Article 46 — Relationship with other churches
The relationship with other churches shall be regulated by synod. With churches of Reformed confession sister relations shall be maintained as much as possible. On non-essential points of ecclesiastical practice other churches shall not be rejected.
The relations with foreign churches concern all our congregations, and must therefore be an item on the synod’s agenda.
Not all of the foreign churches that have their origin in the Reformation of the sixteenth century carry the word ‘Reformed’ in their name. Our churches have entered into relationships with a number of Presbyterian churches on various continents.
Maintaining this relationship can pose problems caused by the language barrier – e.g. regarding the Korean churches. This is why Article 46 uses the phrase “as much as possible”.
One way of keeping in contact with these churches is: by sending delegates to their major assemblies and receiving their delegates at our synods.
The last sentence of this article contains an old regulation. Every church has its own history of oppression and struggle against heresies and errors and subsequent reformation. Furthermore, every church exists within its own cultural environment, and this has led to divergences in church polity and liturgy.
Even confessions and church orders may vary. However, in this respect there must be a fundamental unity of faith.
The background of this article also is explained together with that of Article 28: concerning the world-wide character of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture teaches this in John 17: 11, 17, 20, 21; Ephesians 3: 14-4: 6; 1 Timothy 3: 15, and other places.
We must also take to heart the apostle’s admonition in 1 Corinthians 14: 36:
Did the Word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached?