Form of Subscription

I’m taking a course right now, from Calvin Seminary, on church polity. Tonight, I wrote a short paper on the Form of Subscription, the document that all office bearers in the Christian Reformed Church  sign to signify their agreement with the creeds and confessions of the church.  The writing brought back memories.

When I signed the Form of Subscription at the beginning of my first term in council, I really didn’ t know what I was signing. I’d been elected as an elder and was presented with this document, that needed to be signed, signifying my agreement with all of the articles and doctrines found in three confessions that I recognized, but had only studied marginally. I was supposed to teach about them faithfully and be ready to let my council know if at some point I disagreed. I was also supposed to make myself available for discipline if my position was found to be wanting. This ceremony took place at the first council meeting I attended accompanied by the words “you’ve got to sign this”

I looked at the document pasted in the back of an old council minute book, surrounded by the signatures of those who had been in the same position before me. I knew all the names, but one stood out, my father. I knew that he was a smart and critical man who would not have signed something he did not believe in. At the time, I knew that whatever it was that he believed about the doctrine of the church, I believed too, so I signed.

I’ve learned, since then, what it is that I do believe, and I would still sign it today.

But, I don’t sign things anymore based on whether or not my father agrees. (and should not have then either) because, about a lot of things, we no longer agree (and maybe never really did).

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