As the usual, this year’s Synod, which met in Pella, Iowa June 20-25, 2013, tackled a wide array of topics, from the mundane to the controversial to the political. You can read about the way our Synod works and about some of main issues facing this year’s body in my earlier post. You may also want to consult the RCA site for its summary of Synod and check out this helpful page which shows how Synod voted on 87 recommendations.

There is much I could mention and comment on from this year’s Synod (my friend and fellow pastor Ben Kappers has posted a fuller summary here). Let me simply highlight four of the most important areas. The last three areas pose particular problems for conservatives in the denomination.

MISSIONAL EMPHASIS

What happened? The Synod adopted a set of strategic goals called “Transformed and Transforming: Radically Following Christ in Mission Together.”

What’s the background? In 2003, the Synod adopted a series of decade long initiatives under the banner “Our Call.” “Transformed and Transforming” is to focus our agenda for the next 15 years now that Our Call has expired (so to speak).

What’s the take home? For good and bad, the RCA is fully committed to a missional agenda. This is good in that we are trying to plant churches, be active in the world, and look outside ourselves. This emphasis is also troubling at times because the view of the mission of the church is overly expansive (e.g., lowering unemployment), the theology of the kingdom is not very careful, and the strategic goals are so broad as to have room for a multitude of interpretations and applications.

BELHAR CONFESSION

What happened? Congregations now have to report on how they are being shaped by the Belhar Confession. Every year, RCA consistories have to answer questions about the vitality and commitments of the church. To date, the only question about our confessional standards as been a line about teaching the points of the doctrine in the Heidelberg Catechism. Now churches will be asked “How have the Belhar Confession and its principles of unity, reconciliation, and justice shaped your congregational life and witness?” (R-27). There are no specific requirements for congregations teaching or being shaped by the Belgic Confession or Canons of Dort.

What’s the background? In 2010 the RCA added a fourth confessional standard, the Belhar Confession, which comes out of South Africa’s struggle with apartheid in the 1980s. Some in the denomination, and I am one of them, did not support the addition of Belhar, both because of specific assertions that are problematic and because the three big categories of unity, justice, and reconciliation are easily co-opted by liberal agendas (see also this interaction from Todd Billings).

What’s the take home? The RCA has typically held its confessionalism loosely. But Belhar is getting a bigger platform and becoming more central in the life of the denomination. Already, ministers making ordination or installation vows must consider whether they can subscribe to Belhar in good conscience. Now congregations are being asked to make this new confession an important part of their identity. How can one be committed to a confessional denomination when it adds a confession you didn’t vote for?

HOMOSEXUALITY

What happened? R-83 was adopted: “To acknowledge that in 2012 we, the General Synod, in the proceedings that led to the adoption of R-28, demonstrated a lack of decorum and civility, and a general atmosphere in which delegates were not always treating one another as sisters and brothers in Christ; and further, to acknowledge that in 2012 we, the General Synod, usurped the constitutional authority reserved for the classes when, in R-28, we stated that “any person, congregation, or assembly which advocates homosexual behavior or provides leadership for a service of same-sex marriage or a similar celebration has committed a disciplinable offense.”

What’s the background? In 2012, the Synod passed a very strong statement on homosexuality (R-28). This produced a significant push back from progressives in the denomination. This year’s Synod apologized for last year’s Synod and declared that the guts of last year’s declaration was illegitimate.

What else happened? Two of the three recommendations from the “Way Forward Task Force” were approved. The most significant recommendation was not. The first recommendation asking for clarity from the Commission on Church Order about the nature of General Synod pronouncements was approved. The third recommendation calling for “grace-filled conversations” and resources to help “preserve unity, purity, and peace” regarding homosexuality was approved. The second recommendation was to initiate an investigation into wholesale polity changes which would have likely resulted in some clear direction as to whether we can agree to disagree on homosexuality or whether we will hold each other accountable across the denomination. The most controversial part of the recommendation was an open door at the end of this process for churches and ministers to leave the denomination “without recrimination.” This second recommendation was defeated.

Anything else related to homosexuality? A paper on “Moral Discernment”, arising out of  disagreements about homosexualty with our Formula of Agreement partners (the UCC, PCUSA, and ELCA), was commended for study and use in the denomination. The paper concluded that “Shared affirmations of Christ’s lordship do not in themselves guarantee consensus on particular moral judgments; our disagreements can be real, substantive, and painful. Yet we believe that dialogue concerning our ecumenical differences in the context of our common confession and Scriptures can be an occasion for God to lead the whole church more deeply toward living into our radical confession of Christ’s lordship.”

Anything else? R-81 was adopted: “To instruct the Commission on Theology to draft a paper on human sexuality from a Reformed perspective to be presented to General Synod 2015.”

Are you missing anything? The case involving the ordination and installation of Ursilla Cargill, a practicing lesbian, was remanded to the Regional Synod of the Mid-Atlantics where they will reconsider the case of the appellants (R-59).

What’s at stake? A lot. On every front, conservatives lost ground on the issue of homosexuality. Instead of trying to strengthen our resolve, the RCA backpedaled. Instead of making up our minds after thirty years of dialogue, the denomination has called for more conversations and another study committee. There is little doubt how this will end up. Progressives do not stop calling for dialoge until their side is accepted, and eventually mandated (see below). In the meantime, the Regional Synod of Mid-Atlantics will surely uphold the ordination of Ms. Cargill (they already sided with the classis once). The formal position of the RCA on homosexuality is being weakened and the informal position, we will soon discover, is that classes can ordain whom they wish without fear of disciplinary action.

WOMEN’S ORDINATION

What happened? The “conscience clauses” relative to women’s ordination were removed from the Book of Church Order.

What’s the background? The clauses were added in 1980 to maintain peace and unity in the denomination given the diversity of opinion on women’s ordination. Over the past three decades, as the RCA has become overwhelmingly egalitarian, the clauses mainly protected the consciences of complementarians who did not agree with women in office. In 2012, General Synod voted to remove the clauses, a move later approved by a required two-thirds of the classes (31 out of 45). This year’s Synod ratified the decision and officially removed the conscience clauses.

What’s at stake? It’s hard to know for sure. Presently there are no quotas forcing churches to ordain women, but clearly removing the clauses spells trouble for complementarians. 1) Some conservative students are already blackballed for their views on women’s ordination. Removing constitutional protections makes their ordination process even more difficult. 2) Our ministerial vows make clear that we will conduct our work according to the Book of Church Order. Now that the BCO affirms women’s ordination (which it has for years) without an explicit allowance for those who disagree (what just changed), it remains to be seen where complementarians can make their vows in good faith. 3) Ministers who refuse to participate in the ordination of women open themselves up to the possibility of discipline.

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49 thoughts on “What Happened at the RCA General Synod?”

  1. Jason says:

    Kevin, as a former RCA boy, these stories are disheartening. As a child growing up in a small town with only reformed churches of various stripes, I recall really struggling with the CRC and OPC church, but I would probably fit better there now. I do wonder how the conservative branches will deal with these issues. I even the issue of mandated women’s ordination could be a deal breaker, but the strong push on homosexuality is equally concerning. Denominationally, it seems that the RCA is moving away from its biblical moorings to their own peril.

  2. faithworks says:

    False teachings are running rampant, especially in egalitarian denominations. The egalitarian way of thinking leads to a whole worldview that does not square with Scripture.

  3. I just need to ask ~ How long will all those who are against the tide that the RCA is going, going to stay? What will it take to make you take that really hard stand and leave the denomination, with or without your buildings? I really, really, really, want to know.

    I read on RCA integrity how you all fret over what to do. LEAVE! Call it what it is and LEAVE!

    Our church, Lighthouse Community Church of Allendale MI, was raked over the coals and left alone (which of course in the past has happened when one stands for the truth) by fellow brothers and sisters in Christ because of the “way” they thought we went about leaving. We stood firmly on the word of God, and demanded the the RCA stand too. When they didn’t, we made the decision, with Gods’ blessing to walk away from our building. Was it worth it??!!! MOST ABSOLUTELY, MOST ASSUREDLY, AND WITH NO REGRET, BUT ONLY THANKSGIVING TO GOD FOR BEING FREE FROM THE TYRONY OF AN ORGANIZED RELIGION THAT HAS TOTALLY LOST IT’S WAY!

    I really would like to hear back from you Kevin, because I respect how you teach the word, but do not understand how or why you stay.

  4. Jim says:

    I have the same question as Kim Vander Helm… The issues addressed here regarding homosexuality and egalitarianism go to the heart of how one interprets Scripture… I;m interested in hearing Kevin’s thoughts.

  5. Sean Mullarkey says:

    Meh. Leave now all of ye and join EPC,ECO,PCA,OPC or some other similar denom. Why fight for so long for what looks like a losing battle. Are we not told to be wise and consider the odds?

  6. To Sean ~ why join another denomination?

  7. anonymous says:

    @Sean Mullarkey

    Which of these (e.g., EPC, ECO, PCA, OPC, etc) is not egalitarian at its very core? They’re all going the way of the Dodo…

  8. Alex J. says:

    To Kim- Joining a denomination provides for accountability beyond the local congregation. HERE is a good list of reasons why to join another denomination.

    It would be favorable and wise to try to retain our meeting places. Our church just recently held a drive to raise money to purchase the a new building we are now in. I understand the rush to hold truth but there is also a desire to see the denomination as a whole return to truth as well.

  9. Tuad says:

    A. Mourn
    B. Mourn and shake the dust off.

    Choose B.

  10. @Alex ~ As much as I understand the need for accountability and am all for it ~ I do not think being part of a denomination brings that accountability (i.e.. the RCA). Our old classis told us we should stay to hold them accountable. So the one that we were looking to for accountability was actually asking us to do their job. When we tried to hold them accountable, we were not doing it according to the BCO so therefore it was the wrong way (how be it we did do it biblically).

    A denomination is not who we are to look to for that accountability, but the Word of God. Look at the denominations mentioned above and others. Are they staying true? What if you leave for another only to have the same fight? Scripture tells us that there are those who will fall away. The RCA is buying into the lies and downright blasphemy that is being sold. I just recently read in 1 Kings 22 about the account of Ahab and his prophets. A spirit was sent to entice Ahab to believe the lying statements of his prophets to his own doom. This I believe is happening also to the RCA as well as other man made institutions who fall away from the truth of God’s word.

  11. Kevin DeYoung says:

    Our place in the RCA is not a decision for me to make on my own. It is a question our elders have been considering carefully for two years and will continue to look at very deliberately and seriously.

  12. Wesley says:

    As for why he’s staying, i wonder if KD isn’t hoping – along with some other faithful brothers – to affect some change from within by God’s grace and be a voice of consistency and truth in the midst of all this confusion? Right now he still has that voice. If he leaves, he will most certainly lose it. Ergo, leaving the denomination is not something that can be easily and tritely done in the heat of passion when one sees things going wrong. When the jet is going down, you do all you can to try and correct the course before ejecting only when you absolutely cannot do anymore to save it.
    God’s peace KD – trust the SPirit give you and your church wisdom in these matters.
    W.

  13. Luma Simms says:

    Kevin, I’m very sorry to hear this. I will pray for wisdom for you and your elders.

    In Christ,
    Luma

  14. Kirby Johnson says:

    Al Mohler rode the wave of the Conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention, and turned around a flagship school to it’s biblically faithful moorings. It can be done. It’s a long, hard road. A long, hard road. Decades! Take the LONG view.

  15. hamon says:

    “Progressives do not stop calling for dialogue until their side is accepted, and eventually mandated”

    That is so, so, so, so true in pretty much every interaction I can think of where traditions or even truth itself is being challenged. Its always only a matter of time.

  16. JAS says:

    I think I agree with Kirby Johnson. I’d love to see the RCA pull the same turn around as the SBC and Southern Seminary. It’s starting to look hopeful in some hidden corners of the United Methodist church as well. The foundation of Progressivism is vast but weak.

  17. Ron N. says:

    Would you consider leading your church out of the RCA? Do you have any thoughts on the PCA or CREC? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confederation_of_Reformed_Evangelical_Churches

  18. Kim Vander Helm says:

    Believe me Kevin I do understand the hard decision it is to make and of course much prayer and searching scripture should take place. I most assuredly do not minimize that. But at some point the decision has to be made, either fish or cut bait (as it were). Otherwise you’re just in dialogue like the RCA continuously seems to be in.

    Thanks for answering my question.

  19. Ron N. says:

    A friend of mine took the same approach that Kevin is doing when he wanted his church to leave the American Baptist. He just faithfully reported all the goings on from the denominational headquarters until the leaders and the members started asking the question, “Why are we still American Baptists?” It may take longer to make the move, but decisions like this need to come from the body, not the head.

  20. Kim Vander Helm says:

    Agreed Ron

  21. meredith nienhuis says:

    Thanks Kevin – a sad, but true and thorough report of what seems an irreversible decline of the RCA into a church that Jesus will not build. To quote a phrase, “we are all tangled up in our underwear” regarding sexuality and morality/immorality. Tellingly, confession and repentance are seldom mentioned among proud and “progressive” peoples who are evidently in control of the RCA, CRC, ELCA, UCC, ECUSA, and PCUSA.

    I went to a baseball game with my grandson some days ago and we watched his Angels beat my Tigers. To use a restroom we looked for signage that said men, because almost all large venues have designated restrooms according to gender – man or woman.

    And are not boys members of the Boy Scouts, and are not girls members of the Girl Scouts? Again, according to gender.

    And what is Marriage? Has it not been of gender for thousands of years? One man and one woman becoming “one flesh”? How is it possible that supposedly “smart” and “godly” men and women would seek to redefine marriage according to one’s perceived sexuality!?

    We trust a Sovereign God yet sits on the throne! Right!?

  22. MDM says:

    Why stay? I know I’m in a very different position than Kevin, but I serve in a PCUSA church (albeit a conservative one) and you stay because these people need the Gospel too! I get to disciple kids who for years were fed a Gospel of volunteerism, morality and tradition. The longer I serve here, the more conservative evangelicals I run into in these denominational churches. The consensus is, we can’t save the denomination, but we can give their kids the Gospel.

  23. meredith nienhuis says:

    This past week a professor at MBI asked if I was leaving the church (RCA) and I answered that the Lord had not yet opened the door to do so. Then further clarified that we may leave our longtime church home, But remain in the RCA as long as the author of the book we gave him remains in the RCA. The book? “The Good News We Almost Forgot”

    And I gave the same good book to a retired missionary who was supported by a church in Highland Park, MI, – formerly American Baptist but now independent and down the road in Birmingham, MI, where it is a thriving multi-cultural Bible believing church.

    Perhaps there needs to be more autonomy for individual churches to know if they are “worth their salt” – are they Salt and Light In a dark world, Or are they Of the world?

  24. Reid says:

    In the RCA, if a church leaves the denomination, is the property retained by the RCA… or the church?

  25. Richard says:

    Once again, it seems I’m the odd one out throwing a few drops of an alternative perspective into an ocean of consensus…

    The thing is, I greet all the changes that are happening in the RCA with a lot of hope for the RCA’s future. What puzzles me is how we can be so self-assured at times that OUR way of seeing things and OUR way of interpreting the Bible must always be the RIGHT way and the ONLY way. Despite the fact that we might pray and ask God to give the leaders of a denomination like the RCA wisdom so that they could follow the Spirit in mission, when things don’t go OUR way we suddenly conclude that our prayers have not been answered and that everything is going to hell in a hand-basket. Why do we do this? Perhaps God is still leading – albeit in a way that may offend, surprise, blind-side or even barbecue some of our sacred cows? This certainly wouldn’t be the first time God has behaved in such a way… Do any of you ever stop to consider this possibility?

    I know when I point my finger at another, there is always 4 other fingers pointing back at me. So be it. Often the tone that comes through on many of the comments here reminds me a bit of the prideful posture the Pharisees had and how self-assured they were about their interpretations of their sacred texts. Jesus shocked and offended them more than once with a new way of seeing the world around them. Remember, just because you may be offended by the direction the RCA is currently heading does not necessarily mean that God is not in it. Perhaps God is leading the charge and inviting you to join in, but you are so offended that God would be so “reckless” with his grace and mercy that you decide to skip the party to stay home and pout.

    At least think about it…

  26. Kim Vander Helm says:

    @ Reid ~ This is only our experience, someone elses could be different, but we lost the building. We could have fought in court, but scripture tells us not to do that, and also how would that for Christ? We wanted to honor him in all things, so we gave it up. Was it hard ~ Yes, at first. There was much that needed to be worked through and cried over, but we have been out of the building for over a year now and wouldn’t go back if you paid us! God has been just doing amazing things and we are thankful to him!

    @Meredith ~ I believe that churches can survive biblically without a denomination. God did not see the need for denominations, why should we hold so tightly to them? What one needs is the accountability of “the Church”. Any church, any brother or sister in Christ has the God given responsibility to hold each other accountable. It does not come from a man made institution but from scripture alone. If a church does not stay steeped in the word, and starts to fall away, I would hope someone from the Church would reach out and say STOP and TURN.

  27. Phil says:

    On the whole building thing, one time I asked our Senior Pastor if he would ever leave the denomination and he said he’s thought about it. I asked about the building and he said something to the tune of “take out a nice healthy mortgage a year before you leave… then offer them a small cash settlement for it as you walk out the door, no one likes a debt ridden building.. everyone likes cash” I found that pretty entertaining.

  28. Zack Skrip says:

    Richard –

    Excellent question. May I pose a response?

    As way of transparency, I am an SBC Baptist, so I don’t really get to speak about the RCA per se, but I can make a few comments on the gist of your thought.

    Would you consider it a fair statement that just because there are varying interpretations that doesn’t preclude one being right? Of course, the undercurrent for questions such as yours (not that you are necessarily dealing with this yourself) is an attack the the hubris of an interpretation that they would claim to be true. True for you. True for me. True for all. This world chafes at that sort of thing, but if the God of the Bible is TRUE (and he is), and he, in his good pleasure saw fit to describe himself and his world to us in a way that we can understand (and he DID), then isn’t this the sort of confidence in interpretation we should be seeking?

    I guess, I would follow up your question with this: True, there are different interpretations. I’ll provide you the historical evidence (unequivocal) historical interpretations of the church on homosexuality, along with current exegetical, systematic, and biblical theological evidence. You do the same. Let’s see who’s interpretation makes the best sense of the passages, the books, and the bible as a whole.

    Basically, what I outlined above sounds like work. Lots of work. Finally, it also calls for honesty and a willingness to have sin called out in our own lives.

    Our goal should not be to walk around in the cloud of “Gee, I don’t know, some people say “A” and some say “B,” let’s just love each other.” If God really wanted to talk to us through his word, then we need to search out his word and come to a conclusion. This conclusion must be more than a popularity contest. Those looking to change the church’s historical stance need to provide overwhelming evidence for it. Evidence I don’t believe they have.

  29. Paul Janssen says:

    @ Phil. I hope you/your pastor were joking. Deceit like that is unbecoming the people of God. For those who wish to know — in the RCA, the congregation owns all of its properties. BCO:
    “The consistory shall have the care and supervision of the church’s
    property and financial interests. They are the trustees of the church’s property,unless the act of incorporation of the church, or the statutes of the state in which the church is incorporated, make other provision. The consistory shall not sell, transfer, lease, mortgage or otherwise alienate or encumber any real property of the church on which there stands a building designed for worship or religious instruction, or as a residence for the minister, unless the approval of the classis with jurisdiction over the church has been secured. Further, the consistory shall
    not incur a total indebtedness which exceeds two-thirds of the prior year’s expenditures for congregational purposes, as reported to the General Synod, without the approval of classis.” So, as I like to put it, you have the fundamental responsibilities of ownership but not the fundamental right of ownership — which is the right to dispose.
    FURTHER, BCO:
    The classis shall have the authority to transfer a local church to
    another denomination, together with all or part of its real and personal property, at such time as it has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the classis that:
    a. such church can no longer function effectively in its present relationship;
    b. the effectiveness of such congregation as a local church could be enhanced if it were to affiliate with another denomination;
    c. the denomination with which it desires to affiliate furnishes written evidence that the church in question would be able to exercise a more effective ministry under its jurisdiction, and that if such church were to be transferred to its jurisdiction, it would be received without reservation as a church having all the rights and privileges of any of its churches.
    FURTHER, BCO:
    If the classis shall then determine that it is in the best interest of Christ’s Kingdom that the church be allowed to withdraw from the denomination, and to retain all or part of its real and personal property free from any claim on the part of the denomination or any assembly, board or agency thereof, it shall then so declare and proceed promptly to assist the consistory of the church in (1) dissolution of the relationship of the church
    to the denomination, and (2) transfer of its property to a church of another denomination.

    That’s not the whole thing — but you can look it all up at rca.org>how we’re organized>General Synod>Book of Church Order.

    Just thought I’d offer that up so that people could get a sense of what the order actually says, rather than speculate and draw conclusions based on what they think it might say.

  30. Paul Janssen says:

    Bottom line: It is just not accurate to say things like “in the RCA, the Classis owns everything, and if we leave, then we have to leave the buildings behind.” It is accurate to say “it will be the Classis’ decision to decide what we keep and what we have to leave behind.” Different Classes will, and have, made different decisions.

  31. Kim Vander Helm says:

    Again our church chose not to join another denomination. Therefore since we were not transfer per the BCO we gave up our building.

  32. Paul Janssen says:

    Kim, I commend you, then (not pretending that you need my commendation!), for not trying to make a legal case when the church made its decisions, fully aware of the consequences, and accepted the consequences.

  33. Reid says:

    Thanks Paul for your response!

  34. Thanks Paul! There has not been a lot of encouragement from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as we’ve stepped out in faith, but God has truly shown us it was the right move in so many ways. All to God’s glory and renown!!

  35. JohnM says:

    Ref the comparisons between the RCA and the SBC: I’ve never been RCA and am no longer SBC, but it sounds as if the RCA is much farther down the wrong end of that long hard road now than the SBC was in 1979 when their conservative resurgence started.

    It’s not that I’m unsympathetic or want to be discouraging. I just wonder based on what I’m reading here if the possibility for any turn around in the RCA is possible at this point. Since I stand outside the denomination what happens is perhaps none of my business. Yet as a fellow believer I can’t help but at least be an interested observer.

  36. Richard says:

    Hi Zack,

    I noticed that although I said I greeted ALL the changes that Kevin highlighted here regarding what is happening in the RCA that you singled out the issue of homosexuality alone. I’m curious why you narrowed in on that one issue? (Not that I’m terribly surprised – to be singularly focused on this issue to the exclusion of all others seems to be the trend these days in the church). Perhaps we should discuss whether or not the Belhar should receive the attention it is getting currently based on our respective interpretations of scripture instead…

    I also feel that perhaps your suggested approach to pursuing answers to the questions surrounding homosexuality only proves the point I was trying to make in my earlier post. In the Gospel of John, chapter 5, Jesus heals a man who had been a cripple for 38 years. The Pharisees, instead of celebrating, got angry because the man who was healed started carrying his mat around on the Sabbath and because Jesus healed him on the Sabbath. Jesus tells the Pharisees: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

    I worry that this rebuke all too easily applies to us today.

    I’ve spent a good portion of my life studying the Bible. I learned Greek and Hebrew so that I could better understand it’s message. I purchased countless books and commentaries over the years, etc., etc. I’m certainly not afraid to search diligently for answers – and I have done so for many years. My fear, however, is that too often our way of searching for answers is misguided from the start – just as the Pharisees were. Just because we can exegete scripture better than the next person does not mean we have a better understanding of the mind or heart of God.

    I’m sure the Pharisees could have out-argued anybody around that the scriptures supported THEIR view of the sabbath and that Jesus was wrong to heal on that day. But sadly, they missed the point entirely despite their ability in interpreting scripture.

    I do believe we must seek truth beyond simply saying, “True for you, but not for me.” I wouldn’t be sharing my thoughts here if I didn’t believe that… I’d love to convince you and many others that there is a better way forward. But I won’t hold my breath!

  37. Simon says:

    Regarding leaving the denomination. It is never a simple decision to make given current circumstances.
    Regarding buildings, in the event of leaving the denomination, there are thousands of halls across the nation that can be rented. Far better to be poor and holy than well housed and rebellious.

  38. Kim Vander Helm says:

    @Richard ~ To me it is very simple, has God changed? Has what he called sin and an abomination at one point all of a sudden become O.K.? That is what is happening here. That is why sadly the sin of homosexuality is always brought up, because in today’s “it’s O.K.” cultural people are being told that they are O.K. in their sin. Is that O.K. with God? We all struggle with sin, every one of us. The sin of homosexuality is no different then my sin, but we are being told it is. There is why it is spoken of more often. My particular sin that I struggle daily with would still be considered sin, and not the way I was made. There is actually an elder in our old classis that stood up and said “if the writers of scripture knew about the x/y chromosome, they would not have said what they said in scripture”. So God is not sovereign? God did not know?

    I do not claim to be a bible scholar, but as I read His word I am amazed at how he is so completely sovereign! I see his hand in all of history. Even now I know that he is part of all of this, and knows who will fall away. He knows who the false teachers are and he shows us in his word how to distinguish between the two.

    My heart grieves for those caught in this particular sin, as my heart grieves for others and myself who struggle daily with unrighteous desires. But I love people enough to say “that is not God’s way. Let us everyday give our desires up to him, and bring him glory!”

  39. Kevin, we’d love to have URC and you in the EFCA. You could still baptize babies even. Thanks for your messages at our EFCA National Conference. I praised and thanked God those messages were heard by our National Conference attendees.

  40. Ron N. says:

    I suppose Pastor Kevin can speak for himself, but from everything I’ve read from his blog and his books, he is way too Reformed for the EFCA. His high view of the Confessionals and the rich heritage of the Reformers along with his strong convictions on the presbyterian form of church government seems like he and his church will need much more than tacit approval of paedo baptism.

    Forgive me Pastor Kevin if I put words in your mouth.

  41. Non Denominational says:

    Which book should you be following, denomination or not, the (Word of God) BIBLE or the (man-written) BCO?

    Also, I always found it hilariously ironic that denomination is so easily misspelled as DEMONination.

  42. Mark V says:

    Regarding the section on the Belhar Confession, I am worried that the Belhar will replace the Heidelberg Catechism as the “super confession” of the RCA. My concern is rooted in the fact that the Belhar does not communicate the Gospel as clearly as the HC. The RCA is taking rapid steps towards being a social gospel church instead of a Jesus’ Gospel church.

    On a lighter note, I would find it hilarious if next year’s Synod called for ways the Canons of Dort are being implemented at each church.

  43. REV RALPH ACERNO says:

    THE RCA IS ONE OF MOST DEAD DENOMINATIONS GOING. IF THEY WERE HALF AS GOOD MAKING CHANGES IN PEOPLE’S LIVES AS THEY ARE IN MAKING CHANGES IN THEIR BCO THEY WOULD BE GROWING INSTEAD OF DYING.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

Kevin DeYoung's Books