Back To The Form Of Subscription

Recently, I heard somebody of some import and seniority suggest that we should scrap the previous form of subscription for the new one based on the metaphor of chapel attendance. It seems that when this person was in college she was required to attend chapel and did much to avoid the requirement, and according to her testimony, her low views of Chapel were shared by many of her classmates. However, once she graduated college the college lifted the mandated attendance requirement and, mirable dictu, voluntary chapel attendance blossomed like thousands of acres of Tulips after a fresh spring rain.

Obviously the illustration was supposed to prove that requiring somebody to sign the Form of Subscription only makes them want to do everything they can to avoid what is required of them while, so the thinking goes, if we make signing less onerous then the result will be that everybody will take the Three Forms of Unity seriously, just as lifting mandatory chapel attendance resulted in massive chapel attendance.

Now, as one who could never be outstripped in finding creative ways to avoid mandatory chapel attendance I found this analogy intriguing. The problem though is the metaphor doesn’t really fit. First, requiring people to sign the form of subscription is more akin to requiring somebody to consummate their marriage after they are married. The attitude is not, ‘well, if I have to,’ but rather, ‘well, duh, that’s one reason I signed up.’ Just so with the Form of Subscription. A requirement to sign the document should be met with a ‘well, that’s why I’m here to begin with,’ and not a ‘well, if you’re going to make me, I guess I will, but boy promising to defend those Three Forms of Unity is like being asked to go to worthless chapel services.’

Second, the metaphor doesn’t fit unless what is included is that the new document really means that the requirement is that you don’t have to uphold the three forms of unity any more. In the above metaphor it was the release from attending chapel that supposedly freed people to attend chapel. If the metaphor is going to fit we would have to say that we no longer require a form of subscription, in any sense at all, believing that the results would be that deacons and elders would instantly begin to defend the Three Forms of Unity. With the new ‘covenant of ordination’ we haven’t released people from going to chapel, unless of course that is really what the subtext is.

Still, if the whole denomination is consistent with polling I recently read where only 17% of a small sampling of denominational Ministers, Elders, and Deacons, have read the Three Forms of Unity in the last ten years, I’m not sure why we should have a Form of Subscription, a Covenant of Ordination, a note from Mother excusing us from swearing allegiance, or any other kind of promissory process.

Now, I need to finish this so I can get to Chapel. You wouldn’t believe how many of those things I have yet to make up.

Is California Setting The Table To Pursue Homeschoolers?

Recently a court case in California has once again thrown the spotlight on the State’s attempt to dictate to parents what they can and can’t do regarding how the parents decide to school their children.

We should note that it sounds like this case might involve a troubled family. At least that is the way the legal argument frames the discussion. Still, we must keep in mind that any decision in this case can easily be appealed to as legal precedent against families which are not troubled and who likewise home school their children.

Apparently a lower court ruled that the ‘L’ family could not be required to send their children to government schools. That decision was appealed to a higher court that apparently overturned the lower courts decision in favor of the family.

In the appellate decision the Judges noted that the lower court ruling had sustained the interest of the parents to home school even though the lower court noted that were the children to be required to attend government schools,

(1) they could interact with people outside the family

(2) there are people who could provide help if something is amiss in the children’s lives

(3) they could develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents’ “cloistered” setting.

This reflects typical Statist bureaucratic reasoning. Speaking to the first point, we would say it fails to note that interaction with people outside the family in a government school setting, would likely include, interacting with gang-bangers, druggies, brain dead teachers, and youth culture in general. One reason many parents home school is so they can control the interaction of their children with people outside the family. Speaking to the second point above, we would say it misses the fact that outside of family supervision children are just as likely to meet people who provide input that will cause something to be amiss in the children’s lives. Speaking to the third point above, we would first note the pejorative attitude towards the family (it provides a ‘cloistered setting’) articulated. On this point we would ask why it is assumed that emotional development (whatever that is) happens more successfully when it happens in the broader world.

The Judges in this case go on eventually to say,

We agree with the Shinn court’s statement that “the educational program of the State of California was designed to
promote the general welfare of all the people and was not designed to accommodate the personal ideas of any individual in the field of education.”

We need to keep in mind that the Judges here are building a case that the State of California, despite popular legal opinion, does not require that home schooling be allowed. The citing of the ‘Shinn case’ reveals the Statist inclination of the Judges. The reasoning being used here is that the promotion of the general welfare of all the people (can you say Rousseau?) through the educational process has priority over personal and individual freedom. The State and its will has priority over the will of the individual, even in cases touching parental decision making for their own children.

Having articulated the State’s right, the Judges introduce the State’s stick if the State’s will is not submitted to,

Because parents have a legal duty to see to their children’s schooling within the provisions of these laws, parents who fail to do so may be subject to a criminal complaint against them, found guilty of an infraction, and subject to imposition of fines or an order to complete a parent education and counseling program. (§§ 48291 & 48293.) Additionally, the parents are subject to being ordered to enroll their children in an appropriate school or education program and provide proof of enrollment to the court, and willful failure to comply with such an order may be punished by a fine for civil contempt. (§ 48293.)

Here we have in stark relief the reality that government is organized brute force. The court is saying here that if parents will not give them their children then parents will be subject to monetary fines and brainwashing classes that no doubt will teach political correctness in the realm of child rearing. The reader should be very clear here that the implication of this is that the State owns the children born in the State and parents who get out of line will be dealt with summarily.

The paragraph below emphasizes again the absolute sovereignty of the State over parents.

Jurisdiction over such parental infractions may be assigned to juvenile court judges. (§ 48295; Welf. & Inst. Code, § 601.4.) Further, under section 361,subdivision (a) of the Welfare and Institutions Code, the juvenile court has authority to limit a parent’s control over a dependent child, including a parent’s right to make educational decisions for a child, so long as the limitations do not exceed what is necessary to protect the child.

We should note in (a) above that it is the State which gets to decide what constitutes ‘limitations that do not exceed what is necessary to protect the child.’ As such all talk about court restrained ‘limitations’ is utter tripe, since it is the court itself that is deciding what constitutes appropriate limitations and what doesn’t constitute appropriate limitations.

The superior court also deals with first amendment claims the Judges
dismiss such claims by not so subtly suggesting that the parents are just using religious belief as an excuse to home school their own children,

The parents in the instant case have asserted in a declaration that it is because of their “sincerely held religious beliefs” that they home school their children and those religious beliefs “are based on Biblical teachings and principles.” Even if the parents’ declaration had been signed under penalty of perjury, which it was not, those assertions are not the quality of evidence that permits us to say that application of California’s compulsory public school education law to them violates their First Amendment rights. Their statements are conclusional, not factually specific. Moreover, such sparse representations are too easily asserted by any parent who wishes to home school his or her child.

The omniscient Judges here are saying that they know the minds of the parents and that the parents are not really serious in their religious convictions. This is *$^&_&% incredible. Parents only have first amendment rights when the State determines, by reading the minds of citizens, when they are genuinely invoking First Amendment rights.

If I lived in California I would be nervous.

Rowan Williams & N. T. Wright & Sharia Law

Some of you may have missed it but recently the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams suggested that Britain might need to consider adopting portions of Islamic law (Sharia) to govern in Britain, particularly in the context of Islamic communities within Britain. Now, Williams went out of his way to say that the bad parts of Islamic law shouldn’t be allowed, insisting that only the more benign parts be considered as potentially valuable contributions. It seems what Williams was contending for was the idea of a pluralistic society embracing supplementary jurisdictions, while still being, in some fuzzy unexplainable way, responsible to a overarching universal law. This would be, in Williams words,

a scheme in which individuals retain the liberty to choose the jurisdiction under which they will seek to resolve certain carefully specified matters, so that ‘power-holders are forced to compete for the loyalty of their shared constituents’

When someone introduces the notion of individuals retaining the liberty to choose the jurisdiction they will be adjudicated under one gets a vision of market place legal arrangements where individuals can shop for the best overall deal.

The Arch-Bishop ended his lecture by saying,

…if what we want socially is a pattern of relations in which a plurality of divers and overlapping affiliations work for a common good, and in which groups of serious and profound conviction are not systematically faced with the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty, it (supplementary jurisdictions) seems unavoidable.

Now here we have some observations and questions.

1.) Who or what determines the common good? An Islamic answer to what is the common good is going to be different than a Christian answer to what the common good is. A culture of feminism is going to define the common good differently then a culture of Muslims. Whose law or what law or which law will be used in order to decide that question?

The Arch-Bishop assumes a common understanding of a common good. That misplaced assumption is the sand in the gears of his thinking on this subject.

2.) The Arch-Bishop seems to be awakening to the difficulties of any culture being anything but homogeneous. The genesis of the Arch-bishops difficulty is that heterogeneous people are sitting up shop in the same geographic location and that is creating the kind of problems one would expect to find when people of vastly different worldviews become neighbors. His answer is to set up competing but complimentary law systems, which I would think in time would have to give way to competing religious systems, competing familial systems, etc. The Arch-Bishop seems to recognize the problems of the ‘secular’ State providing the totalistic structure under which diverse people are governed. The Arch-Bishop’s answer seems to be to try and find ways to set up competing law systems, but I have to wonder if competing law systems would lead to an amelioration within individuals of conflicted loyalties between culture and state but rather would lead to an intensification of competing loyalties between culture and state due to the inevitable balkanization that would of necessity occur.

3.) Williams seems to understand that if non-enculturated people have to choose between the culture they belong to or what they perceive to be the alien State that is ruling over them the culture will win every time. His suggestion to solve this is to make the State more alien culture friendly by introducing supplementary jurisdiction. One can’t help but wonder though if this becomes a story of the puppy who was allowed to sleep only on the corner of the bed, who, once he got older, ended up covering so much of the bed that the owner was the one sleeping on the corner. Having acquired a taste of ‘supplementary jurisdiction’ why won’t non-enculturated people keep demanding more and more and if they do how do the host people say ‘no’?

What Williams is realizing is that law is religious and that culture is totalistic and when alien cultures are introduced to homogeneous cultures what transpires is either conflict or change, and if change is what transpires then change has to come in the direction of the host culture or in the direction of the alien culture. Williams is, in effect, saying that the host culture must change in the direction of the alien culture.

Apparently many Englishmen, at some level understand that is what Williams is saying and have, understandably, raised a huge stink about what the Arch-Bishop has said.

Coming to the Arch-Bishops defense is another Anglican Bishop, N. T. Wright.

Wright offered the following in his defense,

Second, the fundamental issue Williams was addressing is the relation between the law of the land and the religious conscience of the citizen. For 200 years it has been assumed that these operated in separate spheres: the law regulates my public life, faith or religion operate in private. This was always a dangerous half-truth, since many of the great world faiths, including Christianity itself, actually claim that all of life is included within religious obedience. As some of us used to be taught, if Jesus is not Lord of all, he is not Lord at all. In recent years various governments, including our own, have pushed the other way, to suggest that the secular state is itself master of all of life, including religious conviction….Rowan was going to the roots of these problems and coming up not only with fresh analysis but fresh solutions, particularly what he calls ‘interactive pluralism’. The question of how we live together as a civil and wise society while cherishing different faiths is a deep and serious one and can’t be pushed away just because people take fright at certain misunderstandings. His point was precisely that neither the secular state nor any particular religion can ‘monopolise’.

First the great problem here (a problem that also exists in Williams Lecture) is the assumption that the State can be Secular. What Wright calls the secular State is not secular but rather is derivative of some kind of religious conviction. The problem is not one of the Secular state trying to be master of all of life, including the private sphere vs. alien religions trying to be master of all of life including the public square. The problem is that it is a contest between two different competing religions. The Secular State provides its own religion and that religion impinges upon the private realm of citizens causing conflict with citizens who don’t practice the civil religion of the State. On the other hand competing religions, being totalistic in their reach, will challenge the current State because it is not derivative of the alien cultures religions to which the adherents subscribe.

Second Wright’s problem is that he is still trying to carve out some kind of neutral realm where no religion or where all religions prevail. But even if he finds a arrangement where ‘neither the secular state nor any particular religion can ‘monopolise,’ he will have created the monopoly that requires that nobody can have a monopoly. Even if such an idee fixe could be created the requirements that it would take to maintain that idee fixe would constitute a monopoly that any other religion would not be allowed to go beyond. In short, totalistic arrangements or cultural monopolies are unavoidable and inevitable. The problem that Wright and Williams are rubbing up against is their reluctance to recognize that somebody’s religion must be in the ascendancy. The answer that they are offering to avoid this is to find a compromise religion (the ‘no monopoly religion’) that all can sincerely subscribe to while they pretend to give allegiance to their part time gods. Wright was correct when he said that ‘Jesus is Lord of all or He is not Lord at all,’ and to try and discover some system where Jesus wouldn’t be Lord of all, reveals that Wright has some problems in his Theology.

Third, Wright assumes that it is societally proper to cherish different faiths. That assumption is a religious one (the religion of multi-culturalism) and it may not be one that people of other religions cherish. Muslim societies don’t cherish other faiths and depending upon what Wright means by ‘cherish’ I’m not sure a genuinely Christian society should cherish other faiths either.

Look, when one gets right down to brass tacks some faith system is going to produce some law system. That law system will either reflect Muslim Sharia or it will reflect Christian Law categories, or as is most predominant in the West today, it will reflect humanistic law categories. The Islamic presence in the bowels of the West are presenting problems for the West precisely because they, unlike many Christians, have retained genuine allegiance to their God.

It sounds like the answer of Bishops like Williams and Wright is to yield to the demands of aliens in their midst. I don’t suppose that the option of turning away from both the law monopoly of Islam and the law monopoly of the pagan State and turning towards the Lordship of Christ in the area of law occurred to either one of them.

Suggested Replacement For FOS


We, the undersigned office bearers of the CRCNA heartily accept the authority of the Word of God as received in the inspired Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, which reveal the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ, namely the reconciliation of all things in him.

We accept the historic confessions: the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort, as well as Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony, as faithful expressions of the church’s understanding of the gospel for its time and place, which define our tradition and continue to guide us today.

Personally, I’m not wild about accepting the ‘Our World Belongs to God’ as a fourth form of unity. It strikes me that before that should happen there should be some advance notification to the Churches that that is being considered because there are some people who, understanding the three forms of unity, don’t pay any attention to this ‘expression,’ and thus would need time to get up to speed on what it actually says.

We promise with thankfulness for these expressions of faith to be shaped by them in our various callings: preaching, teaching, writing, and serving. We further promise to continually review them in the light of our understanding of the Scriptures.

I hope that all realize that in this series of posts I honestly believe that I have been shaped by the Confessions in my writing of these posts.

I wonder if Guido de Bres would have characterized the Belgic Confession of faith as a ‘expression of faith’ or if he would have characterized it as a faithful summation of the Gospel?

Now previously I had to defend, and diligently teach the Confessions. I also had to reject and refute all errors. Now, I just have to be shaped by the Confessions. Is this not a downgrade?

Should we at any time become convinced that our understanding of the gospel as revealed in the Scriptures has become irreconcilable to the witness of the church as expressed in the above documents, we will communicate our views to the church according to the prescribed procedures and promise to submit to its judgment.

Doesn’t this have a silencing effect?

We do this so that the church will remain faithful to, grow in understanding of, and be diligent in living out this witness in all of life to the glory of God.

My difficulty with this whole process overall is that it strikes me as an attempt to solve one problem with another problem. The problem that exists currently is that people don’t take the FOS seriously. The answer that has been stumbled upon is to get rid of the FOS so that people won’t have to worry about not taking it seriously. I suppose that is one way to deal with the problem.

Another difficulty I have is the nagging suspicion that this is being done in order to build bigger tents. The Three forms of unity (TFU) and the FOS don’t allow us the kind of flexibility to be all things to all people. The TFU and the FOS don’t allow ministers to do both baby dedications and infant baptisms, and how can we build bigger tents unless we do both? The TFU and FOS are very precise about the character of God in such a way that modern sensibilities are offended, and how can we build a big tent if we offend those sensibilities. The TFU and FOS don’t allow post-modern categories because they speak as if absolute truth can be absolutely known regardless of people’s time, place, or culture, and everyone knows that you can’t build bigger tents with that kind of certainty. Mist is in. Clarity is out.

I don’t think the committee’s argumentation is well reasoned and therefore I oppose this change.

Form Of Subscription Debate (Part II)

The Form of Subscription Revision Committee Report


The history of the functioning of the Form of Subscription (FOS) in the Christian Reformed Church is a story about our denomination’s determination to be and remain a confessional church. This is highlighted in the narrative of the history of the FOS as given in Report 38 of the Acts of Synod 1976, which concludes with this sentence: It may be said that the adoption and use of the traditional FOS has been an integral part of the CRC’s history as an orthodox, conservative, confessional church (Acts of Synod 1976, p. 561).

Here we start with the recognition that the FOS is intrinsically tied up with being a confessional Church. Would such a observation lead one to determine that it is entirely possible that since this is true that it is somewhat likely that should someone mess with the FOS they would at the same time be found tinkering with the Confessional nature of the CRC?

We believe two assumptions underlie this determination. The first is that a confessional church’s identity and mission always arise out of a specific heritage of understanding (“standing under”) the Scripture. In the case of the CRC, this heritage is the interpretation of Scripture as given in the historic creeds of the early church: the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed as well as the confessions of the church of the Reformation: the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dordt, sometimes referred to as the three forms of unity. These creeds and confessions were acknowledged to be so constitutive of our identity and so critical to our mission in the world that continuity with them must be preserved. In other words, the church believed it must remain orthodox in order to be the church.

It is certainly true that that ‘a confessional church’s identity and mission always arise out of a specific heritage of understanding the Scripture.’ But it is even more true to say that a confessional church’s identity and mission always arise out of a specific heritage of God’s revelation as given in Scripture. You see the emphasis of the committee falls on human understanding gained in a particular historical situatedness while the emphasis of my statement emphasizes God’s ability to communicate His truth and build His Church trans-historically and trans-culturally. Second, we must keep in mind that it is because of how people understand or don’t understand God’s Word that accounts for their ‘specific heritage of understanding the Scripture’ not their specific heritage of understanding that accounts for how they do or do not understand God’s Word.

The second assumption is that the CRC viewed its orthodox identity to be so tenuous and its mission in the world so fraught with danger that a regulating instrument needed to be employed to keep us orthodox. The FOS, adopted essentially unchanged from its initial draft at the 1619 Synod of Dordt, was taken to be this regulating instrument. This assumption is evident in the statement made by Synod 1976 in its response to the overture of Dr. Harry Boer that, ‘the FOS is not intended primarily as the instrument by which the church examines its confessions in the light of Scripture and provides for the orderly revisions of the confessions. It is rather the instrument for safeguarding the administration of the Word and the government of the church in harmony with the confession’ (Acts of Synod 1976, p. 577).

Reformed Churches for 500 years have adopted subscriptionist procedures. I am not sure that such an arrangement proves that they believed that their identity to be tenuous or their mission in the world was fraught with danger. It may only prove that they wanted a procedure in place that would provide a means to make sure everybody in the choir would sing from the same sheet of music.

Our committee believes that from 1976 on, the history of the FOS indicates that the first assumption remains true (that a church’s identity and mission arise out of a specific heritage) while the second (that a regulatory instrument is needed to keep us orthodox) is increasingly being called into question. Increased cultural and ethnic diversity, the increase in new church plants, and the cultural moment often described as postmodernism are among the factors raising these questions.

Well, I agree that no promissory note, by itself, can keep a denomination orthodox unless there exists a will by those in the denomination to bring consequences upon those who violate the vows.

Second, if a specific heritage is challenged enough by the new cultural moment does the church’s definition of ‘orthodoxy’ change with the advent of a new heritage growing out of the new cultural moment? And if the answer to that question is ‘yes’ would such a change mean a moving away from the old specific heritage that required a precise form of subscription to a new ‘covenant of ordination’ that better reflected the new heritage?

It seems clear to our committee that, historically, the FOS has functioned negatively to effectively shut down discussion on various confessional issues rather than positively to encourage the ongoing development of the confessions in the life of the church. In other words, the FOS has been used to define a standard of purity in the church more than being a witness to unity. The variety of issues with signing the Form of Subscription as well as attempts to change it indicate that office bearers today desire to be more guided and less silenced by the confessional documents.

OK… here is where it gets really dicey.

First the current FOS, in the fourth paragraph, does allow for conversation. Indeed, upon my reading the current FOS encourages conversation. It even reminds those who want to talk about possibly disputed points in the three forms of unity of their appeal process should they believe that they have been unduly silenced in lower church courts.

Second I believe the whole notion of standard of purity vs. witness of unity is a false dichotomy. It is precisely because it is a standard of purity that it can be a witness of unity. Can two or three walk together (unity) except they be agreed (purity)?

Third, one wonders what ‘the ongoing development of the confessions in the life of the church,’ means. In a post-modern context that could mean that we are going to discover that the confessions are going to develop so that they don’t mean what we always thought they meant. I guess living in times where deconstruction has become a byword in our Universities I get a little nervous when I read about the ‘ongoing development of the confessions …’

Fourth the last sentence in the immediate above quote is a logical fallacy that is called a hasty generalization. One could as easily say that the refusal to change the FOS to date reveals that office bearers are satisfied with the current FOS.

Fifth if it is the case that office bearers today desire to be more guided and less silenced by the confessions does that mean that the ability to be more guided and less silenced by the confessions results in office bearers who will be more vocal in thinking themselves free to disagree with where the confessions are trying to guide them? And if they do disagree with the guidance does that mean anything or is that just an example of Confessional development?

Many people in the church continued to wrestle with this issue. In 2003 as a part of a dissertation for his master of theology degree at Calvin Theological Seminary, Rev. Ken Nydam sent out a survey to seventy new church development (NCD) church pastors and fifty established church development (ECD) church pastors within the CRC, seventy of which were returned. (An Historical and Theological Assessment of the Problems with the Form of Subscription in New Church Development in the Christian Reformed Church of North America [Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan, May 2003]). Nydam concluded that while all churches want to retain some kind of doctrinal covenant for the CRC many churches also wonder, if a document that was originally conceived in a historical context of intra-church skirmishes that had political ramifications can be applied to our contemporary mission environment� (Nydam 2003, 13).

The only thing here to say is that this is an open question that needs concrete examples. Why can’t the FOS be applied to our contemporary mission environment? What is it, (chapter and verse please) about the FOS that makes it difficult to apply to our contemporary mission environment? From the document itself what is the sticking point?

IV.) Rationale for the proposed Form of Subscription rewrite

We confess that Scripture is the Word of God. It is utterly trustworthy and reliable in all issues pertaining to faith and life. However, our understanding of it is always limited and in need of refinement. In the words of missiologist Leslie Newbigin,

The responsibility of the church is to declare to each generation what is the faith. This is always a fresh task in every generation. No verbal statement can be produced which relieves the Church of the responsibility continually to re-think and re-state its message. No appeal to creeds and confessions can alter the fact that the Church has to state in every new generation how it interprets the historic faith and how it relates to the new thought and experience of its time. It belongs to the essence of a living Church that it should be able and willing to do so.

(The Reunion of the Church: A Defense of the South India Scheme,
�London: SCM, 1948, 137-38)

No one could disagree with this as long as what is being re-thought and re-stated has continuity with both Scripture and what has been thought and stated before. I mean, Arminius would have insisted that he was just re-thinking and re-stating Scripture’s message. Obviously then not all re-thinkings and re-statings are equal. What standard shall we use to measure our re-thinkings and re-statings if not Scripture and the Confessions as they faithfully communicate Scripture?

The four-hundred year old FOS has traditionally been viewed as being the hallmark of a confessional church. However, the many years of conflicted discussion about the FOS in the CRC reveal the need for a doctrinal covenant more in harmony with current realities. We cannot afford to be more concerned about historical integrity than current expression. Ironically, it has been under the current FOS’s stern watch that a significant and increasing neglect of the confessions has occurred.

First, the many years of conflicted discussion may not reveal the need for the kind of change proposed by the committee. The many years of conflicted discussion could reveal instead that people don’t want to be Reformed, or the many years of conflicted discussion could reveal instead that nobody wants to enforce the FOS.

Second is the committee saying that the four hundred year old tradition of a FOS isn’t or shouldn’t be a hallmark of a confessional Church? Has the committee decided that it is possible for a Church to remain confessional without a FOS? Does the committee have any examples where Churches have remained confessional who dispensed with the strong commitment that comes with signing a FOS?

Third, does the idea about being more concerned with current expression over against historical integrity not communicate some kind of generational arrogance? Reformed people have always been a people who have managed to be relevant (current expression) precisely because they understand how the past is prologue.

Fourth, the last sentence in the quote above is another logical fallacy. This time it is the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. All because a neglect of the Confessions has occurred doesn’t in any way prove that it is the fault of the FOS. There could be a host of reasons why neglect has arisen that doesn’t have one whit to do with the FOS.

Fifth, notice also the biased language. The FOS has been on a stern watch. Who wants something looking over their shoulders that is stern?

Our committee believes that a helpful way to view the confessions is to regard them as true snapshots in time of the church’s self-understanding as it wrestled with Scripture in the light of contemporary issues. Understood in this way, the confessions offer deeply grounded guidance to the contemporary church by linking us to the past and reminding us to pay attention to what has been deemed vital in the past. However, there must be ongoing reflection and development as the church constantly seeks to explain what faithfulness to the gospel looks like in its time and place. Synod itself recognized this when it called for an update of Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony because it serves as a dynamic statement of faith [that] must be periodically reviewed and perhaps revised if it is to speak contemporaneously. (Acts of Synod 2005, p. 734).

I believe that a helpful way to view this committees work is to regard it as a true snapshot in time of the committees self-understanding as it wrestled with the FOS in the light of contemporary issues. Other committees might be formed that would give us other snapshots. Therefore we shouldn’t take the committee’s recommendations to seriously because, after all, they are only snapshots.

Once again I find nothing in the FOS that prohibits ongoing reflection and even development. If somebody wants to develop the three forms of unity then all they have to do is come to Classis and explain their superior development and if they are clearly correct then the Confessions will develop.

Next, concretely speaking what does ‘deeply grounded guidance’ mean, and what happens if a office bearer rejects the ‘deeply grounded guidance’ they find in the confessions?