Brief Question

Can someone give me a convincing theological explanation of how the RCA (the denomination, not its constituent congregations) is “church”?

4 thoughts on “Brief Question

  1. Excellent question. Is the RCA a church. It does seem that the RCA no longer exists as a church. Membership in the RCA no longer has any theological meaning. Someone “Madoff” with the RCA, as church, in a giant ponzi scheme. Anyone who has audited the RCA for integrity realizes that the RCA exhibits all of the symptoms of the need to file for bankruptcy reorganization under chapter 11 (of Hebrews). Sad, isn’t it.

  2. Too funny, Dean!

    I think I might need to rephrase my question. Because by “denomination,” do I mean the people of the RCA, or the assemblies of the RCA? If I do, then I would insist, in humility and hope, that the RCA is “church.” The whole “where two or three are gathered” thing. The whole “marks of the church” thing (about which I intend to write more, some day).

    But the corporation of the RCA? There I have trouble.

    (For clarification: to say that an institution is not “church” is not to say that it is “bad.”)

  3. It is really only at the “denomination” level that there is an inconsistency that renders the RCA as no longer a denomination. When that which is held as the “order” is not observed, or it is compromised in a way that has no integrity, then the claim of “church” itself may be called into question.
    There is a need to have “order” to avoid both tyranny and disfunction. The respect for “order” has been piddled away one puddle at a time. I agree, to say that an institution is not “church” is not to say that it is “bad”. Sand is not bad. It just does not have the same value as a rock.

  4. I would argue that we can have a “denomination” without being a “church,” and that the denomination is this ongoing, national corporate entity thing. The assemblies and the congregations are the people, are the church. Which might mean that only the GSC and the staff are the denominationg (somebody named Meeter or Janssen is going to rip me to shreds over this bit, I am sure).

    Where we get into trouble, using Dean’s perspective, is that, in a Reformed understanding of “church,” the covenant is essential, and the order is our expression of the covenant. When the church stopped using the denomination as a tool, being run by it instead, and then allowed the denomination to get the assemblies to ignore their own order, we got into serious trouble. One reason we may be looking to define new marks of the church is so that we can still claim to be one.

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