I’m now writing as R-44 is being debated.
R-44 is the recommendation to remove the Conscience Clauses from the RCA’s Book of Church Order. The report, given by the moderator of the Commission for Women, was a powerful reminder of the obstructionist and deeply inappropriate uses of the Conscience Clauses. My position is, as many of you know, that the Conscience Clauses are inappropriate because they promote a pneumatology (an understanding of the Holy Spirit) that is improper and inappropriate within Reformed Theology. Particularly, that individual conscience can somehow trump the discernment of the assembly. Nowhere else do we allow that. Of course, on top of that theological problem is a practical one: every time a polity class is taught, every time women in ministry is discussed, every time the concept is brought up we add a caveat that women’s ordination is not “required” and that people can somehow “opt out” of it.
So how can I have a position of this with my position on the question of homosexuality discussed earlier? Simple: The affirmation of women in ministry has been repeatedly and consistently affirmed by the Classes. The position promoted by the statement this afternoon has never been affirmed by the Classes (and isn’t intended to be). It’s that simple. Every time a woman has been ordained over the past 30-some years, we’ve reaffirmed the statement (made in the 1950s and repeatedly since) that it is biblically appropriate to ordain women. While the statement (as mentioned earlier) is not binding in itself, the reaffirmation of that precedence has been more consistent and more solid than practically any other biblical or theological topic.
Oh, and by the way, whenever the BCO changes we don’t get to “grandfather” ourselves into a previous version of it. It simply doesn’t work that way.
So what happened?
I’ll tell you after the vote!
Grace and peace,
PS: Synod did vote to remove the conscience clauses a few years ago and it didn’t pass the classes – there is still the question whether or not it could pass them now. (Especially since there is, in my opinion, an increasing polarization between the extremes.)