Among the reasons given by several Reformed Church in America churches in the midwestern US when leaving the denomination are issues with the Belhar Confession, a document emphasizing reconciliation and justice in the context of race and poverty. Kevin DeYoung, the pastor of University Reformed Church in Michigan, wrote:

Let me simply say at this point that our reason for seeking to leave the RCA is not one thing, but many things. From the adoption of the Belhar Confession, to the removal of the conscience clauses related to women’s ordination, to the growing acceptance of homosexual practice in the denomination, we believe the RCA has changed significantly in the last several years. (source; emphasis added)

After giving the confession a cursory read, I didn't notice anything particularly problematic in it with respect to conservative Reformed theology. But it sounds as though I might have missed something. What is an overview of the several most significant objections to the Belhar Confession given by the conservatives leaving the RCA in recent years?

  • Yeah I couldn't see anything really objectionable either. Perhaps it was more the context of the adoption of it, where those adopting it would see things such as opposition to homosexual practice as "injustice" and therefore contrary to the confession?
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 4, 2016 at 12:40
  • It's strong language against disunity (obligation, refusal...is sin, and such) and undefined social injustice combined with acceptance of homosexual practices would essentially make objection to homosexuality and the "unity of the church" sinful via feedback loop. This is just my observation, I have no source within the group to confirm, but I can certainly see where one might take issue with it. Also a distinct lack of Trinitarianism. The initial statement comes off as lipservice, afterward it reads very Unitarian (God's lifegiving Word and Spirit). Maybe that will lead someone somewhere?
    – Joshua
    Oct 5, 2016 at 2:42

1 Answer 1


I would refer you to another article by Kevin DeYoung that is included in the belhar confession: yea or nay. In it DeYoung points out that:

  1. "there are a few lines that cannot be supported by Scripture" (an example DeYoung includes is "We believe that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged", indicating in contraposition that "God does not show partiality to the poor, nor does he defer to the great (Lev. 19:15)
  2. some adopters assert that "support for homosexual unions and homosexual ordination is demanded by the Confession"

DeYoung also expresses his opinion that the Belhar confession raises issues rather than settling them: many extend its reach making it "a very different document than the anti-racism confession many of us read it to be".


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