Reformed Church in the United States on Creation

In the Beginning

I have had a lot of appreciation for this position paper on Creation.  May it be a source of edification for you also.

Here are the topics and introduction.

Please click on the link to read or download it.

Table of Contents


The 252nd Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States erected a special committee “to articulate the RCUS’s position on God’s creation in six normal chronological days of light and darkness as adopted by the 75th annual session of the Eureka Classis and confirmed by the 76th annual session of the Eureka Classis, together with a recommendation as to where in the governing documents of the RCUS this position may best be placed for use” (1998 Abstract, p.53).

Our responsibility, therefore, is not to formulate a new statement on six-day creation, but to defend the one we already have, namely, “that God created the heavens and the earth in six normal days which were chronological periods of light and darkness as recorded in the book of Genesis” (1985 Abstract, p.105). Your committee was also asked to find an appropriate place in our standards for our position statement in order to minimize questions about its authority.

Writing our report was relatively simple. We wanted our report to be a positive expression of our doctrine. Though it was necessary at times to evaluate and criticize alternate views, our goal was to do so only to the degree necessary to clarify and defend our own position. Your committee was in full agreement with the position of the RCUS regarding this doctrine. The only ambiguity noted in our 1985 statement concerns the word normal. It has sometimes been alleged that the days of creation were anything but “normal” since the events of those days were so unique. Doubtless, this argument amounts to little more than a red herring, but in forming a doctrinal statement we should be as clear as possible. Your committee understands “six normal days” as “six days of normal duration” or “six sidereal days.”

Each member of the committee was assigned part of the report. Our topics include the importance of the orthodox doctrine of creation for sound theology, the history of the doctrine in the church, herraeneutics, the meaning of the word day in Genesis 1 and in the fourth commandment, and heretical views of creation.

Finding a suitable place for our position in the governing standards has been more challenging. Part of our difficulty arises from the fact that Synod has not yet adopted the report of the Special Committee on the Authority of Position Papers. Until this is done we do not even know whether there is a need to amend our standards to include our position on creation. Even so, your committee believes that the best approach would be to recommend that the position taken by the RCUS in 1985 is the correct interpretation of our creeds (specifically Questions 92 and 103 of the Heidelberg catechism), and that our report be adopted as an exposition of the creeds. In this way our report would be useful as evidence in any judicial proceeding that may involve this issue.

Our thinking on this is as follows. To begin with, we do not believe that a doctrinal position on an matter of this importance should be placed in the Constitution. Our doctrinal and governmental standards should remain distinct. On the other hand, we hesitate to suggest that our confessions be tampered with – either by amending one of the Three Forms or by adopting the 1985 statement as an additional confession dealing only with the doctrine of creation. However, if a stronger affirmation of six-day creation is necessary, this may be the only way to go. Altering Article 12 of the Belgic Confession would probably serve that purpose best. The amended article would read, “We believe that the Father by the Word, that is, by His Son, has created of nothing the heaven, the earth, and all creatures, in the space of six days of normal duration (which were chronological periods of light and darkness as recorded in Genesis 1), when it seemed good unto Him….” Your committee had considered the possibility of annotating the creeds in some way, but this has the disadvantage of complicating our standards by adding a tertiary layer. The same problem would occur if Synod decides to give its positional statements a quasi-confessional status. The reasons for doing so may be laudable, but the results, to say the least, would be confusing.

We hereby submit our report with the hope that Synod will find it acceptable. May our sovereign God use it to the advancement of his kingdom and glory! Amen.