The following statements are from the Christian Reformed Church of North America and are the decisions of Synod
Abortion, Abuse, Alcohol, Baptism, Bible: Authority, Bible: Inspiration and Infallibility, Birth Control, Capital Punishment, Christian Education, Church and State, Common Grace, Creation and Science, Creation Care, Dance, Disabilities, Diversity, Divorce and Remarriage, Ecumenicity, Eschatology, Euthanasia, Film Arts, Gambling, Homosexuality, Justice, Labor Unions, Language for God, Life Issues, Lodge and Church Membership, Lord's Day, Lord's Supper, Marriage, Pentecostalism, Pornography, Race Relations, Religious Persecution and Liberty, War, Women in Ecclesiastical Office, Worldly Amusements, Worship
Because the CRC believes that all human beings are imagebearers of God, it affirms the unique value of all human life. Mindful of the sixth commandment—"You shall not murder" (Ex. 20:13)—the church condemns the wanton or arbitrary destruction of any human being at any stage of its development from the point of conception to the point of death. The church affirms that an induced abortion is an allowable option only when the life of the mother-to-be is genuinely threatened by the continuation of the pregnancy.
The church calls believers to show Christian compassion and to offer support to those experiencing unwanted pregnancies as well as to those who have undergone abortions. Further, it calls believers to speak out against the atrocity of abortion, to promote action and legislation that reflect the teaching of Scripture regarding the sanctity of human life, and to reject all violence against those who perpetrate abortion.
See also Life Issues.
Abuse is a sin against the biblical directives that govern human actions and relationships. It is striking evidence of the misery that pervades human life as the result of sin. The failure of men and women and of adults and children to relate to each other in a biblically healthy, affirming manner is the root cause of abuse.
Church councils should publicly acknowledge that the sin of abuse exists even in churches and should take positive steps to make their congregations safe for all persons. They should support efforts to address abuse promptly so that the abused and the abusers may experience the healing power of God's grace, should become aware of the laws and procedures applicable in their areas, and should create continuing-education opportunities for church leaders to become informed and sensitive about abuse issues. They should also adopt procedures to deal immediately and decisively with situations in which a person in a position of authority or influence in the church is alleged to have committed abuse. Synod has encouraged all classes of the CRC to establish Abuse Response Teams (also known as Safe Church Teams).
Scripture teaches that beverages containing alcohol can be a blessing or a source of evil. Those who drink alcohol must consider its effects on themselves and on others. Abstinence from alcohol may be an appropriate moral response in particular situations, but it is not demanded by Scripture and therefore should not be demanded by the church.
According to Scripture, all Christians must avoid drunkenness. Though abstinence from alcohol is a morally creditable choice, those who, in their freedom in Christ, choose to use alcohol moderately are not to be condemned. The church should provide pastoral care and guidance for alcoholic church members and their families, including intervention and discipline when necessary. In light of what has been learned about the risks involved in the use of beverages containing alcohol, congregations were asked to examine the traditional practice of using wine in the sacrament of holy communion (Lord's Supper). Many churches choose to use grape juice out of deference to worshipers who may struggle with alcohol.
The sacrament of baptism reminds and assures us that “as surely as water washes away dirt from the body, so certainly [Christ’s] blood and his Spirit wash away . . . all [our] sins” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q. and A. 69). And because “infants as well as adults are in God’s covenant and are his people,” they, “no less than adults, are promised the forgiveness of sin” and thus “by baptism . . . should be received into the Christian church. . . . This was done in the Old Testament by circumcision, which was replaced in the New Testament by baptism” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q. and A. 74).
In the Christian Reformed Church, baptism is performed by an ordained minister of the Word or commissioned pastor. The usual method of baptism is by the sprinkling of water on the forehead of the person to be baptized, but other methods (such as immersion) may also be used. The CRC employs infant baptism (for children of believing parents) as well as adult baptism (for adults who join but have not previously been baptized in a Christian church); an adult who is baptized is also called upon to make a public profession of his or her faith in Christ.
Scripture, the saving revelation of God in Jesus Christ, addresses us with full divine authority in its total extent and in all its parts, and therefore the CRC speaks of the Bible as the inspired and infallible Word of God. The authority of Scripture is inseparable from the historical reality of the events recorded in it. Interpreted historical events are presented in Scripture not simply as isolated events but for their revelational meaning. Scripture is self-authenticating; it is not dependent on the findings of science, but these findings may lead to a better understanding of Scripture and must be developed within a Christian community faithful to the authority of Scripture.
Biblical studies must be done carefully, with emphasis on what Scripture itself says and without the use of interpretive methods that exclude or question the event character or revelational intent of biblical history and thereby compromise the full authority of the Word of God. Freedom of interpretation within the bounds of Scripture and of the creeds is to be respected. The authority of Scripture is to be believed and confessed as an article of faith and is to be consistently applied and practiced in the life and ministry of the church.
Bible Inspiration and Infallibility
Holy Scripture in its entirety is the written Word of God, inspired by God to be our rule of faith and practice. This inspiration is organic, extending to the ideas and the words of Scripture, and is so unique that Scripture alone is the Word of God. The human authors of Scripture were moved by the Holy Spirit so that their writing, reflecting their own personalities, language, and style, communicates infallibly God's self-revelation. Belief in the inspiration of Scripture, required by Scripture itself and by our Lord and his apostles, is indispensable to Christian faith. The infallibility of Scripture is inferred from inspiration, and the inspiration of Scripture secures its infallibility.
Synod 2003 declared that a married couple's decision whether or not to use birth control is a private, disputable matter. The church urges married couples to consider the size of their families prayerfully and encourages them to be motivated by a desire to glorify God and further his kingdom in their family planning.
See also Life Issues.
The CRC has declared that modern states are not obligated by Scripture, creed, or principle to institute and practice capital punishment. It does, however, recognize that Scripture acknowledges the right of modern states to institute and practice capital punishment if it is exercised with utmost restraint.
A study report adopted by Synod 1981 states that "capital punishment should . . . pertain . . . only to those exceptional instances . . . as are called forth by a substantial threat to the foundation and structure of a free and responsible democratic society, and thus to the safety and welfare of the people” and that the administration of justice should be surrounded "with such safeguards as will tend maximally to preserve and enhance life." The report concluded, "Given that human life is sacred, that the magistrate is fallible, that time for repentance is desirable, and that imprisonment will normally satisfy the demand for justice . . . it is not desirable that capital punishment be routinely inflicted upon persons guilty of murder in the first degree. Only under exceptional circumstances should the state resort to capital punishment" (Acts of Synod 1981, pp. 72-73, 489-91).
The CRC as a covenantal community is committed to Christian schools as the social agent that can make Christian education effective in the totality of life. The church instructs its youth in the fundamentals of the Christian faith by teaching from the creeds and confessions as part of its church education programs. Though the CRC does not own and operate Christian day schools, it affirms that Christian school education is a communal as well as a parental responsibility. Churches and groups of churches are therefore encouraged to provide congregational support so that the church’s children can be educated in a way that acknowledges the lordship of Jesus Christ in all subject areas. After adopting a report on Christian day school education in 2005, synod recommended that church members be involved in establishing and maintaining Christian schools that teach the biblical, Reformed vision of Christ’s lordship over all creation.
Church and State
The state is instituted by God and is endowed with power so that it may promote, within the limits of its authority, the maintenance of human life and its development in agreement with God's law. The state is called to protect the church with all the means given to it by God in order that freedom of conscience to serve God be guaranteed and anti-Christian powers which threaten the church be resisted and prevented.
The church recognizes and honors the state for its God-given power and service, faithfully proclaims the gospel to all in the state, and prays for all people, including those who are in authority, so that all may lead quiet and peaceable lives (1 Tim. 2:1-2). The state should not assume the right and power of the only King of the church, Jesus Christ, and should recognize that the church owes allegiance and responsibility to him alone.
In 1924 the CRC articulated its position regarding God's general favor to all creatures. This common favor is referred to as "common grace" to distinguish it from God's "special (saving) grace." The essence of the position is contained in the following points:
In addition to the saving grace of God, shown only to those who are elected to eternal life, there is also a certain favor, or grace, of God shown to his creatures in general.
Since the fall, human life in society remains possible because God, through his Spirit, restrains the power of sin.
God, without renewing the heart, so influences human beings that, though incapable of doing any saving good, they are able to do civil good.
Creation and Science
All of life, including scientific endeavor, must be lived in obedience to God and in subjection to his Word. Therefore we encourage Christian scholarship that integrates faith and learning. The church does not impose an authorized interpretation of specific passages in Scripture; nor does it canonize certain scientific hypotheses. Instead, it insists that all theological interpretations and all scientific theories be subject to Scripture and the confessions.
Humanity is created in the image of God; all theorizing that minimizes this fact and all theories of evolution that deny the creative activity of God are rejected.
"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it," says Psalm 24:1, and just as God placed human beings "in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it" (Gen. 2:15), so the Lord calls us, the crown of his creation (Ps. 8:5), to be stewards of his natural world. As a church we “affirm a commitment to work vigorously to protect and heal the creation for the glory of the Creator, as we wait for the restoration of the creation to wholeness” (Agenda for Synod 2010, p. 46). "We lament that our abuse of creation has brought lasting damage to the world we have been given: polluting streams and soil, poisoning the air, altering the climate, and damaging the earth. We commit ourselves to honor all God’s creatures and to protect them from abuse and extinction, for our world belongs to God" (Our World Belongs to God, para. 51). We uphold “biblical principles of responsible dominion, care, and stewardship of creation,” recognizing that our continually growing knowledge about God’s world should “guide us in our love of God and neighbors, including care for the creation”; “even when scientific uncertainties are taken into account,” we are compelled to address “human-induced climate change” as “an ethical, social justice, and religious issue”; we are therefore called to be “voices for justice and public examples in the effort to live sustainably within our God-given resources, to promote stewardship in our own communities and our nations,” and to “examine energy choices” in our daily life and work “from a perspective of stewardship, challenging ourselves to use less energy and to use it more wisely” while seeking “justice for the poor and vulnerable among us and for future generations” (Acts of Synod 2012, pp. 803-805).
The human capability and inclination to dance are rooted in creation, not in the fall. Dance is a valid expression of God’s image displayed through the artistic sensitivity and sociability of his creatures. Along with every other created human capability, however, dance suffers from our fallen and sinful condition. As a result, Christians are not to reject dance but to redeem it, realizing that some forms of dancing are more difficult to redeem than others.
The church pledges to be a caring community, recognizing the needs and gifts of people with physical, emotional, sensory, and intellectual disabilities. Through ministries such as the Office of Disability Concerns (crcna.org/disability), in collaboration with Friendship Ministries (Friendship.org) and the Disability Concerns office of the Reformed Church in America (rca.org/disability-awareness), the CRC urges all churches and members to work toward eliminating physical and architectural barriers, attitudinal barriers that make persons with disabilities feel unwelcome, and communication barriers in sight, sound, and understanding. Using the theme “Everybody Belongs. Everybody Serves,” all churches, classes, and educational institutions are encouraged to sponsor events celebrating a Disability Week each year in October. Each classis is encouraged to identify at least one person to serve as a regional disability advocate, and each church is encouraged to adopt a church policy on disability and to appoint at least one member as a church disability advocate.
See Race Relations
Divorce and Remarriage
Marriage is an institution created by God. It is a covenant relationship established by mutual vows between a man and a woman united by God. Permanent unity in marriage is possible in Christ and is demanded of Christ’s disciples who are married. Marriages should not be dissolved; divorce is contrary to God’s will. However, by persistent and unrepented sin, people can separate what God has joined together. Scripture acknowledges that certain actions and attitudes that occur in a sinful world and conflict with God’s will can destroy a marriage relationship.
Since failure to keep the marriage covenant is sin, the church must exercise a ministry of reconciliation and call marriage partners to confession, forgiveness, reconciliation, and renewed obedience. The church must minister with special concern to those involved in the traumatic experience of divorce, speaking with clarity where sinful conduct is overt and apparent and exercising formal discipline when there is disdain for biblical teaching and when repentance is beyond hope. The church must be a place of acceptance and support for those who have been divorced and for their children.
The church should neither issue a clear prohibition against remarriage nor attempt to list with legal precision the circumstances under which remarriage does not conflict with biblical teaching. The church must apply biblical principles to concrete situations in the light of its best understanding of what happened in a particular divorce and what is being planned for a particular remarriage.
The church is called to testify to what it already is - spiritually one in Christ - and to what it should become - visibly one in Christ. Church unity is therefore both a gift and a goal. The local church and the worldwide church are to be one body and are to strive for the unity that still eludes them. The church carries out its ecumenical task because the fragmentation of the body of Christ is contrary to his will. But uniformity is not essential for church unity. Various local, regional, and national churches will differ widely in history, tradition, custom, language, way of life, and mode of thinking. The unity of the church allows for diversity in worship, confessional formulas, and church order.
On the way to achieving unity, major differences in the perception of biblical truth need to be discussed and, if possible, resolved. God can be trusted to teach all who engage in ecumenical dialogue and thereby will unite us through a common understanding of his truth. In the search for unity we may not compromise the biblical message and, at the same time, guard against the presumption of possessing the truth in all of its fullness. Churches ought to seek healing for past wounds by overcoming differences with those who are closest to them. The Christian Reformed Church in North America gives high priority to relations with other Reformed churches but also wishes to engage churches of other traditions such as non-Reformed Protestant churches, the Roman Catholic Church, and Orthodox churches. Revisions of the ecumenical charter of the CRC adopted by Synods 2006 and 2010 make provision for these differing forms of relationship and reflect the present ecumenical stance of the CRC as part of the body of Christ worldwide. In addition, the church’s Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee engages in interfaith dialogue “to foster better understanding between people of differing faiths living in a pluralistic society” (Agenda for Synod 2010, p. 448).
Although the Christian Reformed Church is generally amillennialist in its eschatology and especially in its interpretation of the book of Revelation, its assemblies have never made a specific pronouncement to that effect. In response to a theological challenge to its underlying eschatology, the synod of the CRC adopted the following succinct statements in 1920, which implicitly reject dispensationalism and some facets of premillennialism:
. . . according to our creeds there is not the least bit of doubt in regard to
1. The unity of the church of all ages, [ancient] Israel not excluded. The church of all ages is one in essence.
2. The kingship of Christ. Christ is not only head of the church as an organic unity but also king of his church in the juridical sense of the word.
Synod has made no official statement on euthanasia. However, in its position on abortion, the church condemned “the wanton or arbitrary destruction of any human being at any stage of its development from the point of conception to the point of death” (Acts of Synod 1972, p. 64). A report on end of life issues presented in 2000 provides guidance on thinking through a biblical position on euthanasia and end of life issues (see www.crcna.org/SynodResources).
See also Life Issues.
Film is a legitimate cultural medium to be used by Christians in the fulfillment of the cultural mandate. They must exercise responsible, Spirit-guided, and enlightened discrimination in the use of film arts, rejecting the message of products that sanction sin. The church must educate its members in the discriminate use of film arts, engage in constructive critique of the film arts, and may certainly work to produce Christian films, videos, and television.
See also Worldly Amusements.
Pastors and church councils are urged to expose all destructive influences on people's lives that seek to trivialize or render irrelevant the providence of God. They must also caution against the impact of materialism, take decisive action to combat the evil of gambling, and minister compassionately to persons addicted to or victimized by lotteries.
Homosexuality is a condition of disordered sexuality that reflects the brokenness of our sinful world. Persons of same-sex attraction should not be denied community acceptance solely because of their sexual orientation and should be wholeheartedly received by the church and given loving support and encouragement. Christian homosexuals, like all Christians, are called to discipleship, holy obedience, and the use of their gifts in the cause of the kingdom. Opportunities to serve within the offices and the life of the congregation should be afforded to them as to heterosexual Christians.
Homosexualism (that is, explicit homosexual practice), however, is incompatible with obedience to the will of God as revealed in Scripture. The church affirms that it must exercise the same compassion for homosexuals in their sins as it exercises for all other sinners. The church should do everything in its power to help persons with homosexual orientation and give them support toward healing and wholeness. A synodical report titled Pastoral Care for Homosexual Members is available at www.crcna.org/SynodResources.
(see also Race Relations)
The CRC's Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action is a ministry that deals with many social justice issues: restorative justice, racism, abortion, HIV/AIDS, poverty in North America, world hunger, war and peace, religious persecution, refugees, marginalization of immigrant workers, and more. In Canada, the CRC's Committee for Contact with the Government deals with similar advocacy issues. For more information, see www.crcna.org/justice and a report on restorative justice adopted by Synod 2005 (www.crcna.org/SynodResources).
See also Disabilities.
Church membership and membership in a labor union are compatible as long as the union does not warrant or champion sin in its regular activities. Church members should discontinue membership in any unions whose common practices are clearly in conflict with the principles of the Word of God. Christian conscience cannot condone membership in a union if it continues in sinful practices in spite of protests against them. Membership in unions which have engaged in sinful practices does not of itself make one liable to ecclesiastical censure, but if church members themselves are guilty of acts contrary to the Word of God, the usual means of discipline should be applied. Churches should be aware of the practices of labor organizations in their communities and vigorously emphasize the scriptural principles regarding the relation of the Christian to the world and the organizations of the world.
Language for God
The endorsement or use of contemporary inclusive language for God (both gender-egalitarian and gender-neutral) is unacceptable to the CRC. Its guidelines for the use of gendered language for God are based on the norm of Scripture and on the principle that Christians ought to speak of God in the way that Scripture speaks of God. According to the guidelines, the standard biblical names, titles, and designations for God should be used. Since there are no feminine names or pronouns applied to God in Scripture, they should not be used in this way today. Secondary language for God, such as figures of speech, may use feminine images of God but must retain the biblical meaning of such language.
We must not recommend rules that bind the conscience in disputable matters. To do so would violate personal Christian liberty. Instead, we should prescribe only where God’s will is clear. Scripture is clear that every human being is created in the image of God and is precious to God.
Procreation should be kept within the context of the male-female, two parent, covenantal relationship of marriage.
Although it is fitting for married couples to want to have children, and it is a blessing to have children, there are limits to the lengths to which couples may go in order to have children. Infertility is a result of the fall, and we may attempt to reverse this but only through morally acceptable means.
While Scripture does not explicitly teach what moral protection the unimplanted human embryo deserves, it is clear implicitly that as a unique human life it warrants significant human protection.
Recognizing the horrific nature of rape and the complex circumstances facing a rape victim, she is not necessarily morally culpable if she takes a morning-after pill. The focus of ministry in such circumstances should be on the compassionate care for the woman.
Lodge and Church Membership
There is an irreconcilable conflict between the teachings and practices of the lodge and those of biblical Christianity; therefore simultaneous membership in the lodge and in the church of Jesus Christ is incompatible with and contrary to Scripture.
The position of the church with respect to keeping the Lord's Day holy is based on the fourth commandment and on the observance of the Sabbath day by the Jewish people, which was translated to Sunday observance by the church from the time of the apostles. The CRC believes that Sunday must be so consecrated to worship that on that day we rest from all work except that which charity and necessity require and that we refrain from recreation that interferes with worship. The faith and practice of CRC members have been shaped by Q. and A. 103 of the Heidelberg Catechism regarding the fourth commandment:
103 Q. What is God's will for you in the fourth commandment?
A. First, that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained,
and that, especially on the festive day of rest,
I diligently attend the assembly of God's people
to learn what God's Word teaches,
to participate in the sacraments,
to pray to God publicly,
and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.
Second, that every day of my life
I rest from my evil ways,
let the Lord work in me through his Spirit,
and so begin in this life
the eternal Sabbath.
Along with baptism, the Lord’s Supper (holy communion) is a sacrament in the CRC. “All baptized members who come with age- and ability-appropriate faith in Jesus Christ are welcome to the Lord’s Supper” to receive the nourishment and refreshment of the bread and cup of the Lord “as sure signs” in remembrance of Christ’s body and blood poured out for us in his once-for-all sacrifice on the cross (Heidelberg Catechism, Q. and A. 75-82).
The whole church and every member must live in close fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ so that believers’ lives, individually and communally, may always show the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Christ, through his Spirit, sovereignly distributes his gifts to the body of believers when and where he wills, and he empowers the members of the church in every age with whatever gifts he judges necessary for the building up of his body. Individual congregations should provide within their communal fellowship for the free exercise of all genuine gifts of the Spirit so long as all things are done for edification and in good order, and churches should provide full opportunity for kingdom service in ministries appropriate to the gifts received by their members.
Churches should be alert to errors and excesses involved in the exercise of claimed “charismatic” gifts, such as tongue speaking, faith healing, and exorcism. Churches should accept in love and patience those members who claim to have been baptized with the Holy Spirit as a “second blessing” distinct from and received after conversion and should deal firmly with them in a pastoral way to correct them in their belief. According to biblical teaching, a believer receives baptism in or with the Holy Spirit at the time of conversion.
Persons involved in neo-Pentecostalism are urged to remember that all believers have received the Holy Spirit and that all religious experience is to be judged by God’s written Word, through which the church must discern the leading of the Spirit. Further, gifts of the Spirit must be confirmed by the presence of the fruit of the Spirit and must be used for the good of the whole body of Christ.
Church members who believe the “second blessing” teaching are disqualified from holding office, but not everyone who claims to have certain charismatic experiences is by that fact alone disqualified. The Spirit-filled church must judge what gifts of the Spirit may or should be employed in the exercise of the offices.
After considering lengthy study reports on Third Wave Pentecostalism in 2007 and 2009, Synod 2009 adopted the following counsel to churches:
a. Gratefully accept all the ways in which the Holy Spirit manifests his work in this movement for God’s glory, notably in demonstrating the present reality of the spiritual gifts (charismata) recorded in Scripture and of being filled with the Holy Spirit in different ways and on multiple occasions.
b. Beware of any tendency to make dramatic emotional or miraculous experiences the center of the Christian life, to underplay the foundational value of the fruit of the Spirit in sanctification, to restrict the things of the Spirit to charismatic phenomena, or to minimize the positive way God uses suffering for our good.
c. Acknowledge the gift of prophecy today, subject to the overriding authority of Scripture and the discernment of the Christian body.
d. Beware of any claim to prophecy that goes beyond Scripture, that does not respect the authority of the church leadership, or that fosters dissension rather than loving edification.
e. Be fervent in prayer and expect God to do great things as a result. Think of prayer as a dialogue, not a monologue, and be attentive to what God is saying as you pray.
f. Accept with gratitude that God continues to give physical and emotional healing in response to prayer, both through his gift of medical science, and through medically inexplicable ways. At the same time, accept that when God, in his sovereignty, does not heal, he manifests his love in and through suffering and death. Such present healing points us to the complete healing Christ accomplished and will bring to fullness at his return.
g. Beware of misuses associated with healing ministries, since they detract from God’s glory and hold potential for doing great damage. Avoid healing techniques that fail to recognize the multifaceted nature of the brokenness and the context of specific suffering.
h. Acknowledge the reality of the believer’s warfare against his or her sinful nature, temptations of the world, and demonic powers. With discernment and caution, be willing to engage in scripturally sound deliverance ministry against demonic powers in the authority and name of Jesus Christ.
i. Affirm that the apostolic office, which belongs to the foundational period of the church, gave rise to the canonical writings of the New Testament. Reject all claims of contemporary leaders to this apostolic office.
The church has urged all members who use pornographic material to arouse sexual desire to recognize that doing so is a sin. Churches are urged to teach their members the biblical perspective on human sexuality and encourage them to become involved with decency organizations, working to stem the tide of pornography. Such involvement includes prayer for those involved in pornography, education regarding the impact of pornography on society, withholding patronage from establishments supporting pornography, and holding forth biblical standards for sexuality in the public debate over pornography.
(see also Justice)
God created the world rich in diversity and yet unified in himself. God's mission for the world, though temporarily broken by sin, is for the reconciliation and uniting of all things. That mission is and has always been racially and ethnically inclusive. Through the Holy Spirit, God gives power to the church to break down walls of separation and create a community that transcends divisions of race, ethnicity, and culture. The church is God's strategic agent for embodying, proclaiming, and promoting the unity and diversity of the new creation in all aspects of society in this world. For Christians, to be in Christ is in principle to be reconciled as a community of racially and ethnically diverse people. To ignore the calling to turn this principle into practice is sinful according to God's Word and the Reformed confessions.
The whole church is called to pray and work for the increased enfolding of ethnic-minority persons and to ensure their equitable representation and meaningful participation in leadership and influence at all levels of denominational life. Congregations are called to articulate the biblical vision for a racially and ethnically diverse and united family of God, to evaluate their life and ministry with regard to it, to develop diversity by all appropriate models and strategies, to witness publicly against racism in defense of all people as imagebearers of God, and to promote interracial and cross-cultural relationships.
The CRC's Office of Race Relations is mandated to "initiate and provide effective and collaborative training" for the purpose of dismantling racism in all its forms (Acts of Synod 2004, p. 558). Along with sponsoring youth events, scholarships, multiethnic conferences for pastors, Women of the Nations events, and All Nations Heritage celebrations, the Office of Race Relations has developed an acclaimed antiracism training curriculum for use in North America and around the world.
Religious Persecution and Liberty
All wars are the result of sin, and although God may use war in his judgment on nations, it is his purpose to make all wars to cease. Christians are called to do all in their power to promote peace and understanding between nations and the resolution of differences without recourse to war, but they must also at times perform the solemn duty of defending their nations against aggressors. A just war is one in which the object is not to destroy or annihilate but to deter the lawless and overpower the enemy state in order to assign it to its rightful place in the family of nations. Its goal is to establish a lasting peace on the foundation of justice and a stable and righteous political order, in which human society can flourish.
The church must warn against glorification of war for its own sake, but pacifism that causes people to refuse to bear arms under any conditions is also unacceptable. Conscientious objection is discouraged except among those who believe that a given war is unjust and therefore cannot morally justify their participation in that war, being convinced of their duty to obey God rather than humans. The church must extend Christian love and concern to those who take up arms and to those who choose selective conscientious objection. Such choices must be made in the context of the Christian community and must be subject to the due process of law and even to the penalty of the law which has been conscientiously broken.
Women in Ecclesiatical Office
All congregations in the Christian Reformed Church in North America may allow women to serve in the office of minister, elder, deacon, or commissioned pastor. The CRC recognizes that there are two different perspectives and convictions on this issue, both of which honor the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God (for the biblical-theological argumentation undergirding the CRC’s approach to this issue, see Agenda for Synod 2000, pp. 355-73; www.crcna.org/SynodResources).
Classes may also, in keeping with their understanding of the biblical position on the role of women in ecclesiastical office, declare that women officebearers may not be delegated to their classis. All duly elected and ordained officebearers—men and women—may be delegated to synod, but officebearers will not be asked to participate against their convictions on this matter.
Worldly Amusements Amusements
God gave humanity the cultural mandate to develop the potentials of creation and dedicate them to the glory of God. Christians must learn to discern God’s will in every area of human life in regard to what is good and evil, avoid the worldliness of loving temporal or sinful things instead of God, and call society to the obedience of Christ. Christians must be spiritually separate from the world even while enjoying things that the Bible neither commands nor forbids. In such matters, believers must exercise Christian liberty guided by a Spirit-enlightened conscience, submit prayerfully to God’s Word and Spirit, and appreciate the pastoral guidance of the officebearers of the church.
The following description serves as the common biblical basis for Christian worship: Worship is an ascription of worth, adoration, and praise to God; includes confession of sin and surrender to the true God; is a God-initiated engagement of God and the worshiper, as well as a corporate engagement among the worshipers; strengthens and is strengthened by the Christian community and its shared memory; and reflects the mighty redemptive acts of God.
When God's people worship with pure hearts and in authentic community, effective evangelism is a natural result. The basic pattern for Christian worship includes gathering as a covenant community, proclamation of the Word, celebration of the Lord's Supper, and going to serve in the world. Authentic worship has an intrinsically sacramental character and is enriched by the diverse backgrounds of participating believers.