Monday, June 8, 2009

General Synod Votes to Add the Belhar Confession as a Fourth Doctrinal Standard

After nearly two hours of debate, R-24 was approved 164-65. The action (if approved by 2/3 of the classes) would add the Belhar Confession as the fourth doctrinal standard officially recognized by the RCA:

"To adopt the following amendment to the first paragraph of the Preamble to the Book of Church Order for recommendation to the classes for approval: The purpose of the Reformed Church in America, together with all other churches of Christ, is to minister to the total life of all people by preaching, teaching, and proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ,the Son of God, and by all Christian good works. That purpose is achieved most effectively when good order and proper discipline are maintained by means of certain offices, governmental agencies, and theological and liturgical standards. The Holy Scriptures are the only rule of faith and practice in the Reformed Church in America. Its Constitution consists of the Doctrinal Standards (which are the Belgic Confession of Faith, the Heidelberg Catechism with its Compendium, and the Canons of the Synod of Dort, and the Belhar Confession), the Liturgy with the Directory for Worship, the Government of the Reformed Church in America, and the Disciplinary and Judicial Procedures."

This now goes to the classes.


  1. We still need 2/3 of the classes to accept the amendment. Our work is not done.

  2. Josh,

    You are correct. I was aware of that when I posted and regret that my wording did not clearly reflect that. The amendment would have the described effect. Its approval is not final until 2/3 of the classes concur. Thanks.

  3. I am quite happy with this result. Although I came to appreciated the Belhar, I was concerned over several issues. In particular the fact that while mentioned the foundational reconciliation with God through faith in Christ and the resulting manifestation in our ministry of reconciliation being a call to this world to be reconciled to God through faith in Christ, that mention was neither as developed or explicit as I would like. Without that foundational reconciliation, nothing else the confession calls for would be possible, so while I loved it, I could not vote for it.

    Then I listened to the long discussion, and heard account after account of the need for this in various situations in our denomination and beyond. With that need of my brothers and sisters in Christ in mind, I considered Philippians 2:3b-4, "in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." I came to the conclusion that for the interest of others, I was willing to vote in favor of the Belhar. If this will be best for them, I am willing to face any struggles misuse of this confession may bring about in the future. I pray that this will be for the good of those who spoke to their need, and happily voted "Yes."


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