An Abstract Question? On the Authority of a General Synod

Allan Janssen The action by the Reformed Church in America’s General Synod last spring that restated the synod’s “official position that homosexual behavior is a sin” and declared that advocacy of homosexual behavior is a “disciplinable offense” raised anew the issue of the authority and reach of General Synod statements. It is a question that has been raised before. In …

Dynamic Confession

The acceptance of the Belhar Confession by the Reformed Church in America, and its consideration by the Christian Reformed Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), challenges the church to consider anew the nature of confession itself. More specifically, it raises the issue of the church’s relation to the content of the confession. This is the case not only for Belhar, …

One Living Body

With the new year, we begin a new series, “Not My Own: Reflections on the Heidelberg.” We have asked various authors to share a time or memory when the beloved Heidelberg Catechism became more significant and personally poignant, an experience that was illumined as the words of the Catechism shone upon it. In the months ahead, we hope to hear …

The Future is Now

I love the Reformed church as a member, a pastor, and a theologian. I pray that it may have a future. My deeper concern, however, is for the future of the church, and that in a Reformed expression. Is there a future for the church gathered around confessions, church order, and liturgy as shaped by the Reformed Church in America’s …

Joyful Theology

A few weeks ago the third volume of the Collected Works of A.A. van Ruler arrived in my mailbox. It was an important moment for this pastor/theologian. My excitement, though, hardly compares with how a leading Dutch theologian greeted the appearance of the first volume in that country. He called it an “event of national importance.” While van Ruler is …

Minister as Story-Teller

This past summer I told stories from the pulpit. To be more accurate, I moved away from the pulpit to make it clear that I was telling, not exactly stories, but what we call the “great story.” It was an attempt to put together Scripture’s tale into a coherent narrative. So over eight weeks I sat on a high stool …

Oh, For a Thousand Tongues

The general synod was at evening prayer. The prayers and the scripture were in English. The question of language arose when it came time to sing. Every hymn came in four languages, one language per verse. Xhosa, Venda, Zulu, Afrikaans, English, and a few others I didn’t recognize. Once the music began, however, the language didn’t matter. The music carried …