Documents of Synod:
Study Papers of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (1965 to 1982)


158th GS MINUTES, JULY 4, 1980, pp. 177 - 179.

REPORT OF STUDY COMMITTEE ON KOINONIA DECLARATION

Dr. David C. Jones presented the report for the committee as follows:

BACKGROUND:

The Koinonia Declaration was drawn up in November of 1977 by a number of concerned South African Christians of Calvinistic conviction. The document was brought to the attention of the 1978 synod of the Christian Reformed Church, which adopted the following resolutions relative to it:

That synod declare that it considers the Koinonia Declaration to be an excellent enunciation of biblical principles and a significant reformational statement on South African race relations by Reformed Christians in South Africa.
That synod urge all the RES [Reformed Ecumenical Synod] member churches in South Africa to heed the testimony of the Koinonia Declaration and to support its proposed reforms.
That synod kindly request each South African RES church to inform the Christian Reformed Church of its response to the above in order to pursue fruitful dialogue on the application of biblical principles to race relations in our respective countries.
That synod inform the other churches of the RES, the churches of the NAPARC [North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council], and other churches with whom we maintain ecclesiastical fellowship, of these actions.

As a consequence of the fourth resolution above, the 1979 General Synod of the RPCES received a communication from the CRC informing us of their actions, which communication was forwarded to the 1980 synod, the Koinonia Declaration having been printed in full in the minutes of last year's synod and a study committee appointed to report back to this year's synod.

RECOMMENDATION:

The Committee recommends that synod send the following communication to the Christian Reformed Church:

We wish to express our appreciation for your concern for a consistent Christian witness in South Africa, especially on the part of the member churches of the RES, and for informing us of your actions relative to the Koinonia Declaration.
We wish further to express our agreement with the enunciation of biblical principles contained in the Koinonia Declaration, except that we are not sure in what sense it is intended that the civil government should acknowledge the lordship of Christ (paragraph 7). We do strongly support the position that freedom to fulfill one's calling before God is an essential element of justice.
In order that members of the RPCES may be better informed concerning the situation in South Africa, we are recommending the bibliography on Christianity and Apartheid by Irving Hexam that appeared in the April, 1980, issue of the Reformed Journal.

To facilitate action on the above resolution, the "principial statements" of the Koinonia Declaration are included as a supplement to this report. The bibliography on Christianity and Apartheid will be available from CTI [Christian Training, Inc.] at synod.

David Jones
Charles Anderson
Egon Middelmann
Wilber Wallis
Earl Witmer

THE "PRINCIPIAL STATEMENTS" OF THE KOINONIA DECLARATION

1. We as Christian citizens are convinced that we must continue to practice love towards those people in authority. We also believe that the prayers of just men have great power. We therefore urge all Christians to pray without ceasing for those in authority that:

i. they may seek and know biblical truth;
ii. they may not be led astray by unbiblical ideologies, and that
iii. all may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.

When there is a conflict between the law of God and the state's expectation of us, it is, however, our firm conviction that we should always obey God rather than men (the latter including the bearers of authority).
2. The Bible gives us guidelines as to what the duties of the citizen as well as the civil government are. Accordingly we believe that it is the duty of the civil government to protect everybody within its territory, and further that each man has the right to such protection, in order to enable him to do good, that is, to fulfill his calling (without obstruction by anyone whatsoever) towards God and therefore also towards his neighbor as his fellow citizen and fellow human being, in all human relationships. This means inter alia that:
i. the citizen as human being has the divinely ordained right and duty of displaying charity, that is, inter alia, in being merciful, practicing community, promoting justice and mutual admonition, towards all people, irrespective of who they are, and especially to the weak and underprivileged;
ii. no responsible Christian can properly exercise his calling and duties with regard to a political society unless

a. he is able to obtain sufficient information, having a bearing on his calling and/or duties in the state;
b. he is able to freely express his responsible opinion and his right to be heard is acknowledged.

3. We believe that freedom, sufficient to fulfill one's calling before God, is essential.
4. We believe that God is a God of justice, and that his justice is a principle implanted in the hearts and the lives of his children. We believe that God should be obeyed by practicing his justice in all spheres of life, and at this time especially in politics. We believe that Christian love, as defined by God's law, supplies the norm for practicing justice. This means having the opportunity of doing unto others as one would have them do unto oneself. We believe that justice embraces, inter alia, equity. In a sinful world this implies a certain flexibility in the application of the law, which is best guarded by checking and balancing human authorities in order to avoid a concentration of power.
5. We believe that the Body of Christ is one, and this unity includes rich diversity. This principle should be acknowledged and actualized by members of the Body in all spheres of society. On this basis we deem it necessary that particularly within the state, the legitimate interests of each group as well as the common interest of all, should be fully recognized within the framework of a just political dispensation. We dissociate ourselves from all extreme forms of Black and White national consciousness which identify the Gospel with the history of group interests of any one group, excluding all other groups, and we call upon the church of Christ to consciously dissociate itself from an exclusively White as well as an exclusively Black theology which distorts the vital message of Scripture.
6. We believe that God alone is the absolute Sovereign and that Christ was given all power in heaven and on earth. Both civil government and the people are to acknowledge this and are therefore obliged to keep the commandments of God for the existence of the state. Thus believing it is our conviction that:

i. any form of state absolutism or totalitarianism, seeking to absorb non-political spheres of society as well as the whole life of the citizen (in its rich diversity) into the structure of the state in such a way that the state obtains determining control of areas which are, principially speaking, non-political, should be rejected, and that the state should restrict itself to the organizing of justice inside society without organizing society as such:
ii. not the will of the people but the will of God, as expressed in his Word, is the foundation of the authority of civil government;
iii. the will of God is also the determining factor in respect of state security and that state security embraces the security of the citizen enabling him to live in obedience to God. State security is, inter alia, but not exclusively, the security of the political party in power;
iv. the Government ought to enact and obey just laws for its own and for its citizens' good, so that the blessing of God might rest on our society.

ACTION:

Dr. Jones moved that synod send this report to the Christian Reformed Church as our response to the Koinonia Declaration. Adopted.

[Documents of Synod, pages 309-311.]

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