From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Christian Reformed Church Synod Debates Doctrine Regarding

From "Henry Hess" <>
Date Wed, 16 Jun 2004 19:46:04 -0400

Grand Rapids, Mich., June 16, 2004 - Delegates to the Synod of the Christian
Reformed Church concluded six hours of debate by asking an advisory committee
to revise its recommendations about altering the Heidelberg Catechism's
description of the Roman Catholic mass.

Question and Answer 80 of the Heidelberg Catechism calls the mass a
"condemnable idolatry" because the Roman Catholic Church teaches that Christ
is bodily present in the bread and wine and must be sacrificed daily by

A Christian Reformed Church study committee met with Roman Catholic bishops
come to a better understanding of the official Roman Catholic teachings
regarding mass and the Eucharist.

Based on these conversations, the advisory committee recommended adding a
footnote to the catechism to say that when the mass is celebrated in
accordance with official Roman Catholic teaching it does not deny the one
sacrifice of Christ nor constitute idolatry.  The committee also recommended
that Q&A 80 remain in the catechism, in smaller type, as a warning to those
who would obscure and distort eucharistic teaching.

Delegates debated at length over this recommendation. Some opposed the format
of the proposed changes.  They suggested increasing the font, getting rid of
the question and answer altogether, keeping the catechism the way it is, or
moving all or part of the question and answer into a footnote.

Others opposed the content of the changes.  A few delegates urged synod to
retain the current text out of respect for it as a historical document.  Some
spoke of pastoral concerns in their churches.  They encouraged synod to
or remove the question and answer so that it would not be offensive to new
members of the church or people from Catholic backgrounds.  Still others
synod to examine the theological and Biblical implications of the Roman
Catholic mass before making any changes to the catechism.

The advisory committee is to bring a revised recommendation to delegates
before the end of synod.

Also this afternoon, synod encouraged Christian Reformed ministers and
churches to participate in interfaith discussions, debates, and dialogue, but
cautioned them to be careful about interfaith worship and prayer events where
the witness of Christ might be compromised.

Synod also heard greetings from fraternal delegates from Reformed Churches in
South Africa, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in North America, and the
Reformed Church in America.

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