We spent the weekend (and a bit more) without Internet. As of last night, it’s back up and running and so I can continue the blogging about the recent CanRC Synod. Today let’s review what happened on Day 6, Tuesday May 17. I’m summarizing from the Provisional Acts found here. Some of the highlights from where I’m sitting:
- Article 86 mentions the appeal of Ancaster regarding Dr. Jitse van der Meer. The discussion on that Tuesday was held in closed session. We can skip ahead to Day 7 and article 103. There we find that the decision in this matter is only going to appear in the confidential Acts. And what happened to the Providence appeal? It doesn’t appear again anywhere in the Provisional Acts. I suspect that it might appear in the final, public version of the Acts. We will have to see.
- The matter of women’s voting was certainly something of interest at this Synod for a lot of people. There’s a long history on this topic in the Canadian Reformed Churches. It took a long time for the momentous decision at Synod 2010 recognizing that this is a matter for local churches to decide upon. Synod 2010 left it in the freedom of local churches whether or not they wanted to allow female communicant members to participate in elections for office bearers. Numerous churches appealed that decision to Synod 2013 and it was overturned. By then the horses were already out of the gate. Churches that had been doing it since the decision of Synod 2010 continued doing it in the conviction that this was not agreeable to Scripture, Confessions, and Church Order. More appeals were submitted to Synod 2016. Consequently, this most recent Synod decided that Synod 2013 erred in its overturning of Synod 2010 on this matter. Confused yet? Let me make it simple: the Canadian Reformed Churches are back to where they were after Synod 2010. Whether female communicant members vote or not is a matter for local churches to decide. My view on this has not changed. I remain convinced that there are no sound biblical, confessional, or church political arguments that can be brought to bear against allowing female communicant members to participate in elections for office bearers. I understand that some local churches believe differently about it and thus I think the approach of Synod 2010 (buttressed now by GS 2016) is the best approach — really, it’s the only approach that can be justified. I would urge readers to look carefully at the arguments presented by GS 2016 in the Acts. For this post, I am going to open up the comments. If you want to argue the case for the opposing view or make other comments, I’m giving you the opportunity. However, please don’t expect that I’m going to interact.
- Article 90 dealt with another topic relating to the role of women in church life, but this time in the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America (RPCNA). The Committee for Contact with Churches in North America (CCCNA) recommended that the CanRCs offer ecclesiastical fellowship to the RPCNA. This despite the fact that the RPCNA allows for women to be ordained as deacons. The CCCNA pointed out that the RPCNA doesn’t consider the deacon to have “an office of ruling authority.” Contrary to the CCCNA’s reasoning, Synod Dunnville decided that the RPCNA’s view on this matter did, in fact, constitute a significant obstacle to EF. After all, article 30 of the Belgic Confession says that faithful men are to be deacons. Moreover, they said (Consideration 3.2.3) that the office of deacon does “involve the exercise of authority in the church.” It appears to be the end of the road for any possibility of formal relations with the RPCNA, though informal interactions will continue through venues like the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC).