Confessing a Holy Catholic Church

It is, of course, a matter of fact that the Christian Reformed Church exists separately. It is distinct from all other denominations—it has its own congregations, classes, synods.

This separate and distinct existence of the Christian Reformed Church produces problems. One wonders whether it does not clash with the very confession to which the Christian Reformed Church subscribes; and also whether it does not conflict with the Word of God, which this church seeks to incorporate in its existence and conduct.

It is known that the Christian Reformed Church teaches the catholicity of the church plainly and explicitly. That is to say, speaking more personally, we confess that the church is universal and that it is not con6ned to any time or place. Article 9 of the Apostles’ Creed reads, “I believe a holy catholic church.” The Heidelberg Catechism states that this means, “That the Son of God, out of the whole human race, from the beginning to the end of the world, gathers, defends, and preserves for Himself, by His Spirit and Word, in the unity of faith, a church chosen to everlasting life…” (Lord’s Day 21). Surely the catholicity of the church, with all the implications that that word contains, is here confessed. Moreover, the confession of Faith asserts, “We believe and profess one catholic or universal church, which is a holy congregation of true believers. This church has been from the beginning of the world, and will be to the end thereof… Furthermore, this holy church is not confined, bound or limited to a certain place or to certain persons, but is spread and dispersed over the whole world…” (Article 27). Indeed, these statements are so plain that all explanation would be redundant; they speak for themselves. Yet the denomination subscribing to this confession exists separately.

Moreover, this confession is not mere philosophy—it has not been produced by the ingenuity of man. To the contrary, it is based upon and extracted from the Word of God. As such this confession is a product of divine revelation. The New Testament certainly teaches the universality of the church. That might be expected, since the New Testament was produced at the very beginning of the universal dispensation of the church. However, the Old Testament, produced during the particularistic and restricted dispensation of the church, likewise speaks of the universality of the church. Both Testaments speak of this attribute in plain language. Genesis 12:3, “…in thee (Abram) shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (cf. also Acts 3:25; Galatians 3:8). Psalm 2:8, “Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” Psalm 87 may be considered the locus classicus in this respect. Rahab, Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia—all non-Israelitish peoples -are mentioned and are said to be “among them that know me,” and as those “born in Zion.” Other passages, such as Isaiah 2:2; Jeremiah 3:17; Malachi 1:11, might be quoted. Certainly the Old Testament looks yearningly to the universal spread of the church—to the New Testament dispensation. Even then, during the dispensation of particularism, the church was in essence catholic or universal.

The New Testament responds to the call of the Old and states in so many words that Christ “brake down the middle wall of partition,” which had existed between Uncircumcision and Circumcision, “that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace” (Ephesians 2:11–22). Jesus affirms, “that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11). In another place Jesus states, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and they shall become one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16 ). No one should, therefore, be surprised at the universal character of the missionary manifesto, “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations…” (Matthew 28:19). Such places as Romans 1:8; 10:18; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 7:9, could be mentioned. However, the passages quoted suffice to show that the New Testament as with one voice declares the catholicity or universality of the church. The church of God is not restricted to any time. It is not restricted to the New Testament dispensations (Acts 7:38) , neither is it restricted to any race or people (Revelation 5:9, 10). The doctrine of the catholicity of the church is, therefore, biblical and the Reformed Confessional Standards are in full agreement with Scripture when they insist upon the universal character of the church.

Wherein lies the Church’s Catholicity?

However, this doctrine requires proper description in at least two respects. First, it must be noted that the attribute of the catholicity of the church pertains to the church invisible and not to the church visible; and second, it must be learned that the catholicity of the church is not first of all an object of observation, but of faith.

The Reformation of the sixteenth century brought about a very important change in the conception of the doctrine of the catholicity of the church. The Roman Church insisted and still insists that the attribute of universality pertains to the church in its visible manifestation. The official title of this church is The HoIy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church. This is commonly abbreviated to the Catholic Church or—which is preferable—the Roman Church. Now this Church claims the attribute of catholicity for its outward organization as this is concentrated in the pope at Rome and as this organization is spread over various lands and peoples. Concomitant with this idea of outward and visible catholicity is the doctrine of excIusivism. No other denomination is acknowledged by the Roman Church as a manifestation of the church of Christ, and in no other church is salvation said to be possible. The catholicity of the church is claimed to be a present reality by the Roman Church, and the Roman Church reserves this distinction for itself alone.

While the Reformation adhered to the doctrine of the catholicity of the church, it nevertheless defined it differently. True, the Westminster Confession of Faith (Chapter XXV) does attach this attribute to the visible church and describes it as a present reality, stating that the visible church “…is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law),” and claiming that this visible church, “consists of all those throughout the world, that profess the true religion, together with their children; and in the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.” However, it is evident that the Westminster divines only intended to assert that the present New Testament dispensation of the church is universal in distinction from the Old Testament dispensation, which was, of course, national and confined almost exclusively to one race or people. Moreover, these divines insisted that Christianity is the religion intended for all the world—for all tribes and peoples. Of course we are in full agreement with that confession. Moreover, this same chapter (XXV) is explicit in insisting that, in another sense, catholicity is an attribute of the church invisible, “The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof.” Plainly the Westminster Confession ascribes the attribute of catholicity not, after the fashion of the Roman Church, to the visible but to the invisible church.

Consonant with the Westminster Confession of Faith are the standards of the Christian Reformed Church. As quoted above, our Confession of Faith states in Article 27 that “We believe and profess one catholic or universal church,” and it continues to assert that “This Church has been from the beginning of the world, and will be to the end thereof. Furthermore, this holy church is not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place or to certain persons, but is spread and dispersed over the whole world.” Hence the Belgic Confession makes the same distinction in its conception of the catholicity of the church as does the Westminster. The church is catholic as to place—it is catholic as to time—it is from the beginning of the world to the end. The Heidelberg Catechism (Lord’s Day 21) speaks of the catholicity of the church in similar terms, The Son of God gathers, defends and preserves a church chosen to everlasting life “out of the whole human race.” And it asserts that the Son of God does this “from the beginning to the end of the world.” The catholicity of the church, therefore, pertains to the past, present and future—it embraces the church triumphant as well as the church militant, and also the church yet unborn. In addition, it denotes the international or the world-embracing character of the church.


The Church Visible and Invisible

Now the Protestant Reformation made an important distinction; it spoke of the church visible and invisible. These designations may occasion misunderstanding. Hence it is necessary to describe them. Both “visible” and “invisible” pertain to the church here upon earth. However, the church in its present existence upon earth must be approached from two aspects anti by two parties. The church is of God. Through his Word and Spirit and because of Christ’s merits, God dispenses gifts to the church. He bestows such gifts as regeneration, effectual calling, saving faith, justification, sanctification, and the like upon the church. God ingrafts the elect into Christ Jesus and incorporates them into his covenant of saving grace. All these gifts and works unite the church to God in Christ. But they are not visible ill themselves. They do not in themselves assume forms which can be seen by the physical eye of man. However, God most certainly knows those upon whom these gifts have been bestowed, and the believers, individually, experience them. But for that reason the church invisible describes it as God knows it and sees it. It is the true and actual church; no hypocrite or nominal Christian can enter it.

On the other hand, the church must be approached by man. Man must seek a state where the church is and who belong to it. But man cannot possibly know tho hearts of his fellowmen. God only can do that. Man must judge his fellowmen’s expressions—be they expression in word or in conduct or in both. According to these expressions man must judge whether his fellowman belongs to the church or not. However, man’s judgment is fallible. H tl may misinterpret his fellowman’s expressions. Moreover, it is possible for man to commit the heinous sin of hypocrisy -he may be insincere and act a part. He must reason man must act according to the judgment of charity. He must judge that which is visible to him and cannot go beyond that. However, this does not exclude the possibility that there may be hypocrites and insincere people belonging to the church as man sees it—that is to say, in the church in its organizational and visible manifestation. Though the church visible should seek to be pure, yet it is possible that impure elements and insincere people slip into it.

In addition, the church visible manifests itself in a great number of organizations, usually designated denominations. Though we speak of “sister” denominations and of “corresponding” churches, the fact remains that many denominations are hardly known to each other and appear to have little in common. There is a baffling diversity in the visible and organizational manifestation of the church. Yet it should not be denied that when a church or denomination actually proclaims salvation through the shed and atoning blood of Christ and is orthodox in that sense, elect of God may be assumed to be among its membership. But that does not mean that such “evangelical” denominations are catholic or universal. We cannot possibly predicate catholicity or universality of the visible church, therefore. Denominations are ever restricted because of various conditions, such as doctrines and confessional standards, languages and practices. Hence as Protestants we attach the attribute “catholic” only to the church invisible and not to the church visible.

The Roman Church refuses to make the distinction between the church visible and invisible and insists that they are identical. That is to say, to the Roman Church the outward and organizational manifestation of the church is to be identified with its spiritual and hidden essence. Manifestation and essence are the same to this church. Hence the Roman Church claims catholicity for its world-wide and imposing outward organization as this is concentrated in the pope at Rome. As Protestants we deny this catholicity to the Roman Church, claiming that all true believers are actually members of the one catholic church regardless of denominational affiliation.

It should also be remarked that the existence of this one catholic church is an object of faith. The very nature and essence of this church is spiritual and hidden. It is the work of God and of his Spirit in the hearts of men. However, though this inward and spiritual work of God must manifest itself in life and conduct, yet in itself it cannot be observed. It is an object of faith. Moreover, the catholicity of the church invisible does not only imply its present existence, but involves its past existence—even from the beginning of the world, as well as its future existence—even to the end of the world. The church invisible as it exists upon earth today is but a part of the one catholic church. History may teach us something concerning the existence of the church in the past, and sacred history certainly does. Moreover, this great work of God, the establishment and maintenance of his church upon earth, ca.n be observed today. But there is no way of knowing the future. The fact that the church will exist till the end of time cannot be known aside from the revelation of God in his Word. Hence the catholicity of the church demands faith in Cod and in his Word—it is an object of faith.

This does not make the doctrine less certain; it does not make it speculative. Faith in God and in his promises is not speculation but certainty. No force upon earth, not even death, shall prevail against the church (Matthew 16: 18). “Then cometh the end, when he (Christ) shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he bath put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:24, 25). The catholicity of the church rests in God himself, in his counsel and covenant, in Christ Jesus. God is almighty and faithful. He is the sure foundation of the fact of the catholicity of the church.

Unity and Diversity

However, the fact that the attribute of catholicity must be reserved for the church invisible does not imply that constant efforts should not be put forth to make this attribute manifest in the church visible. The inward unity and catholicity of the church should seek to express itself in outward appearance and manifestation. Of course, this touches the subject of church union.

Today church union is both abused and rejected. It is neglected by such as feel no interest in it and all too easily proceed to organize one denomination after the other. It is abused by such as speak and act as if the existence of separate denominations destroys the unity and the catholicity of the church. Both extremes do violence to the doctrine of the catholicity of the church. On the one hand we must be ever aware of the fact that the church is catholic, the existence of separate denominations notwithstanding. On the other, we should be impressed with the duty of trying to make the inward unity of the church manifest in outward organization.

Since the catholicity of the church pertains to the church invisible it is not only an object of faith. but it must be accepted as a fact, as a present reality. Christ prayed, “Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe on me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us….” (John 17:20, 21). This prayer of Christ has been heard. The Father always and invariably hears the prayers of Christ (John 11:42). Of course, this pertains to the spiritual unity and catholicity of the church and not to the outward, organizational unity first of all. Otherwise Christ could not compare the unity of believers with the unity between himself and the Father. The catholicity of the church must, there· fore, be considered a present fact and reality. Even in such a familiar passage as Ephesians 4:3–6 the spiritual unity of the church is stressed, “….giving diligence to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye were also called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all.” This inward and spiritual unity will, of course, manifest itself perfectly and outwardly in identity of organization in the end when the work of Christ and of the church and kingdom will be completed. In that sense the manifestation of the catholicity of the church must he considered an eschatological concept. But at present, for the time being and while tho process is going on, conditions often make separate denominational existence of the church necessary.

These conditions vary. Doubtless the dispersion of peoples in various lands, resulting in their speaking different languages and adhering to different customs, plays a role here. So do tIle differences in sociological positions and psychological structure help to produce denominationalism. But more basic than these are the differences in doctrinal conceptions. The various teachings concerning the sacraments may illustrate this. These teachings have produced a separation, for instance, between the Lutherans and the Reformed as well as between the Baptists and the Reformed. Since these differences are basic, so that other differences spring from them, the possibility of living under one denominational roof is excluded for tile time being.

Such basic and important doctrinal differences should never be minimized, neither should they be depreciated through compromise. For the time being we should learn to live with them, provided each other’s sincerity can be accepted. At the same time such differences should never quench the love believers owe each other. Believers in Christ and in his atoning blood accept the doctrine and the fact of the catholicity of the church. Individually each believes, “…. that I am, and forever shall remain, a living member of that church” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 21). The command of Christ to love one another holds for all (John 13:34).

The Basic Condition for Organizational Union

But which conditions must be present when Christians and denominations strive to make the inward and spiritual catholicity of the church manifest in one outward denominational organization? In other words, which conditions must be met for church union?

The basic condition is ever adherence to the Bible as the very Word of God. The church is “…being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). Says Jesus, “If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples;” and again, “He that is of God heareth the word of God;” and also, “If a man love me, he will keep my word” (John 8:31, 47; 14:23). The Belgic Confession states, “The marks by which the true church is known are these: If the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if it maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church discipline is exercised in punishing of sin; in short, if all things are managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto rejected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the church” (Article 29).

The basic mark of the church may. therefore, be said to be the sound and sCriptural preaching of the Word of God. The sacraments will be administered according to the institution of Christ, when the Word is preached properly. and so will discipline be exercised faithfully. Nothing less may be demanded as a condition upon which denominations can unite in organic union. If anything less or different is required the church will ultimately destroy itself, since it then forsakes its foundation and becomes faithless to Christ its Head. But whenever union can be brought about upon this basis, it becomes a sacred duty. No denomination may neglect this duty. It can be neglected only at the expense of unfaithfulness to its Lord and to the fact and the doctrine of the catholicity of the church.

Church Unions Achieved and Considered

History testifies to the fact that the Christian Reformed Church has not neglected the principles described. Voices may have been heard which indicated too great anxiety for self-preservation and separate existence, excluding contacts with other denominations. However, the trend has never been in that direction, though there always was insistence upon adherence to the Word of God.

After the Christian Reformed Church had separated from the Reformed Church in America in 1857 the consciences of many of the Dutch immigrants in Western Michigan were not at ease concerning the attitude of the Reformed Church towards membership in secret and oath-bound organizations. There was constant agitation. This resulted in a separation of some churches from the Reformed Church in America. During 1882–84 at least six of these congregations were received into the communion of the Christian Reformed Church. Though this was not an organic union of denominations, nevertheless entire congregations as organized bodies were received by and united with the Christian Reformed Church. Moreover, for many years during the last quarter of the preceding century union between the Christian Reformed Church and the western part of the Reformed Church in America was a subject of discussion repeatedly.

In 1890 an organic union occurred between the True Dutch Reformed Church and the Christian Reformed Church. The former denomination had separated from the Reformed Church in America in 1882, because of doctrinal considerations such as Hopkinsianism, which is akin to Arminianism and a frequently deSignated part of so-called New England theology. It concerns the will of man and infringes on the doctrine of total depravity. Contacts between the two denominations had been carried on, either in an official or more unofficial way, for many years. Finally in 1890 the union was consummated. Though only three of the original congregations of the True Dutch Reformed Church have remained with the Christian Reformed Church to date, these facts nevertheless indicate that the Christian Reformed Church is not averse to union, provided it occurs upon the basis of the Word of God according to the Reformed conception of that Word.

Again, during the years 1888-1898 the synods of the Christian Reformed Church dealt with a proposed union with the Presbyterian Church. The fact that these attempts toward organic union failed was not due to a lack of appreciation for the principle of the catholicity of the church, but, as the Acts of the Synod of 1898 indicate, to information received that some churches of the United Presbyterian Church were remiss in exercising discipline in regard to members of secret organizations.

Interdenominational Cooperation

There has likewise been activity by the Christian Reformed Church in the field of ecumenicity, or interdenominational cooperation.

The Christian Reformed Church was a member of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America from 1918 to 1924. The Synod of 1924 severed connection with this Council because of doctrinal considerations and not because of an averseness to ecmunenical cooperation. One of the grounds upon which synod acted reads, “Liberalism is strongly in evidence in the Council as is clearly seen from its emphasis on the social gospel and its humanitarian tendencies” (Acts, p. 112).

In 1943 the Christian Reformed Church affiliated with the National Association of Evangelicals. However, membership of the Association was terminated in 1951. The Acts of the Synod of 1951 do not contain a copy of “the letter of resignation” sent to this organization. However, it appears to be evident that at least some members of the Christian Reformed Church felt ill at ease with this membership, since they were of the opinion that the Association engaged in work which property belongs to individual churches or denominations—such as the preaching of the gospel and the work of evangelization.

I should like to enlarge a bit more on tl,e Reformed Ecumenical Synod in which the Christian Reformed Church cooperates. This interdenominational and international synod doubtless gives greater opportunity and hope to the Christian Reformed Church for ecumenical activity than any other organization. At these synods denominations meet which are not simply agreed in some vague sense on evangelical truths in general, but are required to subscribe specifically to Reformed confessional standards. Since 1946 three such synods were held—the first in Grand Rapids, Michigan, August 1430, 1946; the second in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, August 9–19, 1949; and the third in Edinburgh, Scotland, August 4–13, 1953. The next synod is to meet in Sou tit Africa or, if this is not practicable, in the United States, during 1958. At the Synod of Grand Rapids only three denominations were represented: De Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland, Die Gereformeerde Kerk in Suid-Afrika and the Christian Reformed Church of America. However, in 1949, at the synod of Amsterdam, many more denominations were represented in one way or another—either by delegates having a right to vote, or by auditors and guests. From South Africa four denominations were present; three from North America; foul’ from Europe; and four from Indonesia. The latest Reformed Ecumencial Synod, held in Edinburgh in 1953, decided to invite thirty-three churches to the next Synod: eight from North America; six from South Africa; four from the Netherlands; three from Scotland; two from Ireland; one from France; five from Indonesia; one from Japan; two from Australia; and one from New Zealand. It is, therefore, evident that these synods becoming ecumenical in an increasing measure and that they seek to embrace all denominations subscribing Sincerely to Reformed confessional standards.

Since these synods constitute the most hopeful and solid prospects for ecumenical action for the Christian Reformed Church, in which we should be more interested than in any other attempt at ecumenicity. I am here reproducing the basis of these synods. This Basis was formulated by the Synod of Grand Rapids in 1946 and it was reaffirmed by the Synod of Edinburgh in 1953.

“The foundation for the Reformed Ecumenical Synod shall be the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as interpreted by the Confessions of the Reformed Faith, namely, the Second Helvetic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Gallican Confession, the Belgic Confession, the First Scots Confession, the Westminster Confession, the Canons of Dort, the Thirty-nine Articles. It should be understood that these Scriptures in their entirety, as well as in every part thereof, are the infallible and ever-abiding Word of the living Triune God, absolutely authoritative in all matters of creed and conduct, and that the Confessions of the Reformed Faith are accepted because they present the divine revealed truth, the forsaking of which has caused the deplorable decline of modern life. It has to be emphasized that only a whole-hearted and consistent return to this Scriptural truth, of which the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the core and the apex, can bring salvation to mankind and effectuate the so sorely needed renewal of the world.

“Because of the diversity in the forms of government of the Reformed Churches. uniformity of church polity cannot be stressed as a fundamental requisite, except in so far as the principles of this polity are contained in the Reformed Confessions. as for example, the headship of Christ and the marks of the true Church: the pure preaching of the Gospel, the Scriptural administration of the Sacraments, and the faithful exercise of discipline.”

The Reformed ecumenical synods act in an advisory capacity only. However, rules adopted at Edinburgh stipulate:

“…it shall be understood that the decisions and deliverances of the Ecumenical Synod shall be considered advisory in character, and shall he considered binding for the respective churches only after their national synods (or assemblies) have adopted such decisions and deliverances as their own. However, the churches are under obligation to take such decisions and deliverances under serious consideration, so that there may be, as much as possible unity in attitude and action.”

“Normally” these synods are to meet once every five years. Each synod appoints an Interim Committee. The several “…cooperating churches are to give reports as to the ecclesiastical and spiritual state of their churches, and regarding problems and difficulties with which they are coping, in order that synod may advise the churches as need may require.”

The past ten years have given abundant evidence that Reformed ecumenical synods—interdenominational and international in scope—are possible. The greatly improved facilities for transportation and communication of the present day must be employed. It would be a sad reflection upon the church of Christ if, while practically all other organizations avail themselves of these improved facilities, it should be remiss in grasping these opportunities.

The maintenance of these Reformed ecumenical synods should be considered not only feasible and desirable, but a necessity—a duty. The Scriptural doctrine of the catholicity of the church demands nothing less. Doctrinal differences often prevent close organizational cooperation between denominations. But churches subscribing sincerely to Reformed confessional standards are in position to confer together and to cooperate. Their common bases and confessions make attempt at united action hopeful. We must, therefore, desire and earnestly strive to bring the potential of Reformed ecumenical synods to its highest possible expression.

In seeking to attain this ideal we should be aware of the danger of discouragement and of too great optimism or too highly-strung expectations.

It is altogether possible that the results of the Reformed ecumenical synods will be disappointing—at least for some years and possibly decades to come. In fact we must expect just that. It would be surprising if we did not meet with disappointments and with meager results from these attempts at united action and cooperation. Mankind is diversified. All peoples have their national characteristics. Their appreciation and evaluation of conditions and even of doctrines, though they be biblical, differ. Moreover, before this era of modern facilities for transportation and communication, peoples grew apart and developed in different directions more than they do at present. Even confessional standards held in common did not prevent such diversity in development. Now it should not be expected that such barriers can be overcome at once. National characteristics are ingrained in a people. In fact it will require much time for Reformed churches of various lands to learn to understand each other sufficiently for cooperative action. Considering this diversity it is a marvel of God’s grace that three Reformed ecumenical synods were actually held within the space of seven years and that the published Acts of these synods give cause for hope and for gratitude.

In addition, it should be borne in mind that Reformed and Presbyterian church government, though acknowledging the supremacy of the kingship of Christ in the church, nevertheless operates along “democratic” lines. Throughout history this mode of operation has led to independentism or to tendencies in that direction. The resolutions of the Reformed ecumenical synods are advisory in character. It is altogether possible, and also legitimate, that denominations comprising the ecumenical synods reject the advice of these synods and go their own way. Patience and proper understanding are, therefore, necessary. We must work in the direction of sound and biblical ecumenicity and not become discouraged too soon, nor be too optimistic. As long as united and cooperative action seeks to base itself upon Christ, the only Rock, it will stand solidly. It will then overcome difficulties and weather disappointments.

In conclusion the fact should be mentioned that the latest synod of the Christian Reformed Church (1956) appointed committees on inter-church relationships: the one was instructed to confer with a similar committee of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the other with such a committee of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. These committees were appointed, “…for the purpose of carrying on ecumenical and closer fellowship conversations…” Of course these committees could not have reported yet, but they have been charged to “…inform their respective assemblies from time to time of the progress made” (Acts, 1956, pp. 63, 64 ). Hence the striving of the Christian Reformed Church towards ecumenicity is not at a standstill. The Christian Reformed Church is active in this respect and it takes its confession of the catholiCity of the church seriously.