Apparently the committee that did the first work on giving reasoning for the wholesale change to the Christian Reformed Church’s Form of Subscription went back to the drawing board after some input and modified some of their work. I won’t spend a lot of time with this because the modifications are not that substantial.
From the new and improved committee work we read,
The variety of issues with signing the Form of Subscription that have come up, as well as ongoing attempts to change it, indicate that officebearers today seek to be guided by—not silenced by—the FOS in their understanding of the confessions.
OK… here is really where the issue becomes fuzzy. How could any officebearer claim to be being guided by the FOS if they were advocating something that heretofore would have found the FOS to have been silencing them? This whole ‘guided by – not silenced by’ language is just cutesy for, ‘What it says has made me to think but I disagree with it.’ Second, how can an officebearer claim to be guided by the Form of Subscription while at the same time rising up to speak against their guide? Why else would being ‘silenced by the FOS’ be threatening unless some officebearer determined that the guide was wrong? And if officebearers determine that the guide is wrong are they really be guided by the FOS? In this context, what does ‘guided by’ mean? (Everybody knows that ‘not silenced by’ means that it will be ok to rise up to speak against the confessions.)
Therefore, any regulatory instrument that is adopted by the church ought to be regarded as an invitation to the officebearers of the church to participate in this ongoing reflection rather than as a
document that precludes or hinders such reflection. To this end, we recommend, first, that the title of this document be A Doctrinal Covenant for Officebearers rather than Form of Subscription because it outlines the communal nature of the responsibilities and blessings of ordination and encourages participation as well as regulation.
First note that it is admitted that the FOS or Covenant of Ordination (COO) is intended to be a regulatory document. If something is regulatory it means that it is regulating (monitoring) behavior to insure conformity. And yet, this regulatory, ‘not silencing’instrument, is an invitation to ongoing reflection that presumptively can lead to change in the Confessions. So what does the regulatory instrument regulate since it no longer seems to be regulating adherence? Does it regulate the rate of change? Does it regulate the amount of loquaciousness of those who desire change? Does it regulate the communal nature of change? Does it regulate the rate of participation? What does this new document regulate?
Second, given this is a covenant of ordination and given that all covenants have sanctions for violations one wonders what will be considered a violation of this regulatory covenant and what will be the sanctions of the yet unknown violations?
To remain a truly confessional church, the confessions need to function significantly in our various callings, helping us to deepen our understanding of Scripture in our Reformed tradition.
The Confessions, ‘Functioning significantly’ is a great deal different then the Confessions ‘being adhered to.’ ‘Function significantly’ is also pretty subjective. Who gets to define if the Confessions are functioning significantly in Homer’s life but not Horatio’s and by what standard?
I still strenuously disagree with making the Contemporary Testimony a virtual Fourth form of unity and I likewise disagree with the slippery Covenant of ordination language.
People desiring to read the Committee’s revised work can go here,