ARTICLE 1 – Purpose and division
For the maintenance of good order in the church of Christ it is necessary to have:
I offices and supervision of doctrine;
III worship, sacraments and ceremonies;
ARTICLE 1: Purpose and Division
For the maintenance of good order
in the church of Christ it is
necessary that there be offices and supervision of doctrine; assemblies;
worship, sacraments, and ceremonies;
Om goede ordre inder Ghemeente Christi te onderhouden / zijn daer inne noodigh de Diensten / t’Samencomsten / Opsicht der Leere / Sacramenten ende Ceremonien / ende Christelijcke straffe. Waer van hier na ordentlijck sal ghehandelt worden.
English translation of the Church Order of Dort (external link)
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Decisions of FRCA synods
Topics related to this article
VanOene, With Common Consent
VanRongen, Decently and in Good Order
The Church Order of the Free Reformed Churches of Australia, as well as the one of the Canadian Reformed Churches, is based on the Church Order of Dort, finalised in 1619. Let it be clear: it is not the Church Order of Dort. Changes have been made, articles are adapted to the situation in our country. However, the principles on which the Church Order is based, are the same as those on which the Church Order of Dort is based.
This Church Order of Dort was the end of a long process. The first discussions started in Wesel, 1568. Thereafter several synods in the Netherlands made changes and additions, until at last the synod in 1618/1619 finalised it and adopted it as the Church Order for the Reformed Churches.
Return to the Bible
The return to the biblical doctrine of the Church in the time of the Reformation had a major impact on how the Church Order was formulated.
The Roman Catholic view on the Church is that the Church itself is a saving force. The Bible teaches us that the Church is the people of God, gathered together by our Lord Jesus Christ from the beginning of the world to its end. The Roman Catholic Church believes that the Church is not only the people of God, but that Christ also entrusted to this people His power to work salvation and give forgiveness of sins.
I quote from The Catholic Encyclopedia, under the lemma ‘Church’: “The Church by its nature is a saving force. … Established by Christ as a fellowship of life, charity and truth, it is also used by Him as an instrument for the redemption of all, and is sent forth into the whole world as the light of the world and the salt of the earth (cf. Mat. 5:13-16).”
And in the same article: “The Church is a mystery. The Council meant by this term that the Church is a divine, transcendent, and salvific reality that is visibly present among men.” And: “The Church is a Sacrament.”
Under the lemma ‘Clergy’: “The primary function of all ordained ministers of the Church is to ‘join the faithful together in one body,’ as the documents of Vatican I declare.”
Under the lemma ‘Apostolic succession’: “The sequence of apostolic succession follows from the apostles themselves down to the bishops of the present time. This is marked by … (2) the giving over or delegating directly the powers entrusted to the Apostles of ordaining, ruling, and teaching, which were given by Christ to the Apostles; … (5) the pope, who is the successor of St. Peter in Rome.”
The Roman Catholic Church believes that Christ’s power is entrusted to the clergy, because they are all ordained in the apostolic succession. The word ‘apostolate’ is being used for the task of the clergy. The Church gives salvation to its members. The Church gives the forgiveness of sins by administering the sacraments.
The Reformers rejected this doctrine and returned to the Biblical teaching about the Church. We believe the holy catholic church, which is the body of Christ, gathered by Christ from the beginning of the world to its end, also from all places (catholic). It manifests itself locally. Christ saves us by making us one with Him, into one body (Romans 6:1-14). However, it is Christ, Who saves us, not the church. Not the church is a salvific force, nor a means to save us. Christ saves us and makes us members of His body. His body is the Church, where Christ gathers us.
This has consequences for the way we see the position of office bearers as well as their calling; for how we see the preaching of the Word and the sacraments, and their place in the worship service; for how we see the position of the local church; for how we exercise discipline and involve the congregation in it.
The Church Order as we have it in the FRCA is not perfect. Articles can be improved or can change over time when the situation changes. But the basic principles come from the Bible and remain the same as they were 450 years ago, and 1950 years ago in the time of the apostles.
The Church Order is divided in four chapters.
- The offices and supervision of doctrine
- The assemblies
- Worship, ceremonies, and sacraments
- Robert C. Broderick, editor, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Revised and Updated Edition, Nashville, Tennessee, 1987 ((Thomas Nelson Publishers)
- W.W.J. VanOene, With Common Consent, a practical guide to the use of the church order of the Canadian Reformed Churches, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1990 (Premier Publishing).
- www.kerkrecht.nl, ‘een kennisbase over kerkrecht in Nederland en daarbuiten’ (with resources in Dutch and in English).