Dr. Leonard Greenway, pastor of the Riverside Christian Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan is in charge of Our Question Box. This department is for everyone. Questions from all ages are welcome. No signatures are required and no names will be published.
From a reader in Grand Rapids, Michigan:
Question: What, in your opinion, is the crucial issue facing the Christian Reformed Church today?
Answer: Since some readers of THE OUTLOOK are not members of the Christian Reformed denomination, this question may not immediately interest them. Yet, I feel I should answer it here because of the nature of the issues involved.
As I now view the matter, the crucial issue is the nature and extent of Biblical authority in the light of Report 44 that was adopted by the Synod of 1972. Notice, I have italicized the word “now” and that carries a confession on my part. The confession is this: When Report 44 initially was under discussion in our Church, I was not alarmed by it as I am now. Perhaps I was not as alert and discerning as some brother ministers and others who flashed the red light soon after the Report appeared. Or perhaps, I was too deferential to the distinguished members of the committee who prepared the Report with obvious painstaking efforts to be thorough.
I have a different stance now. Belatedly I am coming to see Report 44 as a dangerous framework within which liberties can be taken with the Bible which formerly were not tolerated by us. I fear that the Report fosters an attitude which allows one to say that the authors of the books of the Bible conceivably on occasion could have been under influences that were in successful competition with the supervision of the Holy Spirit.
I want to do more thinking about the matter before I become more specific; but, as of now, my fear is that if we don’t watch out, we are going to have a split in the Christian Reformed Church, and the split will be occasioned by current trends in the discussion of Biblical authority. The crack is already visible!
Let me add this postscript: Is it not significant that within the decade or two during which we had the discussions that eventually produced Report 44, the Christian Reformed Church appears to have passed its peak and to have gone into spiritual and ecclesiastical decline?