Points of Agreement Between Canadian Reformed and United Reformed Representatives
- A Unity Committee Report
with permission from the Clarion Volume 48, No. 16, Aug. 6, 1999
We acknowledge from both sides that with sin and shortcoming, both the most recent secessions in our history, the liberation of 1944, and the 1990s secessions were acts of obedience, required and obligated, in keeping with the will of God, (as confessed in Art 28 and 29 BC).
We acknowledge that due to the many limitations and shortcomings of human understanding, there is a brokenness of the church both in local situation, and in broader federations. This implies that there can be more than one true church in a particular place at any given time. We need to reject a broad denominationalism on the one hand, as well as a narrow sectarianism on the other. Churches of various backgrounds but of one confession have the duty to pursue the highest forms of ecclesiastical fellowship possible in their context, in order to promote the unity of the church locally as well as in the federation of churches.
The covenant is a relationship between God and man established by God at the time of his creation of Adam and Eve. It is one sided in origin and two sided in existence. God established it to live in fellowship with man and show him his love and favour, and to receive from man love, obedience, trust and honour. When man broke this covenant of favour by his rebellion and fall into sin, God in his grace maintained this relationship and promised to redeem man by the sacrifice of his Son, the seed of the woman in its deepest sense. The Lord makes this covenant of grace with the believers and their offspring.
The promises of the covenant together with the demand to repent from sin and believe the promises must be proclaimed throughout all the world. All who are grafted into the covenant are called to repent and believe and receive Jesus Christ as their Saviour and so share in the fullness of its promises and blessings. The death of Christ on the cross represents the fulfilment of the terms of the old covenant. Therefore in the new dispensation of the covenant of grace in Jesus Christ, believers and their seed are called by the power of God to live in true thankfulness and live according to all the commandments of God.
In an obedient response to the covenant obligations the believers are called to gather together in unity with Christ, the Mediator of the covenant, and in unity of faith with the church of all ages. These gatherings are found where the Word of God is faithfully proclaimed in purity, where the sacraments are administered in purity, and where church discipline is exercised for the correcting and punishing of sins. All people belonging to God's covenant of grace are called and obliged to join the church and unite with it, maintaining the unity of the church. The fullness of this covenant takes place at the consummation of all things when the one triune God will live with his chosen people in perfect love and fellowship through all eternity.
The section Committees express their gratitude that both federations have chosen to hold to what is in essence the style and order of the Church Order of Dort. Yet specific elements of difference need to be discussed and resolved before we can move to a subsequent phase in the discussion.