Whilst the ICRC, in its aims and purposes, reflects a pluriformity of the church concept, and thereby compromises what we confess about the (true) church, [I] there are limits to what it tolerates. One of those is women in office, as the following responses by delegates show.
Patience of the ICRC on the position of ‘the liberated’ is running out [ii]
Was there still appreciation for the RCN’s (GKv’s) views on Women in Office at the ICRC? Barely. And the tone was remarkably sharp: “Suspend now, with immediate effect.”
Rev. Heon Soo Kim of South Korea pointed to the broader context. “If the Bible is on their side, what about Romans 14 and 15? Are they the strong ones that can declare the offices open? And what do they do with the weaker ones?”
Rev. Daniel Tonga (Kenya) called it a crucial moment: “We were given only one Bible. Let the RCN consider their position. We are not here to break down the Kingdom, but to build it up.”
Rev. David Miller (Scotland) also opposed the opening of offices to the woman “in any church”. In addition, he urged the RCN to reconsider their decision.
Prof. David McKay (Northern Ireland) expressed his deep concern about the RCN. Although we were happy to talk with them about the offices, we were very disappointed that the voice of the foreign churches was ignored by the RCN. This despite the fact that all those churches spoke with the one voice and called the RCN not to choose the way of opening up the offices.
Rev. Peter van der Meyden (Canada) wondered whether any conversation with the sister churches would ever have moved the RCN to reconsider their course.
Also Rev. Jack Moesker of the Canadian Reformed Churches (CanRC), RCN’s sister churches, pointed to the many conversations that have been conducted since 2008, but unfortunately without any effect.
According to Rev. Scott Wilkinson (Canada), the RCN ought to be ashamed: The exegesis of the Synod decision is terrible, causing unnecessary division and partisanship in the church. The hermeneutics are lousy: where the Bible speaks clearly it is being adapted to society. The RCN must be sent home.”
Also the patience of Rev. Pieter Boon (South Africa) had run out. The motion of the CGK [iii] (to defer a decision about the RCN until 2021) was well meant, but came too late. The RCN’s immediate introduction of the decision blocks the motion.
Rev. Raymond Sikkema (Canada) called the CGK proposal “ironic”. The issue has been on the RCN agenda for ten years and there have been frequent warnings. The proposal is also “misleading” as it suggests that the RCN were ambushed by this decision. We have to decide now; the ICRC has its own responsibility.
Dr Roland Ward (Eastern Australia) still stuck up for the RCN and wanted to give them time until the end of this year. He found the OPC’s motion not optimal and also not that of the CGK.
We conclude this extensive contribution, with thanks to Reformatorisch Dagblad (Klaas van der Zwaag), with an explanation by Dr Tony Curto of the OPC:
“We’ve played this theological volleyball for a few years now, and the ball goes from one side to the other. We must wonder if we acted fast enough. Through all these conversations families have been tossed back and forth.” And “Over the years, I have not heard any new arguments from the RCN, but now it is a new language. First it was a new hermeneutic, now a new approach. But putting on other clothes does not make a new person. The RCN no longer fit in the ICRC.”
Our own brief comment: What a deeply sad but correct conclusion!
[i] See www.defenceofthetruth.com/en/2017/07/icrc-right-exist
[ii] Translated from “Signalen 52”, 18/7/17, in www.eeninwaarheid.info
[iii] Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerken (Christian Reformed Churches)