Dealing with Change
In response to Rev. Kortering’s
remarks about change in the February 1, 2004 Standard Bearer, I would like to comment on the subject of how we, as Protestant Reformed Churches, deal with change. As Rev. Stewart did, I too write regarding the subject itself, which caught my interest, not directly to anything Rev. Kortering wrote.
Not only is there a right way and a wrong way to deal with change, but there also is a right way and a wrong way to introduce change into the Protestant Reformed Churches.
One example mentioned was the matter of introducing “you” and “your” in prayer. I think very few of us have any difficulty with a “seeking soul” using “you” and “your,” or, for that matter, saints in other countries addressing God this way, since they have never known any different. Also, with respect to new converts who join a Protestant Reformed congregation, it is understandable that it may take awhile to adjust to praying “thee” and “thou.” It is generally understood that the custom of praying “thee” and “thou” is not a matter of principle, but a practice continued because it is a reverent way to set God apart from men. Most of us have been shown this by our parents and officebearers at a young age already. However, a non-principle issue does not imply license for individuals to begin praying this way in our Protestant Reformed Churches. This is the wrong way to introduce change, and will instigate a wrong reaction to change.
Scripture is our guide on such matters. Acts 16:3 relates that Paul had Timothy circumcised (during a time of change in the church), to keep from unnecessarily offending fellow brethren. It is no different in our churches today. For some members to begin using “you” and “your” pronouns for God in public prayers, or for those who join the Protestant Reformed Churches to make no effort to conform to the established practice, will unnecessarily thus also offend fellow saints. Paul wouldn’t do such a thing, even when he had a compelling and scriptural reason for change, because there was a right way to go about it. The right way to introduce a change on such a matter is by a decision of the churches as a whole, and this, for the sake of decency, good order, and unity. After all, the way we address our heavenly Father is not a passing fashion, in which a spirit of independentism should prevail.
There may be a time to change to “you” and “your.” It is when we begin to address God a certain way, imagining that it is necessary for salvation. Again, Scripture speaks of the apostle Paul dealing with this situation in Galatians 2:3 and Acts 15:1. Even in such an instance of resisting legalism and the like, it should be done in the proper way, the church orderly way that strives “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Individual members foisting their own changes on the people must not be tolerated.
Grand Rapids, MI