Synod adopts “Doctrinal Commitment” affirmations

OPC Chaplain Paul Berghaus led delegate wives and others on a tour of the US Military Academy at West Point, and visited with friends on the Nyack campus that evening.

In response to an overture, Synod Schererville 2007 appointed a study committee to report on the level of doctrinal commitment necessary for membership in the URCNA. That committee brought an evenly divided report to Synod London 2010, which accepted neither opinion, but asked the committee to come back to the next synod with a new report.

Taking a different approach, the study committee on Doctrinal Commitment was able to present a unified and pastoral report that lists eight affirmations (with explanations) regarding doctrinal commitment and membership in the URCNA.

Those affirmations are (for accompanying explanations, see online agenda of Acts of Synod 2012):

Affirmation 1: We affirm that we are a federation of confessional churches.

Affirmation 2: We affirm that every minister, elder, and deacon in our churches subscribes the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort because (quia) they agree with the Word of God.

Affirmation 3: We affirm that it is the responsibility of the pastors and elders of the local church to evangelize the unsaved, catechize converts and covenant youth, and teach their congregations in the aforesaid doctrines from the Word of God.

Affirmation 4: We affirm that those who desire communicant membership in our churches must assent to the confessions of our churches and evidence an educable spirit for continued growth in understanding.

Affirmation 5: We affirm that those entering into communicant membership in our churches must also promise submission to the government of the church.

Affirmation 6: We affirm that the consistory is responsible to receive persons into communicant membership in a way that is consistent with the Church Order—being satisfactory to the consistory and edifying for the congregation.

Affirmation 7: We affirm that those desiring communicant membership in our churches must promise to act in accord with the requirements of the Scriptures, the Confessions, and the Church Order.

Affirmation 8: We affirm that while assent to the confessions of our churches is required for communicant membership, pastoral sensitivity and congregational patience must be exercised toward those who do not yet possess full understanding of parts of such teaching, but who do not disagree with our doctrine.

Synod adopted the document under the newly defined category of “pastoral advice” and it will be sent to the churches with a preface that defines “pastoral advice” and explains its authority.

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on page 16 of the July 11, 2012 issue of Christian Renewal.


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