It is well-known that the Framework Hypothesis (which asserts that the Genesis days are just a literary structure rather than historical days) is promoted by a number of ministers in the United Reformed Church (URC), particularly those associated with Westminster Seminary California, including Drs. Godfrey, Scott Clark, Horton, and Riddlebarger.
In 2001, in response to several overtures objecting to the Framework Hypothesis, URC Synod 2001 dealt with the creation days. A proposal that “God created all things good in six historical days defined as evenings and mornings” was defeated, primarily due to opposition by Dr. Scott Clark and other proponents of the Framework Hypothesis (see Christian Renewal, June 2001:8-9). The proposal was passed only after the word historical was removed, thereby giving room for the Framework Hypothesis.
Thus URC Synod 2001 affirmed that God created all things “in six days defined by evenings and mornings”, which sounds good to those unaware that in the URC the six days need not be considered as historical--a textbook case of theological double-speak, where truth and clarity are sacrificed for ambiguous compromise.
The URC decision to tolerate the Framework Hypothesis was one of the considerations that led both the Orthodox Christian Reformed Church (in 2001) and the Protestant Reformed Church (2002) to discontinue unity talks with the URC. Regretfully, the Canadian Reformed Church did not take the URC to task on this issue.
In 2004, in response to an overture from Langley Willoughby Church, Can. Ref. Synod 2004 instructed the committee for unity (CPEU) “to commence discussion concerning the Framework Hypothesis and the support this theory has within the URCNA and serve the next synod with information concerning this matter” (Acts 2004, p.95).
Three years later, the CPEU reported to Can. Ref. Synod 2007 that their URC counterparts (CERCU) referred them to the above statement of URC Synod 2001, expressed their conviction that almost all URC’s hold to a literal six days of creation, and agreed to send a written reply. However, in 2007 the CPEU had not yet received this written reply from the CERCU (Acts 2007, p.75).
Now, another three years later, all that the CPEU reports to Synod 2010 is that it is still awaiting a written reply from the URC regarding the Framework Hypothesis (Reports to General Synod 2010, Vol.1, p.14,16).
In short, after six years, there is no evidence that there has been any substantial discussion. Neither the URC nor the CPEU, it seems, has much enthusiasm for pursuing the matter.
This is unfortunate. Church unity should be based on mutual faithfulness to Scripture. The Framework Hypothesis denies the plain sense of Scripture (cf. Gen.1, Ex.20:11, Ex.31:17) and introduces a new hermeneutic that interprets the Bible in light of secular science.
Thus, if the Canadian Reformed Church is serious about true unity, Synod 2010 should strongly admonish the URC to reconsider its toleration of the Framework Hypothesis.
(This post is followed up on the post Genesis & Dr Scott Clark)