We now have some provisional Acts to survey. For those interested in the details, the Acts can be found here at the CanRC website. Let me just mention a few of the highlights from the last few days.
In article 23, the synod considered a request to update the Lord’s Supper forms. This is in regard to the use of masculine pronouns. The synod decided to mandate the Standing Committee for the Book of Praise (SCBP) to study the matter and propose any linguistic changes they might think necessary. From my point of view, that’s a good development. The use of the masculine pronoun in the Lord’s Supper forms grates on me (along with other infelicities in the forms). However, I will be interested to see how the SCBP will work around this. An easy way to fix it would be to switch it all to first or second person: “Let us all consider our sins and accursedness that we may humble ourselves before God” or “All of you ought to consider your sins and accursedness so that you may humble yourselves before God.” It shouldn’t be difficult to fix.
In article 41 we find the decision about the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands. I’ve already commented in general about that decision. Now that we have the full text, I find the following consideration noteworthy:
Ecclesiastical Fellowship is extended to churches where we find the marks of the true church (Article 29, Belgic Confession). The presence of the marks of the church are premised on a given church accepting the authority of the Word of God. Now that the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands approve of developments contrary to the Lord’s instruction in his Word, the marks of the true church cannot with confidence be said to be consistently present in these churches.
This is well-worded. It doesn’t go to the extreme of saying that the RCN are a federation of false churches.
Last of all, I would note the synod’s discussion of an item from the Blessings Christian Church in Hamilton, ON. This is in article 64. Blessings sent a “request for revision” of a decision made by Synod 1983 regarding the forms for baptism and public profession of faith. They asked Synod 2019 to judge that Synod 1983 erred in inserting “confessions” into the questions where once stood “articles of the Christian faith.” Synod 2019 decided that this request had come improperly — Blessings has to go back and follow the ecclesiastical route of presenting a proposal via classis and regional synod. The proper process needs to be followed. Now I have to say that I don’t have the “request for revision” from Blessings in front of me — I haven’t seen it. All I have is what we find in the Acts. The quoted summary in 3.2 of article 64 reads:
In light of new research, the emergence of a new ecumenical landscape, and the conviction that previous appeals to synods (1986, 1989, 1992) were inadequately considered and therefore unjustly denied, the Blessings Christian Church requests a revision of the 1983 (Cloverdale) General Synod’s decision to modify the questions in the liturgical forms for Baptism and Profession of Faith by replacing the phrase “articles of the Christian faith” (or the tentatively approved “Apostles’ Creed”) with the term “confessions.”
I would be curious to know what this “new research” is, as well as details on how we now have a “new ecumenical landscape,” to say nothing of how previous synod decisions fell short. Previous synods decided that “confessions” is a linguistic revision (improvement) upon “articles of the Christian faith.” It clarifies what was meant by “articles of the Christian faith.” Because of the use of a similar expression in Lord’s Day 7 of the Heidelberg Catechism, it could have given the impression that CanRC members only commit to the Apostles’ Creed. So why would anyone want to go back to the ambiguous expression? Clarity is always better. What we read in the Acts of Synod 2019 could give the impression that Blessings wants to move the CanRC away from confessional membership, i.e. the communicant members commit to the Three Forms of Unity. I’m glad that it didn’t go anywhere this time and I pray it never will.