Micro versus Macro Conversations

I am in the habit of saying that I am glad not to be a (parochial) denominationalist because I am no raucous fan of my own CRC. I have a high view of and believe in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, not denomination. Amidst the confusions of Church and denomination, I seem more attracted to the idea of being a localist. That usually earns me the charge of being a Congregationalist. But denominations seem to be necessary evils that an institutional Confessionalist must endure, whereas the Church is that to which he must cling. Denominationalists outside the CRC usually tell me to get out of the CRC as if my first-born is about to be gobbled up. Those within say to stay in the boat or risk being fractious. I find both pleas odd as they seem to confuse Church with denomination.

Speaking of denomination mine is currently witnessing yet another disturbing cue that it is opting for what I call a low view/high opinion of its Confessional tradition, which is to say, one that comports better with the Evangelical Household. It is being manifest in the “Proposed Revision to the Form of Subscription.” Dr. Randy Blacketer expresses, more or less, my own view of this effort here.

Inasmuch as I think this latest effort reveals more of the same anti-confessional push within the CRC that was last seen in the female sub/ordination debacle, Scott Clark once posted my correspondence to him here and said he would post some further thoughts. He never did. Oh well. I guess it is enough for me that he essentially agreed.

The “whole women in office” thing is interesting for this Confessionalist. If you are CRC you may have noticed this same phenomenon. It is still a touchy issue for many for various reasons, but whenever the topic comes up conversations invariably devolve into the micro-discussion of the roles of women, society, etc. Maybe it is also the natural sociologist in me, but it is almost always a cultural conversation. It won’t take long for the “conservatives” to start making reference to the breakdown of society in gender roles, working mothers and the emotionalism of women. It also won’t take long for the “liberals” to start talking about equality, backwardness and progress. My inner sociologist goes tattling to my inner Confessionalist, and I end up finding no seat at these tables. So I make my way back out to the splinters of the Outhouse, feeling cold once again. I can hear the distant, Biblicist pleas in the Household to make what is usually the cultural case, one way or another for “what the Bible says.” I reach for the Cottonelle.

What is missed more often than not is the macro-conversation, the one that has a high view of the Confessions as those collective forms by which the Church has agreed to regulate and bind Herself. Nobody really seems to care that the Confessions reflect a churchly effort—admittedly fallible yet nevertheless churchly effort—to speak to the exegesis of Holy Writ. It doesn’t matter what a certain individual or small group of individuals thinks “the Bible says,” but what the Church has collectively agreed that the Bible says.

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6 Responses to Micro versus Macro Conversations

  1. Rick says:

    I would imagine that most of the denominationalists who tell you to leave the CRC are in the URC. Which is interesting because the URC is by and large a localist denomination that doesn’t even call itself a denomination.

    I err on the locaist side of things as well, but I’m no congregationalist. – Most folks in the URC congregation of which I am a member also lean localist – these, like me, might tell you that there is hardly another UR church in the GR area that they would consider becoming a member of if our church folded up (or changed for the worse).

    The CRC’s that remain confessional have taken on the localist attitude as well while they grieve over the decisions of Synod. My sister and her family are members at a CRC that is confessional and I would never dream of urging them to leave that commuion because of its wayward denomination.

  2. Zrim says:


    I came into the Reformation generally and the CRC particularly during all the sub/ordination rankling. I have considered this something of an advantage since it seems to engender more objectivity. That is, when I speak with CRCers, I hear a lot of gripping about the how uncharitable the URCers were, etc. Then I hear URCers lob back the same accusations. It seems like a lot of principle discussion gets caught up in the unseemly details of un/charity, etc. and it becomes predictable as to whose “guy” was the better “man.” Whatever. This is why I tell CRCers, if anything, I am waiting for a quiet way out, one in which I don’t go out thumbing my nose, etc. I have no need for that. If I don’t find one, so be it. I realize denomination is a necessary thing to endure and that we all have it in us to be uncharitable. But I would like to avoid all that as much as possible. I have to be careful who I tell about my “waiting for a quiet way out” since my chest is almost always black-and-blue anymore! My sternum needs a break. Good idea to launch this site, Zrim, brilliant, saith my sternum.


  3. efwake says:

    Take a chill on the chest thumping and consider this: we all seem to be localists around here, stuck in this weird over churched little section of the northern midwest whose history as a geography can literally be said to be ecclesiastical, too.

    That is, I think I could perhaps make it at Calvin CRC, and recognize that I left Eastern Avenue at a time when I didn’t see the right reasons to stay or to leave. I couldn’t do anything with Christ Church PCA not because of what was going on in worship so much as the Session’s complete lack of honesty in coming to a consenus opinion on it all. I can appreciate certain things about the URC, and LOVE certain people in it in different ways an on different levels, but have a difficult time doing the Dutch thing. I love the history of the OPC, was brought to an understanding of the reformed faith by a minister in that denomination and of confessionalism by an elder therein, but would just as soon abide in a confessionally covenantal PCA, URC, or OPC.

    The pastor who is now mine is committed to just that, but working through various issues related to the history of our geography. Thats ok. I like the fact that he has assured me that there has been and will continue to be momentum in a confessional direction. I’m in for the long haul, even if my localism means I must take advantage of M-6 from Kentwood to Hudsonville :).

  4. rana says:

    efwake, you must be my neighbor M6 and Kzoo are just down the road. we are in Kentwood as well.

    zrim, looks like we have enough people to start a church plant???

  5. Zrim says:


    I hear you on the Dutch thing. But, like I say, I see myself as a localist (and still working out what that means exactly, ahem), so I could thrive wherever the confessional vision lands. To be honest, I have found the local URC scene to be “3-5 songs and a lecture,” which motivates me very little. So far, I stay planted at Calvin as yet the best expression, however problematic that may be. Worship is still my “top prioritity,” as it were.


  6. Zrim says:


    I did tell Eric and crew to help me remember your name! Eric, looks like we have to let a girl in. Tee-hee.


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