Rev Anderson and Rev Hagg, representing the Free Reformed Churches of Australia, recently addressed the Synod (at Meppel) of the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands (RCN/GKv) as follows:
Esteemed delegates of Synod and honoured guests
On behalf of the Free Reformed Churches of Australia, we may extend greetings in the Name of our Lord and Saviour. We are thankful that we may attend your Synod and extend our greetings. We also appreciate your hospitality in this beautiful Mennorode conference hotel. It is a blessing to meet as brothers, with many of our church members tracing their family histories back to you and have benefited richly from that heritage. You therefore remain close to our hearts.
As you are well aware, it was with sadness that during our last synod in Baldivis 2015, we felt compelled to suspend our sister church relationship with you. There is no need at the present time to review the various admonitions that several of our last synods have directed to your churches. We may note that already Synod West-Kelmscott 2006 had decided “to express our concerns regarding the directions being taken, particularly in regard to the manner in which Scripture and the commandments are interpreted and applied in today’s circumstances …” (1) At Synod Legana in 2009 it was decided “to exhort the RCN with love and care to be faithful in their hermeneutics…” (2). At Synod Armadale in 2012-13 it was decided to make our admonitions more specific to you in a separate synodical letter. However differences between us in relation to the view on hermeneutics and the practical application of it in your churches, increased. This was highlighted during the Hermeneutics Conference held in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada in January 2014.
It was therefore with sadness that Synod 2015 had to determine that you “deny any Scriptural or Confessional deviation” and per consequence that you “feel no need for repentance and return”. As a result the synod with deep sadness suspended our sister church relationship. In addition it decided “that the FRCA’s sister relationship with the RCN will become untenable if the next synod of the RCN in 2017 does not express and demonstrate evidence of repentance from the deviations mentioned in the letter of the synod of Armadale 2012 to the synod of Ede 2014”. (3)
Since that synod our churches have been encouraged to keep your churches in prayer asking the Lord that you may uprightly uphold and defend Scriptural truth as maintained in the three forms of unity. You correctly state in your letter of 8 Dec. 2016, “We are facing a crucial period as reformed churches in the Netherlands and with regard to our relations abroad. Decision have to be made on several topics in which there is disagreement within our own churches and with a number of churches abroad.” Rest assured that the prayers of our churches are with you, that you may indeed return to a path of humble obedience to Him who gave His life for us.
You will understand that our concerns have hardly been alleviated by the report from your deputies to this synod on man/women and office. Although the reasoning is quite different to the previous report, the same concerns with respect to hermeneutics are certainly present. This is evident for example in the appeal to the supposed lack of education of women in the first century as an important underlying ground for the contention that on this basis women were not admitted into office.
Your deputies earlier requested our input with respect to this question, and we have responded to that some months ago with a brief yet clear outline of how we understand Scripture to speak to this issue.
We would cherish the hope that this new report (Men/Women – Serving Together) would not be accepted by your synod and that there may be a real spirit of humility and desire to return to what we see as the plain message of Scripture on this point. Love for God and our crucified Saviour compel us to plead with you not to rewrite the biblical message so as to conform to the cultural context, but to allow the love of God to quell any personal disquiet we may have in following his commandments.
Should the churches at Synod Meppel 2017 decide not to turn from these ways and so return to the paths of Scripture and Confession, our last synod has given us as deputies no option, but to recommend a termination of the ecclesiastical relationship.
Please understand that our prayers are with you as you will be deliberating on many issues in the coming months. It is not our desire that our ways should part, but that together we may bear witness to the marvellous truth which our Saviour has entrusted to us.
On behalf of the Deputies for sister churches
(1) ACTS OF THE 2006 SYNOD and Reports to the 2006 Synod of the FREE REFORMED CHURCHES OF AUSTRALIA West Kelmscott, Western Australia 10 – 20 July 2006, p. 64.
(2) ACTS OF THE 2009 SYNOD of the FREE REFORMED CHURCHES OF AUSTRALIA Legana, Tasmania 15-24 June 2009, p. 83.
(3) ACTS OF THE 2015 SYNOD of the FREE REFORMED CHURCHES OF AUSTRALIA BALDIVIS, WESTERN AUSTRALIA 22 June to 1 July 2015, p. 54.
This document was published on www.eeninwaarheid.info.