For full reports and exact statements of the CRCNA position on a particular issue, see references provided below.
All of life, including scientific endeavor, must be lived in obedience to God and in subjection to his Word. Therefore we encourage Christian scholarship that integrates faith and learning. The church does not impose an authorized interpretation of specific passages in Scripture; nor does it canonize certain scientific hypotheses. Instead, it insists that all theological interpretations and all scientific theories be subject to Scripture and the confessions.
Humanity is created in the image of God; all theorizing that minimizes this fact and all theories of evolution that deny the creative activity of God are rejected.
The CRC first dealt with this issue in relation to statements made by the Reformed Ecumenical Synod (RES) in 1949. After the CRC objected to some of these statements in 1953, the RES restudied the issue and amended its statements in 1958. In 1966 synod received overtures to study the issues of creation and evolution and appointed a committee to suggest the membership and mandate of such a study commission. Synod 1967 decided the study was not necessary and left further research into the matter to the faith community.
That research led to some difficult times at Calvin College (now Calvin University) and Seminary. In 1983 the seminary reported on discussions held with one professor regarding his views on the topic. In 1988 the Calvin College Board of Trustees reported to synod on its dealings with three professors whose positions on this matter had been criticized in the church and in the media. Synod also received thirty-two overtures about the issue. Synod 1988 affirmed the college board's decision and appointed a study committee on creation and science. The committee reported in 1991, when a large number of overtures were also brought to synod objecting to the report.
Synod 1991 adopted six declarations regarding creation and science. It intensively debated the matter of evolutionary forebears of human beings. In Declaration F of that decision, synod stated that the espousal of theories that posit the reality of evolutionary forebears of the human race is ruled out by Scripture and the Reformed confessions, but it also added a note that this declaration is not meant to limit further investigation and discussion on the topic. In response to an overture in 2010, synod noted that Declaration F "appears contradictory and confusing" and declared that it "no longer be part of the CRCNA's official position statement on creation and science" (Acts of Synod 2010, p. 875). The remaining declarations (A-E) constitute the position of the CRC as summarized in the above position statement.
In response to requests by Synods 2011 and 2012, Calvin College provided a report to Synod 2014 titled Confessional Commitments and Academic Freedom at Calvin College summarizing “the college’s commitments and practices at the intersection of confessional commitments, academic freedom, and controversial issues such as human origins” (Agenda for Synod 2014, p. 137). Synod 2014 also received an overture requesting a study of recent theologies regarding the Genesis accounts of creation and the fall into sin. Though it did not accede to the overture’s recommendations, synod instructed the CRC’s Board of Trustees “to encourage Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, in concert with other CRC-related institutions of higher education,” to organize open conversations and supply a list of resources on the relationship of science and theology, “especially as they relate to the doctrines of creation, the fall, original sin, and the atonement” (Acts of Synod 2014, p. 567). A committee of faculty members from both the college and seminary, formed in 2014, met for a discussion with representatives from Dordt College in 2015. Prior to Synod 2016, Prof. Loren Haarsma of Calvin College led a session on “Creation, Evolution, Design, and Human Origins,” and Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary submitted to Synod 2016 a list of “Resources on the Relationship of Science and Theology” (Agenda for Synod 2016, pp. 152-53, 766, 768-74; Acts of Synod 2016, p. 848).
References to Agendas and Acts of Synod
Acts of Synod 1951, pp. 45, 101
Acts of Synod 1953, pp. 123-24, 181-82
Acts of Synod 1954, p. 82
Acts of Synod 1959, pp. 81, 251-56
Acts of Synod 1966, pp. 75-78, 95, 103-4, 546-50, 552
Acts of Synod 1967, pp. 76-77, 335-38
Acts of Synod 1983, pp. 521-23, 644-46
Acts of Synod 1988, pp. 385-87, 436-64, 591-99, 637-38
Agenda for Synod 1989, pp. 35, 320-44, 347-48
Acts of Synod 1989, pp. 391, 399, 519-20
Agenda for Synod 1990, pp. 27-28, 456-57
Acts of Synod 1990, pp. 622, 717
Agenda for Synod 1991, pp. 362-433, 482-96, 502-7
Acts of Synod 1991, pp. 636-44, 762-68, 773-77, 815
Agenda for Synod 1992, pp. 486-88
Acts of Synod 1992, pp. 638-39
Agenda for Synod 1994, pp. 276-79
Acts of Synod 1994, pp. 451, 522, 524
Agenda for Synod 2010, pp. 697-700
Acts of Synod 2010, pp. 872-75
Agenda for Synod 2014, pp. 132, 136-76, 408-20
Acts of Synod 2014, pp. 542, 566-67
Agenda for Synod 2016, pp. 152-53, 766, 768-74
Acts of Synod 2016, p. 848