Sunday, December 30, 2007

CRC + RCA = ?

Rev. Bob De Moor, an editor of the Christian Reformed Church's magazine, The Banner, gave a wish list of things he hopes the Lord will do with that denomination over its next 150 years (Now What?, November, 2007). This was done on the occasion of the celebration of the denomination's first 150 years.

Before he gave his list, Rev. De Moor stated, "One safe guess is that the CRC will be as different from what we are now as we are from those original five churches that started us off a century-and-a-half ago. In a changing world, that’s as it should be. (emphasis added)"

This conclusory statement seems to rest on the presumption that the Church, or perhaps just particular faddish denominations of the Church Invisible, ought to change with the times. I would risk reading too much into his statement if I started talking about the birth control pill, gay marriage, or pop theology, so I won't.

One wish in particular was noteworthy for this, my blog on ecumenicity, namely that the CRC of AD 2157 will "have merged back with the Reformed Church in America, from whom we should never have broken away in the first place". This statement drew fire from Adrian Van Geest in the January, 2008 edition of The Banner (Merging Back with the RCA).

After noting several serious obstacles to reunion, she ends her criticism with a powerful one-two:
"I’m not sure how much leadership on exploring these issues with the RCA we can expect from the Banner editor in light of his belief that we should never have broken away from the RCA in the first place. That, incidentally, raises the question of how much we should have celebrated the CRC’s 150th birthday. Perhaps we should have mourned 150 years of schism instead.

"But where would we have been had there not been a CRC these 150 years? Where would a never-separated Reformed Church have been today? I doubt if that would have been a more orthodox church. And would undoing this split make us increasingly more bland—which I believe we have become too much already? Are we content to settle for a lower common denominator to make it work? (emphasis added)"

The perhaps-unintended pun about church denominations and lowest common denominators is catchy. That aside, her question that I have embolded is an excellent one. I might reach the opposite conclusion.

I've often wondered where the liberal PCUSA would be if the Southern Presbyterians and other forebears of the evangelical PCA had never left it. My personal opinion is that where strict adherents to a principle leave the less strict, the principle collapses. And with Protestantism, it always seems to be the strict that leave, for the sake of "purity". This seems to be a derogation of Christ's High Priestly Prayer on unity (cf. John 17). Perhaps for the sake of purity of the Gospel, the CRC left a generation of RCA'ers bereft of their "right" anchor. This broken body, subsiding mostly in centrists and a "left" anchor, did just what one might expect. I prefer unity.


Joyful Catholics said...

Excellent post Thos. Blessed New Year to you. I've enjoyed your comments on TJ's blog.

Thos said...

J.C. (no pun intended),

Happy and blessed New Year to you too! Thank you for the nice comment; I appreciate the moral support.

Peace in Christ,