That URC – A Look Around Us

Recently at church, a good friend drew me aside and said, “The URC (United Reformed Church) is an old man‘s movement.” Then he added that he himself was going on eighty-five and that he had no more fight left in him. A bit doggedly I countered by stating my conviction that the URC is God‘s movement. Besides this we may well be reminded that it was precisely when he “forsook the counsel of the old men” that Rehoboam met disaster and his kingdom went to pieces. Wisdom as the fruit of experience is found more often with the old than with the young. The flattering quip about the senior citizens being the “keen-agers” may even have a bit of truth to it.

But, be all that as it may. how sorely the vision and the vigor of youth are also needed if, under God, the church is to fare well. It is gratifying therefore to be able to share with the reader a communication from a young CRC minister and relayed to me by Rev. Peter De Jong to whom it was sent. The following background information may help to explain this letter.

It was in the July 77 issue of THE OUTLOOK that I wrote on “Desideratum – A United Reformed Church,” at the outset of which editorial I ventured to say:

“Suppose that in God’s gracious providence the day would dawn when Reformed Church bodies—of course, I am thinking particularly of the CRC—would experience a drastic housecleaning. . . Suppose that such denominations would some day purge themselves of the foe within the gates and of those bold innovations that now threaten to undermine the Reformed faith. . . . And suppose that out of the tensions, all in God‘s gracious providence, a new denomination would emerge—a denomination that would not shilly-shally in its witness to the Reformed faith; but a church that would rather be unambiguous, consistent, and enthusiastic in the profession of it. . . . Just suppose that some day God would be pleased to grant this, allow me then to suggest as a name, that it be called the United Reformed Church.”

In addition to the various reactions previously published we now quote this young minister‘s communication. He writes:

I have followed with interest Rev. Vander Ploeg’s ‘desideratum’ regarding a United Reformed Church. I hope he will continue to write about this, and to keep this before our people. It seems to me that, barring some unforeseen, almost miraculous intervention, a split in the CRC is inevitable—it’s only a matter of time and timing.

I dont know exactly which event or decision of Synod might precipitate this split, but we ought to be ready for this split, while yet working to change the CRC while we are yet in it. As a student of church history, I am sure you are aware of the problem small splinter groups face after they leave an apostate denomination. There are many adjustments to be made, and as a result of having to deal with these adjustments, the fledgling denomination is often hampered in its work for several years.

It is my conviction that when the split comes, we ought to affiliate with another solid, conservative Reformed group, such as the Orthodox Presbyterians or the Presbyterian Church in America. This would provide stability for the group that leaves, while giving added strength to the group(s) we affiliate with . . . .

Along the lines suggested by Rev. Vander Ploeg, I am pursuing the following concrete steps, and suggesting them to those I know are committed to the historic Reformed faith:

1) Get to know other conservative Reformed denominations that we might consider affiliating with. This may be done by subscribing to their periodicals, visiting the church, procuring a copy of their hymnal and creedal statements, church polity, etc.

“2) Once some of the above steps have been taken, study the materials prayerfully in the light of the Bible. Evaluate different positions, practices, etc., and compare them with our own. Thus you will be in a position to offer constructive criticism and advice when talk gets around to union with such a denomination.

“3) When you find a part of church polity, etc., that is better than our own, dont hesitate to suggest to the appropriate bodies that the CRC adopt this.

“Along this line, it seems to me our synod has entirely too much power. The RCA with all its other faults, has a good idea in requiring that major changes be approved by 2/3 of the classes before they are adopted. If the CRC had been following that policy, perhaps we wouldnt be where we are today.

“Well, hope this note provides some grist for your mill. . .”

In a subsequent letter this correspondent calls attention to the NPRF (the National Presbyterian and Reformed Fellowship) as an organization with which readers of THE OUTLOOK would do well to become acquainted. According to an article in The Banner of March 3, ‘78: ‘“The fellowship is composed of individual Christians who seek renewal and hope among Presbyterian and Reformed people through reassertion of the Reformational principle of obedience to the whole counsel of God revealed in His Word.”

The article states further:

This fellowship is not a council of churches.” We are also informed that the NPRF “is calling a national Congress for the summer of 1979, to be held in three sections” and that one of these sections is to be at Calvin College July 9–13, 1979, having as its theme, “The Word of the Sovereign God.”

We are also informed that “persons interested in becoming members of the fellowship or attending the Congress can write for further information to Dr. George C. Fuller, Executive Director, National Presbyterian and Reformed Fellowship, Box 44, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania 19481.

Previously attention has been called to the League of Christian Laymen, a concerned element in the RCA (Reformed Church in America), with whom we would do well to seek closer acquaintance and fellowship. The Reformed Record, the publication of this League, may be ordered from League of Christian Laymen (RCA), Inc., 1711 Woodcliff, S.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506.

Moreover, beginning in the week of June 12 ( right about this time) the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church in America, the Reformed Presbyterian Church North America, and the Reformed Presbyterian Church—Evangelical Synod, will hold their synods or assemblies on the Calvin Campus concurrently with the CRC Synod.

The above suggestions may point in the direction of moving at least a little closer to the realization of the goal of a URC, the Lord willing.