Pre-Synodical Prayer Service
A pre-synodical prayer service was held the evening before synod, on Monday October 27. Rev. Schouls led the service with the reading of Isaiah 6 and John 12: 1-43. He raised the question: why did so many see the miracles of Christ and still not believe (John 12:37)? Unbelief is the answer. Unbelief will choke out the blessings of the gospel. This unbelief is also rooted in GodÕs sovereignty. ÒHe hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart...Ó (John 12:40). GodÕs grace has, however, punctured this unbelief so that many may still come to Him in repentance and faith. ÒNevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on himÓ (John 12:42). We, as individuals and churches, are all guilty of this unbelief. The very fact that we need a special synod is due in part to a measure of unbelief. May we thank the Lord for His intervening grace and for the gift of His Son, so that regardless of our failures we may go forward as individuals and churches in the finished work of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The synod started at 9:00 a.m. sharp the following morning with Rev. Schouls opening with a meditation on Psalm 45. This is a wedding Psalm and speaks of a bride and bridegroom, but there is more. It speaks of Christ: ÒThy throne, O God, is for ever and ever...Ó (v.6) and His bride the church. Christ came to redeem His bride from her unbelief and despair. We may all be part of that great wedding feast and as churches be busy calling others to be part of this joyous celebration.
After declaration of agreement with the Three Forms of Unity, an executive was elected: chairman, Rev. VanderMeyden, vice-chairman, Rev. Procee, and clerk, elder Hank Van der Woerd.
Following the approval of the legality of this special synod, the various appeals were addressed and discussed along with other correspondence presented to the delegates. Issues discussed included the need for a new translation, the accuracy of the New King James Version (NKJV), autonomy of the local consistory and the pros and cons of a proposed low-grade revision. At the end of a lengthy discussion that lasted well into the evening, a motion was adopted (see below) to request the churches to defer the implementation of the decision of Synod 2003, to instruct the Bible Translation Adhoc Committee (BTAC) to complete the investigation and evaluation of the NKJV by Synod 2004, and to complete its study of a low grade revision of the KJV. Additionally, the committee was instructed to continue to educate the members of the churches in the principles of Bible translation and to continue its evaluation of other Bible versions. Both churches and members are encouraged to keep this matter in their prayers and to be continuously busy with the Word of God.
Motion That Was Adopted
Synod, having heard and studied the appeals from the various churches requesting a revisiting of the decision of Synod 2003 regarding the use of the NKJV in the official worship services;
Considering that this issue has been a matter of concern in the churches for a number of years as is witnessed by the repeated requests for permission to use a version of the Scriptures in the language of today and that a definite decision on this matter is long overdue;
Recognizing also that the decision of Synod 2003 has been made without due consideration for the report of the Committee ad hoc Bible Translation and that this committee did not receive the opportunity to complete its work;
Recognizing also that there is no perfect translation of the Bible and that the lengthy process of a low-grade revision of the KJV does not adequately address the immediate need;
Desiring to build a consensus of opinion on this matter that has been termed ÒdivisiveÓ by some of the brethren;
1. to request the churches to defer implementation of the decision of Synod 2003 (recorded in Article 40 of its Acts) until the BTAC submits a full report for the consideration of Synod 2004;
2. to instruct the BTAC:
a. to complete the investigation and evaluation of the NKJV and to give a final report to Synod 2004 regarding its trustworthiness;
b. to complete its study of a low grade revision of the KJV as per its mandate, including a specific recommendation concerning the ÒTheeÓ and ÒThouÓ phraseology;
c. to take concrete steps towards fulfilling the mandate given to it to educate the members of the churches in the principles of Bible translation;
d. to continue its evaluation of other versions and to report its findings to Synod at regular intervals, thus making it a standing committee;
3. declare this as synodÕs answer to the appeals from Dundas, Hamilton, Grand Rapids, Pompton Plains, and Toronto.