WARC wackiness
Religion & Liberty Online

WARC wackiness

Contained in this year’s Christian Reformed Church 2005 Agenda for Synod, which will be held June 11-18, is a report from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches recent General Council in Accra, Ghana (pp. 257-63). The agenda states, “A reading of this document will make it clear that, while all participants appreciated the common Christian concern regarding issues of poverty and the oppressive structures that contribute to it, not all delegates were comfortable with either the decision-making process or the ideological positions expressed by the General Council” (p. 235).

Also contained is an English-language version of the text, “Covenanting for Justice in the Economy and the Earth,” (pp. 264-68) the resulting “declaration” to come out of the WARC assembly. In many ways this document represents a defeat for the radical factions in WARC. Over the last decade we have seen the push for WARC to enter a status confessionis, and prepare a binding confessional statement on matters of the environment and the economy. As noted above, however, the “ideological positions” of those behind the push has precluded a more general acceptance of their plan.

Here’s what the 2005 Agenda for Synod has to say about the WARC document:

This statement addresses significant issues of economic injustice and ecological destruction. Members of the Interchurch Relations Committee have serious reservations concerning the document. The use of illdefined and often technical jargon not only makes for difficult reading but also the obstruction of the meaning of the document. Because the process of debate and discernment at the General Council was flawed, some of the ideological positions and strongly worded conclusions do not adequately represent the voices of many participant churches. Although the document is called a “confession,” it is important for us to remember that it is not meant to be understood as “a classical doctrinal confession” (section 15), and it does not require the official endorsement of WARC participant churches. For that reason, the document is being passed on by the IRC to synod for its information. Hopefully the weakness of the statement will not prevent us from seeing “the urgency of an active response to the challenges of our time” (section 15).

For a more in-depth look at some of the statements and positions in the run up to and including the General Council in Accra, see this Acton Commentary, “Ecumenical Economics: Confessing against the Empire.” We can be thankful that cooler heads prevailed at this last WARC assembly, but the effort raises questions about the method and purpose of such ecumenical activities.

Jordan J. Ballor

Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is director of research at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy, an initiative of the First Liberty Institute. He has previously held research positions at the Acton Institute and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and has authored multiple books, including a forthcoming introduction to the public theology of Abraham Kuyper. Working with Lexham Press, he served as a general editor for the 12 volume Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology series, and his research can be found in publications including Journal of Markets & Morality, Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Faith & Economics, and Calvin Theological Journal. He is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary and the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity & Politics at Calvin University.