Perhaps you read the recent announcement of a new Coordinator of Multi-Racial Initiatives and Social Justice. This appointment was announced by the Director of Congregational Mission. I haven’t mentioned names because the persons aren’t directly involved in my comment. I expect that Earl James is a terrific person and Ken Eriks is a faithful servant. At issue is a profound shift in Reformed practice.
This position was once the Office of Social Witness. That was a position within the GSC, but was an expression of the General Synod. The announcement of the new office was by the Director of Congregational Mission. Social Justice has now come under “congregational mission.” We’ve lost Article 36 of the Belgic! And we’re becoming Christian Reformed (they changed Article 36 if you recall).
The Reformed vision we lived under understood God working through both the church and the magistrates. The “government” was/is God’s servant, whether it recognizes it or not. The church witnesses to the state to God’s witness in scripture. The church does this as part of its prophetic witness. A more “Christian Reformed” approach would have individual members of the church witness as part of their vocation. The church itself would not directly involve itself, as an institution, in the matters of government or culture.
By subsuming Social Justice under “congregational missions,” the General Synod has backed away from one of its tasks and placed it in the hands of local congregations. Part of what it means to be the church is “proclaiming God’s promise and commands to all the world.” We still have Article 36!
This is where the Carver model begins to break down seriously. This shift is a profound shift in policy, one not approved by the General Synod, and hence violates the church order. The order requires that “the General Synod alone shall determine denominational policy.”
I don’t gainsay the CRC in their approach. It is their approach and they work within it. My issue is that is seems that very few people in the RCA know that this shift is taking place. Does anyone know that this shift is taking place? Does anyone care? It makes for a sad day in a tradition that has understood its practice as “historic and faithful.”