Most of our readers will remember that the Prot­estant Reformed Churches had received an invitation to attend the third Reformed Ecumenical Synod which was held last August in Edinburgh, Scotland. They are also aware of the fact that the delegates appointed by our Synod did not go as had been previously plan­ned. Because of our interest in this international ec­clesiastical assembly and its work, we thought it well to present the following gathered from the reports of two witnesses who attended. The two witnesses are the Rev. Martin Monsma of the Christian Reformed Church who reports in De Wachter, and the Rev. J. W. Betzold of the Westminster Presbyterian Chur­ches reporting in the Presbyterian Guardian. Their reports substantially agree as they tell us of the fol­lowing items that appeared on the agenda for discus­sion and decision.

1. Probably the most difficult matter to come be­fore Synod was the business concerning the name and nature of the present assembly. According to the Guardian, there was considerable debate anent the question what to call this assembly. Is Synod a judi­ciary body, or does it have only advisory capacity? Should the gathering be called an Assembly, a Con­vention, or a Council? Some would have changed the name to one of these. “However in the eyes of the majority the present name was most acceptable, carry­ing as it does not only certain ecclesiastical connota­tions, but also the provision that Synod will continue to offer ‘advice.’” So the name “Reformed Ecumen­ical Synod” was retained.

2. Another matter of importance treated by Synod was “the affiliation of member churches of Synod with such ecumenical movements as the World Council of Churches, the International Council of Christian Churches, and the World Evangelical Fellowship. These are the respective worldwide projections of the National Council of Churches (formerly the Federal Council), the American Council of Christian Chur­ches, and the National Association of Evangelicals.” After considerable debate, in which some delegates argued that membership in the Synod and in these church movements in question was incompatible, while others saw nothing objectionable in them, Synod de­cided: a. Not to recommend membership in the ICCC though there are many commendable features in the Statement of Faith in this organization there are also certain features in the constitution and the practise of this body to which exception must be taken. Synod would therefore leave the matter of membership in this body to the judgment of the several Churches. b. Re the WCC Synod advised member churches not to join this organization as now constituted. With respect to those churches already joined, Synod re­quests that they reconsider their position in the light of the basically divergent confessional statements of the RES and the WCC. c. At the same time Synod did not recommend membership of its churches in the WEF.

On the basis of the little we know that is not good respecting the three church movements in question, we consider the decisions of the Synod quite commend­able. Though, according to the Guardian, there were some such as Dr. J.B. Marais of the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa who took a mediating posi­tion in favor of these movements especially the WCC, it appears that Synod really took exception to the modernism of these church organizations. What the Synod said about the American Council of Christian Churches, which we understand to be composed of Fundamentalist groups of which Carl Mclntire, an ousted Presbyterian minister, is the leader, we read nothing.

3. At the second Ecumenical Synod held in Am­sterdam in 1949 three propositions respecting the ques­tion of “Creation and Evolution” were presented to the churches for consideration. The Synod of the Christian Reformed Churches last June objected to these propositions and so declared themselves at this Synod. The Synod therefore decided to make further study of this matter and put it in the hands of a study committee of five Dutch theologians who will report at the next Synod.

The three propositions adopted at the Ecumenical Synod of 1949 which we quote from the Banner of June 5, 1953, are as follows: “a. This historical char­acter of the revelation in Genesis 1, 2 must be maintained without compromise. These two chapters offer no data to justify a symbolical or visionary in­terpretation or treat them as meaningful myth.” “b. The true, completely trust worthy description by God of His work of creation is given to us in a humanly intelligible form, so that, although (that is full, ex­haustive) representation of the divine act, it is suf­ficient for us to acknowledge and glorify Him as our creator.” “c. In maintaining the historical character of Genesis 1, 2 the Church rejects all evolutionary teaching which either rules out God entirely, or con­ceives of God as dependent upon the process of a so-called creative evolution, or allows for Him to enter into the process only incidentally. The human form of the revelation should prompt the Church to pro­ceed with modesty and caution, and to refrain from making various pronouncements in the field of natural science.”

Respecting these propositions the Synod of the Christian Reformed Churches in session last June adopted the following advice of the committee of pre­advice. “That Synod make the following reply to the Reformed Ecumenical Synod: 1. That Synod appre­ciates in the statements submitted by the Reformed Ecumenical Synod on the subject of ‘Creation and Evolution’ the maintenance of the Bible as the infallible Word of God, and the historicity of the biblical ac­count of creation. 2. That Synod expresses its dis­satisfaction with the second and third ‘guiding prin­ciple’ in their present form because they do not dis­tinguish with sufficient clarity between the Reformed position on the one hand and the positions of so-called theistic evolution and the dialectic theology on the other hand. 3. That Synod suggests to the Reformed Ecumenical Synod that the whole matter be studied anew.”

In as far as we are able to judge, we are pleased with both the decisions of the Christian Reformed Churches and the Ecumenical Synod on this matter. They appear to show an attempt to cling to the in­fallible, historical account of the Scriptural narra­tive of creation, and a purposeful opposition to the current attempt to introduce the evolutionistic theory of creation of the scientist or the theory of “the cate­gory of the super-historical” taught by Barth.

4. Synod also entered into the racial problem which had been presented by the Reformed Churches of South Africa. The difficulty which Synod tried to solve can be briefly stated as follows: The Church believes that the children of God are all one in Christ, but does this mean that all races can or should live together? In South Africa it appears that since Word War II this problem has become acute. There are between nine and ten million negroes in South Africa, but about two and a half million whites. Though there are more colored children in school than whites, the bill is footed by the white tax payers. Hence social and economical difficulties have also arisen. This question has been put into the hands of a broad committee consisting of twelve members from four different countries with three from each country: England, Holland, South Africa and America. They will report at the next Synod to be held in 1958 in South Africa.

5. The Synod also entertained an overture from the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands re the pro­blem of the spiritual care of emigrants. As is well known many emigrants have migrated from the

Netherlands in recent years to various countries in­cluding South Africa, Australia, New Zeeland, Cana­da, and the United States. The Churches of the Ne­therlands desired that these people have the Reformed Churches in these countries provide them with spiritu­al care. A commendable overture we would say. A committee of five was appointed to provide the emi­grants with information. Rev. J.M. Vander Kieft of the Christian Reformed Church in America is one of the members of this committee.

6. And finally, the Synod also considered the re­quest for advice presented by the Christian Reformed Church of this country re the woman suffrage ques­tion. At the Synod of the latter Churches in 1950 it was decided to present this question to the Ecumenical Synod. Our readers will probably remember that we called attention in a previous article to the fact that the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands took a stand in respect to this question. They decided in favor of woman suffrage in the Church. The Synod of Edinburgh appointed a committee to study the matter which committee later reported and rendered advice which the Synod in turn decided to offer to the Churches for earnest consideration. The advice in­cludes six points which we cannot now quote for lack of space. It appears to us, however, that the Synod spoke in favor of woman suffrage, basing its stand not so much on what Scripture says about this matter, but rather on what it does not say. In other words, because it is the opinion of Synod that Scripture does not expressly condemn the practice of woman suffrage in the Church, therefore it is allowable. Perhaps we will have more to say later on this subject.

—M. Schipper