Rage Against The Machine — Reflecting on the Belhar Document

We will return eventually to the theme of Unity that the Belhar opens with and insists upon after we have examined the affirmations which the Belhar sets forth. Obviously, as unity is pinioned upon shared truth we can not know, concretely speaking, if we agree with Belhar’s call to unity until we know if we share Belhar’s truth affirmations.

So, with that in mind we will, with the next few entries, look at the truth affirmations and then we will return to the clarion call for unity issued by the Belhar.

Now as we head into this examination of the Belhar affirmations we must keep in mind that the burden of proof is upon the Belhar to be unambiguous about its statements and what those statements mean. Since the Belhar has aspirations for confessional status and since the Belhar is not worldview neutral in its affirmations it should be approached with a Hermeneutic of suspicion in order to expose any dangerous ambiguities that may lie sleeping in its text.

To that end we note this statement of the Belhar that follows its opening touting unity,

“Therefore, we reject any doctrine which absolutises either natural diversity or the sinful separation of people in such a way that this absolutisation hinders or breaks the visible and active unity of the church, or even leads to the establishment of a separate church formation;

Now the ambiguity that enters with this statement is found in the four italicized words above.

In this context what does “natural diversity,” mean?

Folks who subscribe to the Belhar will be rejecting any doctrine which absolutizes natural diversity. Who defines what “Natural diversity,” means and by what standard? According to some neo-Christians “natural diversity,” could very well mean the “natural diversity” that we find among the various sexes. We now have Social Scientists insisting that, biologically speaking, there are many gradations running from female to male; and the Social Scientists are telling us that depending on how one calls the shots, one can argue that along that spectrum lie at least five sexes– and perhaps even more. Are all these sexes an example of “natural diversity,” the existence of which we are not break the visible and active unity of the Church over per the Belhar?

To think that this lies in the realm of possibility is by recognizing that one of the key framers of the Belhar, Dr. Allan Boesak, in 2008, while Moderator of the Uniting Reformed Church (formerly the DRC Mission Churches) used the Belhar Declaration to justify homosexuality in Church. Now it is true that Dr. Boesak was voted down, in his attempt but it seems that if anybody was familiar with the original intent of the Belhar document it would be one who was an instrumental framer of the Belhar. If one of the framers of the Belhar insists that the original intent of the Belhar was to prohibit disunity over the Church officially embracing the putative “natural diversity” of homosexuality then why would a Church, such as the Christian Reformed Church, which does not justify homosexuality in the Church want to embrace that document as a confession? Certainly in light of this no one can argue with the fact that this phraseology is “ambiguous.”

Now, that this reading of Boesak’s should be of import to CRC people is found in the continual push within the denomination to normalize homosexuality in the Church. In point of fact, the March 2012 issue of the Banner finds a news clip on page 10 that opens with this paragraph,

“A group of members and pastors from several West Michigan Christian Reformed churches have organized to provide educational opportunities for congregations about the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, and transgendered individuals in their churches.”

Now, in light of the push of a significant interest group within the denomination (I say it is “significant” because I cannot imagine the Banner running such a news piece on some obscure group) to normalize homosexuality, and in light of the fact that one of the key framers of the Belhar insisted that the original intent of the Belhar justified homosexuality in the Church then can we really believe that the Belhar, if adopted as a Confession, won’t eventually be used as leverage in the push to bring homosexuality and sexual perversion into the Church and as proof that confessionally we are compelled to unite with homosexuals who call themselves “Christian.”

Our concern with the Belhar does not end on this point, for elsewhere in the Belhar we get other language that allows for a interpretation that would sanction sodomy and sexual perversion.

“Therefore, we reject any doctrine which explicitly or implicitly maintains that descent or any other human or social factor should be a consideration in determining membership of the Church.”

With this sentence we have moved from the ambiguity of the previous statement from the Belhar, as cited above, to a unambiguous statement which a Mack truck could drive through, interpretatively speaking. Those 7 words which are italicized in the above quote section clearly teaches that sodomy, bestiality, pedophilia, necrophilia, or any other human or social factor should not be a consideration in determining membership of the Church. What is sodomy, or lesbianism, or bestiality, or any number of sexual perversions but “human or social factors”?

When we begin to deal with the slippery way the Belhar uses the word “injustice” we will have questions once again about this matter, but for this post it is enough to see that the Belhar should not be adopted as a document because it’s language is not merely ambiguous as to what is being communicated, the language invites and begs those who want to advance a sodomite agenda to read the document as supporting their cause.

It is my belief that the document does support their cause and that is why I am raging against the machine.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

4 thoughts on “Rage Against The Machine — Reflecting on the Belhar Document”

  1. I spent the day Saturday at that meeting of the Lake Erie Classis of the CRC listening to socialists and cultural Marxists laud the quality of the Belhar Confession as either a confessional statement or a useful subordinate testimony to be adopted by the Christian Reformed Church. These clergymen (and clergywomen if one will allow the oxymoron) are neither Christian nor Reformed. They are products of a secular humanist culture who, after arriving late to the party, have adopted the decades old philosophy and theology of the secular humanist and cultural Marxist and are attempting to bring the CRC up to cultural speed by Christianizing the doctrines of the devil. So complete is their cultural conversion that one can only adequately describe them as living in the Matrix having taken the blue pill. They are lost.

    1. There are always a remnant Brother who might yet take the Red pill or who have taken it but need the tutelage of some Morpheus to come alongside them.

      However, I quite agree that much of what was said on the floor of Classis was disheartening.

  2. Bret –
    My major objection to the Belhar actually hinges on those two statements. The two statements combined – when taken to their logical conclusion ends up preferencing the Belhar – it becomes the interpretive grid through which the other confessions must be read. Where there is significant disagreement on any point of one of the three forms of unity, the Belhar would require that such discussions be set aside for the sake of unity. So, those who balk at limited atonement would have grounds to have the doctrine footnoted, eroding our confessional basis and distinctiveness. With the Belhar in place, if we were to remain consistent with our confessional statements, we would be required to bleed into the general North American evangelicalism.

    1. Chris,

      I intend to offer an entry in this series that pursues the line of thought that the Belhar will become the grid through which the existing 3FU will be read although I will be coming at it from a slightly different angle then what you have offered. It is my conviction that the Belhar is a poison pill intended to overthrow the 3FU without doing so officially. It would be like adding an amendment to the Constitution that says, “The Constitution is a living document,” which of course it no longer means what it once meant. If the Belhar is adopted a antithetical worldview is introduced that will leave the old worldview of the 3FU obsolete.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *