Reformation or Revolution

While the Reformed Church is “always to be reforming according to the Word of God,” the reorganiza­tion proposed by the Task Force is not reformation but revolution. It has all the hall marks of a revolution.

Our structures are not to be “adapted” but ended and replaced.

The critique of our current problems is not established by facts but by opinions which are called facts. (Brutal facts, indeed. Brutal opinions!)

Control of the process is put in the hands of an appointed few, who will have an authority beside the Constitution, and the Constitution is not to be enforced. Or they will say that they are enforcing those parts of the Constitution which fit their “preferred future.”

Authority is to be centralized and concentrated, and decision-making is to be done by people who will be appointed, rather than elected.

The changes are so enormous and as to be blinding in their enormity, yet they are vague in their reality.

They come not out of the Word of God but from the vision of the leader.

5 thoughts on “Reformation or Revolution

  1. Excellent, Daniel.It seems to me that your post suggests a significant piece of our task: to demonstrate to people the revolutionary character of these proposals.As a question of rhetoric or effective language, I do wonder about the word “revolution” and derivatives. In the US context, many might think “revolution” would be a good thing, because of some harkening back to 1776.It becomes important, then, that we show that this new revolutionary act does not have freedom as its goal and the desire for freedom as its motivating impulse (as did “revolutions” of which “Good Americans” are proud). Rather, it’s about control, the transfer of power from the many to the few, and a fundamental rejection of our conception of the church based on the thoughts of a few “leaders.”Dan

  2. Good point. I was betraying my Kuyperian training, and thinking about the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution, each of which resulted in authoritarian structures cloaked in an ideology of freedom.Yes, what would be a better way to say it?

  3. “what would be a better way to say it?”I’m not sure I have a better alternative. But one thing that comes to mind is (from a different context, and at the risk of muddying the waters) Paul Krugman’s argument from “The Great Unraveling.”In short, one could point out that the changes urged by some are radical, and thus (with some irony) completely contrary to the “conservative” label some of them no doubt would claim.”Revolution” and derivatives are fine, as long as we also use other terms that get at the problem. So, it could be effective for us also to use terms such as these: radical, heterodox, short sighted, theologically shallow, authoritarian….Dan

  4. I’m late coming into this discussion. I just found this site and I’m thrilled! You write, “As a question of rhetoric or effective language, I do wonder about the word ‘revolution’ and derivatives.” A review of New Strong’s definitions for “revolution” and for “reformation” shows an effective distinction. “Revolution” is always used in a negative sense, usually as a revolt against God’s teaching (eg., Isaiah 59:13) or against right doctrine (eg., Jeremiah 6:28). As for the needs of rhetoric, I’d like to point out that the RSV does not use the word “revolution” at Jer. 6:28, but rather “rebellion.” Even though the RSV’s Is. 59:13 has “revolt,” the same Hebrew word is translated as “rebel” at Is. 1:5. I suspect that Americans who respond positively to the word “revolution” would seldom respond kindly to “rebellion.” And rebellion, quite frankly, is what we are facing in the RCA.”Reformation” and “reformed” are handled differently, however. In both instances of New Strong’s definitions, it is God who “reforms” (RSV “turns”) His people with discipline (Lev. 24:23). And Hebrews 9:10 understands “reformation” to be the time of the new covenant established by Christ.It would seem to me, then, that for the purposes of rhetoric and effective preaching, “Reformation or Rebellion” may be the preferable juxtaposition.

  5. Hi Jay. Welcome to the discussion.An interesting suggestion: that the proponents of structural change are actually rebels, or engaging in a form of rebellion.It’s a curious rebellion, though. For the putative “rebels” have most all the power on their side (and are gaming, through these changes, to accrue even more power), whereas those of us who wish to defend the integrity of our polity have relatively very little power.Dan

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