The Synod of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA) met over the past week. Normally, I would have paid little attention to the meeting itself and would have been content to read the summaries of the discussions and decisions in the denominational publication, The Banner. This year is different since my pastor, my mentor, and one of my uncles are delegates. This is also the first year that I have been on a track toward candidacy in this denomination.
Technology can be a wonderful thing. I don’t know if this is the first time or not, but, the discussions of synod were available as a live video feed on the internet. These videos were archived as well so that if you are busy or your bandwidth does not allow streaming, you can watch it later. Of the twenty or so hours that have been posted so far we have watched six or seven.
Maybe we watched the wrong hours, but, I have to say, I am disappointed. The debate that we saw was mostly very civil, there was no shouting or name calling. The piece that troubles me is the feeling that there is a strong movement in the church towards conservatism with a very literalist interpretation of scripture. It was this movement that prevented the church from forming a committee to revisit the issue of homosexuality (they won’t even talk about revising the 1973 statement let alone consider a new position), that fought to prevent the re translation of our three confessions (partially because the documents become somewhat more gender neutral), that is working hard to bolster the language of our Form of Subscription particularly in light of the work of a couple of Calvin College profs on the origins of humanity (we should only study to find answers that agree with what we already think we believe).
I don’t know if a bunker mentality is really the way that we should be going. Bunkers tend to protect those inside, but are very unwelcoming and even harmful to those outside.
It gives me some pause. Is the church that I saw this week really my church? It was hard to recognize it. It was certainly not a reflection of what I have witnessed and been part of closer to home.