Wednesday, June 21, 2006

CRC Synod 2006

If any of my readers are not already aware of some important discussions going on within the CRC circles about Children at the Lords Table and Women in the Church they may want to click my links and read about it from bloggers who have more gravitas on the respective topics than I.

I, like Mary and others, am frustrated with the Christian Reformed Church’s molasses-slow movement on women in leadership.  Part of me believes since I saw that restricting women was dumb when I was about 10, these educated older men should have figured it out by now.  They made some positive steps recently, but it appears I’ll be 30 by the time they even TALK about it again, since they put a seven-year gag order on the issue.  That’s a long time to wait.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the unique nature of my background, and growing up Christian Reformed is definitely part of that.  It is in situations like this, though, that I’m not sure how to relate to my background.  There are many things about dutch-american communities and CRC that is charming and beautiful and things that I’m thankful I inherited.  Since the dutch aren’t repressed, people don’t think of us as ethnic, but we share characteristics with other etho-religious communities.  And I love those things.  But when issues like this come up, or when a Christian reformed church seems so far from the things I really value about the reformed tradition, I am not sure how to relate that to my experience and my understanding.  How does one love a tradition and also see that it has problems?


suz said...

great question about loving something while seeing its problems. It's sort of a spiritual/theological self differentiation. It's part of growing up and out of a community, and into a new place. one obviously cannot choose one's origins. however, one does have freedom/agency in their interaction with the community.

As one who is called to ministry and now discerning a secondary call to the CRC I'm wrestling with this very question. Can I serve God and minister to God's people in the system? Or, are these particular injustices a hindrance to this calling? Will the problems just make me bitter, or devour the call? I've seen both happen to men and women.

What is the role of the individual in a corporate body such as the CRC? Should there be an individual role?

I would love to dialogue more about this question you pose Bethany. But, my thoughts are a bit jumbled at this early hour.

Bob K said...

The role of the individual is a tough one. I didn't think one person could make a difference but I started agitating for the Lord's Supper thing by speaking about it and by doing the grunt work of writing an overture (with a few others). We had 15 years of steady work at our local church getting them behind the idea. So the work ended up influencing many more people. It is slow work and doesn't always pay off but when it does it's pretty sweet.

Anonymous said...

"How does one love a tradition and also see that it has problems?"

Bethany, you're on to something of critical importance. I think we CRC'rs often tend to place more importance on our beloved traditions (and the influence of our culture) than we do on God's Word. And so when we start rearranging our priorities, the traditions can grow or change or even be replaced by new ones. The mashed potatoes and gravy I enjoyed as a child can survive, be made with a lower fat content, or maybe even be replaced by steamed rice. Maybe it was never really about the mashed potatoes and gravy, but about sharing a meal with my family.

Huisj said...

I recently went on a trip with a few old high school friends of mine who grew up in an RCA church here, and somehow we started discussing women in the church and whether women should be pastors. It was both interesting and startling to hear their perspectives on it. Their church had recently sent some representatives to their Synod meeting to stand up firmly against a movement in the RCA to allow women to be ordained, and they were very proud of their church for actually having young people step up to be these representatives rather than sending older "traditionalists" that usually would go to stand up for such an issue. They liked it that the younger people stepped up for this because they showed that it wasn't just tradition that said women shouldn't preach, but rather sound biblical knowledge that said this.

I really didn't know what to say to this. I disagreed with them on a a lot of different things, but for whatever reason I just bit my toungue and tried my best to avoid turning it into a big confrentation for fear that it would have make the rest of the car ride rather uncomfortable for everyone.

Not sure what the point of this rant was other than to just offer another perspective that I've seen on this sort of issue lately, a perspective I didn't agree with. Their argument basically went like this: Women just shouldn't preach, because it says so in the Bible, so it's as simple as that, but people are so worried about equal rights that they ignore what the Bible firmly says.

I think I tried changing the topic to basball a few minutes later just to give the car ride up north a little bit happier feel.

bethany said...

Susan, I think you're hitting this problem much more head-on than I am. It's all fine and good for me to whine, I don't even go to a CRC church right now, and who knows when I will again. And maybe I won't because I don't want to mess around with a church that doesn't respect my potential as a leader as much as my brothers'. But then clearly some of us are called to press for these changes, and aren't others called to support people like you, and my friend Sarah, and others? I will always have a bit of CRC in my heart, but I don't know...

angela said...

I think that one of the biggest problems with women in office topic is that many people fail to read the bible in the cultural context that it was written in. Christ never once said that women were less equal than was Paul I believe who did that. if we look closely at the ministry of Christ it is very obvious that he did not hold the same value of women as those in his culture. ie. When he arose from the dead he first revealed himself to women, who in those days were not even allowed to be considered witnesses.
The issue of women in office is something that has been on the table at synod for years, starting all the way back in 1967 or something like that. They have spent probably too much money and time discussing this topic but in the end they came to the decision that women in office was acceptable. Why then do our churches or rather the males on our church councils think that they can decide against such a thing?
I think one of the biggest issues, at least in my own church is comfort. Most men are uncomfortable with idea of women being in office and because it is something that has not traditionally been done. But I think that times are a changing and we to must. To be reformed is to constantly be listening to the voice of God and changing. So let's be reformed.

Anonymous said...

In reponse to what Angela said regarding change...

I'm no fancy speaker or super intellectual when it comes to the Bible, but I believe the Bible is very black and white on so many of those hot topic items...

Here is an excerpt from an article I recently read as I have been looking more and more into this issue as of late as well.

I believe that God has designed different roles for men and women, and I myself have no issue with men being the authoritative leaders of Church and Home.

Reformed Reflections article.

When we turn time-boundness into an accepted norm for the interpretation of Scripture, we put God's Word at the mercy of human culture. We then manipulate His message. Biblical standards are either permanently true or permanently false. Who decides what is time-bound? On what basis? From which cultural perspective? Historic Christianity always honored the Bible as normative for all time and for every culture. The Bible is the written message which comes from God. It is not merely a written record of the spoken words of God, but it is inspired by the Holy Spirit of God. It is God's normative Word. Although Reformed Christians have been fully aware that Scripture uses language and literary forms current in ancient times, they have always denied that God's revelation is essentially conditioned by transitory cultural trends. They denied that the Bible teaches views of God, the cosmos, and human life that are simply borrowed from surrounding cultures. Every culture is answerable to the Lord of history. Every human being is addressed by the Bible, irrespective of one's culture. And every human being has the responsibility to respond. Our task is not to make the Bible relevant for today or mold and shape it to suit one's agenda or feelings, but to find its relevance and to show its relevance for church and world. The Holy Spirit used the language and vocabulary of the social environment in which, the human authors of the Scriptures lived and worked. If Paul's teaching is considered time-bound and even contradictory to the Spirit of Christ, the Scriptures are no longer accepted as fully inspired. I agree with Dr. Carl F. Henry's observation:

"It will not do to exhibit certain doctrines as the special strength of biblical religion if we simultaneously dismiss other teachings on the basis of pervasive cultural dependence. Without universal truths no authentic Christian theology can be affirmed in any culture (Vol.5, 1982:404).