Canceling sessions of the General Synod: Lessons from 1933

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, communication came from the Stated Clerk of the General Synod that the 2020 session will be “postponed” until 2021, but that a special session will be called in October. The examples of 1933 and 1935 were cited as years in which there was no General Synod, which, as we … More Canceling sessions of the General Synod: Lessons from 1933

Of Classes and Congressional Districts

There has been a good deal of discussion lately in some segments of the Reformed Church in America over concerns about a supposed “disproportionate representation” stemming from the reality that classes are different sizes (in terms of both numbers of churches and size of churches) but they each register a single vote on constitutional amendments. … More Of Classes and Congressional Districts

Descriptivism, Prescriptivism and the Church Order

In lingusitics, there is an ever-present tension between prescriptivism and descriptivism. Briefly (but not comprehensively), prescriptivism holds that grammar rules and usage should be prescribed, that is, there is a more or less stable and normative set of rules. According to prescriptivists, language is stable. Descriptivism allows for change and adaptation. Dictionaries, grammar, and usage … More Descriptivism, Prescriptivism and the Church Order

Reformed Church General Synod 2017: Deacons in Broader Assemblies

This is part of a series of posts about the items and topics before the General Synod 2017.  Other posts in this series: Commissioned Pastors, Part 1: Foundations Commissioned Pastors, Part 2: Recommendations before General Synod Overtures on Declarative Authority *** While human sexuality will be the topic on everyone’s mind (even if it is … More Reformed Church General Synod 2017: Deacons in Broader Assemblies

Reformed Church General Synod 2017: Overtures on Declarative Authority

This is part of a series of posts about the items and topics before the General Synod 2017.  Other posts in this series: Commissioned Pastors, Part 1: Foundations Commissioned Pastors, Part 2: Recommendations before General Synod *** An addition to the General Synod Workbook was recently released containing overtures from the regional synods. There are … More Reformed Church General Synod 2017: Overtures on Declarative Authority

Declarative Authority and the General Synod

The Book of Church Order, in its Preamble, notes three types of authority that Christ has given to the church: ministerial, declarative, and spiritual. Ministerial authority is the right to act as Christ’s servants. Declarative authority is the right to speak in his name within the limits set by Scripture. The church shall declare what is … More Declarative Authority and the General Synod

Governance by Assembly and the Problem of Representation (Part I)

Few concepts cause more difficulty than the principle of representation and what this means in the church. This is particularly the case with those of us who are used to a representative democracy because similar terms are often used to address very different concepts. The Representative Principle. The power which Jesus Christ bestows upon his church … More Governance by Assembly and the Problem of Representation (Part I)

Why Leaving the Communion is Not Possible

Despite the periodic talk of churches leaving the communion (denomination), such a thing is simply not possible. It is true that the Book of Church Order has a process (long and involved for good reason) for a church to be transferred to another ecclesiastical communion, but a church cannot, of its own volition, disaffiliate from or leave … More Why Leaving the Communion is Not Possible