In his report on the 1974 CRC Synod’s decisions on Lodge and Church Membership, written for THE OUTLOOK (July, 1974), Rev. John H. Piersma made the following observation:
“One of the finest study committee reports in my experience was that on Lodge and Church Membership. This was a moment totally gratifying as for as I was concerned! . . .
“There was some debate on this, of course. Opponents argued that those belonging to such secret, oath-bound organizations do not really think or do not really know (or care) what their commitment is and ought not to be denied church membership therefore. We recommend that the synodical decisions on this matter be read carefully by all. Perhaps THE OUTLOOK can publish them in an early issue.”
Members of the Lodge and Church Membership Committee who had prepared this report for Synod are: Dr. Cerard Van Groningen (Chairman ), Rev. John B. Hulst (Reporter), Rev. James Admiraal, Rev. John A. Botting, A. Geurkink, Dr. S. Kanis, Rev. Henry B. Vanden Heuvel.
We gladly comply with Rev. Piersma‘s suggestion to reprint Synod’s decisions. As found in the 1974 Agenda they read as follows:
A. Synod reaffirmed as the basic position of the Christian Reformed Church that there is an irreconcilable conflict between the teachings and practices of the lodge and Biblical Christianity, and that therefore simultaneous membership in the lodge and in the Church of Jesus Christ is incompatible and contrary to Scripture.
B. Synod accepted the report of its committee as a contemporary statement of the Christian Reformed Church’s position on “the lodge and church member ship,” updating and strengthening the statement made by the Synod of 1900.
C. Synod declared, in light of the committee’s report that:1. The Bible clearly teaches that Cod‘s covenant people, as members of his church and citizens of his kingdom, owe full and exclusive allegiance to their Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. The covenantal life is a life of separation from sin and of consecration to the service of God and does not permit a double allegiance in which one’s allegiance to Christ is in any way compromised. 2. The lodge (as defined and discussed in the Report) in its essential character, holds to and practices a false anti–Christian religion. Its beliefs and rites cannot be harmonized with the claims of God‘s Word and are directly contrary to true Christian faith. 3. Because of what God’s covenant people are (1), and because of what the lodge is (2), simultaneous membership in the church of Jesus Christ and a lodge is a direct violation of God‘s demands in the Scriptures. 4. The church, in obedience to Jesus Christ its head and relative to lodge membership and related problems, must do all it can to preserve and manifest its specific distinguishing attributes: unity, catholicity and holiness. Seeking to do thiS, the church is to carry out its duties in proclaiming the gospel to all men and to teach them to observe all things the Lord has commanded it, to administer the sacraments according to the instructions given in the Scriptures, and to exercise discipline according to the guidelines taught in the New Testament. 5. The church, in obedience to the Great Commission given to it by its Lord, must be ready, willing, consistent and persistent in its efforts to bring the gospel to all people in our modern society, including lodge members. It must seek out the lost and wandering, bind up the wounded, bring ChriSt’s healing to the sick and proclaim liberty to all captives in the bondage of sin and sinful relationships. 6. The lodge member must be kindly but firmly shown that his lodge membership is contrary to the will of God and that membership in the lodge and the church of Jesus Christ involves a double commitment which our Lord himself does not tolerate. Those in the church who affiliate with the lodge, must be shown the error of their way, and if they refuse to repent, must be placed under the discipline of the church. 7. The church must constantly remain aware of the complexity of its contemporary society and do its utmost to minister in an understanding manner to people who are deeply involved in specific complex situations. This ministry is to be exercised in loyalty to Jesus Christ alone, with steadfast prayer on behalf of those receiving the church‘s ministry and in patient reliance on the work of the Holy Spirit in applying the will of God to specific life situations.
D. Synod is to prepare a summary pamphlet of the report and print it for distribution as a witness of the Christian Reformed Church‘s position on “the lodge and church membership.”
In fulfilling the mandate of synod, your committee felt impelled to produce a thorough report. We also sense, however, that in view of its length and technicality, a summary pamphlet of the report would serve the church well.
E. Synod will consider establishing a standing committee on organizations which would serve the churches with evaluations of the many and varied organizations in society that ask for the Christian’s loyalty and support.
a. There are many differences, even among organizations of the same kind, such as lodges. which make it difficult to generalize about them.
b. There are other organizations besides lodges in which membership should be maintained.