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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A Tough Week

Its been a tough week. It seems like I spent a lot of it in my office, tied to my desk and my computer. The list of papers to write and presentations to do has gone down. There are still some left for next week (6000 words with 2000 of those written as a first draft). It feels a little more manageable. My Hebrew prof even gave me an extension so that these last efforts can be a little more spread out (Who says there is no grace in the Hebrew Bible?). I’m getting tired though, and that leaves me wondering if I just should have stayed where I was, selling feed.

The week has been tough on other fronts as well. The mother of a good friend passed away this week. He’s on his way to Holland, right now to attend her funeral. I’m glad he can go. One of my professors suffered a heart attack earlier this week. She’ll be fine but, again, we come face to face with the fragility of life.

With these things in mind, since it was my turn to lead devotions in the worship class (co-lead by the a fore mentioned prof) I reached back and picked up the Heidelberg Catechism and brought the words of Lords Day One to my largely Lutheran class. Coupled with a reading from James Schaap’s Every Bit of Who I Am it helped me, and I hope my class mates as well, not to understand, but to take comfort.

Q. What is your only comfort
in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own,
but belong—
body and soul,
in life and in death—
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven:
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.

Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.