Our confessional Reformed denominations should consider a bold move to express their unity and increase the credibility of their witness. Let all of these denominations (or as many as are willing) join together under one general assembly (or general, national synod) with each former denomination becoming a particular synod under that general assembly. This simple (and modest!) proposal would obviously have to be worked out in terms of specifics, but let me suggest some of the elements of the idea that would help it work.
In North America today we have many confessionally Reformed denominations: for example, Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, Free Reformed Churches, Korean-American Presbyterian Church, Netherlands Reformed Churches, Orthodox Christian Reformed Churches, Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America, Protestant Reformed Churches, Reformed Church of the United States, Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, United Reformed Churches. Each of these denominations has a distinctive history. Each has struggled in its own context to spread and defend the Reformed faith. Each treasures the Reformed confessions and has sought to live and minister according to them.
Each of these denominations has peculiar strengths and emphases that it brings to the Reformed community. These various denominations are often perceived as expressing Reformed Christianity distinctively: some seem to have particularly strong congregational life, some seem to lay great emphasis on piety and prayer, some seem to stress clear doctrine and maintaining the antithesis between believers and the world, some seem to be devoted to evangelism and missions, and some seem to champion the historic Reformed approach to worship. None of these strengths and none of these histories should be lost.
Yet each of these denominations has weaknesses. Perhaps the clearest weakness is the failure to express the unity of confessional Reformed Christianity. If these churches hold to the Reformed confessions, why are they not united? When members of these groups gather informally, there is often a great sense of connection and appreciation for one another. But too often these denominations allow their individual histories (and suspicions) to block a visible expression of unity.
The failure to manifest unity greatly weakens the credibility of the Reformed cause. Our opponents too easily can claim that conservative Reformed Christianity is hopelessly divisive and expends its energy on theological warfare rather than on making Christ known. That charge misses the real hostility of our culture (and many churches) to Reformed Christianity, but still has an element of truth to it.
What can be done? One solution would be to continue having inter-church relations committees talk to one another and seek organic union after working through all differences and suspicions. Another would be to widen participation in the National Association of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches (NAPARC) and use that organization as the visible expression of our unity.