would either sit on the balcony or in the back so this is a very radical change already for them) and there is unrest because of the cultural differences. Paul urges the Gentile women to remember to keep order in the worship services and to save their questions for discussion with their husbands when they get home. But if we really study our Bibles we can find many instances of women in positions of prominence within the church – prophetesses, deaconesses, even a woman apostle is mentioned in Romans 16:7 (Junias) … in fact if you read the whole chapter of Romans 16 you will find many women mentioned who were “workers in the Lord”. I do not think this has anything to do with feminism as previously mentioned, but rather of truly studying the Bible as a whole, rather than just picking out a few statements that some in the CanRC feel are more important than the rest of the Bible with regards to the role of women in the church. Perhaps I am way off base here, and I welcome any comments to this post that are made in true Christian love, but I do urge everyone to truly read their Bibles and do their research with regards to this issue.

    With Christian greetings,
    K Bosch
    “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” ~ Proverbs 15:1

  • tom bosma

    I think I will take some of the advice of the above and hopefully I will convey myself in a manner that is not un-brotherly.

    Thank you for response Rev van Popta.

    I appreciate your quick and efficient judgment of my anecdotal statements and the clarity you offer as to why they are such. However I would submit to you that OP, RP, UR, and FC are not the CanRc.

    Thank you for your response Br Art

    No I wasn’t at Synod, nor I did I ask each and every brother what their motivation was. However I have read the minority and majority reports and the unofficial acts of Synod. Seeing as the majority of churches wished this not to happen but were unable to legally convince Synod otherwise Synod compassionately made an avenue for the matter to be dealt with in the local councils. This to satisfy the minority who feel female voting is appropriate. Albeit a 14-10 vote for women voting the churches wished otherwise, I can draw no other conclusion that this was done in the interests of unity for the church and done so compassionately. Given that so many churches were against permitting the vote and since I do not discount their faith or wisdom and I do not agree with the decision it is legitimate to ask if the litigious process at Synod has served the sheep or the Lord. Did you not encourage that mode of thought with the burden of proof comments?

    I am sorry brother if I you do not see matters in the same way I do, but please understand for some the matter is a question of belief.

    • Art

      Tom, I am happy to see that you do not “doubt their faith and wisdom”, referring to the delegates at Synod I hope. Personally I have had the privilege to have been delegated to many Classes and Regional Synods in Western Canada and I know from my own experience that the delegates are very serious in wanting to do their very best to do this work to the best of their ability for the benefit of the churches. I have never doubted their motivation in this respect. I read both reports and the decisions several times and can not find any solid ground for questioning their sincerity and dedication either and I am surprised that you can call the process at Synod litigious. In what way litigious, I don’t understand this at all, can you explain? Art.

      • tom bosma

        Thank you for your response Art.
        When I wrote I do not discount their faith or wisdom I mean the faith and wisdom of both Synod and the 30 churches that did not wish to have women voting. When I wrote the litigiousness of Synod I refer to the 30 years this has been on the “table” and still there is no strong scriptural direction either way. This has produced a litigious debate for 30 years of appeals, denials, and now a unsatisfactory downloading to the local churches that encourages beliefs to be divided on the matter. The net result too many but perhaps not you is argumentation and division when what most wanted was common accord on the matter. That is why I say litigious because we both know there are two beliefs in this matter, unity was not served and the matter is not resolved amongst the flocks.

        I mean no disrespect but I do begin to see that because you don’t understand that others of the communion of saints believe women should not be voting you cannot grasp that this is a problem. To others this is not a trivial matter.

        What would be best is that as brothers we all pray for a solution that will reconcile beliefs with practice for all concerned.

  • joyce

    Hi all
    Correct me if I am wrong but I see this from a practical stance.
    Firstly we are not going against Scripture whichever way we go – for or against women voting. If it was clear then this decision would have been made and this discussion void.

    Secondly from a practical stance – I will offer my observations. And I may be incorrect so go ahead and correct me. Women can nominate elders and deacons.. Yes?? Then the voting is only male… then after the voting, a woman may object… If I have it correctly said and understood, the voting is a part of the process but in the 3 steps (and I realize there are more steps involving consistories) women are absent from the middle step, yet all the steps are authority. This to me makes no sense. If an objection is ‘enough’ to overthrow a nominated and voted elder, arent women given more power in that case. So then its not a matter of power or authority.

    Thirdly – and yes if you want to know I am one of the older singles, and I have sat in church next to completely unrelated men (unrelated as in not my boyfriend or fiancee) and ‘helped’ him vote as he didnt really know the men nominated. On another occasion, a single man who entered our congregation with an attestation 2 weeks before voting, was able to vote. Clearly something is wrong with that. If the voting men do not know the nominated, they should abstain from voting. Im not saying that should immediately result in women voting, but I do think something is quite wrong there.

    Fourthly, I do believe too that there needs to be some guidelines with the voting. (perhaps there are, that I am not aware of), as in a vote per household/couple. I see no reason for a couple to vote separately – and then yes, her vote can cancel out her husbands. To me it makes sense a vote per couple and per single.

    So correct me if I am wrong, but I am not speaking the above because I am a feminist. This is the way I see voting is carried out and feel that something isnt quite right there


  • Rob

    I won’t say much about the decision of Synod but I do want to observe that none of the above 47 comments interacts with the “considerations” which led Synod to its decision. If you believe Synod erred, show where its reasoning went wrong. That would be a service to the churches.

    Rob Schouten

    • Thea

      Rev. Schouten:
      That’s the first constructive suggestion that has come out of all these discussions to date.
      The problem, however, is that the synodical committee majority report started that exercise, and that report was not deemed to be very strong, or even convincing. So even if such a study was undertaken, one would clearly be at a disadvantage.
      Because if it cannot be proven that Scripture does not clearly indicate that women’s voting is prohibited, and none of the other Scriptural arguments already presented hold water, how on earth could anyone convince anyone else that the considerations went wrong? What would it take?
      That’s why this issue is so polarized, and impossible to solve. And that’s why synod should not have caved to the minority, and stuck with the status quo. It was said in an earlier synod, the issue is closed until “new grounds” are presented. The issue should have stayed closed, because no new grounds were presented, only a way to let certain churches do whatever they pleased.
      Do you feel this decision has served the churches well, and that the issue has now concluded and will never have to be dealt with again?
      Respectfully, Thea

      • svandyken

        Thea, you have an amazing capacity for not only identifying the salient point(s), but “knocking them out of the park”, as we say during baseball season. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. It is good to have Deborahs among us.

      • Art

        Yes, I do feel that the issue has now been completed as far as the church federation is concerned. There is nothing wrong with allowing the women to vote also as far as Scripture, confessions and church order are concerned. It is now up to the local churches to do the right thing! It may take a little time before all local churches allow it but it will happen, there is no doubt im my mind. Art.

  • Rob Schouten


    1. If members of the churches are convinced that the decision about women’s voting goes against the explict teaching of Scripture or against what can be lawfully deduced from Scripture, they should argue their case regardless of how Synod evaluated the biblical arguments of the advisory committee at Synod. Nothing prevents these matters of biblical interpretation from being discussed on this blog or on other blogs.

    2. The decision of Synod was based on a number of considerations including the nature of voting. There’s lot of material here for reflection and discussion. Again, if churches or individuals find fault with the arguments, they should set forth their case.

    3. Among our churches, there is a strong caution about “extra-confessional” binding. Ought there not to be a parallel fear of “extra-church-orderly” binding? Why should individual churches be bound beyond what has been adopted by “common consent” in the Church Order?

    4. Also important is this question: Is a Synod permitted to simply decree that something like women’s voting is a matter of the churches in common? What if a Synod decreed that the manner of celebrating the Lord’s Supper was also a matter of the churches in common? Would that not be a case of Synod lording it over the churches?

    5. It’s obvious that the response of many to Synod’s decision is driven by a fear of the impact of gender-blending activism in society. I share that fear but I do not believe it’s necessary to bind local churches beyond Scripture and the church order in order to resist the foolishness of the world. Synod’s decision does not undermine the ability of elders and ministers to teach the whole counsel of God concerning gender roles in the home and in the church of Christ.

    Rob Schouten
    Aldergrove, B.C.

    • Art

      I am in agreement with Rob Schouten as far as the points 1,2,3 and 5 are concerned but not on point 4. If the point regarding the manner of the celebration of the Lord’s Table came to the attention of a Synod in a legitimate manner a decion to that effect would be acceptable. There is already quite a bit of difference in the various CanRef. churches in the exact manner this is done. In Chilliwack for instance we can choose between wine and grape juice, while in other congregations that would be anathema. nobody is complaining anymore after years of fighting. As long as everything is done in good order and not in conflict with Scripture, the Three Forms of Unity, the accepted Church Order and the local regulations. Art.

      • Art

        If I may, I would like to add the following: Every church has it’s own Code Of Conduct. For the sake of brevity let us call it COD, this COD is an unwritten code of behaviour and the first thing a newcomer to the church has to learn is what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behaviour. This COD varies from one congregation to the other within the federation itself. Departing from it or even mentioning it can cost you elections and appointments to a consistory or a lot of business. When I publicly favored “Women’s Voting Rights” in a regional Young People’s meeting I lost an election for the first time in my life. When I promoted it at a meeting of the Men’s Society I was not even given a candidacy for the next few years. Later I had to Acquiesce and keep quiet for nineteen years while the Synod had put the matter to bed because I needed to make a living as my first priority. Don’t get me wrong I am not complaining, just stating my experiences. I love the CAnRC. My initials are A.C. A stands for Acquiesce, the C for Conservative? Brothers and sisters I love you all! Art.

      • svandyken


        Wow. Unless I’m misreading your comment, you say you “lost elections”. I’ve never heard someone speak about “running for Consistory” the way some people speak about running for City Council. I’m referring specifically to ” . . . can cost you elections and appointments to a consistory . . . ”

        You were denied a candidacy for a few years. ??

        You’ve previously mentioned your involvement in regional YP meetings — that’s a nice memory to have from one’s youth. But here you are implying that you “lost an election for the first time in (your) life” because you publicly favored “women’s voting rights”. Unless that was the only matter being addressed on the ballot, you might want to consider that you lost for any number of other (unrelated) reasons. No offense intended, but maybe people weren’t so much voting against you as they were voting for someone else.

      • colin

        Sorry Art there is still people complaining but the fear of excommunication keeps them from saying anyhting. I have to believe that it was just not a Lords Supper issue that resulted in the excommunication of some members andthat there waas something else to it all, but the rumours and fears are there and they are real.

    • tom bosma

      Dear Rev Schouten

      You said “It’s obvious that the response of many to Synod’s decision is driven by a fear of the impact of gender-blending activism in society.”

      I would say that is a seriously overstated generalization. Of nearly all the discussions I have had with the many brothers who believe women should not be voting none have expressed they have a fear of the impact of gender blending activism in society. Their concerns are for the well being of the Church and the unity of its members. Their concerns are to be scripturally true and they believe women should not engage in a vote on an ecclesiastical matter while the congregation sits as a flock of the communion of saints. Their concerns are headship and given scriptural mandates written by Paul and Timothy. Their concern are not activism in society, most realize society is still the antithesis. And yes synod decision does “undermine the ability of elders and ministers to teach the whole counsel of God concerning gender roles in the home and in the church of Christ” since a divided belief on the matter is now acceptable in role of women as it pertains to ecclesiastical matters.

    • tom bosma

      Art Thanks for enlightening us to the situation you have endured; I am empathetic to what you have experienced. I do believe that many do suffer for there convictions and testimony inside our own church, it is not right. I am in no way saying either side of this struggle in our churches has behaved more honorably than the other. However I do say there is an obvious disunity on the matter, this also is not right. So understanding you have had real affects that have been inflicted upon your life because of this matter please understand that is true on the other side of the coin also. This is why I conveyed that the Synod decision does not necessarily promote unity amongst us.

      • Art

        Tom Bosma, I thank you for your kind words. I am sure that there are some very strong feelings about a lot of different issues in the Canadian Reformed Churches and in other Reformed Churches and I sure respect other people’s feelings. The fact is that there comes a time for us to either acquiesce or to make a different choice if there is one. It appears that right now there is no hope any more for the opponents of allowing the women to vote in the election of officebearers to win this particular battle. In my humble opinion this is the beginning of a trend that will show that most or all of the CanRC’s allow the women to vote. Time will tell who is right, I am not going to argue the point here,
        VANDYKEN (SV) said: Art: Wow. Unless I’m misreading your comment, you say you “lost elections”. I’ve never heard someone speak about “running for Consistory” the way some people speak about running for City Council. I’m referring specifically to ” . . . can cost you elections and appointments to a consistory . . . ”
        I say SV that I did not mention “running for consistory” at all and I realized that I left an “opening” after I typed the words “lost an election” without putting the quotation marks in. When I read it over I honestly thought , “I would not be surprised if SV is going to trip me up on this” and sure enough…, that’s what happened! Mr. Moderator could you as yet scroll back to my message and do it for me? Really SV, I only used terminology that was commonly used at that time, about thirty years ago or so.
        TO ALL OF THE READERS: I was not really looking for sympathy it does not hurt any more at all and even at the time I could see a very positive side in it for me. That story and many others are best left for the autobiography I am writing.

    • Bryan Jongbloed

      Like many in our churches, I have been following this synod decision and the ensuing debate with great interest and concern. I have kept mum until now but I felt compelled to respond to Rev. Schoutens remarks to Thea. He lays out five points in which he explains the reasons for this synod decision and the recourse that those who disagree can take.
      Point one says that all those who disagree with the decision can formulate biblical arguments to refute it at the next synod. I find this ironic and truely convenient for those in favor of woman’s voting. The 2007 and 2010 synods have chosen to contradict a previous synod decision (1987?) which said the matter was left to rest until new grounds were presented. No new grounds were presented, no new biblical revelation (that I’m aware of) has been brought forward and yet the synod delegates saw fit to contradict the vast majority of letters from the churches and the majority report of the synod sub-committee. Now that a sixty plus year church practise has been reversed WE can provide the proof for why the decision was wrong. Where is all the proof that the way it was done was wrong? I was taught that the burden of proof was on those who want to change accepted practises, not the other way around. By all Can Ref churches following this procedure for sixty years I would say this was an accepted practise.

      Point 2 says there is a number of considerations and a lot of material to consider and all those opposed can formulate arguments against. The truth is the same in reverse. Once again no new grounds were brought forth so why the reversal in church practise. The considerations should also look at whether this benefits or harms Christ`s church and this present decision only polarizes and segregates people within congregations and congregations from each other. Certain churches will never call certain ministers, certain men will not be put up for office based solely on their position for or against this issue.

      Point 3 talks about “extra confessional and church orderly binding” statements. It then states that individual churches should not be bound by what is not specifically adopted as “common consent”. I say that by all our churches having practised male only voting for the past sixty years that this was a practise, commonly consented to by the churches. Whether specifically written down it is undeniable that this was a practise adopted by all of the churches. There are likely many other practises that are not specifically written down which Can Ref churches consent to as a federation. It is the oneness and commonality that has been the Can Ref strength over the years. As a teenager visiting many churches I could always feel at home and in the right place at any Can Ref church. In my home town we found it somewhat strange that our city had three CRC churches: The conservative church, the middle of the road and the far left leaning. Today our churches follow this same path ignoring the lessons learned from the past.
      Point 4 speaks of the horror of synod making a decision that the practise of Lord`s Supper should be a matter of Churches in common. I contend that it is a fear of making this decision that has caused a whole variety of other problems. I would like to know how it benefits our churches that some have communal cup some individual, some the table and some in the benches, some wine and others grape juice. These differences do not strengthen the church but harm and injure it. I talk to people from other churches who point out that we as CanRef can`t agree on many issues ourselves so how can we have unity talks with other churches. Our church is not a cultural mosaic as our nation claims to be but are one people, one church under the headship of God our Father. We should be one and, as Tom pointed out in a previous posting, all synod decisions should be able to be concluded with `thus says the Lord`. Deciding to leave this present issue in the freedom of the churches only serves to seperate and splinter people and groups within the church. This infact is a decision without any real decision. If it is right, we should all be compelled to do it and if it`s wrong, then we should be forbidden to do it. As it stands now, it is right unless you think it is wrong. What issues are next to change? Perhaps sunday worship, two services or plenty of other issues that are not specifically mentioned in the Bible.
      Point 5 says that the churches can accept woman voting and then teach concerns about gender roles in the home and in the church. I also believe that home, church and school should work together in the education of not only the youth but also those of all ages in the church. The three are different branches of the communion of the saints and each serves a function in educating, strengthening, encouraging and training up the members of the congreagtion. It is therefore, imperative that all three teach the same Biblical truths. Having one instruction at church and a different one at home or school is not only a conflict of interest but a weaknes that many will use to further erode the church.

      These are just my thoughts on the issue,
      In Christ`s service

    • Henry S

      Good morning Rev. Schouten:

      I believe the Bible does clearly speak on this. If we are truly Spirit-led, then this is the passage the Spirit directed me to the Sunday our Minister provided a summary of the Synod. If voting is “speaking” not governing, then 1 Cor 33-40 is abundantly clear.

      With blogging, Leadership conferences, “panel discussions” PTA meetings, women in church committees, etc., the Women are speaking and leading loud and clear.
      Were there perhaps even a few objections written to Synod by Women?

      It is not so much the lack of presentation of Biblical arguments. It is the lack of willing to submit to God’s clear teaching.

      Although it should not be necessary, Women may propose men, and women may object against men, on Biblical grounds. If men fail to step up to the plate in this regard. But other then being bold to declare God’s Word, there should be no room for “hidden votes”, whether in Synod or consistroies or Congregations. This goes against the command that we are always ready to take a stand for what we believe.

      Thanks for listening to my comment, in humble submission, Henry S

  • George Helder

    A few comments ago Art wrote; “It is now up to the local churches to do the right thing! It may take a little time before all local churches allow it but it will happen, there is no doubt in my mind” I sadly agree. If anyone in a congregation asks for the “right” for the sisters to vote, no consistory can say “sorry, we don’t want that here”. After all, Synod 2010 says there is no biblical warrant to say no!
    I know from experience how this works. When I objected to my consistory with biblical grounds to the offering of grape juice in place of wine in the Lord’s Supper, I was shown the door, because Synod allowed for its use by decision of the local church as an exception. Of course no control is possible once you pass the tray around. It’s no exception, whoever prefers it can have it.
    Once you open a door, it’s almost impossible to close it!
    The bar to now prove that women should not vote is now set impossibly high. According to synod you cannot prove women should vote, but neither can you prove they shouldn’t. So now that we have it, you’ve got it.

  • svandyken


    Everything you are saying could have been said of the CRC 40 years ago. Things were so uniform that I saw the exact same pulpit “furnishings” (pulpit, baptism font, chair, communion table) in Michigan, Minnesota, and Montana as we had in our church on the coast. Liturgies were identical across the nation. One songbook. One Bible translation (RSV), with a few ASV/KJV holdouts, perhaps.

    Hard to know what was the first domino to topple. I’ve read many articles expressing different theories. Whether this synod’s decision is the first domino or not, I cannot say. What is apparent is that the stage has been set: inconsistent application of Article 31; last-minute procedural changes to allow silent voting when “needed”; stacked committees; postponement of decisions until “more fully developed” committee work can be presented; etc.

    You’ll be hearing a lot more from the progressives, now that they’ve tasted “victory” . Hang on, it’s a bumpy ride. But whether it feels like it or not, our King is still enthroned and ruling over all.

  • Jason

    Bryan wrote:
    “I would like to know how it benefits our churches that some have communal cup some individual, some the table and some in the benches, some wine and others grape juice. These differences do not strengthen the church but harm and injure it.”

    I fail to see how these differences “harm and injure” the churches that together form the Canadian Reformed denomination. The reality is that this issue is quite simple, and has been needlessly made complex.
    No biblical command exists to use a communal cup, yet it is also completely permissible to use a communal cup if that is what works best for the congregation in a specific context. Likewise, there is no biblical directive concerning the location of the eating and drinking – whether it be at a table or in the pew. The use of grape juice vs. wine is also an argument of little consequence. I confess that statements such as these frustrate me, because there are so many other more important issues and ideas that could be debated and discussed.

    “In the essentials, Unity
    In the non-essentials, Liberty
    In all things, Charity”
    – Augustine

    • Bryan Jongbloed

      I am truely sorry to have frustrated Jason with my comments concerning the differing practises of Lord Supper within our church. He feels that this debate is not worth discussing and is in fact a resolved issue. I humbly disagree, and feel that these and other issues are causing quite a stir within our federation (not denomination). Lets say that as a child I am brought up in a household and a church to believe that the things I am being taught are true, everlasting and worth fighting for. Then as an adult many of the issues that I was taught as a child are sacrificed, by my own church, as not being Biblical merely preferences. For instance our college, Lords supper Table, Lord’s supper wine, Lord’s supper cup, Attestations, Male voting etc. This then leads a person to a fork in the road. Either A: what I was taught as a child was true and I must stand up for my beliefs OR B: what I was taught was not biblical merely preference and then wonder what else that I was taught was merely affected by time, place and circumstance. If I chose (A) I am forced to study God`s Word, to read books on the topics and to converse with others to ensure that what I was taught was the truth of God`s word. If I chose (B) then I am left with little faith and little motivation. If this many things, that I was taught were Biblical and important, are now viewed as personal preference than what else is at stake. Why not just be apathetic or relativistic in my approach?
      However, I firmly do believe that what I was taught in my youth was correct and true for all times and places. God`s will does not change. And now the pro woman`s vote side says to pick our battles carefully and that woman`s voting is a none issue not worth causing a stir over. This same minority group of people have been causing a stir for the passed 20 something years over this very issue. Quite the fortitude and stamina for a non issue.

  • tom bosma

    I agrree with Bryan
    Christs frst miracle was turning water into wine and it does seem in many of the matters we put alot of water into the wine.

  • Thea

    We would do well to read Pastor Wes’ newest article on this blog, about the serious concerns in the RCN. I have many relatives in the RCN in the Netherlands who avow that the first domino to topple was the womens’ voting issue, in the 1990s. They firmly believe it opened the floodgates.

    So how can a Synod decision or two, which were allegedly not un-Scriptural, un-confessional or anti-church-orderly do that?
    There are those who say that these decisions do not open the floodgates.

    Right now we all agree women may not assume the special offices. Right now there are a few voices in our churches that speak up who say we need to emulate the hermeneutics of the Netherlands. Just like ten years ago there were a few voices that openly stated women should be voting for office-bearers. Or wine could be replaced by grape-juice.

    The old adage holds true. A few rotten apples spoil the whole bushel. Lets go through our bushel, apple by apple, and discard those rotten ones, before they infect everything. It’s called church discipline, one of the marks of the true church.

    Lets take a hard lesson from the RCN.

    That’s my rant for the day. Please forgive me if I have upset anyone, I know not everyone will agree with me.

    • Corrie

      ” The old adage holds true. A few rotten apples spoil the whole bushel. Lets go through our bushel, apple by apple, and discard those rotten ones, before they infect everything. It’s called church discipline, one of the marks of the true church. ”

      I think thats the first time I have ever heard church members referred to as rotten apples. So much for showing kindness and love to all. : )

      • Thea

        I was not actually referring to just any church members, I was referring to the few voices that lead God’s children astray with false teachings, teachings that are openly against God’s Word. My defense:

        “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.” 2 Pe 2:1,2

  • svandyken


    You appear to be saying that it makes little or no difference whether grape juice is substituted for wine — and whether individual cups replace the chalice. Is this what the Bible teaches? Have the churches said this?

    Where God has mentioned such matters, He has referred exclusively to “the cup” and “wine”. The churches have said that these are norms, which should be observed (e.g., wine served from a chalice (aka, “common cup”). If Consistories think that particular circumstances require exceptional accommodation, the churches have urged that such accommodations not to be considered unbiblical — but wherever possible, the norms should prevail.

    A question you might ask yourself is why the manner in which the celebration of the Lord’s Supper — a means of grace, through which the Holy Spirit strengthens and confirms our faith — would be “of little consequence”, as you say.

    One common strategy implemented by progressives/revolutionaries — often with the help of unwitting abettors — is the steady whittling-away of accepted norms until everything appears to be little more than a matter of one’s own preference.

  • Art

    It appears that our discourse on “Women’s Voting” is now shifting to the matter of “the way the Lord’s Supper is celebrated in the local churches”. I certainly did not intend to pick up another “hot potato”. I only brought up that issue to illustrate my point that it is not necessary for all to think alike about matters where the Scripture is not clear. The last thing I want is to stir up old matters that have now come to rest in my “own” congregation. (thankfully). Let us stick with Augustine’s wisdom, mentioned by Jason. Art in Chilliwack.

    • svandyken

      Art: I can assure you I was not waiting to “trip you up”, just responding with sincere amazement at your view of winning/losing elections, being denied candidacy (whatever is meant by that), etc. I’m not sure the use or not of quotation marks changes what you wrote. My point is that your absence from a ballot or you receiving fewer votes than another brother could have more to do with the other brother(s). In other words, it should not be taken personally.

      As for the L.S. reference: Classis Pacific East did not rule that “it is not necessary for all to think alike about matters where Scripture is not clear” (your words); nor did it rule that such matters were “of little consequence” (Jason’s words). As I recall the decision, Classis clearly stated that wine is the norm and that this was to be respected by the churches. It also allowed that the use of juice should not be considered unbiblical as an accommodation for particular circumstances.

  • Michael

    Let’s be careful that when we have something given to us by Christ as a symbol of His body and blood we do not lose ourselves more in a discussion about the symbol than in the very thing that the symbol represents. I have seen a cup used and individual cups used in our churches and never thought anything significant of the difference. Does that make me a progressive or even a revolutionary? I sure hope not.

    The divisiveness which I mentioned earlier is palpable even in this forum. That is my biggest concern as I watch this discussion unfold.

    Since I just cannot make the leap from A to B the way many others can I have been wondering about something. Sometimes years down the road the thing that caused something to happen was not “A” but perhaps a symptom of “A”.

    What if this issue of Women’s Voting caused people to become polarized? What if on the one hand you have a group of people throwing out terms like progressives, revolutionaries, and feminists and on the other hand you have people growing increasingly agitated at the way they are being characterized? Arguments are funny things. Over time people tend to dig their heals in even deeper than they would have originally just to hold their own ground and before long you have groups finding fault in each other over a lot of things. Maybe it starts with Women’s Voting and in a few days it also includes details about the celebration of Lord’s Supper and in a few weeks it also picks up on……etc.

    The devil is at work in things like this. When healthy discussions turn to discord the enemy has a foothold to work with and years down the road if the churches which these people are all members of make a decision that goes against God’s word some may look back and say that it all started because of “A” when in fact it all started because when “A” occurred too many people took their eye off the real fight which is against Satan and his vast army.

    If it were left completely up to me I would not be making a change to include Women’s Voting. That is simply because I cannot, of myself, find a reason to believe that we have been somehow unfaithful all these years gone by. But I also concede that there is nothing scriptural which prevents women from voting so I would not oppose it, either on its own merits or because of what I fear it may bring. I also hold no ill will to those that want women to vote, but no one should now assume that this means I am a progressive or a revolutionary who would sit passively by as women entered office. I assure you that will never be the case.

    In unity and with God’s grace our churches will stand up to any attack which would have us take on anything unscriptural, such as women in office. But brothers and sisters I also submit to you that a house divided against itself will not stand and so too I am concerned about a church that should ever be divided against itself.

  • tom bosma

    Michael you are right to be concerned. When Synod makes a decision against what 30 churches had expressed it indeed should be a serius concern for the unity of our church now divided against itself.

    • Michael

      Tom, now that this is in the past where should we go next? Will those churches fight, resist and apppeal? Or will they respect Synod’s decision and promote peace and unity now?

      Some battles are worth fighting and some are best not to be fought at all. I will pray that our churches seek to be able to see the difference.

      • svandyken

        Michael asks “now that this is in the past where should we go next? Will those churches fight, resist and appeal? Or will they respect Synod’s decision and promote peace and unity now?” A truly pastoral, compassionate outreach — but a day late and a dollar short, as dad used to say. In other words, you’re laying this at the feet of those who DID wish to respect (several, previous) synod decisions on the matter and live in peace and unity.

        Yours are the very questions someone (such as a firm-handed synod) should have been posing to the small group of folks who refused to live with a. previous synods’ decisions on this matter; b. the vast majority of their godly brothers and sisters who wished to live with those biblical decisions; and c. at least four centuries of established practice in the churches.

      • tom bosma

        I certainly respect Synod, but I do not aggee with the decision. i would think it better to formulate a process that could satisfy both beliefs on the topic.

        Here is something I have have been thinking about, just throwing it out there for anyones comments or critisims. Sorry it is lengthly.

        It is understood that there is to be involvement of the congregation in the process of selecting men for office. It is further understood that there is problem with what seems to be the application of a democratic process in the exercise of religion, the two cannot meld, evidenced by current and previous debates. It should also be understood that we should be of one mind and faith in how the call to office is managed in our ecclesiastical process, the call and the appointment to call are important.

        Realizing that voting is not necessarily the only way possible to engage the congregation to actively participate in the selection of office bearers the following I hope could be a viable process that truly engages congregation and properly sets the authority in the council to whom the Lord has given it.

        1 The congregation is given the opportunity to submit names for upcoming vacancies in the same manner as practiced today, all confessed men and women in good standing have this privilege.

        2 Gleaned from the response of the flock council presents the names of nominees to the flock and requests a second response from the flock. The response is requested in the same manner of submission of letters but only with the names council has nominated. Letters can only be received that are in the affirmative of a nominee to avoid negative responses to any nominee. Council does not accept letters from households that are divided amongst husband and wife who have different preferences, they should have unity in their household. There is no vote.

        3 The council appoints to office and elected by the congregation the following brothers…

        4 Elected brothers are sworn in

        The above may have merit for the following reasons

        It removes the application or appearance of a democratic process in the observance of our service to the Church.

        It fully engages all communicant members of the flock.

        It unifies the call the council and the response of the flock.

        Voting is not necessarily the prescribed method to select officebearers

        It eliminates the contention that women are exercising authority or their voices on an ecclesiastical matter while physically gathered as a flock in the church.

        It is an election that is truly cast by the members of the flock with whom the desire to participate in the life of the church.

        It makes the matter live in the flock and promotes unity amongst all.

  • Jason

    Thank you Michael for being gracious and charitable. I pray that we (collectively and individually) will not lose sight of who we are as humble creatures of our King.
    The manner in which we as churches appoint brothers to office is descriptive, not prescriptive. I agree with Synod on this point. Let us be wise with our language, not calling our brothers and sisters “rotten apples” and “false prophets” over a matter such as this.

    “Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love”

  • Art

    Brother Helder mentioned in one of the first posts that, to say it in my words, this decision of Synod 2010 will contribute to the growth of modalities among the different congregations. He sees as one of the biggest problems among us that long-standing agreements among us about congregational borders are no longer enforced. Well, here in the Fraser Valley we never had such long-standing agreements re: borders in place. As a matter of fact I know of one particular older sister who lives in the U.S. but still crosses the border to go to church in Abbotsford. BC with her relatives! The first CAnRC in the valley was in New Westminster and from there the churches spread throughout the valley. When we quit arguing about borders there were no more border disputes to settle and no more time needed to be wasted by consistories on the members breaking the border rules. The only times the matter of borders came up again were when “new” ministers from “back east” came here with their customs from back home. It worked fine for us and it is one of those “unwritten rules”. I think there would be serious opposition here to a General Synod “helping us out” with a decision that it was a matter for the churches in common so please forget that idea George. We are freedom loving people “out west”.

  • svandyken

    Michael appears to object to the use of terms like revolutionaries, progressives, and feminists. I agree that it would be pleasant not to use such terms — especially within the church. However, when revolutionaries, progressives, and feminists have demonstrated an unrelenting tenacity in their quest to refashion a sound Reformed federation, I don’t see the point in referring to them as something other than what they are. Indeed, they see themselves as precisely that; so why not refer to them as such. I suppose you could use other terms like “hijackers”, for instance. My grandparents used a term that is apparently old-Fries (as recent immigrants do not recall hearing it in recent times): sonnikers. We were given to understand that the term meant “always grumbling, never satisfied”. While this captures the sense of the character (chronically unhappy), it does not adequately convey how dangerous/deleterious such persons can be to the well-being of those around them.

    If a person were seeking for just the right word to describe the type of person who is bent upon the unwelcome modification, overhaul, or dismantling of established order — but also wanted to not step on any toes or cause damage to someone’s self-esteem — they would probably have quite a time coming up with just the right word.

    I can imagine many words to describe such troublers of Israel. However (and very sad to say), “Sincere believers seeking the well-being of Christ’s Body” does not come to mind in this context. I know that is the phrase/term some readers would wish to use, but I’ll stick with “revolutionary”, “progressive” (their term, not mine), and “feminist”.

    • Michael

      Art I think we can agree that there will always be grumblers among us – the chronically dissatisfied if you will. We can pray for people like that because if they don’t have some real heart change they may pay the ultimate price for it. But that is not the issue, or at least I did not think that it was.

      Where you and I disagree is here – you think that our reformed federation has just been refashioned and I don’t. Furthermore, I have to be honest and tell you that I just don’t see how anything could convince me otherwise. I do not see women’s voting or not voting as being a scriptural matter in this case and I also cannot buy into the argument that because this has happened now something really bad is going to happen in the future.

      But I will also grant you that I may not have the same experience or perspective that you do (I am just 42 years old by the way). All the same, I would encourage you not to jump to conclusions and even caution you that doing so can, in and of itself, be harmful.

      • Michael

        Sorry… my last comment should have been directed to svandyken and not Art. Sorry for any confusion.

  • Henry S

    Having read Synod’s decision, with he grounds and the recommendations, I believe we have created a dilemma that the next Synod must address.

    In the first place, voting is “not” a matter of authority any more, but of “listening”. Therefore Synod agreed that voting = speaking.

    They also agreed that the Bible is silent on women voting.

    But now the Churches and higher bodies must deal with the next issue:

    I believe the Bible teaches clearly the women’s role in the church… perhaps not voting, but speaking, as follows:

    1 Corinthians 14:26… orderly worship, Paul writes in Verses 33-40:

    “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all (no individual choices here-hs) the congregations of the saints (not sinners – hs jj-lol), women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says (the law says submission not to husbands, but in Church – who are we to argue?-hs). If they want to inquire (ask questions- hs) about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a women (no exceptions-hs) to speak in the church. Did the Word of God originate with you (foundational law-hs)? Or are you the only people it has reached? (Paul being sarcastic?-hs)). If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted (ie elders and teaching elders-hs), let him acknowledge that what I am writing is the LORD’s command (no wiggle room-hs). If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored. (Maybe that is why the preaching may be so ineffective in some Churches… in witnessing and in member’s lifestyles?-hs). Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done ina fitting and orderly way.” (Does this not sound like only brothers prophesy?-hs).

    So, if any church permits women voting (speaking), they clearly disobey God’s Word, and must be admonished, as fellow Churches promise to do in a federation.

    That is why the Bible is silent on women voting. Please see next post on “voting” Thanks, Henry S

    • K Bosch

      Acts 2:18 (New International Version)

      18Even on my servants, both men and women,
      I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
      and they will prophesy.

      I Cor 11:5

      And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved.

      • Henry S

        Hi K :

        May I ask what are you trying to say?

        That 1 Cor 11 cancels out 1 Cor 14, which was written 15 minutes (?) later?
        Or that women pray with their head uncovered, so we can disregard
        1 Cor 14 also?

        Sorry if I miss your point. Propesy that contradicts God’s Word is not prophesy. Nothing you wrote negates 1 Cor 14, as far as I can see.

        In Christ, Henry S

  • Henry S

    Hi Tom…

    I agree with you that there is a better system, without the voting.

    I know other churches which uses a simple approach…

    For those who desire the office, they can speak to the ruling body.
    The Ruling Body interviews, tests his doctrine/lifestyle and calling, and
    announces the desire to the congregation. Men can be approached also.
    These men are then offered to the congregation, not just for objections to the person’s doctrine or lifestyle, but more importantly, the members must get to know the individual better, to see that this man exhibits the marks in real life… shows the fruit of the Spirit, lives humbly, has a desire to boldly share the gospel, is spoken well of in the outside community, is hospitable to outsiders, has well-managed children, etc. All clearly evidenced by all people placed in this person’s path. Then he can be appointed by Council, usually after 4-6 weeks.

    This provides a more Biblical guideline, and leaves little room for nominating men who may not exhibit the qualifications, but is needed to meet the quota of men to present to the congregation.

    I believe this process can be immediately implemented, within the guidelines of the current Church Order. Let’s start a wave 🙂

    • Art

      Henry, I noticed that you ended your proposal with a nice yellow smiley. Do I get you right if I assume that you can’t be serious? This idea is such a big departure from the church order, the accepted practice and the unwritten code of conduct that it would never make it past first base, meaning classis here. If I am correct with my other assumption (that I know who you are and that I had coffee with you at one of our five Tim Horton’s in Chilliwack) you may be able to “sell” an idea to your “own” consistory, if you are very lucky brother.
      In case you were serious about this proposal of yours, I commend you for attempting to keep the peace in the church. But it does not fit in well with the ideas of those brothers and sisters who wish to keep everything like it was in the forties and fifties of the previous century. Art

      • Henry S

        Hello Art:

        Firstly, I think you may have another person in mind. I was last in BC about 20 years ago. Sorry I can’t remember meeting you. Not that I don’t like meeting brothers @ Tim Horton’s over a coffee, I do many times throughout Ontario. And another visit is long overdue…

        Second, I was serious about implementing the system. How one can elect “one out of one” I don’t know, but CO 3 seems to leave room for it. The smiley was to show my immense satisfaction if the churches actually *reformed* and appointed Elders and Deacons as intended and practiced in the OT & NT.

        Third, I am afraid what you said about “accepted practices” is a sad reflection on a people (all the Church members) who claim to be reforming, but in actuality are stuck in old, bad traditions. I think Jason refers to it when he uses the word “problematic”. And I have no selling ability here in Lincoln, ON

        Fourthly, to address Jason… I think he would find it impossible to find words like “nomination”, “communicant believers”, “short list”, “stated preferences” and “period of approbation”. Therefore, there is nothing Biblical about it. Once Dr. Grootjes translated “elected” in the book of Acts (per a Clarion article). But he used it as a translation for “choose”; while I have not seen any conclusive evidence of *how* they were chosen, only that they were “full of the Holy Spirit”, which in my humble opinion means that they met Biblical criteria”.

        Fifthly, to address all other arguments; If we appoint women to Elder and Minister, the age-old argument is that they also “have the Office of Priest, Prophet and King” . This outweighs every other passage in the Bible that teaches women to be silent in the Churches. It is a good thing the CO forbids it, since we place this above other clear Biblical commands for women. So to summarize… The Bible never talks about elections. Even King Saul was chosen by the people (not God as the prophets were), and look at the mess Israel got in.

        I think this may be my final post, I got my own blog. I hate to hijack Pastor Wes’s excellent work (I am serious – thanks so much Rev. Bredenhof for the opportunity you give us all).

        In Christ, Henry Salomons, Lincoln, Ont.

  • Art

    Wow, brother Vandyken, I thought George VanPopta was a bit premature when he quit reacting to your unkind words but now I believe he had a point. You have just added a batch of fresh words and terms to describe those that disagree with you on some points that can not even be proven with the Scriptures. Yet you manage among other things, to describe your brothers and sisters like “troublers of Israel”. If that puts us in company with prophets like Elijah, I believe we are in good company. As for me count me out also until you can calm down and at least be kind and civil. Art.

  • svandyken


    Sorry, you were looking for a friendly coffee-table chat and I came along. I even gathered from your early posts that you might have a bit of “gloating” on your mind. I find it annoying that an old man (reading between the lines) relishes watching the church in turmoil — only because it allows him to feel vindicated after 23 years of nursing a grudge (again, based on what you have written). I have no intention of “calming down”.

    Nor do I see anything uncivil in what I have written. Words that come to mindare “disappointed”, “surprised”, “stunned”, “dismayed”, “frustrated”, “ominous”, “harsh”, “unsympathetic”, “angry” even. But “uncivil”?

    If I thought this were merely an academic debate, I would not have bothered entering the room. I can’t parse Greek, and I learned long ago that you can pretty much re-define and translate-in–the-preferred-context to arrive at the “biblical” conclusion you were anticipating.

    Ironically, I find comments like yours energizing. This is not an academic issue for me. And I don’t mean just “women voting”. Rather, what has me fired-up enough to interact with comments such as yours is the larger context surrounding this matter: what appears to be the decades-long, reckless, unnecessary agitation of Christ’s Body by a small, determined band of malcontents; ministers telling “laypeople” to be quiet and let the “professionals” handle things; the vast, peaceful, peace-loving majority of Christ’s Body being told that there is a crisis in the church (women want the vote) and that the only way to secure peace in our time is to appease that group.

    So thank you, Art, for keeping me on my toes (so to speak).

    • Art

      No comment, as promised, Art

    • Art

      Thanks for the kind words about finding my comments energizing SVD. I rather enjoyed the discourse with you. “Words can never hurt me personally” but I object to be included in an organized group of malcontents” In that respect I have a problem with the tone of your remarks. If you like, you may invite me to visit you for a cup of coffee and we’ll get acquainted a little better. I am glad that I could help to “keep you on your toes” Art.

      • svandyken


        I had not considered you as included among a group of relentless agitators against peace and established order — since you had described yourself as acquiescent with respect to the status quo. Which, by the way, is a more appropriate response to the status quo (assuming the status quo is not unbiblical) than agititating against a peaceful majority. So, thank you for being a model dissenter over the years.

        I don’t often get to B.C., but would be glad to spring for a cup of coffee (lunch, even) if our paths should someday cross.

  • Jason

    The argument that women voting constitutes women speaking – and therefore should not be permitted – is problematic. In our churches, it is common practice that women lead Bible Studies, youth programs, outreach events, inreach events, and more. It seems that if you want to be consistent with your argument, then women should not be allowed to lead in these other areas, as they are speaking there as well.

    Furthermore, if voting is a matter of authority in the church then we would no longer be Reformed in our church polity. Instead, we would be considered Congregationalist.
    Looking at what the New Testament has to say regarding the appointment of office-bearers, I believe that:
    – all communicant members should be invited to submit nominations to the consistory
    – all communicant members should be invited to state their preferences from the short list provided by the consistory
    – all communicant members should be invited to state any objections during the period of approbation

  • Jason


    You are right when you say that I will find it hard to find those words in the Bible. That doesn’t mean it isn’t Biblical. There are lots of words we use that aren’t directly or explicitly found in the Bible.
    You wrote:

    Once Dr. Grootjes translated “elected” in the book of Acts (per a Clarion article). But he used it as a translation for “choose”; while I have not seen any conclusive evidence of *how* they were chosen, only that they were “full of the Holy Spirit”

    This confirms to me the view that not a lot is said about this issue in the Bible, and thus there is some room to be gracious in our interpretation, making room for more than one narrowly-defined view. Because it is not conclusive, we should not be prescriptive.

  • Art

    Well if nobody wants to post the 100th posting on this blog I will do it. I will have to get busy planning a trip to both Holland and South Africa for myself and my spouse and that will take some of my time. That sounds like both extremes on what has been called “progressiveness” and “conservatism” doesn’t it? It should ve very interesting. I will just be “lurking” in the background from here on. Art.

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